Walking into Firmstone architectural ironmongers in New Street, Warwick may at first seem like stepping back in time, as evidence of the firm’s extraordinary 350 year trading history can be seen all around.
But customers to this treasure trove of a shop soon find out that the diverse stock range and product knowledge of Firmstone’s manager Robert Vaughan, is up to the minute and second to none. From art deco letter boxes, 1940s and 50s yale locks to cutting edge fingerprint control locks – Firmstone has them all.
The magic of this family-run business is immediately evident in the unique array of locks and ironmongery hanging in the shop window. Within the shop, customers soon find Firmstone stocks an impressive selection of contemporary and historic wrought iron door and window fittings, porch lights, wall lights, fire grates and many other items in iron.
Firmstone still manufactures many of its brass goods and has a beautiful selection of letter plates, door knockers, wall lights and furniture handles, as well as paraffin lamps and candle-sticks.
Robert, a professional locksmith, provides a complete service in the fitting of best quality locks, safes and alarms for makes such as Abloy, Chubb, Yale, Union and Car Transponder. He has even made a key to perfectly fit a lock from around 1750!
Customers range from individuals, to a wide range of organisations including hospitals, banks, doctors surgeries, retailers and other businesses.
“The secret to running a successful small business is knowing all about what you’re selling and as much as you can about what your customers want. That way you can marry the two up and provide exactly what the customer wants and needs.”
But it’s not just local Warwickshire residents who benefit from Firmstone’s expertise:
“We have customers visiting us from all over the UK, as well as Australia, Turkey, the USA – in fact all over the world – because they know they can get products and a service they struggle to find elsewhere. We find different countries have different tastes, for example, with our Turkish customers, ornate iron door hinges and door studs are popular; while in the Nordic states, our customers particularly like lion-head door knockers.”
Another service prized by many loyal local and far flung customers looking for specialist or vintage ironmongery, is the product matching service. Customers simply email an image of their requirements, and Firmstone can usually provide a match.
This interesting shop has a fascinating history. George Firmstone, the firm’s current owner, can date his family business back to 1633 in West Bromwich where they made nails. The firm was also operating in Shropshire in 1790, and is reputed to have been involved with other ironmongers in the making of Ironbridge – the world’s first cast-iron bridge. Firmstone has been in the Warwick and Leamington area since the 1940s.