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The History of Ingersoll Locks by Andrew Taylor

Ingersoll – A brief history

Jack W. Taylor 

The Ingersoll range of locks was invented by my late father, Jack W. Taylor. He apparently had the idea for the ten lever cylinder in 1944 whilst sheltering under the kitchen table in a V1 flying bomb attack.

JWT had been Chief Draughtsman at Yale from 1928 to 1943. At the outbreak of WW2 Yale switched to war work and produced a number of projects for various aircraft. One of the commissions was the production of the first electric bomb slip release for use on the Wellington bomber in association with Meccano in Liverpool. Yale made the mechanical parts and Meccano supplied the electrical equipment.

Whilst on a train to Liverpool JWT entered into conversation with a fellow passenger. A few days later he received orders from the Ministry of Aircraft Production to move to Ingersoll Engineering in London. The fellow passenger on the Liverpool train was Len Young, a senior engineer at the company.

Ingersoll Engineering had difficulties with the design of the “Y” lock, basically a hook capable of carrying heavy loads which could be released by pulling a lanyard. The most notably use of the Y lock was the tow-line release on the Horsa Glider used in the D-day landings.

At the end of WW2 JWT informed the Board of his invention of a ten lever cylinder lock and a new company, Ingersoll Locks Limited was formed to produce the lock which became known as the Ingersoll RA71 Rim Automatic Deadlock.

The RA71 saw a number of “Firsts”;
The first lock with an automatically thrown deadbolt.
The first lock where the handle could be locked with a key from outside the door.
The first production lock having over 1,000,000 differs (1,048,576 differs to be precise)
The first lock having key registration facilities.

The RA71 was launched at the Ideal Homes exhibition in 1947 and became an instant success with over 28,000 locks sold however production problems persisted due to a lack of materials following the end of WW2. The company had not fulfilled all the orders by the time of the next exhibition the following year.

One morning in 1952 detectives from the Flying Squad visited Ingersoll and presented JWT with a sack of plugs from the RA71 cylinder which had been recovered from the River Thames. The plugs had a threaded hole down the keyway and had obviously been forcibly pulled out of the body. Break-ins through the RA71 escalated until the burglar was caught. He was nick-named “Tom the Tapper” from the device he had developed to open the lock.

I can remember Father bringing home his drawing board in the car and spending the whole weekend redesigning the cylinder as the steel clad version which remains in production today. The lock case was modified with the curved handle and the lock reintroduced as the SC71.

What is now the OS711 open shackle padlock was developed from an idea by Len Young. LY used discs to lock both legs of the shackle but these tended to turn sideways and jam the shackle. JWT changed these to ball bearings and another iconic lock was born:

The unique Ingersoll ten lever cylinder plus
The first padlock with double locking of the shackle
The first padlock with a hardened steel body.

The SC74/75/76 range of mortice locks were the next development followed by the Ingersoll D20 where a ten lever key mechanism with pivotless levers was developed to operate from either end of the cylinder and the lock featured an automatically thrown hook bolt dead bolt.

The D20 lock case in the original design was produced as a pressing similar to the Yale “Morim” nightlatch of the early 1930’s. The board of Directors were not impressed and JWT was told to “take this Birmingham rubbish away and design it as a proper lock”. The lock case was redesigned for production as a pressure die casting with the staple remaining as a steel pressing.

In 1953 JWT had enough of boardroom politics and moved to Associated Brass Founders of Willesden who produced the D20 lock for Ingersoll.

In 1955 my family moved to Ringwood in Hampshire where JWT set up the Taylor Lock Company.

In 1958 Len Young invited JWT to join the British Standards panel who were writing the BS3621 specification.  At one of these meetings he saw an opportunity and designed a six lever mortice deadlock with 250,000 differs. A down-rated version of the lock was made with 600 differs and sold through the Willen Key Company in London for several years.    

I joined Taylor Lock Company straight from school in 1965 and made some of the production tooling and a key cutting machine.

In the late 1967 JWT was appointed as a consultant to Ingersoll Locks Limited to develop new products. The six lever mortice deadlock was taken over, upgraded to meet the requirements of BS3621 and introduced as the Ingersoll M6.

Mr. William Ernest Stubbs (Bill Stubbs) responsible for the M52 range of locks (pictured standing in this image). The seated gentleman next to him is Johnny Fitzjohn, who was one of the Ingersoll sales team from the 1960's through to the mid 1980's. 

At this time Ingersoll Locks were located at Ascot. The MD was Peter Shovelton with Danny Berry as the production manager and William Stubbs (Bill Stubbs) as technical manager.

The sales team was lead by Robert (Bob) Judd and included Jonny Johnston, Dick Ewens and later Richard Humphries.

Danny Berry designed the SW66 sash window lock.

Bill Stubbs’ designs included the Ingersoll NS80 and the M52 family of mortice locks. He was also responsible for improving production methods including an automatic key cutting machine for the ten lever keys.

JWT was commissioned to design a new ten detainer key mechanism but this was shelved and did not progress to the prototype stage.

He also devised the CM67 and FM 68 window locks for steel framed windows and the CW69 wood window lock.

My contribution was the patented ALB1 Automatic Locking Bolt which TLC made for Ingersoll from our factory in Bournemouth where we produced over 300,000 ALB1 bolts.

JWT passed away in 1986 but TLC’s involvement with Ingersoll continued into the early 1990’s and the takeover by Yale.

Taylor Lock Company was closed in 2012 and I started Axxium Limited to carry on the family tradition of the design and manufacture of specialist locks plus consultancy and Expert Witness work.

Andrew Taylor, Axxium Limited

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