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.