A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers

Jim Evans

this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002

Established in 1865.  Paperwork of the 1920s showed the proprietor as S.E Mattox, but this was crossed out and changed to J Onions. 
He was the proprietor in 1937, when their main customers were Fletcher Hardware Ltd, F Jeavons and Co Ltd. and the Anglo Finnish Hardware Company Ltd.  They purchasing key castings from J Guest and Goodwin foundries.

It would appear that in 1940, when it became difficult to obtain key castings, they started to refurbish pumps for the Boulton Paul Aircraft Company.  The pumps had been purchased from Hattersley & Davidson Ltd.  They were still supplying keys to Fletcher Hardware and F Jeavons in 1942 although the quantities were reduced.

Later letter headings showed air and fluid pumps and aircraft devices, as well as keys.

After the war they moved into repairing radios and televisions.  They were not listed as keymakers in the Kelly’s directory of 1953.



Key makers.  The firm was founded by John Mattox, who started making keys in a shed close to the Bull Ring, Wood End Road, Wednesfield, in 1850.

He moved with his family to Amos Lane about 1850 and built Colonial works.  He died in 1889 age 63.  His daughter Polly had married a key smith who worked for the family business, Herbert Hughes.  In 1928 their son, Bernard Thomas Hughes, inherited the business with two partners, Mary Elisabeth Mattox and Sibylla Susannah Cooper.  The running of the business was left to Bernard.  His two sons Leslie and Gerald join him as key smiths in around 1960.  Apart from the fitting of garage doors in the 1930s, the building, that still retained its original arched metal framed windows, remained the same when it was put up for sale in April 1998.  The ground floor was used as the stores, with the upper floor used as the workshop.

Although they were key makers, they also in the early days made toasting forks. (Express and Star 20 April 1998)

The Hughes family built up the business supplying keys not only to the home market but they also had large export business to New Zealand, Kenya, India, Tasmania, South Africa and Australia, even at one time supplying to the West Indies and South America.

Many locksmiths in Willenhall used their keys: Anglo-American Lock Co, Lowe and Fletcher Ltd., David Beards, John Waine and Sons; and they also supplied direct to the railways and factors and agents.

In the early 1960s the welded steel key became the cheapest means of producing keys and their industry changed.  With the demise of the need to work on cast keys, they concentrated on cutting keys and repairing old locks, especially for churches and stately homes, as well as the general public.

Between 1960 and 1980 they purchased many special lines of welded steel keys and blanks for export to Australia and South Africa from Arthur Hough.

Gerald Hughes died December 1995 but the brothers had already decided to close the business at the end of 1995. (The Lock Museum Newsletter Issue 39)



Key maker. In 1921 Joseph Millincamp was a keymaker at Rookery Street Wednesfield and William Millincamp was making keys at 21 Hall Street Wednesfield.  Nothing else known.



Mortice and rim lock makers.  Existing in 1914 and 1953.  Not existing in 1970.  Nothing else known.



Founded in 1801. 

In the 1881 census Dennis Minors, aged 36, living at 18 Cemetery Road, is classed as a lockmaker.  He had a son, also Dennis.  They employed 10 men, 3 boys and 3 women.

They patented the Scandinavian type padlock in 1886 and also made swivel padlocks, barge padlocks, trunk locks, cupboard and till locks.

The advertisement, left, is from a Wolverhampton trade directory of 1896.  

Later John and Dennis Minors were partners and traded as John Minors, until 1913 when they sold the business to C H Pinson (qv).

The firm is still listed in 1936 and would have been absorbed into Heenan Beddows and Surmey (qv) in 1937. (LMNL No 12)


A & E MORGAN,  172/173 CLOTHIER STREET,  WILLENHALL  (1900-1989)

Established in 1900.  Cabinet and padlock makers under the PHEASANT Brand, they also made meter locks.  Over the years they took over patterns' tools and cabinet lock as made by C. E. Marston of Ideal Works, Little Clothier Street, Willenhall, and locks and tools from Anglo American Lock Co. (q.v.)

In the 1980s the partners were T. Turner, H. Turner and E. Turner.  When they died the son took over and only ran it for about 12 months.  Closed in 1989.



Started in 1825, to manufacture handmade, all brass, padlocks.  These were sold under the "WARRANTED SECURE" and the "STAFFORDSHIRE KNOT" trade marks, later changed to "BULLDOG BRAND".

Jack Morgan, who ran the business in the 1970s, was the third generation of the Morgan family to run the company.  He was born in 1916 in the house in Regent Street from where the family ran the business.  At its peak they employed 10 people.

In 1983 the Thomas Morgan business was sold by its proprietor, Jack Morgan, to Richard Morton of W. J. Goodwin (q.v.), who set up his son, Gary Morton, and his cousin, Peter, to manufacture the Morgan range of padlocks in the original Goodwin works at Wolverhampton Road, Walsall. 

In 1985 they started to manufacture traditional mortice locks under the Bulldog trade name and added cylinder operated mortice locks and rim cylinder night latches, together with locking bars and hardened chain, to complement the padlocks.

Jack Morgan then set up R J Locks (q.v.) with his cousin, Ralph Jackson, in the original Regent Street premises.  Jack Morgan died in 1996 and Ralph continued the business making one off special locks.



This safe is in the Black Country Living Museum. The name plate reads "Arthur W. Moss Maker Gornal near Dudley".

No further information available on this maker.

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