Thanks to Arthur Lockwood, the Crown Nail Company of Wolverhampton will never be forgotten. During the last months of manufacturing he was a familiar figure in the works, faithfully recording the disappearing scene. Arthur has kindly allowed me to include some of the many paintings and sketches that he did there, which are now one of the few records of tack manufacturing in the U.K.
This fine view of the tack shop was painted in November 2004, about a month before the factory closed. On the left are two hand-fed  large Lloyd tack machines and to their right are two Lloyd tack machines with autofeeds.

The machine on the far right is another large Lloyd tack machine. When all of the machines were in operation the noise was overpowering and the rotating line-shafting, pulleys and belts that drove the machines was an impressive sight indeed. 

Another view of the tack shop, also from November 2004. The feeder is holding a bundle of steel strips which are about to be dropped into the magazine on one of the autofeeds.

They are automatically fed into the machines, and tacks and small nails are cut from them. The two machines on the far right are large Lloyd tack machines in which the steel strips are hand-fed, one at a time into the feeding tubes that can be seen protruding from the front of the machines.

This view, also from November 2004 shows a feeder loading a steel strip into a feed rod. This is inserted into the feeding tube where it is rotated through 180 degrees between each cut.

The feeder is about to insert the strip into the machine on the left. The machine on the right already has a feed rod inserted, the end of which can be seen protruding from the feeding tube.

The hanging weight below the tube is attached to the end of the feed rod by a leather and slowly pulls the steel strip into the machine.

This is a view of the shearing shop, again from November 2004. Kevin Farrington can be seen operating one of the Rhodes shearing machines that cut the steel strips from a large piece of sheet steel.

Each time a strip was cut, the room vibrated and a deep thumping noise came from the machine that could be heard throughout the surrounding area. This was followed by a tinkling sound as the freshly cut strip fell into a steel collecting box.

When cut, the steel strips were loaded into kegs to be taken into the tack shop as required. Some of the loaded kegs can be seen in the foreground.

Another view of the shearing shop showing both of the Rhodes shearing machines. The trolley in the foreground is loaded with the sheets of steel that are about to be cut into strips.

Loaded kegs can be seen on the right and Kevin Farrington is standing in the background by the side of a shearing machine.

This is a view of the strip store that was drawn in January 2005 after the end of production. The piles of empty kegs are awaiting their fate.

Within a few days everything was cleared and most of it was sold for scrap. The overhead line-shafting was cut down and the building quickly emptied to become a silent and eerie place. A great contrast to what it was like a few months before. 

This lovely sketch from January 2005 shows an old nail machine from the 1870s. Thankfully the machine has survived thanks to the Black Country Living Museum where it is at present in store.
This view shows a corner of the fitting shop in December 2004 just before the works closed. On the right is the 50hp. electric motor that drives the overhead line shafting. It's amazing to think that the whole of the tack shop was driven from just this motor.

On the left is Jim Hughes and in the centre is a Cincinnati milling machine which luckily has survived. 

The bluing machine in operation in November 2004. Kevin Farrington is seen in charge of the bluing machine that blued the tacks after manufacture.

This was the last tack bluing machine in the country and was designed in-house. When in operation it was a very impressive sight with long bright flames licking the rotating drums containing the tacks. It was very sad to see such an impressive machine being cut-up for scrap.

Last but not least is a view of the steel shop from December 2004, just before production ended.

The machine on the right is the gauging machine that accurately measured the thickness of the sheet steel before shearing.

The steel strips had to be the correct thickness in order to ensure that the finished products were of the correct size, quality and specification. The painting shows one of the last bundles of steel that was gauged before being used.


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