By Russ, Jewellery Quarter Research Trust
The original building dated from the early days of Legge Lane, combining domestic dwelling and small manufacturing. The site was re-built in 1893 by Essex, Nicol & Goodman as a three-storey building in brick and terracotta; it was owned by Cornelius Davenport but used by A.H Woodward as ‘I.X.L Works’ for the manufacture of pens and similar items.
Originally, the building comprised a three-story front range constructed using cast-iron columns and girders and housing offices and warehousing, with an L-shaped three-storey workshop range and adjacent yard to the rear. A single-storey range, which housed a nickel-plating shop, soldering and annealing muffles and toilets, lay at the northern end of the site on the western side of a small yard. This range was demolished and both yards covered in the 20th century. The present owners, Ashton & Moore, extended the building to the east in the 1970s and ensured that the richness of the fine terracotta moulding was clearly displayed.
Serving as both home and workplace, the original building, built c. 1850, was occupied by the Davenport family. They produced gilt toys and then wedding rings. On the death of William Davenport in 1862, the business was passed to his son Cornelius. In 1872, the Davenports were rebuked and fined for allowing 9 year-old Mary Ann Simmons to work a 10-hour day when she should have been at school. The Davenport family, including Nathaniel, a Primitive Methodist Minister, are all buried in Key Hill Cemetery.
There were reports of a serious fire in 1903 that destroyed much of the building. Four jets were needed to cope with the flames, and these were in use for fully an hour before the brigade were able to leave. The roof of the premises had fallen in before the brigade arrived, and shortly after several men had extremely narrow escapes from injury through the upper portion of the wall collapsing. The origin of the fire was unknown.
Numbers 3, 4 and 5 Legge Lane were built as a trio
1851 – W.M Davenport and family
- Wife, 7 children and staff
- Gilt Toy manufacturers - later wedding ring manufacturers
W.M. Burgess – Clerk and Family
Charles Wilson – Steel toy maker – also Fred Latimer – Builder + family
Rebuilt as 'I.X.L Works'
A.H Woodward - manufacturer of pens, pen holders etc.
Fire destroys much of building
Handkey + Kendall – Brass
Hussey, Dawson & Co – Vanity boxes
Ashton & Moore occupied building – aerospace and Industrial Finishing
Dean and Sandland - Tool makers
1960 - 1980s
Ashton & Moore