On 1st January 1910 William Vinten was given the opportunity to start his own business by taking over the workshops that he was running for his employer Charles Urban in Urbanora House, Wardour Street, London. His first order was for “25 Kinemacolor Machines (heavy type)” for the price of £25 each.
Besides being heavily involved with the developing cinema industry, Bill Vinten also made parts for use in cars and aircraft particularly when his workshops came under government control on the outbreak of war in 1914. For further reading about the early days of W Vinten Ltd refer to the book ‘Images of Success, The History of Vintens 1910 – 1992’ by Stuart Sansom and Luke Vinten.
In 1928 the lease on the Wardour St premises ran out; the company was prospering and needed larger manufacturing premises so in 1929 moved to a site on the North Circular Road in Cricklewood, N London. They outgrew this site by 1964 when all manufacturing was moved to the present site in Bury St Edmunds as part of the London overspill initiative of the time.
By 1972, William and Ellen had died. Their children, Maisie, Charles, Jean, Phyllis (Pip) and William Patrick (Bill or Paddy) held most of the shares. The business was floated on The London Stock Exchange with a new holding company, Vinten Group Ltd. The Company remains the holding company whose shares are quoted, but is now named The Vitec Group plc.
Bill Vinten remained with the Group as a director and full time engineer, until he resigned from the Group Board in September 1992 at the age of 72. He was the only member of the family who continued to hold a position in the Group. His sister, now Mrs Jean Crosher, owned a substantial holding of Vinten Group Ltd shares.
In 1982, Mrs Crosher and the Chairman of the Vinten Group Ltd, Michael Brown, decided to create a charity, the prime object of which would be productive industry related education, training and welfare, and she donated a large proportion of her Vinten Group shares to this end.
During the 1990’s a review of the objects of the Trust was undertaken and as a result a new charity deed was issued on 11th July 1995 which included some new objectives. The important change was to add, as a prime objective, education related to industry, science, technology, industrial processing and production, engineering and mathematics. This was a major move towards promoting engineering through the education system, leading to the Trust’s initiatives with local schools and colleges.
The decade also saw the development of the Vinten group with acquisitions, increased international activity and a change in name to Vitec Group PLC. Subsequently W. Vinten Ltd was sold to the Thales group.
For more detail the Vinten website has a timeline of the development of the group.