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Lock and Key Making, Compilation No.7

Lock and Key Making, Compilation No.7

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A brass ship lock caseBackground

This DVD combines three previously separate lock and key making Compilations to give an insight into the thriving lock industry around Willenhall in 1987.

All three were made with the help of The Lock Museum (Willenhall) and Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council.

Mr Starkey at work on a brass ship lockPart 1 - Charles Starkey, Ship Lock Maker
(formerly Compilation 7a, running time 19 mins.)
NGR: 139 SO 964 985

Charles Starkey & Son was a one man business with part-time help, making brass ship locks and latches by hand, sucessfully competing with the giant lock manufacturers in a specialised market.

Fitting the levers to a brass ship lockBrass locks and keys resist corrosion by salt water and are in great demand from ships chandlers. The workshop, which was once a cattle shed at the back of a butcher's shop in Willenhall, is fitted with a variety of machinery including drills and lathes driven by belts from overhead line-shafting.

Mr. Starkey was semi-retired at the time of recording, but continued working in his old workshop because he enjoyed the work so much!

The Workshop in Amos Lane in 1987.Part 2 - John Mattox & Sons, Key Makers
(formerly Compilation 7b, running time 17 mins.)
NGR: 139 SJ 946 008

John Mattox & Sons of Amos Lane, Wednesfield were specialist key makers, making large and small warded keys by hand using precision chisels, which they made themselves.

Making a key for a warded lock

Their skills were in great demand to provide keys for old locks in castles and churches as this method of key making is virtually a lost art.

The family firm started by making toasting forks!

Cabinet lock keysPart 3 - A & E Squire, Cabinet Lock Makers
(formerly Compilation 7c, running time 54 mins.)
NGR: 139 SJ 979 010

A & E Squire was founded around 1930 and in 1987 employed 25 people making cabinet locks in Little Lane, Short Heath. It is a good example of a medium sized family run firm using hand skills alongside machine tools to make small locks of a high quality for drawers and cupboard doors.

Pressing lock casesBrass strip is blanked-out in a power presses with follow-on tools to produce the cases and caps. Levers and springs are assembled by hand and the cases closed at bench anvils. Locks are heated then lacquered in a lacquering booth.

Keys are cleaned in polishing barrels before being nickel plated. The architecture of the buildings is vary varied with parts dating from the 1780's.

A finished brass cabinet lock


  • This compilation has no commentary.
  • NGR: SO 964 985, SJ 946 008, SJ 978 011
  • £ 14.40 - DVD
  • Running Time: 89 mins.
  • Recorded July 1987
  • Price includes worldwide delivery.
  • 'PAL' and 'NTSC' versions available.


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