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Welwyn Garden City

Welwyn Garden City. The Official Handbook and Directory (1959)

Author: Mrs. D. Frankl (compiler and general editor)

Published: 1959 by Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd.

Format: Paperback 8½" by 5½" with 232 pages


(click images to enlarge)


This handbook was a joint effort between the Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council and the Development Corporation. It is very similar to the 1953/54 and 1956 handbooks. The residents' directories, omitted from the 1956 handbook, have been reinstated, which means the guide is much thicker. My notes on these earlier handbooks can be accessed via my WGC book index (link above), or just click here for the 1953/54 handbook, or here for the 1956 one.

This is the first WGC handbook which bears the town's Armorial Bearings which were granted by Letters Patent dated 15th December 1958. These armorial bearings are described in later handbooks. See my notes on the 1964/65 handbook here and the 1970 handbook here.

Included in the 1959 handbook are 21 black and white photographs of people and buildings (some of which were in the earlier guides are are not repeated here) and a few more in advertisements. There are two pull-out maps: one of Hertfordshire 7" by 9" (see the 1953/54 handbook), and one of Welwyn Garden City 14" by 10" (reproduced at the bottom of this web page).

The Town centre, viewed from the air

Photo by de Havilland Aircraft Co. Ltd.

(click image to enlarge)

The guide begins with a two-page potted history of the town (by the late R. L. Reiss who died in 1959) which is the same text as appeared in the earlier guides except that the current population of the town has been changed to 31,000 and the number of banks increased to 6. Following this is a nine-page chronology, entitled Milestones, of main events in the town's development from 1919 to 1959. Up to the year 1955, this chronology is the same as that which appeared in the two earlier handbooks. I have reproduce below only Milestones for the years 1956 to 1959 which is revised or new material.



See 1953/54 handbook for which click here.


See 1956 handbook for which click here.





Synagogue for the Jewish Community completed.

Mr. Louis de Soissons awarded C.V.O. in New Year's Honours List.

Sixteen shops and a bank completed in Woodhall Centre.

Sir Frederick J. Osborn knighted in Birthday Honours List for his services to town planning.

Heronswood Secondary Modern School opened. First headmaster, Mr. R. Bainbridge, B.Sc.

New Grammar School (named High School) pupils temporarily housed in Heronswood Secondary Modern School. First headmaster, Mr. C. L. V. Gilbey, M.A.

Rollswood Infant School opened. First headmistress, Mrs. F. R. Alcock.

Howlands Junior School opened. First headmistress, Mrs. F. M. Cann.

First artists moved into former Digswell Conference House, to start Digswell Arts Centre.

Digswell Lake Society formed.

Groups of the Duke of Edinburgh's Study Conference twice visited town to meet leaders of industry, commerce, religion and all aspects of local life.


Creswick Junior School opened. First headmaster, Mr. A. Grafton.

New Methodist Church completed.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government, Mr. Henry Brooke, opened the 5,000th house to be built by the Development Corporation in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, and toured the town.

Death of Sir Theodore Chambers, the Chairman of Welwyn Garden City Limited from 1920-1949.

Five shops with offices over opened in Stonehills.


Occupation of the first houses in the north west area built by the Development Corporation.

Lincoln Electric Company's new factory completed.

National Provincial Bank completed in Stonehills.

Marley Hall (Evangelical Church) completed.

Death of Mr. R. G. Gosling, first Chairman of the Development Corporation.

Appointment of Mr. C. Gordon Maynard, formerly Deputy Chairman, as Chairman, and Mr. R. A. Humbert, formerly a Board Member, as Deputy Chairman of the Development Corporation.

High School, Hern's Lane, opened. Pupils and staff transferred to it from Heronswood School premises.

Hollybush Public House opened.

Building started of new general hospital.


Five shops opened in Hatfield Hyde Centre in Hollybush Lane.

Deaths of David Evans, the sculptor, and Sir Stanley Angwin.

Conversion of Digswell Farm as a social centre.

Digswell Arts Trust inaugurated by Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Labour Councillors celebrated 21st Anniversary of their majority on the Urban District Council.

Stadium opened by Marquess of Exeter.

Harwood Hill Junior School opened. First headmaster, Mr. A. G. Luck.

Coat of Arms granted to Urban District Council.

Mr. C. Gordon Maynard awarded the C.B.E. in Birthday Honours List.

Sir Harold Fieldhouse, Mrs. K. Hutchin and S. A. W. Johnson-Marshall appointed as Members of the Development Corporation.

Death of Mr. R. L. Reiss, MA., Hon. A.M.T.P.I.





In 1920 when building started
(about) 400
In 1921 the Census population was
In 1927 the estimated population was about
In 1931 the Census population was
(adjusted) 8,712
In 1938 Registrar-General's estimate
In 1939 National Registration in September
In 1945 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1951 Census population: U.D.C's old boundaries
In 1951 Census population: U.D.C's new boundaries
In 1952 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1953 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1954 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1955 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1956 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1957 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1958 Registrar-General's estimate (June)
In 1959 Unofficial estimate (June)

Houses, Link Field and Middlefield, Hatfield Hyde Area.

Architects: Louis de Soissons, Peacock, Hodges and Robertson.

