200 years protecting people, property,
and infrastructure.
With a rich heritage since 1824, Hill & Smith is a testament to British manufacturing and resilience.
From our home in the Black Country, along the highways of the UK, to the far corners of the world… our legacy blends innovation and sustainability, crafting solutions that protect people and infrastructure. We're proud to share our heritage and celebrate our bicentenary.

From Royal beginnings...

In 1860, we supplied miles of fencing for Queen Victoria’s estate, followed by another royal engagement in 1900 for King Chulalongkorn of Siam.
In 1860, we supplied miles of fencing for Queen Victoria’s estate, followed by another royal engagement in 1900 for King Chulalongkorn of Siam.
We’re committed to innovation and service excellence, to deliver safer and more sustainable spaces to live, work and travel.

...to a greener future

We’re committed to net zero, always finding ways to lower our carbon footprint. In 2023, we launched Rebloc LC… our low-carbon concrete barrier range.
Explore Hill & Smith's heritage, innovation and drive for sustainability.
Find out more

Discover 200 years of heritage

1800s
1900 - 1925
1925 - 1950
1950 - 1975
1975 - 2000
2000+

1800s

1824

Founded by Edward Hill and his brother-in-law Henry Smith, the eponymous company Edward Hill and Co, was based in the Brierley Hill Ironworks.

Early products included puddling machines, hurdles and fencing, wrought iron shafts, crank shafts, piston rods and connecting rods.

1853

Partnership and name change. After the death of Edward Hill his wife Emma continued the business with Henry Smith and changed the name to Hill & Smith.

1860

Supplied many miles of fencing for Queen Victoria. Exhibited patented harrows, cultivators, chaff-cutting machines, and field gates.

Meanwhile in the Black Country...

1840s
The Black Country gained its name in the 1840s from the smoke from the many ironworking foundries and forges. Other theories mention the abundance of the shallow, 30ft thick seams of coal in the region.
1863
The iron industry grew during the 19th century, peaking around 1850–1860. In 1863, there were 200 blast furnaces in the Black Country. Two years later it was recorded that there were 2,116 puddling furnaces, which converted pig-iron into wrought iron.
1882
Bessemer-style steel works were constructed at Spring Vale in Bilston by the Staffordshire Steel and Ingot Iron Company, a development followed by the construction of an open-hearth steelworks at the Round Oak works of the Earl of Dudley in Brierley Hill, which produced its first steel in 1894.

1900 - 1925

1900

Ornamental gates for King Chulalongkorn of Siam. The company was expanding its range to include structural steelwork often whole factories, warehouses, iron-houses, market roofs, railway station roofs, footbridges and walkways, including the dome steelwork at Birmingham University.

1906

Henry Smith died at the age of 82. He was succeeded by his eldest son Joseph Smith who was the last working proprietor with founder connections.

1909

Joseph Smith was killed in a carting accident aged 54. After his death the company was made into a private limited company.

1910

Supplied materials for the Naval Base at Simonstown, South Africa.

1914 - 1918

During the first world war, the company produced three-and-a-half-million screw pickets for barbed wire.

1922

The direction of the company’s manufacturing changed, focusing on steel railings and bridges.

Meanwhile in the Black Country...

1900
By Victorian times, the Black Country was one of the most heavily industrialised areas in Britain, and it became known for its pollution, particularly from iron and coal industries and their many associated smaller businesses. Industrialisation led to the expansion of local railways and coal mine lines.
1912
The anchors and chains for the ill-fated liner RMS Titanic were made in the Black Country at Netherton. Three anchors and accompanying chains were manufactured; and the set weighed in at 100 tons. The centre anchor alone weighed 12 tons and was pulled through Netherton on its journey to the ship by 20 Shire horses.

1925 - 1950

1932

The company provided components for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

1939 - 1945

During the second world war, Hill & Smith produced a variety of products for the war effort including air-raid shelters, cast iron degaussing boxes for the protection of vessels against the magnetic mine parts of Bailey Bridges, rocket firing equipment, nissen huts, and equipment for landing barges.

1940s - 1950s

The company continued for the next twenty years without much change under the control of trustees. A serious loss of contracts in the late 50s led to the decision to sell.

1950 - 1975

1960

Hill & Smith Limited was sold to three prominent Midlands businessmen, Mr Tom Hampson-Silk and two brothers, Leonard and Clive James.

1961

The first step towards a new strategy was established with the acquisition of Tipton Steel Stockholders Limited, creating substantial growth with a turnover within the region of £2.5 million.

1964

Denis Hodgetts is brought in to support the James brothers and Silk, who had many commitments, and Hill & Smith had fallen into losses.

1965

Denis Hodgetts sold the construction and agricultural department and leased 20,000 sq. ft. of production and office space – the company was back to profitability.

1968

W. H. Barkers & Son were specialists in Coal Board work and were feeling the reduced demand. Hill & Smith acquired the company and were able to give them a much-needed injection of work.

1968

Hill & Smith was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in March.

1971

Hill and Smith began manufacturing crash barriers for the Department for Transport. These were the very first UK tested restraint systems on the market.

1973

The Brierley Hill site saw the installation of a new galvanizing plant. Due to the success of the crash barrier, to keep up with demand the product was being sent out to sub-contractors for galvanizing. The new plant provided the solution to all the company’s galvanizing needs and future development.

Meanwhile in the Black Country...

1968
The 20th century saw a decline in coal mining in the Black Country, with the last colliery in the region – Baggeridge Colliery near Sedgley – closing on 2 March 1968, marking the end of an era after some 300 years of mass coal mining in the region.

1975 - 2000

1986

Hill & Smith Holdings PLC was established.

1987

W. H. Barkers & Sons was acquired by Hill & Smith Holdings Plc. W. H. Barkers and Sons had started manufacturing crash barriers for Hill & Smith Limited so when the opportunity arose Hill & Smith Holdings brought manufacturing of their products back within the group.

1990

Varley & Gulliver, designing and manufacturing parapet structures, became a wholly owned subsidiary of Hill & Smith Holdings PLC.

1997

In January 1997 the first slab was laid in the construction of the current Hill & Smith offices and plant.

1998

Asset VRS as known today was formed as a division of Hill & Smith Ltd to specialise in temporary road barrier.

2000+

2002

Brifen, wire rope safety fence, became part of Hill & Smith Ltd., further widening the product range.

2004

The company developed the Flexbeam family of vehicle restraint sysems.

2016

Hardstaff Barriers Ltd. was acquired by HS Holdings PLC and became a division of Hill & Smith Ltd. Specialising in vehicle restraint systems and hostile vehicle mitigation solutions.

2023

Hill & Smith Ltd is renamed Hill & Smith Infrastructure Ltd to form a business group combining the expertise of all UK-based Vehicle Restraint System (VRS) subsidiaries: Asset VRS, Hardstaff Barriers, Hill & Smith Barriers and Varley & Gulliver.

Meanwhile in the Black Country...

2009
The Black Country has seen the adoption of symbols and emblems with which to represent itself. The first of these to be registered was the Black Country tartan in 2009, designed by Philip Tibbetts from Halesowen.
2012
In 2008 the idea of a flag for the region was first raised. After four years of campaigning a competition was successfully organised with the Black Country Living Museum. This resulted in the adoption of the Flag of the Black Country as designed by Gracie Sheppard of Redhill School in Stourbridge and was registered with the Flag Institute.
2013
The flag was unveiled at the Black Country Living Museum on 14 July 2013 as part of celebration in honour of the 300th anniversary of the erection of the first Newcomen atmospheric engine. Black Country Day is now celebrated on 14th July to recognise the area’s role in the Industrial Revolution.