A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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By at least the later 12th century most of Walsall parish lay within Cannock forest. Only the area south and east of the Holbrook was excluded. (fn. 1) There was evidently arable cultivation about the time of the Conquest: some former arable at Bescot was waste in 1086. (fn. 2) Presumably there was arable farming by the time the manor was granted to Herbert le Rous in 1159, (fn. 3) and the area of cultivation was gradually extended by assarting. Herbert was evidently making assarts at Walsall in 1160. (fn. 4) In the earlier 13th century William le Rous's charter to the burgesses reserved his right to approve the waste. (fn. 5) In 1286 eleven tenants were presented for purprestures, mostly of 1-acre plots. (fn. 6) In the late 13th and early 14th centuries the lords made grants of waste for inclosure in parcels of up to 40 a. in Bescot, Bloxwich, and Birchills. (fn. 7) By the later Middle Ages a mixed pattern of common-field farming and cultivation in severalty had emerged.
As in other parishes in Cannock forest (fn. 8) there were several groups of small and irregular common fields, associated with the centres of settlement at Walsall, Great and Little Bloxwich, and Harden. The Walsall fields lay on the north, east, and south sides of the town. Wisemore, which was bounded by Park Street, Ford Brook, Walsall Brook, and probably by the present Stafford Street, occurs between 1409 and 1689. (fn. 9) Further east were Walsall field and the 'field behind the town', both mentioned in 1349. (fn. 10) They may at first have been distinct fields, but they formed one field by 1567. (fn. 11) The combined field extended from Rushall Street westward beyond the Holbrook, (fn. 12) presumably to Ford Brook. Middley, which is mentioned from the late 13th century, was another name for that part of it east of the Holbrook. (fn. 13) The field was still open in 1636. (fn. 14)
Other fields lay north-east of the town. A common field called Holbrook occurs between 1319 and 1681; it was sometimes termed Walsall Holbrook to distinguish it from Holbrook in Rushall. (fn. 15) It presumably existed by the late 13th century, since Hungerfurlong, later part of it, is mentioned at that time. (fn. 16) The Holbrook was evidently the northern boundary of the field, which extended from the Rushall road almost to the Sutton road near its junction with the modern Broadway. (fn. 17) South of Holbrook field lay Churchgreave field, which existed by the late 13th century and remained open until at least 1735. (fn. 18) Chuckery Road probably marks the boundary of Holbrook and Churchgreave fields; the latter extended west at least as far as the present Eldon Street, south to the line of Kinnerley Street, and east probably to the line of Prince's Avenue. (fn. 19) West of it lay two small areas of common field. The Lee occurs as a common field in 1324 and 1438, though in 1409 and 1430 it was said to be part of Churchgreave field. (fn. 20) It may have been the field called Lordeslegh or Lordesheye mentioned in 1399 and 1410. (fn. 21) Paddock was apparently treated as a separate common field in the late 16th century. (fn. 22)
The two principal fields south of the town were Vicar's field, mentioned from 1323, and Windmill field, mentioned from 1341. (fn. 23) They seem at first to have been distinct but were united by 1570; they were apparently divided again at some time between 1604 and 1637 and reunited at some time between 1679 and 1731. (fn. 24) In 1735 Windmill field was said to have come to be known as Furfield, but it was again called Windmill or Vicar's field in 1756 and Windmill field in 1766. (fn. 25) The boundaries of the fields are uncertain. References to land in Vicar's field from the late 16th to the 18th century appear to show that it extended from the Wednesbury to the Birmingham road, but the combined field may have been meant. (fn. 26) There were several smaller common fields in the south of the parish. Lee field next to Windmill field occurs between 1502 and 1619. (fn. 27) Mill Furlong, which lay between Tasker Street, Wednesbury Road, and Long Meadow, was a common field from at least 1502 and apparently to the 18th century. (fn. 28) A field called Stockinge is mentioned in 1348; it was apparently in Palfrey and presumably resulted from assarting. (fn. 29) A field called Armescote occurs between 1310 and 1332; it apparently lay south of the town mill. (fn. 30)
There were also common fields in the Birchills area. Synderhulleffeld, which is mentioned in 1333, may be identifiable with Synderhill, an inclosed pasture in Green Lane mentioned from 1565. (fn. 31) A common field called Long field near Birchills is mentioned in 1733. (fn. 32)
At Great Bloxwich there were eight common fields. Chapel field is mentioned from 1576 and was also known as Windmill field in the 18th century. (fn. 33) In 1763 it was bounded by the present High Street, Field Road, and Lichfield Road. (fn. 34) South-east of it lay Comwall field, which existed by c. 1300. It was also called Comberfield in 1652 and Big field in 1763, when it extended from High Street approximately to the present Ryle Street and from Field Road to Valley Road. (fn. 35) Another field lay between Blakenall Lane and the modern Guild Avenue; it extended almost to High Street on the south-west and perhaps to Blakenall Heath on the north-east. It occurs as Brondardes field in 1544 and Brundards field in 1818. (fn. 36) Woodwall or Woodall field occurs between 1576 and 1818; it lay on the west side of High Street and Green Lane, but its other boundaries are uncertain. (fn. 37) Cockstall field is mentioned from 1579 and was still open in 1783 but had been inclosed by 1818. It evidently lay west of Bloxwich village and north of the present Central Drive. (fn. 38) Another field lay between Sneyd Brook and Mossley Lane. It occurs as Maltesleye c. 1300 and Mosley or Moseley from 1665. It was still open in 1783 but had been inclosed by 1818. (fn. 39) Two small common fields, Barnhall, which occurs between 1371 and 1696, and Litchkin or Clitchkin, mentioned in 1665 and 1696, probably resulted from collective or subdivided assarts. Barnhall lay on the parish boundary west of Broad Lane, and Litchkin adjoined it on the south. (fn. 40)
Several fields were associated with Little Bloxwich. Hoods field occurs between 1567 and 1693. By 1770 it seems to have been divided into Hodge, Low Hodge, and Little Hodge fields. It lay north of Comwall field, probably between Selman's Hill, High Street, and Lichfield Road; a close in the area was called Hooch Field in 1843. (fn. 41) Harehill field occurs in 1770; it lay between Hooch Field and Stoney Lane. Lydiatt field is mentioned from 1617. It lay immediately north of Comwall field; Lichfield Road was probably the northern boundary. (fn. 42) Mill field, which occurs from 1576, was on the west of Little Bloxwich village between Lichfield Road and Stoney Lane; part of it was still open in 1763 and was then called Little Mill field. (fn. 43) Hill and Long fields are mentioned from 1567. Their position is uncertain, but Hill field probably lay between Broad Lane, Bealey's Lane, and the parish boundary, and Long field south of it on the site of Long Field farm. (fn. 44) A common field called Turnoresland at Little Bloxwich is mentioned in 1351 and 1617; its site is unknown. (fn. 45)
Harden also had its common fields. Harden field occurs from 1513; it was also called Cadmans field in 1694, and part was apparently still open in 1726. (fn. 46) Two other fields occur as 'le fryssys' and 'le furfield' in 1513 and as Great and Little Fursons in 1617. Great Fursons was still open in 1627. (fn. 47) The location of those fields is unknown. Brundards field was evidently shared between Harden and Great Bloxwich. (fn. 48) A Mill field in Harden occurs in 1576, but it may have been the Little Bloxwich field of that name. (fn. 49)
Though there was inclosed arable in the parish by the early 14th century, (fn. 50) it may have resulted from assarting rather than incroachment on the common fields. Nevertheless inclosure of the fields had evidently begun before the mid 16th century: in the early 17th century John Persehouse recorded that the Lee had been inclosed immemorially. (fn. 51) He had himself inclosed land in Walsall field c. 1587 and in Holbrook field c. 1591. (fn. 52) Under an agreement with the freeholders of Walsall in 1594 he was to throw the latest inclosures open but might retain others in Walsall field, Holbrook, and Churchgreave field; further inclosure was forbidden. (fn. 53) It continued nevertheless: in 1653 an inclosure, probably in Holbrook, made by John's grandson was thrown down by rioters. A dispute ensued between Persehouse and the corporation but the result is not clear. (fn. 54) An inclosure in Windmill field occurs in 1722 and one in Churchgreave field in 1735; (fn. 55) in 1756 the new burial ground in Bath Street was described as recently inclosed out of Windmill field. (fn. 56) All the open fields of Walsall township had been inclosed by 1819. (fn. 57) At Bloxwich inclosures in Chapel field and Hoods field are mentioned in 1686 and in Harden field in 1726. (fn. 58) In 1818 the remaining openfield area, 190 a. in Chapel, Comwall, Lydiatt, Brundards, and Woodwall fields, was inclosed by agreement. (fn. 59)
There were several common meadows in the parish. Long Meadow, which lay south of the town east of Walsall Brook as far as Tasker Street, occurs from 1405. Most of it belonged to the lord of the manor by 1763. (fn. 60) By 1805 it formed part of lammas lands thrown open as common pasture in August. (fn. 61) Mill Furlong was also lammas land by 1775. (fn. 62) In 1410-11 the jurors of the manor court presented that Wisemore meadow, held by four tenants in severalty, was thrown open as common pasture when Wisemore field lay fallow. (fn. 63) Common meadows at Great Bloxwich included Leamore meadow by 1420, (fn. 64) Harden Mores by 1638, (fn. 65) and Wall meadow, which was east of Bloxwich Road, by 1642. (fn. 66) Nutt meadow, Hallow meadow, and Ford meadow, all evidently in Little Bloxwich, occur in 1617. (fn. 67) There were also parcels of meadow in the common fields. Meadow land in Walsall field is mentioned from 1349; it lay on either side of the Holbrook. (fn. 68) There was also meadow in Wisemore, Holbrook, and Vicar's fields. (fn. 69) From at least the 14th century, however, some meadow land was held in severalty. (fn. 70)
In the earlier 13th century William le Rous granted common pasture in the waste to the burgesses. (fn. 71) There was evidently intercommoning between Walsall and neighbouring forest parishes. Thus in 1281 Margery le Rous had common in Stonnall in Shenstone by right of her land in Walsall, and in 1307 William Hillary had like rights in Essington in Bushbury, as did Lord Bradford and his Bloxwich freeholders as late as 1809. Conversely, in 1304 the abbot of Osney (Oxon.) had common in Walsall belonging to his freehold in Stonnall. (fn. 72) The inhabitants of Walsall and other parishes retained common rights in Bentley Hay until the 17th century; Walsall abandoned its right in 1638. (fn. 73) In the 14th century assarting caused disputes about common rights in the parish, (fn. 74) and pasture was stinted by 1425. (fn. 75)
By the later 14th century encroachment on the waste was leading to its dismemberment and the emergence of individual commons, some of which later disappeared. 'Hendemere' Green in Bloxwich is mentioned in 1372, (fn. 76) and Stocking Green near Palfrey occurs in 1513. (fn. 77) Blakenall Heath existed by 1544 (fn. 78) and Goscote Heath by 1568. (fn. 79) By 1617 the waste had been reduced to six principal commons: Wallington, Blakenall, Short, and Dead Man's Heaths, Birchills, and the Pleck. (fn. 80) By 1763 the commons had been reduced to four in Bloxwich and Blakenall with an area of c. 37 a. (fn. 81) In 1805 they were little smaller (fn. 82) but by 1843 had shrunk to less than 25 a.; three other small plots of waste, c. 2½ a. altogether, survived in the south of the parish beside Park Brook. (fn. 83)
Encroachments on the waste in the 17th and 18th centuries were sometimes for industrial purposes, particularly brick-making. (fn. 84) More were inclosures for cultivation, but most were occasioned by cottagebuilding. Recent cottage-building on Short Heath is mentioned in 1576, (fn. 85) and on the waste at Townend, Great Bloxwich, and Little Bloxwich in 1617. (fn. 86) The lord of the manor in 1677 drew £5 6s. 4d. rent from cottages and inclosures on the waste. (fn. 87) In 1763 209 tenants of the manor occupied 211 separate encroachments in Walsall and Bloxwich, totalling 42 a.; most were cottages. (fn. 88) A survey of 1805 lists some 300 encroachments, mostly at Townend, on the Bloxwich commons, and along the roads from Walsall to Bloxwich. The improved value of the inclosed land was noted, and evidently as a result of the survey the rents had been tripled by 1810. The rental continued to rise until 1840, but from 1842 the cottages were sold off. (fn. 89)
Labour services on the demesne were still owed by the customary tenants in the late 14th century. Each tenant had to plough one day at the winter and Lenten sowings, to mow one day a year, and to harvest the lord's corn for three days. The services, no longer exacted in kind, were assessed on 20½ tenements. In 1385-6 services were commuted for the duration of the tenancy on 11½ tenements and on an annual basis on the rest. From 1401, however, the tenants refused to pay the rents in lieu of services; although the assessment was evidently reduced in 1440-1, the strike continued. (fn. 90)
There was a three-course rotation on the demesne by 1343, (fn. 91) and probably in the common fields too: in 1410-11 Wisemore field was said to lie fallow every third year. (fn. 92) In the 16th and 17th centuries crops grown in the open fields included rye, wheat, mongcorn (mixed corn), barley, oats, and dredge. (fn. 93) Hemp and flax were also grown in both Walsall and Bloxwich, and a hempleck in Rushall Street is mentioned in 1597. (fn. 94) A former flax oven in Chapel field, Bloxwich, was used as a Methodist chapel in the late 18th century. (fn. 95) Lands in Walsall advertised for sale in 1813 included Flaxoven Croft and Flaxoven Piece. (fn. 96) Hops, peas, apples, (fn. 97) and plums (fn. 98) were grown in the earlier 17th century.
Animal husbandry may have been significant at an early date. In 1178-9 the sheriff was allowed 32s. for restocking the manor farm. (fn. 99) In the later 1380s the lord bought bullocks to fatten in the park over the summer; 55 were purchased in 1388-9. (fn. 100) In 1417 twelve fat oxen were sent from Walsall to Worcester for the lord's household in France. (fn. 101) There is evidence of cattle-keeping in the later 15th century, (fn. 102) and in the 16th and earlier 17th centuries it was probably a more important source of wealth than arable farming. Most farmers kept cattle, including dairy and beef animals and oxen. The herd was often worth several times the value of the crops on a holding. In 1605 John Persehouse of Reynold's Hall had at least 64 cattle. (fn. 103) Many farmers also kept sheep; few had more than 40, but John Persehouse in 1599 had over 150 wethers, hog-sheep, ewes, and lambs. (fn. 104) He let pasture to outsiders for stockfattening (fn. 105) but also sent his own sheep outside the parish for summer pasturing. (fn. 106) Pigs and poultry were frequently kept; in 1588 Persehouse commissioned a large timber-framed hen-house and swine-cote. (fn. 107) There is evidence of bee-keeping in the early 17th century.
