From 1849 to the Present Day
Baker and Finnemore Limited (home of the Starlock® Push on Fasteners)
Baker and Finnemore began as a pen manufacturer named “Wagner Steel Pens” owned by German industrialist Charles Wagner in 1849 on the site of 1 James Street near St Paul’s Square.
At this time Birmingham led the world in the manufacture of Steel pen nibs and Wagner chose Daniel Baker and Joseph Finnemore to help him in establishing the company. Finnemore was a toolmaker and son of clergyman William Finnemore, who had learned his toolmaking trade under George Wells of Hinks-Wells a major Pen supplier in the 1840’s. He had patented several machines to improve the manufacture of steel pens while at Hinks-Wells. When he left Hinks-Wells he attempted to open his own pen manufacture with Joseph Evans in 1845 as partners in Evans and Finnemore; however, this was unsuccessful and he subsequently became works manager at Wagner Pens in November 1850.
Daniel Baker began work as a warehouseman alongside Finnemore at Hinks-Wells in 1839. In 1841 he worked for J. A. Chatwin (Pin Manufacturers) and in 1849 worked for Wagner Steel Pens as an accountant.
Wagner subsequently wished to go into hardware manufacture, so Baker and Finnemore bought out Wagner, changed the name to Baker and Finnemore and began to produce pens for themselves in James Street.
Wagner eventually became a Director of the Joint Stock Bank in Birmingham, which later became part of Lloyds Bank.
In his spare time, Finnemore became a Weslyan preacher at Finch Road, Handsworth while he worked full time in the business.
Baker became a Finance Director at the St Phillips Building Society (later part of Birmingham Midshires) as well as Chairman of the Local Board of Balsall Heath PDC. He held atheist views and became The National Secular Society Vice President.
Baker and Finnemore prospered into one of the top Pen Manufacturers in the World with 105 workers.
Finnemore died in 1874 of a heart attack. Baker continued the business under the stewardship of Joseph Barnwell his Great Nephew as Works Manager. Baker purchased Finnemore’s share holding for £1250. Upon Baker’s death in 1897 Joseph Barnwell assumed full ownership. When Joseph Barnwell’s died in 1910 the company was valued at £7500(roughly £500000 in today’s money).
He passed the business on to his sons, Leslie and Arthur Barnwell, who bought the premises of 199 Newhall Street in 1911 and incorporated Baker & Finnemore as a Limited Company.
Arthur bought out Leslie just before the Second World War and brought in new people such as Tom Sadler and George Griffiths to run the company. He died in 1953 passing control on to his son, Edward Barnwell, and Tom Sadler.
It was around this time that Sales Manager Wilfred Sharman developed Starlock® washers which proved so popular they surpassed Pen nibs and pressings as the main manufacture.
1964 saw the start of Starlocks® being sold all over Europe.
Edward Barnwell died in 1971 passing control on to John Barnwell who ran the company throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s until there was an MBO in 1996. Derek Sharp (who was Barnwell’s works Director) now assuming the Managing Directors role.
In July 2012 German based Gebr. Titgemeyer of Osnabruck, one of Baker & Finnemore’s oldest European customers, purchased all shares in the Company. Just as it was in 1850 at the start, Baker & Finnemore has now come back into German ownership.