An advert from 1916.

The largest ironworks in the Pleck area was Edward Russell's Cyclops Ironworks in Pleck Road, which had opened by 1873. On the site were 22 puddling furnaces and 3 rolling-mills.

Edward ran John Russell & Company, an old Wednesbury firm that was established in 1811. Edward was the son of John Russell and his wife Mary. After John's death in 1853, Edward ran the business and in 1854 founded the Alma Tube Works. Edward died in 1875.

The firm still used the Old Patent Tube Works in Wednesbury, and had three other factories at Pleck; the Cyclops Tube Works, Alma Tube Works, and Newside Iron Works, lying side by side between Pleck Road and the canal.

The company became a Limited company in 1876, and in 1896 Newside Iron Works merged with the adjacent Cormorant Ironworks.

In 1892 John Russell & Company Limited produced around half the posts to carry the overhead wire for the electrification of the South Staffordshire Tramways which connected Darlaston, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Handsworth, Great Bridge, Dudley Port, Dudley, Walsall, and Bloxwich. The other posts were made by James Russell & Sons.

In 1926 the firm acquired a site near Runcorn and built a new tube works there.

John Russell & Company Limited's Walsall factories.

An advert from 1909.

In 1897 the Institution of Mechanical Engineers visited the tube works:

Messrs. John Russell & Company, Alma Tube Works and Cyclops Iron Works, Walsall

This firm was established in 1811, and was the first to manufacture gas tubes by the drawing process. The Alma Tube Works were commenced in 1854, and are now divided into the departments, employing altogether about 800 hands. The oldest department is the butt weld mill, where butt welded tubes, chiefly for high-pressure hot water, heating, and hydraulic purposes, are made by the drawing process. Here also are made taper telegraph and tramway poles; railway point and signal rods; glass blowers' tubes, etc. The ordinary butt welded steam, water, and gas tubes are made at the Wednesbury works, and the process is similar to that employed in this department. There are also fitting and socket makers' shops and a stamping shop, for making large sockets and flanges.

Attached to this department also is the coil shop, where coils of all sorts are made for heating and refrigerating, and tuyere coils for blast furnaces. In the lap weld department, the mill consists of five welding and two skelping furnaces, five out of the seven being Siemens regenerative furnaces, supplied with gas from a range of Wilson producers; from these furnaces, tubes from inch to 18 inches diameter can be welded.

The finishing shops are fitted up with tools for cutting off, screwing, staving, bulging, flanging, and other methods of making joints, either for fixing in boilers or for coupling together. Large quantities of oil line pipe, well boring and casing tubes, both for oil and water wells, are manufactured here, as well as high pressure steam mains, iron and steel boiler and stay tubes, etc. Storage heaters for railway carriages and tramcars are also made, and sent out ready for fixing. The weldless tube department, which has been recently added, is equipped with seven double draw benches, five for cold drawing tubes up to 2 inches diameter, and two powerful benches for drawing Belleville boiler tubes and tubes up to 6 inches diameter for hydraulic purposes. The rolling mill consists of four pairs of rolls, driven by a tandem compound surface condensing engine.

The Cyclops Iron Works employ about 400 hands, and can turn out 400 to 500 tons of finished iron per week, consisting chiefly of tube strip iron for consumption in the tube works. There are thirty two puddling furnaces, two of them working with forced draught, and the others of the ordinary kind. Three steam-hammers and a forge train with three pairs of rolls deal with the product of these furnaces. On the mill side are a 16 inch and 9 inch mill, both three high. The 16 inch mill is engaged almost exclusively on rolling tube strip from 4¾ to 15⅛ inches wide. The 9 inch mill rolls 4¾ inches and narrower strip iron, as well as bar iron. The heating furnace for the 16 inch mill is one of the new form of Siemens furnaces, and a second of the same kind is in course of construction.

Factories and sites in 1916.


An advert from 1918.

Some products from the 1916 catalogue

Standard gas fittings.

Screwed inserted casing tubes with a 5 inch to 12 inch bore.

A loop type expansion bend with a 7 inch bore suitable for 180 psi steam pressure.
12 inch horseshoe type expansion beds for 165 psi steam pressure.
Seamless superheaters with special welded ends for locomotives and boilers.
Locomotive superheater elements.
Locomotive superheater model.
Schmidt type locomotive superheaters and draught retarders.
Boiler flue and stay tubes, lapweld quality. Made from iron, steel, or charcoal iron as requested.
Coils were available in round, square, or rectangular tube, galvanised or black. They were suitable for condensing, heating or cooling, in high or low pressure heating plants.

Seamless superheater coils.

Joints for steel steam mains.

Expansion pipes for gas, water, or steam.


Standard sockets, screwed to order.

Steam drum for superheated steam at 300 psi.

12 inch steam pipe with 8 inch outlet, and the companion 8 inch bend.

12 inch steam main, 160 psi.

Steel tubes with welded outlets and welded-on steel flanges.

Flanged tubes with outlets welded-on.
Special solid forged sweep tees.
Flanged fittings for 180 psi steam pressure.

Driving heads and shoes for socketed well casing tubes.

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