A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers
this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002
B AND G LOCK AND TOOL CO. LTD. CHAPEL GREEN, WILLENHALL.
JOHN BADGER, COOKSON & CO. GUARDIAN WORKS, GREAT HAMPTON STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON
JAMES BAILEY AND CO. LTD. CROWN MILLS, WOLVERHAMPTON STREET, WALSALL
Manufacturers of locks for travel goods. Existing in 1953 but not in 1970.
BAKER & CROCKETT LTD. 1 DUDLEY ROAD, WOLVERHAMPTON
H. G. BAKER, 173 WALSALL ROAD, WILLENHALL
It is said that he would deliver tools to Birmingham, on the bus, with them attached to a piece of string which he would put around his neck for ease of carriage. When he married, his parents in law would not allow him to expand the business that was being run from their premises, because of the noise of the drop stamps. At this point he decided to go into the manufacture of locks and possibly made padlocks and mortice locks.
When Herbert Baker died he passed the business to his daughter who ran it with her husband, Aubrey Smith. They specialised in the manufacture of locks for metal cabinets and pit head bath lockers.
Aubrey Smith died sometime after 1976 and his sons Colin
and Howard ran the business, although the mother,
SAMUEL BAKER, MOAT FIELD WORKS, WILLENHALL (c1850-1950)
Manufactures of japanned, galvanised and brass pad locks.
Samuel Baker started in a brewhouse in Back Lane, Willenhall. (Back Lane is now Cemetery Road.) The earliest record of them is in Kelly’s Directory of 1850. In the PO Directory of 1876 they are listed as Iron Padlock makers at 13 Union Street. They moved to Moat Field Works, Moat Street in 1880.
In the 1881 census Samuel Baker, age 29, was running the business. This would probably be the son of the founder. He was unmarried and lived at 6 Stafford Street, Willenhall. He employed 12 men and 6 boys. Samuel died in 1930
After his death Mrs Baker, his widow, Mr Prothero, and the two sons, Harold and Roland, ran the works. The business was sold to Century Locks (q.v.) in 1950 and the name ceased to exist. (Ref. LMNL 26)
B.H.B.M. LOCK CO. LTD. 84 ST ANN’S ROAD, WILLENHALL
Mortice lock rim locks makers. No reference in 1914 or 1970. Existing in 1953. Nothing else known.
BANHAM PATENT LOCKS LTD. 233 KENSINGTON HIGH STREET, LONDON
BANKS AND RUSHTON LTD. WOOD STREET, WILLENHALL
BANKS BROTHERS, ROOKERY STREET, WEDNESFIELD.
Cabinet lock makers.
In 1936 Samuel Banks was at Rookery Street, Wednesfield. No reference in 1921 or 1970. Nothing else known.
J. BANKS AND CO. LTD. EXCELSIOR WORKS, 71 WOOD STREET, WILLENHALL
This company was founded in 1846 (Information from Horace Banks said company founded in 1867; but the current company brochure says established in 1846) by Jacob Horace Banks on the site of the present works in Wood Street, making padlocks. Kelly’s Directory of 1900 lists Jacob Banks, 34 Union Street, as Padlock makers. (There is a sketch in the Willenhall Lock Museum showing his original sketch for some padlocks in 1906).
Jacob had two sons John and Horace (1). John set up on his own, making night latches, in premises in Wood Street next to Josiah Parkes' main offices; while Horace (1) joined his father making padlocks. At a later date John joined Horace (1) in the original Wood Street premises and set up J. Banks and Co. Ltd. In 1912, during the 1914-18 war the company manufactured a metal mesh bulletproof vest that was offered for sale to soldiers. John’s son Horace (2) could remember as an 8 year old lad standing outside the Molineux football ground at Wolverhampton distributing leaflets about the vests. (The Willenhall Historical Society have a sample of the vest and some advertising literature that was presented to the by Horace (2)).
John lived in a house on the site of the works. In 1920 a fire burned down the works, and John’s son Horace (2) could remember being carried down stairs and away from the fire by his father. He then had to call the fire brigade, who had to go and catch the horse in a local field to pull the fire appliance before they could deal with the fire. The works were extensively damaged and were rebuilt as they stand today.
During the 1939-45 war the company started to manufacture two types of kit bag handles for the Army and Navy. They still produce them in 2001 as well as button sticks and equipment cleaners.
