Yale door locks

The business was founded as the Yale Lock Manufacturing Co. in 1868 by Linus Yale, Jr., the inventor of the pin tumbler lock, and Henry R. Towne.The name was later changed to Yale & Towne.In the twentieth century the company expanded worldwide.

It established a British operation by taking over an existing business in Wood Street, Willenhall, the historic centre of the British lock industry, and became the major employer in the town. ‘Yale locks’ became the generic term in the UK for pin-tumbler household locks and keys, although Yale neglected the ‘service’ business and effectively gave away the lucrative aftermarket business in replacement key-blanks, which sold in the millions annually.

The British Yale became involved with the early motor industry and supplied locks to various manufacturers until the early thirties when the cheaper diecast-based lead-tumbler technology became available. Yale saw an unexpected (and unwanted) revival of activity in the motor trade from the sixties onwards when security fitters adopted its ‘M69’ window lock as a simple add-on fitment to prevent theft, especially on vans. This continued to the early nineties, when it was superseded by electronic devices.

The British Yale had continued to supply all lock requirements to Rolls Royce Motors until 1991, when there was an acrimonious parting. The British business had been sold by its parent to the Valor Company in 1987. After a further takeover by Williams Holdings, various sections of the Willenhall operation and outlying operation such as their diecasting foundry were closed. Ultimately this led to all work being outsourced to the Far East, and the entire Wood Street site was soon afterwards closed and demolished, after having employed generations of skilled local people.

The remainder of the British business was sold to Assa Abloy in 2000.The Yale Security subsidiaries produce fire alarm systems, burglar alarms and glass break detectors.

From July 2012 Assa Abloy started to relocate Yale from Lenoir City, Tennessee to Berlin, CT, to be completed by late spring of 2013, with the loss of about 200 jobs. The factory had been in Lenoir City since 1953 and at one time had over 1200 workers.