James Russell & Sons, Limited, inventors and first
manufacturers of tubing.
Crown Tube Works, Wednesbury
|The name of Wednesbury is inseparably associated with
one of the most important branches of industrial activity
carried on in the Midlands, namely, that of tube
manufacturing, for it is here that it can be said to have
had Its birth.
|The firm who Justly claim the honour of being first
manufacturers is that of Messrs. James Russell & Sons
Limited, of the Crown Tube Works, who have been established
from the commencement of this branch of industry, and, who
by reason of their many inventions and improvements are now
justly regarded as the oldest and most celebrated firm in
the United Kingdom.
The premises occupied cover about ten
acres of ground surface, and consist of extensive mills for
butt and lap welded tubes, also iron, malleable iron, brass
and gun metal foundries, large fitting and turning shops,
for general purposes. In addition to which the firm has extensive brass finishing
shops, and a separate coil and fitting manufactory.
They also possess a branch works at Darlaston, for
galvanising purposes, in order to meet the heavy
demand for goods of this description. The
arrangement and equipment throughout is on a most
comprehensive and complete scale, the works being
supplied with all the most improved machinery and
appliances known to the trade. About 1,300 hands are
Unsurpassed facilities exist for executing
the largest orders in the promptest and most
satisfactory manner. Messrs. James Russell & Sons
are manufacturers of tubes in iron and steel from an
eighth of an inch to six feet in diameter for gas,
steam, water, and oil mains, also of plain, spiral,
and tapered tubes for shipbuilding, architectural,
and other purposes, such as bedstead and boiler
making and artesian well boring, also coils, core
bars, regulating valves, roller tubes for looms and
machinery, tramway, telegraph, and electric light
poles to forty feet long in one piece; brass and gun
metal fittings of every description for gas, steam,
water, and hydraulic purposes; also stocks, dies,
and taps of Whitworth's standard thread, for gas
tubes, bolts, nuts, etc., and all kinds of tools for
engineers', gas fitters', and smiths' use.
these manufactures the firm have undoubtedly reached
the highest point of excellence, as they are found
to combine in an eminent degree all the most
desirable qualities of best material, superior
workmanship, finish, and durability. They have long
maintained a high reputation, and have a widespread
and influential connection both at home and abroad.
They have established four branch depots, namely, at
108, Southwark Street, London; 6, Mark Lane, New Briggate, Leeds; 114, Colmore Row, Birmingham; and
33, King Street West, Manchester. The directors of
the firm are gentlemen of well-known influence and
standing in the district.
Wednesbury coal mines are
nearly exhausted after centuries of working; first,
as open works (where the measures were readily got
near the surface) with the aid of inclined plane or
ladders; secondly, as bell-pits, and lastly as deep
shafts with winding gear, once worked by gin horses,
now by steam engines. Here the men have just come up
the shaft in a cage. This open cage is steadied in
the slides, and "catches" in the chain would prevent
it falling to the bottom in case of a breakage.
The coal getting here has
recently moved eastwards, towards West Bromwich and Hamstead, where the piercing of the Permians has
discovered coal over 400 yards below. The rural aspect of the
country, as is shown on the "road home" of the
colliers, soon gives way to the desolation of pit
mounds and colliery wastes.
Edwin Richards & Sons, established
1810, manufacturers of high
class axles for every description of' vehicles;
best quality coach and carriage
springs, special hand made coach bolts.
Dog cart ironwork, self-acting carriage steps,
and stampers of step treads, etc.
Brass and Ironfounders.
Carriage hardware of every
Makers of Weatherill's patent
Portway Works, Wednesbury.
The business carried on under
the above style and title is one of the oldest of
its kind in Wednesbury, the home of the tube
trade, and it is also one of the largest and most
flourishing. Founded in the year 1869 the "Hope"
Tube Works have always enjoyed the advantage of able management, to which no doubt
is largely due the wide patronage and the high
reputation which have been earned. The firm's
products are known in almost all parts of the
civilized world, and are appreciated wherever they
have found their way. The works, of which an
excellent exterior view is given below, combine ample space with a convenient
arrangement of the different departments. Every
facility necessary for the efficient carrying-on of
the trade is possessed, and the machinery and all
appliances in use being of the most approved modern
The employees are picked men, a
large proportion having been in the service of the
firm for some years, and all work is turned out not
only capably but expeditiously. Tube making in very
nearly all its branches is carried on here.
