Thor History


Thor Hammer is able to trace its roots back to the early 1900’s to two sister Birmingham companies: Stephens Belting and Birmingham Belting. Both companies were owned by the same Stephens family.

The two business were run by 4 brothers and each manufactured and sold flexible drive belts. Stephens Belting supplied the cotton mills and other manufacturing industries and Birmingham Belting supplied the farming industry.

One of the materials used to produce the drive belts at that time was rawhide.


In April 1923 both Stephens Belting and Birmingham Belting were incorporated and registered as limited companies.

Stephens Belting Co Ltd – registered number 189368  Birmingham Belting Co Ltd – registered number 189360.


Stephens Belting Co Ltd was asked by another Stephens family member, Mr Ira Stephens, if, due to their experience of working with rawhide material, they could look at making rawhide hammers. Ira Stephens was already making and selling hammers but was not happy with the quality of the rawhide hammers they were currently purchasing. Trials were carried out and the hammers proved a success albeit initial requirements were only 3 sizes and in limited numbers.

 All sales of the rawhide hammers initially went through Ira Stephens but it soon became apparent his numbers alone would not be viable to continue manufacturing. It was agreed that Stephens Belting and Birmingham belting could also sell rawhide hammers direct to other customers. Walter Runciman Stephens, who was the son of John Runciman Stephens one of the 4 Stephens brothers was tasked with developing the manufacturing and sales of hammers.

 Walter’s first decision was come up with a business name associated with hammers. He decided to name the company after the ancient Norse God of Thunder who owned the most miraculous of hammers, Mjӧlnir, a throwing hammer, which always sped directly to its mark, slew the giant then rebounded straight back to Thor’s hand.

 The business name Thor Hammer Company (Proprietors Stephens Belting Co Ltd) was duly registered.

 The separation from Stephens Belting meant that Walter could concentrate all his efforts on further developing the company and within a year, new products were already being designed and launched.

 One of the most popular items launched around this time was a Copper Rawhide hammer which had an Iron head fitted with a Copper Face at one end and Rawhide Face at the other.

A local car manufacturer was so impressed with the product that they supplied a Copper Rawhide hammer in the toolkit with each car they made.

The hammer was used to tighten and loosen the central wheel nuts or ‘Spinners’ used to secure the wire spoke wheels fitted to most cars at this time.

The car company was S S Cars now known as Jaguar and this type of hammer remains our biggest selling range to this very day.


During the war years there was a huge demand for our product from the British government. They were used by the RAF to produce and repair aircraft and by the Army for constructing temporary bridges (Bailey bridges) and for repairing Tanks and other military equipment on or around the battlefield. Due to the design of the hammers engineers could construct bridges and carry out repairs quickly, safely and most importantly in almost total silence.

Having used our products in wartime, engineers from all four corners of the World appreciated the benefits of Thor hammers and consequently continued to use and request our products when they returned home.

 By 1942 the Thor Hammer department of Stephens Belting operated from a separate offices and warehouse to Stephens Belting Co Ltd. Also later that year both manufacturing, office and warehouse moved to Salop Street, Birmingham.  

The move to separate independent premises couple with the end of the war saw the introduction of new materials including plastics and it wasn’t long before Thor designed and developed a plastic hammer with faces that once worn, could be replaced by hand.

Also around this time Thor exhibited at the British Industries Fair, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham. The exhibition attracted visitors from all around the world and export orders for Thor product soon followed.


During the late 1950’s the company moved to its present location in Highlands Road, Shirley on the outskirts of Birmingham.

The move gave Thor the potential to continue to expand its manufacturing facilities and since then several new manufacturing bays have been added.


The Thor product range continued to grow at a rapid rate and during the 60’s Thorex Nylon range of hammers was introduced.

Thor began exhibiting at the International Hardware Exhibition in Cologne Germany and Export orders continued to grow and now accounted for over 12% of turnover.

During the 60’s Walter became chairman of the company and his son Michael Stephens was made Managing Director.

From the very first trial manufacture of rawhide hammers the business had always traded as a sub division of Stephens Belting Co Ltd.

With the increase of mechanisation of both industry and farming and the decline of the traditional belting business the family decided that on the first of June 1966 the name of the original company registration number 189360 – Birmingham Belting Co Ltd, as registered in 1923 would be changed to Thor Hammer Co Ltd.


The development of the Thor range continued with the introduction of the Thorace Dead Blow range.


Split Head Hammers, Super Plastic Mallets, Solid Copper Mallets and Solid Brass mallets are also introduced.


Thor now sell to 50 countries worldwide with export accounting for 30% of turnover.

Awarded BS 5750 Quality Assurance accreditation, known today as ISO9001:2015 

Present Day

Thor is still a family owned business. The Stephens family remain on the Board of Directors with family members joining the board as the generations move on.

We have exported to over 80 countries around the World and this accounts for over 35% of our trade. We still manufacture some of the original hammers and mallets that led to the formation of the Thor Hammer Company.

Most are now produced using modern bespoke machinery and techniques however some products, in particular Hide Mallets and Hide Faces, are basically produced from the same raw material and using the same methods the original workers used for those early trials a century ago.