Exhibition preview: A Centenary of Stainless Steel: The Old Hall Connection, Walsall Museum, Walsall, until June 1 2013
We may instantly associate stainless steel, the invention with is a century old this year, with Sheffield. In Walsall, though, the shiny revolution was put to use by a local firm to produce a range of table and teawares under the name of Old Hall.
© Courtesy The Old Hall Club
Manufactured in Bloxwich by J&J Wiggin, the production line only ceased in 1984. There’s a personal story behind its beginnings – when William Wiggin and his wife Nellie received silverware for their silver wedding anniversary, they were perturbed by the amount of cleaning involved, and decided to make easy-clean cutlery for a mass market.
Profits accelerated during the 1930s. Robert Welch, their Consultant Designer during the 1950s, came up with the acclaimed Campden range, and the decades which followed saw Old Hall items frequently dispatched as wedding gifts.
Some of those trend-setting designs are on show here, as well as early examples and classic gift sets. The accompanying parade of clothing demonstrates the garbs many of the female employees at the firm wore.
- Open 10am-5pm (4pm Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday). Admission free. Follow the museum on Twitter @WalsallMuseum.