The business was established by Noah Hingley in 1820. He was born in 1796 to Isaac and Esther Hingley and became a chain maker, working in a small factory on the banks of the River Stour. In June 1833 he married Anne Wittingham from Liverpool.

By 1838 he was a successful chain maker, but was determined to manufacture large anchors. Initially he could only forge anchors weighing less than 20cwt. But thanks to his introduction of the Nasmyth steam hammer to the Black Country in 1848, he was able to forge much larger anchors and supply anchors with an appropriate length of chain.

An advert from 1881.

He also wanted to produce his own iron and in about 1850 erected a large ironworks at Netherton, by the Dudley No. 2 canal.

The firm also acquired coal mines at Old Hill, Dudley Wood and Coombs Hill, as well as the Harts Hill Iron Works and the Old Hill Furnaces.

In 1856, Hingleys supplied towing chain for boats on the Seine, as well as 20 miles of towing chain for use on the River Neckar. In the following year the firm produced an immense cable for the steam ship Adriatic, which was 40 yards long with each link weighing 50lbs.

At the time, work was in progress on a chain cable for the Great Eastern with even stronger links, which was possible because Hingleys had installed one of the most powerful hydraulic engines in the country, to bend iron.

The firm produced anchors and chains for some of the largest ships, including the Lusitania, the Mauritania, the Aquitania, the Olympic, the Columbus, the Imperator, the Vaterland, the Bismarck, the Titanic, and more recently the Statendam.

The factory in 1881.

By 1861 Hingley employed around 1,000 men and boys. At the time he was living at Chapel House, Cradley with his wife Ann Hingley and their children, Mary, Joseph, Leah, Samuel and Benjamin, along with three servants. By 1863, the firm had 4 blast furnaces. In 1865 his son Benjamin became one of the managers at the firm, which by that time was one of the country’s leading manufacturers of chain, producing over 10,000 tons annually.

Noah Hingley was Mayor of Dudley in 1869 and 1870 and his son Benjamin was mayor in 1887 to 1888. Noah was also a county and borough JP and an alderman of the borough of Dudley.

In 1871 the Hingley family lived at Hawthorn Lodge, Windmill Hill, Cradley. They are listed in the 1871 census as Noah Hingley, age 74; Anne Linta Hingley, age 73; Benjamin Hingley, age 41; Leah Hingley, age 40, and two servants.

Noah Hingley died at home, on the 21st October, 1877. His funeral took place five days later at Halesowen Parish Church, where he was buried in the family vault. Around 2,000 employees of the company headed the funeral procession which included the Mayor of Dudley and twenty four members of the Corporation, travelling in nine private carriages. The procession was nearly a mile in length.

Noah Hingley in his mayoral robe.

After Noah’s death, his son, Benjamin Hingley became head of the business, which struggled a little in the depression in the ship building industry between 1876 and 1886. The writer, William Curzon, gave a detailed description of the company's works in the early 1880s, stating that the company could annually produce over 36,000 tons of pig iron, 60,000 tons of finished bar iron and 10,000 tons of anchors and chain. By 1885 the firm employed around 3,000 people.

In 1890, the firm became a public limited company with the majority of the shares being held by members of the Hingley family. The firm became the sole manufacturer of Hall's patent anchor in 1891 and supplied versions to many of the great ocean going ships of the day. Further acquisitions followed. In 1893 the company acquired Manor Mines, in Halesowen and in 1905 purchased mines at Netherton from the Earl of Dudley.

Hingley's factory in the early 1900s. From an old postcard.

On the 13th May, 1905, Benjamin Hingley died at the age of 74 at Hatherton Lodge, Cradley and was buried at Halesowen parish churchyard. He had been Chairman of the South Staffordshire and East Worcestershire Ironmasters Association and President of the Midland Iron and Steel Wages Board and the South Staffordshire Coal Trade Wages Board. He was elected as Member of Parliament for North Worcestershire in 1885 and became a Liberal Unionist in 1886. He returned to the Liberal Party in 1892 and held the seat until the 1895 general election, when he retired through ill-health.

He was an alderman of Dudley and Mayor of Dudley from 1887 to 1889 and county alderman for Staffordshire from 1889 to 1892. He was created a baronet on the 8th August, 1893 and was also a JP for Dudley, Worcestershire and Staffordshire. In 1900 he became High Sheriff of Worcestershire and a deputy lieutenant of the county. In 1903, he was elected president of the Mining Association of Great Britain.

Puddling iron at the ironworks.

In 1907, Frederick Simms, who owned chainmakers G. Hartshorne and Company, joined the business as did Cyril Edward Lloyd, who became a director. He was a member of the Lloyd family who ran F. H. Lloyd & Company Limited, based at James Bridge Foundry.

Making a large chain at the factory in 1910. From an old postcard.

In August 1910, the firm produced the largest anchor ever made, weighing 15 tons 5¼ cwt for the White Star liner, Olympic. It was 19ft long and 10 ft wide. The following year the firm produced the anchors and chain for the Titanic. The largest of the anchors weighed 15.5 tons and was drawn through the streets of Netherton on a wagon drawn by 20 shire horses.

An advert from 1957.

In 1914 the firm acquired Samuel Taylor and Sons (Brierley Hill) Limited and in 1918 Cyril Lloyd became chairman of the board, a position he held until 1960.

Hingleys acquired many other businesses including John Bradley and Company (Stourbridge) Limited and E. Baylie and Company Limited's Chain Works, at Stourbridge in 1920.

In 1922 John Bagnall and Sons Limited, in Wednesbury, and the Harts Hill Iron Company Limited were acquired along with Joseph Wright and Company.

More acquisitions included B. Perkins and Sons Limited, at the Audnam Anchor Works, Stourbridge, and Henry Wood and Company Limited of Saltney, followed in 1927 by Midland and Coast Canal Carriers, Limited, Broad Street, Wolverhampton.

H. P. Parkes and Company Limited of Tipton was acquired in 1930 and Wright's Forge and Engineering Company was purchased in 1947.

In 1948 there was a large public issue of shares. In 1957 the old Darlaston based structural steel manufacturer E. C. & J. Keay Limited was acquired as was M. & W. Grazebrook of Netherton Ironworks, in 1961.

Cyril Edward Lloyd, who retired from the board in 1960, died in 1963 at the age of 86. He had been with Hingleys for 56 years.

By 1964, parts of the business were operating satisfactorily, whereas others were making a loss. In 1966 the business was acquired by F. H. Lloyd & Company Limited of James Bridge Foundry.

After a number of reorganisations, take-overs and sell-offs, the Netherton-based business, then called Wright Hingley, closed in 1986. The site is now occupied by an industrial estate called the Washington Centre.

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