C. & W. Walker Limited – Midland Ironworks – Donnington

A trade advertisement for C & W Walker Limited, c. 1940.

Facility Type & Function:

A privately owned company which specialised in the fabrication of structural steel and vessels plus a range of “Towns” gas holders and gas purifiers.

During World War II the company expanded and diversified their product range manufacturing a range of assorted military hardware to meet the needs of the nation. Its military product outputs included bomb casings, equipment for detonating mines. Steel plates for aircraft and large artillery guns were all produced by the company at its Midland Ironworks.

Brief History:

Charles Walker & Sons were formed in London in 1837 and which manufactured industrial products such as stamps, presses and press tools.

In 1857 the company’s principal manufacturing operations were transferred to a new operations site to become known as the Midland Ironworks at Donnington, Shropshire. This “brown fields” site already was already home to a forge belonging to the Duke of Sutherland. It was after this move that Charles handed the company over to his sons, Charles & William. Subsequently the company traded as C & W Walker and in 1899 it became a limited company.

In 1869 that the company made a very successful move new markets which included the manufacture of “Towns” gas holders and purifiers. These products were later to form their main line of business. By 1914 the company was trading as specialist providers to the gas, chemical and construction industries.

C & W Walker’s Midland Iron Works continued to develop in the first half of the 20th century. By 1949, the site comprised numerous workshops for the assembly of the company’s many products, together with a foundry, sawmill and timber yard. The premises were also served by an internal rail system connected to the main line, containing a large circular track known as “The Field”. Here, plate work for the gas holders was brought out from the plant into the erecting yard, assembled for testing, taken apart again prior to their despatch off site.

A plan of the C & W Walker’s Midland Ironworks at Donnington, c.1940-50s.

During the Second World War, C & W Walker Limited expanded and diversified its product range, manufacturing a range of assorted military hardware to meet the needs of the nation. Bomb casings, equipment for detonating mines and steel plates for aircraft and large guns were all produced at the Midland Ironworks, demonstrating a versatility that would serve the company well in peacetime. Although the firm continued to be a market leader in the manufacture of gas works and chemical plant equipment, the introduction of natural gas production led it concentrating on the design and manufacture of petro-chemical storage systems along with bulk containers and silos for a range of other industries.

Women workers in the Midland Ironwork’s Sawmill, Donnington, c.1940s.

In 1979 the administrative side of C& W Walker moved to Telford and while its Donnington site still employed 300 people divergence of the company’s operations led to its closure.

In 1986 C & W walker merged to form Walker Greenbank PLC who went on to sell off the remains of their engineering business to concentrate on the production of wallpaper and home furnishings.

Location Details:

Donnington, near Telford, Shropshire, England.

Associated Token, Check & Pass Issues:

Type I

Image courtesy of Malcolm Johnson

Function:  Time Recording or Pay Identification check

Material: Brass

Design: Uniface (?) with a plain edge.

Shape & Size: Circular,  32.8 mm

Obverse: Raised die stamped legend around outer upper edge reads C & W WALKER and around lower edge . MIDLAND WORKS DONNINGTON . all within a raised outer beaded border within a raised outer edge plus an inner line border. In upper field the legend No. below which is the incuse stamped identification number 633 .

Reverse: Beaded border around raised outer edge

Date:  c.1880 to 1899 (Note 1)

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Mal’s Tokens Website – Factories.


Type IIA

Function:  Time Recording or Pay Identification check

Material: Brass

Design: Bifacial with a plain edge.

Shape & Size: Circular,  32.0 mm

Obverse: Raised die stamped legend around outer upper edge reads C & W WALKER LTD (Note 2) and around lower edge . MIDLAND WORKS DONNINGTON . all within a raised outer beaded border within a raised outer edge plus an inner line border. In upper field the legend No. below which is the incuse stamped identification number 434 .

Reverse: Beaded border around raised outer edge

Date:  1899 to c.1910s (Note 2).

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Not recorded.


Type IIB

Function:  Time Recording or Pay Identification check

Material: Brass

Design: Uniface with a plain edge.

Shape & Size: Circular,  32.6 mm

Obverse: Raised die stamped legend around outer upper edge reads C & W WALKER LTD and around lower edge . MIDLAND WORKS DONNINGTON . all within a raised outer beaded border within a raised outer edge plus an inner line border. In upper field the legend No. below which is the incuse stamped identification number 261 .

Reverse: Blank

Date:  c.1910s to c.1950s (Note 3)

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Not recorded.


Type III

Function:  Canteen or Refreshment token (Note 1)

Material: Tinned coated steel

Design: Uniface with a plain edge.

Shape & Size: Square with radial corners,  28.6 mm x 28.8 mm

Obverse: Incuse die stamped legends in two arcs around upper and lower edges read MIDLAND and IRONWORKS respectively. In centre field an incuse die stamped mark of denomination reads 3D .

Reverse: Blank.

Date: c.1906 to c.1950 (Note 3)

Maker: Unknown

Published References:  Not recorded.


Notes:

  1. This date is based on both the die design style plus the exclusion of the title “Ltd.” title from the check’s legend. C & W Walker did not become a limited company until 1899.
  2. This check appears to be made from a modified version of the die used to stamp Check Type I. It is clear that the title “Ltd” in the check’s legend has been “cramped” into the die’s design as an later addition.
  3. These checks were likely stamped from a later die than that used to produce the Type IIA checks as the title “Ltd” in the company’s name has been fully integrated into the die’s design.

 

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