Photo by Colin Westwood

(click image to enlarge)

1931 Census
occupied 2,290; unoccupied 200
1939 Estimated by U.D.C. at December
occupied 4,176
1945 Estimated by U.D.C. at December
occupied 4,490
1951 Census (May)
occupied 4,952; unoccupied 61
1956 Estimated by U.D.C. at March
occupied 7,906
1959 Estimated by U.D.C. at March
occupied 9,739

The number of dwellings built by the Urban District Council at the 31st March, 1959, was 2,727 of which 1,378had been completed since 1945.

The number completed by the Development Corporation at the same date was 3,612, of which 200 were houses built for sale.

Between 1945 and 31st March, 1959, 200houses had been completed by private builders.




Welwyn Garden City Urban District Council

Council Offices: Bridge Road, Welwyn Garden City

Chairman: J. McKnight, J.P.

Vice Chairman: W. H. Playle, J.P.

Handside Ward Hollybush Ward Howlands Ward

J. Chear
H. W. Dorton
Mrs D. M. C. Levison
R. D. Stirk

S. R. Collingwood
A. E. Luddington
A. E. Page

E. R. Dye
H. S. J. Jaggers
J. McKnight

Peartree Ward

Sherrards Ward

S. W. Palacio
W. H. Playle
H. Shepherd

G. Dickson
D. Newton
Mrs S. G. Walker


Clerk: L. J. Slocombe
Engineer and Surveyor: R. V. Scoffham, A.M.I.C.E., A.M.T.P.I.
Treasurer: H. Willard
Medical Officer of Health: Dr. G. R. Taylor, M.B., B.S. (London), D.P.H.
Senior Public Health Inspector: M. Stockdale, Cert.S.I.B., M.S.I.A., M.R.San.I.
Housing Manager: C. N. Mitchell, A.I.Hsg., A.A.L.P.A.
Superintendent Registrar - Births, Deaths and Marriages: J. W. Hooper
Registrar - Births, Deaths and Marriages: Miss M. H. V. Hopkinson

General Rate in the £ for 1959-60:
Water Rate: 1/- in the £ on the net annual value of a dwelling house.

Council Meetings: last Tuesday each month (except August) at 8 p.m.

List of Chairmen and Clerks of the Council


1921 to 1927 Chairman: Sir Theodore Chambers, K.B.E.
  Clerk (part-time): F. J. Osborn



W. C. Horn
F. J. How
L. T. M. Gray
W. C. Horn
J. P. Marsden
Jas. Gray
G. S. Lindgren
F. J. How
A. R. Pelly
W. R. Hughes
Mrs. W. S. Hopkyns
H. Clapham Lander
A. W. Richardson
A. B. Coleman
W. H. Playle
F. Hesketh
Mrs. M. E. Nichol
L. O. Bowmer
Mrs. D. Jenner
J. McConalogue
G. R. Lowe
H. Shepherd
D. H. Daines
J. Chear
S . W. Palacio
Mrs. J. Hattie
A. Vickery
B. Carne
A. E. Luddington
Mrs S. G. Walker
S. R. Collingwood
G. Dickson
J. McKnight

Note: Dr. H. J. B. Fry was elected Chairman in 1930 but he died before he took up office.


1927 to 1930 F. J. Osborn (Part-time)
1930 to 1952 B. H. Deamer
From 1952 L. J. Slocombe


1931 to 1940 G. S. Lindgren (Elected an Alderman in 1940)
1940 to 1943 A. B. Coleman
1943 to 1949 J. Paton
1949 to 1952 H. W. Monroe
1952 to 1955 W. H. Playle
1955 to 1958 J. Chear
From 1958 East: G. S. Lindgren      West: J. Nichol

Digswell Lake

[viaduct just visible through the trees]

Photo by John Chear

(click image to enlarge)




Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation

4 Wigmores South, Howardsgate

Chairman: C. Gordon Maynard, C.B.E., J.P.

Deputy Chairman: R. A. Humbert, O.B.E., T.D., F.R.I.C.S.


Dr. Margaret Emslie, M.B., Ch.B.
Sir Harold Fieldhouse, K.B.E., C.B.
Mrs Kenneth Hutchin
S. A. W. Johnson-Marshall, C.B.E., B.Arch., A.R.I.B.A.
W. H. Playle, J.P.
R. C. Simmons

General Manager: J. E. McComb, D.F.C.
Assistant General Manager and Chief Legal Officer: W. A. Clarke
Chief Engineer: A. G. J. Cornner, M.B.E., M.I.Mun.E., M.R.San.I.
Chief Estates Officer: J. D. Wetherman, F.R.I.C.S., F.A.I.
Comptroller: H. T. Tigwell
Construction Manager: W. C. C. Press, F.R.I.C.S., A.I.Arb.
Community Development Officer: C. E. MacCormack
Housing Manager: J. O. Restall, A.A.L.P.A., A.I.Hsg.
Landscape Architect: M. R. Sefton, N.D.H.
Planning Consultant: Louis de Soissons, C.V.O., O.B.E., R.A., F.R.I.B.A.

Blossom time in Pentley Park

Photo by John Chear

(click image to enlarge)


There follows a section (9 pages) of general information under the following headings:

Useful addresses
Education - Hertfordshire County Council
Private Schools
Halls, Meeting Places
Cafés, Hotels, Restaurants, Guest Houses, etc
Health Services (including local doctors)
Outdoor Sports Facilities

There is a professional directory (2 pages) listing accountants, architects, chiropodists, dentists, estate agents, opticians, solicitors, teachers of music, dancing, etc, and veterinarian.

There is a six-page listing of societies and clubs under subheadings Drama, Music, Politics, Sports, and General.

There is a four-page listing of youth organisations including scouts, guides, cadets and boys' clubs,

There is a ten-page commercial directory and an industrial directory both of which list local firms.

The above lists are not reproduced here. The following new photographs were in this section of the handbook:


Shops, Public House, and Launderette, Hatfield Hyde Area.

Architects: Louis de Soissons, Peacock, Hodges and Robertson.

Photo by Colin Westwood

(click image to enlarge)


Digswell Road

Photo by John Chear

(click image to enlarge)



Photo by John Chear

(click image to enlarge)


After these various lists comes a series of articles 27 local firms in a section called Industry and Commerce. Each article occupies half a page or more and gives a short history of the firm, and a few are illustrated with photographs of the factories.


Industry and Commerce in the Garden City

Crown Macaroni Company

Having outgrown their old factory, Crown Macaroni are building a new modern factory, with a frontage of 630 ft. and a completion area of 150,000 sq. ft. The site is approximately four and a half acres in size and already the building programme, at 80,000 sq. ft., has reached the stage at which it can be continued without affecting production.

The new factory is high and airy, and the working and hygienic conditions are excellent. The length of the new biscuit department, already operating, is 430 feet; this allows for the erection of large-scale baking plant, and permits an unbroken flow line of production which gives the maximum capacity so essential for today's competitive business situation.

The old Macaroni Department will shortly be transferred into that part of the new building where the company has installed a few macaroni presses and additional up-to-date long Spaghetti dryers in order to start production in the new factory before production in the old factory is discontinued.

At completion the Macaroni factory will be the largest and, with the new installations, the most up-to-date of its kind in Great Britain, and quite able to justify the company's aim of producing better and cheaper goods through improved working conditions and increased production.

The new factory for the Crown Macaroni Company and Cromac Biscuits Co., Ltd. This architect's drawing shows the factory as it will be when completed.

(click image to enlarge)

Lead in Modern Industry (British Lead Mills Limited)

Formed in 1932, British Lead Mills Limited was one of the earliest Industrial firms in Welwyn Garden City and is now a member of the Firth Cleveland Group of Companies. Due to progressive outlook the company from its inception expanded rapidly - and today leads the field in all applications of Lead and its Alloys.

In spite of the advent of many new materials in the last few years, some natural and some synthetic, lead still retains its place as a corrosion resistant covering for many different applications.

Lead has a very interesting history; the Egyptians used it in glazing pottery, and the abundance of silver in ancient times must have been derived from lead ores. One of the oldest pieces of lead in existence is a figure in the British Museum in London, the date of which is claimed to be before 3,800 B.C. Use of lead pipe for water distribution can be traced back to the Egyptians, Romans and Early Britons; the ancient bath erected by the Romans in the City of Bath was lined with sheet lead. It is said that this bath is still supplied with water through the original lead pipes installed nearly 2,000 years ago.

Lead pipe and sheet lead is widely used in the building, electrical and gas industries both because of its high resistance to corrosion and the ease with which it can be prefabricated on assembly line techniques. Chemical quality lead is used in the metallurgical industries for lining process tanks and the making of heating and cooling coils.

After numerous experiments B.L.M., two or three years ago, perfected a. new alloy, known as Antatac R.I. Lead Alloy, to overcome corrosion problems in the chrome plating industry.

Shielding is the latest development in which lead is playing a very important part to ensure the protection of personnel against possibilities of radiation. B.L.M., in conjunction with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Harwell, devised a lead shielding brick which has now been adopted as the standard form of shielding in the atomic field. In view of their success in the method of production of lead bricks they have been honoured with a contract from the U.K.A.E.A. for their lead brick requirements for two years.

Many difficult and complex problems are now being cured by the use of Seculate Anti-Condensation Compound marketed by British Lead Mills.

This material is a brushable viscous compound applied in a thickness to combat conditions experienced and is a treatment with a long term policy. Seculate, which does not contain lead, can be applied to almost any surface and gives a reasonably smooth finish.

The Compound can be left in its natural state or decorated with Seculate Decorative Finish, which is the same compound broken down and pigmented. Any subsequent re-decoration will only require one coat of the Seculate Decorative Finish. In addition B.L.M. markets a range of speciality and domestic paints under the trademark "WELBRAND".

Two products introduced within the last year are Voboma 34, an anti-condensation plaster, and Voboma 68, which prevents the visible effects of rising and penetrating damp.

They also sell Surform handtools, made by their associate company, Simmonds Aerocessories Ltd.

Today, therefore, British Lead Mills serve many diverse industries. All products are manufactured to British Standard Specification where applicable, under modern laboratory control, and are delivered promptly by a fleet of specially designed lorries.

[See the 1953/54 guide for a photograph of the B.L.M. lead rolling mill.]

Ardath Tobacco Company Ltd.

Ardath Tobacco Company Ltd. was established towards the end of the last century when cigarettes began to win popularity with smokers.

At that time the most important Ardath brand was State Express 555, which cigarettes were then hand-made. Over the years these cigarettes became world famous, and as sales were developed in overseas markets, demand so increased that enlargement of production became necessary, and a number of buildings in Worship Street, London, were eventually taken over by the company. Soon afterwards a factory was opened in Holland where business has been developed on a large scale.