By 1801 agriculture was already of secondary importance owing to urbanization, but it still employed 1,073 people living in the foreign and 44 people in the borough, or some 17 per cent of all workers in the parish. (fn. 108) By 1921 the work-force had fallen to 366, less than one per cent of those employed in the county borough, (fn. 109) and by 1966 only 90 people were employed in agriculture. (fn. 110) Yet much of the parish remained farm-land. In 1842 39 per cent was meadow and pasture and 42 per cent arable. (fn. 111) In 1951 3,047 a. (35 per cent) of 8,780 a. in the borough was farm-land. (fn. 112) Walsall farming was probably affected by the trend towards milk production for the urban market: in 1851 besides 12 farmers there were 6 cow-keepers, mostly in or near the town. (fn. 113)
In the early 1950s mixed farming was practised; stock included cattle, horses, sheep, and poultry. There were 19 milk producers. (fn. 114) Farming continued to decline in the 1950s and 1960s, especially in the Wood End area where Daffodil farm, Gillity Greaves, and Daisy Bank farm were all broken up for housing development. (fn. 115) In 1973 Hay Head and Wood End farms survived; the latter included 90 a. of land principally devoted to sheep. (fn. 116) Of four farms covering c. 570 a. in the north of the borough one ran sheep and another kept beef cattle and goats; the rest combined wheat and barley with dairying and beef-fattening. (fn. 117)
In 1086 there was woodland at Bloxwich three furlongs by one. (fn. 118) Much of the medieval woodland in the parish, however, was presumably at Walsall Wood. (fn. 119) The wood of Birchills is mentioned in the early 14th century. (fn. 120) In 1523 Sir John Sutton leased woods in Walsall to William Stone, a Bloxwich lorimer, granting him licence to fell the trees. (fn. 121) The demands of the iron industry encouraged felling. About 1618 John Persehouse sold 103 cords of wood to Thomas Parkes, a Wednesbury ironmaster, (fn. 122) and in 1770 19 cords and a foot of cordwood from Lord Mountrath's estate were bought by John Wright, an ironmaster. (fn. 123) By the early 19th century the only large wood in Walsall was Reed's Wood. In 1805 it was stated to be inclosed and open every seven years alternately; when open it was a common. By 1839 it was being worked as a coal mine. The common rights were extinguished in the mid 1880s when the area was laid out as a park. (fn. 124) In 1843 there was only 12 a. of woodland in Walsall, most of it plantations at Hay Head. (fn. 125)
Roger de Morteyn was granted free warren in his demesne at Walsall in 1284, (fn. 126) and the lords of the manor retained the right until at least the 17th century. (fn. 127) By 1677 the right of warren had been let, but the tenant was then unknown. (fn. 128) In 1344 Sir Roger Hillary was granted free warren in his lands at Walsall and Goscote. (fn. 129)
The lords of the manor held several fisheries in the parish. The great fishpond of Walsall is mentioned in 1248, when Emecina and Geoffrey de Bakepuse apparently surrendered their right in it to Margery le Rous, and Isabel, widow of William le Rous, in return for a lease. (fn. 130) It seems to have been held by William de Morteyn from at least 1275 to his death in 1283. (fn. 131) It may have been the fishpond of Walsall mill mentioned in 1332 (fn. 132) and presumably lying north of the mill-dam. The fishery of the town mill was held by a tenant in 1385-6. (fn. 133) Fishing rights from the town bridge to the New Mill were granted c. 1300 by Margery le Rous to Sir Roger de Morteyn. (fn. 134) A new fishpool was made at the New Mill c. 1370; in 1391-2 the fishing rights were sold for the year. (fn. 135) In 1398-9 the lord was also leasing out the fishery at Sir Roger Hillary's rebuilt mill there. (fn. 136) In 1305 Sir Roger de Morteyn granted Sir Thomas le Rous his share of a fishpond called the Ladypool, which was apparently in the Caldmore area. (fn. 137) The moat in the park was let as a fishery to Nicholas Flaxall c. 1436. (fn. 138) William Wylkes and Stephen Couper held a private fishery in Great Bloxwich in 1484, (fn. 139) and in 1843 the lake south of Greenslade Road was a fishpool owned by Joseph Curtis. (fn. 140)
William le Rous created a park at Walsall in John's reign. (fn. 141) It apparently passed to his daughter Emecina and thereafter descended with her share of the manor. (fn. 142) The land was apparently still imparked in 1541 but had been disparked by 1553. (fn. 143) It was let as a unit until at least 1576 (fn. 144) but by 1617 had been divided into closes leased to 20 tenants. (fn. 145)
The original extent is not known. In the earlier 13th century lands in Bentley in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton, were included. (fn. 146) In the 15th century the boundaries of the Walsall sector were probably Park Brook, the Wolverhampton and Darlaston roads, and the present Pleck Road. To the north the park included the manor-house and moat, while James Bridge lay on or near the southern boundary. The land in Bentley, which probably lay between Park Brook, Wolverhampton Road, and Bentley Mill Lane, was by then hedged off from that in Walsall. Closes covering the areas on both sides of the brook were known as the 'park lands' in 1763; they included just under 400 a., though the park in 1576 and 1617 was said to contain c. 210 a. (fn. 147) A new gate on the north side of the park was made in 1452-3, and 'the park gate' is mentioned in 1617. (fn. 148)
A herd of deer was apparently maintained in the park from at least the late 13th century. (fn. 149) In 1385-6 foals and fillies from Lord Basset's stud at Drayton were depastured there. (fn. 150) The pasture was leased from 1392-3, though in leases of 1416 and 1423 the lord reserved part of it as grazing for beasts taken as heriots and waifs. (fn. 151) In 1385-6 part of the park was inclosed to protect the timber, which was used to remake Walsall pillory in 1396-7 and the park fences in the 15th century. The area was still well wooded in 1576. (fn. 152)
The water corn-mill most commonly known as the Town mill, (fn. 153) but also called Walsall mill, the Ford mill, the Port mill, the Old Mill, and the Malt Mill, (fn. 154) stood on Walsall Brook to the north of what is now the Bridge. (fn. 155) It was part of Walsall manor by 1247. Margery le Rous claimed a share in it in 1276, and her son Thomas held it, or a share in it, in 1317. (fn. 156) Lord Basset held it at his death in 1343. (fn. 157) In 1701 Dame Elizabeth Wilbraham, her daughter, and her son-in-law granted a 500-year lease of it to Walsall corporation at a nominal rent; it was ruinous, and the corporation agreed to repair it and to apply any profits to the poor. (fn. 158) Repairs were made and the corporation began to receive small sums of money for grinding. (fn. 159) By 1763 the building had been demolished or converted to other uses. (fn. 160)
A 'new mill' which existed c. 1300 was destroyed by floods between 1343 and 1355. It was then part of Walsall manor. (fn. 161) In 1394 Sir Roger Hillary of Bescot rebuilt it and took a lease of it from the earl of Warwick. (fn. 162) The New Mill was still worked in 1576, apparently as a corn-mill, (fn. 163) but by 1617 it was disused and the mill-pool was a meadow. It was then stated that the mill had formerly been used as a smithy. (fn. 164) It probably stood on Walsall Brook, perhaps in the area north of Wallows Lane known as the Old Mill Grounds in 1763. (fn. 165)
A fulling-mill existed c. 1300, (fn. 166) presumably at Caldmore where in 1355 there was a fulling-mill on Walsall Brook west of the site of the later New Mills. (fn. 167) It was worked by tenants of the lord of Walsall manor until at least 1460, (fn. 168) although with one long vacancy (1403-26) and at least two shorter ones. (fn. 169) In 1479 it was again vacant, and it was probably not used again. (fn. 170)
A water-mill called Meadow mill occurs as part of Walsall manor in 1576. It was then held with part of Long Meadow, which extended along Walsall Brook south of the town bridge. Meadow mill presumably stood on that stretch of the brook, possibly at the southern end of the meadow. (fn. 171)
Between 1601 and 1603 John Wollaston of Walsall built a pair of over-shot water corn-mills under one roof on a site east of the Wednesbury road between the present Countess Street and Bescot Crescent. It was powered by a new fleam drawn from Walsall Brook at the town bridge and rejoining it west of the mills. (fn. 172) In 1603 Thomas Wilbraham granted Wollaston a long lease, (fn. 173) and what became known as the New Mills were worked as corn mills by tenants of the lord of the manor until the mid 1890s. (fn. 174) They were rebuilt in 1788-9. (fn. 175) A miller's house adjoining them was built between 1740 and 1757. (fn. 176) The mills were demolished in the earlier 1920s. (fn. 177)
A water-mill called Coal Pool mill was leased in 1692 by Margery and Isabel Horton to Thomas Hildick the younger, a Walsall whitesmith. (fn. 178) It was presumably the forge or mill which in the later 18th century stood on a stream just south of the Wyrley and Essington Canal in the triangle formed by the canal, Harden Road, and Goscote Lane. (fn. 179) A Robert Hildick had a mill, evidently at Coal Pool, in 1793. (fn. 180) Coal Pool mill may still have been worked in 1834, when Henry Hildick, an edge-tool manufacturer, was living at Coal Pool. (fn. 181) It had gone out of use by 1843; (fn. 182) what may have been the remains of the millpool were visible in the earlier 1880s but had disappeared by 1901. (fn. 183)
A water-mill existed at Goscote in 1693 (fn. 184) and is probably to be identified with a mill which stood on Ford Brook in the later 18th century. (fn. 185) A water corn-mill called Goscote mill, presumably that on Ford Brook, belonged in 1746 to John Price. In 1804 a share in it was sold by two of his heirs to Joseph Bradley of Goscote. (fn. 186)
A windmill owned in 1305 by Sir Roger de Morteyn probably stood south of Walsall in Windmill field. In 1306 Sir Roger granted it to Henry de Prestwode and his son John, and in 1318 John sold his life-interest in it to Ralph, Lord Basset. (fn. 187) It may have been the windmill which was held of the lord of Walsall from 1385 to 1393, (fn. 188) destroyed by a gale in 1393, (fn. 189) and not rebuilt. (fn. 190) Between 1612 and 1619 John Persehouse built a windmill near Walsall; it was working in 1621. (fn. 191) The site is unknown but may have been in Windmill field, where Persehouse held land. (fn. 192) If so, the windmill may have been one of the two which stood between Walsall and Caldmore in 1682; (fn. 193) the other was presumably that built in Windmill field c. 1672 by John Blackham, a Walsall baker, and sold in 1675 to Sir Thomas Wilbraham. (fn. 194) One of the two mills disappeared between 1732 and 1735. (fn. 195) The survivor stood on a site west of the present Highgate Road, (fn. 196) where in 1973 the brick tower of a windmill remained. It was apparently that worked as a corn-mill by Thomas Jennings in the 1830s and by James Griffiths in the early 1860s; it went out of use between 1864 and 1868. (fn. 197) In the later 1920s it was converted into an observatory. (fn. 198) Another windmill, about half a mile east-north-east of that in Highgate Road, was built between 1769 and 1799 (fn. 199) and still stood in 1816. (fn. 200)
A windmill conveyed to Henry Stone by the Whitall family in 1624 may have been in Bloxwich. (fn. 201) There were two windmills between Great and Little Bloxwich in 1682. (fn. 202) By 1693 there was one, in Chapel field, (fn. 203) standing south of Lichfield Road c. ¼ mile east of High Street; it was still in use in 1816 but had disappeared by 1819. (fn. 204)
A map of 1682 depicts two windmills in the area between Goscote, Shelfield, and Pelsall. (fn. 205) They are not, however, mentioned in the 1693 glebe terrier nor in later ones to 1735. (fn. 206) Subsequent terriers show that a windmill was built in Goscote field between 1735 and 1744 and still stood in 1786. (fn. 207) Maps of 1775 and 1799 show a windmill c. 100 yds. west of Goscote Lane; (fn. 208) it had disappeared by 1816. (fn. 209)
Between 1801 and 1804 Thomas Brown began to work a steam corn-mill, apparently the first in Walsall, on the Wyrley and Essington Canal at Birchills. (fn. 210) It ceased working between 1851 and 1860. (fn. 211) Other 19th-century steam corn-mills included Bloxwich mills or Pratt's mill (so called from the family who worked it until the early 20th century), built in 1812 where the Bloxwich road crosses the Wyrley and Essington Canal and still in use in 1940; (fn. 212) the Crown mill in Wolverhampton Street, worked between the 1860s and the 1890s; (fn. 213) and the Britannia mills in Stafford Street, worked in the 1880s and 1890s. (fn. 214) The Albion Flour Mill in Wolverhampton Street was built in 1849, probably for Thomas Caloe, miller there from at least 1851 until the 1890s. (fn. 215) By 1900 Smith Bros. (Walsall) Ltd. had taken it over, and the firm was still milling there in 1973. (fn. 216)
In 1395-6, after the lessee of the Town mill had complained that the burgesses were not bringing their corn and malt to be ground there, the burgesses successfully defended their right to grind where they wished. (fn. 217) Their quittance presumably dated from William le Rous's renunciation in his charter of all secular demands except tallage and pannage. (fn. 218) In 1317 Sir Thomas le Rous insisted on 20 years' suit of mill when he granted a life tenancy, but no other such demand has been found. (fn. 219) In 1612 Sir Richard Wilbraham stated that his manorial tenants owed suit of mill. (fn. 220) He does not seem, however, to have tried to enforce the claim nor was the matter raised when between 1610 and 1620 he disputed his rights as lord with the burgesses. (fn. 221)
Markets and fairs.
In 1220 the Crown granted William le Rous a Monday market at Walsall. (fn. 222) The grant was to last during Henry III's minority only, but it was never thereafter challenged and was confirmed in 1399. (fn. 223) In 1417 the market day was changed to Tuesday. (fn. 224) By 1845 there was also a market on Saturday evenings, (fn. 225) and between 1855 and 1889 Saturday became the principal market day. (fn. 226) Tuesday and Saturday remained the market days in 1973. By 1927 there was also a Saturday market at Bloxwich. It was discontinued in 1942, revived in 1951, and still held in 1973. (fn. 227)
A market-place in Walsall is mentioned in 1309. (fn. 228) The centre of the market seems originally to have been the top of High Street, but by the early 19th century trading was spreading into Digbeth on busy market days. (fn. 229) In 1816, to ease the congestion in High Street, a separate pig-market was opened in a long yard stretching north from High Street. It was extended in 1834-5. (fn. 230) Nevertheless the market spread for a time into other streets. The Walsall Improvement and Market Amendment Act of 1850 allowed the sale of cattle at the Bridge and in all the streets leading out of it except Digbeth, while reserving High Street and Digbeth for the retail market. (fn. 231) In 1889 cattle were still sometimes sold in Bridge and Bradford Streets on market days. (fn. 232) In 1973 Walsall market was held in the open in High Street. Bloxwich market was also so held, at the junction of Elmore Green Road and Station Street.
There was a market cross by 1386. (fn. 233) By the 16th century it stood at the top of High Street and shortly before 1589 was replaced by a market house (the High Cross, or High Cross House), built by the town council on the same site. (fn. 234) In 1692 the corporation rebuilt the house on the same site. (fn. 235) By the 1760s its position, in the centre of the road and close to the turning into Rushall Street, had made it an obstruction to traffic. It was demolished in 1800. (fn. 236) In 1809 the corporation replaced it by a smaller house a few yards further up hill, adjoining the steps leading to St. Matthew's Church and out of the line of traffic. (fn. 237) It was intended for the sale of poultry, eggs, butter, and similar produce, but by the 1830s it was little used, except on wet days. By 1851 it had become merely a store for market stalls. It was demolished in 1852. (fn. 238)
From at least the 1750s the market trade was mainly in pigs, poultry, butter, garden produce, and crockery. (fn. 239) With the end of the Napoleonic wars the trade in pigs was much increased. The navy no longer needed large quantities of Irish bacon for victualling, and live pigs were shipped from Ireland for general sale; by 1817 Walsall was one of the chief inland markets dealing in them. (fn. 240) It was probably because of the pig trade that in 1818 Walsall was considered the second market town in the county. (fn. 241) It was claimed in 1855 that as many as 2,000 pigs had sometimes been brought to market in a day. By then, however, the coming of railways had diverted most of the trade to Birmingham and Wolverhampton. (fn. 242) In 1845 the corporation built shambles in part of the pig-market and also provided standings there for retailers. The intention was avowedly to ease the congestion in High Street during the Saturday evening market, but the reduction in the area allotted to pig-pens suggests that the heyday of the trade had passed. (fn. 243) By 1889 the pig-market was little used, and few cattle were sold on market days. (fn. 244) Such livestock trade as survived probably ended in the 1890s. Grain was sold wholesale at the Tuesday market until at least 1906. In 1835 prices were quoted for wheat, oats, beans, barley, and peas, but by the later 19th century wheat alone seems to have been marketed. (fn. 245) The market's general retail trade, however, flourished. There had been a decline in the 1820s and early 1830s, (fn. 246) but by 1889 the market was regarded as an improving one as the population of the town grew. (fn. 247) It was a general retail market in 1973.
