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Joseph William Wadkin was born in 1862 and was the youngest of seven children. His father was a farmer & carrier and lived at Valley farm in Claypole Dry Doddington. He had two brothers and four sisters.
Wadkin & Co was created by Joseph William Wadkin, Denzel John Jarvis and Thomas Scott King in 1897. They described them selves as general engineers and milwrights. During the early days Wadkin also did roof repairs, something Joseph was never interested in he was an engineer
Mr jarvis’s wife was the sister of Mr Wadkins wife Emma.
Mr Jarvis had his own shop-fitting business, Messrs JD Jarvis & Company, Midland shop fitting works.
There first factory was situated at london Street north Evington and had only 7 employees. The first employee was a Arthur Woolley who was forman followed by a blacksmith called Bransome, W James (striker), Syd Stokes (fitter), Joe Hughes (turner), a man named Pentral and last but not least an office boy named Master Liquorish who was 12 years old.
By 1904 they had an idea for a new kind of machine which was called the mechanical wood worker. This machine did away with the need for expensive handmade patterns. The machine was capable of tennoning, boring, dovetaling, turning, trenching and tracery fluting. It could not saw, plane or thickness timber.
By 1908 the partnership dissolved and wadkin and King left and created there own company named Wadkin Mills & Company. They created a machine called the Mills Pattern Miller.
Mr Jarvis wanting to expand the company enlisted the help of his friend a Mr Wallace Goddard.
Soon after in 1910, Mr Jarvis got to know Mr Ionades an innovative Greek man who had invented an advanced carburettor. They received confirmation that General Motors in the US were interested in their Polyrhoe carburettor design and Denzil Jarvis was invited over for a meeting with Henry Ford to discuss a business deal. Consequently, as his means of travel he booked his passage on the ill-fated Titanic. He set sail on the 10 April 1912 and was travelling on a £13 ticket in second class, and was in a smokers’ lounge at the time the iceberg hit. Responding to a question about the iceberg from a fellow passenger, who survived, he is quoted as saying: ”Well I am accustomed to estimating distance and I put it at between 80 and 90 feet. His body was never recovered.
And so Wallace Goddard was left alone with the business in Leicester, but he was unable to run it single-handed, so he sought the help of his eldest son, Joseph Holland Goddard to run the Company. At this time J.H. Goddard was in the process of becoming an American citizen as he had emigrated to America, but he cancelled his plans and returned to manage the Wadkin Company with his father. Within two years of joining his father in the business the First World War broke out and straightaway J.H. Goddard joined up. He became a commissioned officer and served as a despatch rider in France for the whole length of the War.
During the great war wadkin were asked to dovelop a machine for the fast production of propellors for the war effort.By 1915 they employed 64 people making the original pattern millars and propellar machines.
In 1919 Joseph wadkin died and in 1921 Wadkin took over ‘a considerable quantity of materials and machines’ from Josephs company Wadkin,Mills & Company.
In 1922 Wadkin moved to its brand new site at Green Lane Road which was a stones throw away from its original factory at London Street. It was a state of the art factory which was well equipped for batch production. At first they had to spread equipment out to make the new factory seem full but it would not be long before they needed to expand. By 1930 they needed more space and again in 1933, 1936, 1937, 1945, 1951, 1952, 1955, 1956 and 1957. They even had a multi storey car park with heated ramps to stop them freezing during winter.
Burrows Green of Colne was a subsidiary company of Sagar and it was decided a smaller range of woodworking machines was needed. Premises at Houghton le spring were aquired and given the name of Houghton Engineers. This new division was sponsored by Sagar & Co Ltd and Burrows Green Ltd. The trade name for the new machines was Bursgreen.