History WILLIS & ABTES
Early Years of the company
The founder was Alfred Bates, the father of the present chairman and managing director, who had learnt the craft of metal spinning in Birmingham, where he established a business chiefly for the production of lamp tops for street lanterns.
Later he decided to transfer the business to Halifax as a convenient centre of operation for both Lancashire and Yorkshire.
In 1897 he founded Willis & Bates, in partnership with C. Willis who owned a small plating works which was needed for marking complete lamp units.
Pellon Works was built in 1900 on the present site, about one mile from the contre of Halifax. Until 1914 the chief products were street lighting units and spinnings for gas heated geysers and similar purposes.
About 1910, presses were purchased to supply the rapidly developing electrical industry. The chief customers in the latter industry were the General Electric Company and Holophane Limited, whilst there was also a steady business with gas undertakings through-out Lancashire and Yorkshire.
In 1912 production began of paraffin pressure lantern of the bazaar hanging type with mantle.
First World War 1914 – 1918
From the early part of the war, the company was engaged entirely on production directly related to the war effort.
Alfred Bates was the originator of the steel helmet, but unfortunately never received credit for this outstanding achievement.
Between the Wars
At the end of the war, normal business was gradually resumed and a range of aluminium hollowware was manufactured and marketed.
This necessitated expansion of the works and the installation of more presses.
During the period 1920 to 1930 the chief customers were the General Electric Company, Falk Stadleman Limited, Drysdale Limited (Glasgow) and Holophane Limited.
A wide range of industrial lighting units was designed and manufactured for the latter company.
On the death of his father, in 1930, control of the business was assumed by S. W. Bates, the chairman and managing director.
Over the next nine years, the works was completely reorganized and additional plant installed.
An electro-plating and polishing department was established.
During this period, in addition to the basic trade in spinning, pressings and stampings, there was a profitable diversion into the fields of radiant electric fires marketed under the trade name Ace, and also motor vehicle anti-dazzle arrangements. Both fires and lamps rapidly gained a reputation for performance and high quality.