The Dudley company has been manufacturing in the Black Country since its inception in 1920. Having previously helped to develop and manage foundries across the UK, Thomas Dudley set up his own business, half a mile from the current head office.
In 1934, land was acquired and the foundry relocated to its current site on the Birmingham New Road. In 1936, Mr Dudley sailed on the Queen Mary’s maiden voyage to America and visited a number of foundries to help formulate his vision for the future of the company.
By the 1950s the foundry was producing a wide range of products including cast iron WC cisterns. However, these cisterns were often installed outside and many cracked during the harsh winters. As a result, Thomas Dudley began sourcing frost-resistant heavy-duty rubber cisterns. This move and the success that followed paved the way for the plastics division which started to manufacture plastic injection moulded models shortly afterwards.
As the foundry expanded, significant investment was made in mechanised plant and seven automated moulding lines were installed between 1966 and 1988. Between 1969 and 1971, a new building was also erected to house the plastics division.
Strategic acquisitions have seen Masefield-Beta, McDonald Diecasting, Waterfit, Rugby Plastics, Ecosan (Resan sanitaryware) and ZJP Plumbing Supplies join the Thomas Dudley family.
Today, Thomas Dudley is a hugely successful manufacturing business, employing around 500 people and generating turnover exceeding £50 million.
The centenary celebrations kicked off on Saturday, January 25, with a 1920s extravaganza at the Grand Station, Wolverhampton. Due to the close links with Dudley College, there was a themed dance and song performance as well as The Dancing Grannies, Singing waiters and party songs to dance the night away. Most people that attended got into the theme of the evening. There were lots of flapper dresses and Peaky Blinder suits on display. Some even took it to the next stage and went for key entertainers of the era, including chairman Martin Dudley as Charlie Chaplin.
Source: John Corser, expressandstar.com