One of Darlaston’s great industrial success stories is that of the Owen Organisation, which began in a small factory in Booth Street, and grew into a large empire with eighty eight subsidiaries, and a workforce of over 14,000.

The Owen Organisation began in 1884 when John Tunner Rubery and his two brothers acquired the Victoria Ironworks in Booth Street to manufacture light metalwork, fences, gates, and hurdles. After 9 years the two brothers left, and John was joined by a new partner, Alfred Ernest Owen, an engineer from Wrexham, who had been premium apprentice at a factory in Chester. John Rubery, who lived round the corner from the factory in Willenhall Road, put £2,000 into the partnership, and Alfred Owen put-in £1,000, supplied by his father, Alfred Owen, from Woodhey, Wrexham.

At this time the infant Victoria Ironworks covered barely an acre of ground, and found jobs for around a hundred men and boys. The machinery and working conditions were comparatively primitive, with long hours of hard work being endured by all.


An advert from 1890.


Victoria Ironworks in 1885, based on the O.S. map.

The firm's listing in Kelly's 1896 Staffordshire Directory is as follows:

Rubery & Co. (established 1884), manufacturers of iron roofs and buildings, hurdles, grates, fencing and tree guards, wheelbarrows, trucks and troughs, open and closed tanks, black and galvanised riveted built girders & compound beams, columns, brackets & ladders, forgings, bolts & nuts, tie rods & fastenings, The Green; telegraphic address, "Roofs, Darlaston".


An advert from the mid 1890s.

The remainder of the story is told in the following parts:

 
1.   The Early Years
2.   Expansion
3.   Easiclene
4.   The Later Years
5.   The Sons of Rest Workshop
6.   Sports and Leisure Activities
7.   Subsidiary Companies

 


An advert from 1896.


 
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Early Years