General Metal and Holloware

British Tool and Engineering Co. Ltd.

Britool Ltd.

In their own entry in the Wolverhampton Official Handbook for 1974 Britool say that "Britool Limited was incorporated in Wolverhampton in 1915". Another advertisement shows that, by 1920, they had a large factory in Owen Road, which suggests either remarkably rapid expansion or that they started big with the injection of a lot of capital. If the latter was the case then it may be that it was Jenks Brothers who set up this company, it being recorded that, before 1937, Britool was a subsidiary of Jenks Brothers.

The Britool Factory in Owen Road, from an advertisement of 1920.
The factory in Owen Road as it is today, under different ownership.  

In the same entry Britool claim that "after pioneering the first full range of bihexagon ring and socket wrenches to be produced and marketed in England, the company rapidly gained a reputation for the manufacture of high quality engineers hand tools". In fact they produced an enormous range of tools, mainly spanners or wrenches.

An advert from 1920.  Note that, although they specialise in wrenches, they already claim to make "all descriptions of small tools".  

The Britool trade name is already being used but Britospan, a name that now seems to be out of use, is also mentioned.

When they were founded the company was called the British Tool and Engineering Co. and this may be a case of a company changing its name to its brand name.

Jenks Brothers Ltd. and the British Tool and Engineering Co. Ltd., (Britool), were taken over by John Shaw & Sons (Wolverhampton) Ltd. in 1937. (However there is some indication that the Jenks family had by then got control of Shaws, which they then used as their lead company). In 1937 Shaw's took over the old Clyno factory in Bushbury, taking with them to the new premises Jenks Brothers and Britool. It seems that Jenks Brothers rented one half bay at the works and Britool rented nine and a half bays, suggesting that, whatever the company arrangements, the operations were run separately. The Handbook entry for 1967 refers to the company as "the manufacturing subsidiary of John Shaw & Sons (Wolverhampton) Ltd..

An aerial perspective sketch of the new works in Bushbury.  Fourth Avenue runs along the front of the factory at the bottom of the picture.

The works photographed in 2002.  After Britool left others occupied the works including, according to local informants, a lavatory paper maker.  In 2003 the works are empty and largely demolished.  The whole island site is being prepared for redevelopment.

In 1969 Britool were taken over by James Neill and therefore became "a member of the James Neill group of companies". James Neill was a tool making conglomerate, based in Sheffield, which included not only Britool but Eclipse, M&W, P S Stubbs and Elliott Lucas. Neills claimed to be one of the largest tool manufacturing organisations in the world.

The advert, left, dates from 1967.  That on the right dates from 1974 and proclaims the company to be part of the James Neill group. The advert only hints at the range of tools.

In 1991 Britool was bought by the international group Facom and, at some point, around 1980, moved from Bushbury to Walsall Road, Cannock, where they still make a vast range of hand tools.  The pictures below give some idea of the type and range of tools for which Britool were famous when they were in Wolverhampton.

On the left, the cover of a catalogue from 1955.  Note the prominence given to Jenks Brothers as owners.  The cover photo and the photo, right, from inside the catalogue, show examples of the socket sets for which the company was renowned. Below are two more pages from the same catalogue.

On the left the cover of the catalogue for 1960 and, on the right, a display board of tools from that catalogue.

In addition to the tools themselves, and the red steel cases in which they were housed, Britool had to provide point of sale displays.  Here are two examples, from the 1960 catalogue, showing "merchandisers".

And finally ...

This Britool advertising mug was kindly lent to us.   It has been suggested to the Curator that the message may contain a double entendre.  But the Curator would know nothing about that.

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