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Steady Progress (1945 - 1960)

Post-war, J & J Wiggin faced the process of converting the factory back to tableware production, a process made more difficult by shortages of raw materials of all kinds, restrictions on fuel and power supplies and the need to re-tool the plant and re-train the employees.  Another problem was that, during the war years, the company had lost ground to the Scandinavians in the design and production of stainless steel tableware.

There was also a need to build up export sales as quickly as possible because, by Government direction, supplies of stainless steel were only obtainable under licences directly proportional to the value of finished goods exported.  Although the domestic markets overseas were difficult to break into, what did emerge was considerable interest from hotels, hospitals and other catering users.  Accordingly, the company quickly developed new designs specifically for the catering trade, the most successful of these being the "Cumberland" range of tea and coffee sets.  Within the space of two years, exports had built up to no less than 50% of the total output, this proportion being maintained until the mid 1950s at which point home sales were beginning to really take off and become the dominant market.

A defining moment in Old Hall's progress came in 1955, when Robert Welch was appointed Consultant Designer to the company - a move that would prove to be an outstanding success.  The "Campden" range was Robert Welch's first project, the four section toast rack of which won a "Design of the Year" award from the Council of Industrial Design in 1958.

Campden toast rack
Robert Welch (right) with Nigel Wiggin in 1998

By this time, a widespread and efficient sales organisation had been built up, supplying over 2,000 retail stockists in the UK and having resident agents in fifteen overseas countries.  Many hotels, air lines and shipping companies, both at home and abroad, were also becoming enthusiastic users of Old Hall.

Oriana tea set

The 1950s ended on a real high with the award from P & O Orient Lines of a huge contract for the supply of all the stainless steel tableware for the new 42,500 ton luxury liner "Oriana", launched in November 1959.  Robert Welch created a standard design across the whole range, which consisted of a single jug that could be converted into a teapot, coffee pot or ice bucket by the addition of various components, such as a sieve, lid, knob or hinge.   A stainless steel ring was welded to the base to give extra stability on the high seas and the whole range was manufactured out of a heavier gauge of stainless steel than normal.  This was to be the largest single contract ever received by Old Hall, being supplemented by the repeat business received every time the ship returned to port together with the additional benefit that most of the items were very successfully incorporated into the standard Old Hall range in the early 1960s.

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