W.H.Tildesley was founded by William Horace Tildesley in 1874 and, like most companies in Willenhall, it made parts for horsedrawn transport. Made in the Midlands website records that these included horse grooming equipment – curry combs, tail combs and sweat scrapers.
During the 1st World War production switched to mass manufacturing of horse shoe blanks and the family business moved down the road to its present site, Clifford Works Ltd in Bow Street, expanding the product range to include drop forgings and eventually supplying the aerospace, oil, motorsport and pharmaceutical industries.
In the early 80s, WHT became a major forging supplier in the UK and moved into the export market, developing applications for markets such as admiralty lifting and rigging equipment, motor cycles and trucks and architectural ironwork. The company revealed earlier this year it has started shipments of another forged and machined valve body fitted to the Hawker 125 aircraft, where it helps to regulate the emergency oxygen supply.
In April last year, two new forge buildings were built and the shop floor area was extended, making room for future growth. A man who worked there years ago remembers the noise and heat; the regeneration scheme has now refurbished and rebedded all forge hammers using the latest damping technology to minimise vibration.
Additional air-conditioning has been installed to provide a cooler working environment and improve ventilation in the new, larger production areas. Finite-element forging simulation software (right) tests the die design and eliminates potential forging flaws before cutting metal on the dies.
The Express and Star reported WHT’s open day held in September 2013 with the boss of a leading car manufacturing company invited to open its new forging facility. Several classic and vintage vehicles using parts produced by the company were put on display. Factory tours also took place.
The firm has taken on apprentices in the past year and recruitment for other roles will begin as demand increases. In common with firms like Professional Polishing of Smethwick, family connections have played a part in the workforce recruitment and development with many of W.H.Tildesley’s current staff being related to current and previous employees.