Powell Anvils



Powell were produced by John Powell of Birmingham from 1862 until 1920-1924.
Powell produced both colonial style and London pattern style anvils.

History of Powell Anvils


1857- 1860 – Apr 4th – Charles William Hill – Bankruptcy proceedings and audits. 

1862 – 07 Aug 1862

First reference of J. Powell taking over the anvil and vice works on Oxford Street from Charles William Hill.

1862 – 20th Aug 1862

John Powel was charged and convicted of using unjust scales & weights and fined 20 shillings.

Birmingham Daily Gazette

1863 – July 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd 39th, August 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th, 31st, Sept 3rd, 

The first advertisements for the Powell Anvil and Vice works in the Birmingham Daily Gazette. In addition to anvils, vices, hammers, screws, and other forged items were all advertised for sale. Note the reference to having taken over Charles William Hill’s Original Anvil and Vice Works. 

1865 – Sep 15th 

Within a few years J. Powell was advertising for new employees and selling Fish Bolts (Fishbolts – Wikipedia), which are used to join railroad rails together.

There is also an advertisement to rent our a property that is suitable for a Warehouse or Manufacturing Purposes.  This occurs a number of times throughout the years. It appears that J. Powell’s factory didn’t use all the buildings he had purchased on Oxford street and rented out the buildings he didn’t need for his own work. 

1869 – Dec 2nd, 3rd 

Adverts for selling what appears to be a variety of surplus equipment. 
There is also an ad for some properties on Highgate which seem to be another business prospect for J. Powell. 


1868 – The New Fourteenth Londoniad, Etc. 

The New Fourteenth Londonaid appears to be a bizarre advertisement to Canadians for various English manufacturers that give the name, description, and location of a business and then have a poem extolling the virtues of business.  I have no idea why someone thought this was a good way to advertise but there are something like 20 versions so maybe people liked it. 

1871 – Sep 26th-28th

More advertisements for residences and ironworks by J. Powell and job openings for the Vice Works. 

Premises to be Let – Birmingham Daily Gazette 26th Sep. 1871
Situations Vacant Birmingham Daily gazette 26 Sep 1871

1879 – Apr 21st – 24th

Advertisements for what appears to be surplus equipment and some properties on Highgate. 

1882 – Jul 4th – 6th

Sales of an Iron and Tin-plate business on Oxford street. Considering J. Powell Anvil Works continues on until ~1920 this appears to be J. Powell selling off either a side business or a tenants business in the buildings around his Anvil Works. 

1883 – Nov 3rd

Advertisement hiring Vice Makers but don’t apply if you aren’t good. 

1886 – Aug 06

An advertisement looking to buy corrugated roofing sheets potentially to re-roof some of the buildings on Oxford Street. 

1888 – Oct 8th

Sales of a 14 horse power blower for cheap. 

1890 Mar 3rd

Wanted positions for Cupola-Man & Dresser as well as an Anvil-grinder.

1894 Nov 2nd

Wanted position for a superintendent for the buildings.


A detailed map of Birmingham was created to aid insurance companies in assessing fire risks. In Vol 2 sheet 18 Oxford Street and the John Powell Anvil and Vise works were mapped.

In the map we see: 

  • 13 Forges
  • Wood & Iron Stores
  • Bellow Stores / Shop
  • Cupola (a type of furnace for melting iron)
  • Machine Shop
  • Grinding Shop
  • Moulding Shop

Interestingly the words Phoenix Works appears directly above John Powell LIM Anvil & Vice Fac. It’s unclear exactly what Phoenix Works was. My guess is that Phoenix Works was the name for the overall area which contained Powell Anvil & Vice factory as well as other business that J. Powell rented out space too. 

Today the buildings have all been torn down and replaced with a parking log.

1902 – July 14 – The Birmingham Daily Mail

Advertisement for strong youths to help manage the cupola.

1918-1920 – The Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Journal

One of the last refrences to the J. Powell Anvil and Vice factory still being in existence was it’s listing in the 1918-1920 Chamber of Commerce Journals for Birmingham.

1924 – Oct 18 / Nov 15th- The Solicitors’ Journal & Weekly Reporter – Resolutions for Winding-up Voluntarily.

The final records I can find are from 1924 showing the voluntary winding up of the J. Powell Ltd.