A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers

Jim Evans

this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002


Pad lock makers.  Existing in 1900 (Kelly’s).  Not existing in 1970.  Nothing else known.



Cabinet lock makers.  Not existing in 1914, but existing in 1921 and 1946 (AH records).

In the late 1950s, the firm was taken over by two toolmakers, Arthur Lansdale and Arthur Morgan, who stopped making locks and concentrated on their tool making skills.  They also built one or two small power presses.  The firm survived until Arthur Lansdale died in 1966.  Arthur Morgan then worked for Arthur Hough, from October 1966 until May 1968, when he retired.



This advertisement, from a Wolverhampton trade directory of 1896, is the only evidence we have so far of this company.  

They claim to have been founded in 1830; and they show their trade mark as being the letters G H & Co in a diamond.  They say they make "brass and iron locks for builders, cabinet makers and portmanteau makers".  

The adverts says they won a silver medal at Sydney; that they have an "illustrated book specially arranged for foreign markets"; and that "merchants and shippers indents carefully made up".  All of this suggests that they may have concentrated on the export market.


Read the history
of Harpers


Founded as Henry Harrison and Sons in the year 1888 by F. H. Harrison, who was still chairman in 1935, producing principally all types of padlocks for the home and foreign markets under the "BELFRY" trade mark.  The range was extended to include safe locks, meter locks and brass cabinet locks.  They had a fully equipped foundry for producing all types of non-ferrous castings.

They became a limited company on the 30th August 1919 (Reg. No 158384) and later were incorporated into the Triplex Lloyd group (noted as Henry Harrison and Sons Ltd., a member of the Triplex Group, in 1972).  

In 1986 the directors were Messrs L. R. H. and H. Harrison.

In 1989 the company adopted the name Atlad Harrison Ltd.. and moved to new premises in Monmer Close, Willenhall, when it was taken over by Mr Martin Stevenson.

In June 1994 they closed down and the lock making side was sold to Willenhall Engineering Ltd. (q.v.), who were already making padlocks and added the BELFRY range of pad and mortice locks to their range.

(right:  ad advert from The Ironmonger Guide 1950, showing something of the range of padlocks made by the company)

(left) letterhead, dated 1951, kindly supplied by Trevor Dowson
(right) advert, undated but apparently from the mid 20th century. (Thanks to Trevor Dowson).


See Beddows and Sturmey Ltd



Makers of attache case and suit case locks.  

Not existing in 1900 (Kelly’s).  In Kelly’s directory of 1914 /21 listed at Newhall Street.  Advert (left) from 1920. Later moved to Cemetery Road.

In the 14 November 1969 were acquired by Samuel Wilkes and Sons Ltd (q.v.).  Trading was transferred to the parent company on the 1 January 1973.

The information above was in Jim Evan's original version of this Gazetteer.  We have now heard from George Cooper, in New Zealand, who has been researching his family history.  His findings so far are of interest in themselves but also as an indication of the complexity of relationships which can be found in small family firms.  George writes:

John Bucknall was born in Newcastle under Lyme in 1785.  The Bucknall family moved from Newcastle under Lyme.  John Bucknall, described as a locksmith, married Hannah Mothershaw at St Peter’s Wolverhampton in 1806.  In a Willenhall Directory of 1818 he is listed as a pad lock maker in Botany Bay.  By 1835 he was in Pigot's directory as a pad and closet lock maker in Birmingham Street.  He was still alive at the time of the 1851 Census in which he is listed as a locksmith in King Street.  He died in 1865.

John and Hannah had three sons.  The eldest, William, was born in 1808 and is in Jones' Iron District Registry, 1864, as a keymaker in Russell Street.

Another son, Thomas Bucknall, was aged 39 in the 1851 Census and is listed as a rim lock maker. He is listed in Jones’ directory as a lock manufacturer in Russell Street.  His brother, Samuel, is also listed as a park gate lock manufacturer.

Thomas’s son, Edward Bucknall, was a Willenhall Lockmaker. 

