General Metalware and Holloware

Jones Brothers & Co

Ablow Street

They have long been many Joneses in Wolverhampton, doubtless reflecting the large amount of immigration that took place from Wales.  The company we are concerned with here was named after three brothers, William Highfield Jones, Benjamin Jones and Harry Jones. 

William Highfield Jones in aldermanic robes. He was Mayor of Wolverhampton 1873 - 1874.

 W. H. Jones was somewhat given to writing books and produced at least three:

History of the Congregational Churches of Wolverhampton from the year 1662 to 1894, 1894

Story of the Municipal Life of Wolverhampton, 1903

Story of Japan, Tin-Plate Working and Bicycle and Galvanising Trades in Wolverhampton, 1900

These works provide an exceptional source of Wolverhampton history but have to be treated with some caution - not only are they short on hard dates but they tend towards being hagiographic. This caution needs to be liberally applied in a case like the present, where the information about the Jones brothers is taken almost exclusively from the books written by one of them.

The father of the three brothers was a foreman at the Old Hall japanning works for 25 years and all three brothers served their apprenticeships - presumably as japanners - at the Old Hall. 

The oldest brother, William, set up in business on his own account, renting some workshops near the National School, Cleveland Street.

Invoice heading, dated 1875.

The factory, taken from the invoice heading shown above.  The buildings are improbably thin.  This must be the original Welling works; the extensions would have been to the right.

There the other two brothers joined him in due course. They then bought a factory in Ablow Street, which had been built by the japanner Thomas Welling and which had been empty for some time. 

The exact dates of these moves is not recorded but William does say that the firm was founded as Jones Bros. & Co. in 1853.

William mentions that Harry Jones, the youngest brother, "had a genius for artistic design", so presumably it was he who designed most, if not all, of their goods up until his death in 1871, aged 38. Who was responsible for design after that is not known.

Benjamin Jones, the middle brother, seems to have been the travelling salesman. Presumably, though he does not mention it in his books, William, as the oldest brother and founder of the business, took the business lead and would have acted as chairman of the company and managing director.

Their trade grew and "in a few years … they found the factory in Ablow Street was far too small, so they purchased adjoining properties and built several new ranges of shopping".

O.S. map, 1902, showing the Graiseley Works of Jones Brothers.

William Hall Jones.

At some time Benjamin's two sons, William Hall Jones and B. Highfield Jones, joined the works and, as each reached 21, was taken into the firm as a junior partner. "These young men pushed the trade with enthusiasm and travelled over India, China and South Africa". 

The firm opened a branch factory in Nelson Street, which dealt exclusively with enamelled articles and pressed tin goods. "Here they introduced machinery into the manufacture, which has greatly helped their trade". This seems to have happened in the late 1880s and seems to be rather late for starting to use machinery.


In 1880-81 there was a strike in Birmingham and Wolverhampton to enforce a closed shop. Jones Brothers joined in the fight against the strike and, after five months, won it.

Benjamin Jones died in 1887. 

In 1896 William retired. His last book, The Municipal Life of Wolverhampton, was published in 1903 and the author was given as "the late" W. H. Jones.  Presumably he died in 1902.  

The business was taken over by Benjamin's two sons, William and Highfield, and was turned into a limited liability company, Jones Brothers & Co., Wolverhampton, Limited.

The photo (right) shows Tempest Street.  The building on the right is the William Highfield Jones Memorial School.  (In fact, this is the back.

The front, in white terracotta, holds the memorial name stone but is now practically invisible).  Presumably it was erected at the cost of the two sons.

The company was still going in 1900 when William's book was published. 

John Tuckley says that his family's history records that John's grandfather, William Henry Tuckley was a tinplate worker who worked with Jones Brothers from 1910 to 1918.  His work there included making Jabecoe metal boxes, which were supposed to be unsinkable.  The trade mark attached to each showed an African man holding one of the boxes.  These boxes were presumably connected with the extensive West African trade.  William was a shop steward and lead a strike at Jones Bros. when the firm started to employ women to make ammunition belt boxes.  These women were not replacing men who had left to join the war but were employed simply because they were cheaper.  The men they replaced had to find work elsewhere and, if they did not, had to join the army.  He died in the flu epidemic of 1918.  His brother-in-law, Harry Yarsley, worked with him at Jones Bros. as a sheet metal worker and left to join the Army in 1917 and subsequently saw service in Dublin.

The rest of the company's later history is not known. They appear as hollowware manufacturers in the Red Books up until 1930 but by 1936 have dropped out.

Ablow Street today.  Jones's works would have been on the site of the modern factory and down as far as the next building.  

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