The Wolverhampton Die Casting Company Limited was formed in 1919 at a small factory in Great Hampton Street. The company rapidly leapt to the forefront of the industry to become the largest pressure die casting organisation in Europe. By the 1950s over one hundred and fifty million zinc and aluminium alloy pressure die castings were produced each year, for over 700 customers in 30 different industries. Castings were produced to very fine limits to eliminate practically all machining.

A diesinker at work.

The dies were constructed from solid forged blanks of special die steel, and in much of the work, particularly in the case of a delicate and detailed job, the skill of the hands of the diesinker cannot be over-estimated.

In many cases even the most modern machinery cannot perform the intricacies required.

In February 1934 the company acquired part of the A.J.S. site at Graiseley Hill, on which to build a new factory, in order to expand production.

Success continued, and further expansion followed. The ‘Hollies Works’ was built on the other side of Graiseley Hill, and a factory was acquired at Ludlow. The total factory floor space now amounted to nearly 400,000 square feet.

In 1950 an affiliation began with the Precision Castings Co. Inc. of Fayetteville, New York, the largest pressure die casting organisation in the United States, which operated from nine separate factories.

The association between the two companies enabled them to keep up-to-date with the latest technical advances in each country.


Another view of a diesinker at work.

At work on one of the specially designed automatic casting machines in the foundry.
 

An advert from 1949.

 

An advert from 1953.

In the mid 1960s the company joined forces with British Pressure Diecasting Limited of New Barnet, which had two factories, one at New Barnet and another at West Chirton.

The Wolverhampton company employed over 2,300 people, 60 percent of whom were men, and 40 percent women.

It was clearly a good place to work, with a family atmosphere. It was not uncommon for several generations of a family to be employed there, and a considerable number of the employees were related.

Many of the draughtsmen in the drawing office where exceptionally well qualified, and experienced, and carried out design work on customers' components before the dies were made.


An advert from 1956


An advert from 1958.

In the laboratory, the specifications of the zinc alloy and the various aluminium alloys cast in the foundry were regularly checked, to ensure that the high standards of purity necessary for the production of castings, were maintained.

Routine checks of the alloys, and visual and photographic X-ray examinations of castings, were regularly carried out.

Routine checks were also made in the foundries on the quality of the surface finish, so that a high standard was always maintained.

Inspection of castings was carried out at various stages in the production sequence, and more than 120 people were provided with special tooling for this work.

By the mid 1950s the foundries covered around 95,000 square feet, had 800 staff, and produced approximately 3 million castings each week.

There was a separate polishing and plating department where castings could be plated in copper, nickel, chromium, gold, or silver.

In order to ensure a supply of well-trained people, an apprenticeship scheme was developed in conjunction with Wolverhampton Technical College.

Young men were instructed in casting, plant maintenance, machine shop work, plating, polishing, electrical engineering, metallurgy and die designing.

Special technical courses were offered to the apprentices who showed the necessary ability and initiative, and these often led to appointments in key positions, both in technical and administrative fields.

The Welfare facilities for employees included both indoor and outdoor sports, and social activities. The sports and social club was extremely popular.

A contributory pension scheme was in operation, and employees automatically became members of a non-contributory pension scheme after ten years with the company.


An advert from 1965.

An advert from 1954.


Advertising for apprentices in 1967.


An advert from 1974.

In 1977 the business was acquired by Worcestershire based Mitchell Somers.

Things started to go wrong in the recession in the late 1970s when orders declined. The company began to make a loss, and was sold to Cookson in 1985.

The business became Metal Castings Limited, but sadly closed on the 16th December, 2004.

All traces of the Graiseley Hill factory have now disappeared, the site will soon become a shopping centre.

An example of the up-to-date machinery that was used on the site. Industrial robots were very new at the time.
Another example of the modern manufacturing facilities at Graiseley Hill, and the investment that was put into the factory.

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