|Volume 6, Number 12 - Autumn/Winter 2008-09|
The Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company
The Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company was founded in 1857 and specialised in galvanised and black flat or corrugated sheets. In 1905 the company established the Mersey Ironworks in Ellesmere Port on the banks of the Shropshire Union Canal, adjacent to the main railway line. (Pictured, below. From Ellesmere Port Council's website)
The owners were the JONES brothers - E. Peter, Joseph and Beresford. They were attracted from the old iron industry centre of Wolverhampton. They chose Ellesmere Port for its commercially strategic position, with easy access to major ports, served by inland canals and railway, and because land was cheap.
The major part of the company's production was exported and barges were used to carry finished products to ships in Liverpool and Birkenhead. They also ran their own barge fleet, all with the prefix 'Elles' before their name 'Ellesport', 'Ellesweir', 'Elleswater' etc. Many of the workers came from Wolverhampton and also from Dudley.
The Wolverhamptonites' were known in the Port as "Up Womers", and many street names in Ellesmere Port show these origins - Wolverham, Dudley, Stafford, and Heathfield Roads. Reportedly, 300 families made this migration en masse. Some of them walked along the Shropshire Union Canal with their possessions to get to Ellesmere Port. Well planned housing estates were built by the WCIC for their workers. Stanlow Villas was built along Whitby road for the managers of the company. The company also built in the Victoria Ward, east of the railway and this included Princes Road and Heathfield Road. Stanlow Cottages were part of this development in Whitby Road.
For 35 years this company dominated the economy of the town. The company was the first really big employer to come to the town and in its heyday employed over 2000 men and 30 women in the offices.
The W.C.I. eventually changed its name to "Burnells Iron and Steel Company". Burnells was reportedly pretty antiquated and hadn't modernised at all. Men were still rolling steel sheets by hand by passing the sheets through the rollers. The iron works was taken over by British Steel in the early sixties and then closed down.
Right: One use of corrugated iron was for the building of Mission Churches at home and abroad. This one near Burscough was built in 1905 to serve boatmen on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Photo: David Long
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