During the second world war the Worship Street factory was severely damaged, and with the need for expansion in the post war years yet further accommodation had to be obtained. One of the landmarks in Welwyn Garden City - the film studio built by Associated British Pictures Corporation in Broadwater Road - thus became the new home for the manufacture of those various brands of State Express and Ardath cigarettes which enjoy so much popularity among smokers in all parts of the world.

It was realised, however, that even this factory would not be large enough to handle anticipated production requirements. Accordingly, a new ultra modern factory was planned alongside the ex-film studio, and this has recently been completed and equipped with up-to-date machinery.

Of a staff of many hundreds, the majority of the company's employees at Welwyn Garden City live in this delightful area, while a number of long service workers travel daily from the London area.

[See also 1953/54 guide for a photograph of the old State Express factory.]

The modern factory of the Ardath Tobacco Company Ltd.

(click image to enlarge)


State Express old advertisement from the handbook

(click image to enlarge)

Royal Exchange Assurance

The Royal Exchange Assurance is one of the oldest insurance offices in the world, having been incorporated by Royal Charter in 1720. Its Head Office was then, as it is now, nearly two and a half centuries later, situated at the Royal Exchange in the City of London. It has branch offices in all the principal towns in the United Kingdom as well as in most countries overseas.

Although the Royal Exchange Assurance has an ancient origin, it is modern and up to date in its outlook and as early as 1935 the decision was made to mechanise, by means of a punched card installation, the accounting and renewal systems. This venture proved most successful and in 1939 this branch of the organisation was removed to premises in Welwyn Garden City. Despite the setbacks occasioned by the second world war, a steady expansion had taken place until in 1956 the move to new and larger premises erected at 99 Bridge Road East became necessary. This building is specially designed and particular attention has been given to attractive colour schemes in the contemporary fashion, and to congenial working conditions which include special features in the machine rooms to minimise noise.

Since the earliest days of the Welwyn Garden City the Royal Exchange Assurance has been associated with its progress and has an office for general insurance business at Stonehills House.

[See 1956 guide for photograph of Royal Exchange Assurance building.]

Lincoln Electric Co. Ltd.

Specialists in the manufacture of direct current welding equipment, arc welding electrodes and arc welding accessories, Lincoln Electric Co. Ltd. was originally established in 1935 in a small factory in Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City. Developing rapidly, the company took over an adjoining factory in 1937 and in 1949 additional premises were occupied. In 1955 the Lincoln Electric Company Limited became part of the well-known Guest Keen & Nettlefolds Group, and with the continued expansion of the company's business it was decided to build a large new factory. Occupying a site on the new industrial area to the North East of Welwyn Garden City and complete with its own railway siding, this factory, which itself is largely of welded construction, covers an area of over 180,000 sq. ft. and was opened in May 1957. The greatly increased manufacturing facilities provided by the new premises have resulted in production being more than doubled and Lincoln Electric Co. Ltd. welding equipment can now be seen in the majority of engineering workshops in the United Kingdom. A high proportion of the output is also sent abroad to many parts of the world, and agents for the company's products can be found in more than fifty countries.

[See also the 1953/54 guide for photographs of Lincoln Electric's welding school.]

An aerial view of the new factory of Lincoln Electric Co. Ltd.

(click image to enlarge)


Lincoln Electric old advertisement from the handbook

(click image to enlarge)

Somnus at Welwyn Garden City

William Rhodes Limited, makers of the famous SOMNUS bedding, is a family business and was established in 1840 by the grandfather of the present Chairman. As one of the oldest manufacturers of bedding in Great Britain they were one of the pioneers of spring interior mattresses early in this century and the first one with the name of SOMNUS was made in 1910.

The 'home' of William Rhodes Limited is in Yorkshire, where they built their first factory and later, in 1925, they opened in Nottingham. As the demand for SOMNUS spread further south a third factory became necessary and Welwyn Garden City was chosen as its site.

This factory, situated at Bridge Road East, started manufacturing in February 1957 and with the exception of the Manager, Mr. Fred C. Hemmings, the staff are all drawn from Welwyn and district.

Wellson Abrasive Products Ltd.

Wellson Abrasive Products Ltd. have their factory at 24 Brownfields, Welwyn Garden City, where they produce diamond impregnated wheels and hones which are widely used in all relative branches of industry requiring fine and consistent results of a precise nature.

Successful proportionate bonding in resinoid matrix of graded crushed diamond composition is one of the company's especial triumphs, the finished products maintaining their cutting and durable qualities throughout their various uses. Of late the company have also introduced a successful range of diamond impregnated metal bonded wheels.

The Alcuin Press

The Alcuin Press was founded in Chipping Campden, in Gloucestershire, in 1925, to produce rare books by hand. By 1935 the business had developed, so that larger premises were needed, and the opportunity was taken to move to a new and growing town within easy distance of London.

Welwyn Garden City lived up to expectations and the business prospered. In 1947 a second bay was added to the factory and the layout extended to enable a large output of bookwork to be achieved.

Since 1950 the printing of journals and periodicals have been introduced and a tradition of service and quality established. The company's experience covers the whole field of letterpress printing, both technical and non-technical, and in many languages. A competent staff of skilled tradesmen combine with an enthusiastic management to satisfy the most careful customer, and the sales staff are thoroughly trained and able to advise on any point.

The name "Alcuin" was chosen by the founder of the business for special reasons. Alcuin was born in York in 735 and was educated at the Cathedral school there, subsequently becoming its head. As a scholar and ecclesiastic of the eighth century he is important in European history in that he carried the learning of the British Isles to the court of Charlemagne and so to Western Europe. Alcuin copied numerous manuscripts before printing was invented; and this was in the founder's mind when he chose the name.

