In 1884 the company was started by John Tunner Rubery (1849-1920) and his two brothers (Samuel 1844-1910 and Thomas William 1856-1925), as an ironworks manufacturing gates and fences. In 1893 the two brothers were replaced by a trained engineer Alfred Owen, and in 1903 the company name of Rubery Owen was established.
When John T Rubery retired in 1910 his partnership was bought out by A E Owen and by 1912 the company had expanded into Aviation Engineering, Motor Frames and Roofing, in addition to fencing manufacture.
The company expanded during the 1920s and 1930s to include the production of metal airframes, metal storage equipment, steel pulleys and armour plate. They also acquired a Warrington hydraulic company Conveyancer Fork Trucks Ltd which became Rubery Owen Conveyancer, and which claims to have launched the UK's first forklift truck in 1946.
During World War II they concentrated on supporting the war effort, producing parts for military aircraft. In 1956 they were designing and manufacturing aircraft landing gear. There was a large test rig where the wheel assembly was held, the wheel spun up to the equivalent landing speed and then dropped onto the "ground" to simulate the landing process. Measuring equipment recorded the stresses.
Bolt heads of early Post War Rubery Owen production were marked simply with "RO", and then "Rubery Owen" was spelled out. These bolts made their way to any number of British factories building motor-vehicles, from automobiles to motorcycles.
After the war they expanded their engineering products to include ploughs for Ferguson Tractors, metal pressings, fasteners, motor vehicle components and structural steel components for the building industry.
In 1956 the company was structured into the following seven divisions:
- Bolt and Nut
- Metal Assemblies
- Metal Equipment
In the 1960s and 1970s Rubery Owen supplied many components and parts to the British motor industry but the most recognised is the Rostyle wheel (the word 'Rostyle' being a contraction of RO-Style). These were distinctive steel disc wheels pressed to a shape to give the effect of spokes. Rostyle wheels were common on British cars of the period both as manufacturer fitted options and aftermarket accessories.
In 1977 Coventry Climax acquired the Warrington forklift truck business of Rubery Owen Conveyancer.
In 1981 the main Darlaston works closed down.
Rubery Owen is now managed by David Owen, and co run by Jim Owen. David Owen recently sold the building for £1 to Walsall Housing Regeneration Agency (WHRA), a local charity who offers numerous projects based in Darlaston and surrounding areas. David and a small team are still based within Rubery Owen.
The Owen Group of Companies 1965
- Rubery, Owen & Co—Darlaston—Coventry—West Bromwich—Woverhampton—Prees—Pensnett—Willenhall—Moxley—Bourne
- Bentley Hall Brick Co—Walsall
- Bowser International—London
- W Brealey & Co—Sheffield
- The Brooke Tool Mfg Co—Birmingham
- Brooke Tool Automation—Birmingham
- T S Harrison & Sons—Heckmondwike
- Boxford Machine Tools—Halifax
- Fred Whiteley—Halifax
- Steel Fabrications (Halifax)—Halifax
- E Camelinat & Co—Birmingham
- The Castra Electric Washing Machine Co—Rodley—Leeds
- Charles Clark & Son—Wolverhampton
- Bull Stake Motors (Darlaston)—Darlaston
- Charles Clark (Stafford)—Stafford
- Charles Clark & Son (Commercial Vehicles)—Wolverhampton
- Esiclene Porcelain-Enamel (1938)—Wolverhampton
- Conveyancer Fork Trucks—Warrington
- Conveyancer-Scott Electric Vehicles—Warrington
- Gasel Appliances—Darlaston
- Joseph Gillott & Sons—Sheffield
- (Proprietors Cardinal Steels)
- Gillotts Forge and Rolling Mills—Sheffield
- W Gwennap (Agricultural)—Stafford
- C & L Hill—Willenhall
- C & L Hill (Diecastings)—Willenhall
- Hill-Alzen (Sales)—Willenhall
- Central Patternmaking Co—Willenhall
- Hudson Brown–Oldbury
- Invicta Electrodes—Willenhall
- Leabank Office Equipment—London
- Motor Panels (Coventry)—Coventry
- Nuts & Bolts (Darlaston)—Darlaston
- J Stanley & Co—Wednesbury
- Owen Kleine Structures—Darlaston
- Shuker & Son (Shrewsbury—Shrewsbury
- J W Baker & Co—Darlaston
- A Warden & Co—London
- Rubery, Owen Kepston—Pensnett
- Rubery, Owen (Warrington)—Warrington
- Rubery, Owen Drott—London
- Salopian Engineers—Prees Salop
- Salopian Kenneth Hudson—Prees Salop
- Shorrock Superchargers—Wednesbury
- A G Sutherland—Birmingham
- H T Developments—Birmingham
- J B Williams (Maxstoke)—Birmingham
- Rubery, Owen & Co—Cumbernauld
- William Donaldson (Engineers)—Paisley
- Rubery, Owen & Co—Wrexham
- Rogers & Jackson—Wrexham
- R & J Wrexham (Wholesale)—Wrexham
- J E Brassey & Son—Wrexham
- E Camelinat & Co—Dowlais
- Nuts & Bolts (Darlaston)—Tredegar
- Rubery, Owen & Kemsley Pty—Finsbury SA—Moorabbin Vic.
- Conveyancer Fork Trucks (Australia) Pty—Rosebery NSW
- South Africa
- Ruberowen (South Africa)—Vanderbijlpark Transvaal
- Ruberowen Metal Pressings—Roodeport Transvaal—Port Elizabeth Cape Province
- Rubery, Owen & Scott (S.A.)—Durban
- Mahindra Owen—Bombay
- Rubery Owen, Canada—Toronto
- Parker, Bev. ""A Brief History of Darlaston: Years of Growth"". Retrieved 2006-07-02.
- Upstairs/Downstairs At The Factory - Time Magazine article
- Rotech Laboratories - A Rubery Owen company
- Rubery Owen History - Rozone Ltd
- Catalogue of the Rubery Owen Holdings Ltd archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
- Catalogue of the Rubery Owen (Darlaston) Ltd archives, held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick