The History Of Auto-Wrappers

Part 3

The Edward Street Factory

Auto Wrappers (Norwich) Ltd 

(The Tobenoil Years)   1958 to 1966

 

In 1958 Autowrappers was sold to an investment company called Tobenoil Ltd, Tobenoil had been incorporated the previous year on 20th of June 1957, the takeover by Tobenoil provided investment that would see the company grow and develop new machines and technology that was needed for a rapidly expanding packaging market.


Below is article sent to us by Jean Cann ( Charles Maddison's daughter ) from the Eastern Evening News dated Thursday 27th of Novemeber 1958, outlining the sale of Auto-Wrappers to the Tobenoil Group And Charles Maddisons journey of success.  


Photo Ref: AW0646-7-8 Courtesy of Jean and Kenneth Cann, Copyright Eastern Counties Newspapers

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It would be during this next  period that Auto-wrappers would develop two milestones in its packaging history,


The first development was in 1960 with the introduction of the AT Flow-Wrapper, this machine produced a new style of wrap that had airtight seals and helped increase the shelf life of products it contained, the downside was this machine alone hit the sales of the older "Cut & Wrap" machines very hard, as customers now wanted the benifits and seal quality of a flow-wrapper. Over the next 10 years the "Cut & Wrap" machines would gradually disappear into oblivion.  


The Second milestone in the history of Autowrappers  was the introduction of the Super 2000 Roll-wrapper, introduced in the early 60s  this new design was a progression from the RH Roll-Wrapper, but with new  castings and mechanics it was far more robust and versatile  than its predecessors,  but more importantly it was also faster. 

this design has proved to be so good, that the same machine is still being manufactured today. 


           Photo Ref: AW0553  AT Flow-Wrapper                                              Photo Ref: AW0552 Super 2000 Roll Wrapper  

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Autowrappers entered the North American market through the popularity of the  Roll Wrapper.  There are over 200 machines in North America wrapping a range of products from Sweetarts to Lifesavers.  These machines have been in the market for over 50 years.  Companies such as Nestle, Van Melle and J&J still have  and use these machines and have come to count on their efficient and robust daily operation. 

The machine list below from 1961 shows the standard range of machines produced at the Edward St factory, due to the introduction and versatility of the AT Flow-wrapper, the range of other machines was reduced compared to vast range of machines produced in previous years.


Photo Ref: AW0500 

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It was also around this period that Auto-Wrappers started producing coloured sales brochures and flyers.  

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The Lord Mayor of Norwich Mr Tom Eaton visits the Edward St factory in 1958, We have been sent information by Rod Horne, that the person in the white coat talking to The Lord Mayor is Charles ( Bill ) Maddison, the founder of Autowrappers.

  

Photo Ref:AW0240. Photo Courtesy of Richard Rush and Trevor Kirby and thanks to the guys at  "Norwich in the good old days from the 60s" facebook site for helping with the name of the Mayor

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Rod Horne sent us the following information .... 

This photo shows three people by a Cartoning machine The man on the right is Ken Calinski, Ken was Polish and leading hand on most things apart from Roll Wrappers. The big man in the white overall is Charles (Bill) Maddison and the little guy peeking over the top of the machine, to Charlie’s right, is man named Mr Frank Salt. He was a director, or some such lofty position with Tobenoil.


Photo Ref:AW0241  Photo Courtesy of Richard Rush and Trevor Kirby

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Edward St dispatch, Crated machines being loaded onto the British Road Services lorry, ready for delivery.


Photo Ref:AW0242.  Photo Courtesy of Richard Rush and Trevor Kirby

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Below are photos sent to us by Mick Tooke who was a driver for British Road Services, showing machines being dispatched from the Edward St factory.

Photo Ref: AW0204  Photo courtesy of Mick Tooke ( Driver for BRS )

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Photo Ref: AW0208    Machines Leaving Edward st to be delivered to the customers, Photo courtesy of Mick Tooke  ( Driver for BRS )

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As mentioned previously, in 1960 the Company decided to introduce a new "pillow" packing machine known as the AT flow-wrapper for a variety of new applications.   The success of this addition soon became apparent, these machines were quickly accepted by major users and helped expand the Company's manufacturing requirements.


When i first joined the company in the early 90s  i was told many stories by other engineers on how Auto Wrappers ventured into Flow-wrapping, one of them ( incorrectly) was that in the 60s a Swiss company called SIG-Pack ( now Bosch ) asked us to bulid Flow-wrappers for them for the UK market and when this fell though, Autowrappers stole the SIG design and Built their own copies,  Well i can happily say that most of this story was not true... 


Auto Wrappers designed, developed and manufactured its own flow-wrapper in 1960, the "AT Flow-Wrapper" and produced this machine for the UK market, six years later in 1966 due to the AT machines popularity, excellent build quality, and also the huge demand for flow-wrapping machines in the UK,  Autowrappers were aproached by  the Swiss company SIG-pack and asked if Autowrappers could manufacture their SIG HSU model Flow-wrapper under licence for the UK market.  an agreement was made and The HSU was manufactured under licence alongside Auto-wrappers own brand of "AT"  flow-wrappers, Autowrappers for many years supported and supplied parts for the SIG HSU machines, possibly until the early1980s,  More to follow about the SIG machines in a later History section. 

Photo Ref: AW0554 The Autowrappers "AT" Flow-Wrapper 

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The photo below shows the development centre at the Edward St factory around 1963-64, the development center was an important part of the evolving packaging industry, new machine designs were tried and tested and older designs were improved.  New products to be wrapped would pass through this area to be trialed and tested for customers before they placed orders for new machines. 

Photo Ref: AW0207  Edward St Development Centre, Photo Courtesy of David Crisp 

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Under the guidence and management of the TOBENOIL group, Autowrappers sales increased rapidly as did production of its machines, this also required more staff to build the machines, and subsequently by 1964 a larger premises was required due to the increasing demand for the machines, a new site at Whiffler Road was found, plans were drawn up and planning permission was granted on the 14th of January 1965, at the time it was on the very outskirts of Norwich surrounded by open fields, but as Norwich grew so did the surrounding industry around the Autowrappers factory. 


A new era followed ......