Company History

Origin / Development of UK Stockists and Wilsons

The strength of metal stockholding in this country is unique in Europe and perhaps in the world. The development of the Aluminium stockholding industry came about as a result of the foresight of a few men during and/or soon after the Second World War.

Before and directly after the war, the engineering industry was forced to buy raw materials direct from the mills in mill production quantities, being unable to buy specific/small quantities from a distributor or stockist as they can be today. This was uneconomic for both the mills and the customers, so companies started to spring up to fill the gap between mill and user. These companies offered cost-effective solution for both users and mills. Users benefitted from shorter lead times on their exact requirements, whilst the mills were able to produce larger quantities in a more planned way.

A company known as W. Wilsons, founded by Mr William Wilson, commenced trading in 1947 buying Aluminium and Steels from the mills as well as taking up the large excesses then held by the aircraft manufacturers. From these earliest days the company supplied metals to the aircraft industry. The first warehouse and offices were opened at Wood Green, North London over 60 years ago. This 40,000 square foot warehouse soon became inadequate and additional facilities were found in Cambridgeshire to cope with the company's expansion. The company traded primarily in Aluminium and its alloys, but also dealt in steel and specialist metals.

Market Development at Wilsons

For many years Wilsons was recognised as the UK’s main stockist of Aluminium for the Aircraft industry, taking up to 75% of the total stockist business in the sector.

Gradually the company also introduced ranges of other materials, including commercial specifications. This includes Copper Alloys (Aluminium Bronze, Copper Nickel), Stainless Steel, Titanium, Nickel Alloys (Inconel and Monel) and other exotic alloys. In addition the company broadened the markets served to include Shipbuilding, Nuclear Power, Cryogenics, Armaments, Hydraulics, Artificial Limb Manufacture and Commercial Vehicle Manufacture.

Stock

All stock was consolidated at Huntingdon around 15 years ago.

All materials originate from reputable manufacturers from British Aluminium and Alcoa in the past to current suppliers including Alcan, Pechiney, Alcoa and most major European Mills. American Mills are also commonly accessed for Specific Grades.

Centralisation

Following the death of the founder, Mr. William Wilson, and the subsequent retirement of John Neal (Director of the stockholding company) the business was controlled by Mr. A. Wilson, son of the founder.

He founded a company known as A. W. Alloys at Walthamstow, East London in 1966, initially as an aluminium stockholder. A. W. Alloys, now part of Wilsons Metals Ltd, developed into manufacturing of pipe, elbows, flanges and fittings in aluminium, cupro-nickel and stainless steel for suppliy to the Petro-Chemical, Offshore, Shipbuilding, Conveying, Cryogenic and Natural Gas Industries.

On October 1st 1987 W. Wilsons and Sons, Wilsons Alloys and A. W. Alloys began trading under the name of Wilsons Plc.

During 1994, on completion of a new office block in Huntingdon, the company closed the Walthamstow site so all administrative, sales and technical staff were amalgamated with the stockholding division.

As Wilsons plc, the company offered industry a comprehensive facility of stockholding, materials management, engineering and a metal service centre incorporating plate cutting, profiling, pre-machining as well as bar cutting and guillotining.

Wilsons Plc (Fabrication Division) had its main office and manufacturing premises located at Walthamstow, London. A second plant with manufacturing capabilities running in conjunction with our manufacturing requirements was located in Hamburg, Germany. (Hamburger Rohrbogenwerk), this unit was closed in 2000 and the operation transferred to Huntingdon and Dudley.

The products manufactured at these locations included: Seamless and Welded Elbows, Reducers, Saddles, Tees, Welded Pipe, Composite Flanges and Blinds, Fabricated and Welded Pipework and Vessels. All these items are produced in sizes from 30mm through to 914mm in copper nickel, nickel alloys, aluminium alloys and stainless steel.

In late 1993 an office and warehouse was opened in Aberdeen to serve the offshore industry as a stockholding operation. This operation was moved to the Huntingdon site in 2000.

In July 1994 the fabrication department completed the transfer of machinery and equipment to Huntingdon Works together with the supporting office facility.

In the year 2001 SSE pipe fittings at Dudley and Piping Supplies of Guisborough were taken over as wholly owned subsidiaries. SSE continue to operate from their original site whilst Piping Supplies was transferred to Huntingdon and has been absorbed into the Quality, Health and Safety and Environmental systems operating at Huntingdon.

The development of the aluminium cutting/profiling and pre-machining of plate and bar started two years ago. This area of business has shown a significant upturn and is an example of the company's willingness to the change. Capital has been made available for further investment in plate saws and CNC cutting equipment to cope with increased sales.

September 2003 saw the acquisition of additional premises adjacent to the main Huntingdon warehouse for the storage and processing of aerospace steels.

In 2006 a Northern Sales office was opened in Cleveland to further meet the demands of our growing customer base in the Aerospace market. This new facility allows us the better serve and visit our customers based in the North of England and is dedicated to expanding our market influence and key accounts.

Following the death of Mr A Wilson we remain independent and privately owned, to allow both Wilsons and SSE to focus on their core competencies Wilsons and SSE are now run as completely separate companies, and Wilsons now trade under the name of Wilsons Ltd.

A member of: