The Black Country is well-known across the land for being an industrial powerhouse. The name itself is believed to have come from the black soot that dominated the area from the many factories and heavy industrial work. From coal mining, iron and steel, one of the biggest aspects of the industry in the area of West Bromwich, Dudley and Wolverhampton and the surrounding area in the West Midlands that comprises the Black Country was the manufacturing of security products.
Under lock and key
Since the 17th Century, lock and key production flourished in the area, as the popularity grew, so did the number of companies turning their hand to this trend of locking devices. This was only the start. By 1855, 452 businesses in the Black Country were manufacturing security devices, from gates, padlocks and even ship locks.
As wealth and safety increased, manufacturers turned their attention to the intricate task of manufacturing safes and safe fittings as demand raised to protect personal and business wealth. Many well-established firms known for their quality of safes are actually based in the Black Country, from Cyrus Price and Co, Richard Noakes and Son and Richard M. Lord. However, the company that is perhaps the most well-known today is the prestigious Chubb and Sons.
Chubb and Sons opened their flagship factory in Wolverhampton, despite having premises in London and Portsmouth. In 1889, their facilities accommodated up to 350 safe makers, but when they closed their London works, their production facility increased, as did the variation in products on offer. In fact, many of the staff from the London works were expected to pack their bags and move to Wolverhampton over a weekend, to keep their jobs and continue work as normal on a Monday morning!
We all know that thieves will continue to exist and they will always find a new way to get to the goods they want. It was up to the companies across the Black Country such as Perry’s in West Bromwich and George Price to develop new and innovative technologies to help to protect valuable and deter and outfox thieves. Because of this, safe companies have always had a great extent of showmanship, desperate to have the most innovative product that outclasses the rest.
Impressively, although not well-known, it is the Black Country that was the catalyst for the creation of some of the great safes that we can see and buy today.