Geo. W. Kings

Brian Pike

Fiona Pike
Fiona Pike
Fiona Pike
Fiona Pike
Fiona Pike

Geo W.King Ltd, then in Hitchin, built their new factory in Argyle Way Stevenage. This was all just prior to World War II. For this ultra modern factory rail tracks were included with potential access to the main line railway (the site of the factory is now Stevenage LeisurePark but the Stevenage station was not in its current location but at the bottom of Julian’s Road in the OldTown). Around 1947 they commenced the final move from their Hitchin factory which was located local to Hitchin Station in Walsworth Road. It was a gradual process and eventually vacated the Hitchin factory site completely around 1957.


The Stevenage factory was a large building housing a number of bays each equipped with overhead travelling gantries each with electric hoists. These bays were numbered from ‘A’ bay through to ‘F’ or ‘G’ bay. Historically searchlights were constructed/assembled in ‘B’ bay as part of the war effort. These were discontinued around 1957.

In ‘C’ bay numerous cranes were constructed from metal parts made in-house and electrically tubed and wired, then painted and tested before being dispatched to the customer.

‘D’ bay was primarily small part stores and dispatch for electric hoists. There was a production line for these hoists in ‘E’ bay culminating in Electrical Department and Test/Paint area prior to dispatch.

‘F’ bay with its machine shop and tool room housed numerous metal cutting machines such as lathes and drills,etc. Latterly shaping equipment under computer control.

‘G’ and ‘H’ bays included furnaces for heat treatment of metal castings. The laboratory for metal testing, etc was also in this area.


The famous apprentice shop, where after attempting to shape a piece of round mild steel bar into a hexagon with a fitted separate cube, apprentices enlarged their experience throughout the rest of the factory including the drawing office.


‘Z’ bay, not mentioned earlier, which was located on the far side of the site housed carpentry, canvas and agricultural departments together with the garage for company vehicle maintenance.


The Admin offices covered two floors, the lower where the giant computer was located which in its day was state of the art. Very sophisticated. Also in this area were the rest of the admin services, i.e. buying department, personnel, accounts, and the outside staff control.

Upstairs in this building was the huge drawing office with approximately 100 drawing boards making up the electrical and mechanical design and development departments for cranes, hoists, conveyors (both floor to overhead conveyors) and specialised solutions for simple storage and fully automated equipment.


The whole site covered several acres with the main entrance off Argyle Way (a notice board can still be seen in shrubbery on the left hand side of the entrance off Argyle Way to the LeisurePark) and staff social/sport activities took place on the football pitch, bowling green and in the large canteen. At one time there were probably over 1500 employees.


The company was taken over in 1966 by the Tube Investment Group. Later in 1973/1974 the company was taken over by Camford Engineering during which time ‘Geo W King Hoists’ and ‘Geo W King Conveyors’ were created as separate companies.


In 1973 over 700 employees were made redundant.


This page was added on 05/03/2013.

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  • My Grand father used to work at King’s from around 1953 to 1982 ( dates from blood donor cards) Raymond Harmer draughtsman if anyone can share photos or information on this time or knew him would love to hear more

    By Sharon Clark (15/10/2023)
  • My mother now 90 years old worked for Kings in the late 40’s early 50’s. She was the first Miss GW Kings! Still has the newspaper clipping. She worked in accounts. Her name was Audrey Heads. She married Gerry Dodge in 1952. He worked as a trainee quantity surveyor at G W King.

    By Rhona (23/03/2021)
  • I worked at this site for Camford Eng from ’77 ’til about ’83. i was in my early twenties when i started and fresh in from Australia. Worked under Frank Steeley, and Basil Chalkley in the factory, then Mr (Bill?) Ward then Bill Nichol in Purchasing, and in Sales/Marketing for a bit. I loved watching things being made and snuck down to the shop floor as often as i could get away with. Made a lot of friends on the floor. I get the H&S points made, and it was a rough and tumble education, but a wonderful raw education and an unforgettable experience. Happy to touch base with anyone who’s still around. Marc Tingwell

    By marc tingwell (24/02/2021)
  • My dad used to work for Kings and I have found some of his original drawings for the cranes. He was a draughtsman there.

    By Suzanne Allport (31/01/2021)
  • My father, a press setter, worked at Geo Kings and Taylors. Taylors was clean, precision work. Geo Kings was a filthy factory and not hot on H and S [Health and Safety]. My father successfully took Kings to court in the 1970s over their standards and the treatment of minorities. He represented himself and won. Kings, the night before court, offered an out of court settlement but he declined and forged ahead.The judge commended him and his presence and articulation. He was awarded compensation. And my dad, being a generous man, spent most of it on his colleagues in a celebration…

    By Fiona Pearce (13/09/2020)
  • I am one of the great-granddaughters of George W. King and want to thank you all for the history provided here.

