Thomas Locker and Company

Dates: 1879 until today

Location: Church Street, Warrington

Specialities: wire winding and weaving, conveyor belts, perforated metals, wire screens, sieves, woven wire cloth, gauzes, wire screens, filters

Thomas Locker and Company (now known as Locker Group, or more commonly simply “Lockers“) has its origins in the invention of the first wire weaving loom by James Locker in 1811. James Locker seems to have been employed by Nathaniel Greening in some capacity as N. Greening and Sons also laid claim to having developed the invention and displayed the loom in his works for many years.

Whatever the truth of the matter James Locker’s son Thomas Locker founded his own wire weaving company called Thomas Locker and Company in 1878. The company continued to innovate, becoming the first to weave wire mesh on a steam-powered loom in 1886.

Thomas Locker was succeeded by his two sons James Thomas and Thomas Locker who co-managed the company until 1926. James Thomas Locker also acted as mayor of Warrington between 1923 and 1925.

The company continued to expand until, in 1936, it included 7 factories over 14 acres and the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1948.

By the late 20th century Lockers were Greening‘s main rivals, comprising a number of subsidiaries such as Lockers (Engineers) who manufactured conveyor belts and processing equipment, Lockers (Metal Perforators) Limited who manufactured perforated metals, Lockers (Wedge wire) Limited who manufactured wire screens and sieves, Lockers (Wire Weavers) Limited who manufactured woven wire cloth and gauze and Lockers (Wire Workers) Limited who made wire screens. By this point the company also owned sites in South Africa, Australia and Belgium.

In 1968 they merged with Butterfield-Harvey and a few years later acquired the wire weaving and wire working activities of Associated Perforators and Weavers.

In 1976 they became the first woven wire mesh manufacturer to achieve the ISO9000 standard (previously BS 5750).

In 1990 Lockers acquired the Special Projects division of the milling engineers Henry Simon.

In 2000 Lockers moved its UK Design and Technical Centre from the former site on Church Street to Irwell Road in Warrington where it is still based today.

In 2012 Lockers acquired Potter and Soar Limited of Banbury which is one of the oldest wire mesh manufacturers in the country, having been originally founded in 1824.

This article was written for the Wire Works Project 2020-2021, a National Lottery Heritage funded project aiming to highlight and celebrate the legacy left by the wire industry, which dominated Warrington’s employment structure for over 170 years, putting the town at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution.