John Russell was a gun barrel maker in the market town of Wednesbury in the West Midlands. In 1811 he began to make wrought iron tubes. At the time there was a shortage of good quality tubing for use in steam engines and for distribution of the gas supply.
John Russell began to produce tapered tubes which pushed together, but were very difficult to make. As a result, John and his brother James developed a hand-forged wrought iron socket for joining parallel tubes together. In 1816 John decided to set up a tube works in partnership with his brother.
In 1823 the two brothers parted ways ; James set up his own company while John founded John Russell & Co. with a factory in Wednesbury called the Old Patent Tube Works. The factory produced wrought iron tubes and fittings for gas, steam and hydraulic purposes, cast iron pipes and valves.
John Russell & Co. became a limited company in 1876, by which time the business had expanded to such an extent that three more factories had been established in Wednesbury. A further three factories were later established in Walsall and the Belmont Brass Works were built in Birmingham.
In 1892 John Russell & Co. Ltd. made around half the posts to carry the overhead wire for the electrification of the South Staffordshire Tramways.
The company continued until at least 1939.