It is interesting to note that the tradition of this great man lives on at the Alcuin Press.

Catomance Ltd.

Catomance Ltd. may be said to have come to Welwyn Garden City in 1936, though it did in fact do so under the name of Catomance Processing Co. Ltd., with the object of developing the use of a new method of waterproofing textiles. The company then occupied a single factory in Bridge Road East.

The name of the company was changed to its present title in 1938, when the actual processing of textiles was abandoned in Welwyn Garden City, and efforts were concentrated on the manufacture and sale of the chemical compound itself, which necessitated a small expansion into a second sectional factory adjoining the first.

Between 1938 and the beginning of the war, the range was developed from one single waterproofing compound to about seven different varieties for specialised purposes, and during the war the company's activities expanded rapidly into other fields, and a great deal of specialised work was done for all the service departments.

By 1947 some twenty-five different products were in regular production, covering not only waterproofing but moth-proofing and rot-proofing as well, with a further forty products available for particular specialised work. During the latter part of the war Catomance Ltd. began the development of an entirely new manufacture which was in fact destined to be a major contribution to textile processing. This body, known as pentachlorphenyl laurate, is a rotproof for all types of textiles, in particular, but it has many other applications as well. It is used on timber, plastics, leather and cork, and has found favour with the motor car trade for the protection of export vehicles against tropical conditions.

By 1951 it was vital to find larger premises, but unfortunately it was impossible to expand at Bridge Road East; finally, in 1952, additional premises were found in Broadwater Road. There a new plant for the manufacture of pentachlorphenyl laurate was set up, with a capacity several times larger than the original one at Bridge Road, and there too went some of the offices and laboratories with their staffs, so as to release space at Bridge Road East for still further productive capacity. The first batches from the new plant came off early in 1953, and production has expanded rapidly ever since.

Very soon after this expansion, however, premises immediately adjacent to the original Bridge Road factory became available, and it was possible to double the factory area there. This additional space was utilised for a much needed despatch and transport bay, and for further production units.

Additional buildings have also been constructed there, to take care of a steadily increasing demand for all the products of a company which is probably the only one in the country which is wholly specialised in the fields of water proofing and preservation products for the textile trade.

Welwyn Builders Ltd.

Welwyn Builders Ltd. (founded in 1921) has been actively concerned in the building of Welwyn Garden City since the early days of the town.

In Hertfordshire, and also throughout the South East of England, many large public, industrial and commercial buildings and large housing schemes now stand to the credit of the firm.

The Company is equipped and staffed to execute every type of building, and has its own joinery works and plumbing and decorating departments. A separate organisation is maintained to deal with minor works.

Welwyn Builders Ltd. is a firm that is noted for its consistently high standard of workmanship, and maintains a leading position among building contractors by combining modern construction techniques with skilled craftsmanship.

Duolith Ltd.

Duolith, of 12-14 Brownfields, Black Fan Road, Welwyn Garden City, was founded in 1955 to give a complete service to users of Rotaprint and Multilith Offset printing machines. The firm has already established a clientele among industrial organizations in and around Hertfordshire, and complete art work, typesetting, negatives, platemaking, photographic silk screen stencils and small offset printing - all can be undertaken, on the premises, thus ensuring a rapid service. The quality of production is of a very high standard, backed by craftsmen with a lifetime of experience in the printing trade.

Welwyn Department Store Ltd.

More and more people are coming to Welwyn Department Store because of its great variety of goods, its keen competitive values, its many services, and its "different" atmosphere of friendly helpfulness to all who come, whether from Welwyn Garden City, the towns and hamlets of all Hertfordshire, or farther afield.

The magnificent building is itself a great attraction, containing nearly two and a half acres of selling space, including a most modem and hygienic food hall, spacious fully licensed restaurant, and substantial service departments.

Come and see for yourself what Hertfordshire's great store is like.

Welwyn Department Store old advertisement from the handbook

(click image to enlarge)

Broadwater Press Ltd.

Founded in 1928 initially to provide a service for a new and growing community, The Broadwater Press Ltd. is now firmly established as one of that small and select group of quality printers whose work is known, appreciated, and used by some of the most famous commercial and cultural organisations in the country. This development is the direct outcome of thirty years' concentration on craftsmanship. The company believes that what is printed is intended to be read, and that the better the printing is, the more effective it will be.

Carefully selected and long-service staff are backed by first-class modern plant and machinery in every department. A wide and carefully chosen range of contemporary and traditional type-faces for text and display purposes is available in the large monotype section, and the machine room is fully equipped with automatic presses of the most modern design, many of them built and installed in the last two or three years. The bindery and warehouse are fully mechanised; and a small but comprehensive lithographic section is also part of the service offered by the company. The works are situated at Stonehills, Welwyn Garden City.

Herault Studio Ltd.

Herault Studio Ltd. was formed in 1946 to provide a publicity service in the new town of Welwyn Garden City, and to meet the needs of a rapidly growing industry. In the early days after the war when paper was nearly unobtainable the company concentrated upon silk screen printing, dealer aids, etc., and many times was reduced to printing in colour on brown wrapping paper, old posters, or on any material with a flat surface.

Since then the silk screen printing department has been printing on metal, glass, fabrics, and plastics.

Designing has always been the backbone of the firm, and in the early years some exhibition stands and displays were created for others to construct. Now Herault Studio constructs from its own designs and has a new modern factory fully equipped to handle every form of display, in any material.

Herault Studio is a self contained unit, has its own typesetting department, and specialises in settings for displays and exhibition captioning. "Herault's" work goes all over the world, wherever British exports require the boost of publicity, and its staff have erected exhibitions in many countries.

First class service has been, and always will be, the prior aim of the company, so that "Herault" is synonymous with both quality and delivery on time.

Curd Components Limited

Aircraft Constructors are able to incorporate in aircraft and missiles a wide range of components which are produced to standard drawings issued by the Society of British Aircraft Constructors, in addition to various items covered by British Standard Specification. This simplifies the servicing of aircraft in that users are able to obtain spares readily at reasonable prices.

Although a small company founded in St. Albans in 1950, Curd Components Limited have established a wide reputation for the supply of Aircraft Standard Parts. The company regularly provide for the constructors and operators in the home market and retain comprehensive stocks so that prompt service can be given to operators engaged in periodic inspections and overhauls. Special attention has been given to the overseas market where government departments, Air Forces and operators often need information and guidance. Goods have been exported to more than twenty countries overseas and some unusual requirements have been met.

Just recently the company were able to provide many items needed in the construction of a replica Sopwith Pup (1915 vintage) for a Canadian museum. On the other hand components have been supplied for the most recent experimental projects.

Capacity is available for the production of repetition components in all materials to customers own drawings for any trade.

Associated companies are Aircraft Furnishing Ltd. and Latex Upholstery Ltd., who produce Aircraft chairs and interior equipment.

Homestead Court Hotel

Homestead Court Hotel, Welwyn Garden City, situated in Homestead Lane, is a large, fully licensed Three Star A.A. and R.A.C. hotel, owned by the Welwyn Garden City Development Corporation.

The restaurant has become well known for its good food and pleasant surroundings, and its Saturday Dinner Dance brings guests from far and near.

The rooms are pleasantly furnished in a modern manner to give the maximum of comfort. Although it is slightly off the main road the hotel is well worth a visit. Maps may be obtained from the Hotel.

Cotrim's (Welwyn) Ltd.

Part of a county-wide upholstery business is discharged at 32 Brownfields, Welwyn Garden City, by Cotrims (Welwyn) Ltd., who also have an established branch in Plantagenet Road, New Barnet, Herts, and are proud members of the Association of Master Upholsterers.

The craftsmen employed by the company apply a skill and technique which makes all upholstery work undertaken, whether in the form of repair work or manufacture, a highly commendable example of quality and a very definite credit to the ancient craft of upholstery.

Having moved from Mill Green Camp to the present new factory, the company have been able to expand their departments for making loose covers and curtains, and for carpet planning. Thus with a coachtrimming workshop at New Barnet they now offer the most comprehensive range of service obtainable in the county.

Bourne Chemical Industries Ltd.

During the twenty years that Bourne Chemical Industries Ltd. have been specialising in the manufacture of red lead and litharge, they have earned a reputation at home and throughout the world for the high quality of their lead oxides.

The output of their modern factory in Welwyn Garden City has been steadily mounting and countless manufacturers in various industries insist upon the red lead and litharge produced there. Some of the finest cut crystal glassware, china and pottery of all kinds, accumulators for cars and heavy traction vehicles, paints for protecting steelwork against rust, as well as cables and linoleum, depend on lead oxides supplied by Bourne Chemical Industries Ltd.

The increasing demand for red lead and litharge necessitates continuous production. "Continuous" is emphasized, as this unique and modern plant, which over the years has been enlarged far beyond the original concept, operates twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, except for brief halts for holiday periods.

At one time the making of red lead was regarded as a hazardous process, but the scientifically designed plant ensures absolute safety in health of the operatives with the highest degree of efficiency in production.

In addition to the factory in Welwyn Garden City, there are administrative and sales offices in London, and for some years now an associated company has been producing red lead and litharge in Holland.

[See 1953/54 guide for photographs inside Bourne Chemical Industries factory.]

Welwyn Engineering Co. Ltd.

As members of the Gerrard Industries Group, Welwyn Engineering Company Limited manufacture at their factory in Bridge Road East a complete range of tensional steel strapping machines for securing any type, size, shape or weight of pack, with either flat, round or oval steel strapping.

Available through the sales organisation of associate companies, the equipment offered ranges from machines for 19½ gauge round wire to larger models for 2in. flat steel strapping. These machines are fine examples of precision engineering and are either hand operated, pneumatic, semi-automatic or fully automatic. With the wide range of sizes of flat or round steel strapping, the machines provide a very favourable means of reducing packaging and materials handling costs.

The Gerrard Industries Group comprises Gerrard Industries Limited, Seal-less Strapping Limited, Boabands Limited, Gerrard Safe Seal (Overseas) Limited, Seal-less Strapping (Overseas) Limited, and Welwyn Engineering Co. Limited.

Watton Engineering Co. Ltd.

As manufacturers of special purpose machines and very fine electronic measuring equipment, the Watton Engineering Company Ltd. are precision engineers who also produce press tools, jigs and fixtures, and further engage themselves in very high class machining.

The business was founded approximately eight years ago and was situated then in the Hertfordshire village of Watton-at-Stone. It was expanded to Welwyn Garden City in 1957.