The 1220 grant included a fair on St. Matthew's day (21 September) and its eve, and in 1399 another was added on the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June) and its eve. (fn. 248) In 1417 the two fairs were replaced by one on the feast of St. John before the Latin Gate (6 May) and another on St. Simon and St. Jude's day (28 October). (fn. 249) The 1627 charter granted two fairs, with a court of piepowder, one on St. Matthias's day (24 February) and the other on the Tuesday before Michaelmas. (fn. 250) By 1792 a pleasure fair, held by prescription on Whit Tuesday, had been added to the two charter fairs. (fn. 251) The February fair was last held in 1896 and was then abolished at the corporation's request. The fair held on the Tuesday before Michaelmas was transferred to the Tuesday in August Bank Holiday week in 1898 and became solely a pleasure fair. (fn. 252)
The fairs, like the markets, were held in High Street and Digbeth, spreading in the 19th century to the Bridge and the streets leading off it. (fn. 253) Trade was in livestock, dairy produce, and vegetables. In the late 1620s and early 1630s a few horses were being sold, with vendors and purchasers coming mainly from south and central Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Derbyshire. (fn. 254) By 1742 the horse fair was important enough for the corporation to fix its site in Digbeth. (fn. 255) In the early 19th century horses and cattle were sold at the charter fairs and at the Whit Tuesday pleasure fair. The fair held on the Tuesday before Michaelmas was also noted for sales of cheese and onions. (fn. 256) It was popularly known as the Onion Fair, and cheese and onion sales still flourished at it c. 1870, though they had ceased by 1889. The February fair, popularly known as the Orange Fair, was also in decline by 1889. (fn. 257) Cattle and horses, however, continued to be sold, at least at the Onion Fair, and from 1898 the corporation licensed their sale on the Tuesday before Michaelmas to suit farmers and dealers who had previously gone to the Onion Fair. The horses were sold in Midland Road, the cattle in the pig-market. (fn. 258) The sales were apparently held until the late 1920s. (fn. 259)
The medieval grants of markets and fairs were made to the lord of the manor, and in the 1490s the borough bailiff was still accounting annually to the lord for market toll. (fn. 260) Clerks of the market and flesh-tasters continued to be appointed at the court leet until the mid 19th century, and as late as 1806 the leet promulgated by-laws to regulate trading. (fn. 261) Nevertheless in the 17th century control had in fact passed to the corporation. The 1627 charter granted it the markets and fairs and the court of piepowder. (fn. 262) It was paying the clerks of the market by the 1630s; (fn. 263) it built the market houses; (fn. 264) it provided weights and measures. (fn. 265) In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the bellman collected toll from stall-holders in the name of the lord of the manor; but he did so with the corporation's consent, and it was the corporation which permitted him to keep the money he collected. (fn. 266) Its ownership apparently went unchallenged until 1816, when, having opened its new pig-market, it forbade burgesses to exercise their privilege of erecting pig-pens in High Street on market days. When Joseph Cotterell disobeyed the order, asserting that it was void because the market belonged to the lord of the manor, the corporation prosecuted him and won its case, both at Stafford assizes and on appeal. Lord Bradford did not intervene and his manorial steward, Joseph Stubbs, who was also town clerk, gave evidence on the corporation's behalf. (fn. 267) Authority to collect market tolls was transferred to the improvement commissioners by the Walsall Improvement and Market Act of 1848 but reverted to the corporation under the Amendment Act of 1850. (fn. 268) The corporation still owned and managed the markets and fairs in 1973. Under the 1969 Walsall Corporation Act the markets and fairs became statutory. (fn. 269)
The mayor walked the fairs by at least the 1640s. In 1647 it was decreed that the twenty-four capital burgesses should walk with him, wearing their gowns; (fn. 270) the musicians whom the corporation paid in the 1640s for coming to play at the fairs (fn. 271) presumably also took part in the ceremony, for until c. 1832 a band formed part of the procession. (fn. 272) In the 17th century men carrying the carved clubs traditionally known as Bayard's Colts acted as escorts; that practice was, however, gradually abandoned and seems to have been dead by the early 19th century. (fn. 273) In the 1850s and 1860s 'the little civic procession' consisted of the mayor, the other members of the town council, and the borough officials, escorted by police; they walked from the guildhall to the church steps, where the fair was proclaimed, proceeded down High Street to the Bridge, where the proclamation was repeated, and then returned to the guildhall. (fn. 274) The custom was abolished in the early 1870s. (fn. 275)
Most of Walsall lies within the exposed sections of the South Staffordshire and Cannock Chase coalfields. The Bentley Faults, the boundary between the fields, cross it from Reedswood to Ryecroft. The coal lay close to the surface on both sides of the faults, outcropping at Coal Pool, at Reedswood, and in Corporation Street (formerly Coal Pit Lane). It was absent only in the Silurian inlier south and east of the town. (fn. 276) Several seams have been worked in both mining sectors, usually in conjunction with ironstone and fireclay.
Coal was evidently being mined in Walsall by the early 14th century. The lords of the divided manor agreed c. 1300 to share the profits of coal and ironstone mines, and in leases of land at Birchills in 1326 and 1327 Sir Thomas le Rous reserved the right to license coal-mining. (fn. 277) Before 1385 the lords of the manor had apparently mined coal for sale, but no profits were obtained from that year until at least 1460. (fn. 278) The manorial accounts for 1490-1 include a payment for prospecting for a mine in the park. (fn. 279) About 1540 Walsall was supplying coal to Sutton Coldfield (Warws.), (fn. 280) and in 1557 the farmer of Walsall manor was renting coal-mines there. (fn. 281) Colliers in the parish are mentioned from 1578. (fn. 282) In 1597 the council leased a coal-mine at Great Bloxwich to George Whitall, who was to provide the inhabitants of Walsall with coal of two qualities, (fn. 283) and another pit occurs at Bloxwich in 1628. (fn. 284) In 1774 a mine at Great Bloxwich, next to the Walsall-Stafford turnpike road, was advertised for sale; the coal was at a depth of 111 ft. (fn. 285) Henry Whateley in 1775 obtained a mining lease in Comwall and Leamore fields, also in Great Bloxwich. (fn. 286) From the 17th century mines were worked elsewhere in the parish. There was a coal-pit at Birchills in 1612, (fn. 287) and coal was evidently mined south of the town by 1613. (fn. 288) By 1764 Jonas Slaney was working coal at Little Bloxwich. (fn. 289) The presence of minerals at Goscote was known by 1776, and a colliery was opened there c. 1794. (fn. 290)
Most parts of the exposed field in Walsall had thus been worked by the late 18th century. The Wyrley and Essington Canal, built in the 1790s partly to facilitate the transport of coal (fn. 291) and passing close to the mines of Bloxwich, Birchills, and Goscote, encouraged the expansion both of coal-mining and of ironstone-mining, iron-working, and brickmaking which were often associated with it. In 1806 a railway was built from the canal to a new colliery, ironworks, and brickworks at Birchills. (fn. 292) There were 6 collieries in the parish in 1834, of which 3 were at Birchills and 3 at Bloxwich. (fn. 293) By 1843 there were at least 8 pits, 4 at Birchills, one at Bloxwich, one at James Bridge, and one at Bentley Moor. (fn. 294) Several mines at Bloxwich were advertised for sale during the following years. (fn. 295) There were some 19 collieries in 1853; most of the newer ones were in Bloxwich. Three had attached ironworks with blast-furnaces, and Green Lanes Colliery had a brickworks. (fn. 296) The growth of population in the foreign between 1851 and 1861 was attributed partly to the extension of coal-mining, (fn. 297) and the number of pits continued to increase rapidly until the mid 1860s. (fn. 298)
By the later 1860s, however, the coal industry in Walsall had begun to decline. The centre of production had continued to move from the Birchills area to Bloxwich and the north of the parish, where a colliery at Fishley began working c. 1865. Of some 40 collieries in 1868, only 29 were working. (fn. 299) In the next fifteen years the number declined rapidly; 13 closed between 1873 and 1883, and in 1882 there were only 8 collieries working. (fn. 300) By 1916 there were only 3 pits working in Bloxwich and none further south. (fn. 301) The abandonment of the Broad Lane No. 2 Pit in 1925 marked the end of mining; attempts to resume it in the later 1920s and the 1930s failed. (fn. 302) Coal was worked open-cast, however, in Reedswood Park in the later 1940s. (fn. 303)
The Coal Measures around Walsall include several beds of ironstone, both between and below the coal seams; they are nearest the surface south and south-east of the town. (fn. 304) Mining had evidently begun by c. 1300 when the lords of the divided manor agreed to share the profits. (fn. 305) In the late 1380s and the 1390s the lord had mines in Windmill field and in 'Godeforthfeld', probably in Caldmore. (fn. 306) In 1537-8 Thomas Acton was leasing mines in the foreign from the Crown, (fn. 307) and in 1539 Thomas Rugeway of Shipley (Salop.) let two mines at 'Stubcross' near Walsall to John Hodgettis and John Stone of Walsall. (fn. 308) About the same time the chantry priest of St. Mary under the rood was mining ironstone in chantry land, (fn. 309) and Leland c. 1540 remarked on the ironstone mines of the town. (fn. 310)
In the later 16th and early 17th centuries the ore was extensively mined to supply works elsewhere. Walsall ironstone was used in Lord Paget's blast furnace in Cannock forest from the start of operations in 1561; between August 1561 and December 1563 2,068 loads of the stone were carried to the furnace. (fn. 311) In 1576 his son was leasing 8 open-cast mines in Walsall, and 23 more were opened between 1577 and 1585. In most cases royalties were paid to the owners or tenants of the properties in return for mining rights, but some owners evidently dug the stone themselves. The pits were worked for periods varying from a few months to at least nine years. (fn. 312) Only a few sites are identifiable. Those leased from the lord of the manor included a mine in the park, worked in 1577-8, (fn. 313) and others in the Rough and Plain Wastes, probably between the park and Walsall Brook and worked from at least 1576 to 1582. (fn. 314) A mine in Marsh field, leased from one Brasier from 1577 to 1581, was probably in the Marsh Street area. (fn. 315) Several pits were leased from Walter Leveson of Lilleshall (Salop.); they included a mine in Pinfold leasow next to the pinfold at Bloxwich worked from at least 1576 to 1581, (fn. 316) one in Rough leasow adjoining the present Corporation Street worked from at least 1576 to 1580, (fn. 317) and another at Palfrey Green worked from 1581 to 1584. (fn. 318) Paget also mined at Caldmore between 1578 and 1580, (fn. 319) at 'Walsytch' (probably in Caldmore) in 1580, (fn. 320) in Windmill field between 1578 and 1582, (fn. 321) and in Monks field (probably in the Pleck area) in 1576-7. (fn. 322) Fulke Greville, who took over Paget's ironworks in 1589, also obtained ore from Walsall. (fn. 323) In 1571 Sir Francis Willoughby was negotiating for Walsall ore for his ironworks at Middleton (Warws.) and used it in his new furnace there in 1592. In 1595 Percival Willoughby leased an ironstone mine at Brockhurst on the Wednesbury boundary. (fn. 324) In 1590 John Worthington of Walsall sold ironstone for the Friar Park smithy in West Bromwich, (fn. 325) and in 1591 Hugh Lyddiatt of Walsall leased mining rights to Thomas Parkes, a Wednesbury ironmaster. (fn. 326) In 1651 John Persehouse leased mines in the Caldmore area to John Jennens, a Birmingham ironmonger, requiring him to use the ore in his furnace at Aston (Warws.) (fn. 327) In the late 17th century Walsall and Rushall ores were the source of 'tough iron' used for the best wares. (fn. 328)
In the 19th century ironstone was still widely mined in the parish, but production moved away from the outcrop to the deeper seams, which were worked in conjunction with coal; most collieries thus mined ironstone. The Broad Lane colliery was probably the last to do so. (fn. 329) Lord Hatherton, however, let out separate ironstone mines at Sargent's Hill in 1865 and at Five Ways in 1869. (fn. 330)
The Silurian rocks around Walsall include three productive beds of limestone. The lowest, the Barr or Woolhope Limestone, outcrops along the eastern boundary of the parish from Hay Head to Gillity Greaves. The Upper and Lower Wenlock Limestones are found nearer the town centre; the more valuable bed, the Lower Limestone, outcrops around Church Hill and in the Arboretum area and is close to the surface at Townend Bank. Further west the Upper and Lower Limestones were reached by shafts through the overlying Coal Measures. The Lower Limestone extends into Rushall, where several limeworks often stated to be in Walsall were in fact situated. (fn. 331)
Walsall limestone was used for building by the late 16th century: in 1594 John Persehouse of Reynold's Hall granted a lease of a lime-pit, reserving some of the building stone for himself. (fn. 332) By the 15th century the stone was also burnt for lime. In 1417-18 fourteen cart-loads of burnt limestone were bought at Walsall to repair a mill at Warwick, and in the 1460s the stone was burnt for use in the rebuilding of Walsall church. Lime-burners are mentioned in a list of trades c. 1494. (fn. 333) By the earlier 16th century Walsall supplied lime to Sutton Coldfield (Warws.) (fn. 334) and in 1569 to Grafton Manor (Worcs.); (fn. 335) it was apparently used at the ironworks at Middleton (Warws.) in 1593. (fn. 336) In 1675 it was used in work at Seighford church. (fn. 337) From at least 1763 it was sent to Freeford for agricultural use. (fn. 338) In the earlier 19th century the Barr Limestone provided engineering cement and the stucco with which many houses in Walsall were faced, while the Wenlock Limestone was in demand as a flux in iron-smelting. (fn. 339)
The Barr Limestone was apparently being worked by the 15th century. In 1443 a lease of land at Holt Croft, probably near Gillity Greaves, reserved a limestone mine there. (fn. 340) A lime-pit on Daffodil farm was worked at some time before 1546. (fn. 341) The limestone quarries at Hay Head were the chief source of Barr Limestone in Walsall and were worked by 1593. (fn. 342) A mine at Laundhill near by was in production between at least 1617 and 1677. (fn. 343) Lord Mountrath had a works in the Dingle (partly in Aldridge) from at least 1767, and probably by the mid 1770s Thomas Hoo owned another adjoining it on the south. (fn. 344) About 1800 the Hay Head quarries were disused, but by 1808 John Wilkinson, evidently the Bilston ironmaster, had begun to work them again. In 1813 the quarries were occupied by James Brindley. (fn. 345) The former Mountrath sector had been abandoned by 1843; Hoo's was then owned by Sir Edward Dolman Scott and by T. E. Foley of Stoke Edith (Herefs.) and was let to William Tolley. (fn. 346) In 1850 Foley's widow re-let the works to Charles Roberts and Henry Eberhardt of Stourbridge (Worcs.). Their partnership was dissolved in 1853 and an agreement of 1854 gave Roberts sole rights. (fn. 347) He advertised the lease for sale later in the year, but the works had been abandoned by 1865. (fn. 348) In 1790 a works was opened on Wood End farm near Daisy Bank; it was in production until at least 1822, but nothing further is known of it. (fn. 349)
The earliest workings in the Wenlock Limestone were probably in the outcrop around Church Hill. Old limestone workings were known under Peal Street in 1889, and one below High Street was discovered in 1910. (fn. 350) The area east of Ablewell Street was called Lime Pit Bank by the 1760s, and a limestone quarry west of the street was being worked in 1782. (fn. 351)
By the late 18th century large-scale working of the Lower Limestone had moved northwards to the present Arboretum area; Hatherton Lake there is a flooded quarry. Mines worked by the Persehouse family from at least 1733 were probably on that site. (fn. 352) Open-cast quarrying there was developed by John Walhouse, who succeeded Richard Persehouse in 1771, and by the end of the century he had demolished Reynold's Hall to reach the limestone underneath. (fn. 353) In 1801 the works was said to be let to a 'Mr. Griffiths'; (fn. 354) this may refer to the Joseph Griffin who occupied it between at least 1813 and 1825. (fn. 355) A mineral railway was built in 1823 to carry limestone from the works to a wharf on the Walsall Canal. (fn. 356) In 1826 Walhouse re-let the works, then known as the Butts Limeworks, to George Strongitharm of Daw End in Rushall, Samuel Wagstaff of West Bromwich, and William Harrison of Walsall. By that time it extended into Rushall. A further lease was granted in 1834 to Harrison only, but the works had apparently been abandoned by 1843. (fn. 357) The pits were flooded by 1845 when the mayor, J. H. Harvey, was drowned while swimming there. (fn. 358)
By then operations had begun further west in the concealed veins, which were worked by the pillarand-stall method. (fn. 359) In 1813 there was a mine south of Wolverhampton Street owned by Lord Bradford and let to Thomas Price of Bescot Hall. (fn. 360) The workings were apparently underground; they had been closed by 1838. By then John Strongitharm had opened another mine adjoining them on the southeast. (fn. 361) It had closed by 1843. (fn. 362) A third mine immediately east of that of 1813 on both sides of Wolverhampton Street was worked by 1823; in 1838 it belonged to the Daw End Lime Co. and was advertised for sale in 1862. (fn. 363) A mine with shafts in Marsh Street and on the site of the railway station was worked presumably before 1849. (fn. 364) In 1851 John Brewer and in 1860 John Whitgreave each apparently had a limeworks in Wolverhampton Street. (fn. 365)
From the Wolverhampton Street area mining spread gradually northwards. In 1824 John Walhouse bought Shaw's Leasowes north of the present Shaw Street and granted mining rights there to the lessees of his Butts Limeworks in 1826. By 1832 William Harrison had built a tramway to the Birchills branch canal, and production had apparently begun by 1834. (fn. 366) In 1845 11,348 tons of limestone and 5,076 tons of lime were produced. (fn. 367) Harrison was succeeded between 1851 and 1860 by Edward Strongitharm, who worked the pits till at least 1861. (fn. 368)
Two underground mines (fn. 369) were sunk in the 1840s north of the town centre. One on the corner of Birchills and Green Lane, later known as the Birchills Limeworks, was opened in the earlier 1840s and was worked by James Smallman until at least 1851. (fn. 370) By 1861 he had been succeeded by Mary Newton & Co. (fn. 371) By 1873 the mine was worked by Thomas Matthews, but between 1888 and 1892 it passed to Brewer & Marriott. It closed c. 1892. (fn. 372) In 1843 Lord Hatherton leased a mine between Hatherton Street and Wisemore Lane, later known as the Hatherton Limeworks, to Emanuel Benton and Job Hollowood. It was in production by 1845, and in 1847 12,063 tons of limestone were raised and 1,494 tons of lime made. In 1854 the lease was sold to Elias Crapper (d. 1885), whose company held it until at least 1888. The Portland Street Limeworks north of the Hatherton works had been established by John Brewer by 1860; between 1868 and 1872 it was taken over by Crapper and later merged with the Hatherton works, though both names were retained. About 1889 the works passed to Brewer & Marriott; Marriott was probably J. J. Marriott, one of Crapper's legatees. It was taken over c. 1895 by G. L. Lavender, who closed it in 1903. (fn. 373) It was the last limeworks in Walsall. (fn. 374)
Brick clays, including the Etruria Marls of the Upper Coal Measures and clays of the Silurian Wenlock Shales, have been available for working in most parts of the parish. (fn. 375) Though there is evidence of brick-making at Bescot in 1617, at Wood End during much of the 18th century, at Hampton Lane (probably the present Wolverhampton Street) by 1768, and at Wallington Heath by 1769, those works may have been small and shortlived. (fn. 376) In 1777, however, a brickworks at Wallington Heath was evidently producing 180,000 bricks a year. (fn. 377) In the earlier 19th century the industry became firmly established. In 1813 there were 3 works in the parish, one (in existence by 1806) at Birchills Colliery, one on the Birmingham road, and one belonging to Samuel Wood, who made bricks, tiles, sough tiles, and quarries. (fn. 378) By 1829 the number of works had reached 6, and by 1834 there were eight. Three works in 1834 were near the town centre, and there were others at the Parks, at James Bridge, and at Wisemore. (fn. 379) The industry expanded until at least the late 1850s, with yards widely distributed throughout the parish. The largest, R. Thomas's works at Bloxwich, produced 1,200,000 bricks in 1858 and was then among the five largest in South Staffordshire. At least one yard, at Goscote, made pipes and tiles as well as bricks. (fn. 380) Bricks continued to be made until at least the Second World War. In the late 1930s there were still five firms making bricks in the county borough, (fn. 381) but by 1951 all had closed. (fn. 382)
The primary metal industries.
