Thomas Astbury, a wealthy Smethwick ironfounder and cannon manufacturer.
Astbury recognized the potential of the patent for a nut-making machine that Francis Watkins was trying to sell in Britain in 1856.
c.1856 Provided funding to establish the firm of Watkins and Keen at Victoria works, Rolfe Street, Smethwick.
1858 Thomas Astbury and Sons took over part of London works, Smethwick
By the mid-1860s the growing enterprise of Watkins and Keen displaced Astbury and Sons from London Works.