The History of Walters
Walters Workshops was founded in the 1880’s.
Originally called Walters Electrical Manufacturing Co, the company provided electrical telegraph and other railway equipment to (mostly) South American railways, led by the original ‘Mr Walters’, an electrical engineer called Walter Powles (above and in the centre of the 2nd photograph).
The directors today are his great grandchildren – the fourth generation of the family to be involved.
Later on the company concentrated on making communication equipment for other markets apart from the railways; in the Second World War for instance it made radio parts and Morse code machines (shown in gallery) for the spies being sent to occupied Europe – so everyone had to sign the Official Secrets Act.
After the war it started to make interior electrics for commercial aircraft – cabin lights and signs like ‘fasten your safety belts’. In the 70’s though it became clear that there wasn’t a market for a small independent company doing this amongst the big boys, so the manufacturing side was sold off and Walters re-invented itself again to become Walters Workshops – doing very much what it does today.
We were already renting out some space and it seemed obvious that this was the way to go – letting relatively small units to craft- and media-related companies. Although we mostly rent to creative enterprises nowadays, in the early days our largest tenant was The Portobello Trust (now the Rugby Portobello Trust) which worked to find employment and training for young people.
Almost by accident we evolved to where we are today – building on the car park to create new units and the courtyard, for instance. Because the building has a certain historical character, the TV show Minder used it as a location (as Arthur Daley’s lock-up) – as have ITV's The Voice, for their final show of 2016.