Many of the major manufacturing companies in Darlaston
were founded in the 1870s and 1880s. Some of them became
the largest employers in the area, with a worldwide
reputation for quality. This happened against a
background of depression, as many people were out of
work. There were riots in Wednesbury by the unemployed,
and deaths from starvation were not uncommon.
||Read about some of the larger
Charles Richards and Sons Limited
||David Etchells &
||Rubery Owen &
||Guest, Keen and
||The Steel Nut &
Joseph Hampton Limited
Darlaston Bolt & Nut Company
||The Wellman Smith
Owen Engineering Corporation Limited
||E. C. & J. Keay Limited
|W. Martin Winn Limited
W. Martin Winn Ltd. opened their factory at Heath Road
in 1907. It was a family business that started by making
wrought iron nuts and bolts. They quickly realised the
advantages of steel and produced some of the first steel
nuts and bolts in Darlaston. The business quickly grew
and many of the company's products were produced from
bright drawn steel. Between 1920 and 1930 the cold
heading process was introduced which led to the
production of high tensile steel bolts. Heat treatment
was later introduced for the production of high tensile
carbon steel bolts, and alloy steel bolts. They also
produced extra large bolts weighing two or three
In the 1950s the firm began to produce bolts and studs
that were suitable for high temperature installations.
Large numbers of them were sold to oil refineries, and
to manufacturers of steam raising equipment. In later
years the company benefitted from the decision to
introduce a unified thread to make British and American
screws interchangeable. Large numbers of the firm's
unified nuts and bolts were produced. The factory closed during the
recession in the 1970s, but a small tool making
business called Winn Tools remained in the original
office building until a few years ago. Winn Tools was
founded in 1964, and survived until June 2009.
An advert from 1946.
An advert from 1909.
||Samuel Platt Limited was based at
Kings Hill Foundry, and produced a wide range of
products including machinery for tube making,
nut and bolt making, drop hammers, and stripping
presses, reeling and straightening machines,
stamping machines, and drop hammers.
Other products included lathe chucks,
pulleys, mill gearing, shafting, shaft fittings,
Samuel Platt Limited, King's Hill Foundry.
From the collection of the late Howard Madeley.
The business was founded in 1840, and in 1897 took over
Wilkes’ bolt, nut, and fencing manufacturing business.
In 1890 it became a limited company, and by 1914
employed 350 people.
||The old Darlaston Nut and Bolt
works, known locally as "Bogie Wilkes".
The factory stood on the corner
of Cemetery Road and Kendricks Road.
|A view of the rear of
Darlaston Nuts and Bolts. The factory was demolished in
||A view of Darlaston Nuts and
Bolts from the railway bridge in Kendricks Road.
The factory, originally called the
Grand Junction Works was named after the railway
(originally the Grand Junction Railway) and located
there because of it.
An advert from 1902
An advert from 1921.
Some of the last buildings from
the Grand Junction Works in Cemetery Road. They were
demolished in the late 1990s.
An advert from 1884.
The Staffordshire Bolt, Nut, and
Fencing Company's factory, London and North Western
Works, stood near Bentley Road South, in between the
Walsall Canal and the London & North Western Railway. It
was connected to the railway by a siding which also
served the nearby canal interchange goods station. The
importance of the railway to the company can be seen
from the name given to the works. This advert is from
|Partridge & Company
Sometime before 1850, Simeon Partridge, a grocer, began
to make tallow candles for sale in his shop at 28 Pinfold
Street, which he produced in a small backyard workshop. He soon opened a small factory behind Slater &
Company (solicitors) in Walsall Road, not far from the
Bull Stake. Unfortunately the building burned down in
1900 and manufacturing ceased. His son Alfred soon
opened another factory on the southern side of Heath
Road next to several old flooded mine shafts, one of
which supplied the works with water. Products included
tallow candles, yellow and carbolic soap.
The candles were made by repeatedly dipping candle
wicks, suspended from a frame, into molten tallow, until
the required thickness was obtained. After each dipping
the tallow was allowed to cool. One ton of tallow made
around 25,000 candles, and in a record year in the 1930s
the company made 4,000 tons of candles of various kinds.
In 1910 Gilbert Partridge took over at the works
which were sold to ESSO Limited in 1957. Within a few
years the factory closed.
|Read about a local pioneer
of the trade union movement
An advert from 1922.
|Sand, Clay, Bricks
George Ward (Moxley) Limited is a well
known firm which was a significant employer in the town.