Despite the importance of Walsall ironstone early iron-smelting in the parish seems to have been small-scale and intermittent, perhaps because water-power was limited. About 1300 Roger de Morteyn granted Adam the bloomer an acre of waste at Bloxwich. (fn. 383) The name 'Synderhulleffeld', which occurs in 1333, may indicate early ironsmelting in the Birchills area. (fn. 384) In the late 1380s and 1390s Robert Grubbere was apparently working a bloomsmithy, buying the ore from the lord of the manor and reselling the metal to him. In 1390-1 the lord also bought 42 blooms of iron from Warin de Walton of Walsall and William Hoggettes. (fn. 385) There was probably a bloomsmithy near the Tame at some time before 1528, when Martin Pemerton sold Bloomsmithy meadow 'beneath Tame Shrugges' to Roger Westcote. (fn. 386) It may have been on Full Brook near Palfrey Green, where Smithy leasow is mentioned in 1617; the remains of a bloomsmithy in that area were found when Brockhurst sewage farm was built in the early 1880s. (fn. 387) In the later 1570s Richard Worthington, William Gorwey, and John Stone of Walsall felled trees in Bentley Hay to provide charcoal for their 'smithmills', (fn. 388) possibly Meadow mill which Worthington was leasing in 1576 and which probably stood on Walsall Brook near Long Meadow. (fn. 389) Another bloomsmithy was apparently working in the mid 16th century; it may have been at the New Mill, where there was a ruined bloomsmithy and forge in 1617. (fn. 390)
The first recorded blast-furnace in Walsall was built at Birchills, on the site of the present Beechdale estate, apparently between 1802 and 1806. By 1813 the works was owned by Stubbs & James and included a colliery. A second furnace had been built by 1823, but both were then out of blast and remained so until at least 1830. The works is probably identifiable with the Old Birchills furnaces at Birchills Colliery operated by Williams Bros. (otherwise Philip Williams & Sons) from c. 1849 to 1856 when it was apparently taken over by F. C. Perry. It had closed by 1858. (fn. 391)
In the late 1840s a second works, the New Birchills on the east side of Green Lane and the north bank of the Wyrley and Essington Canal, was opened by George Jones of Shackerley in Donington (Salop.), a former partner of Philip Williams. (fn. 392) It too was associated with a colliery. There were two furnaces by 1848 and five by 1853. By 1851 the works employed 400 men and the make was some 20,000 tons of pig a year. George Jones was succeeded in the mid 1850s by his son John, who sold the works in 1867. At that time it was an integrated concern using coal and iron ore from the site and making finished iron from pig; there were 28 puddling furnaces, a foundry, and mills for the production of sheet and hoop iron. The works was split up after the sale. The finished-iron plant had passed by 1872 to two new companies, Bunch, Jones & Co. and the Birchills Hall Iron Co. (from the mid 1880s the Bloxwich Iron & Steel Co.). The blast-furnaces were acquired by the Birchills Estate Co., which sold them in 1874 to the Castle Coal & Iron Co. There were then only four furnaces; the Castle company rebuilt two and demolished the rest. Pig was produced until 1878, but the company could make no profit and in 1880 leased the works to E. C. and W. A. Peake. They made 53,000 tons of pig in the next three years but lost much money and had to give up the lease in 1883. The works then ceased production altogether. It was sold to T. W. Ward of Sheffield in 1890 but had been demolished by 1901.
In 1851 Thomas and Charles Highway, lessees of the Green Lanes Colliery on the west side of Green Lane opposite the New Birchills works, opened an ironworks there. (fn. 393) It was known as the Green Lanes Furnaces. One furnace was built in 1851 and a second had been finished by 1853. In 1861 they were held by Isaac Highway, but c. 1867 they were taken over by the Walsall Iron Co., owned by John Jones & Sons. The firm failed in 1882 but was reconstituted as Jones Bros. and evidently continued to work the plant until 1894. In that year the works was bought by John Russell & Co. Ltd., a Walsall firm of wrought-iron and tube manufacturers. Russells was succeeded between 1904 and 1908 by Birchills Furnaces Ltd., which continued to operate the furnaces until at least 1917. By 1920 the firm had stopped making pig-iron but was still working a foundry, which closed c. 1925. The furnaces had been demolished by 1938.
In 1845 Lord Hatherton leased land for a colliery and ironworks adjoining the canal north of Leamore Lane, Bloxwich, to Richard Fryer of the Wergs, Tettenhall. (fn. 394) The lease passed to his son W. F. Fryer in 1846. Two furnaces were built apparently in the early 1850s. At some time between 1868 and 1871 Fryer leased the works, known as the Hatherton Furnaces, to George and Richard Thomas of Bloxwich. From the early 1880s until 1923 they operated a forge and rolling-mill at Birchills in conjunction with the furnaces. In the mid 1920s the firm became G. & R. Thomas Ltd.; it was liquidated in 1935 and the assets were acquired by A. J. While. In 1960 the company was taken over by the Staveley Coal & Iron Co. Ltd., and c. 1968 it passed to Staveley Industries Ltd. The furnaces, the last in Walsall, were blown out in 1948, but the firm continued to refine iron until 1965, thereafter concentrating on the production of castings. In 1974 G. & R. Thomas Ltd. formed part of the Alloy Castings Division of Bradley & Foster Ltd., a subsidiary of Staveley Industries Ltd. The works then produced electrically melted alloy castings and medium jobbing grey-iron castings.
In the 1850s and 1860s a number of works for the manufacture of bar and sheet iron and rolled sections were established. The first seems to have been that in Pleck Road owned in 1851 by Sinkinson & Lancaster; by 1856 the firm was Brayford & Lancaster and had a second works at Birchills. (fn. 395) By 1873 there were seven works in the Birchills district, Pleck Road, and Bridgeman Street; the largest, Edward Russell's Cyclops Ironworks in Pleck Road, had 22 puddling furnaces and 3 rolling-mills. (fn. 396) Although the smelting industry was already in difficulties, the wrought-iron trade apparently continued to prosper. In the late 1880s there were eight works, producing 1,250 tons a week of rounds, squares, flats, and horse-shoe and sheet-iron. (fn. 397) The Bloxwich Iron & Steel Co. also made Bessemer steel and tubes at the Birchills Hall works. (fn. 398) From the 1890s, however, the number of firms fell, presumably owing to the increased use of mild steel and the consequent decline in demand for the wrought iron of the Black Country. (fn. 399) The Bloxwich Iron & Steel Co. was liquidated in 1895. (fn. 400) The New Side and the Cormorant ironworks at Pleck had merged by 1896, and by 1900 the number of firms had fallen to five. (fn. 401) By the early 1920s there were only four firms, and two of them closed between 1928 and 1932. (fn. 402) At the end of the Second World War two firms survived. One, W. M. Lester & Sons Ltd., evidently closed between 1947 and 1952; the other, the Walsall District Iron Co. Ltd., was still making rolled metal in Birchills Street in 1970 but closed c. 1972. (fn. 403)
Although the use of non-ferrous metals in finished products has a long history in Walsall, they were not smelted or refined there on a large scale until the 20th century, when first zinc and later copper and aluminium smelters were established. The Delaville Spelter Works in Willenhall Lane, Bloxwich, was begun in 1902 by the New Delaville Spelter Co. Ltd., a consortium headed by A. C. Griffiths of Birmingham. (fn. 404) One distillation furnace was completed in 1902 and a second in 1907. By 1918 there were eight furnaces smelting zinc ash and two sweater furnaces for recovering zinc from hard spelter; zinc oxide was also produced. In 1929 the works also began to make zinc dust. About that time the company became the Delaville Spelter Co. Ltd., and was taken over by the Imperial Smelting Corporation in 1933. In 1935 the zinc oxide furnace was closed; metallic zinc was smelted intermittently until 1945, but the plant was then scrapped. During and after the Second World War, however, zinc dust production expanded, and in 1941 a plant was installed to make Mazak zinc alloy for die-casting. By 1970 a million tons of alloy had been produced. In the early 1950s the company also transferred production of high purity zinc anodes for electroplating from its works at Avonmouth (in Bristol), and in 1957 the Bloxwich works began making special anodes to protect steel against sea-water corrosion. In 1974 the works made zinc dust, zinc alloy, and anodes. As a result of company reorganizations it was then occupied by I.S.C. Alloys Ltd., owned by Australian Mining and Smelting Ltd., a subsidiary of Rio-Tinto Zinc Corporation Ltd. The Mazak alloy plant, however, was owned by Mazak Ltd., a subsidiary of Imperial Smelting formed in 1966.
In 1919 the Wolverhampton Metal Co. Ltd. of Wednesfield in St. Peter's, Wolverhampton, bought a factory at James Bridge as a copper-smelting works for its subsidiary, James Bridge Copper Works Ltd. Owing to financial difficulties copper production was intermittent until c. 1930, but it has been continuous from that time. In 1967 Wolverhampton Metal was taken over by I.M.I. and became I.M.I. Refinery Holdings Ltd. As a result of extensions to the plant from the mid 1960s the refinery was in 1974 the largest works in Britain producing copper from scrap and residues. The principal products were electrolytic copper cathodes and shapes; other metals refined as by-products included nickel, zinc, tin, lead, gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. (fn. 405) In 1949 a site in Goscote Lane was acquired for a copper refinery by Mercury Securities Ltd. Its subsidiary, Elkington Ltd., moved there from Birmingham in 1950. In 1954 a factory for hot-brass pressings was also established on the site but was sold in 1955 to the Delta Metal Group. The copper refinery was retained as Elkington Copper Refiners Ltd. The works was extended in 1966, and in 1968 a tin-recovery plant was added. The chief product has been copper cathodes, which were still made in 1974, but copper alloy ingots were also cast there until 1968. (fn. 406) About 1948 J. Frankel (Aluminium) Ltd. began to refine aluminium on the site of the former Globe Ironworks in Charles Street. In 1974 it was producing aluminium alloy ingots from scrap for use by foundries, rollingmills, and steelworks. (fn. 407)
The lighter metal trades.
Since at least the 15th century the principal industry of Walsall has been metal-working, particularly the manufacture of small articles in iron and brass. The most important products have been the metal parts of saddlery, but the parish has also been a centre of the buckle, lock, awl-blade, nail, chain, and pewter and brass hollowware trades. In the late 19th and the 20th centuries there has been even greater variety.
