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Messrs John Bradley & Company


Records of Messrs John Bradley & Company: correspondence 1844-1852.



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These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

John Bradley (1769-1816) established Messrs John Bradley & Company with Thomas Jukes Collier and the trustees of his stepfather Henry Foster. Each had a third share of the company. At Stourbridge Forge, where the company was based, pig iron was converted into wrought iron for use by local industries. The company proved very successful and in 1814, the business was expanded and further works were bought in Stourbridge. A year previously, the Iron Works had secured a deal with New Hadley Furnaces that meant John Bradley & Company would buy all the pig iron produced there, at a guaranteed price, for seven years. In 1818, Henry Foster's son James obtained two blast furnaces. From then on, John Bradley & Company controlled all stages of iron production. It had a well-deserved reputation for producing high-quality goods. James Foster further expanded the business the following year by becoming more involved with machinery production and by purchasing collieries. He went into partnership with John Urpeth Rastrick and the men set up a new company in Stourbridge, Foster, Rastrick & Company. Rastrick was managing engineer. A wide variety of iron goods were produced, ranging from bedsteads to railway sleepers. They built a new foundry in 1821, but Foster Rastrick & Company was short-lived and was dissolved in June 1831. Stourbridge Iron Works received all the assets from the dissolved company. The company owned nine works, foundries and collieries in 1832. In 1837, James Foster became the sole owner of John Bradley & Company. On his death in 1853, the business passed to his nephew William Orme Foster. The company continued to expand under his management and in 1869 was one of the Midlands' largest iron manufacturers. A slump in the iron industry during the 1870s caused the company 's fortunes to decline. William Foster's son, also William, inherited John Bradley & Company in 1899 but lacked the enthusiasm of his father and great uncle for the industry. Between 1913 and 1919 all the component parts of the company were sold. For more information on Messrs John Bradley & Compnay see 'Stourbridge & Its Historic Locomotives', ed. Paul Collins.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.