A Gazetteer of Lock and Key Makers

Jim Evans

this gazetteer is copyright Jim Evans, 2002


GIBBONS AND CO. (WILLENHALL) LTD.   JOHN STREET,  WILLENHALL

Jim Evans originally wrote:  Founded by George (b1893, d c1980), Frank and Tom Gibbons, in 1921 to manufacture rim and mortice locks, in a workshop at 54 Union Street Willenhall. 

But Trevor Dowson has found this notice in a trade mark listing of 1912.  

In April 1934 they took out patent no. 11356 for a latch bolt.  At that time they had moved to new works at 10 John Street, Willenhall.  In the 1960s they moved to new premises in Ashmore Lake, where Frank's son, Brian Gibbons, ran the company.  They added the manufacture of cylinder locks to their range.

In 1975/7 George Gibbons was Chairman, Brian Gibbons (son of Frank) MD, and Robert Milne (husband of George’s daughter) Deputy MD and Company Secretary.

In about 1977 they changed their name to Gibbons of (Willenhall) Ltd to avoid confusion with James Gibbons of Wolverhampton.

In May 1988 they sold out to the Frederick Cooper Group.

ABT Hardware Ltd (Ash, Bates, Turner) was formed in 1980, as a distributor of branded products to the door and window industry, and Gibbons became one of their major suppliers.

In 1986 ABT sold their interest in the company to Frederick Cooper plc, and by May 1991 the trade between Gibbons and ABT was so extensive and integral to the business of both companies that they were integrated together at one location at Ashmore Lake and ABT-Gibbons was born.  This company was purchased G. Anslow Ltd in August 1991, who moved production to Ashmore Lake. They eventually stopped making any of the Anslow range. (See book on Lane Head by Mr Gibbon' s daughter.)

In 1996 they employed approx. 100 (AH Quality Questionnaire) with a turnover between £5-£10 million.  In 1996 the group was put up for sale by Cooper Industries but was not sold.  In August 1998, as part of a re-organisation within the Fredrick Cooper Group, ABT-Gibbons was merged with its sister company, Latham Manufacturing Co. Ltd. at their site at Alma Street, Wolverhampton.  So Latham Manufacturing now became the manufacturers of Gibbons locks at the Alma Street Works.

The Birmingham Post of the 16th November 2000 reported that Fredrick Cooper had sold its Wolverhampton based hinge and lock business, Latham’s, to the Irish company Basta (qv) for £1.55 million.  Coopers had been looking to sell Latham’s, which included the Gibbons brand, since 1997.  Latham’s, which employs 134 people, made a profit of £135,000 in the year to July 2000 on declining sales of £5 million.  Chairman Geoff Gahan said: " I feel we can do better with the money. It is a mature business and in common with the rest of the lock industry it has had a very difficult time."

Basta will look to integrate the factory with its own Birmingham based hardware makers, Basta Parson, which employs 70 people, after it takes control of Latham’s in January 2001.  By mid 2001 the Basta Parsons production was being transferred into the Alma Street ,Wolverhampton, works.

In April 2002 the old premises of Gibbons and Co at Ashmore Lake, which had been taken over by pine furniture manufacturers "Copperfield" were destroyed by fire.

JAMES GIBBONS LTD,  ST JOHNS WORKS,  CHURCH STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON.

Read the history of James Gibbons Ltd.

Read Frank Spittle's history
of James Gibbons Ltd.
Read Alan Perry's Memories of James Gibbons

 

JOHN GLOVER AND SONS,  51 BIRMINGHAM STREET,  WILLENHALL

Key maker.  In Kelly’s Directory of 1914 at 72 Wood Street.  In 1936 at Birmingham street. Existing in 1953.  Not in existence in 1970.  Nothing else known.

 

J. H. GOODMAN LTD.   RELIANCE WORKS,  WILLENHALL LANE,  BLOXWICH, WALSALL

Manufacturers of locks and window fittings.  In 1921 and 1945 were at 37 Harrison Street Bloxwich (AH records) and about 1946 moved to Willenhall Lane. 

In 1953 listed as automobile and railway clockmakers at Willenhall Lane.  In 1972 the directors were E Goodman, J R Goodman, V M Goodman.

On 11 November 1974 Speedcraft Ltd. took over all the lock production of J.H.Goodman (Bloxwich) manufactured from their Bloxwich Factory only in Willenhall Lane.  The Directors were W.F.C.Bryant, J.E.Jones and J.R.Goodman.  This was to add to the tool making already carried out.

By April 1976 J.R.Goodman had ceased to be a director.  They were making rim and mortice locks with tools that had been purchased from J T and W Booth (q.v.).

In January 1983 Raftveda Ltd acquired them, while continuing to trade as Speedcraft (Raftveda) Ltd.

Ceased lock making in the 1980s.

 

GOLMET LTD.  VIRGINIA PARK,  CAERPHILLY,  GLAMORGAN.

In existence in 1953.  Manufacturers of propelling pencils, pens, lighters, door and tubular furniture (Kelly’s directory).  Most of these products were made in aluminium and in about 1955 they started to make an aluminium locks to suit the aluminium roll shutter door that they also made. Originally the key was made of aluminium but by 1963 they transferred the tooling to Walsall Lock and Cartgear who made certain improvements, which included changing to a fabricated steel key. Production only continued for a short time.

 

H. GOODWIN,  ALBERT STREET FOUNDRY,  WALSALL

A general foundry which manufactured malleable iron key blanks.  They sold their blanks to the Wednesfield key makers via Thomas Squire of Wednesfield, who stocked a large range of cast keys and blanks.  By the 1950s, as the demand for casting declined, Squire’s stopped stocking and Goodwin’s only made keys to large orders for specific items.

 

W. J. GOODWIN LTD.   WOLVERHAMPTON ROAD,  WALSALL

Manufacturers of Old English type padlocks. There were two partners, Mr Taylor and Mr Bradbury, who bought the company from Goodwin before the war and who then sold it to Richard Morton in the late 1960s.  

In 1970 it was owned by Richard Morton. There was an increased range of products, including a patio window lock, and new offices were opened off Bridgeman Street, Walsall.

In 1985 the business was sold to Yale, who wanted the manufacturing rights of the patio window lock and other items of builders hardware that they made for the plastic door and window market. They retained the Wolverhampton Road Works.

In 1983 Richard Morton purchased Thos Morgan and Sons (q.v.), Regent Street, Willenhall, from Jack Morgan and started to make the padlocks that Morgan had always made.  He fell out with Jack Morgan and moved back to Wolverhampton Road

Works, purchased the original padlock making part of W. J. Goodwin back from Yale and continued to manufacture as T Morgan and Son Ltd.

In 1987 W.J.Goodwin are listed as being at Progress Works, Burleigh Street, Walsall.

 

HERBERT H. GREEN, GOTHIC WORKS, HERRICK STREET, WOLVERHAMPTON

From the Illustrated Towns of England Business Review of Wolverhampton, 1897.

Herbert H. Green, Lock Manufacturer, etc., "Gothic" Works, Herrick Street.

The enterprise conducted by Mr. Herbert H. Green has been established over ten years, and affords an example of what may be accomplished by talent and energy in a comparatively short space of time. Mr. Green is extensively engaged as a manufacturer and inventor of locks, fancy gothic thumb latches registered gothic latches, special wrought hat and coat hooks, casement stays and fasteners, ring handles, cord hooks, door and gate latches, etc., and in fact all kinds of odd work in wrought iron.

The "Gothic" works are located in Herrick Street, and comprise capitally appointed workshops fitted with modern machinery and appliances, and we may state that the output is a constantly increasing one. Mr. Green is the patentee of several well approved articles, such as the patent spring door bolt, the registered “Eclipse” latch and door bolt combined, and a recent invention of his calling for special mention, is a cycle brake which embodies several advantages over any other in use; its chief features being that it acts as brake and also as a lock for the cycle when required.

