This is your opportunity to share photos/memories with fellow pensioners. If you have a photo/memory of interest, or if you have ever wondered 'where are they now?' and would like to trace an ex-colleague, please send to: email@example.com, and they will be directed accordingly.
posted 28th September 2022
Roger Davidson writes: I am trying to research the life of my grandfather, William Joseph Davidson (1882-1959). He was a commercial traveller for Wiggins Teape for much of the period 1920-45, based out of the London office. All I have learnt anecdotally is that he became quite a senior travelling salesman over that period. Roger hopes that he could hear from anyone who might have information or photographs from that period to help him understand more of his grandfather's career with WT. If you have any info that might be useful, please contact the Administrator at the email address above.
posted 12th September 2022
From the Website Administrator: We receive a variety of queries via the Wiggins Teape Pensioners' email and it's always rewarding when an answer can be found. Some time ago I was asked if I could provide a photograph of the pioneers of Foam Forming at Wiggins Teape for a presentation at the Fundamental Research Symposium taking place in Cambridge in late August this year. I was disappointed to be unable to provide anything from the archives I had access to at the time. However, as luck would have it, when the Fine Papers offices in Basingstoke closed, I was offered some copies of Gatepost and Gateway magazines and, on looking through them, I found an article and photograph of Ben Radvan, one of the inventors of the foam forming technology, who was based at Butler's Court. I contacted the requestor, Jukka Ketoja of the Solutions for Natural Resources and Environment, based in Finland, and he confirmed he would be very pleased to include the photograph in his presentation. He said that Ben used to attend the Symposia in the 60s and 70s. See presentation page photograph attached (courtesy of Jukka Ketoja).
posted 27th July 2022
Searching for an ex-employee
Chris Marshall writes: as an ex-employee of Wiggins Teape at Butler’s Court between 1970 and 1979, I am trying to trace Brian North who lived in Tylers Green, Beaconsfield. If you have any information on Brian, please contact the administrator, at the email above, and your info will be passed on.
posted 17th May 2022
Searching for an ex-employee
Maggie Jones has asked for help in tracking down an ex-employee who worked at Chartham in the mid-1970s called Chris Harrison. He left in the late 1970s to join the RAF. Maggie is very keen to renew contact. If anyone recalls Chris, or knows his current whereabouts, please contact the administrator and your information will be passed on.
posted June 2021
posted February 2021
posted October 2020
Did enjoy the article from Kathy Tubb on memories of G1 and G2 in Basingstoke.
There were some occasions when lunchtime barbeques were set up in the gardens, with plenty of smoke filling the air.
The annual Fun Runs were very popular, in support of a nominated charity. I had to entertain our guests that represented the charity while the runners were out.
One year, I was with the local commissioner for St John’s Ambulance. I suggested she should have a look at the gardens and that I could have a smoke. She said it was a good idea as she wanted one herself but could not be seen smoking. Met Lady Coleman a few years ago and she remembered attending one of our Fun Runs.
Hope someone can do an article on the Group Show as there must be a few laughable stories.
posted August 2020
Thank you to whoever was in charge of providing grants to university students in the early '90s
I was a student of Dartford Grammar School in Kent and with a place at Leeds University to study mathematics starting in 1990, I found myself called for an interview at Wiggins Teape in Dartford for a student grant scheme (with the offer of a trainee position at the end.)
I was awarded the grant and it honestly changed my life, enabling me to spend four years at university, graduate with Honours, then go on to a successful career as a Reuters journalist working in over a dozen countries. I rather ungratefully didn't take up the traineeship at Wiggins Teape - I instead ran off to Spain to teach English then London, Brussels, Paris and Mexico City as a journalist - and I don't recall ever saying thank you for this generous gift without which I would have struggled to finance my studies.
I am now in a position to offer a little help myself to students through Leeds Alumni, and it was while talking to one of these students that I recalled my own hard-up days and went googling for Wiggins Teape / Arjo Wiggins.
posted July 2020
We have had an enquiry from a lady looking for any information regarding a Harrison Robson who was employed by Wiggins Teape in Aldgate, London, from 1919. She is unsure of how long he would have worked for the company and although it’s such a long time ago, it may be that someone recalls hearing this name mentioned.
If you have any information to share, please contact the Website Administrator – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
posted June 2020
Gateway House, Basingstoke
by Kathy Tubb
When I joined Wiggins Teape, at the beginning of 1977, the company had moved into the brand-new Gateway House building in Basing View, Basingstoke. The company had relocated out of London from its prestigious building close to St Paul’s Cathedral and it wanted to make its mark in its new home. As a thriving blue-chip company, it was fitting that it should be housed in such an imposing building as Gateway House, with its magnificent gardens built to the rear, with tiered shrubs cascading down onto the different levels and featuring a large pond with Koi carp on the 2nd level.
The WT building was soon to be called ‘the hanging gardens of Basingstoke’ and would become a key feature of the town, alongside the AA’s towering Fanum House.
The building won the RIBA Award for design in 1979, followed by a Financial Times Architecture at Work award in 1983. In 2015 it was to receive a Grade II Listing by English Heritage as a fine example of a post-war office building.
