T is one of Huddersfield’s oldest companies and played a vital role building some of Huddersfield’s landmark buildings.
Now the family behind J Wimpenny and Co are keen to build up a detailed history of the company and have appealed for Examiner readers to help.
James Wimpenny from Wimpenny Construction Group said: “Founded in 1884 by my great grandfather Joseph Wimpenny, we grew into one of the largest local building companies and built a large number of landmark buildings in Huddersfield.
“We used to employ hundreds of people and had a fleet of red vans that used to collect all the workers from the town centre early each day. It was often commented that Wimpenny vans were more regular that Huddersfield Corporation buses.
“We sold out in 1990 to a national contractor Wilmott Dixon who ultimately moved the company to Leeds and the name was dropped. My wife Sue and I kept the name and set up again in a smaller way building low volume high quality homes in the area. When recession hit we set up an operation in central London where most of our work now takes place although we shall be building some houses in Huddersfield again in 2018. Our daughter now works with us as fifth generation.
“I would like to appeal to anyone who used to work for the company who may have stories, memorabilia or photos as I would like to collate these to record some of the history of the company and the people who worked with us.”
The Wimpenny family are one of the oldest family construction companies in the north of England and dates back to 1884 when Joseph Wimpenny diversified from farming to get involved in expanding Huddersfield industrial revolution and the textile and engineering industries.
The company was known as J Wimpenny and Co and grew rapidly.
Wimpenny Construction was based at Spurn Point in Linthwaite. The name was given to the area by Joseph Wimpenny as a little promontory on the valley edge reminded him of a visit to Spurn Head on the coast of East Yorkshire.
In the early 1900s Joseph’s son Joney, also known as Jack, took control of the company and forged ahead to a point where J Lancaster Gate in central London where apartments have been refurbished by The Lady Builder, a company which grew out of Huddersfield construction company Wimpenny’s Wimpenny and Co was growing quickly and so Jack brought in his brothers to help expand and run it. When he was christened Joney was supposed to be called Johnny but the vicar was not very literate and spelled it Joney on the birth certificate.
During the 20th Century the company diversified considerably and bought several sandstone quarries at Crosland Hill. These quarries supplied excellent quality hard York sandstone to prominent public buildings such as Sandhurst Military Academy and The Houses of Parliament.
Prominent buildings in Huddersfield it built included Huddersfield Library, Titanic Mill, the Ritz Cinema, Huddersfield Magistrates Court, Huddersfield and Dewsbury police stations and Huddersfield Civic Centre phases one and three and parts of Huddersfield University.
It rebuilt the Valley Parade Stadium for Bradford City Football Club after the tragic fire in 1985.
In 1980 The Wimpenny Building Group formed the highly successful Wimpenny Concrete Treatments Ltd to repair motorway bridges all over the UK and other structures, from the Tay Bridge in Dundee to social housing buildings in Sussex. This was headed by James Wimpenny, the youngest of the fourth generation, who became one of the founders and Vice Chairman of the British Concrete Repair Association.
In 1984 the Wimpenny Group had celebrated its centenary with some 350 employees.
The late 1980s saw fierce competition from larger national companies and smaller regional companies so it was decided that the best option was to sell the Wimpenny Group to a well known southern-based construction company Willmott Dixon who wanted to break into the north. The take over was completed in 1989 and the name of the company changed to Willmott Dixon.
Two of the remaining family directors retired from the industry but the youngest Wimpenny director, James, with his wife Sue, continued in the same field initially concentrating on low volume high quality house building creating James Wimpenny Homes Ltd.
Wimpenny’s continue to this day, operating nationally on commercial, industrial and residential projects, and now run a busy subsidiary in central London, called The Lady Builder.
In London Wimpenny’s concentrate on full house refurbishments, including extensions, basements and loft conversions, as well as hotel renovations in projects ranging from £40,000 to £7m. Project manager is James’ 27-year-old daughter, Claudia.