Bedstead, blind, and fencing tubes, with ferrules
for same; oval, flat, and section tubes of all
descriptions; special light tubing; extra strong
tubing for handrails, etc.; gas, steam, and water
tubes and fittings; cold drawn weldless steel tubes,
for cycles, boilers, etc., are all included in the
every day work of the firm.
They enjoy the
distinction of having been the first firm in
Wednesbury to make weldless tubes; and the
enterprise of the conductors has recently had a
striking exemplification in the enlargement of the
works for the purpose of dealing on a large scale
with the special branch of the trade which has to do
with the manufacture of cycles. McDougall's tubes,
of whatever kind, have for their chief
characteristics, strength, lightness, and tenacity.
The two gentlemen whose photographs are given above
are the working heads of the concern.
John Knowles, Walsall Street Works,
Tubes and Fittings.
Wrought-iron tubes for gas, steam, and
Speciality: All descriptions of
wrought-iron fittings for gas, steam, and water.
Galvanised tubes and fittings.
Locomotive and marine boiler tubes, brass fittings, stocks
and dies, gas fitters' tools, gas burners, etc.
Walsall Street Works.
The manufacture of wrought iron tubes
and fittings, of all kinds, for gas, steam, and water
purposes, constitutes a highly important branch of
industrial activity in the town of Wednesbury, and a name
very prominent in this connection is that of Mr John
Knowles, proprietor of the Walsall Street Works. The
Walsall Street Works were founded in 1850, and the trade
done has been of an eminently successful and progressive
character. At the present time the premises utilised cover a
considerable area of ground; they possess a capital office
and warehouse frontage to Walsall Street, and are
substantially constructed as well as very conveniently
arranged. They are fully and modernly equipped for all
operations carried on, and afford steady employment to about
one hundred and sixty hands. Every description of tubes and
fittings are produced for both home and foreign markets, and
it is generally admitted throughout the trade that these
manufactures are unsurpassed for thorough reliability and
superior finish. It may be mentioned that every tube is
tested before leaving the works. A considerable reserve
stock is kept on hand to meet pressing demands, and special
tubes can be made to order on short notice. The continued
success of this business, under the management of Mr.
Knowles and his sons, is fully assured.
This establishment dates back to
the year 1840, earning a world-wide reputation for
its wheels and axles. In 1864 it was registered as a
limited liability company,
and reconstructed in 1889. The present
directors are: John Pierce Lacy, J.P. (Chairman),
John Brooks, William McLaren, and Simon Leitner,
J.P. The Secretary is J. F. Cay.
The registered capital of the
company is £437,500. It consists of 30,000 ordinary shares, £7 each,
preference shares, £6.10s each. The capital called up and
payments in advance is £348,594 consisting of ordinary shares, £4 per share,
paid; and preference shares,
£6.10s. per share, paid.
The Works of the Company cover
an area of 500 acres, and 3,000 men are employed.
The Works are
situated at Wednesbury, Staffordshire, about seven
miles north-west of Birmingham, and have railway
approaches from the Great Western Railway, the North
Western Railway, and the Midland Railway; also the
Birmingham Canal Navigation runs into the principal
The work turned out is of the
greatest variety, consisting of:
|Railway wheels and axles of
all types; weldless steel tyres; iron and steel
axles; steel, wrought iron, and cast iron bridges;
roofs, girders, turntables, switches, and crossings;
rolled iron and open hearth basic and acid steel
plates; bars, also sections of every class; castings;
rolls; all kinds of cast iron and wrought iron and
steel tanks; and gasworks and water plant.
Some of the largest bridges in
India and Japan have been supplied by this company. Blackfriars Bridge, London, also was made here.
The works comprise :
1. Brunswick Iron and Steel
These have been re-organised, and the
steel-cogging, bar and plate mills, for basic and
acid steel, are of the most recent
design, and are fitted with the latest types of
labour saving appliances.
The specially mild basic steel
turned out here has a wide reputation for
reliability; some being made as low as 22 tons
tensile, for water tube boiler work of torpedo
boats; various grades of basic steel are produced up
to 32 tons tensile, all very ductile. Angles, bars,
and channels of an immense variety of sections are
rolled, in steel and iron, as well as sheets; also
steel plates to 7ft. 6in. wide by 30ft. long. The
total capacity of finished products is about 600
tons of iron and 600 tons of steel per week.