There was a large in-house domestic and plant maintenance team to ensure the building ran smoothly at all times.
The staff were very well catered for, with a large restaurant, providing hugely subsidised well-cooked 3-course meals and snacks; a directors’ private dining room with silver service waitresses; a bar and social club area overlooking the hanging gardens, which was open at lunch time and then again at 5pm; many social and sporting activities, such as snooker, darts and pool plus after-work Aikido classes hosted by the company chef; a full-time on-duty nurse and medical centre; and access to a company doctor as required. The successful graduate recruitment scheme that had been set up ensured good quality graduates were always keen to join WT.
WT remained in Gateway House 1 until 1983. The office move that was planned was just a stone’s throw from the building. As the company wanted to retain the name of Gateway House for its new home Gateway House 1 was renamed Mountbatten House, felt to be most appropriate as Earl Mountbatten had officially opened the building in May 1977.
Includes Extracts from Gateway Issue 98: May 1983
In 1980 the decision was taken to move the corporate headquarters of Wiggins Teape. An option had already been taken on adjacent land to Gateway 1, in order to protect the assets of that building and so be able to influence the type of building to be erected on the plot. Although built to a high standard, it proved remarkably inexpensive to build. The move released several million pounds for vital re-investment.
Arup Associates were asked to design a speculative building that would ‘complement Gateway 1, be economic to build and run and allow flexibility in utilisation and space’. The progress of the new building was keenly watched by staff from the windows of Gateway 1 and was finally ready after the Easter break in 1983.
Gateway 2 was an amazing building, with offices built around a central atrium, which provided a large communal area for business, publicity campaigns, badminton and social functions. The glass lifts rose from the 2nd level to the 6th level, with two at either end of the atrium. On the ground floor, marble steps led down to a woodblock floor. The marble troughs on either side had Eucalyptus trees planted within them. On each of the 4th, 5th and 6th floors a glass panelled walkway spanned the length of the atrium from east to west. On first entering the building it was a truly impressive sight, with light cascading down from the glass ceiling above, quite different from Gateway 1.
The glass walkways took some getting used to, especially if you weren’t keen on heights!
Staff facilities were still very good, albeit on a smaller scale. From the atrium you could access a subsidised restaurant leading into a directors’ restaurant; the bar and social club area with snooker, darts and pool, as before; a gift shop and a large stationery store. You could also walk into a huge reprographic centre where the team could deal with all your printing and photocopying needs. A door in the far-left corner led to the medical centre, with a consulting room and two rooms set up with beds, the domain of the on-duty nurse.
My favourite memories, outside of work, are of the great parties we had over the years, many in Fancy Dress and the innovative ideas people would come up with for their costumes. You had to buy your Christmas party ticket quickly as they soon sold out. The events would be themed and the departmental entries were often hilarious. It was great to see everyone enthusiastically pooling their ideas for the event and putting so much effort into their costumes, either solo or as a team. Some teams would really get into character and even put on a little show. Great memories.
Working in both Gateway House 1 and 2 felt like being part of a large family. The tradition in the mills to encourage family members to join the company continued at head office and several members of the same family were employed, as well as new relationships being formed over the years. It was such a great place to work and a great many Wiggins Teape friendships have stood the test of time.
Over the years, a variety of memorable events took place in the atrium, filling it with noise and laughter. I share one memory below that springs to mind as one of the funniest:
Music from the Atrium
In 1985, the atrium was to be the location for an episode of a tv programme called Highway, presented by Sir Harry Secombe. This was a religious programme with guests, when a variety of hymns were performed. The choir was set up at the reception end of the atrium in front of the lifts. Sir Harry was taken up in the glass lifts at the far end to the 6th floor and into the office area to await the start of the recording. He had his script and the plan was for him to come through the office double doors and begin presenting, whilst walking towards the lift. He would then enter the lift, press button 3, facing forwards, continuing to present through the glass wall of the lift. When he finished his script, he would then join the choir and announce which song he would sing with them.
Well, that was the plan. Unfortunately, the lift was having one of its temperamental days that day. Sir Harry pressed the No.3 button, whilst reciting his script beautifully but, as the lift reached the 3rd level, it didn’t stop! It continued its slow descent into the depths below, leading to the car park. We all watched Sir Harry disappearing below the floor line, with management looking on in horror. Quick as a flash, his comedic professionalism came into play. He raised his hand to his head in a mock salute and pulled a glum ‘Goon-type’ expression whilst ‘going down with the ship’. It was hilarious.
A minute later Sir Harry appeared once more and this time the lift stopped on the right floor, to a joyous round of applause. Of course, the recording had to be done again and the second time it went perfectly. Sir Harry emerged from the lift, joined the choir and the building was filled with song, made even better by the acoustics of the atrium.
What a character!
Posted March 2020
We have had an enquiry from a gentleman asking for information on a' Miss Jolly', who, he believes, worked for a senior manager or director of Wiggins Teape from the 1940s. She had connections to Tunbridge Wells and Loudwater, then later moved to Cornwall.
