The Steel Nut & Joseph Hampton Limited – of Woden Works – Franchise Street, was founded in 1851.
For most of its life the company was in Wednesbury, but in April 1966, under the terms of the Local Government Reform Act, Wednesbury lost its status as a Municipal Borough.
The boundary between the towns changed, so that Kings Hill, and Fallings Heath, joined Darlaston to become part of Walsall.
But no matter what the boundary says now, this will always be Wednesbury Woden Works to me.
The factory initially covered only a small area on the northern side of Franchise Street, but slowly grew to cover a large area of derelict land to the north, which extended to the end of All Saints Road, off Walsall Road. It was known locally as “The Woden”.
By 1914 the nut and bolt department produced a wide range of nuts, bolts, set screws, and washers, in bright, and semi-bright finishes, manufactured from solid steel bar.
They were supplied to all kinds of industries including shipbuilding, electrical engineering, vehicle manufacturing, and cycle manufacturing.
The steel department produced bright drawn, and boiled mild bars in rounds, squares, and hexagons etc., including versions that complied with Admiralty specifications, suitable for high speed machining and case hardening.
The tool department made a wide range of joiners’ and engineers’ tools including vices, cramps, tube cutters and lifting jacks.
The foundry produced castings in the best malleable, and grey iron for such applications as ship building, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, vehicle manufacturing, cycle manufacturing, and tramways.
In 1938 it became a public company, and by that time also produced bright drawn free-cutting steel shafting to air board and admiralty specifications, and non ferrous castings.
The company took out many patents, including improvements in screw nuts (1916), and improvements in quick release vices (1951), and in 1952 took over W. S. Manufacturing Company, Quadrant Works, Sheepcote Street, Birmingham.
By 1961 the company had become one of the larger local employers, employing 850 people.
At the time the nut and bolt department produced a wide range of products, including Bright steel hexagon head set screws, or bolts, with or without hexagon nuts, bright mild steel hexagon nuts.
Also available as lock nuts, slotted nuts, or round top castle nuts and Bright steel engineers washers
In the early 1960s the steel mill was extended, and became one of the largest up-to-date plants in the country for the production of bright steel bars.
The company also produced Woden shafting steel, a bright drawn rolled bar, produced for overhead line shafting. Steel bars were also produced to Air Ministry specifications.
In 1965 the company was purchased by F. H. Tomkins, (Holding) Limited. A Walsall based company that originally manufactured buckles and fasteners.
In 1981 part of the company’s assets were sold to Brasway, which was subsequently acquired by Essanbee Products, a distributor of fasteners.
Much of the factory ended up as a steel warehouse, owned by Corus.
And that is when all the fun of sitting in my Dads lorry disappeared, he actually went to work for Brasway for awhile … wasn’t the same though.
There were no more of those pretty long bars with different coloured paint at each end. (Dad did tell me what it all represented but I forgot now)
Something you may not know was: In 1898, two brothers, Charles and Joseph Hampton, left the family business of “The Steel Nut and Joseph Hampton Limited” to go to Sheffield and set up their own business in Attercliffe. Their partnership was called “C & J Hampton”. Shortly afterwards, Charles and Joseph fell out and Joseph returned to Wednesbury. In about 1900, the two sons of Charles, Horace and Charles W. Hampton joined their father in the business. When C & J Hampton became a private limited company on the 14 May 1908, their premises were located at The Eagle Foundry, Livingston Road, Sheffield. It was at this address one year later that the Record trademark was registered in the Trademark Journal.