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Precision engineers at a Dudley business in the 1960s

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • Oberg-Sankey works Dudley

  • Peter Evans

  • Tom Williams

  • Tom Davies

  • Bob Ferrier

  • The Tool Room at Oberg-Sankey, Dudley

  • Howard Ward

  • Eric Scholfield

  • Harold Webb

  • Geoff Gutteridge

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SOME might dismiss Black Country engineering as simply "metal bashing" but that belies that delicate precision that is often involved. There are dozens of companies still making items of near infinitesimal accuracy and these pictures take us back to one such firm in the 1960s.

Oberg-Sankey Limited, in Porter Street, Dudley, was founded in 1961 and was part of the mighty Joseph Sankey conglomerate of engineering businesses. Back then it produced special dies in tungsten carbide, working to 20 millionths of an inch, and much if its output was for Sankey's Bankfield Works in Bilston.

By the mid '60s the works were expanding and the business was taken on more workers. In 1966 and 1967 Sphinx magazine, the works newsletter of Joseph Sankey and Sons, ran a series of articles introducing key figures at Oberg-Sankey to the wider group. Copies of these magazines have been loaned to us by Pat and Terry Jordan of Coseley and we have reprinted some of the pictures in the hope of jogging readers' memories.

The articles gave brief biographies of the Oberg-Sankey personnel: do you remember any of these men?

"Peter Evans has been with Sankey since leaving school. he entered the apprenticeship scheme in 1950 at Bankfield works. he was employed in the Tool Room there for about a year and then moved to the drawing board at Bankfield. In 1961 he moved to Oberg-Sankey as Chief Designer, and a year later was appointed Works Manager. A sporting man, his favourite exercise is hockey, but for relaxation he plumps for fishing. A Married man living at Wolverhampton, he has two sons.

"For 34 years, Tom Williams has worked for Sankey. He started at Albert Street on assembly, and when war broke out was called up for RAF service. This took him to the Shetland Isles and to Rhodesia, and after six-and-a-half years' military duty he returned to Sankey to work at Bankfield. He was in the training school for a spell and then went to the notching section, later to do work on tools. He was appointed Grinding Room superintendent at Oberg-Sankey, and in 1963 plant superintendent. Tom is a married man with two sons.

"In 1945, Tom Davies joined Sankey at Bankfield works, where he was on section six learning tool-setting and tool-making. He did his National Service with the REME and returned to Sankey. Three years ago, he joined Oberg-Sankey and is employed on the operation known as surface grinding on the accurate tolerance work being done at Oberg-Sankey. Tom has been a keen supporter of the Wolves soccer team for some years, but his chief pleasure these days is reading – mainly history. A married man, Tom has two sons.

Bob Ferrier joined Sankey in 1945 at the Bankfield training school, where he trained for a year on tool work, later to move into the Tool Room until 1951, when he was drafted for National Service. He returned to the Tool Room and stayed there until his move to Oberg-Sankey about four years ago and his job is jig boring. Bob is a very keen angler, and is a member of the Angling Section of the Bilston Sports and Social Club. Other sports interest him too, and he is a supporter of the Wolves. Bob, who lives at Stourbridge, is a married man.

"Tool Room Superintendent at Oberg-Sankey, Eric Schofield has worked for Sankey since 1936. From the Bankfield training scheme, he progressed through tool making to Oberg-Sankey in October 1961, and three years ago was promoted. A dedicated angler, he also finds time to enjoy motoring. A family man, Eric has a son aged 13.

"Chief Designer at Oberg-Sankey is Harold Webb. He joined the Bankfield Works in 1952, and after a spell in the training school, worked on tool design. In August 1961 he joined Oberg-Sankey, and just over a year later took on his present post. His Associate Membership of the Institute of Production Engineers was confirmed recently. Married, he has a two-years old daughter.

"Geoff Gutteridge joined Oberg-Sankey in February 1963, and is a die designer. Before that, he worked on a drawing board of a local contract drawing office. A keen soccer player, he was with Wolverhampton Wanderers as an amateur, and now plays for Pencroft. He lives at Wombourne with his wife and two daughters, aged 5 and 4.

"Howard Ward has worked for Sankey 19 years. He started work in the Tool Room at Bankfield Works, and in 1950 went to India for the firm. Just over a year ago, he joined Oberg-Sankey and is employed in a supervisory capacity in the tool section. A married man, he has two daughters, aged 11 and 6. The family lives at Tettenhall."

Do you recognise any of these men from nearly 50 years ago? Did you work with them? Share your memories and pictures, contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to Bugle House, 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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