I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about industry in Brownhills, and why so little memory of it seems to come to light – recently, I mentioned Ogley Mill and the Superalloys Works – Brownhills was never a mining town as such, it was instead a town of a fair few trades. Yes, miners lived here, but most of the local mines (except Walsall Wood) were gone by the 1950s, and Brownhills actually made its money metal bashing, casting and assembling.
Brownhills had many noted manufacturing businesses. Crabtree, Geometry International, Edward Rose, Carver & Co, Binks Bullows, Labro, Brownhills Clothing, Strumech, Castings, Midland Record, Butlers, Rowanarc and more – yet these noble companies that provided employment for generations of Brownhills folk seldom get a mention.
Like the Working Men’s Clubs, these places – mostly gone now – were little communities of their own; they provided not just employment, but a social life and meeting place for friends, family and future spouses. They are remembered with love and fondness, yet little record of the lives they contained appears to exist.
I spotted the above advert for sale on eBay last week. No joke, there’s actually some tulip trying to sell adverts cut from old magazines one by one – but helpfully, the photos they’re using in their listings are high quality. This made me recall the Timings Tools factory, tucked in between Brownhills Clothing and the Anchor Garage on Lindon Road. I had no idea they started out making this kind of hardware.
I have a feeling we have an expert on Timings amongst the readership, and I believe they had some connection to RKG Pressings, who used to be in the large factory by Clayhanger Bridge, knocked down in 2004.
So, the question is, what do you know? Please do comment, or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
“They are remembered with love and fondness, yet little record of the lives they contained appears to exist”.
It is indeed sad that records like this are thin on the ground; people seem to think that their lives are not important enough to make history.
It’s ironic really because the lives of everyday people can and do tell remarkable stories that can give a rich insight into the past, and help us understand who we are.
Great post Bob!
Worked at Strumech from 1981 until 2003. The projects they were involved in was staggering when you write them down. They also sent telecom towers all over the world. I am proud of the projects and events we were involved with.
Timing Tools was started about 1950 in the Timings factory it became the largest contract Toolroom in Europe. It expanded into the building built for the Gentleshaw Sand and Gravel Company.
and used this as a press shop. It was called RKG pressings after the then owners three sons. The G standing for Gerald Evans who later became its managing director.
I can and will give a complete history of this company when time permits.
Worked for Timings Tools then RKG from 1981 to it’s demise in 1999. Started straight from school and always remember it fondly as a workplace full of characters. Dad and brother also worked there and the R was for Richard Evans and the K for Kenneth Evans if memory serves me correctly.
Hi my mom used to work at the old mill .
She made tool boxes there and they sprayed red and blue you could always tell the colour from canel side if walked the towpath. You could see the paint coming out of the old air vent.
Keep up the good work read your blog every day.
Maria Fitzgerald ( carpenter )
Tool boxes? Now that makes sense – the colours would be just right!
Always wondered what they were making with such bright finishes!
Cheers for solving a personal mystery
great to read about the local firms,on the Lindon Rd just before WalsallWood pit..remember S.Wernick and Sons,portable buildings [ now Crash Bang Wallop]..I worked there from 1962 leaving school to 1969..made everything from fences sheds site huts sun houses etc in wood..some office type came up with wood would be replaced by plastic in the future..we laughed at him..how right he was..Wernicks now concentrate on site office hire in Aldridge..I remember fun days there in Lindon Road,and I still love the smell of new wood..
do you remember the lyons cake company on the corner of sadler road and lichfield road on the site of jackcradocs
coal yard then super alloys on joe lanes chemical works aplace to visit if you had a cough to inhale the vapours the the sight of lanes steam lorry at the end of day chuging down lichfield road driven by mr. james and rushton
re the old mill captain parsley and his wife and family lived in the mill house ivisited there several times as a lad with my dad dave and felt hounerd After the war a part of the old mill was used by a carpenter who made meter boards for the chasetown electricity board where i worked as a lad our depot was in the council yard our transport the byke every thing was carried on thee byke tools ladders cables the lot even the two wheeld truck left at the end of the street to collect the penny load removed from electric meters by th then lady collectors .oh happy days
As promised further information on Timings Tools
Timings Tools was started by Bill Yates who had made his money as a Builder and knew nothing of toolmaking.
He became a partner in a Birmingham Firm of Toolmakers Called Dyse Developments his was the Y in the name of that Company. He left that firm and invested in the old Timings Company Roger Timings of the original Company worked there for some time after.
Henry Evans started with the Company as a Toolroom Draughtsman and was soon appointed Foreman and then Manager. He could be ruthless, he would Sack 6 or more men a week but if you were good you were kept on for ever. The Company employed 100 toolmakers at its peak plus machinists.
Bert Bentley was appointed works Manager, Henry Evans Managing Director
Bill Yates ran the Maintenance Department for many years with a staff of 10-15 workers
The Company made Press Tools and Jigs & Fixtures for. Rolls Royce. Ford. Vauxhall. Austin. Morris. Rubery Owen. Jaguar. Hotpoint. Service. Hoover. Rover. Rank Xerox. Douty. Royal Enfield. And many others.
The company made tools so big the crane could not lift them and they were assembled on the lorry. Taken to the customers and tested in their press.
The old Gentleshaw Sand and Gravel Company building was bought to be a press shop and was named RKG Pressings, with two 2,000 Ton Presses and many smaller ones
The company had a disastrous fire that destroyed millions of £ worth of machinery at the Lindon Road Factory.
The two firms eventually merged as RKG. And the toolroom moved to the other premises
The firm finally closed when Hotpoint was moved to Italy and took its custom with it.
Thank you very much for this George. I am one of Henry Evans’ grandsons, son of Richard Evans so this is very interesting to me.
Sadly I never really knew Henry all that well due to his demise from alzheimer’s and had no idea about the business details as he never really discussed business.
How do you know so much about the companies? Dad didn’t know the extent of the business of the companies, had no idea about the fire and the Hotpoint connection.
I had always believed that it was stiffening competition from China which led to the demise of the company.
Thanks Johnathan Just come across your letter, I worked at Timings Tools for 34 years and have many photographs that include much of the fire damage. (I gave Henry an album of the fire damage) As I said Henry was ruthless when he needed to be. But on the other hand generous. Over the years we had many Dinner Dances and coach trips out for a day. All in the firms time with full pay and free.
I no longer worked there when it closed but used to visit. Work was short for other reasons but Hotpoint was the last straw.