When we were originally founded over 125 years ago, our ambition was to build better homes and communities.
That ambition is as relevant today as it was in 1897 and while building beautiful, sustainable homes is still very much a part of our business, we have grown into a fully fledged construction, residential development and property services company.
Despite our size we still place communities and people at the heart of everything we do.
A brief history of Wates
A brief history of Wates
Founded by Edward Wates
Originally a housebuilder, Edward started the company with the aim of creating better homes for people and transforming lives by building the communities in which he worked.
1920 – 1930s
Pioneering house building
Edward’s sons, Norman, Sir Ronald and Allan, expanded our company by pioneering speculative house building. Using expertise gained in managing large projects we then grew into general contracting.
1920 – 1930s
During the war our focus shifted to civil engineering works and infrastructure which saw us building aerodromes, army camps and factories at home and overseas. Having developed a speciality in pre-cast concrete structures, we supplied major parts for the Mulberry Harbours which supported the D-Day invasions.
Post World War
Following the war the innovation and skills we learned were applied to developing an efficient and cost effective “system build” model for high rise and low rise housing, which saw over 60,000 homes built using this methodology.
A change of focus
As the demands for new housing started to slacken, we again shifted our focus, more towards general contracting and construction services. Opportunities were also sought abroad in the USA and Canada, where recovery from the war was happening quicker. The family’s continued 100% ownership and their long term perspective underpinned the adaptability to significantly change the focus of the company as opportunities changed.
Long term partnerships and joint ventures
Another key element of the way that we work is a history of successful long term partnerships and joint ventures. This was the case both in the UK with partners such as the Church Commissioners and Grosvenor Estates, as well as in the USA with Rowse Corporation. This consistent drive to be a partner of choice has been just as important in our more recent development, producing many repeat customers and long term relationships with key clients, such as housing associations and local authorities.
Acquisitions of Linbrook (2011) and the Purchase Group (2014) in our maintenance business represented a significant move to be able to provide long term support for new and existing clients.
Wates acquired Shepherd Group’s Built Environment businesses in 2015, strengthening our regional coverage and expanding the services offered to clients.
The next generation
The current owners, who are the third and fourth generations of the family, continue to support the adaptability and long term perspective that has helped us grow and develop over its first 125 years. The fifth generation of the family are fully expected to continue to support the growth and development of our business even further.
125 years of success
We reached a major milestone celebrating our 125th year of operation. The occasion was marked with events throughout the year giving colleagues, customers and suppliers the opportunity to celebrate with us.
Watch a short video of the history of Wates
A proud history since 1897
Founded over 125 years ago, we know about the built environment. Family values are at the heart of what we do. Whether we’re teaching the next generation about green technologies or providing opportunities for those furthest from the workforce, we partner with a wide range of public and private sector customers and partners to create the places, communities and businesses of tomorrow.
Now in our fourth generation of family ownership,we are committed to the long-term future of the built environment. The Wates Family is focused on the continued sustainability of the company and to handing over to the next generation an even stronger, more sustainable business.
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