Robert Grubbere had a forge in the borough in 1362-3. (fn. 408) In 1394-5 Richard Marchal of Walsall sold nails to the borough bailiff for the earl of Warwick's household. His smithy on the church hill was still working in 1404-5, when there was also a smithy in Rushall Street belonging to William Marshall. (fn. 409) In 1410 William Mercer was granted waste in Bloxwich to build a smithy. (fn. 410) Several other smiths occur later in the 15th century. (fn. 411) By the mid 15th century some iron-workers were specializing in horse furniture. John Sporior, admitted a burgess in 1377, may have been a spurrier. (fn. 412) Three Walsall lorimers occur in 1435, (fn. 413) and thereafter the trade is often mentioned. About 1540 Leland noted that there were many smiths and bit-makers in the town. (fn. 414) By then horse furniture was also made in the foreign. A Bloxwich lorimer occurs in 1523, (fn. 415) and John Baily of Bloxwich was working as a lorimer when he died in 1561. (fn. 416) In 1608 there were lorimers at both Great and Little Bloxwich. (fn. 417) A lorimer at Wood End occurs in 1615, and a spurrier at Harden in 1636. (fn. 418) The Smith family of Caldmore were spurmakers by the earlier 18th century. (fn. 419)
By the mid 16th century Walsall horse furniture reached a wide market. Richard Hopkes of Walsall in 1542 recorded debts for stirrups, 'odd bits', fine bits, and snaffles sold at Exeter and Bristol. He was also owed money, presumably for hardware, by saddlers and others of Devonshire, Somerset, Dorset, and the West Riding of Yorkshire. (fn. 420) He may have been a chapman selling lorimers' wares but not making them himself. Nicholas Jackson of Walsall (d. 1560) was almost certainly a chapman: at his death nearly half his possessions consisted of bits, stirrups, spurs, and buckles, but there were no smith's tools. (fn. 421) By the early 17th century the wares of smaller producers were normally sold to such chapmen travelling to London and elsewhere. (fn. 422)
By the late 17th century the horse-furniture trade was highly specialized and each article usually included parts made by several different craftsmen. Products then included several designs of spur, 5 types of snaffle with 6 varieties of end, 6 types of bit, 4 sorts of stirrup, and other ironwork including curbs, chains, bolts, rings, swivels, saddle-bars, and plates. (fn. 423) The industry continued to prosper in the 18th century. A list of trades in 1770 includes 19 spur and spur-rowel makers, 11 stirrup-makers, 5 bit-makers, 18 snaffle-makers, and 10 saddlers' ironmongers. Most of the craftsmen were working in the borough, but there were 2 stirrup-makers at Windmill, 2 spurriers and 2 snaffle-makers at Caldmore, 2 spurriers at Whitehall, 4 snaffle-makers and 3 stirrup-makers at Birchills, and a snaffle-maker in Bloxwich Lane. (fn. 424) By 1784 there were 17 saddlers' ironmongers in the town. (fn. 425)
In the late 17th century horse furniture was still the staple trade, (fn. 426) but in the 18th century bucklemaking became the chief source of industrial employment. It probably arose out of the horse-furniture trade, as buckles were required for spurs, bridles, and saddle-straps. Buckles were already being made in the 16th century. In 1542 Richard Hopkes was trading in them, (fn. 427) and in 1551 a bucklemaker was admitted a burgess. (fn. 428) In the late 17th century saddlery buckles were the chief product but shoe and garter buckles were also made, usually by other craftsmen. Most were probably of iron, but some were of brass. (fn. 429) By the early 18th century there were many buckle-makers. In 1715 22 buckle-makers, a buckle-tongue maker, and a chape-maker were among those charged with burning down the meetinghouse in Bank Court. (fn. 430) By 1750 buckle-making was apparently the chief trade, (fn. 431) and by 1770 there were 278 workshops, including those of makers, forgers, and filers of chapes and tongues. Most were in the borough but there were 24 at Windmill, 11 at Caldmore, 4 at Doveridge, 16 at Birchills, several in Bloxwich Lane, and one at Park Brook. (fn. 432) Buckles were exported to France, Spain, Holland, and Germany. (fn. 433) In the 1790s, however, rising prices of raw materials due to the war, and the fashion for shoestrings, greatly reduced the demand for buckles. In 1792 a deputation of Walsall buckle-makers persuaded the Prince Regent to enforce the wearing of shoe-buckles at Court, but the regulation had no lasting effect. By c. 1800 many buckle-makers were unemployed or learning new trades. (fn. 434)
As has been mentioned, nails were made in the borough in the late 14th century. Nailing as a specialist trade was found from the 17th century: three Walsall nailers occur in 1603, and Bloxwich nailers are mentioned from 1606. (fn. 435) By 1673 nails were among Walsall's main products. (fn. 436) The trade became concentrated in the foreign. In 1767 there was only one nailer in the borough and none occurs in subsequent 18th-century lists; in the 1790s, however, nailing was 'very considerable' in the foreign, employing many women and children 'making the finer and lighter sorts, which they do very well'. (fn. 437)
Walsall locksmiths are mentioned in 1597 and 1614. (fn. 438) Samuel Wilks of Bloxwich (d. 1764) was a locksmith. (fn. 439) In 1767 there were four locksmiths in the borough, and in 1770 there were also one at Caldmore and one at Birchills. (fn. 440) Other ironworking trades were also established by the later 18th century. Cast-iron pots were made in the 1680s. (fn. 441) A Walsall file-cutter occurs in 1753, and in 1767 there were two file-makers and a file-cutter in the borough. One file-maker, John Heptinstall, continued to work in the town until at least the 1790s. (fn. 442) Thomas Ross was making awl blades at Windmill in 1767, and by 1770 Matthew Ross (also at Windmill) and Joseph Ross at Whitehall were also making them. (fn. 443) Bloxwich, however, was evidently the main source of awl blades from the 1760s. (fn. 444) Thomas Elwell was making steel trusses at Walsall by 1754, (fn. 445) and from at least 1765 until his death in 1793 William Elwell had an iron-foundry in the town. (fn. 446) There were also two die-sinkers and stampers in 1767, (fn. 447) and one die-sinker in the later 1790s. (fn. 448)
Pewter and brassware were also made at Walsall by the late Middle Ages. A John Brasier, presumably a brazier, was admitted a burgess in 1377, (fn. 449) and Richard Marche was working as a brazier in the earlier 15th century. (fn. 450) Braziers are mentioned in a list of tradesmen of 1494. (fn. 451) Pewtering may have been established by 1400: the father of Thomas Fylkes, a citizen and pewterer of London in 1415, was living at Walsall by 1399. (fn. 452) Richard Woodward of Walsall was described as a pewterer in 1438-9, (fn. 453) and from the mid 16th century pewterers and braziers occur frequently. Some craftsmen worked in both metals. (fn. 454) A bell-founder is mentioned in 1462, and there were two in the earlier 17th century. (fn. 455) In the late 16th and earlier 17th centuries, however, most craftsmen were making household utensils: pots, pans, kettles, warming-pans, and ladles of brass, and spoons, saucers, plates and dishes, candlesticks, salt-cellars, bottles, measures, and chamber-pots of fine or ley pewter. (fn. 456) Most of the pewterers and braziers worked in the borough, but there was a pewterer in Caldmore probably in the late 16th century. (fn. 457) The pewter trade probably declined from the mid 17th century: later-17thcentury observers make no mention of it, and by 1767 there was only one pewterer in the town. (fn. 458) The brass trade, however, continued to flourish. Mention is made in 1664 of the casting of brasses at Walsall for window casements, (fn. 459) and in the 1680s not only brass but also copper hollow-ware was made. The copper-smiths also produced bosses, pendants, stars, labels, coach-nails, and studs. (fn. 460) A brazier and four copper-smiths became capital burgesses between 1700 and 1720. (fn. 461) In the later 18th century, however, the copper and brass hollowware trades probably declined. There was only one brazier in 1770, in the 'market place' (presumably High Street), and there were only two in the town in the later 1790s. (fn. 462) Buckles, on the other hand, were often made of brass; a brass-locksmith occurs in 1770 and a brass-cock founder in 1771. (fn. 463) In the late 18th century Walsall metal goods still required much brass, and the corporation in 1783 supported a petition to the Commons against the export of raw brass. (fn. 464)
Tinning was established in Walsall by the late 17th century; both horse furniture and brass, copper, and iron hollow-ware were often tinned. (fn. 465) The brazier mentioned in 1770 and one of the two braziers of the later 1790s were also tinners. (fn. 466) Two whitesmiths and two saddle-tree platers occur in 1767, and two other platers, one of whom made bits, in 1784. (fn. 467) Japanned buckles were made by 1770, and by the 1790s some buckles were plated with silver. (fn. 468)
The demands of war in the late 18th and early 19th centuries led to a rapid increase in the number of horse-furniture workshops. In 1813 there were 37 general bit-makers, 11 coach-bit makers, 20 snaffleand bradoon-makers, 2 pelham-makers, 22 stirrupmakers, 3 spur-makers, 2 spur-rowel makers, 11 curb-makers, 6 martingale-hook and spring-saddlebar makers, and 15 saddlers' ironmongers. Most of the bit-makers worked in and around Bloxwich. The other trades centred on the borough, but there were several curb- and stirrup-makers at Bloxwich, Birchills, and Townend. (fn. 469) The number of works making saddlers' ironmongery expanded very rapidly until the 1830s. There were at least 153 firms producing it in 1829, and by 1834 there were 144 bit-makers alone. Expansion took place mainly within the existing centres: bit-making remained chiefly concentrated in Bloxwich and spur- and curb-making in the borough, but by 1834 many bit and stirrup workshops had been established in Green Lane, Blue Lane, Stafford Street, Wisemore, and Ryecroft Street. (fn. 470) After 1834, despite a steady rise in demand, few additional workshops were established. In the earlier 1860s there were some 250 firms making saddlers' ironmongery; a few occupied factories but most worked in single shops. The trade employed about 1,000 people. Most firms apparently still specialized in one or two items but some made a larger range. (fn. 471)
In the later 19th century the relative importance of Bloxwich in the bit and stirrup trades declined. In 1872 only 47 bit-makers and 9 stirrup-makers are recorded in Bloxwich and Blakenall, while in Walsall in 1873 there were 57 bit-makers and 27 stirrup-makers; most were either in the area around Stafford Street and Littleton Street or in Caldmore. There were also 22 spur-makers in 1873; most were in the Caldmore area but there were workshops in New, Goodall, Lichfield, and Bradford Streets. Allied trades included 6 Devonshire-slipper manufacturers and 7 spring-saddle-bar makers. (fn. 472) The change in the distribution of the works was probably due to the introduction of malleable-iron horse furniture; bits and stirrups could be cast rather than forged. Malleable iron-founding is said to have begun in Walsall c. 1811, (fn. 473) but at first it seems to have made little impact on saddler's ironmongery. By 1834 there were six malleable iron-founders making horse furniture, and by 1851 thirteen. (fn. 474) In the earlier 1860s, however, it was estimated that there were about 25 to 30 malleable iron-founders; they cast bits and snaffles and sold them to the small finishers. (fn. 475) The number was probably exaggerated, (fn. 476) but in 1873 there were 17 iron-founders making horse furniture in Walsall; most of them were in the town centre and in Caldmore, in the Bridgeman Street area, and round Stafford Street. (fn. 477)
The spread of malleable iron-founding, and in the late 19th century of nickel casting, evidently encouraged the concentration of horse-furniture production in larger units, and in the late 19th century workshops rapidly fell in number. A list of 1900 records only 28 bit-makers, of whom 10 were at Blakenall Heath, 5 at Bloxwich, one at Harden, and most of the rest either in the Hatherton Street area or Caldmore; 11 stirrup-makers and stirrupiron manufacturers, of whom 2 were at Bloxwich, 3 at Caldmore, and the rest near the town centre; and 2 spring-bar makers in Pool and Short Acre Streets. (fn. 478) While the number of works fell, their average size increased. In 1889 it was estimated that there were 50 bit-makers alone with over 450 workers, and 30 stirrup-makers with 250 workers. By 1905 there were 50 employers with nearly 1,000 workers. (fn. 479) One of the larger firms, Matthew Harvey & Co. Ltd., extended its works between 1896 and 1900 by adding a long range in Bath Street to the original premises in Windmill Street. By 1914 the firm employed 600 workers and made a variety of metal castings and leather goods as well as horse furniture. (fn. 480)
In the earlier 20th century the horse-furniture trade suffered a decline interrupted briefly by the First World War. (fn. 481) By 1939 there were only 14 firms making bits, spurs, and stirrups. (fn. 482) During and after the Second World War there were several mergers of the larger firms. In 1943 John Dewsbury & Sons Ltd., of Littleton Street West, was taken over by James Cotterell & Sons Ltd., which also absorbed A. S. Smith & Sons Ltd. of Charles Street in 1959. (fn. 483) In 1953 Matthew Harvey & Co. Ltd. took over F. Eglington of Bridgeman Street. (fn. 484) In 1974 there were four large firms specializing in saddlery hardware. Cotterells, which had left Littleton Street West for Bridgeman Street in 1973, made saddlery hardware and leather-goods fittings. Harveys at the Glebeland Works in Bath Street produced steel and nickel bits, spurs, and stirrups, brass and iron buckles, coach fittings, and many other small metal articles. (fn. 485) Stanley Bros. (Walsall) made bits, spurs, stirrups, and buckles at its works in Intown Row, and S. B. & N. Ltd. in Brockhurst Crescent produced stainless-steel saddlery hardware and castings. There were five smaller specialist lorimers in Caldmore and Bloxwich, (fn. 486) and Samuel Price, buckle-makers in Tantarra Street, also made saddlery hardware. (fn. 487)
A number of other trades allied to horse-furniture also flourished in the 19th century. By 1813 chains and all kinds of ironwork used in cart harness were made in Walsall. (fn. 488) There were seven manufacturers of hames and harness irons with works in Blue Lane, Stafford Street, Wisemore Lane, Intown Row, Ablewell Street, George Street, and Prospect Row. (fn. 489) The number of firms making cart gear and allied products reached 16 in 1851, and by 1873 there were 11 cart-gear makers and another 22 firms making hames and harness-irons. Down to 1860 most firms remained in the centre, but by 1873 there were several works in Blue Lane, Green Lane, Littleton Street West, and Wisemore, and odd firms in Bath Street and Pleck Road. (fn. 490) The number of works had fallen again by 1900, (fn. 491) but presumably because of the war the number of firms making cart gear had increased to 33 by 1921; some of them were also horse-furniture manufacturers. (fn. 492) By 1939, however, 20 firms had ceased production. (fn. 493) In the 1950s and 1960s most of the remaining firms gave up cart gear, but three were still producing it in 1974. (fn. 494)
The manufacture of spring-hooks and swivels, items used in both saddlery and cart gear, also developed in the 19th century. (fn. 495) In 1813 Hughes & Newton were making 'new driving spring-hooks' in Park Street. There were 5 firms making springhooks and swivels by 1834 and 18 by 1873. In 1914 there were 14 firms; several of them also made saddlery hardware, chains, cart gear, and buckles. After the First World War it appears that springhook making was usually combined with the manufacture of those products.
By 1813 the coach-harness, coach-brassware, and coach-ironmongery trades were well established in the borough. There were 3 firms of coach-brass founders, 4 coach-harness makers including one at Townend, and a coach founder. (fn. 496) By 1829 there were 12 coach and harness-furniture manufacturers; most were working near the centre, but there was one in Windmill Street and one in Stafford Street. (fn. 497) A coach-builder in Freer Street occurs in 1835. (fn. 498) By 1841 there were 2 carriage-lamp makers in Park Street and Lichfield Street. (fn. 499) The trade continued to expand: in 1900 there were 9 coach and carriage builders and 5 coach-ironmongers; most firms were near the centre, but there were also 2 carriage-lamp makers in Lichfield Street and one in Bath Street. (fn. 500) In the earlier 20th century several of the coach-furniture firms began making fittings and bodies for motor-cars, (fn. 501) and light cars were produced by Crescent Motors Ltd. in Pleck Road from c. 1911 to c. 1913. (fn. 502) In 1970 there were still four firms building car and coach bodies, with works in Garden, Frederick, Bath, and Hillary Streets. Seven firms made car accessories. (fn. 503)
From c. 1830 Walsall metal-workers also benefited from the developing market for ornamental harness furniture, mainly horse-brasses. In 1834 there were 36 firms of brass-founders and harness-furniture manufacturers and many others making plated harness furniture, including bits and stirrups. Most of the foundries were in the town centre, but there were 4 in Windmill Street, one at Doveridge, one in Caldmore Terrace, and one in Wolverhampton Road. (fn. 504) In the mid 1860s it was estimated that 1,000 workers were employed in plating and 500 in brassfounding, both mainly associated with harness furniture; (fn. 505) by 1873 98 firms apparently produced harness furniture. (fn. 506) In the later 19th century the number fell; a list of 1900 records only 24, in the same areas as before. (fn. 507) Though ornamental harnessfurniture making continued into the 20th century, most of the manufacturers were primarily producers of bits, spurs, stirrups, buckles, and other small metal articles.