The company are members of the Engineering Industries Association, are Aeronautical Inspection Department and Air Registration Board approved, and they occupy the premises 90-92 Tewin Road, Welwyn Garden City.

Fine Fare Limited

Welwyn Garden City houses the headquarters and central warehouse of Fine Fare Limited who operate Britain's largest chain of Supermarkets.

Having started with a single supermarket in Brighton in 1956, the company now control a rapidly expanding chain stretching from Corby in the north to Southampton in the south, with numerous stores in and around London.

Supplies for all of these stores are sent out regularly from Welwyn Garden City, where they have been kept under ideal conditions in a modern 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse, perishable items having been maintained for the short period that they are in the warehouse in specially equipped cold rooms each set to the correct temperature for the commodity being stored.

Fine Fare are well known locally for their attractive stores in Welwyn Garden City and for the very competitive prices of their goods.

Murphy Radio Limited

The headquarters at Welwyn of the world famous Murphy Radio company were established in the year 1930. The company has since outgrown the original factory many times and has additional factories now at Hirwaun and Skegness and overseas in Dublin, Bombay, and Durban. Due to be completed by the end of 1959 is an ambitious new factory expansion programme, inaugurated in 1953 by Sir lan Jacob, Director General of the B.B.C. The whole of the Welwyn group of departments are to be re-housed in a greatly enlarged new factory, streamlined for maximum efficiency and equipped with the very latest modern plant and office furniture and machinery.

While the principal products of the organisation are domestic radio and television sets, there is a thriving department engaged on aircraft communication, navigation and blind landing equipment, industrial and commercial mobile radio, and ground to ground radio telephone installations. An associated company, General Radiological Limited, makes nucleonic instrumentation equipment and has supplied the installations for practically every European atomic power station. This and other associated companies also manufacture diagnostic and electro-medical equipment for the medical profession and non-destructive testing equipment for industry.

Murphy radio and television sets are known the world over and are well up among the leaders in the industry. Brilliant design, both inside and out, has always been a feature of Murphy sets, and today's range has been extended to provide "a Murphy for everyone" without sacrificing any of the original approach to the styling and circuitry that buyers expect from a Murphy product. The result should be an even wider Murphy market, both at home and overseas.

The company is continuing to devote a large proportion of its resources to research and development projects calculated to retain the proud position that the company has always occupied in the British radio and television industry.

[See also the 1953/54 guide for a photograph of television assembly line.]

The Murphy V410. Simplest, slimmest, most powerful, and one of the outstanding television sets of 1959 is now in production at the Welwyn Garden City factory of Murphy Radio Ltd.

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B.C.R. Factories Ltd.

Sandpapers, or more correctly, coated abrasives, are things which ordinary people rarely think have to be manufactured. Nor is it generally realised to what extent and in how many different varieties these products are used in industry.

Most people have used pieces of glasspaper to finish off some home carpentry, or pieces of emery cloth to clean up some metal work, but not many people have used waterproof paper in a flow of water to get the paintwork of a motor car to the right finish for the final coat, or seen a floor surfacing machine produce the same effect on a badly worn wood block floor as a mower on a tennis court.

These special types of coated abrasives, and the many others used largely on machines for preparing the surfaces of such widely separated products as furniture and felt hats and ships' propellers and shoe leather, need a high technical skill in manufacture and a scientific knowledge and control of the materials used. For instance, it is not easy to measure the thickness of a film of hot wet glue on moving paper, which may be part of a reel containing a two mile length, but this and similar problems have been overcome by B.C.R. Factories in their constant efforts to improve the quality and regularity of their goods. One of their products, made specially for metallurgical laboratories, contains so fine an abrasive that the coated side is smoother than the paper to which it is applied. At the other end of the scale is material coarse enough to trim the roughest welded joint.

[See the 1953/54 guide for a photograph taken inside the B.C.R. factory.]

Plastra Components Ltd.

Plastra Components Ltd., an associate company of Thermo Plastics Ltd., Dunstable, were established in Welwyn Garden City during World War II, when they were engaged solely on the manufacture of aircraft components and produced articles such as calibrated cupola domes, parachute stowages, ducts, windows, fairings, etc.

Since the war, in addition to carrying on with the manufacture of parts for the aircraft industry, the firm's activity has broadened to cover other fields. A large range of components for the television and refrigerator industries is produced and the company specialise in the manufacture of displays and signs for advertising. Many new techniques are used in the production of these displays, and the majority of necessary tools, screens, etc., are made on the premises.

Up-to-date equipment is employed for the moulding, machining and finishing of many plastic materials.

The Holloway Group of Companies

In step with the growth of plastics, the Holloway Group continue to expand their range of products, made both here in Welwyn Garden City and at Glemsford in Suffolk.

Although Britain's largest hair comb manufacturers, the Group have extended their activities to more and more other fields, from brushware to sunglasses, including plastic components and containers that serve other industries; and the subsidiary, "Lustrac Plastics," makes raw material for both the Group and outside customers.

Local people, however, will be most familiar with "Barnet Comb Company" which is the Group's manufacturing company with its main factory in Hyde Way, Welwyn Garden City.

E. R. Holloway's Ltd. warehouses and offices operate in Bessemer Road. From here the Group products go all over Britain and the world; and despite the increasing size of the company the character of a family business is still preserved, under direction of Holloway brothers in active management.

The Group employ highly skilled tool makers and engineers, machine operators, finishers, assemblers and packers, beside other warehouse and administrative personnel.