2. Brunswick Wheel
These works have manufactured and supplied
every known type of wheel, and lately have been
thoroughly re-organised; a large addition of modern
machinery has been made, notably-two hydraulic wheel
forging presses of 1,200 and 2,000 tons for the
manufacture of cold spoke and hot spoke wheels,
disc wheels, and wrought iron washers and bosses for
The machine shop is replete
with all classes of lathes and tools for finishing
the wheels, and is one of the most complete in the
country. Capacity about 700 to 800 pairs of wheels
3. Monway Iron and Steel
In this department are manufactured the weldless steel
tyres, iron and steel axles, and iron
plates. There are here four open hearth, acid-lined,
steel melting furnaces (two of 25 ton and two of 15
ton capacity); also two basic open hearth furnaces.
The output is 100 tons of plates, 100 tons of axles,
and 250 tons of tyres per week, besides a large
amount of basic ingots and blooms.
4. Old Park Bridge
Boiler yard and foundry. This department is
well laid out for bridge, roof, and similar work,
and has most powerful cranes, capable of dealing
with the largest bridges made. The Benares Bridge,
consisting of seven main spans of 356 feet by 25
feet by 35 feet, nine spans of 114
feet, and weighing 6,500 tons, was built here; it
was made entirely of Steel.
||The Benares Bridge.
There is also a large foundry
and machine shop; in the latter there is a very
large faceplate lathe capable of turning 40 feet
diameter. All kinds of machine tools and
hydraulic pressing and riveting plant are found
here. The principal work consists of bridge and roof
work, girder work, engine turntables,
water tanks, water cranes, points, switches, and
crossings; all kinds of gas works apparatus, general
engineering work, castings, and steel tubbing for
mines; the capacity being 10,000 tons per annum. An
enormous variety of patterns on hand, to be used
or converted at short notice for almost any casting.
owns a number of collieries, the principal output
being from Millfields. It will be seen from the
foregoing that, with a central position, ample
railway and canal accommodation, and having control of the operations from
the raw to the finished material, and a most
efficient plant, the company is in an excellent
position to supply the highest class of finished
|A group of wheels manufactured
by the company.
||Willingsworth Furnaces stand near the site of
Willingsworth Hall (once the seat of the Parkes family,
ancestors of Lord Dudley), a Tudor building demolished 30 or
40 years ago.
Only one of the two furnaces is now in blast, but that is
quite up-to-date in all modern improvements. On the picture,
smoke may be seen rising from the slag which is escaping
from the tap hole.
|Presently the molten iron will be tapped, allowed to
flow through the "runner" which is seen on the right hand,
and thence to the trenches of the "big sow and little pigs". Wednesbury's last remnant of plant for producing pig iron.
||Charles’ Wednesbury Bridge New
|The Forge Pool Colliery belongs to Alderman Wilson
Lloyd, J.P., and is now being worked by him.
It is part of the Wednesbury Hall Estate, and was once
called the Great Park Farm.
The mineral part of the estate, since the year 1699, has
belonged to Richard Parkes (died 1729) and his descendants.
Richard Parkes lived at Oakeswell Hall.
His daughter Sarah married, 1727, Sampson Lloyd, banker, of
Birmingham, who died 1807, leaving his share of the estate
of Richard Parkes, which he inherited, to his descendants,
of whom Mr. Wilson Lloyd is one, and is the only
representative of the Heirs of Parkes now living in
Wednesbury. The Great Park before mentioned contained
formerly two large pools, one near the Old Park Road, now
nearly filled up, the other, partly shown in the picture,
called Forge Pool. These two pools gave water power to the
Tilting Forge which adjoined Park Lane House. This was
before the introduction of steam power, when all ironworks
were driven by water.
|Edward Elwell, Wednesbury
|Elwell’s Pool and Viaduct
This is part of the old South Staffordshire
Railway opened in 1847. Here is a viaduct crossing Elwell's Pool,
which was formerly a timber structure, into which a goods train fell
in June, 1859. The former family residence of Elwell's is seen in
the distance by the side of the Forge. This large sheet of water,
being contiguous to the main road, might be made available for
boating and other aquatic sports.
|John Bagnall & Sons
Places part 2
Industries part 2