Call for Halesowen button workers to help with heritage project

A CALL has gone out to past employers of a defunct Halesowen company to take part in a heritage collecting project.

Black Country Echoes wants to hear from people who worked at the long-established button makers Groves and Sons which closed down a year ago.

The group is working with Wolverhampton Gallery in partnership with other museums and archives to tell the story of manufacturing companies and their workers, through links with businesses, workshops, events and exhibitions for a festival from September to December next year.

Community engagement officer José Forrest-Tennant said they were keen for the former button makers to tell their stories.

She said: “If you, your friends or ancestors worked in industry in the region, we want you to be part of this very special project.

Groves and Sons, of Stourbridge Road, was the UK’s biggest button manufacture until its shock closure was announced 12 months ago, with the loss of around 20 jobs.

The 155-year-old firm, which went into liquidation, was one of the world’s largest horn button producers, making more than 45 million buttons a year.

It was established in 1857 by James Grove and his wife Ann Elizabeth, who sold buttons from his hotel room as he travelled across Europe.

They began in premises at the junction of Birmingham Road and Cornbow and built up markets supplying uniform buttons for the military, railways and the General Post Office.

At its peak in 1917, the firm employed 600 men and women, making and polishing buttons by hand.

The company moved to Stourbridge Road in 1965 where it had introduced modern materials including polyester, corozo and casein using state-of-the-art machinery and remained in the ownership of the Grove family.

For more information or to register your interest in taking part in the heritage project, call 01902 552055 or email BCEchoes@wolverhampton.gov.uk.

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