John Sutton Nettlefold

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John Sutton Nettlefold (23 September 1792 – 12 April 1866) was a British industrialist and entrepreneur.[1][2]

Early life and family[edit]

Nettlefold was born in London. Nettlefold was a Unitarian; he married a co-religionist, Martha Chamberlain (1794–1866). Hers was a family of Birmingham manufacturers and politicians: her brother's son, Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914), was a radical Liberal and a leading imperialist.

They had three sons: Edward John Nettlefold (1820–1878), Joseph Henry Nettlefold (1827 –1881) and Frederick Nettlefold (1833–1913). One of Edward John's sons was named after him, John Sutton Nettlefold, who was a social reformer.


In 1823, he opened a hardware store at 54 High Holborn. This was followed in 1826 by a workshop to make woodscrews based in Sunbury-on-Thames. The Sunbury factory was powered by a waterwheel and Nettlefold saw the importance of motive power when he took advantage of steam power in a new factory in Baskerville Place, off Broad Street, Birmingham. He renamed the business Nettlefold and Sons, Ltd., and it expanded rapidly in London and Birmingham.[1][3]

In 1854, Nettlefold acquired the opportunity to purchase a licence to manufacture to a U.S. patent for a novel woodscrew. The licence, and the establishment of a new factory, demanded an investment of £ 30,000. Nettlefold sought and obtained the involvement of his brother-in-law as equal partner for an investment of £10,000 and the two established a factory in Smethwick, leaving its management to their sons, Edward John and Joseph Henry Nettlefold, and Joseph Chamberlain.[1]

In later years, the management of the partnership, Nettlefold and Chamberlain, was passed to Joseph and Frederick Nettlefold, and later was absorbed into Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds,[1] now GKN plc, a multinational engineering company headquartered in Redditch.


  1. ^ a b c d Smith (2004)
  2. ^ "John Sutton Nettlefold". Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. Retrieved 9 July 2017. 
  3. ^ "Mr. Frederick Nettlefold". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 6 March 1913. p. 9.