The Famous Skarsten Scrapers

The firm was started in 1934 and became a Limited Company in 1939. At first only the factory at 21 Hyde Way was occupied, but business increased and early in 1938 two more factories, at 7 and 9 Broadwater Road, were leased. After World War I further accommodation was required, and an extension was built on to the Hyde Way factory. It soon became apparent that even more factory space was needed to cope with the ever increasing demand, so two years ago three new bays were acquired adjoining 21 Hyde Way, with an additional 5,000 square feet of factory premises, enabling the firm to now keep abreast of the demand.

The main products of the factories are Skarsten Scrapers and accessories and, in addition, an electric paint stripper-scraper, a more recent article, which is recognized as being the best tool of its kind on the market. Another recent implement is the Ceilingwall Scraper. It is so constructed that it will collect scrapings from ceilings and walls whether they be of whitewash, distemper, or other material.

Other tools manufactured include the "Awlscrew" combined screwdriver and bradawl, the repointing scraper for bricklayers, the channelling tool for masons, plumbers, and electricians, together with the Skarsten Masonry Bit, which like the scraping hooks can easily be re-sharpened with a file; the Skarsten folding pocket file is constructed specially for this purpose.

The firm is proud to mention that Skarsten products have been awarded the Seal of Merit by the Good Housekeeping Institute.

The latest addition to the Skarsten range is the plastic Letter Plate working on the gravity basis. Moulded in high quality plastic in four colours, it is attractive in design and adds to the appearance of any door. It is approved by the Postal Authorities and conforms to B.S. 2911.

Skarsten Scrapers old advertisement from the handbook

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Forge Craft Ltd.

Forge Craft Ltd. was founded in 1935 under the chairmanship of the late Dr. Henry Johnson and the managing directorship of the late Charles Johnson. Its prime functions in industry were the fabrication of ornamental wrought iron work and tube manipulation. In the year 1939 the skill of the Company's craftsmen was devoted to the production of glycol, fuel, cabin, and heating tubes for the aircraft industry.

Immediately the war ended the Company, being a progressive organisation, turned its experience and knowledge to the cable, electronic and building industries.

This enthusiastic activity has established Forge Craft Ltd. in its new factory equipped with modem and up-to-date machinery.

An aerial view of the Forge Craft factory

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This "Forge Craft" Patented TUBULAR CABLE DRUM has proved completely successful in use with H.M. Services and Cable and Conductor manufacturers, for its lightness, manoeuvrability, stability and endurance.

Forge Craft Tubular Cable Drum

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These Drums have proved particularly useful in countries where equipment is often subject to white ant and termite attack. As the battens are passed through the underside of the outside periphery there is a clearance between ground and battens of approx. 1½". On removing the battens it is only necessary to remove the first three from the slot provided, and thereafter withdraw from the side. The calculated time for battening a drum of 72" diameter is approx. 6 minutes.

The Tubular Cable Drum is now being extensively used for the "make and lay" programme and the experience of those who have already used them on exercises are that they are lighter to handle, easier to rotate, and can be managed efficiently in the most confined space in conjunction with the under-roller system in place of jacks.

An example of Electronic and Radar cabinets with drawn or extruded sections incorporating louvred panels in ferrous and non-ferrous pressed metals.

Electronic and Radar cabinet

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The Drum shown below has been designed to carry the varied diameters and textures of cable for the National Coal Board. Their use in adverse conditions have given complete satisfaction.

Drum for the National Coal Board

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Drum for export market

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Above, a new Tubular Cable Drum introduced primarily for the export market. On discharging cable or conductor the drum is dismantled as shown in the small inset and returned to the supplier in a very much condensed area. We claim this still maintains stability and rigidity.

Collapsible Trolley

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The Forge Craft Tubular Cable Drum and the Collapsible Trolley, which has been found of great benefit to the B.B.C., the I.T.A., and for light weight cables for H.M. Government.

Stand in collapsed position

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Illustrating the Stand in collapsed position for easy transportation and for condensing space.


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For the latest method of stowage storing, we are now manufacturing Pallets to customers' requirements.

Knorr Soups

[This article is at the beginning of the handbook rather than in the section headed Industry and Commerce, for some reason.]

Knorr Soups - fresh made in your own home town.

The factory stands in Broadwater Road and every week thousands upon thousands of packets of Knorr soup leave the goods yards for distribution to all parts of Britain.

Only a factory geared to the highest degree of efficiency can cope with an output this big in food production. Welwyn Garden's factory, like the Swiss parent plant, works to superlative standards. Everything is of first-class calibre - the working conditions for over 200 employees - the machinery bought from leading British, Swiss and German firms - the clinically high standards of hygiene.

Raw materials are checked, double and treble checked for quality. Each Knorr soup packet is a small world of the world's finest ingredients: vegetables from Holland, France and Italy: mushrooms from Central Europe: peas from England: meat extracts from Argentine, Australia and New Zealand: chickens from Denmark: noodles and fats from Switzerland: spices from India, Japan and many other countries. The Testing Kitchen, with its team of experts, is responsible for sending out the final packeted product in perfect condition. Here, in the central 'nerve' of the factory, skill and delicate judgement test every batch of ingredients that comes in - so that every packet that goes out matches up to Knorr's rigid standards of perfection.

Knorr soups

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Directory of Residents

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Directory of Roads

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Fold-out street plan from the handbook

Welwyn Garden City Street Plan

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Index to streets

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