William Edwards & Sons

Griffin Works was built around 1845 for edge-tool maker, William Edwards & Sons. The business is listed in Pigot & Company’s 1842 Directory, and White’s 1851 Staffordshire Directory as being located in Dudley Road, where the company occupied Victoria Works.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

The location of the works.

An advert from 1884.

An advert from 1899.

The firm produced a wide range of products including edge tools, spades, shovels, plantation hoes, garden tools, axes, adzes, pick axes, crowbars, railway and contractor’s tools, wrought iron barrow wheels, and all kinds of hammers, including:

sledge hammers, stone hammers, quarry hammers, and hand hammers

Best quality horse shoes were also produced, many of which were exported all over the world.

The company also became a contractor of horse shoes to the government.


Some of the company's trademarks.

William Edwards became mayor of Wolverhampton in November, 1874.

He was born in Wolverhampton and started his career working for the mercantile firm of C. and I. Shaw. He soon established a small edge-tool business that rapidly grew to a large size.

He was a church warden and manager of St. James's School, a member of the Wolverhampton School Board, secretary of the Wolverhampton Female Refuge, and a shareholder in most of the local banks.

He was well respected by his workmen who presented him with a portrait of himself and his wife.

William Edwards.

Griffin Works in the early 1970s. Courtesy of David Clare.

Edwards & Sons also acquired New Griffin Works in Colliery Road, which appear to have been built sometime between 1842 and 1881.

The factory is not marked on the 1842 Tithe map, but can be seen clearly on the 1881 Ordnance Survey map.

An advert from 1891.

What remains of New Griffin Works canal wharf. As seen from the Wyrley and Essington Canal.

The next section is part of an article that appeared in the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated. Unfortunately the date is not known.

In the construction of the New Griffin Works, many features of improvement in design and arrangement would be suggested by the long practical experience of the proprietors, and in our progress through several departments, frequent evidences of this progressive adaptation of modern appliances and methods came under our notice.

The new works occupy a most convenient site in Willenhall Road, covering upwards of four acres, bounded by the Birmingham Canal on one side, and close to the Wolverhampton and Walsall section of the Midland Railway Company. The premises comprise, in the front portion, handsomely appointed general and private offices, adjacent to which are store rooms and the entrance to the large open quadrangle, round which are ranged the various substantial buildings devoted to the manufacturing departments.

New Griffin Works.

On the right and left of the entrance are four large forging shops, each fitted with a number of smith’s hearths furnished with steam blowing apparatus on an entirely new principle, one portion of the forges being utilised for the manufacture of horse shoes.

The firm are the original and only makers of the ‘Best Crown’ brand, a speciality largely supplied to her majesty’s government.

Other brands as shown by the accompanying Trade Marks are widely known and esteemed in the home and foreign markets. Spades and shovels are also one of the special features at these works.

At the further end of the yard are the forging shops in which heavier steam hammers are placed, some weighing nearly four tons. To bear this immense weight and consequent concussion, the floor of these shops has been specially prepared upon a foundation of some eight or ten feet of massive logs of timber, concreted on the top.

Another view of the works.

The engines used in driving the machinery are of exceptional size and power, and are fitted with immense flywheels, one of the engines being served by three enormous boilers, each of 37 feet long.

At the entrance end of the premises are the grinding and polishing shops, similar in arrangement to those already described in the old works (Griffin Works, Horseley Fields). At both establishments extensive space is allotted to the warehousing and packing of the firm’s finished goods, to which our attention is next directed.

Literally speaking Messrs. Edwards and Son’s manufactures can claim world-wide utility and favouritism in their many sided application to the arts of cultivation. Railway and road-making, and mining and woodcraft operations, for which they are exclusively designed. Without entering upon a fully detailed description of the numerous range of articles of their production, we may present particulars of the more representative types of edge tools, which offer special features of interest to the trade. In implements of cultivation there are, perhaps most widely known as the inventors and makers of the ‘Royal Express’ hoe, which has almost entirely superseded the old ‘Brazil’ iron hoe, with its shoulders more than half an inch thick, and its blade 11 inches wide.

The rear building that overlooks the canal.

The firm also make an improved type of wrought-iron wheel barrow, with steel bodies constructed in parts, which are put-up in handy form for packing for the export markets, that they may be easily put together again when landed at their destination.

Messrs. Edwards & Son have long since met with justly merited recognition at some of the principal industrial exhibitions of the century, their record including the award of a first class certificate and silver medal for their edge tools, spades, shovels, hoes, and horse shoes at Calcutta, 1883-84. Two first class certificates and highest awards at Liverpool International Exhibition, 1886, while their handsome and attractive stand at the more recent Wolverhampton Fine Arts and Industrial Exhibition obtained the highest award in its own particular section.

The side of the works.
The front of the old factory.
Griffin Works were taken over by Edmund Vaughan Stampings, and later called ‘Falcon Works’. The buildings were demolished in the 1990s.

In 1913 New Griffin Works were sold to the Vulcan Manufacturing Company. The original buildings still survive today.

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