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Patent Shaft, formerly The Patent Shaft and Axletree Company Est 1840, was a large steelworks situated in Wednesbury, West Midlands, England. It employed hundreds of local people from its opening during the 19th century, and was a key player in the Industrial Revolution that spread across the Black Country at this time, and gave the region its iconic name.
A decline in the manufacturing industry during the 1970s meant that even the largest factories were faced with threat of closure. Patent Shaft closed in 1980 after 140 years in use and left hundreds of local people out of work. The factory buildings were demolished in 1983.
In the early to mid 1990s the Patent Shaft site was substantially transformed. The construction of the Black Country Spine Road between Bilston and West Bromwich opened up several square miles of previously inaccessible land. The Spine Road actually passed through the site of one of the Patent Shaft buildings, and an Automotive Component Park was opened on another part of the site on 2 March 1993. This development - exclusively occupied by car component manufacturers - was the first of its kind in Europe.
The Patent Shaft gates, situated on a traffic island at the junction of Holyhead Road and Dudley Street, are still in existence today, thirty years after the factory's closure.
The archives of Patent Shaft are held at Sandwell Community History and Archives Service