A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers
this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002
FREDERICK BARKER (WOLVERHAMPTON) LTD, LEVER STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON
Lock maker. Started between 1914 and 1921. In 1970 at Frederick Street, Wolverhampton. Nothing else known.
Key maker. In Kelly’s 1900 there was E J Barnes, North Street ,Wednesfield, key maker. In 1921 there was a James Barnes, key maker at 36 North Street; and in 1936 at 52 North Street. It is not known if this was the same family. Not in existence in 1970. Nothing else known.
BASTA LTD., TUBBERCURRY, CO. SLIGO, IRELAND
The original engineer, John Stenson, was bought in from Scandinavia. They also developed a die casting division that made door furniture and window fittings.
They were still making cylinder locks in 1976 but by the 1980s lock manufacture had virtually ceased, except for a range of 2-lever mortice lock that used mainly die cast parts. They concentrated on die cast door furniture and window fittings. Any other locks they did sell were purchased from other lock makers (e.g. G. ANSLOW (q.v.)).
In 1990 were taken over by a group led by Kevin Norton. At the time they only had a small range of products. A lot of hard work saw the range increase.
In 1998 they acquired "Worcester Parsons" who were the leading British manufacturer and supplier of "upmarket" brass, aluminium, mild steel and stainless steel extruded hinges, and Basta Parsons was formed.
In 2001 they took over the Wolverhampton Lock making works of Latham Manufacturing. (See under Gibbons and Co (Willenhall) Ltd)) who manufacture ‘Conquest’ friction hinges and the Gibbons range of locks
JOSEPH BATES, J & E BATES, 101 LORD STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON.
BEACON TOOL COMPANY, LICHFIELD ROAD, NEW INVENTION
A company set up by Jack Dunkey Junior to make mortice locks, in a wooden building owned by Mr Howells in the Lichfield Road New Invention. (The building had been used by Mr Howells as a warehouse/shop from where he sold furniture. Previously he had run a keymaking business from premises behind his house next but one to the current New Invention Methodist Church. The wooden building was later used as a ladies' hairdresser). Supplied with keys by A Hough in Oct 1945, which is probably when they started, and were still being supplied in June 1948. (According to Harold Fletcher they only ran for about two years.) Jack Dunkey then moved to Cross Street, Wolverhampton, and started a press working company.
DAVID BEARDS AND SONS LTD., ANCHOR WORKS, CEMETERY ROAD, WILLENHALL.
W. BEARD AND SON, HEATH TOWN, WOLVERHAMPTON
BEDDOWS AND STURMEY LTD., CROWN WORKS, CLEMSON STREET, WILLENHALL (AND HEENAN, BEDDOW AND STURMEY LTD)
Manufactured all types of locks. In Robson's Directory of 1837 John Sturmey of Little London is listed as lock maker, rim and brass case. Kelly’s directory of 1863 lists Silas Beddow, Clempson Street, Willenhall, manufacturer of all kinds of brass locks for ships use, and palace action rim and brass case locks. S. Beddow, Lower Lichfield Street, Willenhall and T Sturmey, Little London, Willenhall as being lockmakers.
Silas Beddow lost his life through drowning on the 28th January 1903; he was highly respected in the town.
An article in the "Ironmonger" of the 7 March 1903 says: "Mr Thomas W Dugmore now takes almost the entire management of the company where he started work at the age of 10 in 1870. He was one of the founders of the Lock Manufacturers Association. Mr Dugmore's practical knowledge of the trade has been of great service to him in perfecting patents taken out by his firm. Personally he had taken out three such, the most successful of which is a burglarproof rim lock. Mr Dugmore has for 20 years acted as the London traveller for his firm."
He retired in 1936, and died in 1943, age 84, at 27 Clemson Street, Willenhall.
In 1916 Mr C.H.Pinson (born Cannon Street, 1875, died, 1934) of C. H. Pinson Ltd (q.v.) acquired an interest in the company Beddow and Sturmey, and it became a limited company, Beddow & Sturmey (1929) Ltd., registered 5th January 1929
In existence in 1948 (AH records); not existing in 1960. The premises, and possibly the business, eventually taken over by Yale and Towne.
J.G.BEDDOWS, SYSTEMS HOUSE, 11 GREAT HAMPTON STREET, BIRMINGHAM (1879-1976)
Established in 1879. Manufactures of locks, clips, fasteners and general presswork. In the 1960s they made a bag lock for fitting to leather bags used by government officials.
On 20 December 1976 acquired by Samuel Wilkes and Sons Ltd., (q.v.) for its plant, which was immediately transferred to the parent company. It did not trade after being acquired.
