A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers

Jim Evans

this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002

 

BRAMAH SECURITY EQUIPMENT LTD,  31 OLDBURY PLACE,  LONDON W1 (1784-1999)

Joseph Bramah was granted a patent for his lock on the 21st August 1784 and set up the Bramah Lock Company at Denmark Street, St Giles, London, quickly moving to premises at 124 Piccadilly London. On the 2 June 1798 the patent was extended for a further 14 years.

In 1813 his eldest son, Timothy, joined the business as a partner and the company name was changed to Bramah and Son.  The following year Joseph died.

Between 1821 and 1836 two other sons, Francis and Edward, became partners and the company again changed its name to Bramah and Sons.

Between 1837 and 1841 a new partner joined the company and the name was changed to Bramah and Robinson.

In 1841 the lock business was separated from the engineering business.  The former became known as Bramah and Company, and the latter as Bramah, Prestige and Ball.

In 1851 Bramah became involved in the great lock controversy at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace.

From 1874 the company was owned by J T Need and Co. and held Royal Warrants from Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.  And they had moved their works to Deering Street.  At this time they were marking their locks "J T Needs & Co. 100 New Bond Street (Late J Bramah 124 Piccadilly)"

In 1901 the Whitfield Safe and Lock Company bought the company.  In 1910 the name was changed back to Bramah & Co..  King George V granted a Royal Warrant.  The engineering works was moved to Oldbury Place.

In 1926 the company took over premises at 2 Nottingham Street and in 1934 became incorporated as Bramah Manufacturing Company Ltd.  And the name changed to Bramahís Ltd.

In 1936 they moved from Nottingham Street to 11 Old Bond Street.  In 1939 all locks were being made at Oldbury Place.

Between 1939 and 1963 it is said that the company was owned by the Burmah Oil Company (Richard Phillips/Paul Prescott).

In 1963 Len Young, within 3 months, designed and launched the current low volume high security range of products, purchased the company.

In 1966 Bramahís Ltd was purchased by J R Bramah and Co Ltd and renamed Bramah Security Equipment Ltd.  They remain at 31 Oldbury Place, London today as manufacturers of Bramah locks, window and door security bolts.

(See Joseph Bramah book)(LMNL 45)

 

HENRY BRINDLEY, 58 SNOW HILL & BELL STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON

The advert, left, is from the catalogue of the Wolverhampton Exhibition of 1884.

Nothing else is known of this firm.

 

BRISTOW BROS.,  ECLIPSE WORKS,  WELLINGTON PLACE,  WILLENHALL

Makers of mortice rim and Stevens barrel mortice locks and penny in the slot locks.

Not in existence in 1914.  Existing in 1936.  In 1976 partners were A. Bristow and J. B. Bristow, making specialised mortice locks.  In 1996 John Bristow and J.R. Bristow were still running the Company.  In June 1999 the business closed down due to lack of work caused by cheap imports and the premises put up for sale and sold.

 

BRISTOWS, 111 BLOXWICH ROAD, WILLENHALL

Key makers. Not existing in 1914. Run by the brothers Bill, Ernie and Ken Bristow, possibly into the 1970s. Nothing else known. (Derek Haldren 20/1/1999)

 

WILLIAM BRISTOW AND SONS, CHARLES STREET, WEDNESFIELD

Key maker, not in existence in 1914, nothing else known.  There was a William Bristow, key maker at 44 Bloxwich Road, South Willenhall in 1974.

 

R. BROWN, 11 FROYSELL STREET, WILLENHALL

Richard Brown was a skilled lock maker who produced specialised locks to customerís requirements.  In 1960 he worked from premises behind the Lodge Tavern, High Road, Lane Head, which was run by his brother.  When his brother left the pub Richard moved into premises belonging to Hargrove Fox (qv) in Froysell Street, Willenhall.  In 1966 Hargrove Fox closed and Richard then built a concrete garage in the garden of this home at the back of 82 St Ann's Road, Willenhall.  He needed to build a garage as he never drove a car; he always cycled to make deliveries and fetch supplies.  He worked in St Anns Road until he retired in 1973.

 

ARTHUR JAMES BROOME,  30a TEMPLE BAR,  WILLENHALL

Makers of iron cabinet locks. Not in existence in 1921 or 1970. Existing in 1953. Nothing else known.

 

BUCKNALL & NEVILL LTD,  REGENT WORKS,  WILLENHALL

The advert, left, is from 1920.  Nothing else known but the company may have a family connection with Thomas Herbert (qv).

