Posted: 9th August 2019 | Back to news feed
Few manufacturing businesses that were founded in the 1800’s are still thriving as a British-made heritage brand but the family-owned ‘Abbey Foundry’ in the heart of Walsall is one of them.
Traditionally, the Walsall area had a great mining presence which enabled a local metalworking culture to develop and allowed Walsall’s economy to be built around the leather trade and the lorinery trade that supplied it.
The survival of the foundry, which dates back to 1832, is down to the dedication and determination of Abbey England to keep British manufacturing alive.
Acquired by Abbey England in 2011, the foundry has a rich history and its quality metalwork can be found across multiple industries worldwide including fashion, equestrian, automotive and sailing.
Richard Brown, son of the late Abbey England founder Gerald, explains: “When it looked like the last brass buckle foundry in the country was going to close, we bought it to ensure the continuity of British manufacturing and to safeguard the jobs and skills of the foundry workers. Similarly our lock making and rubber moulding businesses were acquired to keep the manufacturing in Britain in our Walsall foundry. Sadly some skills have been lost forever and we must out of necessity buy some items, such as hooks and stainless steel buckles, overseas.”
Abbey England supply skilled craftsmen with niche materials and produce high quality metalwork in their foundry; a foundry which encompasses more than 185 years of history. Traditional manufacturing is at the heart of everything which is crafted, and securing the future of these techniques and practices is vital.
Richard added: “Abbey England is maintaining a heritage of industrial skills for the future to ensure that these precious links to our past aren't lost forever. We employ apprentices in our foundry so that the older workforce can transfer their skills down to the younger generation.”
Foundry workers have many years of experience and unique skills between them, from the foundry room to the fettling department and the Pattern making room. Working in a foundry is physically demanding; a good level of fitness is required, plus the ability to work in hot conditions. Foundry workers also need good hand and eye coordination. Qualifications are not always necessary but courses are available in foundry technology. Pattern making is a highly technical skill and courses are available and new techniques and processes in 3D printing require computer skills.
Abbey England’s Foundry Production Manager, David Broome said: “The foundry is able to manufacture bespoke brassware for customers with the design and supply of moulds headed by specialists at the Walsall foundry.
“We can supply large quantities and also small quantity runs. Loose pattern making (used for small quantities) allows smaller customers to take advantage of Abbey England’s ability to manufacture hardware in small scale runs, making the products affordable for first time buyers or perhaps those starting up a new business.”
Metals (some recycled) for the foundry and lock making are sourced in the West Midlands. The high quality rubber for rubber moulding is sourced in Manchester and North Wales. Buying British, where possible, is of equal importance to Abbey England outside of the foundry.
Richard explained: “We try to buy British and, where possible, buy locally. For items supplied through Abbey England’s wholesale division we endeavour to source in the UK but where this is not possible we import a small range of goods from Europe, the USA and Asia.”
Abbey England is proud to supply quality metalwork across the globe and maintain a heritage of industrial skills for the future. To see the foundry in action, you can view a video at: https://www.abbeyengland.com/abbey-foundry/
For more information please contact Abbey England on 01565 650343 or visit www.abbeyengland.com.