Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 144,265 pages of information and 230,174 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Crane Foundry Co

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Late 18th century: Foundry established beside the canal in Wolverhampton.

Initially it was a brass foundry but by 1827 iron castings were also produced on the site.

By 1827 the foundry was known as Atherton’s Foundry and run by James Atherton and Henry Crane.

The main products were castings for the building industry, ironmongery and brassware.

1830s castings for the hand tool and lock industries were added to the product range

By 1836 Henry Crane had taken control of the business.

1847 The company became known as the Crane Foundry with its own registered trademark.

By the 1850s iron weights were produced

1872 A design was registered for weights with roundels decorating the edge.

By 1881 Charles Henry Crane ran the business with his two sons, Edward and Charles. At the time the foundry had 150 employees.

In the early 1900s the foundry began to produce castings for electric motors and continued to do so throughout its life.

1917 William Cyril Parkes, of lockmakers Josiah Parkes and Sons Limited, Willenhall became a majority shareholder, with the immediate result that the production of lock cases greatly increased, and particularly "money chests".

1928 The catalogue had 77 pages

By 1930s the company was specialise as a supplier of castings to engineering companies

1937 the metalware catalogue consisted of just five pages, marking the extent of the move away from these domestic products.

1945 Josiah Parkes & Sons sold the foundry to Qualcast

1949 the foundry was officially called Qualcast (Wolverhampton) Limited. The Crane trade mark was still retained and the factory continued to be known as the Crane Foundry. The company also owned the nearby Swan Gardens Iron Works.

Production at the Crane Foundry concentrated on light repetition work for the engineering industry. Grey castings were produced were supplied to vehicle manufacturers, gas and electric cooker manufacturers, hand tool makers, and lock-makers. Castings were also made for electric motors, lawn mowers, sewing machines, typewriters, washing machines, telephone equipment, and conveyor rollers for the mining industry.

1953 The Swan Gardens foundry opened, producing larger castings for motor cars, commercial vehicles, farm tractors, stationary engines, electric motors, refrigerators, and domestic water heaters.

1970s Due to drop in demand in the recession, Swan Gardens Foundry closed

By 1978 Crane Foundry employed around 600 people. The foundry specialised in intricate thin section castings, particularly for the automotive industry, gas cookers, multi-fuel stoves, domestic appliances, and general engineering.

Crane Foundry was threatened with closure but saved by the intervention of Managing Director Mr. Roger Lackner, who purchased the unprofitable company.

1985 The company went into liquidation. A new company was formed - Crane Foundry (Wolverhampton) Limited - with a workforce of just over 130. The company expanded with further investment.

Became part of British Steel

2000 The foundry went into receivership again. Further funding was obtained and the company reformed itself as Crane Cast.

2006 The company went into liquidation


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Wolverhampton Local History [1]