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British Industrial History

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Patent Nut and Bolt Co

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Patent Nut and Bolt Company initially of Victoria works, Rolfe Street, Smethwick; later of London Works, nr Birmingham, and Cwmbran.

Established 1853.

c. 1856 Partnership formed between Francis Watkins and Arthur Keen - Watkins and Keen

1859 Messrs Watkins and Keen Patent Nut and Bolt Co, Smethwick, experienced a fire at the Victoria Works[1].

c.1860 Company moved to London Works, which had been vacated by Fox, Henderson and Co in 1856 and partially occupied by Thomas Astbury and Sons in 1858[2].

1862 All fastenings for the "immense structure" of the International Exhibition were supplied by the Patent Nut and Bolt Co, the premises of the late firm Fox, Henderson and Co, London Works, now in the possession of Messrs Watkins and Keen; Watkins had arrived in England about 1856 from America; the works had become one of the largest of its kind in the world, covering more than 4 acres and employing 500 people. The contract for the Exhibition had been granted largely on the basis of the uniformity of the product arising from machine production[3].

1864 The Patent Nut and Bolt Co was launched as joint-stock company[4]

1864 Took over Weston and Grice of Stour Valley Works, West Bromwich, and Cwmbran near Newport[5].

1865 Partnership dissolved. '...the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Francis Watkins and Arthur Keen, carrying on business under the style or firm of The Patent Nut and Bolt Company, and also as Engineers, under the style or firm of Watkins and Keen, at the London Works, at Smethwick, was this day dissolved...[6]

1866 Negotiations to purchase the two blast furnaces of Roper and Co where they already own the forge [7]

Developed various machines for the manufacture of bolts and nuts, which they used themselves and sold to others[8]

1867 Directory entry as manufacturer of nuts, bolts, spikes, rivets, etc, and makers of proprietary machinery for making all of the above. Address: London Works, Ward End, Birmingham (late premises of Fox, Henderson and Co); the works also described as at Smethwick covered 8 acres; company employed 1000. Also at West Bromwich, and Cwm Bran works, Newport[9].

1869 Advert for their goods. Works listed as London Works, Birmingham; Stour Valley Works, West Bromwich; and Cwmbran Works, Newport, South Wales [10]

1881 Advert. Brands - W & G. P.N.& B Co. Globe and Lion. Medal Winners London 1862; Paris 1867; Vienna 1873; Philadelphia 1876; Paris 1878; Sydney 1880.

1894 Exhibited at The Antwerp Exhibition. 'Every description of bolts and nuts, black and polished and galvanised, of iron, steel, brass, gun-metal and copper, from the smallest size up to 3.5 inch and 4 inch diameter'. Awarded Gold medal for metallurgy and for Railway Plant. [11] [12]

1900 Proposal from Arthur Keen, the chairman for the reconstruction of the company by amalgamation with the Dowlais Iron Co and guest and Co; this would give the company its own coal and iron supplies and a diversified range of products; the company would be called Guest, Keen and Co [13] [14] [15] [16]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Birmingham Daily Post 16 May 1859
  2. Biography of Arthur Keen, by Barbara M. D. Smith, ODNB
  3. Birmingham Daily Post 28 February 1862, repeating an article from the London American
  4. The Times, 26 April 1864
  5. Birmingham Daily Post 30 December 1864
  6. The London Gazette Publication date:27 June 1865 Issue:22984 Page:3218
  7. The Engineer of 5th January 1866 p19
  8. The Engineer 1869/05/14
  9. Post Office Directory of Birmingham, 1867
  10. Bradshaw’s Railway Manual 1869
  11. The Engineer of 1st June 1894 p469
  12. The Engineer of 2nd November 1894 p387
  13. The Times, Wednesday, Jun 13, 1900
  14. The Times, Thursday, Jun 21, 1900
  15. The Times, Friday, Jul 20, 1900
  16. The Engineer of 15th June 1900 p631