 

C. H. BUGGINS,  WEDNESFIELD ROAD,  WILLENHALL

Daniel Buggins (b1822) started in business making padlocks at 5 Clothier Street Willenhall, and is listed as a pad lock maker in a trade directory of 1864.  He had 12 children of which William (b1862) (whose son William (b 1896) later ran J C Burns & Co Wednesfield Road, Corn merchants, in Willenhall), Thomas (b1868) (who would later become a barber in Little London) and Charles Henry (b 1866) joined him in the business.  In 1888 the eldest son Benjamin Buggins (b 1854) is listed at 9 Clothier Street as a keymaker.

Between the two wars Charles Henry (1866) commenced business on his own at 3 Wednesfield Road, one of three houses he had built.  He lived in Number 1 and let out the other two. He had two sons, Charles Henry (b1896) and Thomas (b c1900).  Over the years the business passed onto son Charles Henry (1896) and he was joined by his sons, Henry Leslie [Les] (b 1920), Charles Fredrick [Fred] (b1923) and Dennis (b 1926) when he was not at school.   They ran the company as Buggins and Sons, Clothier Street, up to the war in 1939 when the business was closed down.

The original business was still carried on in Clothier Street by William (1862) and Thomas (1868). In 1921 D Buggins, padlock makers, were at 175 Clothier Street.  After they died the business was run by Thomasís son Thomas (c1910); there was a T Buggins listed in a trade directory at 175 Clothier Street in 1936/1940. He worked alone until the early 1970s.He died on 1989.

At the outbreak of World War 2, father Charles (1896) and sons Fred and Dennis worked for Banks and Rushton, (qv) and Les became a toolmaker. As they became old enough Fred and Dennis served in the forces. After the war Dennis joined his father at Banks and Rushton. After a short time Charles (1896) decided to branch out on his own again and, joined by his sons Dennis and Fred, they started to make brass cabinet and safe locks, as C H Buggins, in the same premises they had used before the war. One of their biggest customers being Stephen Cox and Sons Ltd, safe makers of Sedgley.  (Stephen Cox was established in 1890 and made fire-resistant cabinets, strong room doors, floor and wall safes. In 1972 they were at Pensnett Trading Estate Brierley Hill. They went into receivership in 1982.)  The safe locks were made in brass with 6, 7, 8 and even 9 lever mechanisms, and in sizes 3" x 3", 4" x 5", and 4" x 6". Some locks were made with double throw bolts and one or two orders with treble throw. The safe locks became the most profitable side of the business and from c1957 work on cabinet locks declined and they concentrated on the safe locks. In 1970 Fred left the business and went to work for Thomas Benton and Sons Ltd. (qv) Charles (1896) died in 1976 and Dennis ran the business by himself until he sold out to his then biggest customer, Thomas Withers Phoenix Safe Works, Sandwell Road North, West Bromwich. (Safe maker).

A new company C.H.Buggins & Sons (Locks) Ltd was registered on the 9th August 1978.  The directors were Charles Robin Greenwood and John Peter Hewitt (who were also directors of Churchill Lock and Safe Co., Dreadnought Safe Co., and Thomas Withers and Sons Ltd) and Dennis Buggins. All the shares were held by Thomas Withers Ltd. They set Dennis up in a lock-making department that was a replica of his shop in Willenhall, and Dennis worked for them, still producing the locks he had always made. In 1982 Thomas Withers Ltd got into financial difficulties and went into liquidation. (They were struck off the company register and dissolved in February 1984.) Dennis started up again in the original Wednesfield Road premises, making safe locks, which he did until he suffered a stroke in 1983 forcing him to retire. He died on the 5 September 1999 age 73.

 

B. BURGESS AND SONS LTD., 39/41 TEMPLE , WILLENHALL

Although they listed themselves as lock manufacturers it is doubtful if they ever made any locks, as they were really hardware merchants.  

There were a number of such people in the area, who liked people to think they made locks but in fact were only merchants.  In existence in 1921 but not 1914.  

Taken over by H Davenport and Sons by 1975.

(advert, left, from the Ironmongers' Diary, 1961; and advert below from 1929, provided by Trevor Dowson).


E. BURNS AND SONS, GRANVILLE STREET, WILLENHALL

Key makers, not existing in 1921.

Started by Enoch Burns (brother of the Willenhall seed merchants).  He was followed by his eldest son, John, who was succeeded by youngest son Enoch, who was running the business when Joe Davies worked there from 1938 until he left to join the Royal Navy from 1943 to 1947.  He came back to work there after the war for about 18 months before leaving to join Arthur Hough and Sons.  At that time Enoch Burns had taken over a small keymaking business from Gus Walsh, who worked from a shed in Granville Street.  The premises were later turned, for a short period, into a plating firm.

In 1947/8 A Hough supplied keys to an E Burns at 95 New Road Willenhall.

The business closed in the 1960s.

 

JAMES BUTLER AND CO, 14a GREAT BRICKKILN STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON

Manufacturers of brass lever cabinet and till locks. Existing in 1921 and 1953 but not in 1970. Nothing else known.


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