The History of Eliza Tinsley


The Eliza Tinsley story began 165 years ago at Cradley Heath in the heart of the ‘Black Country’ – the birthplace of the industrial revolution. It was in the centre of this thriving, innovative area that Eliza Tinsley started her chain making business in the mid 19th Century.


Eliza was married to Thomas – a self-employed nailmaker.  They had six children and following the death of their eldest daughter and Thomas himself in 1851, Eliza – having learnt a great deal from Thomas – continued to run the business under her own name which soon became very successful. She was known locally as “The Widow” and for over 20 years built her reputation as a fair and knowledgeable business woman visiting customers in the UK and even sending a representative out to Melbourne, Australia to set up a Company in her name.


According to the national census of 1871 around 4,000 people were employed by Eliza Tinsley producing wrought iron nails, rivets, chains, chain cables and anchors.  Many of these employees were outworkers, living in chain-maker’s cottages – visiting the site once a week to collect materials and then returning the next with finished products.  Chain making was incredibly labour intensive and the heat, dirt and strength involved resulted in a very male dominated industry – making Eliza’s success even more of an achievement.


Eliza retired in 1872 at 58 and died 10 years later at home.  The business was taken over by four partners including G Harry Green a former sales representative of the Company.  He eventually bought out the other partners and a 5th generation of the family still remains closely linked with the business today.


Automation in manufacturing greatly influenced the product range, gradually making a natural progression away from nail production – motor vehicles diminished the demand for horse hoof nails!  Production eventually concentrated on chain manufacturing supporting the booming industries of ship building and mining around this time.
With large families to support – the business naturally expanded with the purchase of a hand tool manufacturer in 1928 – the Swindell Tool Company (founded in the 1780’s).


More acquisitions followed after the Second World War with J T Parkes in 1966 (manufacturer of door and gate products), Wiggin Chains in 1984 (welded chain manufacturer set up in 1893) and J H Carter in 1994 (unwelded chain manufacturer).  At Wiggin Chains the development of specialised chain making machines continued until 1959 when the first fully- automatic version went into production.  As far as the Company is aware this was the first machine in the world to turn steel wire into welded chain in one fully automatic operation.


Great emphasis has been placed over the years on improvements in Customer Service and Marketing to ensure innovative and reliable developments to benefit all of its customers.  In 1994 the Company’s “New Concept” merchandisers transformed the display and sale of their chain and accessory range dominating the UK market and greatly increasing sales.


In 2006 Eliza Tinsley was acquired by an Indian based Group with over 5,000 employees mainly operating in textiles, steel, hardware and real estate development.  With its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities the future promises “the best of both worlds” to its customers via direct sourcing from the Group’s low-cost global manufacturing base.


DPA and Adaro (office furniture suppliers) were acquired in 2008 and fully integrated into the business based in Wednesbury just off Junction 9 of the M6, with over 130,000
sq ft of office and warehouse space.
Eliza Tinsley is very proud of its heritage and strives to ensure the values of Eliza herself are carried well into the next millenium.  As to the future …