"Belfry" was the trade name used by Henry Harrison (qv)
JOSEPH BENTON, 31 DOCTORS PIECE, WILLENHALL
Joseph (born 1846) and his brother, Thomas, went to America where they worked in the coal mines. They made some money and returned to Willenhall where they both set up as lock makers, Joseph in premises at 31 Doctors Piece. In the 1881 census Joseph is listed as a mortice lock maker living with his wife, Mary, and 9 children at 11 Stringers Lane. (At this time eldest child Emma was age 15, so Joseph must have returned from America about 1895 at the latest). The business was in existence in 1888 and 1953.
THOMAS BENTON, VICTORIA WORKS, VICTORIA STREET, WILLENHALL
It is said that Thomas married twice, having eight children by his first wife. When she died he married her sister and they had a further eight children. In 1881 the eldest child living at home was John Wormington Benton, age16. Thomas’s wife, Sarah Jane, was aged 31. She could have been his second wife, as she would only have been 15 when John was born.
In about 1900 Thomas purchased a piece of land in Victoria Street where he built a family house with workshops at the back. This still constitutes the works today.
John Wormington Benton (b 1865) took over the running of the business from his father and in 1936 the business became a limited company, as Thomas Benton and Sons Ltd. By that time they employed about 100 people and were about the third largest employer in the Willenhall lock trade.
Over the year the company have made many specialised locks, including many ships locks, and their products were fitted to the Titanic, the Queen Elisabeth, the Queen Mary and later the QE2. (Information from John Benton)
The business passed down the generations to Thomas's great grandson John.
In 1976 the company merged with another family lock making business that, of JAMES H SMITH LOCKS LTD. (q.v.) of Wolverhampton, who can trace their roots back to 1890, to form BENTON SMITH (LOCKS) LTD, still based on the Victoria Street site in Willenhall. They continue to make locks and serve the better quality end of the lock industry. Its products are used wherever good quality locks are required and many high profile customers such as law courts, banks and building societies owe their security to Benton Smith Locks. In 1994 the company employed about 35 people.
In July 1994 John Benton retired, ending the Benton line and leaving Phillip David Smith, the MD, and Mrs Joan K. Smith as directors to run the company. They employed between 21-50 people. They had a turnover in 1997 of £1.16 million and £1.53 Million in 1999.
BENTON SMITH (LOCKS) LTD., VICTORIA WORKS, 16 VICTORIA STREET WILLENHALL (1885-1976)
See Thomas Benton and James H Smith.
GEORGE BIRCH AND CO, 48 RUSSELL STREET, WILLENHALL
Lock maker. Not existing in 1914 or 1970. Existing 1936-1953. Nothing else known.
S. BISSELL & SONS LTD., 41 UNION STREET AND HORSELEY FIELDS
J T & W BOOTH, CANNON STREET, WILLENHALL (c1949-1975)
William "Bill" Booth (1908-1997) was a toolmaker at Rubery Owen who set up on his own making press tools, jigs and fixtures. He was joined part time by his brother Jack. A partnership was formed between William, Jack and Ivor Worrall, each putting in £100. (Ivor Worrall was also a director of John Worrall and Sons Ltd; he put up £100 but was never involved in running the company).
They built a factory on the corner of King Street and Cannon Street, having purchased the land from a Mr J Hayward on the 4th March 1933. This piece of land had been the site of the first Willenhall Primitive Methodist Church that had been built in 1837. The building and land was sold to a Mr Elijah Hayward on the 2 August 1876. It would appear that little use was made of the buildings as, when they were sold in 1933 to W and J Booth, the site consisted of rubble and dilapidated buildings. (The Story of A Hundred Years of Russell Street Methodist Church 1850-1950).
Although Jack was involved with the company he could not leave his job at Paces, the spring makers, till after the war. They were then making locks under the name of W Booth and Co. Their logo was BWB (Booth Worrall Booth).
Between 1939 and 1945 they had to go into making parts for the war effort. This enabled them to obtain new machinery that would stand them in good stead when they returned to making locks after the war.
In 1949 Willenhall Trade Directory listed as Wm. Booth.
In 1950 Bill and Jack brought out Ivor Worrall and changed the name to JT and W Booth Ltd. The company was run by brothers J.T. (Jack) and William (Bill) Booth, manufacturing all kinds of rim locks, mortice, iron cabinet and night latches and padlocks. After many years in the trade the brothers decided to retire and on the 9th November 1973 they sold out to Atlas Architectural Fittings Ltd. They carried on the name, with directors R.W. Parkes and D.L. Ward? The company only survived for a short time before being closed down (in existence in April 1975), most of the tooling being sold to Goodman (qv) from Bloxwich who only made one of the locks and that for only a short period. (Information from John Booth son of William 19/7/98 and 9/12/98)