Adam Boulton & Co Ltd

Adam Boulton was born around 1846 and by the 1880s had gone into partnership with William Summers to form ‘Summers & Boulton’, coal factors based at Dawley and Shrewsbury. This partnership was dissolved in 1886 and by 1891 Adam Boulton was described as a Coal Factor and Brick manufacturer. Directories for 1891 show a business called A. Boulton & Co operating as Coal Factors and Colliery Agents in Central Chambers, Shrewsbury and Lime Burners in Much Wenlock. The Victoria County History for Shropshire contains an interesting entry regarding the Randlay Brickworks, which were established by the Botfields and in 1893 leased to George Wilkinson. He went into partnership with Adam Boulton to form ‘Randlay Brick & Tile Co’, which later became Adam Boulton & Co. In 1898, the partners bought the works and surrounding land and used this area commercially until 1960s.

By 1895 A. Boulton & Co were described as “Coal Shippers & Factors, Lime Masters, Cement Manufacturers & Quarry Owners” and even had their own advert in the 1895 edition of Kelly’s Directory for Shropshire. Adam Boulton died in 1916 aged 71 and two years later the partnership between George Wilkinson and the Executors and Trustees of Adam Boulton deceased, who were carrying on business as manufacturers of and dealers in bricks, tiles, and pipes as ‘Randlay Brick & Tile Company’ was dissolved. The business called Adam Boulton & Co continued to be run by the children of Adam Boulton for many decades to come.

In 1938 the Trustees of the Will of Adam Boulton deceased sold the Coal Merchants part of the business to J A Smallshaw Esq. Adam Boulton and Co became a Limited company in April 1939 with the first dividend being paid in 1941. The registered office for the company was Randlay Works, Randlay, Stirchley, Wellington, Shropshire. Benjamin Smith, Son & Wilkie were appointed as auditors in 1939 and continued to do the accounts until the closure of the business. The business struggled through the Second World War as demand for bricks and pipes had fallen and labour shortages caused problems running the works effectively. Adam Boulton & Co Ltd successfully managed their business through the Second World War but their experiences with labour shortages and price controlling would have been seen in manufacturing businesses across the country.

It had been recognised in 1939 that the Works needed substantial modernisation and this began in 1944 when conditions caused the cessation of production. The improvements continued for about twenty years with the electrification of the Works in 1946 and many changes in plant and equipment as well as the technical processes used in production. By the 1950s the priority was to purchase new land for the retrieval of clay. Improvement and expansion of the Works continued funded by an increase in capital from £20,000 to £50,000 in 1951.

In 1962 The Managing Director attended a Public Enquiry regarding the proposed Dawley New Town. By 1963 it was recognised that the Dawley New Town development could affect the business regarding the mineral workings and the factory operation. Negotiations continued with New Town Corporation through 1964 while the company looked for a suitable site they might be able to move to and considered their position in the case of compulsory acquisition. By 1965 the company had gained legal representation in the matter.

At an Extraordinary General Meeting in December 1966 a resolution was passed “that the Directors be authorised, on behalf of the Company, to enter into and perform a contract with the Dawley Development Corporation for the sale to the Corporation of the Company’s interest in its freehold and leasehold lands, mineral rights and premises in or about Randlay at the price of £149,150”. The business Adam Boulton & Co Ltd went into liquidation on 24 Apr 1967. Despite having a constant appetite for change and improvement the company could not withstand the loss of their works and the spread of housing in the form of Dawley New Town.

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