Friday, January 29, 2016

Stanley in England

I am still researching Stanley operations overseas in a bid to narrow down the time line of Gerhard's collection of Yankee spiral screwdrivers.

There is not much to be found about Stanley operations outside North America. But armed with a few addresses we can look them up on Google Earth and try to put some of the pieces of this puzzle together.

Found this very helpful site in the UK, The Grace's guide to British Industrial History

From it, I found a few address for Stanley's operations in England.
We already known they entered the British market in 1936-7 with a controlling interest in JA Chapman, but they eventually became Stanley Works then Stanley Tools. When, how and where?

The Stanley Works (Great Britain) Ltd
It shows Stanley Rule & Level Co Dept (Tools) which merged with 
Stanley Works (Hardware) to becomes the Stanley Works in 1920.
This picture from Grace`s site says 1927. 

This Stanley No 79 side rabbet plane came out in 1926 and the arc cut out dissapeared in 1950.  The small router plane No 271 also came out in 1926 so the time period look correct. But Stanley did not start manufacturing tools in England until they bought controlling interest in J.A. Chapman in 1936.
The address shown is in London, so that was probably just a sales office and not a manufacturing concerns.

The Stanley Works (Great Britain) Ltd
Stanley Rule & Level Dept.
35-36-37 Upper Thames ST. London E.C.4

Chapman is listed in the Planemakers Data base 
As a James Arscott Chapman Ltd Industry Works
115 Woodside Lane, Sheffield 1868-1936
That last year would be the year that Stanley took control of the company, which then became, The Stanley Works (Great Britain) Ltd

The area I highlighted in red is what I believed was the original JA Chapman building which became Stanley works (GB) in 1937. The demolished area, now a used car lot was probably the original building

The reason I am saying this is because their address is later changed to Rutland road (the main artery running vertical in the above pic on the LH side). Then there was a new factory build in 1961.

An artist's impression of the new factory to be built in 1961 

This look a lot like it and it looks like it is now abandoned.

You can still see the name Stanley Tools on the building which 
would have been the new part build in 1961.
Looking from Rutland Road.

There are broken windows and some are boarded with plywood.

The building is available to let (for rent).
The cars you see are from a used car lot on the premises

May 1957
This one is showing an address in Sheffield as
Rutland road Sheffield 1

Rutland Road as lot of old industrial buildings that still have Steel industry markings on them. Found this one not far down the road on Rutland Rd.

So thanks to Google earth we can explore the sites from the comfort of our computer chair, pretty neat. By the look of their original site it has been vacated years ago but when and where did they moved?

Last entry at the bottom of this page dated 29 Mar 1979
They refereed to Stanley Tools of Sheffield.
Interestingly they also mention the ALCAN award. ALCAN is the Aluminum Company of Canada, of which the main plants are located in the Saguenay Qc, where I was posted twice in my career. The airbase there was set up during WWII to protect the vital aluminum industries.

Is Stanley still making tools in England or have they moved all productions off shore? (Taiwan, Mexico etc) I do believed they were still making tools in jolly good England as of the early 80s.

Did not found all the info I was hoping for, but this is a start, and perhaps some of you would be motivated to become involved in this search.
Meanwhile, Stefan of the Bluespruce woodshop has agreed to look up some trails in Germany. The original Stanley's Velbert plant in Germany is about 30 Kms from where he is from, and he says he never knew Stanley was so close to him. That tells me they have long ago moved...

Bob, the arm chair tourist and reporter hot on the trail of Stanley's past 


  1. And a few hundred yards away is the Kelham Island industrial museum with the wonderful Ken Hawley tool collection including much in-depth paper and photo documentation on the history of tool making in Sheffield.

  2. Hi Danny
    Thanks for the feedback, I heard about that collection, but I never knew it was so close to that spot.
    Did you ever visited it and does it recall anything about Stanley involvements in the area?

  3. Brilliant work Bob, I am following these post with lots of interest. Your detective skills are top notch. Happy hunting and thank you to Stefan too.

  4. Thanks Gerhard. I wouldn't call it brilliant, but I'll take it :-)
    I am a troubleshooter by trade so detective skills comes with the territory ...

    I should have your post on your Yankee tools up by next week, have a full house right now...

  5. My grandfather sold JA Chapman Ltd to Stanleys in 1937 - he was Norman Neill, and is pictured in the Stanley 50 year commemorative booklet that they published in 1987 (of which I have a copy). Somewhere I have a "mint & boxed" unused Chapman plane......

  6. HI John
    There is not very much history known about Stanley involvement in England. If you ever want to share your Grand father story with us, I would be delighted to host your story on my blog.

    I am sure many of us would be very interested in his story.
    Think about it

    Bob, who wishes I read this comment sooner

  7. Great topic and nice findings!
    I'd rather add that Stanley Black&Decker appear to have continued some tools production in UK.
    At least, they produce chisels at Hellaby (near Sheffield). And, in this case, "made in UK with global materials" means "made in UK".

    Don't know whether the same can be said of Stanley's new screwdrivers which bear similar "made in UK" logo. If so, I'd wonder what plant they're made at.

  8. Hi, do you have any idea when Stanley used Bakelite for the chipbreaker knob on the no 2. Stamped Made In England. A friend across the pond has the same no 2 with the Bakelite chipbreaker know but his is not stamped Made in England. Thanks

  9. OK I have been scratching my head on this one. Do you mean the use of a knob instead of the usual flip lever on the lever cap?
    If so not very old.
    Also if so, its not bakelite but some other hard plastic


  10. One of the best articles that I’ve read in a very long time! I Took notes and surely gonna implement and test bunch of stuff you talked about.
    You’re a beast! Cheers, Ash
    And don't forget to visit DiYsBest