Skip to content
Skip to navigation
Black Country History Web Site
Black Country History is a searchable website which allows users to find information about documents, maps, photographs, art works, objects and more held by archives and museums services within the Black Country.
The eight partners involved in this website are:
Dudley Archives and Local History Service
Dudley Museums Service
Sandwell Community History and Archives Service
Sandwell Museums Service
Walsall Local History Centre
Walsall Museums Service
Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies
Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service
Contact information for accessibility help
Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
CANNON INDUSTRIES, COSELEY
- Ref No: D8
- Date: 1681-1993
- Description: The collection contains: records of incorporation and association; minute books; correspondence; title deeds and associated papers relating to land and property in the local area of Coseley, Sedgley, etc.; agency agreements; business agreements, leases and associated papers; accounts and financial records; Clayton and Sheldon family papers including wills, birth certificates and a pedigree of the Clayton family; papers re: trademarks, patents and registered designs; maps and plans; advertisements; newspaper, magazine and journal articles; a large collection of photographs including business and Clayton family photographs; apprenticeship records; personnel records; cookery and recipe books for use with Cannon cookers; catalogues of the wide range of products manufactured by Cannon; price lists; blueprints; and more.
- Admin History: The original firm of Cannon Industries was established in 1826 under the name 'Edward and Stephen Sheldon'. The foundry occupied a site at Havacre Lane, Deepfields, Coseley. The Post Office Directory of Birmingham, Warwickshire and Staffordshire in 1845 contains the following entry: 'Sheldon, Edward & S., stove grate manufacturers and iron founders, Cannon iron foundry, Coseley'. Stephen Sheldon left the business early in the partnership, and Edward Sheldon died in 1853. The business was then continued by Edward's sons-in-law, William Barnett and John Hawthorne. The Post Office Directory of Birmingham, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire in 1860 contains an entry for the company, listing them as: 'Sheldon, Edward (ex[ecut]ors of), ironfounder & stove grate manufacturer, Cannon ironfoundry'. In 1874, Richard Clayton married Fanny Eliza Barnett, the grand-daughter of Edward Sheldon, and around 1878 he became a partner in the Cannon business.
The constitution of the firm was changed in 1884 to become a private limited company, under the name 'Cannon Hollow-Ware Company Ltd.'. Peck's Circular Trades Directory of 1896-1897 contains reference to "Cannon" Hollow-ware Co. Ltd., Deepfields. In 1900, the name was changed to 'Cannon Iron Foundries Ltd.' At this time, Richard Clayton became Chairman and Managing Director of the company. By 1902, the foundry had a staff of nearly 40 clerks, and a total workforce of approximately 700 people; and by 1926 this number had reached almost 1,000 employees. Kelly's Directory of Staffordshire, 1904, contains the following entry: 'Cannon Iron Foundries Lim. hollow-ware, gas cooking & heating stove manfrs. enamellers, iron founders & grindstone manufacturers.'
The nature of the business of Cannon was originally to produce iron stoves, grates, and cast iron domestic hollow-ware pots and pans. The company also developed an enamelled finish known as 'Porceliron' which became a very popular product.
Later, the firm produced cast iron sanitary ware including baths, lavatories, sinks, etc. These were coated with the Company's registered trade mark 'Porceliron' and became widely used by public buildings, schools, hotels, and private residences. There are two Sanitary Ware catalogues within the collection (D8/Y4).
In the 20th century, the firm began to move into the production of gas fires and cookers. In 1895, the first Cannon gas cooker was produced, and the Cannon gas stove department rapidly expanded to meet demand for these products. The department grew so large that a new Works was required, on an extensive scale. The completion of these Works at Deepfields, on the opposite side of the railway to the older Works, coincided with the 80th Anniversary of the foundation of Cannon in 1906. A celebration dinner was held to celebrate the 80th anniversary, at which a toast was drunk to the new Works. There are original photographs of this celebration dinner in the collection (D8/P3/5).
In 1895, Cannon purchased the business of Richard Hickman, a grindstone manufacturer, and branched out into this area of manufacture in addition to their other interests. In 1900, the company changed its name again to The Cannon Iron Foundries Ltd. to indicate more accurately the nature of its business.
By 1913, Cannon manufactured hot water-producing apparatus, and produced bathroom geysers, water circulators and gas heated steam radiators. The company also catered for foreign markets, exporting to South America, the West Indies and Africa. Their diverse range of products, included: Danish, Marmont, French, African and other pots; cassada plates; rice bowls; bellied palm oil pots or sugar boilers with or without ears and legs; shea butter boilers; chaudires; and marmite pots. Illustrations of these can be found in the Cannon 'Export Castings' catalogue of 1927. (D8/Y6/1). One of the most notable products manufactured by Cannon was a huge three-legged pot with the capacity to hold 140 gallons. This was used for palm oil boiling, and was sold to the West African market.
In 1926, Cannon celebrated their first centenary, and the company gave the workforce a trip to Blackpool and a celebration dinner, on Saturday 18th September 1926. Two trains conveyed 850 members of the workforce to Blackpool, where they spent the day. The company dinner was served in the Indian Lounge at the Blackpool Winter Gardens. Again, photographs of this event are held in the collection (D8/P3/9). See also: Newspaper cuttings re: the Cannon Centenary celebrations (D8/N3).
From the 1950s onwards, Cannon became one of the leading manufacturers of domestic appliances such as cookers and gas heaters. Their Cannon 'Gasmiser' radiant convector gas fire was the first of its type and became a highly successful and well-known product. Cannon were the first company to introduce eye-level foldaway grills, streamlined cookers, and rotisserie and kebab units, amongst other innovations.
At Deepfields, Cannon Foundry had its own fire brigade for the protection of the Works. It was formed in 1894 and operated by members of the workforce. The first Captain of the Brigade was Mr W.H. Hawthorne (Director). (See: Records of the Cannon Fire Brigade, D8/A11/1 and Correspondence about the Cannon Fire Brigade, D8/C1/35). There was a serious fire at Deepfields on 8th May 1895 which destroyed the warehouse and much of the stock. The Cannon fire brigade actively worked alongside the Wolverhampton, Dudley, Bilston and Tipton fire brigades to try to extinguish the blaze which caused an estimated 5,000 worth of damage.
Cannon Iron Foundries Ltd. changed its name to C.I.F. Investments Ltd. on 8th March 1935, under a Special Resolution of the Company. See: letter to Thames House Estate Ltd. (D8/C1/48). After this, the name was changed to Cannon Industries, which is now a subsidiary of Cannon (Holdings) Ltd. This was taken over by G.E.C. in 1964. However, the Cannon brand still retains its reputation for quality gas cookers today.
The collection contains: records of incorporation and association; minute books; correspondence; title deeds and associated papers relating to land and property in the local area of Coseley, Sedgley, etc.; agency agreements; business agreements, leases and associated papers; accounts and financial records; Clayton and Sheldon family papers including wills, birth certificates and a pedigree of the Clayton family; papers re: trademarks, patents and registered designs; maps and plans; advertisements; newspaper, magazine and journal articles; a large collection of photographs including business and Clayton family photographs; apprenticeship records; personnel records; cookery and recipe books for use with Cannon cookers; catalogues of the wide range of products manufactured by Cannon; price list; blueprints; and more.
Some of the more unusual items within the collection include: a cheque for 50,000 made payable to the Bank of England by Cannon, on 21st June 1940 (D8/F3/11/3); an album/scrapbook of articles about Cannon and the Iron Trade generally, including cuttings from journals, newspapers, magazines, etc. with some unusual photographs and illustrations (D8/N3/1); an original 19th century engraving on copper plate of Coseley Hall, the home of Richard Clayton, Managing Director of Cannon (D8/P2/1); records of the Coronation of King Edward VIII which was planned for 12th May 1937, but never took place. Edward VIII reigned between January - December 1936, but abdicated on 10th December 1936 before his Coronation. A file of promotional material survives in the Cannon records, including promotional material for flags, souvenirs, commemorative mugs, plates and jugs, etc. (D8/N4/5); a photograph of Judith Chalmers (television personality) inspecting a Cannon gas cooker, c.1960s (D8/P3/33); and photographs of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in the early 1950s at the Cannon Stand in the Ideal Home Exhibition, London Olympia (D8/P4/8).
The records in this Collection were deposited at Dudley Archives & Local History Service as Accession No. 8942. They were catalogued as part of the 'Documenting the Workshop of the World' Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, in March 2006, by Liz Newman, Project Archivist.
- Level: Fonds
- Related Material: Other photographs of the Cannon factory and its workforce can be found in a photograph album entitled 'Camp of the 6th South Stafford's' (Z239). This album contains photographs of the 6th South Staffordshire Regiment and of Cannon Hollow-ware Company, Coseley, and is held at Dudley Archives and Local History Service.
- For more information contact: Dudley Archives