Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Bills and Mills

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Formed by Richard Bills and Samuel Mills

1829 Advert for a 'steady man to undertake the management of a Mill for polishing shoe heel tips' Apply Bills and Mills, Darlaston Green iron Works.[1]

By the 1850s the site covered over 55 acres, and included three blast furnaces, extensive puddling furnaces, foundries, a vast metal processing complex, Brown's patent rolling mills and several coal mines. This was one of the earliest iron and steel companies in South Staffordshire and had a name for good quality iron. All sizes and shapes of iron plates and bars were produced including boiler plates, hoops, strip, tank plates, rails, wire rods and small sizes of rounds and squares. All kinds of steel were made using the cementation process and these were well known and appreciated in the market.

The rolling mills required very little manual labour and could automatically roll enormous quantities of strip in great lengths using Brown's patent process, where the strip being rolled is automatically passed through a second pair of rolls to complete the work. There were two of Casson's patent puddling furnaces and a Griffiths' puddling machine, which worked well together.

1849 Partnership changed. '...the undersigned, Richard Bills and Samuel Mills, carrying on trade at Darlaston, in the county of Stafford, as Iron Masters, Steel Manufacturers and Coal Masters, under the firm or style of Bills and Mills, was this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts owing to or by the said partnership will be received and paid by the said Samuel Mills, by whom the trades will in future be carried on...'[2]

The company eventually employed about 2,000 people, and on Samuel's retirement was sold to the Lloyd family for a quarter of a million pounds.

1865 Sampson Lloyd of Wassel Grove, Stourbridge became company Chairman 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.

1865 The name was changed to the Darlaston Iron and Steel Co[3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Aris's Birmingham Gazette - Monday 15 June 1829
  2. The London Gazette Publication date:9 February 1849 Issue:20943 Page:410
  3. Aris's Birmingham Gazette - Saturday 14 January 1865