By Evelyn Williams & Dennis Wood.

Gillette in February 2017 before work started

The recent planning application for a major reconfiguration of the Gillette building on Basingstoke Road in Whitley elicited positive comments about the factory building from councillors on the Reading Borough Council (RBC) planning committee.

Local people also felt the same way and RBC have now recognised the importance of the building and that it is worthy of recognition as a locally listed heritage asset (LL13).

Refurbishment underway August 2018

The original occupants were Williamson Manufacturing who built the northern half of the factory and the tower in the 1930s to house some of their operations away from London in advance of the outbreak of the Second World War. The company was famous for its aerial mapping and reconnaissance cameras, the most famous of which was the G45.

Williamson Manufacturing on Basingstoke Road 1946 from the Ministry of information. Image © Reading Borough Council (Reading Museum).

After Williamson Manufacturing, the building was occupied by Bourjois, the cosmetics company, who produced soap and perfume.

Although presenting an almost symmetrical art deco facade to Basingstoke Road the southern half of the building was not built until the 1950s by Gillette, now part of Procter & Gamble.

  1. List of locally important buildings and structures
  2. Grace’s Guide – Williamson Manufacturing Company
  3. Williamson camera from the First World War in the Imperial War Museum collection
  4. Gillette building planning application 162108
  5. Reading’s Gillette building at the planning committee
  6. P & G Gillette employees at Reading celebrate 60 years in style (2017)
  7. Gillette
  8. Reading Museum Historypin Collection
  9. Reading Museum online collection