William Blizzard Williamson
began a small business manufacturing a wide range of articles in sheet
steel and tinplate. By 1858 he was able to build a new factory called
the Providence Works in the blockhouse. From here the company was
able to extend its range of products and became particularly well
known for the method of Japanning. This was the process of giving
a high gloss finish to tin plate using lamp black, turpentine, oils,
pitch, resin and wax. It imitated the fashionable finish of Japanese
In 1878 due to William's
death the business was taken over by his two sons, William and
George, who could both see the potential for using tins for
storing food products. William developed the 'lever lid' tin,
which is still used today with products such as paint, custard
powder and treacle, while George invented the 'cutter lid tin'
for cigarettes and tobacco. This allowed tobacco to be kept
fresher than ever before.
In 1890 William left the
business leaving George to form a limited company G.H Williamson
and Sons Ltd. This in turn, was taken over by his son George upon
his death in 1918. George developed the potential for using mass production
techniques and set up a new canning factory in Worcester.
During the 1920's
several independent tin-plate manufacturers joined together
in order to fight off overseas competition and called themselves
Metal Box. 1930 saw George Williamson joined them as
their director, bringing enough capital to develop a brand new
open top canning factory. This factory still produces millions
of cans today at Perry Wood.
There were several other
heavy industries that played a vital role in the economy of the city
as well. The machine tool industry during the 1800's was particularly
important to Britian and many machines were made in Worcester.
McKenzie and Holland - Railway Engineers. The Vulcan
Iron works, Shrub Hill, was established in 1857 and was later
taken over by Mackenzie and Holland who used the foundry to
produce products such as railway signals. The firm's interlocking
railway system revolutionised the world's railway network and
allowed safer railway travel.
Heenan and Froude, famous for building the Blackpool Tower during
the 1880's, moved its main works to Worcester in 1903.
James Archdale and Co., famous for being one of the best equipped
and most prestigious machine tool factories in the world. The Blackpole
branch was built in 1925 and closed in 1972.
J.L Larkworthy & Co. - an agricultural engineering firm based
The Mining Engineering Co. (MECO) Ltd brought a branch of their
business to Worcester in 1925.
Hardy and Padmore - famous for their cast iron products
which ranged from benches to fire surrounds, manhole covers
and fountains. They specialised in decorative lamps and were
famous for the dolphin lamps on the Thames embankment in London.