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Kenricks' family gives 250 items to complete Dudley museum 1,000-piece collection

kenrick ornament

12 April 2016

MEMBER of the famous iron-founding family the Kenricks has given 250 objects to one of Black Country Living Museum's most outstanding collections.

This completes a 1,000-strong collection of objects and documents from West Bromwich-based Archibald Kenrick, one of the finest Black Country 'metal bashing' companies of the Industrial Revolution. It means all of the items now officially belong to the Dudley museum.

The objects and files date from as early as 1793, and give a glimpse into a successful iron founding business during those times. The company was originally based in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, and grew to become (at least by the late 19th century) one of the two largest hardware manufacturers in Britain, employing more than 700 workers. It had a huge export trade, making everything from clothes hangers to door knockers and anything in between. Initially, its speciality was cast ironware, but later it would become tinned hollowware.

The object collection includes elaborate door knockers, characterful door porters and other, more practical goods such as pans and sugar nippers (must-haves for the Victorian household who dealt with sugar in large blocks).

The Kenrick's legacy lives on today in many ways, specifically on 10 Downing Street where their lion knocker is still proudly placed on the famous door.

During the cataloguing process it became apparent that the Kenrick papers were a fascinating collection.

Some 54 archive boxes were sorted in the summer months of 2015. During this time, curators uncovered the treasures within.

More than 100 19th century patent certificates (still in their original wooden box) turned up, along with a wide range of trade catalogues dating as far back as the 1840s and even an extensive collection of employee records, such as wage books, pension, redundancy and retirement records.

Helen Taylor, Curator of Domestic and Cultural Life, said: "We are incredibly pleased to have been given this incredibly important collection. It gives us a tantalising glimpse of the triumphs and disasters experienced by Black Country entrepreneurs during the Industrial Revolution and beyond."

When cataloguing is complete, it is hoped that the collection will become a rich source of material for business history researchers particularly interested in the iron founding trades of the Black Country. The iron objects will be put on display for the public this summer in the museum admissions building.

While the company itself continues to trade, albeit on a much smaller scale, the foundry closed in 1965. 




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