Allied with harness furniture were the chasing, embossing, and engraving trades. Samuel Barber was working as a chaser in Rushall Street in 1767 and William Thacker in 1834, (fn. 508) but there was little growth until the mid 19th century. In 1851 there were 3 engravers and 3 chasers, (fn. 509) and by 1873 there were 15 firms of chasers and embossers. (fn. 510) From the late 19th century the number of establishments fell again. By 1939 there were only three embossers, H. Gill in Caldmore Road, E. F. Sharpe in Freer Street, and T. Higgins in Sandwell Street; Gill and Sharpe were also heraldic chasers. (fn. 511) Both Gill and Sharpe had apparently abandoned the trade by 1953, when Sharpe was making locks. (fn. 512)
A list of 1818 records 44 platers in the parish, of whom 31 were in the borough, 11 at Windmill, one in Doveridge Place, and one in Stafford Street. (fn. 513) By 1829 the trade had spread to Bloxwich where there were 6 platers out of a total of 42 in the parish; most of the rest were in the town centre, but there were 9 in the streets to the north, 2 at Windmill, and one at Caldmore. At least six plated lorimers' ware and at least three plated buckles. (fn. 514) As already seen, the development of ornamental harness furniture encouraged the expansion of plating, and in the mid 19th century electro-plating was introduced. (fn. 515) In 1873 there were at least four firms of electro-platers and gilders besides the harness-furniture platers. (fn. 516) From the late 19th century fewer firms specialized in plating, which was more often carried on in conjunction with other work: it was stated in 1905 that almost every manufacturer of small metal goods had his own plating plant. (fn. 517) In 1970, however, there were at least twelve specialist electro-platers and metal finishers in Walsall, besides the chromiumplating works of the Verichrome Plating Co. in Wallows Lane. (fn. 518)
As already seen, harness chains were made in the late 17th century. In 1770 there was a dog-chain maker in New Street and a watch-chain maker in Hole End. (fn. 519) In 1813 there were six dog-chain makers in the Caldmore area and in Rushall Street, Lime Pit Bank, and Stafford Street, and in Ablewell Street a maker of curb-chains, military-overall chains, dog couples, and greyhound starters. (fn. 520) Thereafter the trade grew rapidly. The chief products were curb and harness chains and cart chains wrought by the hame-makers. The number of chainmaking firms probably reached a peak in the 1840s. There were 69 in 1841, but by 1851 the number had apparently fallen to 52, of which 2 were in Caldmore, one in Bloxwich, one in Blakenall, and the rest in the town, most of them at the north end. (fn. 521) In the late 19th century chains were probably being made by saddlers'-ironmongery and cart-gear manufacturers, but the number of specialist chainmakers seems to have fallen. In 1900 there were 20 hame- and chain-makers and a further 10 specialist chain-makers; two firms made chain cables. (fn. 522) Chainmaking remained closely connected with cart gear and horse furniture in the 20th century. In 1921 there were 30 chain-makers, but most were primarily makers of cart gear, horse furniture, or buckles. (fn. 523) That was still true of the 8 firms making chains in 1953; only one was a specialist chainmaker. (fn. 524) Chain-making nevertheless survived the decline of the cart-gear trade and in 1974 3 firms specialized in light chains (including dog and harness chains) and 2 in industrial chains. (fn. 525)
Although the slump in the buckle trade in the late 18th century reduced it to secondary importance there were still 21 buckle-makers in 1813; hat, knee, brace, and saddlery buckles were produced. Some buckle-makers also made spoons, locks, or coach brassware. One was in Birchills, two in Caldmore, one at Doveridge, one in Fullbrook Road, and the rest in the borough. (fn. 526) After the French wars the trade expanded again. There were 32 buckle-makers in 1818 and 39 in 1829. (fn. 527) In 1834 49 buckle-makers, 16 buckle-tongue makers, and 15 buckle-platers are recorded, and by 1841 there were 61 buckle-makers, 11 tongue-makers, and 15 buckleplaters. In 1834 9 malleable-iron founders were casting buckles. Most buckle workshops remained near the centre but in 1841 there were 4 at Caldmore, 4 in Little London, and 8 at the north end of the town; a buckle-maker at Harden occurs in 1834. (fn. 528) From the mid 19th century the number of firms gradually declined: 43 buckle-makers and 12 tongue-makers are recorded in 1851 and 22 bucklemakers and 7 tongue-makers in 1900. The trade also became less concentrated in the centre. In 1900 there were three works in Wisemore and others in Cecil Street, Hatherton Street, John Street, and Birchills, and in Caldmore and Pleck. One buckletongue maker worked in Bloxwich. (fn. 529) The fall in the number of works in the later 19th century was probably related to an increasing scale of production. Output evidently expanded, and c. 1905 the trade employed between 2,000 and 3,000 people; mechanization was widespread and some metal buckles were produced automatically. (fn. 530) In the early 20th century more works were established: there were 34 buckle-makers and 5 buckle-tongue makers in 1921. Several firms also made horse furniture, cart gear, and small castings. (fn. 531) The number of buckle-makers again fell, however, to 25 in 1939 (including those making leather-covered buckles) and 12 in 1947. (fn. 532) There was some recovery after the Second World War, and in 1962 16 buckle manufacturers are recorded. (fn. 533) Automated buckle machines were introduced from the later 1960s, increasing production but reducing the number of firms. In 1974 there were some 11 firms making both cast and pressed buckles; two of them were primarily saddlery-hardware manufacturers, another two also produced presswork, and one also made plastic badges and fittings. (fn. 534) The works were scattered throughout the borough.
As has been seen, awl blades were made in the parish in the later 18th century. By 1813 the trade was concentrated in the Bloxwich area and remained so until the 20th century. There were 14 workshops there in 1813, with one at Whitehall near Caldmore. (fn. 535) The expansion of local saddlery in the early 19th century evidently stimulated the production of awl blades. (fn. 536) By 1834 there were 41 workshops; 4 were in Maw Green, Little London, and Caldmore, one in Stafford Street, one at Harden, and the rest at Great Bloxwich, Short Heath, and Wallington Heath. Some workshops also made shoe tacks. (fn. 537) Thereafter the number of awl-blade makers fell, at first probably because of concentration of manufacture. In 1841 there were 37 firms with 241 workers (fn. 538) and in the earlier 1860s 27 firms with 200 workers and 50 apprentices. (fn. 539) In the later 19th and early 20th centuries, however, the introduction of stitching machinery in the saddlery trade reduced the demand for awl blades, and many firms went out of business. By 1904 there were only 10 in the county borough, of which 8 were in Bloxwich. (fn. 540) Between 1912 and 1921 the trade revived, presumably owing to the war; in 1921 there were 13 firms, but the industry again declined thereafter. (fn. 541) There were still 8 firms in 1953, of which 5 were in Bloxwich, (fn. 542) but in 1974 the only surviving manufacturer was Thomas Somerfield & Sons Ltd. in Clarendon Street, Bloxwich, a subsidiary of the Needle Industries Group. (fn. 543)
File-making continued in Walsall into the 20th century. By 1813 John Heptinstall's works in Ablewell Street had been taken over by William Parker, who was making files on a large scale for home and oversea markets. (fn. 544) By 1818 there was a second filemaker, in Rushall Street. (fn. 545) There were usually from three to five firms during the 19th century. Until the late 19th century most file-makers worked in the town centre but workshops occur in Homebridge Forge Lane (Butts Lane) in 1851, in Green Lane between at least 1860 and 1910, and in Short Acre Street in 1873 and 1900. By 1900 the centre of production had moved northwards: besides the Green Lane and Short Acre Street works there were others in North Street, Algernon Street, and Littleton Street West. (fn. 546) In the 20th century specialist filemaking declined. By 1941 there was only one manufacturer, W. H. Malpus in Algernon Street. His works evidently closed between 1953 and 1962. (fn. 547)
'Every description' of cast- and wrought-iron nails was still made in Walsall in 1813, but in 1818 only one nail-maker, in New Street, is recorded. (fn. 548) Nailing continued on a small scale in Bloxwich: 3 nail and tack makers are recorded there in 1841 and 4 nailers in 1860. (fn. 549) From the earlier 19th century, however, until at least 1939 there were usually two or three firms making saddle-nails. (fn. 550)
Lock-making remained an important Walsall industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1813 there were 21 locksmiths and lock-makers, of whom 2 also made buckles and other hardware. Four works were in Little Bloxwich, 4 in Short Heath, one in Birchills, 2 in Stafford Street, one in Paddock Lane, and the rest in the town centre. (fn. 551) During the next 20 years the trade grew rapidly. In 1834 there were 16 workshops in the north of the parish and 36 in Walsall and the Birchills area; the chief products were cabinet, pad, and rim locks. There were also 10 key-makers. (fn. 552) In the mid and later 19th century works became fewer and larger. There were 21 lock-makers in Walsall and 16 in Bloxwich and Blakenall in 1851, but only 10 lock-makers in Bloxwich in 1872 and 14 in Walsall in 1873. (fn. 553) Yet the work force doubled between the mid 1850s and the mid 1860s. Padlocks accounted for most of the extra production. (fn. 554) In the late 19th century the lock trade became less significant. In 1900 there were 14 firms; 6 were in Bloxwich, 2 in Hollyhedge Lane, and the others in Wolverhampton, Pargeter, Burrowes, and Stafford Streets, Upper Hall Lane, and Bath Street. (fn. 555) In 1905 the industry employed between 300 and 400 people. (fn. 556) The number of firms rose again to 20 in 1931 (fn. 557) but later declined. In 1974 only some 4 firms remained, producing vehicle locks, padlocks, bank locks, and homesecurity locks. (fn. 558)
Iron-founding has been an important Walsall industry since the early 19th century, and light castings have predominated. There were 2 iron-founders in 1813, 7 in 1829, and 24 in 1834; most of the foundries were in the town centre. The increase was probably due to the introduction of malleable iron. As has been seen, many firms made malleableiron horse furniture, and cast-iron buckles were also produced. In 1834 8 iron-founders were casting buckles and 5 builders' ironmongery. (fn. 559) The number of foundries varied little between the 1830s and the early 1890s. In 1892 there were 23 iron-founders and casters, 17 of whom worked in malleable iron. There were 3 works in Birchills, one in Blue Lane East, one in Green Lane, 2 in Stafford Street, and 6 at the south end of the town; the rest were in the centre. (fn. 560) From the 1890s, however, many new foundries were established. In 1896 there were 29 founders and 2 casters, and in 1921 57 founders; 53 of them made malleable-iron castings. Though the distribution of the foundries had not greatly changed by 1921, there were more in outlying areas, including one in Bloxwich. (fn. 561) From the 1920s the number of foundries fell, and in 1971 23 remained, including some making castings for the firm's own use. The biggest concentration of works in 1971 was north and west of the town centre, in Hatherton Street, Stafford Street, Northcote Street, Croft Street, Old Birchills, Thomas Street, Wolverhampton Road, Pleck Road, and Frederick Street. There were others in Lower Rushall Street, Chuckery Road, Selborne Street, and Bath Street and in Leamore and Bloxwich. (fn. 562)
Until the late 19th century iron-founding remained closely connected with the saddlery-hardware and buckle trades. In 1873 most of the iron-founders were making buckles or malleable-iron horse furniture. (fn. 563) Although malleable iron has remained predominant, the types of casting produced have become increasingly diverse. The development of the cycle and motor trades created a new demand for malleableiron castings. In 1905 12 malleable-iron founders were making motor and cycle fittings. (fn. 564) Builders' ironmongery was also an important product. In 1905 there were 3 or 4 large works, one of which employed nearly 200 hands, and in 1939 6 firms, of which 3 were iron-founders, were specializing in builders' hardware. (fn. 565) By 1930 several firms were also making castings for the electrical, engineering, shipbuilding, agricultural, textile, and other trades. (fn. 566) Such variety remained in the early 1970s. (fn. 567)
A number of firms specialized in other metal articles in the 19th century. In 1813 there were clock- and watch-makers and a pump-maker in the town and an edge-tool maker at Coal Pool. (fn. 568) A snuffer-maker, a wire-drawer, and a steel-toy maker occur in 1818; there were four snuffer-makers in 1834 and 2 in 1860. (fn. 569) Two die-sinkers and 6 stampers occur in 1834. (fn. 570) Tinning continued in the 19th century, and a small tin-plate industry also developed. There were 5 tin-plate workers in the borough in 1818, 2 tinned-spoon makers in 1834, and 3 'polishers and tinners' and 3 'braziers and tinners' in 1851. (fn. 571) In 1929 there were still 5 tinplate workers and 2 tinners. Most works remained in the town centre, but there was one in Green Lane and another in Church Street, Bloxwich. (fn. 572) Although as has been seen brass-founding was closely connected with the harness-furniture trade in the 19th century, in 1905 the manufacture of brass gas-fittings, brass and gun-metal steam and water valves and fittings, and brass and gun-metal castings was said to have been established for some years. (fn. 573) Steel pens were made by Charles Windle and H. C. Blyth in Birmingham Road from the earlier 1840s to at least the mid 1860s. (fn. 574)
In the mid 1870s a galvanized-iron works was opened in Pleck Road by the Staffordshire Galvanizing & Corrugated Iron Co. The firm became Walker Bros. c. 1879 and took over the adjoining Victoria Ironworks between 1888 and 1892. Galvanized sheet production was abandoned after the Second World War; in 1974 Walkers was galvanizing steelwork for a variety of trades. (fn. 575) About 1883 Johnson Bros. & Co. Ltd. opened the Wisemore Works in Littleton Street West for the production of iron fencing and gates. The firm moved to Marlow Street c. 1920 and closed in the early 1970s. (fn. 576) In 1900 there were 11 firms making bicycles and 2 others producing cycle fittings and accessories. (fn. 577)
As has been seen, some of the firms making horse furniture, buckles, and other traditional wares have extended their range to include many other products; others abandoned the traditional industries altogether for new trades. Joseph Withers & Sons Ltd. was manufacturing harness in Wisemore in 1928. By 1932, having changed its style to Withers (Walsall) Ltd. and moved to Bath Street, it was making non-ferrous castings and fittings for hollowware, bathrooms, and motor-cars. The firm was still in business in 1962 but had ceased production by 1970. (fn. 578) The firm of J. & J. Wiggin Ltd. was making bridle-bits at Bloxwich from 1893 and took over the former mission hall in Revival Street, Bloxwich, in the early 20th century. The works was rebuilt after a fire in 1928 and the firm began making stainlesssteel tableware. Bit-making was abandoned c. 1933, and by 1939 about half the output of the works consisted of tableware. After the Second World War it became the principal product, and in 1963 the firm's style was changed to Old Hall Tableware Ltd. In the early 1970s the range of products included over 1,500 articles in stainless steel, crystal, and cast iron. (fn. 579) Such diversification has been the chief characteristic of the Walsall metal trades in the 20th century. In 1970 there were many metalworking firms specializing in a wide variety of products, and there were also several firms engaged in fabrication, metal-finishing, and welding. Many works were still in the centre and in areas of 19thcentury development, but others were established on industrial estates elsewhere in the borough. (fn. 580)
About 1830 Walsall became a centre of wrought-iron gas-tube production. By the mid 1860s the industry employed 1,500 workers, and tubular products such as chandeliers and bedsteads were also made. (fn. 581) Welded steel tubes were being produced by 1905, and in 1906 the manufacture of seamless tubes was introduced. (fn. 582) In the 1940s the government concentrated welded-tube production at Corby (Northants.) and the four surviving Walsall firms turned to tube manipulation and the production of tube fittings. (fn. 583) Seamless tubes were still made in the 1970s.
