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Humble Beginnings (1893 - 1914)

In 1893, James Thomas Wiggin and his eldest son James Enoch set up a small manufacturing business, J & J Wiggin, in a converted stable at the back of their home in a row of old terraced houses in Revival Street, Bloxwich.  At that time, one of the main industries of Walsall and the surrounding area was harness furniture and buckle manufacture; James Thomas had trained as a hand forger of buckle tongs, so the father-and-son partnership produced buckle parts, which they sold to the buckle manufacturers of Walsall.  As each of the other sons (William, Joseph, Samuel, Hiram and Noah) reached working age they too joined the family company.

Early Old Hall stirrups

The business flourished and by the start of the twentieth century larger premises were required.  By a stroke of good fortune, nearby, on the corner of Revival Street and Woodall Street, a Salvation Army mission hall (the Old Halleluiah Mission Hall), built in 1865 and known locally as "The Old Hall", became available and the family purchased and moved into this in 1901.  In 1904, J & J Wiggin became a private limited company, employing some 30 people.  The range of items produced expanded to include curb chains and small brass and nickel castings.  In 1913, J & J Wiggin acquired the nearby business of V Brodhurst & Company, who manufactured bridle bits and stirrups.

On the outbreak of the First World War, the factory was converted to munitions production.  During the war, the company built a foundry, machine shop, warehouse and office block, for which James Thomas Wiggin laid a foundation stone in 1915, which can still be seen today.

James Thomas Wiggin plaque

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