The Electric Movie


I’m sure many people will remember these production lines fondly. Still from Crabtree Society film.

I’ve been asking for years for more material on Crabtree and other local factories, as I’m sure there’s an untapped and rich seem of material to be found from these great lost local employers – but sadly little has emerged.

We get odd items, but nothing like this wonderful film I’m about to share.

A few days ago, old friend of the blog Fred Butler found a video on YouTube that might interest those who recall Crabtree – it’s from the Crabtree Society which I know very little about but intend to look into over the next few days.

All I can say is thanks Fred for a wonderful film – how many mums, grandmas, aunts and sisters worked on those production lines? Whole families passed through Crabtree, a once massive local company with large factories in Walsall and Brownhills, both of which are sadly no more.

My huge gratitude for a wonderful addition to our recorded local history – if you have any more Crabtree images, I’d love to share them here!

Crabtree B'hills 1975ish red

Labelled ‘April 1976’, Crabtree production lines were labour intensive and fast paced, requiring nimble fingers and no slacking. Crabtree were a massive local manufacturer, and a world leading name; sadly they sold out some years ago and now products sold under the name are manufactured abroad and shipped in. Image kindly supplied by Mike Blakeway.

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7 Responses to The Electric Movie

  1. stuart cowley says:

    Many thanks Fred and William,I love all the old film.Memories of Crabtrees are of being on the bus back from Walsall heading for Chasetown,stopping off outside Crabtree just as the workers were finishing they were like ants clambering for the bus. Also Midland archive central England contains an old clip of the Queen visiting the factory, think it was in the 60s,it’s also linked with her visit to Solihull so if under a Solihull heading it may be easy to miss the Crabtree piece.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    a super film with BBCs own Peter West in front of camera! I wonder if the name Mr Turnpenny, WW2 foreman at Crabtree, rings a bell with readers etc. Thanks Fred for finding this can even see the old Walsall power station towers in the distance
    kind regards

  3. Geoffrey Boulton. says:

    My Grandparents, (Alf)Fred and Alice Boulton who in WW1 had lived in Norton and kept the Beehive stores, during WW2 were living in Beacon Street Walsall opposite the main entrance to the Crabtrees main factory. Many workers came by bike, some from as far away as Brownhills. There were bike parks in the factory But some people were worried that things like lights and pumps might “disappear”.. So Granddad allowed them to put their bikes in his garage for a few pence. For a few more pence he would “run a duster over it” and have it standing ready by the garden gate for a quick get-away. He said it kept him in tobacco money and also up with the news.

  4. david oakley says:

    Hi Bob.
    Just watched the You Tube video film on Crabtrees factory. We can be treading, quite unaware, historic gold beneath our feet, without the vigilance of contributors such as Fred Butler, so thanks, Fred, for this little gem.
    My main interest in the film was nostalgia, mainly, as I was employed as a toolsetter in the Fitting Shop more than sixty years ago. This was a large Department, primarily concerned with the assembly of plugs and sockets, all round- pin, from 2amp upwards, plus switch assembly. A lot of the work was drilling and tapping to allow the entrance of the terminal screws into the plugs. Products were tested, boxed, then passed into the warehouse, which was conveniently, next door.
    Personnel employed within the shop included over a hundred girls and women, three foremistresses, all fiftyish and unmarried, been with Crabtrees for years, a foreman, George Barrett, and myself as toolsetter, Frank Pinches, patrol inspector and Alex Birch, a labourer, who kept the Bell and Cuckoo in Stafford Street until retirement. Great factory, good employee relation ship and excellent working conditions, but however, modest wages forced a young married toolsetter to look elsewhere. I went ‘on the buses’, mentioned on the film as the main transport, and later took many of my former collegues to work. Buses were clearly designated ‘Chuckery’ on the destination blind and the catchment area was quite wide, Bloxwich, Leamore, Pelsall, Norton, Brownhills, Walsall Wood. All buses to Chuckery headed down the Lichfield Road but turned left at the lights by the Arboretum. Many passengers, seeing a bus headed for Walsall, jumped aboard, then were horrified at the left turn, drivers could expect a chorus of bells and shouts of ‘He’s going the wrong way!! As the driver made his way towards Crabtrees Works.
    Walsall and Brownhills were given as the two factory sites, but I feel sure that in the early 1950’s there was also a factory at Lanesfield.

  5. Carol Slater says:

    My Aunty Doris Stretton (Carpenter) and Aunty Marie Carpenter worked at Brownhills Crabtrees as did many cousins, my Aunty Doris still worked there when recieving treatment for cancer,sadly she died in 1978 aged 58 .

  6. My uncle aunt and their two girls, all worked at the Walsall factory. Thomas Cooper Annie (wife) Joan and Joyce. He worked until retirement was part of the fishing or angling club. Also found out some years ago, that our neighbour when we moved onto the Beechdale actually worked with uncle Tom in the same departmenr. His name was John Thomas.

  7. joanne Mackin says:

    My Grandad worked there for over 40 years. Moulding the plastic. Lived on Tong St so walked to work every day. Retired in the mid 70’s , a few years after the factory was taken over by ever ready.

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