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The History of ERA Works

J. E. REYNOLDS AND CO LTD,  ERA WORKS,  STRAIGHT ROAD,  SHORT/media/locations/library/150129_230_era_logo_with_strapline_cmyk_newer_centred.jpg HEATH,  WILLENHALL

Founded in 1838, it was just a small locksmiths when Willenhall born Ralph Morris joined in 1936. He was no stranger to the lock industry as his mother's family had been connected with the trade for 300 years.  When Mr Morris joined J.E. Reynolds the company was antiquated but he saw potential in the lock making industry.  In those days the firm was a little "upstairs - downstairs" factory in Fletchers Lane, Willenhall, employing about 12 staff and making car locks.  The company was incorporated in 1938 and during the war bought five acres of land in Straight Road, Short Heath and built a new factory.  During the war they made Bren gun spanners and did press work for jerry cans.  In 1950 Mr Morris bought out the Reynolds family.  The post war boom did not last too long, so he sold the original factory and in 1959 built a new unit on part of the same site, manufacturing pad locks and cylinder night latches.


The new works, 1959


The new works being opened, 1959




The works annual outing went to Stockport in 1951.

Ralph Morris then passed on the business to his sons, David and Peter.  They were later joined by their brother in law Michael Hunt, who increased the range of products by adding mortice locks and a considerable range of window locks.

Part of the works in 1980




Another part of the works in 1980 

The firm was sold to the Laird Group on the 10 September 1986, with David Morris and Michael Hunt as joint managing directors.  By this time Peter had already left and set up a company making window fittings.  Some time later David Morris retired to farm and Michael Hunt later took over Terry’s of Redditch.  Martin Emm took over as MD.

The firm took over Crompton Ltd on 30 October 1995.  At this time Reynolds changed their name to Reynolds (UK) Ltd., at which time the Short Heath plant employed over 200 and the Crompton plant at Haydock employed 130.  In December 1995 they took over Seal (UK) who were market leaders in electronic locks.  They were relocated from Stockport to Short Heath.  They employed 6 people.  In 1996 ERA introduced an electronic lock.

In July 1995 Laird acquired Cego, which makes handles and locking systems for doors and windows, for £40m.

Martin Emm left as MD May 1999.  He had held the post for 12 years.  A new MD was appointed in November 1999.  David Hill took over as Managing Director in January 2004.On the 1st March 2000 the company name was changed to ERA Products Ltd.

Thanks to Stuart Jones for corrections, updates and photos, February 2004


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