William Mills Ltd.
For years Mills’ was located in Grove Lane Handsworth before moving to a new foundry at Friar Park, Wednesbury. William Mills was well known for inventing and manufacturing the Mills Bomb which was used in the first world war.
It was a time when the use of aluminum was becoming increasingly more common in manufacturing.
Mills’ well known in the industry making many one off jobs, including the following; aluminum blocks for the Merlin engine used in among others the Spitfire; Gearbox housing & engine block for Donald Campbell’s Bluebird, Rocket nose cone (do not know any details for this) components for Lord Snowdon’s Aviary in London and the figures of Messer’s Fortnum & Mason (in the clock) for the 250th anniversary of the company.
It was this job which bought national attention and in so doing led them to receive the British Empire Medal in the Queens New Years Honour List of 1969
The hand grenade was originally designed by Sir William Mills at the Mills Munition Factory, Birmingham, in 1915. Sir William Mills (24 April 1856 – 1932) of Sunderland was the inventor of the Mills bomb which was developed and manufactured at his factory in Friar Park.
The Mills bomb was the hand grenade most widely used by British and Imperial forces during the First World War. He was knighted in 1922.Early in 1915, Mills opened the Mills Munitions Factory in Wednesbury, making the Mills Bomb Hand Grenade. Until then, grenades had often proved as deadly to the thrower as to the intended target. The first grenade used when war broke out in 1914 was a cast-iron canister on an 18-inch stick, which was dangerous to use because it often caught on the trench front when lobbed.
Sir William carried out extensive research into common design faults and came up with his own grenade, which had a central spring-loaded firing-pin and spring-loaded lever locked by a pin. A four-second time fuse allowed the thrower to take cover before it exploded. His bombs were used exclusively and successfully by the British and other Allies throughout the war and 75,000,000 were supplied. His services were rewarded by a Knighthood in 1922.
I remember my Dad, Bert Parton walking up Friar Park Road to work every day. He worked there from 1962 – 1977 when he then moved to TRW in Kings Hill.
Does anyone remember Mills’ or have any photos. Dad worked in the castings dept.