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Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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