Bob Nelson wrote:
>Roger [Birkhead] asked about some auger maker names ... .
>Gilpins - A William Gilpin & Co. is listed as a UK maker of plane irons
>1868-1946 and a W. Gilpin (no & Co.) is listed as a chisel maker there
>with no dates given.
This relatively large, diverse and long-lived Gilpin firm seems to
exist at the margins of our lore about English tool makers. Maybe
because it was not located in one of the major tool making centers?
In any event, I've been able to uncover some additional information
about the firm and this seems like a good time to "publish" it for
the edification of other porch dwellers.
The earliest relevant trade directory listings I've found, so far,
are from an 1834 Staffordshire directory. These listings are:
George Gilpin, Wedges Mill, manufacturer of edge tools, augers, &c.
George Gilpin, [Church Bridge] Great Wyrley, steel converters, and
edge tool &c. manufacturer
[George Gilpin, coal master, Great Wyrley]
These locations and operations are also described in some general
commentary about the area in the same 1834 Directory. I think it
worth repeating here, as it reminds us of the importance of water
power for the siting of such works, gives a fuller idea of the
enterprise, and provides a rough idea as to when the firm may have
"Church Bridge is a small village in Great Wyrley township, 1
mile S. of Cannock, on the Watling street, and on one of the tributary
streams of the Penk, where Mr. Gilpin established, about 35 years ago,
an extensive manufactory of edge tools, augers, hammers, &c., and a
forge, a tilt, rolling and grind-mills, and furnaces for converting
and refining iron and steel; all of which are now in a flourishing
state, and give employment to a considerable number of workmen. About
one mile to the west is Wedges Mill, a hamlet in Cannock township,
where Mr. Gilpin has another edge tool manufactory on the Hedgford
This description would place the establishment of the Church Bridge
works at about 1800. I would surmise that the Wedges Mill site had
less water power than the Church Bridge site, which raises the
question as to why George Gilpin would have had two separate works
in such close proximity? Possibly he had purchased the Wedges Mill
site from a smaller, competing, firm?
In any event, George Gilpin is also listed, in 1835, as an edge tool,
and bar iron and steel manufacturer at Wedges Mills and at Church
Ownership of the firm has changed by the 1842 listing:
William Gilpin & Co., Wedges Mills & Church Bridge, edge tool and
bar iron and steel manufacturer (and brewer)
[William Gilpin & Co., coal masters, Great Wyrley & Pelsall]
By 1851, the listing reads:
William Gilpin & Co., steel converters, tilters, rollers, edge-
tool mfrs., coal masters and brick makers, Church Bridge &
Bernard Gilpin (of William Gilpin & Co.), edge tool &c. mfr.
I've also been able to find listings from 1870 (William Gilpin & Co.),
1904 and 1912 (William Gilpin, Sen. & Co. Limited) - the latter two
providing a fairly extensive list of their products as well as
information that they had become "Contractors to His Majesty's
Government." The 1904 Directory, in a general description of the area
around Cannock, indicates that the firm was employing "hundreds of
workmen" at that time.
An 1876 "WM. GILPIN, SENr. & CO." advertisement gives a fairly
clear idea of the diversity of their products:
Patent Screw Augers
Heavy & Light Edge Tools,
for the following purposes:-
Agricultural & Garden | Coopers
Bricklayers | Masons & Plasterers
Carpenters & Joiners | Quarrying & Miners
Contractors, Platelayers, | Ship Carpenters
&c. | Smiths & Farriers
Matchets or Cutlasses, Cane Bills, &c.
For all Colonial and Foreign Markets
Anvils, Vices, Lifting Jacks
Cider Press and other Screws, Chains, &c.
Bar, Hoop, and Use Iron
Cart Arms, Axle Moulds, &c.
Steel of Every Description
Hoping this provides some useful information concerning this
relatively significant tool making firm.
Knox County, Ohio