You are here:



Dear Mr Palmer

I have been asked by my wife's godmother to try to get a key for an old safe she possesses. The safe contains important documents, but she does not have a key to open the safe.

She gave me a number for the key which is WC958 and said the company was from Birmingham. I did try to google the company, but did not find anything about the company.

Can you please tell me about the Whitfield Safe company from Birmingham and if it would be possible to get a key made for the old lady's safe.

Thank you in advance

Roland Allick

Hello Roland,

Whitfield was just one of a host of Black Country safe makers that burgeoned in the late Victorian era.  They are long gone and no records of serial numbers exist today.

In any case, keys to all safes are unique so additional keys are always cut to a pattern.  As you don't have one, you will need a safe engineer to open it and if you wish to continue to use it, replace the lock and supply new keys.  It is possible that an ancient safe like this can be picked open but failing that it will have to be drilled.

Unfortunately it is almost certain that a safe of this age is worthles, so unless you are absolutely certain that there are important documents inside, it is best left as it.  However if you wish to find someone to open in I suggest you go to the Master Locksmiths Association at and search for a safe engineer in your area.


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Mike Palmer


I earn my living identifying safes and suggesting cash limits for risk advisors and insurance surveyors in the UK. I'm am pleased to comment on safes manufactured in the UK or Mainland Europe but I am unable to accept questions regarding safes made in the USA or elsewhere.


I have been in the UK safe industry for 40 years and have one of the largest archive databases of old safe literature and serial numbers in the country. I started with Chubb in 1960 and became Assistant Manager of their Bank Security Division before moving on to become the Insurance Liaison Manager with the John Tann Group. I became Sales & Marketing Director for Guardian Safes Limited before semi-retiring. I am a Fellow of the Security Institute and ex-Chairman of Eurosafe UK, a trade body representing the interests of UK safe makers and distributors. I now work as a part time consultant.

I am an advisor to the Safe Committee of the Association of Insurance Surveyors, a Fellow of the Security Institute and founding Chairman of Eurosafe UK.

I have had literally scores of articles published in various security trade publications. So far this year I have had 24 features published in various journals including Keyways, Professional Security, Pawnbroker and Safe India. I have published one book, Peckham Boy, the life and times of the world's greatest safe cracker.

No relevant educational credentials.

Awards and Honors
In 1997 I was awarded the annual shield by the Association of Insurance Surveyors for "..outstanding services to crime prevention"

Past/Present Clients
I have represented or been an agent for the John Tann Group (Stratford, Ratner, Dreadnought and Tann safes); Churchill Safes, Chubb Safe Co Ltd, SLS Safes, SMP Safes, Dudley Safes and several others

©2017 All rights reserved.