History of Locks

Museum & Archive curator: Brian Morland

Preserving artefacts from antiquity to the cutting edge examples of today

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The History of Locks Museum

Contact our curator for more information

© 2004 - 2023

Access to our Artefacts and Archive

The History of Locks Museum maintains permanent displays at the MLA (Master Locksmiths Association) Heritage Room in Rugby, the specialist Chubb display within Fordingbridge Museum (the Chubb brothers Jeremiah and Charles were born in Fordingbridge) and the archive in Bournemouth; all have had to temporarily close to visitors due to the Covid19 pandemic of 2020. We have therefore been trying to find other ways of making both artefacts and documents available to all.

Popular Topics

Access to our Artefacts and Archive

Digital Database


Genealogy, Hobbies & Other Interests

Its not just locks… more

Global Search for Documents and Locks.

The search is endless… more

Data Cabinet Hardware and Software

Vintage media records… more

HoL Resources

Vintage Data Readers & Data Cabinet Equipment Wanted

Collecting the artefacts and documents is only part of the story; in order to make as much material available as possible we also search for the early tech of the day facilitating transfer to current digital formats. This digitising also has the additional benefits of preserving fragile documents and artefacts from constant handling. So can you help with any of the following…contact us if you can assit with any of the following.

The First card reader hotel lock

The family of Leon Titinero have donated  a number of the first Hotel Locking system locks utilising card technologies, the encoder and the program discs; all we need to demonstrate the system is an early 386 notebook style computer. Can you help?

Promo & Instructional Video Tapes

The archive contains many formats of videotape, we are looking for the rack mount plays to transfer to our digital platform.

Digital Database

A great deal of thought went into how we could continue to provide access to our artefacts and documents. The permanent displays at Fordingbridge and Rugby, and the Archive in Bournemouth could be visited; but then Covid19 came along. We had already in 2019 took the decision to scan and digitise some of the more fragile documents in the archive. Frequent use was beginning to show on the Victorian Ledgers and some of our other early documents. The obvious solution seemed to be ‘why not photograph all the artefacts rather than just the items on display and digitise every document in the archive’. A mammoth task which will take years to complete but we felt it was a solution beyond solving the access requirements associated with the pandemic; it would permanently give access to a much wider audience - it would in fact give global access. There are of course a few details to work out; mostly to do with security, sensitivity and of course intellectual rights, but in the main most of the material will be available.

The data cabinet itself currently has two 18 terabyte systems running a bespoke database making a total of 36 terabytes; more capacity can be added as required. The database though is supported by a suite of ‘capture’ or ‘acquire’ computers running on a wide spectrum of operating systems; these in turn facilitates a wide range of media readers and scanners. Currently we can digitise via: photography (Nikon system), high-res flat bed A4 &A3 scanners, a sheet & roll micro-film digitiser, and a wide range of floppy drives, micro disk, usb and cd ports and drives. As archive material is donated or acquired we increasingly see material that was cutting edge in its day but cannot be accessed via modern equipment; do watch our equipment needs notices on the notice board - contact our curator if you can help.

Global Search for Documents and Locks

Our search is relentless for additional material to add to the database: its our objective to preserve as much documentation relating to the world of locks as possible.

The search includes the obvious sales, marketing and technical documents but also documents such as share certificates issued by lock companies; very informative for their meticulous record of names, change of names, addresses  and of course the dates of such changes. You will see in the sample pages here, and in the download files, the wide variety of material that has been already been indexed into the database.

We urge all engaged in providing ‘privileged access hardware’ to add the History of Locks Museum Archive to your press/publicity list - we record everything from today's cutting edge technological security advances back through time to day one of mankind!

Part of one of our 40U data cabinets specially configured to capture vintage data & media. We are also working on a similar cabinet to capture vintage  audio and video tape.

Genealogy, Hobbies and Other Interests

Of course Locks are not the only reason people visit this site. You might be compiling your family tree for instance. The locksmith world is positively teaming with people; inventors to factory workers, from customers to shareholders. Share certificates are particularly rich in genealogical details since  they also record change of name as in marriage and the date of the change. We have been meticulous in recording names in the index. Other interests include philately another is railway modelling inspired perhaps by the Chatwood private siding. Simply use the site search facility or download the various index files.

Above: Records like these Milner share certificates books, from the19th century, and their associated ‘Transfers’ volumes have an appeal to those looking for family  history clues.

Right: Chatwood,s private railway siding might inspire modellers. As well as safes and special concrete blocks for modular strong-rooms Chatwood also produced concrete railway sleepers.


Although we have published on this site many ‘taster’ pages featuring both artefacts and archive material researchers are encouraged to download the relevant index files to see the full extent of the cataloguing so far. These files are free to download and are regularly updated every few weeks or so. From these files you can request the document or artefact scans that interest you. You can also download copies of magazine articles we have written over the years where the publishers have consented.


HoL downloads page - frequently updated.