The historical past of Cresta Silks in Welwyn Backyard Metropolis


2:00 PM August 27, 2022

Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Heritage Belief continues its delve into WGC’s previous. This week the Belief seems at Cresta Silks.

Photograph of the interior of Cresta Silks factory in Broadwater Road, taken from the 'Industry At Welwyn' brochure.

{Photograph} of the inside of Cresta Silks manufacturing unit in Broadwater Highway, taken from the ‘Trade At Welwyn’ brochure produced by the Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Firm Ltd c1939 to encourage producers to find to WGC.

– Credit score: Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Heritage Belief archive.

An attention-grabbing strategy to spend half an hour in Welwyn Backyard is to take the Cresta Stroll.

Begin at one of many Sectional buildings on Broadwater Highway, comparable to occupied at the moment by Topps Tiles.

These versatile items had been constructed by the Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Firm within the Twenties to draw start-up corporations.

Cresta Silks scarf produced for Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee from a design by Oliver Messel.

Cresta Silks scarf produced for Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee from a design by Oliver Messel. Messel’s authentic design was created for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and included gold leaf. This Silver Jubilee model has silver colored highlights and was given as a present by Cresta to ‘particular clients’. Donated to the Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Heritage Belief archive by Jeanette whose father was employed by Tom Heron as an accountant having not lengthy arrived within the UK as a refugee because of World Struggle Two.

– Credit score: Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Heritage Belief archive.

One was taken in 1929 by Tom Heron, who needed to create a enterprise producing and advertising block printed silk clothes for discerning girls.

He had began making blouses when solely 21 in Leeds, then moved to Cornwall to work for Cryséde, a number one designer of silks. He was profitable there however felt he may do extra.

Selecting Welwyn Backyard due to its ahead trying picture – and since the Firm supplied important funding – he arrange Cresta Silks.

Cresta advertisement published in the 15th annual Welwyn Drama Festival programme of 1948.

Cresta commercial printed within the fifteenth annual Welwyn Drama Pageant programme of 1948.

– Credit score: Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Heritage Belief archive.

Heron employed fashionable artists to design his merchandise, together with his younger son Patrick, who went on to be an excellent determine in British artwork.

He selected modernist Wells Coates to design his retail retailers, in London, Bournemouth and Brighton, which broke new floor. They attracted go-ahead girls who needed fairly priced however fashionable and nicely made garments.

Cresta Silks Ltd invoice dated 20th September 1940 for Audrey Owen's wedding outfit - a coat & dress

Cresta Silks Ltd bill dated twentieth September 1940 for Audrey Owen’s wedding ceremony outfit – a coat and gown which got here to a complete of £12. The corporate’s stationery was designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer who later turned well-known for his London Transport posters.

– Credit score: Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Heritage Belief archive.

Cresta flourished. They moved in 1938 to a brand new constructing, our second cease, beside the railway station within the city centre, with a store and manufacturing unit behind.

Heron needed to conform to neo-Georgian styling due to planning restraints. It stood in splendid isolation on the nook of Howardsgate/Stonehills.

Now it’s McDonald’s. Stonehills has been narrowed and an identical constructing has been infilled.

Howardsgate - Woolworths store in what used to be the Cresta Silks factory and showrooms.

Howardsgate’s Woolworths retailer in what was the Cresta Silks manufacturing unit and showrooms. McDonald’s and the Woolwich Constructing Society occupied it later. Photographed in February 1975 by Ken Wright.

– Credit score: Ken Wright

Silk was exhausting to return by through the struggle so Cresta turned to wool.

Heron helped his nation by becoming a member of the Board of Commerce to arrange the Utility Clothes Scheme, which supplied well-designed garments at minimal price.

In 1951, with Heron trying to retire, the enterprise was taken over by the Howardsgate Belief, which had been set as much as facilitate disposal of the property of the Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Firm when it had been wound up.

In 1954 Cresta moved to Welwyn Shops, additionally owned by Howardsgate.

Photograph of Cresta employee Joan on her wedding day wearing a dress made by Cresta Silks.

{Photograph} of Cresta worker Joan on her wedding ceremony day sporting a gown made by Cresta Silks. Joan joined the corporate when she left college at 14 in 1935 and was nonetheless working at Cresta as a designer in 1975, when a neighborhood paper carried an article celebrating her 40 years service.

– Credit score: Welwyn Backyard Metropolis Heritage Belief archive.

Our stroll concludes within the toy division of John Lewis. Think about it stuffed with machinists, working behind home windows which had been blacked out (and nonetheless are) as a result of residents objected to seeing a manufacturing unit on Parkway.

Cresta continued efficiently for a while however moved away from block printing.

Debenhams purchased it in 1957, moved it out of Welwyn Backyard, then closed it in 1980.

Tom Heron was a exceptional man and an essential citizen of Welwyn Backyard. We are going to write extra about him in our subsequent article.


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