John’s son Horace (2) became a toolmaker, eventually becoming a partner in Orwill Engineering. (Horace died 26 March 1996)
Tony retired and sold the business, on the 7 December 1991, to David Wellman and his partners, Mr and Mrs Hipkin, under whose guidance they have diversified into cast ware products, door and window fittings to bespoke and "in house" designs, while still continuing to supply padlocks, budget locks and various locking devices.
Note-this section of the Banks family was not related to any other lock making Banks of Willenhall.
(Information supplied by Horace Banks, Tony Banks and David Wellman)
JAMES BANKS, ROTUNDA WORKS, WOOD STREET, WILLENHALL (1864-1971)
Founded in 1864 to manufacturer locks and latches. In premises in Cemetery Road, next to the railway line. They later moved to Rotunda Works.
In 1934 Fred Birch worked there for two years running errands. They made rim, gate and galley locks. Abraham Banks, who was on old man at that time, ran it; his three sons, Abraham, George and Enoch, followed him.
Pre WW2 they employed 18 people - this was about the maximum.
In 1971 Enoch, then age 75, the last Mr Banks, retired and sold the business. It was incorporated into the Quality Lock Company (q.v.) in the same premises.
JONAH BANKS AND SONS, LONDON WORKS, CLOTHIER STREET, WILLENHALL (c1790-1993)
Manufacturers of door bolts, door handles, gate catches etc., but not known to have made keyed locks. Founded about 1790 by the Banks family, who had come to Willenhall from Great Wyrley. In the late 18th century had begun making door bolts in premises in Clothier Street. Jonah Banks was the grandson of the founder and it was from him that the company got its name.
They continued to make door bolts and added many items of builder hardware to their range. The firm merged with Abraham Thompson (qv) in 1912. The receivers were called in on the 5 January 1993; the factory closed down and was demolished shortly afterwards.
T. BANKS, WARD STREET, WILLENHALL.
A father and son business that specialised in key cutting for master and differ work for lock makers.
In 1936 there was a T Banks at 82 Bloxwich Road. Started ??? closed c1980s.
Tom Junior went into making turned parts for the oil industry. Employed up to 15 people and had 3 reps on the road. He sold the Ward Street premises in 1995 to Keith Carrier who worked as a locksmith, repairing and fitting locks? Tom Jnr then moved into premises in Croft Yard. He got into financial difficulties and went back to cutting keys as an addition to the business. Moved from Croft Yard to Stringers Lane in 2000.
THOMAS BANKS, BLOXWICH ROAD, NORTH WILLENHALL
Tommy Banks ran a one-man key cutting business from the outhouse behind his home in Bloxwich Road North. He would buy blanks or have them supplied by lockmakers to cut for master and differ work. He would also deal in anything that would earn him a few pounds. He gave Horace Evans a brass paper knife that he was trying to sell that he had obtained from a brass foundry. The knife, engraved "Cockington", is still used by Jim Evans in 2001.
FREDERICK BARKER (WOLVERHAMPTON) LTD. LEVER STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON
Lock maker. Started between 1914 and 1921. In 1970 at Frederick Street, Wolverhampton. Nothing else known.
Key maker. In Kelly’s 1900 there was E J Barnes, North Street ,Wednesfield, key maker. In 1921 there was a James Barnes, key maker at 36 North Street; and in 1936 at 52 North Street. It is not known if this was the same family. Not in existence in 1970. Nothing else known.
BASTA LTD. TUBBERCURRY, CO. SLIGO, IRELAND
The original engineer, John Stenson, was bought in from Scandinavia. They also developed a die casting division that made door furniture and window fittings.
They were still making cylinder locks in 1976 but by the 1980s lock manufacture had virtually ceased, except for a range of 2-lever mortice lock that used mainly die cast parts. They concentrated on die cast door furniture and window fittings. Any other locks they did sell were purchased from other lock makers (e.g. G. ANSLOW (q.v.)).
In 1990 were taken over by a group led by Kevin Norton. At the time they only had a small range of products. A lot of hard work saw the range increase.
In 1998 they acquired "Worcester Parsons" who were the leading British manufacturer and supplier of "upmarket" brass, aluminium, mild steel and stainless steel extruded hinges, and Basta Parsons was formed.
In 2001 they took over the Wolverhampton Lock making works of Latham Manufacturing. (See under Gibbons and Co (Willenhall) Ltd)) who manufacture ‘Conquest’ friction hinges and the Gibbons range of locks.
DAVID BATE, CORN HILL, WOLVERHAMPTON.