Benjamin Walters and Co Ltd

Benjamin Walters were lock manufactures who were established in 1767. The earliest reference to the business seems to be in Parson & Bradshaw’s Directory of South Staffordshire, 1818 listing Benjamin Walters as a cabinet lock manufacturer operating from 8 Mitre Row, North Street. By 1827 they were described as a manufacturer of cabinet rim and mortise locks and patentee of Strutt’s lock. Sometime between 1818 and 1835 Benjamin Walters, now described as a factor, maltster and cabinet locksmith, moved to 100 North Street (the former premises of Ann Walters and Son, cabinet locksmiths). Their trade seems to have diversified again as in 1849 they were described as lock and iron safe manufacturers, but they seemed to settle from 1851 as general lock manufacturers and may have traded for a short time as B & P Walters. By 1865, the company had become known as Benjamin Walters & Co and they had moved to 70 North Street and by 1884 they were in 154-155 North Street. It is unclear whether these address changes represent the business physically moving or if the street was renumbered. By 27 June 1900, when Benjamin Walters & Co were incorporated and became a limited company they were based at 24 North Street, where they remained until they closed.

The structure of the business changed in 1900 when it became a limited company as three director had to be appointed; James Woodward, Nathan Frederick Thompson and Charles Stanford. The incorporation of Benjamin Walters & Co Ltd involved the creation of shareholders to raise funds for the assets held by James Woodward and Nathan Frederick Thompson to be bought by the company at a cost of £27,000. Share Capital of £24,000 was divided into 10,500 £6 percent Cumulative Preference Shares of £1 each and 13,500 Ordinary Shares of £1 each. James Woodward (born c. 1841 Wolverhampton) of Albert Road, Wolverhampton was the first chairman of Benjamin Walters & Co Ltd from 28 June 1900 until his death in 1917. Nathan Frederick Thompson (born c. 1839 High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) of 126 Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton was also an original director from 1900 until his death in 1909. Charles Stanford, of 48 Clifford Street, Wolverhampton, was appointed as the first secretary of the company on 21 August 1900 and remained in this role for 30 years until his death in 1930, having been with the company for 51 years.

The directors of Benjamin Walters & Co Ltd only seem to have changed when the person in post died and a new person was then appointed. Horace Beaufort Curtis, of 20 Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill, London was appointed as a replacement for Nathan Frederick Thompson on 21 April 1910 and continued in this role until his death in 1923. Joseph Harry Woodard (born c. 1868 Wolverhampton, son of James Woodward), of Oak Street and later 41 Pagett Road Wolverhampton, was also appointed as a director in 1900 and became managing director after the death of his father in 1917 until his death in 1936. Frederick Leopold Stewart, of 100 Darlington Street, Wolverhampton, was appointed as a director to take over the role of Horace Beaufort Curtis on 17 September 1924. Arthur John Weekes was appointed as the new secretary on 11 April 1930 but died suddenly in 1932. Miss Jessie Woodward (born c. 1900, Wolverhampton, daughter of Joseph Harry Woodward), of 4 Marchant Road, Wolverhampton, became secretary of the company on 24 May 1932 and later a director. Harry Woodward, of The Hollies, Claverley, and Frank Woodward of Pendyn, Lea Road, Wolverhampton, became directors on 28 September 1936. It is likely they were also sons of Joseph Harry Woodward. Harry Woodward died aged 47 in 1946 having worked for the company for over 30 years.

In 1950 Benjamin Walters & Co Ltd employed the three directors, 7 staff (J Lockwood, J Hodgson, M Griffin, W Weaver, M Frisby, John Woodward and Barry Woodward) and 77 workpeople (51 males, 20 females, 5 youths and 1 girl).

In 1961 the three cottages at the back of the North Street premises on St Peters Square were taken over by Wolverhampton Corporation under Compulsory Purchase. Benjamin Walters & Co Ltd went into voluntary liquidation on 31 May 1968 with reduced profits and the threat of losing their premises for the building of the North Street part of the Civic Centre and Wolverhampton ring road in the early 1970s.

Directors:
James Woodward, Chairman and Managing Director (1900 – 1917)
Nathan Frederick Thompson, Director (1900 – 1909)
Charles Stanford, Secretary (1900 – 1930)
Horace Beaufort Curtis, Director (1910 – 1923)
Joseph Harry Woodward, Managing Director (1917 – 1936)
Frederick Leopold Stewart, Chairman (1924 – 1968)
Arthur John Weekes, Secretary (1930 – 1932)
Miss Jessie Woodward, Secretary (1932 – 1968)
Harry Woodward, Director (1936 – 1946)
Frank Woodward, Director (1936 – 1968)

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