The spring, and in fact all working parts are hidden from view in a small circular box fastened to the handle bar, giving the machine quite a neat appearance. When the brake is pressed down it can be locked by the means of a small wrench which is given with each brake. It should certainly come into great demand by those who are compelled to leave their cycles unattended for any length of time. The wrench, which is nickel-plated and is small enough to carry in a waist coat pocket, is a very useful article, not only acting as key to the lock, but fits all nuts attached to the brake; in fact, nearly all the nuts of the cycle can be tightened by it. All orders submitted receive careful attention, and that the business will continue to develop under its present proprietorship there can be no doubt.

 

GUARDIAN LOCK & ENGINEERING CO. LTD.   IMPERIAL WORKS, WEDNESFIELD ROAD,  WILLENHALL

Manufacturers of mortice locks.  Founded in 1982 by Cyril Page, Brian Crutchley and Fred Sherratt, all former employees of Erebus, in a small factory in Croft Yard Willenhall. 

They immediately encountered problems from some of the larger lock makers, which saw them consolidate the "Imperial" brand name for their products.  In 1989, as orders expanded, they moved into a factory on the Wednesfield Road, which was formerly the works of Keats (q.v.).

Dave Bate replaced Fred Sherratt as production director in c1990.

In 1998 they built a 7500 sq. ft extension ,which included new offices, this being part of a large investment programme that included state of the art production machinery.

They expanded their export markets that now make a measurable contribution towards turnover and profit.

 

JOHN GUEST AND SONS,  WOLVERHAMPTON ROAD,  WALSALL

Casters who supplied malleable iron cast keys to the trade from their foundry in Walsall.

In 1921 they had a warehouse in Graisley Lane, Wednesfield and, by 1936, had built a new warehouse in Victoria Road, Wednesfield, from where they supplied the Wednesfield key makers.

The firm was run by the Guest family until they sold out in May 1973 to Bickley Foundry, by which time the demand for malleable iron cast keys had virtually died.  The premises were demolished in 1999 after being vacant for many years.

 

C. B. GURMIN AND CO. LTD.   PIKEHELVE STREET,  GOLDS HILL,  WEST BROMWICH

Brian Gurmin was a welding engineer by profession; he was also the brother in law of Bill Williams, the owner of Albert Marston Ltd (q.v.), lockmakers of Wolverhampton.  After the Second World war Marston’s were experiencing problems in getting satisfactory malleable cast keys to suit their 5 lever Wellington Night Latch, which was being used extensively by the London councils in rebuilding houses in the post war period.

Chubb had been experimenting with fabricating keys by welding the bit and bow to a mild steel shank, but had found it very time consuming and expensive to fettle them competitively.  Bill William’s approached his brother in law to carry out some pioneering work with his knowledge of welding to produce a welded steel key.  The first samples he supplied to Marston were acceptable and encouraged Brian Gurmin set up his own company to make welded steel keys and blanks.

Josiah Parkes and Sons Ltd took out a patent on the principle of fabricating mild steel keys in January 1949.  Parkes challenged Marston’s on the fact that they were using fabricated steel keys. They were able to reply that there was no case, as they were able to prove they had been using the principle since before the patent was taken out.

As his key making business expanded, so Brian Gurmin started to supply other lock makers, e.g.Yale, and he also started to produce steel blanks for the replacement trade.  These were sold to the Willen Key Company, who offered them for sale in the mid 1950s.  However Gurmin’s were unable to meet the demands required by Marston’s, who looked round to see who else was making welded steel keys and blanks.  In 1955 they turned to Arthur Hough, who had started to make welded steel keys in 1953, starting a relationship that continues into 1999.  Gurmin experienced many production problems, and ceased production of keys in the late 1950s, selling their welding machine in July 1960 to Arthur Hough and Sons.

(Details from Bill Williams 12/8/99)


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