The bond that powered the empire of F. H.
The great firm of F. H. Lloyd was one of
the great manufacturing enterprises, not only of the Black Country but also of
England. Established in 1879 by Francis Henry Lloyd, a member of
the banking Lloyd's family, it quickly expanded and became famed
for its heavy castings. A major employer locally, if you managed
to get a job at Lloyd's it was one for life - or so it seemed,
until it fell during the 1980s, a disastrous decade for
manufacturing in the West Midlands.
Colin F. Webb has strong memories of
Lloyd's in its heyday. He is chairman of Webb-Elec Ltd. of
Willenhall, a company which traces its origins to 1895 when
Henry John Webb started one of the earliest electrical
engineering companies in the country. Now more than 100 years
later, Webb-Elec is a major supplier to UK companies, having
diversified from its roots with a modern customer base
encompassing food, metals, automotive, government, quarrying,
textiles, plastics, healthcare and the packaging industry
In his teens in the late 1950s, Colin
recalls: "I would often visit the F. H. Lloyd foundry at
Wednesbury to deliver materials and equipment to Harry Parsons,
the chief electrical maintenance engineer. I got to know him
very well. He was a gruff Black Countryman who did not tolerate
fools very easily but who had a heart of gold.
"I remember one day when Lloyd's was
booming and was the largest steel foundry in Europe, he put his
arm round my shoulders and said 'Me son, one day not in my
lifetime, but in yours, all this will be gone. There will be
grass growing on this site".
Many years later in my 50s after Lloyds'
closure, I remember driving past the locked gates and seeing
grass growing round them. What a man of foresight! I must admit,
a tear came to my eye as they had been such very happy times.