Florence Bucknall married Leigh Richmond Clinton in 1890.  The Clintons were hairdressers in Market Street, Willenghall, the business having been established by  Leigh’s father, James Clinton, in the 1860s.

Florence and Leigh Clinton’s daughter, Florence Daisy Clinton, was born in Willenhall in 1895.  She remembered that her grandfather, Edward Bucknall, had a small business as a lockmaker. 

Edward Bucknall died in 1926, aged 82.  In his will, made in 1913, he appointed his sons, George Herbert Bucknall and Thomas Bucknall, as his executors.  He left everything to his unmarried daughter Lydia and his youngest son Bertie Lee Bucknall; but if either of them predeceased him, then their shares to go to George and Thomas.

Florence spoke of her uncle’s business as “Thomas Herbert’s”.  The Willenhall Red Book mentions Thomas Herbert as lock manufacturers in Cemetry Road, in their 1929, 1933 and 1934 editions.

Although this gives a clear connection between the Bucknalls, the Clintons and Thomas Herbert's, the exact nature of that relationship is not absolutely clear.  There may also be a connection with the firm Bucknall and Nevill Ltd. (qv).

In addition to George and Thomas, Edward Bucknall had another son, Edward.  Both Thomas and Edward were listed in the 1901 census as carpet bag lock makers, working on their own account and both living in Walsall Road, Willenhall.  

Edward is shown in the Ellis Island records as entering the USA in August 1912.  He gave his next of kin as Mrs. Bucknall of Highfield House, Gypsy Lane, Willenhall and his occupation as lockmaker.  He said that he was going to a friend in Pittsburgh. No further references to him in the USA have been found and he resurfaces in Ventnor, Isle of Wight.  His former wife, Harriet, died in 1928 and he immediately married Nellie Dilke in London.  Nellie was 18 years younger than him.  They had a substantial house in Ventnor, Warborough Mount, which is still standing; and they owned the local Bijou cinema, a thatched cottage in the High Street and other property.

Edward died, aged 57, in 1930.  His obituary in the Isle of Wight Mercury says: "Resident since the war, a native of Wolverhampton, he was the chief partner in a firm of lockmakers in Wolverhampton, came here for health reasons after marrying a local lady".  Nellie lived until 1967.  Her obituary includes the following: " Widow of Edward Bucknall, at one time they owned considerable property in Ventnor".  Edward's will shows that he left over £10,000, a lot of money in 1930.


Makers of "Lever" and "Patent Protector" locks for all purposes.

Alfred C. Hobbs was an American who came to England in 1851 as a salesman with Day and Newell when they came to exhibit at the Crystal Palace Exhibition.  He had also become an acknowledged master at picking locks and took on the challenge of picking a Bramah padlock.  It took him 51 hours in 16 working days, after which he could open the lock in an hour.  The Arbitrators awarded him the prize of 200 guineas.

With this money, and the invaluable publicity he had received, he went into business as a lockmaker in Cheapside, London.  The company started in 1851 and was formally registered as Hobbs and Co. in 1852.  But by 1855 it had become Hobbs, Ashley and Co.  Soon the name changed to Hobbs, Ashley and Fortescue, with an address at 97 Cheapside.  It is not clear whether they moved or Cheapside altered, but the address for ninety years was 76 Cheapside.  They used advanced machine methods and were highly successful.

In 1860 Hobbs returned to America and went on to patent many machines.  Before he left, British pride was somewhat restored when one of the Chubb workmen picked a Hobbs Lock.  Hobbs had never intended to stay in England and, when Ashley died in1860, he had no difficulty in disposing of a thriving business to John Mathias Hart.  It is not known if Hobbs was any relation to  Thomas Hart or if either were related to William Albert Hart, who was a director from 1908 to 1910.

Hobbs had stipulated that his name should always head the Company so it became Hobbs, Hart and Co. in 1860.  Hart died in 1887 and the firm became a limited company.  Hobbs retained an interest in the company: he returned in 1872 to celebrate the 21st anniversary, held at the Crystal Palace which had, by then, been moved to Sydenham.