The first firm to be established was that of Edward and William Dixon, who were making cocks and gas apparatus in Birmingham Street in 1829. (fn. 584) The firm began making gas tubes apparently in 1830. (fn. 585) It moved c. 1834 to the premises in Ablewell Street known by 1860 as the Alpha Tube Works. (fn. 586) After several changes in the partnership the firm was trading as Lambert Bros. by 1868. (fn. 587) It moved c. 1910 to a works (also known as the Alpha Tube Works) on the Wyrley and Essington Canal in Green Lane; c. 1911 the style became Lambert Bros. (Walsall) Ltd. (fn. 588) In 1930 the Green Lane works was producing wrought-iron and mildsteel tubes, cast-iron cocks, valves, lamp columns, and manhole covers. (fn. 589)
Several other works were set up in the mid 19th century. In 1855 Edward Russell opened the large Alma Tube Works on land leased from Lord Bradford at the corner of Rollingmill and Wharf Streets. (fn. 590) By 1860 it had passed to John Russell & Co. of Wednesbury. (fn. 591) The company continued to occupy the works until 1929 when Stewarts & Lloyds took over Russells and closed it. (fn. 592) In 1860 another firm, Brown & Chesterton, was making tubes in Station Street, but by 1873 it was concentrating on gasfittings and chandeliers. (fn. 593) Three more works opened in the 1870s. (fn. 594) George Gill, manager of the Alma works in 1872, and a Mr. Hildick had by 1876 established the Walsall Tube Works on the north side of the Cyclops Ironworks in Pleck Road. (fn. 595) Gill left the partnership c. 1879 and the firm became Hildick, Mills & Hildick. (fn. 596) The style changed to Hildick & Hildick in 1884. (fn. 597) About 1876 A. C. and J. G. Russell, trading as Russell Bros., opened the Bradford Tube Works in Upper Brook Street. (fn. 598) The firm became Russell Bros. (Walsall) Ltd. at some time between 1917 and 1920. (fn. 599) About 1880 George Gill had joined with T. A. Russell to establish the Cyclops Tube Works on that part of the Cyclops Ironworks site flanking Wharf Street. (fn. 600) The firm became Gill & Russell Ltd. in 1911. (fn. 601)
The largest of the Walsall tube-making firms, the Talbot-Stead Tube Co. Ltd., was founded in 1906 by W. J. (later Sir William) Talbot and Geoffrey Stead, who opened a works on the east side of Green Lane. The firm concentrated on seamless steel tubes; it supplied a quarter of the boiler tubes made for the Royal Navy during the First World War and those used in the liner Queen Mary. (fn. 602) At its peak in 1960 the factory employed 2,250 workers. It amalgamated in 1931 with Tube Investments Ltd., and in 1962 became T.I. Stainless Tubes Ltd. In 1972 the company decided to close the works and the site, then covering 48 a., was sold. In 1973, however, T.I. Chesterfield Ltd. took a lease of 17 a. of it again to continue limited production of stainless-steel tubes. (fn. 603)
Three of the four former welded-tube makers closed their Walsall works in the 1960s, but in 1974 Gill & Russell were still in business as tube manipulators and tube-fittings manufacturers at the Cyclops works. Other firms in the tubemanipulation trade then included Frank Charlton Ltd. in Eldon Street and Lyndene (Bloxwich) Co. Ltd. in Blue Lane West. (fn. 604)
In the 19th and 20th centuries several engineering firms were established in Walsall. The earliest works was on the north side of Goscote Lane; Joseph Bradley and Elijah Waring opened coal and ironstone mines there c. 1794 and were working a foundry by the early 1800s. Their partnership was dissolved in 1809, and by 1829 the foundry was worked by Perks & Otway. (fn. 605) By 1834 Perks had been replaced by Henry Wennington; the partners were then steam-engine builders and millwrights as well as founders. (fn. 606) By 1841 they were also general machinists. (fn. 607) The works passed in the earlier 1840s to W. V. Wennington, who was succeeded in the earlier 1850s by the Goscote Foundry Co., managed by H. B. Wright. (fn. 608) By 1860 the works was occupied by E. T. Wright, a steamengine builder and boiler-maker, who exhibited a patent diagonal-seam steam boiler at the London International Exhibition of 1862. (fn. 609) By 1868 the firm's style had changed to Wright Bros. & Co. Ltd. (fn. 610) The works apparently closed between 1876 and 1880. (fn. 611)
From the mid 19th century other firms were established. Besides the Goscote works there were 4 engineers and machinists in 1851, 3 in 1860, and 4 in 1873, when there were also 3 firms of boilermakers including a second at Goscote. (fn. 612) From the late 19th century the industry expanded more rapidly, and in 1970 there were 42 firms of general engineers in Walsall and 14 in Bloxwich, besides 7 other firms engaged in precision, 3 in mechanical, one in hydraulic, 2 in structural, and 7 in heating, ventilating, and hot-water engineering. At least 2 other firms made mechanical handling equipment, one lifting gear, 2 press-tools, and 7 engineering patterns; there were engineering factories and workshops in most parts of the borough. (fn. 613)
The leather trades.
Walsall has been a noted centre both of leather manufacture and of the production of saddlery and other leather goods. There was a tanning industry by the mid 15th century. Walsall barkers occur from 1440 (fn. 614) and tanners from the 16th century. (fn. 615) John Lyddiatt, a tanner, was mayor three times between 1584 and 1607. (fn. 616) Early tanneries seem to have been in the borough: in Digbeth in 1636 and in Rushall Street in 1658. (fn. 617) A Walsall currier occurs in 1752, and in 1767 there were 3 curriers and 2 tanners in the town. (fn. 618) In 1813 there were 7 curriers and 3 tanners, all in the borough; and by 1818 4 tanners and 7 curriers, one of whom was working in Caldmore. (fn. 619)
The development of the saddlery trade brought about further expansion of currying in the 1820s and 1830s. There were 8 curriers in 1829 and 1834 and 9 in 1841. (fn. 620) Tanning, however, declined; though there were still two tanneries in 1824 on the corner of Park Street and Bridge Street and in Rushall Street, (fn. 621) none is recorded between 1829 and 1841. (fn. 622) By 1843, however, Joseph Bagnall was leasing one in Lichfield Street. (fn. 623) Both tanning and currying apparently expanded in the 1840s, and in 1851 there were at least two tanneries in Lower Rushall Street and Hatherton Street. One tanning firm, Cozens & Greatrex, also curried and japanned leather; 14 firms of curriers and leather-sellers had established works near the centre of the town. (fn. 624) Production grew between 1849 and 1865, and Walsall became the chief centre of leather manufacture in South Staffordshire. (fn. 625) Yet the number of firms did not increase. There were 3 tanneries in 1872, all in Hatherton Street, where Ford Brook provided a supply of water; there were also 11 curriers, 2 of whom were working in Caldmore and the rest near the town centre. (fn. 626) The number of curriers had risen again by 1876, when there were 26, and by 1880 new firms were established at the north end of the town in Short Acre Street, Stafford Street, and Lower Forster Street. (fn. 627)
The late-19th-century depression in the Walsall saddlery trade (fn. 628) had little adverse effect on the leather manufacturers, who were turning their attention to carriage, bag, and fancy leather, and special leathers for export. The number of firms grew between 1880 and 1900. There were 5 tanneries in 1889 employing nearly 100 men, and 7 tanneries by 1900. All the tanning firms were also curriers; there were about 20 other curriers in 1889 and 31 in 1896. The tanneries were situated in Hatherton Street, Darwall Street, Park Street, Portland Street, and Warewell Street; most were thus near running water. The currying trade too was still concentrated near the town centre, though several works had been established east of Ablewell Street and South-west of the Station. (fn. 629)
In the early 20th century there was further diversification. By 1905 leather was prepared for boots and shoes, cycles, and motor-cars, and pigskins were being worked; the trade then employed between 500 and 600 workers. (fn. 630) In 1916 Boak Walsall Ltd. at its works in Bridgeman Street, Navigation Street, and Midland Road was making leather for many trades, including fancy leathers from calf, sheep, and goat skins. (fn. 631) Most firms, however, continued to tan and curry cow-hides, which were less used by local leather-goods firms. (fn. 632) There were 8 tanners and 27 curriers in 1910, and 8 tanners and 33 curriers in 1930. (fn. 633) From the 1930s the number of firms engaged in leather manufacture declined. In 1939 there were 5 tanners and 30 curriers, and by the early 1960s there were only 12 tanners and curriers. (fn. 634) It seems that the change was caused by the concentration of the industry in larger units, which had begun before the First World War; 630 people were still employed in leather manufacture in 1960. (fn. 635) Tanning declined in the 1960s, (fn. 636) but in 1970 there were still 14 firms engaged in leather production. Many of the works were in or near Park Street and north of Townend Bank, but there were three factories in Ryecroft, three north-east of Ablewell Street, and one in Caldmore. (fn. 637)
Although finished leather goods were being made in Walsall by the 16th century, (fn. 638) manufacture was apparently slight until the later 18th century when a saddlery and harness trade appeared. (fn. 639) It was at first chiefly concerned with bridle-cutting, but by the mid 19th century many saddlers were established in the town. (fn. 640) Saddlery and harness remained the chief finished-leather manufactures until c. 1900. They have since declined in importance, though saddlery expanded in the 1950s and 1960s owing to the revived fashion for riding. (fn. 641)
In 1834 most saddlery and harness workshops were in the borough, though there were six in Stafford Street and one in Windmill Street. (fn. 642) Throughout the later 19th century the distribution of workshops followed the growth of the urban area around the old town, though there were still many in the town centre. (fn. 643) In 1970 there were at least 26 saddlers and harness-makers in Walsall occupying at least 35 works, all of which lay in areas built up by the end of the 19th century; most were near the town centre. There were also two firms in Bloxwich. (fn. 644)
The development of saddlery and harness in Walsall stimulated the manufacture of other leather articles from the later 18th century. In 1752 a Walsall saddler also made upholstery, and by 1834 four firms were producing it. (fn. 645) The bridle-cutters supplied straps for the army during the Napoleonic Wars. (fn. 646) Leather ancillaries for riders and travellers were produced by the saddlers and harness-makers throughout most of the 19th century. By the 1870s they also made purses and cigar-cases. (fn. 647) In 1876 two firms made dog-collars and three specialized in fancy-leather goods; one firm of bridle-cutters also worked in fancy leather. (fn. 648) The depression in the saddlery trade in the late 19th century accelerated the development of the fancy and light leathergoods industry as an independent trade, and the diversity of products increased. By 1886 some firms were making bicycle-saddles (fn. 649) and by 1904 there were three fancy-leather workers, nine leather-goods manufacturers (including six producing fancy goods), and several firms making purses, straps, and dog-collars. (fn. 650) Fancy-leather articles made at the beginning of the 20th century included watchguards, garters, blotters, and a variety of small containers. (fn. 651) In 1910 42 firms were making leather goods, and there were 73 by 1915 and 92 by 1920. (fn. 652) In 1922 67 firms were making general leather goods and 40 fancy goods; purses were the chief product of 26 firms, pocket-books of 19, ladies' fancy bags of 9, watch-guards of 5, and footballs of four. Two firms chiefly made gloves and one razor strops. Thirteen firms made dog-collars, of which Walsall was then the chief centre of manufacture in Britain. (fn. 653) The leather-goods industry continued to prosper in the 1920s and 1930s, though during the Second World War many leather-goods firms seem to have reverted to saddlery. (fn. 654)
During the earlier 20th century the cutting-out process was mechanized, (fn. 655) and several large firms emerged. In 1914 Matthew Harvey & Co. Ltd. had 600 employees at its factory in Bath Street, which made castings and metal horse furniture as well as leather goods. (fn. 656) of 106 leather-goods firms existing c. 1950 10 employed more than 100 workers and 18 between 50 and 100, but most employed fewer than twenty-five. (fn. 657)
In the 1950s the Walsall leather-goods industry suffered from the competition of artificial substitutes; the number of firms had fallen to 70 by 1961 and the number of workers also declined. (fn. 658) There was an increased demand for fancy goods in the 1960s, however, and in 1970 there were at least 42 leather-goods firms with 92 works in Walsall and a further 7 firms in Bloxwich. (fn. 659) In 1973 half the British production of fancy-leather goods was concentrated in the borough. (fn. 660)
The change of emphasis in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from saddlery to other leather goods had little effect on the siting of the industry. Although two works were established in Bloxwich by 1928, the rest remained concentrated near the centre of the town in a zone extending from Mill Street to South Street and from Wolverhampton Road to Walsingham Street. (fn. 661) That was still true in 1970; a group of 17 works then lay immediately west of the railway station in Station Street, Marsh Street, Bridgeman Street, Navigation Street, and Frederick Street, but the rest were widely scattered throughout the zone. (fn. 662) Many firms still occupied late-19th-century buildings, while those which had replaced their works usually rebuilt on or near their old sites. (fn. 663)
The manufacture of whip-thongs emerged as a separate branch of the Walsall leather trade in the later 18th century. The earliest known maker was Thomas Penrose, who was in business in Gorton's Yard, by 1770, (fn. 664) and thereafter directories regularly list a few whip and whip-thong makers in the town: there were, for example, 4 in 1818, 7 in 1851, 3 in 1900, 4 in 1929, and 3 in 1940. (fn. 665) Most firms apparently lasted no more than a generation. The name Carver, however, was connected with the trade from 1776 (fn. 666) until c. 1940, (fn. 667) and in 1887 Edward Goddard established in Station Street the firm which, as Edward Goddard Ltd., of the Reliance Works, Farringdon Street, was in 1974 the town's only whip manufacturer. (fn. 668)
Cloth And clothing.
There was a fulling-mill at Walsall c. 1300, (fn. 669) and cloth was made in the parish by the mid 15th century. A Bloxwich weaver occurs in 1449, and a Walsall weaver in 1494; (fn. 670) in the early 16th century weavers formed part of a college of tradesmen whose admission fees helped to provide a light in the parish church. (fn. 671) In 1620 the corporation made an agreement with William Staunton to teach twenty or thirty children 'spinning, twisting, doubling, and quilling' worsted, woollen, and linen yarn. (fn. 672) Staunton was working as a clothier when he died in 1639. (fn. 673) There were still weavers at Bloxwich and perhaps elsewhere in the foreign in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 674) It is probable, however, that the town was more important in marketing and tailoring. Walsall mercers occur from 1471. (fn. 675) An ordinance of c. 1494 for the maintenance of play garments belonging to the church gave one-third of the responsibility to a group including the mercers, drapers, shearmen, and tailors of the town. (fn. 676) Guilds of clothiers and tailors occur in 1502, and the mercers, drapers, tailors, and shearmen formed part of the early-16th-century college of tradesmen. (fn. 677) In 1595 a Walsall weaver was punished by forfeiture for practising as a mercer, and in 1616 a Walsall draper was trading with Coventry, Shrewsbury, Tamworth, and Yorkshire. (fn. 678) In 1770 there were 6 mercers and a woollen manufacturer, and in 1834 7 linen and woollen drapers and 7 travelling drapers. (fn. 679)
In the late 19th century Walsall became a centre of industrialized clothing manufacture. (fn. 680) The industry was founded by John Shannon, a Scots draper who started business in Walsall in 1826. In 1845 he leased land in George Street from Lord Bradford and opened a shop there. He was mayor in 1850-1. In the earlier 1870s he set up a workshop in George Street with 20 workpeople to make mens' clothing for the local market. He died in 1875 and was succeeded by his son Edmund John, who greatly expanded the business. It became incorporated as John Shannon & Son Ltd. c. 1890. The factory was rebuilt in 1887, and by 1901 large extensions had been built on the north, south, and west sides. In 1887 179,860 garments were made, and in 1899 706, 580. There were evidently some 600 employees in 1887, over 1,000 by 1889, and over 2,000 by 1905.
A second firm, Stammers, was established in Dudley Street in 1904; in 1906 it became a limited company as a subsidiary of Foster Bros. Clothing Co. Ltd. of Birmingham and moved to New Street. By 1908 there were three firms; in 1916 four firms, including Shannons, made men's and boys' outerwear and ladies' costumes and a fifth made men's shirts and women's overalls, pinafores, and skirts. The trade in 1916 employed over 3,000 workers. (fn. 681) The number of firms continued to rise in the earlier 1920s: there were 5 clothing firms and 2 blouse manufacturers in 1921 and 11 clothiers in 1926. (fn. 682) Nevertheless the trade was depressed by 1923, and in 1926 Shannons was liquidated after the resignation of the managing director, John C. Shannon, who had succeeded Edmund, his father, in 1913. (fn. 683) Though Shannons was later reconstructed, there was no further expansion in the number of firms. Until the 1920s the industry was concentrated in the town centre, but of the ten works in 1940 one was in Leamore Lane and one in Hillary Street, Pleck. (fn. 684) There were still ten clothing manufacturers in 1963 (fn. 685) but only six by 1973. In that year Shannons still occupied the late-19th-century premises in George Street, and Stammers Ltd. the factory in New Street, which had been extended c. 1925; both firms made men's and boys' outerwear. Three other firms, F. E. Towe Ltd. in Station Street, F. Milward & Son Ltd. in Caldmore Road, and T. Bednall & Co. Ltd. in Mountrath Street, made suitings in 1973; Towes also specialized in riding wear and Milwards in uniforms. Mark Cohen & Co. Ltd., a Birmingham firm which established a branch in Whittimere Street in 1927 and moved all its operations there in 1958, made girls' light clothing. The trade in 1973 employed some 600 people, of whom about 450 worked for Shannons and Stammers. (fn. 686)
Rope- And tent-making.
