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British Industrial History

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Darlaston Iron and Steel Co

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formerly Bills and Mills

Darlaston Steel and Iron Company Ltd[1], iron founders and pig iron makers, of Darlaston Green and King's Hill Iron Works, Wednesbury.

1865 Sampson Lloyd of Wassel Grove, Stourbridge became Chairman of Bills and Mills with Francis Lloyd as Managing Director. The name was changed to the Darlaston Iron and Steel Co and rapidly expanded. The number of puddling furnaces grew to 43 with 17 reheating furnaces, 8 rolling mills, a drawing-out forge, 63 steam engines, including the three 70 hp blast engines for the blast furnaces, and rails were laid to all parts of the works.

1867 "Sole makers of the various brands of iron and steel made by Samuel Mills and Joseph Foster Lloyd and Co"[2].

The company's collieries and mines, mining a 12 yards thick seam, covered 850 acres, 350 of which were freehold and 500 leasehold. Some of the seams produced what was called "Brooch" coal and others "Heathen" coal. The company survived until the depression in the 1880's.

In 1882, during the depression in the iron trade, the company went into liquidation and was auctioned at Wednesbury Town Hall. The coal company decided to concentrate on the mining operation at Essington, where in 1891 the colliery became Holly Bank Colliery, with the formation of the Holly Bank Colliery Co.

After the closure, Francis Lloyd brought a disused timber yard at James Bridge, and established a small foundry which eventually became F. H. Lloyd's James Bridge Steel Works.

In 1883 the Darlaston site was leased to I. and T. Bradley, and B. G. and W. H. Bradley.

In 1891 the part between Heath Road and the canal was acquired by Charles Richards for his Imperial bolt and nut works.

In the early 1920s the company (presumably this means Darlaston Iron and Steel Co) was acquired by GKN from Tolley, Sons and Bostock in order to gain control of the source of their raw materials.

By 1925 the works did all of GKN's puddling and rolling operations for their nuts, bolts and fastenings department.

The Darlaston Green site was taken over by T. and I. Bradley and Sons, pig iron manufacturers and the company eventually became Bradley and Foster.

Around the end of the WWI, Rubery, Owen and Co became involved and installed new blast plant at the works, although the scheme was never completed because the demand for pig iron fell. In the late 1930s the last surviving charging tower was demolished.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Post Office Directory of Birmingham, 1867
  2. Post Office Directory of Birmingham, 1867