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Charles Smith & Sons Prison Lock

In this feature we look as an extract from David’s book “The Key to Lock Picking” on page 12.

It shows in black & white photos of a very old prison door lock. The one in question is the Charles Smith & Sons prison / asylum lock. Here is an insight in to this part of David's book.

The lock its self is very large measuring 26x18 cm and it weighs 4KG. David states the lock dates to about 1870, this is close in fact it was manufactured from 1867. It was in use apparently in a cell near David from 1874 to 1978. I personally know that once Douglas Police Station in Scotland had this type of lock and was in use right up to approx 1984. So gives you an idea of how trusted and mechanically reliable this was to be used for this period of time.

Left: David's Photos from his book.

Restored Charles Smith & Sons Lock

It is a slam activated bolt mechanism to lock when door closed over automatically, has four brass levers and a front dial numbered indicator to show the bolt locking position in the door frame. Number 1 on the dial face indicated it was first partial lock position. Number 2 on the indicator was double locked and bolt was fully in to the frame. A blank indicator showed it was unlocked. This lock was for a right hand door and came with a black painted face plate and handle. Normally fixed in with huge heavy duty screws. There were slight variations in the front design but on the whole the lock remained internally the same for this model.

Another Charles Smith Example

Many of these locks are rare and I know only of only several in existence this day. Many of them and others like it were so badly over painted with multiple layers that they no longer operated due to the paint seepage and jamming of internal parts. Despite this these locks were made to last and the workmanship of them is outstanding. They are still types of locks you may very well still come across to this day in some old cells that exist.

David De-Val stated this was considered pick proof meaning it was indeed high security. The internal components of the lock are solid metal and made precise to fit. The four levers were brass and the main bolt was steel. David added he also was unable to pick it which goes to show how hard this lock is to bypass.

Internal parts and rear of lock.

David's Comments in the book.

Charles Smith & Sons evolved from 1704 as stated in this very early advert. In 1828 more solid evidence of the start of the Charles lock smith early days was when Stanley & Smith lock manufacturers both went in to business. Then in 1834 Charles Smith & Son started business under this name and continued until 1867 where they then became Charles Smith & Sons. 1930 seen the company decline and finally in 1940 the company dissolved and came to an end. Despite this a very impressive length of time for the business to be operating.

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