Metal Box

With the demolition of the Metal Box buildings in Rock Valley, another era in the industrial history of Mansfield has changed. The buildings dated back over 100 years and are recalled by local people as Barringers, or Metal box, due to their respective owners – Barringer, Wallis Manners Ltd., and the Metal Box Company. In recent years they became Crown Speciality Packaging, and this has now moved to Forest Town.

While there has been sadness at this company moving out of Mansfield, its history in the shape of tins, remains in many households all over the country and possibly overseas.

It is only when you see the large collection of Metal Box tins in a display at Mansfield Museum from October 1st  2011 to January 2012 that you realise just how much these tins have been part of our lives.


The tins below are treasured both for their pictures and contents. They have often been given as Christmas or birthday gifts. No doubt many still do adorn children’s bedrooms.

While tin money boxes such as these were an encouragement for children to save their pennies, additionally they are now a collecter’s item for post box enthusiasts

Amongst this selection there are tins for children, tins for people with coughs (Fishermans Friends), and did any of us ever consider where those black petty cash tins came from?

Pictures of children, birds, animals all make these tins attractive and have encouraged people to buy them.

Royal events appear on tins and make them collectable. Back in June 1914 King George V and Queen Mary visited Metal Box, what an exciting time that would have been for everyone.

Every Christmas tins of sweets appear in the shops and supermarkets and though these round ones are difficult to wrap, very few people will refuse the contents!

Now who can remember Cadbury’s Chocolate bars being 2d?

Here we have a real mix of tins, a waste bin on the top shelf, Typhoo Tea below – what did all the other’s contain?

‘Pin Ups’ on tins made them a little more daring.

Beautiful biscuit tins and ‘Anti gas Ointment’ – this makes you think!

Metal Box made tins for many firms, these tins reveal just a few, Crawfords, Weetabix and Cadburys. Can you name more?

What did this selection of tins contain? what did people use them for afterwards?

An array of kitchen tins used for tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes of every variety.

A varied selection of old and new.

Kitchen ware

We have a real contrast here – Black Magic chocolates and Fishermans Friends cough sweets!

Tall & thin, short & fat, square and round – how were all these tins designed and made?

Look at the wonderful tin carriage, and house money boxes, they are quite a contrast to the tin bird box in the middle

Rat Killer amongst all those lovely tins – it makes you shudder.

A shelf full of whisky tins

How many tins have YOU recognised as having owned or still own? What have you kept in them – cakes, buttons, sewing threads, photos, screw drivers and handy tools? Do add a comment and tell us.



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Comments about this page

  • This page brought back many happy memories as I started working at the Metal Box Co. Ltd, Perivale in 1959 and during subsequent years nearly all my family worked there.  I still have my mother’s ‘china garden’ telephone pad holder with a groove to hold the pen.  It is mainly painted in black and gold.

    By Valerie Walton (29/10/2016)
  • Hello, my mum’s sister worked at Barringers and I can remember her bringing me home a metal tray with a picture of the Beatles and their autographs printed on the front. Does anyone know if this was actually made there. I had this tray in my bedroom until I got married and left home. My dad kept it for a number of years until he threw it away. I don’t know if it was worth anything, being Beatles memorabillia. Yes John I did work at Vale Road for about 28 years before I retired. What is your surname.


    By Pete Higgins (28/04/2016)
  • Hello Pete,I am almost certain I know you then mate, if you finished your time off with housing at Vale Road, then it’s in the bag. Cheers!

    By John (22/04/2016)
  • Hi John. Yes I started work for Mansfield Borough Council as an apprentice electrician in 1967 and worked for MDC until my retirement in 2011.

    By Pete Higgins (17/04/2016)
  • Thankyou Pete Higgins for your info on the tin, I was not aware that the council gave these out to the staff. Like yourself I shall be hanging onto the one I have too. Can I ask if you were an Electrician for MDC by any chance??

    By John (15/04/2016)
  • Great pictures and memories – seems everything were in a tin all those years ago. How times have changed. Can anyone remember the red small Post Office savings box we  used to have to save money in? Very heavy when you used to put the old pennies  and the odd tanner in, could only be opened by the man who ran the Post Office. Happy days .


    By G.Burton former Woodus lad (10/04/2016)
  • Hi John. All council employees were presented with this tin when the Mansfield Borough Council became the District Council in 1974. Inside was a small bottle of whiskey and a scroll. I still have mine and it is exactly how you described it. Unfortunately the whiskey didn’t last more than a couple of weeks. I think at the time we understood them to have been made at the Metal Box but I’m not 100% sure about that.

    By Pete Higgins (08/04/2016)
  • I have a rather interesting tin, of unsubstantiated manufacture, pretty sure though it must have been made locally. It commemorates the borough of Mansfield,1891-1974. It bears coat of arms with legend, and a picture of the Market place, Bentinck Memorial, Four Seasons Centre,and library with those funny shapes which used to adorn the outside wall-do they still? Possibly Egyptian.The tin is lined and is mostly blue in colour, with made in England on the base. I bought this second hand, but it is in really nice condition. Possibly a Barringers tin or later MB product does anyone think??

    By John (07/04/2016)
  • Nice article and photos. Now I know where my tin came from. It was my Mothers button box on a farm in the prairies of South Dakota, US now I have it in MN. 


    By Lori (04/04/2016)
  • My mum, Minnie Chapman, made both tins and tin toys at Barringer Wallis and Manners from 1928 until 1939. It was really interesting (and quite moving) to see a display of these at the Victoria and Albert Museum, when I visited approximately ten years ago.

    By Christine Allport (nee Chapman) (24/01/2014)
  • I have in my possesion a tin manufactured by Barringer Wallis and Manners made on behalf of The Glenfiddich Distillery. The tin was for a bottle of Glenfiddich Malt Whisky, I was wondering where I could find out the date of manufacture and how many were manufactured

    By Graham Norris (27/08/2013)
  • The collection of tins in these photographs belong to Mansfield Museum.

    By Jodie Henshaw (27/12/2012)
  • Is that your collection Susan, its great, if it is where do you keep them all? My mother might have had a hand in making some of them she worked there before, during and after the second world war.

    By Peter Bowler (22/12/2012)
  • It wouldn’t be an exageration to say for at least half the 20th centuary 99% of firms in this country who sold their products in a tin would be made by Baringer Wallis and Manners or Metal Box as it later became in Rock Valley Mansfield and later at their Sutton in Ashfield site.

    By Peter Bowler (21/12/2012)
  • I purchased a very nice tin produced by the Metal Box Co Ltd in Mansfield and would like to know if anyone can help me date the tin. It is oval. It features rabbits from a “Little Golden Book” published in 1943, America. Title of book is “The Lively Little Rabbit” by Gustaf Tenggren. Question is: how can I figure out the date of the tin. Thank you in advance for any help – Susan WL

    By susan liebegott (22/03/2012)

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