Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Wilson and Sons

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1947. Silver Cross.

of Silver Cross works, Hunslet, Leeds. Telephone: Leeds: 29094 (3 lines). Telegraphic Address: "Wilsonette, Leeds". London Warehouse: 6 Elder Street, Shoreditch, E1. Telephone: Bishopsgate 9168. Also at Glasgow and Birmingham. (1929)

of Silver Cross Street, Hunslet, Leeds

of Guiseley, near Leeds (1947)

of White House Street

Manufacturers of Silver Cross Prams and Baby Carriages.

Little is known of William Wilson, other than that he was an engineer and a prolific inventor. Helped by his wife, he began to make postal carts and perambulators.

1877 William Wilson founded the business at Silver Cross Street, Hunslet, Leeds. The first perambulator with a suspension system and a reversible folding hood was produced.

1898 A purpose built factory was opened in White House Street and was appropriately named the 'Silver Cross Works'.

After a short time, it burnt down. Much larger premises were built to replace it, and these were called the Silver Cross Works.

1913 William Wilson died, but by that time he had registered more that 30 pram-related designs. The business was passed to his three sons: James, Irwin and Alfred.

1920s-1930s Silver Cross became incorporated and crowned the number one baby carriage for royals, supplying its first baby carriage to the Princess Royal.

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of "Silver Cross" and "Litex" (Registered Trade Marks) Baby Carriages, Dolls Prams, Strong Toys and Nursery Furniture. (Stand No. E.1) [1]

1936 The growth in business necessitated a move to larger premises in Guiseley, Leeds, the site of an old silk factory.

1939-1945 During the Second World War, the main part of the factory was requisitioned by the Air Ministry, producing over 16 million aircraft parts for the war effort.

1945-1950 The experience gained during the war years was applied to production methods. The traditional plywood was replaced with aluminium.

1947 British Industries Fair Advert for Silver Cross Luxury Baby Coach. (Toys and Games Section Olympia, Stand No. J.2282) [2]

1948 Queen Elizabeth II chose a 'Silver Cross pram when Prince Charles was born.

1950s The baby carriage manufacturer continued as a family run business.

1951 A new range of prams was launched.

1964 Silver Cross continued its technological advances by introducing the first chromium-plating plant.

1977 Silver Cross celebrated its centenary by flying customers and buyers around the world in its new centenary aircraft. As part of the celebrations, Silver Cross also gave Princess Anne a baby carriage.

1997 Cut its workforce from 500 to 250.

1999 Company suffers £4 million worth of debts.

2002 The Guiseley factory finally closed its doors - with the loss of 125 jobs.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Silver Cross Website