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Tipton foundry folk working up an appetite

By gavin jones  |  Posted: August 04, 2013

  • Working in the heat of the foundry

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A COUPLE of pictures published in our 13th June edtion, on page 19, showed a dinner and dance held by the Tipton firm of Hale and Hale — and those two old images were enough to bring in a flow of memories, and more pictures, from that company.

The most recent response comes to us from Gloria Williams, nee Bowater, who writes:

“With regard to your article on Hale and Hale, in the July 4th and 11th editions, I read with interest about Mr Wylde, who was indeed a renowned sketch artist. My father  George Bowater worked at Hales and Hale all his life, starting there as a 13 or 14 year old, up until the close of the foundry in the 1980s.

“My dad knew Mr Wylde very well and he always sent Dad and Mother a Christmas card every year, which he had drawn himself. They were mostly of Kinver or the surrounding area where he lived.

“I have several such cards which I must find out. But in the meantime, I have some photographs of the employ es at work in the factory, and a booklet of ‘Modern Malleable’ by Hale, showing the site and what was produced there.”


Mrs Williams' father George is the man at left in the group photo taken at a works do, with wife Florence at far right. There are some very atmospheric portraits of work underway in the foundry, with row upon row of sand filled moulds, lit by the molten metal being poured into them, and another showing the men just blurs as they handle more white hot iron in close up.

Another worker is shown literally knee deep in black sand as he fills a mould for casting.

One of the booklets Gloria has loaned us gives an interesting insight into the firm’s beginnings, which it turns out were not actually in Tipton;

“The first foundry was started in the year 1909 by the brothers Wilfrid Edgar Hale and Thomas Leo Hale. This beginning was very small indeed, but the roots were firmly planted.

“The first foundry consisted of a small disused stable situated in Hatherton Street, Walsall. Money and plant were scarce, but these deficiencies were made up by boundless ingenuity

“The output of  this foundry was very small, amounting to no more than a few hundredweights weekly, but this was the beginning. In common with other foundries in Walsall at that time, the castings produced were of Whiteheart Malleable Iron.

“Blackheart was still more or less exclusively produced in America, but even in those far off days the superior qualities of this material over Whiteheart were appreciated by the Hale brothers.

“The little foundry grew rapidly, due to the superior quality of its produts and the great attention to detail. A larger foundry was opened in Tamworth which supplied castings to various war need, but it was not long before the necessity for futher expansion became acute.

“In 1917 the present Chairman decided that the mian future of the Malleable Industry lay in the production  and development of Blackheart Malleable Iron. Furthermore, it was necessary to find a suitable site where develpet could go forward unhampered.

“The site at Dudley Port occupied by the present day Foundries was the one selected, conveniently situated for transport by rail and canal, with a suitable labour supply at hand.”

l Do let us know if you recognise anyone from these pictures. Write, phone, or send an email to gjones@blackcountrybugle.co.uk

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