Alfred Hobbs died in 1891.

According to Peter Cowie (Locks and Keys, July 1995) the company became a member of the Chubb group in 1954.  But Peter Gunn writes to us that "according to my information Chubb took over in 1956.  When I transferred to Chubb's Lock Sales Department in 1968, there were still 2 or 3 ex-Hobbs employees working at Chubb Head Office, handling enquiries for Hobbs locks.  Chubb kept the Leyton factory going until about 1961, after which manufacture of Hobbs products was transferred to the Chubb Lock Works in Wolverhampton".



Established in 1912 as lock and latch manufacturers.  In 1933 Randle Hobley had a lock making business in Church Street Willenhall.  Closed down c1970 when the last Mr Hobley died.



Established in 1860 as cabinet lock makers.  Later progressed into combination and brief case locks.  In 1921 and 1936 James Hodges and Sons were cabinet lock makers at 27 Pool Street Wolverhampton.  In 1953 and 1972 they were at Frederick Street, Wolverhampton, and were run by Mr Lisle, a grandson of Edward Lisle, who built Star motorcycles and cars in Wolverhampton. On 15 November 1971 they were acquired by Samuel Wilkes and Sons Ltd (q.v.).

Image34x.jpg (6684 bytes) In October 1974, as a result of continued expansion, Hodges moved their factory to larger premises occupying 24000 sq. ft. at the rear of the parent company, S.Wilkes and Sons Ltd., at Park Road Bloxwich.

Trading was transferred to the parent company on 1 January 1978.  They went into liquidation in 1979 and the manufacturing rights were acquired by Liston Locks Ltd (qv).



Manufacturers of padlocks, park gate and lighter locks; and double bolted and bar locks.

The business was established by Richard Hodson (1780-1829) in 1792, in Clarks Lane, Willenhall. It was then taken over by his son Richard (1811-1866) who, in the 1841 census, is listed as a lockmaker at John Street.  There were 4 apprentices living with the family.  By 1851 they were at Hall Street.  Richard and his wife Ann (1807-1865) had 7 children, including Edgar (1830-1891) who is listed as a locksmith, and they had 4 apprentices living with them.  But by 1861 they only had 2 apprentices.  On the death of his father, Edgar inherited the business, which he ran until he died in 1891.

Edgar’s son John (born 1861) became the owner in 1893, paying £47.1s.6d. for "the shop tools, effects and the business" from his late mother’s estate.  The business at this time was run from 79 Lower Lichfield Street.  John continued to trade under the name Richard Hodson and Sons, and ran the business from several addresses around Willenhall, finally, in 1903, moving into workshops at the rear of 54 New Road.  Here he employed up to a dozen men and women.  He rented the workshop from Mr Job Phillips, who at that time lived in the house.  When Job Phillips decided to sell the house and workshop in 1905, John, and wife Sarah, seeing the chance to have home and business on the same premises, decided to buy the property.  They had six children in all.

John died in 1911 and his son Edgar, aged only 19, took over the running of the business, helped by his mother Sarah and his sisters Edith (born 1891) and Flora (born 1899).  The sisters later set up in the front room of the house, running a small drapers and general stores as E. A. & F. S. Hodson.

Sarah died in 1951 age 91, leaving the house to Edgar, Edith and Flora, none of whom ever married.  The two sisters devoted themselves to looking after their brother, the shop and the house.  In 1966 Edith died aged 75. Edgar continued his lock making business into the sixties, until his death in 1970 aged 78.  Flora, the last member of the family, lived there alone until she died in 1983 aged 84.

It was in 1983 that 54 New Road was purchased by the Lock Museum Trust to be turned into a lock museum.  The Lock Museum, Willenhall was officially opened to the public in April 1987.

(Details taken from "The Hodson Family, A History of one Willenhall Lock Manufacturer from 1972-1970" Compiled by Brenda Jepcott. Published by The Lock Museum, Willenhall 1999)


Manufacturer of all types of locks.  Not existing in 1921 or 1970.  Nothing else known.

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