Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Richard Wheatley and Son

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of 90/96 Constitution Hill, Birmingham. T.A.: Wheatley, Birmingham. Telephone: Central 5774. Also at Balfour House, Finsbury Pavement, London, EC2. (1922 and 1929)

  • 1827 Richard Wheatley, founder of the company, was born.
  • 1840 At the age of 13 he went to work for a maker of pearl buttons.
  • 1844 He was apprenticed to a maker of pocket books and fly books, where he served a four year apprenticeship.
  • 1860 He started his own business. During the early days, a 'fishing pocket book' was considered a fisherman's basic accessory. Normally they were made in leather with numerous pockets and parchment dividers.
  • 1880s Richard Wheatley's eldest son, also named Richard, was taken into partnership and during the same year the first fly clip was developed by Wheatleys to hold eyed flies. The original pattern was a single clip which was fastened in rows to a sheet of parchment, which was then placed in the bottom of a cardboard box covered in leather.
  • c.1900 Aluminium was introduced on a commercial scale and the Wheatley firm was among the first English manufacturers to use this new material. A special satin finish was developed, which is still used today, to distinguish the Wheatley Fly Box.
  • 1908 The first aluminium compartment box was made. These early models were similar to today's models, except that the latches were not operated by springs, and the lids were not transparent. Within a few years, these improvements were made and the compartment boxes have not been altered since then.
  • Although the Wheatley factory has moved with the times and modernised in many aspects, most parts of the manufacturing process are carried out in the same way as they were many years ago. All the interior fittings are assembled by hand, since there is no way to automate this sort of precision. The new anodised and powder coated colours enhance the appearance of the boxes, in keeping with traditional satin finish.
  • 1922 British Industries Fair Advert as Manufacturers of Fancy Leather Goods and Fishing Tackle Sundries. Military Brush Cases; Ladies' Brush Cases; Dressing Cases; Manicure Cases; Collar Boxes and Bags; Playing Card Boxes; Glove and Handkerchief Boxes; Lightning Fastener Bags, etc; Souvenir Goods; Sewing Bags; Sewing Boxes; Needle Cases; Hairpin Boxes, etc; Inventors and Manufacturers of the Lightning Fastener Pouch and other Smokers' Sundries; Fishing Tackle Sundries - Fly Books and Boxes; Fishing Bags, Etc; Tackle Cases. (Stand No. A.42) [1]
  • 1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Fancy Leather Goods, including "Lightning Fastener" and "Humidor" Tobacco Pouches; Handbags and General Leather Goods. Fancy Articles in Paper and Imitation Leather. (Stand No. P.54) [2]

Sources of Information

  • [1] Richard Wheatley - Company Profile