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Locwil

History of Locwil

Although Locwil has been manufacturing vending machines and locks for 25 years in its present form, our pedigree goes back many years 1876.

1876

John Mann Lockerbie and Arthur Wilkinson commence trading near New Street, Birmingham, as suppliers of builder's ironmongery and ornamental ironwork, and manufacturers of constructional steelwork.

1880's

Coin operated doorlocks for public conveniences invented and patented. These were the original "spend a penny" locks for toilet doors.

Lockerbie & Wilkinson was incorporated as a Private Limited Company and all products marketed under the "Locwil" Trademark.

1890's

Commenced manufacturing abattoir equipment, supplying many installations to the UK and export markets.

1900's

Expansion necessitated moving to a purpose built factory (in Tipton near Dudley, West Midlands) occupying 5 acres.

Lockerbie and Wilkinson acquired by brothers Davis Green and Walford Green. Davis Green being the grandfather of the current owner of Locwil Limited, Stewart Wilson-Bett.

1910's

Tipton factory expanded to suit increased demand. Contractors to the War Office, The Admiralty, nearly every Railway Company and many municipal councils in the UK.

Agents appointed in London, South Africa and elsewhere to promote the Company's products.

During the First World War, the Company manufactured gun platforms and many other government requirements.

1920's

A vending machine for public conveniences was invented and patented to sell soap wrapped in a re-usable linen towel. The machines were constructed from oak with a solid brass mechanism, sand cast in the West Midlands and then finished by hand in the factory at Tipton. They proved to be very reliable.

A very much expanded range of coin operated locks was developed, in all around 20 different designs to suit all applications for public conveniences under The Locwil Brand. These proved to be extremely well received due to their reliability and were bought by councils throughout the UK.

1930's

Davis Green died in 1932 and his brother, Walford, continued directing the Company.

Lockerbie & Wilkinson Limited produced hardback 350 page catalogues of their entire range and continued to expand activities throughout the world.

Manual and coin-operated turnstiles where developed. These were sold to football clubs and to local councils throughout the UK. This was a testament to the durability and reliability of the Locwil brand.

1940's

Walford Green died in 1941 and Sylvia Green, Davis's second wife, assumed control of the Company. In the 40's it was not usual for a woman to run an engineering works and the family advised against it. However she ignored their advice and successfully took up the reins and the Company prospered even further. She turned out to be a formidable leader.

During the Second World War, Locwil manufactured aircraft hangar doors, bailey bridges, parts for tugs and barges together with parts for the Mulberry Harbour for the Normandy invasion in 1944.

1950's

Expansion continued with Government and local authority contracts over the entire range of the Locwil durable and reliable products.

A long and successful relationship with Southalls (Birmingham) Ltd - now part of the Smith and Nephew Group - prompted a major innovation in washroom vending. Southalls had developed and patented types of sanitary towels and tampons and recognised that there would be a need to vend them in washrooms. They also had the foresight that the original reliable Locwil Vending Machine was perfect for their needs. Lockerbie & Wilkinson, under the dynamic new Managing Director Arnold Collins, who had risen from the factory as an apprentice, rose to the challenge. The decision was made to invest in a new manufacturing process to produce the combined product drawer and coin mechanism which had always been unique to the Company.

The result was a major commitment with Dyson Diecastings Ltd, again a West Midlands Company and now part of Alumasc Group in Milton Keynes. The castings for the coin mechanism were now going to be made with Zinc in high pressure processing.

1960's

In 1965, Sylvia Green died and the Chairmanship was passed to her daughter Janet and she appointed her husband John Wilson-Bett as Joint Managing Director.

The company continued to thrive, with abattoirs, architectural ironmongery, coin operated toilet locks and washroom vending machines being sold throughout the world.

1970's

As a direct result of Arnold Collins' work and devotion the Company expanded and now employed over 250 people. In 1971, with the advent of decimalization, a major exercise took place to upgrade all the vending machines to accept the new currency.

1980's

Huge changes affected the Midlands in the 1980's. Manufacturing all but disappeared due to a slump in the UK economy and spiralling interest rates. Businesses that once employed thousands were demolished and to survive there had to be changes. Along with many manufacturing companies this had an effect on Lockerbie & Wilkinson and parts of the Company were sold.

1983

John Wilson-Bett bought the coinlock and vending machines divisions and commenced trading under the name of Locwil Limited, thereby retaining the heritage by naming the Company after the original trademark.

With Production Manager John Mason and Assistant Manager Paul Millard together with assembly staff he began trading from our brand new industrial estate in Ettingshall, Wolverhampton.

For the rest of the decade the customer base increased in size and the Company flourished.

1990's

With his loyal staff John Wilson-Bett continued to build the company into a major force in the washroom vending machine market. Machines were built to vend a whole variety of packets and a nappy vending machine was developed and patented. Many approaches were made to acquire Locwil but these were fended off as he always wanted the Company to remain within his family.

2000's

In 2003 John Wilson-Bett died and Stewart, his son, took ownership of Locwil. With the same staff running the factory he quickly realised that in order for Locwil to remain successful he would have to modernise the perception of the Company.

A new Corporate Image was created and the Vending Machine range was standardized. Through market research demand for a new Mini Machine was identified and came into production in 2006 and is now a top seller. Coinlock manufacturing was brought in-house in order to retain the quality and reliability that is so important to the Locwil brand.

With the appointment of a Marketing Manager Locwil exhibited at The Cleaning Show in Birmingham in 2007 and continues to expand the business through new media such as the internet.