Bradley & Company Ltd was established in 1872 by Walter Smith Bradley at the ‘Albion Works’ in Mount Pleasant, Bilston. The name ‘Beldray’ (an anagram of ‘Bradley’) was used as the trade-mark for the company originally. The company specialised in brass, copper and silver (later followed by chrome plated) domestic holloware items from sheet metal. Items produced included frypans, bowls and galvanised buckets. They later branched out into art metalware products such as kettles, urns, coal scoops, letter racks, cake stands, pin trays, pots, vases, mirrors and plaques.
In the archives we have a file of correspondence, tenders and contracts, which covers the First World War years, which indicates that the company moved over to providing munitions and other war-related necessities during this period, including:
- 1 gross Howitzer Cartridge Boxes (4.5 inches including lid). The file includes costings and a contract for 450,000 of these provided between 1 September 1916 and 31 December 1916.
- Tin cups for 18 pr. Q. F. shrapnel
- Ammunition Belt Boxes – costings and order for 250,000 in August 1918
- Calvalry Mess Tins
- Ammunition boxes
- Fire buckets
One interesting side-effect of the War was documented in Mary Southall’s typescript history of the Company. David Lloyd-George apparently gave a speech
which was a rallying call to all industrialists, for a greater ‘war effort’. He also asked industrialists if they would consider offering their employees areas in which they could relax between shifts, and so spur them on to an even larger output.
In response, the Company created gardens, with tennis courts and a bowling green, which lasted well beyond the First World War. During the years between the wars, toilet pans for export to South Africa and gas boilers were added to the range of products manufactured. In the Second World War, the company again concentrated on munitions production by making bomb tails and other components, mortar bomb casings and small smoke floats. After the war, the company continued with the domestic ware based on steel plate but the brass and copper art metalwares were never re-introduced. The company was the first manufacturer of steel ironing tables in the UK, and also produced the first British modular storage system called the ‘Spacesaver’. The company closed down in 2005.