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Outlined below are the ten most frequently asked questions about Old Hall

Button 1

Why the name “Old Hall”?

The name is derived from a Salvation Army Mission Hall, known as “The Old Hall”, into which the company moved in 1904 when the stable at the rear of the Wiggin family home became too small for the expanding business set up in 1893 by James Thomas Wiggin and his eldest son James Enoch (hence the name J&J Wiggin).

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Button 2

When did production of Old Hall begin?

William Wiggin made what is believed to be the world’s first item of stainless steel tableware (apart from cutlery) in 1928, which was a simple four section toast rack.  This was followed in 1930 by what is thought to be the world’s first stainless steel teapot.

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First teapot and toastrack
Button 3

What is the significance of “Olde Hall” compared to “Old Hall”?

The company's original trade mark, registered in 1922 for a range of bathroom fittings, was "Olde Hall" and this was displayed on these products as TRADE "Olde Hall" MARK. This continued on tableware when production began in 1928.  In 1934, a new trade mark of "Ye Olde Hall Quality" was introduced in conjunction with a drawing of an old hall on all company literature but this had to be withdrawn the following year when it was deemed that this combination was too similar to a trade mark already being used by Sheffield cutlery manufacturers Walker & Hall; so, in 1935, the trade mark reverted to just the words "Olde Hall".  This continued until 1959 when, to present a more modern image, the “e” was dropped to become Old Hall and this remained in use until the company closed down in 1984.  The first two trade marks, from 1928 until 1935, are becoming increasingly collectable!  Click here to see how you can find more information on the different backstamps used.

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Olde Hall and Old Hall Backstamps
Button 4

What is “Staybrite”?

“Staybrite” was the trade name given to 18/8 stainless steel (i.e. 18% chromium, 8% nickel) in 1924 by steelmakers Thomas Firth of Sheffield when they began to publicise this remarkable material that had been discovered, by chance, by their metallurgist Harry Brearley in 1913 and further developed by his successor Dr W H Hatfield.  This was the steel used by Old Hall when tableware production began in 1928 and, in addition to being marked Olde Hall, all pre-war items were also marked “Staybrite” (or “Firth Staybrite”).  After the war, Old Hall changed the wording of “Staybrite” (or “Firth Staybrite”) to “Stainless Steel” and later, in 1959, to coincide with the dropping of the “e” on Olde, 18/8 was added in front of “Stainless Steel”.  Click here to see how you can find more information on the different backstamps used.

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Staybrite Backstamps
An Adventure in Staybrite

The booklet "An Adventure in Staybrite" by "A Married Man" (namely Mr William Wiggin) and illustrated by Mr Leo Dowd, one of the leading artists of the "Punch" magazine, has been reprinted in exactly its original format for the Old Hall Club.  Click here to find out how you can get a copy of this.

Button 5

Who was Robert Welch?

Robert Welch was appointed Consultant Designer to the company in 1955 on completion of his studies at the Royal College of Art.  Prior to this, virtually all designs had been done by the Wiggin family, mainly by Leslie and Wilfred Wiggin.  The marriage between J&J Wiggin and Robert Welch brought world acclaim with most items designed by Robert Welch carrying his name on the logo.  Robert died in March 2000, aged 70.

Nigel Wiggin (left) and Robert Welch in Robert’s Chipping Campden studio in 1998.

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Robert Welch (right) with Nigel Wiggin in 1998
Button 6

Design Centre Awards

Robert Welch designs won three Design Centre Awards for Old Hall.  The first in 1958 was for the Campden toast rack.  The second in 1962 was for a range of twenty two dishes, with the third in 1965 being for the Alveston range of cutlery.  The cutlery was noted for having hollow handles in the knives, which hugely improve the balance.

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Campden Toast Rack Alveston Cutlery
Button 7

Bright or Satin Finish

Initially, everything was in bright finish but Robert Welch introduced the more modern satin finish on all his designs from 1955 onwards.  Both finishes continued and some items were available in both bright and satin.  One tea set, the Stirling, was two tone with a satin finish to most of the body but a bright rim to the lid and a bright handle.  A hammered finish was used pre-war and into the 60s on one tea set (the Warwick, shown below) and on numerous other items such as trays, teapot stands, toast racks, etc.

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Warwick tea set
Button 8

Tea Set Names

All tea sets were given names and, somewhat confusingly, several names were used twice (albeit with a gap averaging some 15 years between them).  The six names used twice were Avon, Dorchester, Lifespan, Sandon, Savoy and Warwick.

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Button 9

Most Collectable Item

The Alveston tea set (unofficially known as Aladdin’s lamp), designed by Robert Welch in 1964, is the most sought after and is consequently very scarce.

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Alveston tea pot
Button 10

Most Popular Item

The Connaught tea set, designed by Leslie Wiggin in 1959 and available in a range of sizes and in both bright and satin finishes, was Old Hall’s best seller.

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Connaught tea set
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