Willson Gatward 1901-1960
When Willson became involved with the business however, the storm clouds were already gathering with both World Wars and the Great Depression all looming on the horizon. Somehow we survived. During the Second World War, Gatwards used the extensive workshop and the machinery to make small parts for an aviation instrument company.
Following in his father's footsteps, Willson was a noted musician and sportsman. He was an accomplished organist and pianist and was also known to play the drums or tenor saxophone in local bands. People used to say Willson Gatward could get a tune out of anything! He enjoyed playing football, tennis, cricket and badminton and was an excellent shot.
At the time he inherited the business, only the first small area was a showroom. The central area housed a large workshop, the end section was a hairdressers and everywhere else was office space. Willson knocked right through to incorporate both the workshop and the adjacent hairdressers into the extensive showroom that exists today.
Like his father before him, he was trained at the bench, but his particular love was antique silver, a subject on which he was very knowledgeable.
Willson died aged only 59 leaving his two daughters, Anna and Lisa still at school. His widow, Syliva, immediately took up the mantle, ably assisted by Ray Edwards who had worked with Willson as manager for many years.
This information has been taken from the Gatward book celebrating 250 years 1760-2010 with the permission of the Gatward family). Acknowledgements to Susan Robinson (nee Gatward), Hitchin Historical Society and Hitchin Museum