A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers

Jim Evans

this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002

James Gibbons Ltd. architectural fittings 1952

The catalogue issued by the company in 1952 shows their wide range of locks and door and window fittings and also contains several pictures of prestigious schemes in which the company had been involved.  They few extracts below give some idea of the range of goods available.

It seems reasonable to start where the catalogue starts with photo of the mace brackets which hold up the mace under the Speaker's Table in the House of Commons. 

They were made by Gibbons to the design of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and A. Gilbert Scott.  The House of Commons suffered bomb damage in the Second World War and was rebuilt immediately afterwards.

Gibbons also provided the bronze door furniture used throughout and also, of course, designed by the architects.

This must have been the most prestigious contract available at the time and for a long time. 

The catalogue open with locks, starting with the Mastership locks. This is a single locking mortise lock. 
There is a wide range of locks of all sizes and varieties and to suit all purposes.  In the case of prisons Gibbons' provided the doors as well as the locks. 

This picture shows the Grille Gate and beyond it you can see the Cell Door, which is covered in steel all over, and is equipped with a "ration trap", a "peep hole" and, of course, a cell lock which locked automatically as soon as the door came into contact with the door jamb.

For more elegant establishments the company provided a variety of brass and bronze ornamental lock cases.  Those shown here appear to be standard designs.
But the catalogue devotes a full page to the Leeds Civic Hall where they supplied the elaborate locks shown, presumably to the designs of the architect, E. Vincent Harris.

Reverting to the more utilitarian, the catalogue includes penny in the slot toilet locks, which were more complex that you might think - always supposing you have ever thought about such matters. 

But the most elaborate of these locks had a removable cover plate for getting out bent or damaged coins, a locked cash box (to stop the attendant pinching the pennies) a counting device for coins and a counting device for the number of times the door was opened with the attendant's key. 

To complete the set up the company offered various bolts and toilet roll holders.  The one shown here (top) had an ash tray atop it and the one below was lockable, to protect the municipal toilet paper.

There is an enormous range of door knobs in almost every imaginable style, both modern and retro. 

Never try to date a building just by the design of its door furniture; even less should you try to date an individual item by its design alone.

Lever handles come in equally great variety and in all styles. 

The ones shown here are relatively plain - and modern for 1952, when art deco was still lingering on and the design revolution heralded by the Festival of Britain in 1951 had not worked through.

Grip handles, like lever handles, were available in almost any style at all and, if you wanted to go beyond the standard range, you could. 

These grip handles were made by Gibbons to the designs of Sir Edwin Cooper for the Port of London Authority's offices.

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