Hampshire Cultural Trust

Webbers of Basingstoke

WW Webbers of New Road and Southern Road have supplied cars in Basingstoke for more than 100 years. Walter William Webber moved to Basingstoke in the late 19th century as a grocers assistant and then set up a business selling bicycles. The business soon grew into motor vehicle maintenance to selling cars. It is still owned by Walter Webber's descendants.

1893 Walter Webber opened a repair workshop in Jacob's Yard.

1900 Showroom premises in Winchester Street where bicycles, motor cycles and motor cars were sold.

1904 Birth of Clifton Walter Webber.

1910 Moved to London Street as W W Webber Ltd. Motor vehicle sales and repairs were by now the main source of business.

1913 Agent for a number of different manufacturers including Ford, Studebaker, Singer, Morris, Austin and Wolseley.

1914 The First World War had a dramatic effect on business. Walter Webber had to diversify to survive, and so he bought agricultural machinery, which he hired to the Government as part of the drive for increased food production. Clifton Walter Webber, still in his early teens, starts work in the family firm due to the labour shortage caused by the war.

1919 Walter's eldest son, Morris, dies from illness on his homeward journey after service in India.

1920's Trading poor due to the post-war economic slump and the the Great Depression. Walter Webber, the largest single shareholder, increased his stake and appointed his wife to the board. Their daughter Olive also worked in the business.

1926 The General Strike. Clifton Walter Webber is made a director of the firm.

1930's The economic depression continued, but the business was in a comparatively good state.

1933 Webbers opened new premises in Alton.

1939 Clifton Webber, aged 35, volunteered to join the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The War Office, however, decided he was of most use to the country running the business, particularly its combination of maintenance and damage repair facilities. Webbers were contracted to overhaul and repair military vehicles, and so both Clifton Webber and other key men in the company were retained in civilian occupations.

1950 Clifton Webber's son Roger joined the business as an apprentice, spending four years studying general engineering.

1958 The Alton premises were finally sold, having never really lived up to expectations.

1960 Walter Webber died on 27 February aged 89.

1960's Webber's premises on London Street were compulsorily purchased to make way for a new road.

1963 Work began on a new showroom and petrol station on Southern Road.

1968 Webbers continued to sell British marques throughout the period of change in the motor industry.

1974 Roger Webber becomes Managing Director, with Clifton Webber, now aged 70, as Chairman.

1975 New showroom together and filling station on New Road, and conversion of the Southern Road showroom for used vehicles.

1987 Webbers relinquished their Rover franchise in favour of Honda, but continued to sell Land Rover and Jaguar cars.

1989 Roger Webber died on 26 July aged only 57. Roger's son Antony William Winton (known as Winton) joined the business the same year aged 22. Winton's grandfather, Clifton Webber, now forgetting all thoughts of a full retirement, remained as Chairman.

1997 Bodyshop operations were moved from workshops on Southern Road to Daneshill industrial estate.

1999 Winton Webber, the fourth generation of the family, is made Joint Managing Director. Clifton Webber dies on 10 October, aged 95.

2000 Webbers celebrates its official 100th birthday.

 

Phot exterior Webbers shop c1900

Photo of Webber garage c1915

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'Motor Runs Round Basingstoke' by W W Webber, 1928. Reproductions from the Willis Museum £2

Crash photo
Rover car being taken to Webber's following a collision with a tank

Milestones museum
Replica of Webbers garage from the 1920s at Milestones Museum in Basingstoke