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Number 54 New Road and workshops attached and to the rear

A Grade II Listed Building in Willenhall South, Walsall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.5833 / 52°34'59"N

Longitude: -2.059 / 2°3'32"W

OS Eastings: 396096

OS Northings: 298392

OS Grid: SO960983

Mapcode National: GBR 1WL.DB

Mapcode Global: WHBG0.BBRD

Entry Name: Number 54 New Road and workshops attached and to the rear

Listing Date: 24 May 1984

Last Amended: 4 November 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1115449

English Heritage Legacy ID: 219125

Location: Walsall, WV13

County: Walsall

Electoral Ward/Division: Willenhall South

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Willenhall

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Willenhall St Stephen

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

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Summary

House and attached workshop buildings forming a lock factory and owners' house of the mid-C19.

Description

A house with attached workshop range and a separate workshop range, which date from c.1850. The buildings are of Flemish bond brick with painted stone dressings and plain tile roofs and have two stories and an attic to the house, which has an attached, single-storey range of shopping which projects on the western side of the rear yard, with a separate, two-storey range of shopping to the east of the yard at rear.

THE HOUSE AND ATTACHED WORKSHOP RANGE

EXTERIOR: the southern, street, front has two bays with a doorway to left which has four raised panels and a rectangular fanlight. To either side are pilaster strips which also have raised decoration. The pilasters have vestigial caps and bases and there is a dentilled line below the projecting cornice. To the right of this is a tri-partite window with horns and painted stone sill and lintel. At first floor level are sash windows, that above the door narrower, with eight panes and to right of it a twelve-pane sash. To the right of the house is a covered wagon entrance with wooden gates and a wooden awning above. The building is adjoined to its left by others which are set back and to its right hand side the gable end is blank save for a window at attic level, which has two casement lights, set between chimneystacks. To the rear at ground and first floor levels are sash windows of 16 panes and projecting at right of this is the rear wing. This is single-storeyed, save for the two bays at right, where it joins the house, which are of two storeys. This has to its eastern side a doorway at ground floor left and a three-light casement to right with a single-light and three-light casement to the first floor. To the right of this the workshop range has two doorways with flat lintels and six, multi-paned windows with fixed metal frames.

INTERIOR: the entrance hallway has a dado picture rail and moulded cornice and the flooring is of clay tiles. The back parlour has a slate fire surround with a grate which has been replaced by a late-C19 or early-C20 insert with surrounding tiles of a similar, later date. The similar fireplace in the front parlour was added in the 1980s, when the building was converted to a museum. Both rooms have deep cornices and central rose. To the rear room is a fitted cupboard. The kitchen has a tall fire surround which incorporates the range. The stairs to the first floor lead up from the rear parlour and have winder treads at the bottom. At the first floor level are further late-C19 or early-C20 fireplaces. One is set in a mid-C19 surround with roundels to the upper corners. In the workshop range, the former japanning shop, also functioned as the family laundry and has a tub to its west wall, as well as the japanning kiln on the east side. The former stamping shop to the rear of the yard has now been cleared of machinery and benches and functions as an education room for groups of school children.

THE RANGE OF WORKSHOPS TO THE EAST OF THE YARD AT REAR

EXTERIOR: the east front has three wide bays of windows to each floor, with cambered heads at ground floor level and flat heads to the first floor, with four or five lights, to each window. The north and south gable walls are blind, attached to the south is a single-storey is a small gabled building which is now a small workshop for a practicing locksmith. At the north end a range of lavatories has been built for the museum. The west front, facing the yard, has a similar arrangement as the east face, with broad, cambered-headed windows to the ground floor and straight heads to the first floor. There is a wooden external staircase which approaches the first floor in one straight flight and two doors at ground floor level, and one to the first floor.

INTERIOR: There are forges to both floors at the south end of the building and one to first floor level at the north. Work benches are placed beneath the windows and at the centre of the room at first floor level. The ground floor has a large fly press, which is believed to be an original piece of equipment and elsewhere are belt-driven shafts, suspended from the ceiling, driven by an electric engine at ground floor level. The original machinery has been considerably augmented by machinery and equipment brought in from elsewhere, which gives a convincing impression of the manufacturing process of the locksmith's factory.


History

The first record of the building is given in the 1851 census when Job Clark, 'bolt maker' is recorded as employing twelve men. Melville's Directory for the same year describes his work more fully as 'Clark, Job, stamper by new registered stamping machine, and round and flat bolt manufacturer, New Road'. Earlier references in Melville place Mr. Clark in New Road from 1841 onwards. The business was bought by a Job Phillips, who first rented and then, in 1905, sold the premises to the Hodson family and they continued there until 1983. The Hodson family firm had been established in 1792, and they were a lock makers known for the quality of their products, who developed the bar padlock. Their locks were particularly used on lighters and barges and were widely exported, particularly to Southern America. The front of the property was converted to a draper's shop, run by Flora and Edith Hodson from the 1920s until 1966. During the Second World War the company made spanner kits.

Materials for lock manufacture arrived by road as plate or sheet metal from local suppliers in the Black Country or Shropshire, and left the site by the same means. A survey of the buildings undertaken in 1970 identified the historic functions of the various buildings on the site. Attached to the rear of No.54 are three ranges. The nearest, to the rear of No 54, had a kitchen at ground-floor level, with a records store and book-keeping room on the first floor. To the north of this were two single-storey ranges, the first of which was a varnish shop (which doubled as the family wash-house) for japanning locks before despatch, and the furthest to the north was the stamping shop, where the lock parts were made from iron and brass sheets. On the eastern side of the yard was the main workshop of two storeys with a smithy and casting shop on the ground floor and an assembly room at first-floor level. To the south-east corner of the yard was a single-storey building which was used as a privy with ash pits, a stable and latterly as a further workshop. Hall's map of Dudley of 1855 shows that there were originally three further workshops to the south-east corner which were connected to the Black Boy pub by a covered way. The workshops and pub are now demolished. Mr. Edgar Hodson died in 1972 and the family business at the premises then ceased. After that time the upper floor of the main workshop to the east of the yard was used by a small firm assembling electrical equipment and the ground floor was left vacant. Following the death of the last member of the Hodson family to live at 54 New Road in 1983, the building was purchased and opened to the public by the Lock Museum Trust in 1987. In 2003 it was sold to the Black Country Living Museum Trust. The museum reduced its opening hours in 2008 and planning and listed building applications were made to demolish the buildings and move them to their site in Dudley, however permission was refused. A locksmith continues to work from the small workshop (formerly a stable) at the south-east of the yard.

Reasons for Listing

No 54, New Road, Willenhall and workshop ranges to the rear, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Legibility: the plan form and intactness of the house and factory mean that the functioning of the buildings and process of manufacture can be clearly understood;
* Regional interest: the considerable importance of the lock making industry in Willenhall in the C19 and C20 at both local and national levels is represented in this rare survival of a small factory and family home which was once a common building type in the area;
* Machinery: elements of the original machinery survive, including the forges to either end of the workshop, the japanning kiln and fixed work benches.

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