A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers

Alan Perry’s Memories of
James Gibbons

Alan Perry started at Gibbons in December 1960 at the age of 25, in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. His grandfather, Simon Perry, was a safe maker, and safecracker who later made strong room doors, and prison cell doors. He also worked at Chubbs. Alan’s father, Leslie Perry, initially made safes at Gibbons, and later, steel office furniture.

Alan began his career at Gibbons in the toolroom, where he worked as a general machinist. There were fifteen or sixteen people in the toolroom, and around 2,500 employees. After a while Alan began to operate a centre lathe, and then a universal miller. He eventually worked on the bench as a toolmaker, which he continued to do until around 1975 after Gibbons had been taken over, first by Radiation, then by Tube Investments, and later by the Newship Group.

At the time there were a lot of redundancies, and the toolroom moved to the empty apprentice school building. Alan accepted a position in the casement department where he took over from Bill Payne who was near retirement age.

Assembling a Gibbons lock.

An advert from 1970.

A while later a small toolroom was setup with Alan, Joe Walton, and Chris Carwadine, an apprentice. Alan eventually became the only toolmaker on the site after Joe Walton retired, and Chris Carwadine left.

The factory was sold, and the casement department moved to another factory at Bilston.

Alan retired in 2000, but carried on working two days a week until the factory closed in November 2004.

All the 57 workers on the site were made redundant. Alan had worked there for 44 years.

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