October 31st – Passing down the Darlaston Road to Wednesbury over Kings Hill, you realise that the area is changing. While it’s still very industrial, a couple of the old, large factories here have been replaced by new build housing.
The old Exidoor factory that made panic bolts was lost to apartments some years ago, and over the last couple of years, a pleasant enough, but unremarkable estate has grown on the site of the former Servis domestic appliance factory pretty much next door.
Servis was a household name, started by nearby power press manufacturer Wilkins and Mitchell who are also now gone; they made passable washing machines and the like which were functional, and often very innovative (The Servis Quartz was the first ever electronically controlled automatic washing machine) but suffered from poor quality and reliability.
Gradually outsold and outclassed by competitors due to the traditional British twin failures of lack of investment and corner cutting, Servis fell from UK ownership to various international owners before finally collapsing.
The works, which once even had it’s own brass band, fell silent, was demolished, the ground reclaimed, and now houses sprout from where the ground once shook under the blow of heavy presses.
Such is the story across modern Britain. We are in the middle of great change.