Eyland & Sons Limited

June 17, 2014 § 7 Comments


Arthur Farrington's portrait of an unknown worker in the annealing shop at Eylands, c.1905.

Arthur Farrington’s portrait of an unknown worker in the annealing shop at Eylands, c.1905.

With the possible exception of Thomas Gameson Limited, Eyland & Sons Limited of Lower Rushall Street is up there as being one of Walsall’s oldest companies. Founded in 1760 by Moses Eyland as a manufacturer of buckles and spectacles the company quickly established itself in the town and grew rapidly.

The Eyland family severed their connections with the business in the early part of the twentieth century and the Farrington family, related to them by marriage, took over the running of the company. Managing Director was Charles Farrington whose mother, Mary Ann, was an Eyland as was his wife, Marie. The Farrington’s were a well-known family in the town whose principle business interest was that of auctioneers. Also involved in the running of Eylands were the two younger brothers of Charles, Arthur and Frank. Frank was later to become Works Manager and Arthur was the Chief Cashier. Both younger brothers were keen amateur photographers and were members of Walsall Photographic Society. It seems that Arthur was possibly the keener of the two photographers as it is the images from his glass negatives that illustrate this post.

Arthur produced a set of  photographs taken around the Eyland factory circa 1905 and the image of the unknown man above, who worked in the annealing shop, is for me one of the finest portraits of a Black Country working man that you will see.

The premises of Eyland & Sons is to the left on this picture which shows the work staff about to depart on a trip to Evesham.

The premises of Eyland & Sons is to the left of the picture which shows the work staff about to depart on a trip to Evesham in a fleet of charabancs. My grandfather, Billy Moseley, is seated at the left rear of the first chara’ and directly in front of him with the moustache and dark suit is Charles Farrington.

The electroplating shop at Eylands. Bubbling vats of electrically charged chemicals and the only protection for the staff is an open window!

The electroplating shop at Eylands. Bubbling vats of electrically charged chemicals and the only protection for the staff is an open window!

The wire shop with the staff standing smartly to attention.

The wire shop with the staff standing smartly to attention.

The press shop staffed by nearly all women. I hope that lad at the front was thick skinned!

The press shop staffed by nearly all women. I hope that lad at the front was thick skinned!

Nearly all ladies and girls again but this time in the assembly shop with a very weary looking foreman in the foreground.

Nearly all ladies and girls again but this time in the assembly shop with a very weary looking foreman in the foreground.

The packing shop, again staffed predominantly by women and girls.

The packing shop, again staffed predominantly by women and girls.

In later years the Managing Director was John Webster, he sent my grandfather the letter below thanking him for his service of over 35 years. It seems the feeling was mutual as I can remember being told by my grandmother and mother what a good company they had been to work for. Incidentally, John was the brother of Walsall’s famous pilot, Sidney ‘Pebbler’ Webster.

The letter sent to my grandfather William  Moseley thanking him for his long service. A year later, almost to the day, Billy died.

The letter sent to my grandfather William Moseley thanking him for his long service. A year later, almost to the date on the letter, he died and because of that sad event I began supporting Walsall FC but that’s another story!

By the mid 1980s the building on Lower Rushall Street was standing empty, the business had been scaled down and moved eslewhere, over two hundred years of industrial history had gone. In the 1990s the building was later renovated and converted into apartments and on completion looked rather smart but twenty plus years and they now look in need of more work. Whilst researching for this post I typed “Eyland” into Google and the name magically appeared again under the banner of F. H. Tomkins Buckle Co. Ltd of Brockhurst Crescent, Walsall. So the name survives if little else.

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§ 7 Responses to Eyland & Sons Limited

  • Peter Farringtom says:

    How interesting to read more of my Family history, My grandfather was Frank Farrington and My father worked at Eylands all his life apart from 6 years in the army in WWII. Thank yoyufor this well researched and produced article and also the “Walsall lives” Calendars. Are you still producing them?
    I left Walsall in 1970 then spent 21 years as a Missionary Dentist in Thailand and I moved to Brisbane Qld in 1992 with my Australian wife Rosemary and children.
    Good to renew memories of my home town.
    Blessings,
    Peter Farrington

    • Hello Peter,
      I always enjoy it when I have a message from someone connected to one of my posts, especially when it concerns Eylands. As you will know from the post my grandfather William Moseley worked for the company for many years and the Farrington family were always very highly regarded and respected by him and my grandmother. I still have my granddad’s tool chest that he used at Eylands and it not only contains tools etc but also designs and prototypes of new buckles, my wife and I also have the barometer hanging in our hall that the company bought my grandparents for their wedding in April 1915.

