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British Industrial History

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Cannon Iron Foundries

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Cannon 1095a cast iron bath.
Cannon 1095a cast iron bath.
October 1909. Meridian.
May 1931.
June 1933. Cannon Gas Cookers.
November 1933.
April 1933.
January 1934.
December 1934.
April 1935.
January 1936.
February 1954.
July 1954.
September 1954.
December 1960.

of Deepfields, near Bilston, Staffordshire. Telephone: Bilston 41241-4. Telegraphic Address: "Cannon, Bilston" (1937), makers of the famous Inclined Gas Fire and Cannon cookers and chemical plant.

1826 Edward and Stephen Sheldon established a foundry at Coseley for the manufacture of cast iron pots and pans, (although an account book of 1820-24 for Smith, Sheldon and Co in the possession of Cannon Industries Ltd, indicates that there was an earlier business partnership).

The original site, on an estate known as The Dowry, was ideally placed for such production, as it abutted a branch of the Birmingham Canal and adjacent collieries provided fuel for the foundry.

1838 The opening of the Coseley Tunnel further improved the site's transport links by reducing the length of the original canal route to Birmingham. This encouraged expansion of the Sheldon's' enterprise at The Dowry and on to adjacent land.

1853 After Edward Sheldon's death in 1853, the business was carried on by his sons-in-law, William Barnett and John Hawthorne. The company continued in family ownership through their sons, Edward Sheldon Barnett and William Henry Hawthorne, (and through Richard Clayton, a solicitor, who married William and Catherine Barnett's daughter in 1874).

1884 The business, which had been trading as E. Sheldon and Co, was incorporated as a private limited company and its name changed to the Cannon Hollow-ware Co Ltd. The shares were held only by the earlier partners, who were all family members.

From the 1880s, the pace of Cannon's development gathered momentum. A series of patents taken out in the 1880s and 1890s testified to the company's development of its original trade in cooking utensils.

1900 A further change occurred when the firm became known as the Cannon Iron Foundries Ltd, to reflect the wider range of its business.

The period from 1890 to 1914, however, saw a great expansion in the range of its products. Gas cookers and stoves increasingly formed a major part of its output, followed by gas fires and meters. The company also manufactured household and builders’ ironmongery, grindstones and sanitary ware including baths, basins and lavatories using the "porceliron" technique, which simulated the finish of glazed pottery ware.

1914 Ironfounders. Specialities: enamelled and tinned cast-iron hollow ware, gas stoves, gas meters. Employees 1,000. [1]

Post-WWI. After the First World War, Cannon also became an important manufacturer of plant for chemical works.

By 1926, the Cannon Foundry site covered twenty-six acres.

c.1934 Company incorporated[2].

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Champion and New Challenge Gas Cookers, Enamelled Autimo Controlled. V-inclined Gas Fires, Virginia, Veronica, Verbena, Viola. Panel Fire Portray Portable Heater, Beacon Radiators, etc. (Stand No. Ca.601) [3]

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. "Porceliron" Sanitary Ware (Porcelain enamel on Cast Iron, white and colours), Lavatories, Lavatory Ranges, Pedestal Lavatories, Plug Bowls, Trough Lavatories, Wall Drinking Fountains, Sinks, Mirror Frames, Brackets, Traps, etc. (Stand No. B.713)

1952 Name changed from Cannon Iron Foundries Ltd to Cannon (Holdings) Ltd[4].

1953 Results incorporated a subsidiary Cannon Industries that had been formed for a particular purpose, namely a separate and more specialised direction than was possible under the previous constitution. Two further subsidiaries had recently been formed - Cannon (GA), gas appliance sales and service, and Cannon (CP), chemical plant sales and service - to take over those areas of business from the parent company. Midland Steel Co which had been acquired to ensure supplies of steel for the gas appliance business would be closed as it was now uneconomic[5].

1959 Introduced Power Maid multi-purpose kitchen appliance made under licence from USA; problem with government taxation policy on gas fires had caused heavy losses on that part of the business[6].

1964 GEC took over Cannon Holdings Ltd[7]. Also acquired Oatley Technical Developments from the chairman of Cannon and his family, which held various valuable patents licensed to Cannon[8]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  2. The Times, 21 December 1954
  3. 1937 British Industries Fair Page 345
  4. The Times, 1 July 1952
  5. The Times, 22 December 1953
  6. The Times, 24 March 1959
  7. The Times, 22 June 1964
  8. The Times, 29 May 1964
  • [1] National Archives