A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers
this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002
ARTHUR HOUGH AND SONS LTD, HILTON CROSS, CANNOCK ROAD, FEATHERSTONE, STAFFS.
Arthur Hough was born in 1860 and, when he left school, went to work for a key maker. When Arthur reached the age of 21 his employer was unable to pay him a craftsman’s wage and Arthur had to look for work. So in 1881 he set up on his own as a key maker in an out-house behind his parents' home in New Invention, so founding the keymaking business that bore his name. He would buy key castings from a local foundry and finish them, mainly by filing, to supply to local lock makers and factors to supply to the ironmonger for replacement keys. Initially his brothers John and Henry joined him until they both went on to found their own businesses.
Arthur quickly established himself in the trade and built a new home for his family at No 1 Lichfield Road, New Invention, with a small workshop behind it. His sons, Len and Tom, joined the business. Tom died from gas poisoning, following service in the 1914-18 war, in 1926; by this time Arthur was employing his nephew, Reg Appleby. Arthur and Len carried on making keys in a small way during the 1939-45 war. Len died in 1943 but, when the demand for keys started again after the war, Arthur found that at the age of 65 he could not carry on the business himself. He sold it to Reg Appleby, who was joined by his brother in law, Horace Evans. As the business grew with the post war boom in housing, and the demand for locks and keys increased, they quickly needed more space and built a new factory in Brownshore Lane, Essington where production commenced on the 15th March 1948.
In the 1950s the company started to produce keys by resistance welding the parts of the key together, thereby doing away with the laborious filing that had been a tradition of the key maker. This produced a far more accurate key, which suited the need of the growing lock industry with its production line assembly. Over the years the factory grew in size and in 1970 the company extended their business by installing machinery to produce wire and strip formed components, and became the major supplier of accessories to the suspended ceiling trade.
In 2003 Jim Evans, the original compiler of this gazetteer, and Chairman of the company, passed away. His son, Richard Evans, took over. The company is still a family owned business, with the production of keys and suspended ceiling and partition products still forming the major lines of buisness. In 2004 the company announced that it was moving to a new 30,000 sq.ft. factory at Hilton Cross, Cannock Road, Featherstone.
For further information see "100 years of Keymaking", and "100 Years plus of Key making".
HENRY HOUGH, BLOXWICH ROAD, WILLENHALL
He was on the opposite side of the road to another brother, John, who was a lock maker. John Hough (1863-1946) had set up making brass and iron cabinet locks, gas meter locks, padlocks, rim dead and mortice locks in Bloxwich Road early in the 1890s.
(Information mainly from David Hough, 2002; and also from Mr Jenkins of Wem 26/1/01)
HIATT LTD, BALTIMORE ROAD, GREAT BAR, BIRMINGHAM
GEORGE HUNT, JUN., ENTERPRISE WORKS, ORCHARD ROAD, WILLENHALL
INSURANCE LOCK SERVICES, SECURITY WORKS, LAPLEY, nr WHEATON ASTON, STAFFORD.
INGERSOLL LOCKS LTD, FORSYTH ROAD, SHEERWATER, WOKING
Founded in 1940, Ingersoll Locks were originally the lock manufacturing division of the Ingersoll Watch Co.. During World War Two they made locks for aircraft and bombers. After the war they developed a lock which they claimed was un-pickable. It was sold in mortice and pad forms.
The company was sold to Yale, in April 1988, for £2 million, by its then owners, Alumasc Group. At the time it had a work force of 100. In the 1980s all production moved to Yale’s Willenhall site.