      I quite literally have hundreds of glass negatives (many sadly in poor condition) taken by two of your ancestors, Arthur and Frank Podmore Farrington. Many of these are photographs of the Farrington family, I used these in an article I wrote some years ago for the Black Country Bugle, a nostalgia newspaper over here. Would you like to see any of these family pictures as I will gladly send you copies of them?

      You also mention the Walsall Lives calendar which is now sadly no longer produced, I really enjoyed producing it but unfortunately my photo’ supply ran dry and the Local History Centre wanted quite a lot of money to use their photographs.

      Just to clarify things, was your grandfather Frank Podmore Farrington and his son, your father (?), Sidney Farrington? I have a good photo’ of Sidney and also a copy of the funeral service for Frank Podmore which my grandfather attended at the Strict Baptist Chapel in Midland Road, Walsall.

      Have you been back to Walsall since 1970? If not and you do decide to visit the “old town” again you will see a great many changes and sadly not for the better.

      Thank you for getting in touch and I am pleased to have renewed memories of Walsall for you.

      Regards, John Griffiths

      • Peter Farrington says:

        Thanks John for your prompt informative reply.
        My Father was Gordon Eyland Farrington and was Company secretary at Eylands following his Father Frank Podmore Farrington’s retirement. He worked at Eylands all his working life in the same office. Sidney was my uncle , He was a director of Eylands and ran the tool making dept.for many years until after the firm was sold and the new owners decided that he was no longer needed. He then went to manage Haywoods Spur Co in Caldmore. His wife Muriel was daughter of Mr Haywood. My Cousin John, Sidney’s son has done lot of research on Eylands and the Farrington history with lots of photos and interesting material. He lives in Walsall 11A Orwell Rd. I’m sure he would be interested in the glass slides that you have taken by my Grandfather and Great Uncle Arthur. My wife and I plan a short visit to Walsall next month ( 29th Sept to 6th Oct.) Don’t know if we could meet up. Will be staying with my sister Margaret Trimmer at 37 Gillity Ave .I remember hearing your Father mentioned by my Dad. Glad you could attend Grandfather’s Funeral at Midland rd Strict Baptist Chapel . The church where I grew up.Good to have contact.
        Blessings,
        Peter

      • Hello Peter,

        Thank you for your email, the names and family connections are coming back to me now. My grandfather worked for Sidney I believe as he was a toolmaker. Another name I remember well from my childhood days was Haywoods in Caldmore Road but I never knew Sidney went there after Eylands.

        I met your cousin John from Orwell Road a few times around 2001 not long after I bought the glass negatives taken by Arthur and Frank but I haven’t been in touch for many years. It was at the time I was producing the first of the eight editions of the Walsall Lives calendar and I focused on the Farrington family in the first one and needed some background information about your family. John and his wife (is her name Kay?) were very helpful and put names to many of the pictures which of course makes so much difference.

        It is interesting to hear you are coming to Walsall in a few weeks time, be prepared is all I will say! I would like to meet if that is possible but it is our 44th wedding anniversary on the 30th September and we are just debating whether to go to Cornwall or not for that very week, I will obviously let you know our decision.

        You have probably seen the family picture I am about to send you but just in case you haven’t I will send it direct to your email address as I don’t think I can do attachments on WordPress.

        Regards,

        John

      • Peter Farrington says:

        Thanks John for the photo, I’ve replied by e mail also Hope we can meet up next month.Blessings Peter

      • Hello Peter,
        Been away over the weekend and just logged on again. I see you replied and also said you had sent a separate email, unfortunately I didn’t receive that and didn’t know how important it was …….or wasn’t!
        Regards, John

      • Thanks John,
        I don’t know what happened to my E mail. I can’t find it on my computer now. Basically I just wanted to say have a happy wedding anniversary holiday in Cornwall and if you are back in Walsall before we leave on 9th October it would be great to meet you. I will be staying with my sister on Walsall 622776.
        Blessings.
        Peter

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