    By Jennifer King (23/08/2020)
  • I was a design draughtsman for G.W. Kings at both Hitchin and Stevenage and I knew Stan Duncan and Bill Ward very well.

    By Jim French (12/06/2020)
  • My mother worked at G W King in the 50’s and was involved in the first few plays put on by the Argyle Players in the canteen. Her name was Peggy Underlin.

    By Alison Wright (14/04/2020)
  • My dad Tom Bolter worked at Kings and was a union official. I have happy memories of open days and kids Christmas parties.

    By Elena Parker (21/03/2020)
  • Both my grandfather and mother worked at Kings. My grandfather worked their for 30 years and was made redundant in 1972. His name was Edwin (Ted) Stone and he was an engineering Inspector. My mother was Gwynedd Stone and started when she left school in Sept 1956, then got married and name changed to Crowson. Then left in 1964 to have a baby.

    By Sharon Stevens (05/09/2019)
  • My late grandfather, Brian Abbiss worked with Kings his entire career. Starting as an apprentice in 1954, he worked his way up to be the Sr VP of the company-Eventually being made redundant when Kings folded. I would be very interested to hear from anyone who new my grandfather personally or has information regarding his work at Kings.

    By Dean Harry Abbiss (07/08/2019)
  • My late father, known as Joe Weeden, worked at Kings after leaving Taylor Instruments. Dad worked as a press setter. The work at Kings was heavy engineering and Dad was used to more precision work at Taylor’s, so he didn’t enjoy his time at Kings.

    By Colin Weeden (17/03/2019)
  • My late father Ron Daughtrey worked at King’s after his Brother passed away Bill Daughtrey I am not sure if anyone remember them.

    By Paul daughtrey (24/02/2019)
  • My dad (Derek Ogilvie) started work there in the early 1970’s after he left Cam Gears in Hitchin. he worked there till 1974 when we moved to Sydney Australia he was a maniacal engineer.
    I remember they had great kids parties there.

    [Trevor: A “a maniacal engineer”? Maybe a mechanical engineer? Or maybe not. Ed.]

    By Trevor Ogilvie (15/01/2019)
  • I started working at Kings in 1958 as a fitter working in A,C & D bays so worked on most products transferred to the Industrial Engineering dept in 1969 ,was made redundant in 1974 then moved to Perth Australia .made many good friends there during those years.
    I knew both John Snowden & Dick Downing [above ]very well at the time
    Tom Lingwood

    By Tom Lingwood (03/01/2019)
  • My dad died here in November 1985. He was 37. It was marked a death of negligence on part of Kings and a faulty Forklift truck. They [… (redacted, Ed.)] lost a lawsuit. I was 15.

    By Bali (13/11/2018)
  • I worked at kings for 3 long years. [In this commenter’s opinion, Ed.] it was a H&S disaster.

    By Dave (29/09/2018)
  • My dad worked at kings from when he left school he did an apprenticeship there and worked there until I think the mid-late 80’s his name was Rodney Thompson, My auntie Rene worked in the office too and my uncle Stan too. Anyone know him or her?

    By Heather Brooks (05/07/2018)
  • My dad, now departed, was employed at Kings for many years.
    Does anyone have memories to share about Bill Ward?

    By David Ward (23/07/2017)
  • Doe’s anyone know the whereabouts of Stan Duncan Sales Manager for the Midlands Region of Geo.W.King in the 1950’s?

    By Roy Andrews (16/03/2017)
  • worked their from 1984/89. Remember people like George Usher, Basil Chalkley,Ralph Rainer probably no longer with us.Place Very Noisy.Health & safety in those days not good. CB

    By CRAIG BAILEY (26/02/2016)

    Just found this site and it’s been great to look back at the photos, I was an apprentice here from 1969 to 1974 and my dad who is 90 years old worked here for years (it’s all he talks about even now) I have some photos somewhere of the open days I will try and find them.

    Would be nice to track down some of the guys that were there in the same era as myself.

    By Brian Snowden (01/04/2015)
  • My granddad used to cycle everyday from his home in Bedwell to work here.

    By David Abram (27/01/2015)
  • Thank you for sharing these pictures bring back many happy days  I started at Kings on my 16 th birthday as an apprentice.

    Moved to Kentucky in 1973. Lost contact with many friends

    Do you have contact with past apprentices

    Thanks again


    By Richard J Downing (03/01/2015)
  • Great to see the pics of the old Geo.W.King site.Worked there from 1986 until it relocated to Letchworth and then until it closed-23 years in total.Great place to work both at Stevenage and Letchworth although Letchworth never really felt the same and anyone who worked at Stevenage always remembered ‘the good old days there’ especially how it leaked like a sieve when it rained.

    By K Allen (05/05/2014)
  • The view from the railway platform certainly changed when they pulled down Geo W. King in September 1990

    By M S (21/10/2013)