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Launceston (03)6331 7644

Burnie (03)6431 6022

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Francis Jackson commenced lock making in Charles Street, Launceston in 1883. From these small beginnings Jacksons has steadily grown in size and reputation to become Tasmania’s premier security organisation with centres in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie.

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The History of Jacksons Security

Francis Jackson

Francis Jackson commenced lock making in Charles Street, Launceston in 1883. From these small beginnings Jacksons has steadily grown in size and reputation to become Tasmania’s premier security organisation with centres in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie.

Francis Jackson was born in Wolverhampton, England and after leaving school served an apprenticeship with a local lock maker, Mr. B. Smith. He was later employed by Chubb's the well known lock manufacturers and reached the position of foreman. He then entered business on his own account. In 1872 Francis Jackson married Polly (inset right), a daughter of his former employer Mr. B. Smith and they had seven children. Four were born in England Lily, Ben, Florence and William whilst Thomas, Sydney and Annie were born in Tasmania.


From the 1850's Japan was advertising throughout Europe to attract artisans to bring the country into line with the other manufacturing nations. Francis Jackson was accepted for a three year contract with the Japanese Government to teach lock making and the manufacturing of brass fittings in Tokyo, Japan. On completion of this contract, Francis Jackson left Japan for Australia and after visiting various other states, chose Tasmania.

The beginning - 1883

Both Francis and Polly Jackson thought Tasmania had the nearest climate to that of England. In 1883 he arrived in Launceston and sent for his wife and children, who sailed from Plymouth on the Glen Goil. They arrived in Melbourne after ten weeks at sea, where they were met by Francis and then sailed to Launceston onboard the 200 tonne Mangana.

Launceston, with a population of 12,000 was in the grip of a depression. Wages were about 5/- shillings' per day for those who could get work. The family rented a house in Arthur Street, opposite St. Georges Square. Francis tried for a job at Salisbury's Foundry for 6/- per day, but decided instead to open his own business and rented a shop from a boot maker Mr. Irvin, at 74 Charles Street. For the first six months he did not earn the 10/- a week rent.

His first big break came when the Tasmanian Government Railway Company ordered point locks from him. Priced at 6/8d each, these special padlocks were completely handmade and were used for locking railway point switches.

Robbery secures his reputation

In 1884 the Beaconsfield Bank robbery took place. The bank manager was waylaid and robbed of the keys to the safe. After robbing the bank, the robber re locked the safe and threw away the keys. As Francis Jackson was the only expert available, he went to Beaconsfield to open the safe. The staff at the bank told him that it was no use trying to open it as the lock was un-pickable. Mr. Jackson inspected the safe and requested staff to retire for a few minutes. Shortly afterwards he called them back and swung open the safe door, proving that he had picked the "un-pickable" lock. The publicity from this event brought him considerable prestige and work from other banks.

Expertise in lock manufacturing

In 1887 the business was operating from 81 Paterson Street, in premises owned by Mr. W. Rodgers who operated Rodgers Cordial Works next door. The family moved to Staffordshire House at 56 Charles Street in 1896. The business was conducted from the same premises. This building was formally occupied by the Cornwall Chronicle and now by The Law Society.

Francis Jackson was very proud of his expertise in lock manufacturing and wanted to show the world how capable he was of producing the highest quality locks. The types of locks manufactured at the time varied and were offered in a wide range of sizes. For example, a drawer or till lock was made in 2, 2.5 and 3 inch sizes and each lock was offered as a 1, 2, 3, 4, or sometimes even 6 lever lock. The same range was offered in cupboard and box locks and their special locks such as cut cupboard, show case locks, folio locks, cash box locks and safe locks. Padlocks were made in 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3 and 3.5 inch sizes and in a wide variety of styles for special purposes.

Almost all of the lock parts were made from cast brass and as a result the locksmiths had to learn to file the parts into shape perfectly. It was a very exacting job. During his time in Launceston Francis was responsible for making up two separate display cases of locks.

One of these is presently on display at Jacksons Lock Manufacturing at Ravenswood and the other in Launceston at Jacksons Security. If you inspect these old locks in the showcase carefully you can appreciate the skill needed to bring them to perfection.

These display cases were entered in several exhibitions with the following results: First Order of Merit The 1888 "Centennial International Exhibition" held in Melbourne. Special First Certificate The 1891 'Tasmanian Exhibition" held at Launceston's Albert Hall. Certificate of Honour with Medal The 1924 "British Empire Exhibition" at Wembley, England. Certificate with Medal The 1925 "British Empire Exhibition" at Wembley, England.

Lock & Brass PhotoThe Jackson Family

In 1910 Francis Jackson took his youngest son, David Sydney Jackson (Syd), into the business. Another son W.H. Jackson (Bill) was employed by the business as a locksmith, gunsmith, etc. and later T.A. Jackson (Tom) was employed as an accountant. The eldest son F.B. Jackson (Ben) reached the position of manager at Mount Biscoff Tin Mining Co.'s Smelting Works in Lower Tamar Street and when this company closed he moved to Sydney where he was Works Manager for O.T. Lempriere for twenty years. The three daughters married, Florence to Mr. LT. Meers, then of Mary Street, Lily to Mr. A. Wilson and Annie to Mr. C. Dennis of Storeys Creek.

The Jackson family moved again in 1915 to Cardigan Street with the business operating separately at 101 Charles Street (pictured left circa 1915), next to the National Hall Co. Mrs Polly Jackson died in 1916. Francis remarried to Miss Mary Raeside of Paisley, England in 1920. He purchased 79 Cameron Street in 1921 and lived there with his second wife until her death.


Jacksons Lock and Brass Works Pty. Ltd. was registered in 1919. When the first shares were issued in 1919 it is noted that in addition to shares allocated to various members of Francis Jackson's family, shares were also issued in the name of several employees of the time. The shares were £1 each and it is not recorded whether they were sold to employees or given as a bonus. Five shares were issued in the name of Eric Scott. His family continue to own and operate Jacksons Security today.

Cameron Street

In 1928 the business was moved into 106 Cameron Street, owned by the Jackson family. Jacksons was to operate from these headquarters for the next 76 years. The property consisted of two co joined town houses, at 108 and 110, and the factory at 106 Cameron Street which was gradually extended over the years. The two houses were used as dwellings until they were condemned in the 1950's.

In 1972 we discovered that the dwelling at 110 Cameron Street had either been built or occupied by John Sinclair of Clairville, Evandale as a town house. John Sinclair was one of the original members of the Port Phillip Association who led to the founding of Melbourne

"The only Practical Lock Maker in Australasia"

Although we have never claimed to be the first lock manufacturer in Australia, Francis Jackson seemed assured of the fact when advertising in the Post Office Directory 1892-93 as "The only Practical Lock Maker in Australasia".

Francis Jackson died on the 9th of July 1939, aged 87.