Two rope-makers occur in Walsall in the 16th century, William Alport in 1545 and John Alport in 1583. (fn. 687) No more is known of the trade until the 19th century, when a few firms in Walsall and Bloxwich made rope, dressed flax, and spun twine. Much of the work was for the saddlery trade, although in the early 20th century rope for collieries and ironworks was also being produced. (fn. 688) Some 12 firms occur during the 19th century, but only 3 or 4 were active at the same time and the only ones to survive for long were those owned by members of the Hallsworth and Hawley families.
Edward Hallsworth was making rope in George Street in 1813 and 1818 and in Park Street in 1822 and 1835. (fn. 689) Joshua Hallsworth had his own business in Dudley Street between at least 1818 and 1845. (fn. 690) In 1843 he held a rope-walk off what is now Selborne Street as a tenant of Lord Bradford. (fn. 691) He was evidently succeeded by Ann (or Hannah) Hallsworth, who was making rope in Dudley Street in the early 1850s. (fn. 692) John Hallsworth had taken over the business by 1860 (fn. 693) and continued to make rope in Dudley Street until c. 1875. (fn. 694)
John Hawley established a rope-making concern in 1837. (fn. 695) The business was in George Street in 1841, but by 1845 Hawley had moved it to Goodall Street, where in 1861 he was making rope, line, twine, sacking, oilcloth, marquees, and rick-cloths. (fn. 696) The firm became John Hawley & Son c. 1879, John Hawley & Co. c. 1884, and John Hawley & Co. (Walsall) Ltd. c. 1919. (fn. 697) It had opened additional works in Tantarra Street by 1869 (fn. 698) and another in Selborne Street by 1880. (fn. 699) In 1928 it moved its entire operations to the Goodall Works in Bloxwich Road. (fn. 700) Rope was made there until 1948, but the firm's main interest had by then become tentmaking, and in the 1970s it made only tents and camping equipment. In 1974 it became HawleyGoodall (Walsall) Ltd. (fn. 701)
John James Hawley, John Hawley's eldest son, opened a business in Park Street in 1860, making rope, cordage, and canvas products for the saddlery and agricultural trades. (fn. 702) Rope-walks were subsequently set up in Lichfield Road and Cartbridge Lane. In 1909 Hawleys moved to its new Speciality Works in Lichfield Road. The works included a rope-walk and seaming, weaving, and tarpaulin rooms; the firm produced rope, twine, tents, sacks, and cart- and rick-sheets, and also cordage and waterproof goods for the saddlery trade. It became John James Hawley (Speciality Works) Ltd. in 1917. In 1974 it was the largest British maker of horse clothing and of saddlery cordage products, such as halters and reins; the rope for those was also made at the works. Other products included tents, camping equipment, and garden furniture.
The manufacture of brushes was established in Walsall by the mid 1760s, when there were at least three workshops. Joseph Nightingale, a former Walsall brush-maker, occurs in 1765, and by 1770 a Joseph Nightingale was working in Chapel Street. Hannah Reynolds was making brushes in 1766, and by 1770 George Reynolds had a workshop in Church Street. Simon Burrowes made brushes in Rushall Street by 1767, and by 1770 he was specializing in bone brushes. (fn. 703) The number of firms had increased to 5 by the 1790s and 10 by 1818. (fn. 704) In 1834 there were still 10 workshops, three of which made bone and ivory brushes. (fn. 705) The trade had progressed enough by 1841 for C. S. Forster, in a speech nominating a parliamentary candidate, to wish that the world's dust might be swept by Walsall brushes. (fn. 706) By 1851 there were 12 manufacturers working near the town centre and one in Bloxwich. (fn. 707) In the mid 1860s the trade employed c. 100 workmen; products included paint-brushes, shoe-brushes, brushes for clothes, hats, and hair, and others for various household purposes. (fn. 708)
In the late 19th century the industry was mechanized; production grew, and by 1889 several hundred workers were employed. Factories were evidently enlarged, though some established themselves outside the town centre. There were 11 firms in 1872, of which one was in Palfrey, one in High Street, Bloxwich, and the rest in the centre of Walsall. The Excelsior Works in Harrison Street, Bloxwich, was built in 1888, and in 1900 there were 3 firms in Bloxwich and 13 in Walsall, most of them near the town centre. In the early 20th century some firms made as many as 5,000 different kinds of brush, and during the South African War the town exported 20,000 brushes a week for the army. (fn. 709) By 1912 the number of firms had fallen, and the industry had moved northwards; there were 4 works in Bloxwich, 2 in Green Lane, and 2 in Stafford Street, though 4 firms remained in the town centre. (fn. 710) In the next ten years one firm, Vale & Bradnack, took over two others, and by 1921 the number of firms had fallen to nine. (fn. 711) In the early 1920s the industry apparently suffered a depression, and by 1928 there were only five brushworks in the county borough; all but one of the Bloxwich works had closed. (fn. 712) By 1940 one more firm had evidently ceased production but two new works had been established in Holtshill Lane and High Street, Bloxwich. (fn. 713) Four brushworks survived in 1951, (fn. 714) but by the early 1960s there were only three, Vale Bros. in Green Lane, Bradnack & Son at the Defiance Works in Birmingham Road, and Busst & Marlow in Lower Rushall Street. (fn. 715) Busst & Marlow closed in the early 1970s. (fn. 716) In 1965 the Green Lane works of Vale Bros. was acquired by the corporation; at the same time Vales took over Bradnack & Son, becoming Vale Bros. Ltd. and moving to the Defiance Works, which was extended. At the same time it discontinued the production of general brushware and concentrated on animal-grooming brushes. In 1973 Vales still specialized in grooming brushes, most of which were exported; they were produced both mechanically and by hand, much of the hand-made brushware being entrusted to outworkers. (fn. 717) The only other brushmaking firm in the borough in 1973 was J. Brierley & Sons Ltd., which moved from Birmingham to the Forest Works in Forest Lane in 1967 and made a wide range of industrial brushes and personal giftware. (fn. 718)
Brewing and distilling.
Although until the 1890s there seems to have been no wholesale brewing in Walsall several trades ancillary to it were well represented in the 18th and 19th centuries. There were, for example, 15 maltsters in the town in 1780, (fn. 719) 12 in 1818, (fn. 720) and 16 in 1851, with another at Bloxwich. (fn. 721) There were hop-dealers in the town in 1767 and 1770. (fn. 722) In the 1790s Joseph and Stephen Barber of Walsall were selling barley and hops to a brewer at Warrington (Lancs.). (fn. 723)
The first recorded wholesale breweries in Walsall were the Town Brewery in Short Acre Street, opened c. 1892, (fn. 724) and Highgate Brewery in Lodge (now Sandymount) Road, opened in 1898. (fn. 725) The former, owned from the mid 1890s by the Lord family, was still working in 1939 but had been closed by 1956. (fn. 726) Highgate Brewery, established by the Fletcher family, was sold in 1939 to Mitchells & Butlers of Smethwick. In 1974 it was the only brewery still open in the town and produced its own brand of mild beer. (fn. 727) The White Horse Brewery, Wolverhampton Street, the longest-lived of four or five other more ephemeral breweries around the town centre, was opened c. 1923 and was still open shortly after the Second World War. (fn. 728) At Bloxwich the Bloxwich Brewery Co. was established in High Street c. 1898 (fn. 729) and survived until the early 1920s; (fn. 730) the Crown Brewery, attached to the Crown hotel, Leamore Lane, was opened c. 1911 and closed in 1953. (fn. 731)
At least four distillers called Scott, all probably of the same family, were active in Walsall in the 18th and early 19th centuries. John and Richard Scott, distillers and chapmen, were declared bankrupt in 1754. (fn. 732) Thomas Scott was distilling by 1759. (fn. 733) By 1767 his business was in Ablewell Street, where it remained. (fn. 734) He was still active c. 1796. (fn. 735) The firm was Mary Scott & Co. in 1818 and Scott & Barber in 1822. In 1829 it was owned by Richard Barber. By then distilling was apparently the less important side of a retail wine and spirit business. (fn. 736) Three other distillers occur in later-18th-century directories: the most successful seems to have been Richard Burrowes, at work in Rushall Street by 1767 and still in business c. 1796. (fn. 737)
Several works made chemicals and allied products in the late 19th and the 20th centuries, but most were small and short-lived. A glue and gelatine works was established by Henry Townsend in Hatherton Street c. 1870. In 1872 the concern was bought by a group of local men trading as Townsend & Co. Ltd.; they built a new works in Green Lane on the Wyrley and Essington Canal and renamed the firm the Walsall Glue Co. (fn. 738) In 1916 the works was producing fine skin glues and gelatine. (fn. 739) It apparently closed between 1962 and 1971. (fn. 740) In 1972 Apollo Chemicals Ltd. began manufacturing industrial adhesives and coatings on the Walsall Factory Estate in West Bromwich Road. (fn. 741)
Manure was apparently made in Bloxwich c. 1872 by the Patent Urban Manure Co. Ltd. and the Urban Phospho-Manure Co. Ltd., both managed by J. T. Hall. (fn. 742) Busst & Marlow, a Lower Rushall Street firm of ivory and bone turners and brush-makers, also made bone and chemical manure between at least 1921 and 1939. (fn. 743) The Walsall Varnish Manufacturing Co. opened a varnish works in Wisemore in the late 1890s; it closed between 1904 and 1908. (fn. 744) The Walsall Polish Manufacturing Co. made boot, shoe, floor, furniture, and metal polishes and harness oil at the Sultan Works, Lichfield Street, from c. 1926 to c. 1932. (fn. 745) An acid-processing works in Bescot Crescent was established by a Birmingham firm, Robinson Chemicals Ltd., in 1954; the company returned to Birmingham in 1974. (fn. 746)
About 1862 Maria Nicholson and her son Charles Henry Nicholson moved their family's organ-building business to Walsall from Rochdale (Lancs.), where it had been founded in 1816. In 1869 Nicholson & Son had a works off Ablewell Street. (fn. 747) The works had been moved to the corner of Bradford and Newport Streets by 1872. (fn. 748) In 1874 the firm became Nicholson & Lord, and c. 1877 it moved its works to Vicarage Place. (fn. 749) About 1922 it became Nicholson & Lord (Walsall) Ltd. (fn. 750) It merged with W. Hawkins & Son, another Walsall organ-building concern, in the late 1920s, but the firms soon parted again. Nicholson & Lord, by then in decline, ceased to build organs c. 1932 and thereafter only repaired. It gave up its factory some time during the Second World War and ceased trading in the late 1940s. (fn. 751) At its height it had exported organs to Ireland, France, Russia, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand; about 1914 its factory was the largest organ-building works in the Midlands and the firm made all the components for its instruments. (fn. 752)
A John Dresser was building organs at Walsall in the 1870s. (fn. 753) W. Hawkins & Son was established in 1913 with a works in Paddock Lane. It moved to John Street in 1935 and to Walsall Wood in 1946. (fn. 754) A fourth firm of organ-builders, Stanton & Son, was founded c. 1923 with its works in Corporation Street. A. H. Stanton, one of the partners, continued the business under his own name from c. 1932 until its closure c. 1951. (fn. 755)
Ernest Holt began making organ parts in Hope Street in 1890. He moved to Wolverhampton Street c. 1892, to Lower Forster Street in 1896, and back to Wolverhampton Street in 1906. After his death in 1930 the firm was continued under his name by his sons E. E. and Sidney Holt until 1966. The firm built three organs between 1910 and 1925; its main business was always, however, the manufacture of consoles and other parts. (fn. 756)
By 1884 the Walsall Electrical Co. was producing electrical apparatus and fittings, bells, switches, and indicators at a works at the Bridge. (fn. 757) The works was transferred to Butts Mill in 1885, though an office was retained at the Bridge. In the late 1880s the firm made lamp holders, voltmeters, batteries, and apparatus for collieries, fire-brigades, and scientific experiments. From the later 1880s to the early 1900s light-bulb holders, switches, electroliers, reflectors, and lamps for use in houses and ships were produced at the Selborne Works in Selborne Street, at first by Bayley Bros. and later by the Edison & Swan United Electric Light Co. Ltd. (fn. 758) By 1905 there were seven or eight firms with 200 employees making electrical apparatus, including dynamos, motors, switchboards, arclamps, and measuring instruments. (fn. 759)
The electrical trade continued to expand rapidly in the early 20th century. By 1921 there were 15 firms of electrical engineers and 8 firms making conduits and fittings. There were also three firms making instruments and switches: the Walsall Electrical Co. Ltd. produced both, the Central Manufacturing Co. specialized in instruments, and J. A. Crabtree Ltd., newly founded in Upper Rushall Street, in switches. (fn. 760) Crabtrees had moved to Lincoln Road by 1928. (fn. 761) By the early 1970s its works occupied most of the area enclosed by Lincoln Road, Beacon Street, Broadway North, Walhouse Road, and Calder Avenue; wiring accessories, motor control gear, and circuit-breakers were its chief products. (fn. 762) Electrical conduits and fittings have remained an important branch of manufacture in the borough. In 1929 there were 8 firms, and in 1970 4 firms in Walsall and 3 in Bloxwich made conduits, while another 2 in Walsall made light fittings and fixtures. In the earlier 1970s there were also several firms making switch and control gear, instruments, domestic appliances, transformers, and electronic apparatus. (fn. 763)
Walsall has also been a centre for making optical glass and mirrors. The bestknown firm was that founded by Moses Eyland, who was making spectacles in Lower Rushall Street by 1813; by 1818 he combined the trade with that of saddler's ironmonger. By 1822 the firm had become Moses Eyland & Sons. By 1834 it was grinding lenses and producing some 3,000 pairs of spectacles a week. (fn. 764) In 1889 it was grinding glass and rock-crystal lenses for its spectacles on a large scale as well as making buckles and engaging in gilding and electro-plating. Tariff barriers killed the export trade in spectacles, and early in the 20th century Eylands abandoned glass-working. (fn. 765) Mirrors and fancy glass-ware were made at the Selborne Works, Selborne Street, by Bayley Bros. from c. 1878. In the late 1890s the works was taken over by the Edison & Swan United Electric Light Co. Ltd. It was closed between 1900 and 1904. (fn. 766)
Packing-cases have been made in Walsall from the 19th century. Of 6 coopers in 1834 2 made packing-cases, James Rooker Mason in High Street and Mary Silleter in the Square. (fn. 767) In 1900 there were 4 packing-case firms, in Goodall, Whittimere, and Lichfield Streets and Midland Road. (fn. 768) By 1929 there were 8 firms. (fn. 769) In 1962 only one of them, T. Ginder & Son Ltd. in Whittimere Street, survived, but Packing Supplies (Walsall) Ltd. in Teddesley Street and the Walsall Packing Case Co. in Cecil Street were also producing packing-cases. (fn. 770) All three firms were still in business in 1971. (fn. 771) Paper and cardboard boxes have been made since at least 1900. Six firms are known to have produced them in the 20th century, and four were still in the trade in the early 1970s. (fn. 772)
A works making artificial teeth was established in Bradford Street c. 1892 by G. W. Whateley, a dentist. (fn. 773) In the early 20th century the industry grew rapidly. By 1905 Walsall exported false teeth to most parts of the world, (fn. 774) and by 1916 there were apparently 14 firms in the trade. (fn. 775) At that time the Birmingham Dental Supply and Manufacturing Co. Ltd. made diatonic, tube, crown, and platinum pin teeth at the Manor Works in Fieldgate. (fn. 776) It was the sole firm in the business by 1921 and went into liquidation in 1929. (fn. 777)
The firm of E. Perkins & Co. Ltd., established as engineers in Selborne Street in 1915, had begun producing plastic mouldings by 1924. (fn. 778) Between 1928 and 1932 a second firm, Plastics Products Co., began making bakelite mouldings at a works in Midland Road. (fn. 779) It moved to Wednesbury between 1945 and 1947. (fn. 780) Several other firms entered the trade in the 1940s, and in 1953 there were six plastic-mouldings manufacturers. (fn. 781) In 1970 there were some 8 firms making plastic goods; at least 3 of them specialized in mouldings. (fn. 782)