A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers

Jim Evans

this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002

Henry, William and Thomas Vaughan were the sons of Able Vaughan, who is listed as a lockmaker in the 1851 census, employing four men in Russell Street, Willenhall. 

Henry, aged 13, and William, aged 11, are both listed as lockmakers, so they could have been two of their fatherís employees. 

Henry and younger brother Thomas (born 1842) joined together to form H & T Vaughan in, their literature says,1856, to manufacture all types of locks.  They eventually became one of the largest lock makers in the Willenhall.

Willenhall Local Board approved plans for a works in Wood Street for Henry on the 6th December 1869 and in 1872 they approved plans for works in Union Street in Thomasís name.

They were the first company in Willenhall to developed the manufacture of a cylinder pin tumbler lock about 1910.  Their famous 04 lock was designed by Percy Bryan, who was also responsible for sales and marketing.  He eventually would take over Albert Marston and Co. (q.v.). (Information from Bill Williams 12/8/99). In 1928, on the death of the then MD Joseph Starkey, the Vaughan family decided to sell the business to the Yale and Towne Manufacturing Co., who were based in the USA.  They then became Yale and Towne (qv) in Willenhall. (Information from Horace Davies, Willenhall History Society)



William (born 1840) was brother to Henry and Thomas, the sons of Able Vaughan.  As the company literature shows them as being founded in 1837, it could be that William took over the lockmaking business of his father and renamed it with his own name.  They manufactured mortice, sash, and dead locks and latches.  At 95 Wood Street in 1921.  Existing in 1935 but no later reference (Kellys).



Joseph Waine & Co. Ltd, were general lock, latch & bolt makers, brass & iron founders at Imperial Works, Wood Street, Willenhall. It seems that the company would have been founded about 1850. (Note: this company is not to be confused with John Waine and Sons (Willenhall) Ltd of Brittannia Works, Lower Lichfield street,  Willenhall. There is no connection known between the companies).

Advert for garage bolts, date unknown

Joseph had three sons, John Vincent Waine, G. A. Waine and Horace T. Waine.  John Vincent Waine, and his brother G. A. Waine, started the Vulcan Manufacturing Company at Blackheath,  Birmingham, in about 1910. The company manufactured heel tips and toe plates in vast numbers; and also " garage bolts, cabinet bolts, shelf brackets, aluminium door and gate latches, casement stays and fasteners, hasps and staples, hinges, brass and steel gate and tee, gutter brackets, swivel ties, tinned angle brackets, rim, dead and mortice locks, latches, padlocks, stamped brassware and  household soldering sets"  The company developed a large overseas trade. 

In 1913 the Directors decided to move their three factories to one site.  In June a large disused works was purchased in Colliery Road, Wolverhampton and the three factories were combined under one roof and called the New Griffin Works.

In 1928 Theo Waine and G. A.Waine took over the Wearwell Cycle Co. Ltd. They made bicycles and, later, motorbikes.  They continued to develop the general ironmongery side of the business, including locks and bolts.

Advert of unknown date

Company letterhead of 1965

In 1953 in the Wolverhampton Official Handbook, they describe themselves as

Manufacturers of door bolts in japanned and galvanised steel.  Also brass, chromium-plated and special finishes, stainless steel, garage bolts, cabinet bolts, shelf brackets, aluminium door and gate latches, casement stays and fasteners, hasps and staples, hinges, brass and steel gate and tee, gutter brackets, swivel ties, tinned angle brackets, rim, dead and mortice locks and latches, padlocks, stamped brass-foundry, household soldering sets, cycle bells, boot heel and toe tips (steel).

The letterhead above shows separate trade marks for heel tips, nails, locks and bolts.

In 1969 the Vulcan Manufacturing company went into voluntary liquidation, and the goodwill was sold to Tippers, who were in the same line of business. The Wearwell Cycle Co was also sold.

Note:  all the images for this entry were provided by Trevor Dowson, to whom we extend our thanks



Founded in 1845.  An advert in the Directory of Staffordshire 1880 lists them as manufacturers of every description of tumbler, barronís patent and levered iron padlocks, also in brass.  

They were also manufacturers of screw connecting shackles and split connecting links, swivel links etc for shipping purposes; and they were also general galvanizers.

The advert (right) is from 1920.

In 1931 they were selling the Brittannia Cylinder Night Latch, which was made for them by George Spencer Ltd (qv).

Run by two brothers (names?).  Existing in 1974.  Nothing else known.

image from Trevor Dowson

The image (left) is of a letterhead dated 1931 but the telephone number, "64 Willenhall" suggest an earlier printing.

The advert (left) is from the Ironmongers Guide, 1950, trade marks section.  Presumably the head is that of Britannia and was being used as their trade mark.



Trevor Dowson has found this notice in Ryland's, 1934.  Nothing further is known.



Trunk, cash box and cabinet lock makers.  Existing in 1914 and 1953 but not 1970.  Nothing else known.



