YALE AND TOWNE CO, WOOD STREET, WILLENHALL
||The company was founded in 1883 in Stamford,
Connecticut, USA by LinusYale, who had developed the pin tumbler
In 1868 Linus Yale was introduced to Henry Towne and
together they formed Yale and Towne Manufacturing Co., employing 35
The firm grew in strength to become a worldwide company.
In 1875 the company
broadened its scope from locks into material handling, with the
introduction of the Yale manually operated chain hoist.
And in they 1920 bought out a battery powered platform truck.
|Yale and Towne moved in to England in 1929 when they
purchased H. and T. Vaughan Ltd. (q. v.), then the largest manufacturer
in Willenhall, who were already manufacturing cylinder locks. This
gave them production facilities with a ready-made work force.
They also expanded the manufacture of hoists and trucks
and in 1936 opened a Wednesfield plant to manufacture hoists and trucks.
In 1954 the Materials Handling division of Yale and Towne Manufacturing
Co. was formed to trade separately from the Lock and Hardware division.
In the 1960s the lock division purchased E. Tonks and
Sons Limited (q.v.) but soon closed their Temple Bar works and replaced it
with a new purpose built factory for the production of all the company's
die casing requirements. They also opened a new factory at
Livingstone in Scotland.
|An advert from 1929.
|An advert from 1938.
An advert from 1958.
They were bought out by Eaton Manufacturing of
America in 1963 and the name was changed to Eaton Yale and Towne Inc.
They then changed the name again to Eaton Corporation in April 1971 and
moved their USA headquarters to Rye, New York.
In the UK the Eaton Corporation transferred its fully
owned subsidiary to become Eaton Limited.
The lock making section,
known as Yale Security Products Division, and the Materials Handling
Division, based at Wednesfield, retained the Eaton Limited name.
advertising at the time on the works Ford Escort rally cars said: "Yale
forklift truck made by Eaton Limited."
An advert from 1961.
An advert from 1964.
||In February 1978 Eaton Corporation sold its
world-wide security products business to Thomas Telling Limited.
They were located at Charlotte and Monroe, North Carolina USA;
Lenoir City, Tennessee, USA ; Willenhall England; Livingstone
Scotland; Aprilia Italy; Velbert, West Germany; Eskilstona, Sweden;
Caracas Venezuela; and Bogota Colombia, producing locks, builders
hardware and door closures, under the trade names of Yale, Norton,
BKS and FAS.
The Material Handling Group was not affected by the
disposal of the security products division. In 1984 the Material
Handling Division was acquired by North American Coal Corporation
(NACCO), who in turn sold it in 1989 to Hyster in Holland. In 1992
Yale Europe Materials Handling Limited was formed and production moved to
Holland, the Wednesfield factory being closed down.
|In 1982 the Lockmaking division was sold to Scovill
In 1985 they acquired the Walsall-based
lock and builders hardware manufacturer W. J. Goodwin and Son Ltd.
in a move to break into the aluminium and plastic door and window
An advert from 1985.
||In 1986 Michael Montague’s Birmingham based Valour
Company bought up the USA based lock and home appliance companies
Yale and NuTone. In April 1986 they purchased Ingersoll Locks.
(q.v.) and in August 1990 they purchased Century Lock Limited (q.v.)
and moved the production of both companies into the Wood Street
In January 1991 they were purchased by Williams Holdings.
In early 1994 Williams Holdings purchased Corbin Russwin for
$80m from Black and Decker and this formed part of the Yale
Corbin Russwin Division in the US.
Other overseas security
divisions were Yale Corbin, Canada; Yale, Italy; and Yale Hong
Kong. In 1996 Williams Holdings acquired further lock
companies in the US and Italy. Its latest Italian
acquisition moved Williams into second place in the Italian
In 1996 they set up a £325m joint venture, Yale-Guli,
with China’s largest lockmakers, Guangdong Guli Locks. It would
employ 4000 staff and make 25million locks per year. Williams were
to run the company and have a 45% stake. Guangdong were to own 40%
and insurers, American International, 15%.
In 1997 Williams Holdings also acquired Chubb Locks,
which included Parkes and C. E. Marshall (see further details under
Williams Security Products was set up to run the three
companies Chubb, Parkes and Yale, as one. But a name change never took
place and Yale traded as Yale Security Products UK Limited.
In March 1998 Williams Holdings proposed to withdraw
from the home improvement business. Brands such as Polyfilla, Cuprinol
and Hammerite were to be sold off. They were also selling the US
based home products business, NuTone, which makes door chimes, intercoms
and bath room cabinets. (E&S 10/3/98)
An advert from 1958.
||By July 1998 the Wood Street and Portobello works
carried a sign with the three names of Yale, Chubb and Union.
All cylinder lock production was moved into the Wood Street
Works and production standardised on the Yale cylinders, even
though they were branded Yale and Union.
Mortice and rim lock production was all moved into the
Portobello site. Three and five lever locks were standardised on the
Union range, while some were marked Yale. The production of Chubb
locks also took place at Portobello. Note that rim locks are still
made to the Union specification and they still sell the Yale
specification rim lock, which is made for them by Gibbons (Latham
In 1996 they set up a joint venture, Yale-Guli, with
China's largest lockmakers, Guandong Guli Locks. It would employ
4,000 staff and make 25 million locks per year. Williams would run
the company and own a 45% stake. Guandong would own 40% and
insurers, American International, 15%. [When Yale was purchased,
along with the rest of Williams Holdings security division, by Assa
Abloy in January 2002, Assa Abloy purchased the 40% of Yale Guli owned
by Xiaolan Town and so this company became a "wholly owned foreign
enterprise", which is still pretty rare in China. In September
20021, the company's name was changed to Guli Security Products Ltd.]
In April 1999 the whole of the Williams Group lockmaking
side was reorganised under the name Yale Security Products UK Limited,
with offices in Wood Street, Willenhall. All the administration,
sales and purchasing etc. took place from there.
It is said that the production of 5-lever mortice locks,
badged Yale and Union, has been transferred to the former Parkes factory
in South Africa (Conrad Sandler 23/10/2000).
70 redundancies were declared by Yale at their Wood
Street and School Street Portobello works in October 2000. (E&S 20
For further information on this company after the Assa
Abloy purchase, see the entry under Chubb.
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