It was the last in a line of manufacturers to exploit
the rich glacial sand and clay deposits in the Moxley
area. Some of the deposits were alongside the Walsall
Canal, which allowed heavy loads to easily be
transported at a time when many roads were simple dirt
The fine-grained sand deposits were ideal for use in
moulding boxes in local foundries, making it possible to
produce accurately detailed castings. Sand from the sand
beds was used for casting as early as the late 18th
century by John Wikinson at his Bradley foundry and
For much of the nineteenth century the clay was used
for brick-making, at a time when there was a great
demand for bricks, because most of the local towns were
rapidly expanding. The many brick makers included the
Wood family (John Wood, Thomas Wood, and William Wood)
who ran Moxley Brickworks, alongside a small canal basin
in between Baggotts Bridge and Darlaston Road Bridge;
Hodgins and Bromley, brick and tile makers, and sand
merchants; Price's Brickworks; W. R. Price & Hewitt Lime
& Brick Works; Murby's Brickworks at Moorcroft Wood;
David Rose alongside the Albert and Moxley Ironworks;
Martin & Foster; and Baggott's Bridge Brick Works near
to Baggott's canal bridge.
An advert from 1921.
Conditions in the early brickworks were
extremely basic, and work was hard. The report by the
Children's Employment Commission of 1864 includes the
following description of the girls who worked at Woods
Brickyard and David Rose's Brickyard:
|At Mr. David Rose's Yard, Moxley.
Anne Wooley: I began when I was 15. I
mould now. I am 24. I am paid by the
thousand. I have 2 girls to carry clay.
One is going 16 and the other going 15.
I make about 2,000 bricks in a day. I
have to work the
whole time from 6 to 6 to do that. I
always stop half an hour for breakfast
and 1 hour for dinner.
The clay carriers at this yard had to
carry the clay from the bottom of the
pit to the tables at the top; the ascent
was about 10 yards in 70 yards.
At Mr. Wood's Yard:
In this yard the girls had to carry
the clay up a steep rise of about 12
yards in 50 yards.
Mr. J. Swindley, currier, Freeth
Street, Oldbury: I have lived in the
town 30 years. I am well acquainted with
the habits and conditions of the girls
employed in the brickworks. The
employment of young females at this work
is looked upon as a shame by all us
tradesmen. The girls have to do men's
work along with the men, I have often
been shocked to hear the language and
indecent talk among these girls when
they work. After their work is over
which is generally about six o'clock,
they dress themselves in better clothes
and accompany the young men to the beer
shops. They are a good deal in the habit
of spending their earnings in beer shops
with the men. They are ignorant of all
household work, and quite uneducated.
In the early part of the twentieth century, George
Ward took over the Baggott's Bridge site and opened the
Jubilee Brick & Sand Works, producing bricks and
supplying sand to foundries, and for polishing.
An advert from 1921.
|In 1920 George Ward was joined by his son Edgar
after he finished his schooling, first at Dorsett Road
Council School, then Queen Mary's Grammar School,
In the early 1920s the demand for bricks fell, and so
in 1921 Edgar developed a method of producing flowerpots
from the Moxley clay. Something that had been
unsuccessfully attempted before.
The firm then began producing flowerpots, which were
very popular and sold in large quantities.
Edgar was also a member of Darlaston Council who
represented the Catherine's Cross Ward, and lived at
Marlborough House, 59 Moxley Road, Darlaston.
In the late 1930s the family moved to 8 Ednam Road,
Wolverhampton and called their new house 'Darlas'.
Workers at Ward's clay pit in the
1930s. Courtesy of John & Christine Ashmore.
Producing a large pot on the potter's
The fully-loaded kiln.
|Wards produced all kinds of traditional clay pots
and became well known for their high quality products.
Eventually the firm had to move with the times. Plastic
pots were added to the product range. They were a
cheaper product and finally-took over from the clay
Wards had three rotational moulding machines, and
around 20 injection presses, mostly Windsor machines.
Most of the products were made from polypropylene or
high density polyethylene.
The later product range consisted of moulded
plastic plant pots, planters, propagators and watering
cans, much of which was exported.
The firm was finally taken over by Plysu in 1997.
After which production at Darlaston ended.
An advert from 1972.
An advert from 1963.
Simeon Taylor had a shop at 76 Pinfold Street, where he
sold sports goods, and repaired bicycles at the back. He
suffered from hearing difficulties and so his wife
helped in the business.
The Taylor family lived upstairs above the shop and
had several children. Simeon built a workshop and
started to assemble bicycles.
Sometime later Simeon purchased an old nut and bolt
factory on The Leys, in between Alma Street and Stafford
Road, in which to manufacture bicycles and tricycles.
The factory was previously occupied by David Harper &
It became a family business. Simeon's daughter
Florence, sons Jack and Richard, grandsons John and
Philip, and granddaughter Lynda also worked at the
They became well known for their high standard of
|Simeon died in 1960 after a long illness. By this
time half of the company's products were exported, and
many competitors had ceased to trade because of cheap
foreign competition. Comrade went on to become the
largest independent cycle manufacturer in the country.
The company was hit by the recession in the late 1970s
and 1980s, and moved to new premises near the Bull
Unfortunately it all came to an end in 1987
because of the continuing recession, and the large
number of cheap foreign imports that flooded the market.
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