If you have any information, please contact: email@example.com and I will forward on your information.
Posted January 2020
Received from Tony Foulds:
I have had a request from a gentleman called Tony Foulds, who is interested in making contact with former WT colleagues. Tony started working at Butler’s Court in 1977 before transferring to the Emulsion Plant at Borehamwood, followed by three years in Italy at Cartiera di Subiaco S.p.a.
In 1991 Tony left the company to work for an industrial minerals supplier back in the UK selling minerals to the paper industry and in this role he dealt with Arjo mills at Dover, Dartford, Fort William and Stoneywood.
Having retired, Tony is keen to catch up with former WT colleagues. If you remember Tony and would like to make contact, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org for his details.
Posted May 2019
Received from Jes Jarvis:
Wiggins Teape Returns to St Paul’s
Some time at the beginning of the eighteenth century it is known that Hathaway & Edwards were paper merchants operating at “The Sign of the Nag’s Head” in London, Mr Wiggins and Mr Teape joined and it became a private Company called Wiggins Teape & Co Ltd.
1761 is generally accepted as the Group’s foundation year when offices were purchased at 10/11 Aldgate. The Company remained close to St Paul’s for the next 200 years and grew to become a world leading Fine Papermaker and Paper Merchant.
In 1956, having been bombed out of Aldgate House during the war, Gateway House was built on a prestigious site adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral. Wiggins Teape had a strong geographical and emotional bond with St Paul’s and the Directors commissioned a painting of the Cathedral to be hung in the new Head Office board room. This painting depicts the Cathedral as it was in around 1550, before the spire was struck by lightning; it is probable that this image was used for the WT Christmas cards after the offices were opened.WT moved from London to Basingstoke in the 1970s, for cost reasons, and the next 50 years sadly heralded a period of decline. This was caused by a number of factors including, market decline, rationalisation, an unsuccessful merger and the sale of the Company. The story ends in 2019 when Sequana went into administration. These changes in ownership altered the culture of WT and the Company was progressively rebranded and much of WT’s history and memorabilia was lost.
The painting of St Paul’s Cathedral which once hung proudly in the WT Board room was moved to various locations, finally being displayed in the WT UK merchant’s office in Basingstoke.
In 2002 the picture, together with all remaining WT memorabilia and “branded” material, had to be removed due to a conflict with the decision to introduce Antalis as the Company brand name for all merchants. WTPA helped to collect some of the items; the picture has hung in my study for the last 15 years.
This year, owing to illness, I had plenty of time to think about the picture and WT and I determined to try to find the right home for it, recognising the history of WT. I phoned The Chapter House at St Paul’s Cathedral to ask if it was of interest to them. Success!
The Head of Collections replied –
“We would be very pleased to add it to our collection and would be able to fully record the Wiggins Teape provenance in our record so that the company is credited when it is displayed.”
I took the painting to St Paul’s where it was greatly appreciated. It was immediately recognised as an image of the original Cathedral of which they had line drawings but not a painting showing it in the period. The detail was felt to be very accurate. It will be used on visitor and school tours, maybe even a post card!
I personally feel relieved that the picture has found its logical home and Wiggins Teape will be recognised for centuries to come.
Posted March 2019
We have received an enquiry from Peter W Whapshott. He started work in Gateway House circa 1955-6 under Sidney Tunks/Albert Shute.
Peter moved to Sales Allied PM. He remembers the fantastic learning curve received at that time leading him towards a Sales APM career, commencing with a 3-month internal course (fondly remembered as Dandy Roll + the bar on the 7th floor with snooker table!) and a 12-week course at Stoneywood. The course took place over the winter of 1958-59 and Peter, as a South London boy, recalls it was so cold in the North.
Peter joined AH James Papers for 3 years; spent the following couple of years at Dixon & Roe (part of Frank Judge Papers) selling to printers’ commission then to Prideaux & Allman for 8 years as a self-employed agent working on commission.
Having gained such a good grounding, Peter started Allied Paper Converters in Crayford, Kent, reel converting A4 to UK Paper Merchants under the brand name Copygrade.
Peter retired from the paper industry circa 2004. Looking back to the early days of his his career, he would dearly like to make contact with some colleagues who may remember him. If you recall Peter or may have worked in Gateway House at that time, he would love to share memories.
Please contact email@example.com and your messages will be passed on.
Posted January 2019
Wiggins Teape and Ford.......
We have had an enquiry relating to the early 1970s.
The writer, Richard, says: “We are restoring one of the sixteen 1972 Ford 3-Litre Capris that were raced at Brands Hatch on May 28th 1972 at the Wiggins Teape/Ford Sports Day races. Ford kept our Capri until March 28th 1973, when it was sold to a gentleman who we believe may have been an employee of Wiggins Teape at that time. We think his name was Ian Palmer or Ian Roberts and understand he lived in Kent.”
We have been unable to track down this gentleman via our active list of Pensioners. If you knew Ian or could share any memories of this event, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Richard has sent in a photo which may help jog any memories.
Posted December 2018:
Estimating department in London
Fun at a Christmas party
Christmas celebration, Gateway House