The company was set up in 1873 as a result of an industrial dispute between the workers and their employers.  A demand for higher wages resulted in a lock-out with no wages earned at all.  A benefit fund was collected from donations so that the out of work people might get some assistance while the dispute continued.  £150 was raised and distributed.  Mr G. Harrison reported to the Walsall Trades council that the £150 paid out seemed futile, for the men were still out of work and still not earning.  Why was not the money raised used to set the workers up in their own workshops and become self employed?  And so Walsall Lock and Cart Gear was formed.  Known as the Walsall Padlock Society in 1879, it adopted many titles over the years:  "The Walsall Lock and Keysmiths Society Ltd";  later "The Co-operative Walsall padlock Co.";  in 1887 the company was trading in the name of Walsall Industrial Co-operative Lock and Hardware Manufacturing Society Ltd".  In 1888 the members faced the responsibility of using so much co-operative and trade language in their business and, in the interest of economy of speech and writing and ink, adopted the name of "Co-operative Padlock Society Ltd."  They later became Walsall Lock and Cart Gear as their range of products widened. (Further information "The History of Walsall Locks and Cartgear Ltd 1873-1923" by R Halstead )

This sign board is in the Lock Museum at Willenhall

This notice, from the Ironmonger Guide 1950 trade marks section, shows a dragon trade mark.  
The Dreadnought padlock, patented 1895, when the company was going under the name Walsall Locks & Cart Gear Ltd..  

The key on this remarkable lock fitted over the bars on the front of the lock and was then moved sideways to open the lock.

(by courtesy of the Willenhall Lock Museum)

right:  letterhead, 1929, kindly supplied by Trevor Dowson.

They built premises in Neale Street, Walsall and later expanded to having branches at Walsall Road, Willenhall (used until the 1960s) and Newhall Street, Willenhall.  (In 1936 they were at Newhall Street, only closed earlier). 

In the 1920s they expanded their range to include a cylinder pin tumbler night latch, which was sold under the ZENI brand name. They also used the ACE brand.

In 1975 they changed their name to Walsall Locks Ltd, as they were then only making a few items for the equestrian trade.  They went into liquidation in 1985, when employing 85 people.  A dividend of 46 pence in the pound was paid to creditors.  The lock making part was taken over by Len Bates (who was the "B" in ABT Hardware) and Paul Preece, who formed Walsall Lock and Hardware Ltd and moved into new premises at Leamore Close, Leamore Industrial Estate, Walsall, on the 10 February 1986.  They continued to make a small part of the original range of padlocks.

On the 1st April 1997 they changed the name to Walsall Locks Limited.  This was felt to describe the activities of the company and reflect the identity that they had built up within the industry.  They manufactured ZENI and ACE padlocks, while importing mortice and safe locks for resale. (LMNL No 28)

Advert from 1955 (courtesy of Trevor Dowson)



Listed as general lock makers, of all kinds of rim and mortice locks and latches, combination and night latches, and every description of brass and iron cabinet locks.  Also Bales & Walters improved patent locks and latches.  They made their own cabinet locks and Bales latches but acted as wholesale factors for many other types.

They were situated upstairs at 24 North Street, opposite the Molineux Hotel.  Closed when the premises were required for the building of the Wolverhampton ring road.

Existing in 1914 (catalogue) 1974.  Nothing else known.



Tony Beck has kindly provided the following photos of a lock marked "B & P Walters".  It is not known whether or not this is the same firm as Benjamin Walters (above).  And nothing else is known about them - except that they seem to have made fine locks.

A safe lock with "detecter", from the Victorian period, by B & P Walters (from Tony Beck's collection".
A close up of the brass plate from the safe lock above.

The interior of the safe lock above.



W.B.S. Safe Locks was founded by William Bernard Sidbotham during 1946. He rented a small workshop in Vale Place, Merridale Street, Wolverhampton.  The rent was eight shillings per week (40p in today's currency). At this time he had one employee and went on to employ another three later, including his son.

His first order was for a trial for a small quantity of locks from the safe makers, Samuel Withers & Co. Ltd. (q.v.) for whom he became the main supplier of locks for their safes.

During the early 1950s he bought premises at 38 Hart Road, Wednesfield, nr. Wolverhampton where he formed a limited company and became W.B.S. Safe Locks Ltd.

After being demobbed from the army in January 1948 his son, K.W. Sidbotham, went to learn the art of making locks, the old way by hand, under his fatherís teaching. They specialised in the making of locks for safes and many other types of securities, of which bank work was their speciality.

K.W. Sidbotham ran the firm when his father left and under him the firm expanded considerably.  In particular they went on to repair and install safes and strong room doors, working for banks, police forces, prisons and other places using safes and high security doors. During 1960 the firm became involved in the making of rackbolt locks, which turned out to be a vital string to his bow when Bob Sidbotham moved to the Guild Cottage, Radmore Lane, Newport Salop, from where he ran his business and worked his trade for twenty five years. The rackbolt lock was made for a London company of locksmiths for a refurbishment programme, service work included, for one of the leading High Street banks.  

This order lasted about thirty years after which Mr. K.W. Sidbotham retired from lock making, due to poor health. His cousin, Mr. K. Rooker, of Regent Safe & Cabinet Locks, Willenhall, (q.v.) helped out and they worked together very well.

We are obliged to Mr. K. W. Sidbotham for help with the above entry.  A book by him gives further details of the company as well as a picture of the working conditions and practices of a locksmith in the second half of the twentieth century:  K. W. "Bob" Sidbotham, Life and Tales of a Locksmith, History into Print, 2005, £9.95.

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