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From Humble Beginnings


Manufacturers of quality lubricants and paints since 1921

A Little Drop of History

Trading since 1921, Witham Oil & Paint Ltd is a privately owned, family run business with its Head Office and lubricant manufacturing based in Lincoln. We also have trade depots in Lowestoft, Suffolk and Soham, Cambridgeshire. The business is today collectively known as The Witham Group and is now one of the UK’s leading independent manufacturers of a whole range of commercial and industrial lubricants and paints.

We are extremely proud to now be celebrating 100 years of business and over the past century have grown a rich heritage and strong reputation built on quality, looking after our people, our customers and the environment. Here is a little look back at the history and milestones of the business so far…



1921 

FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

The company was the brainchild of one of our existing Directors, Dominic Smith’s Great Grandfather - Albert Edward Smith.

The company started with humble beginnings on the side of the Brayford Pool in Lincoln, an area then renowned for its industry. Using the river Witham to transport raw materials, the business started off as the Witham Oil & Candle Company making bicycle oils, candles and carbide for local businesses.

As the demand for machinery and industrialisation grew and transport evolved from horse and cart and steam power, to vans, tractors and cars, and so the business expanded. Its product range changed with the times to make lubricants and greases for engines and a wide variety of the new machinery and equipment being installed in a whole range of local industries.

As the business grew Albert was joined by his two sons Arthur and George, as two young boys. They ran the business with a very small team. Needing to support customers and grow the business further, Les Bottom came to work for the company as a sales person. This is the current Managing Director - Nigel Bottom’s grandfather.

As the products and services of the company grew, the need for a new person in the factory opened up and Les’s son Geoff Bottom, aged 15, joined his father in the business in 1965.

1952 

FACTORY MOVE

In 1952, the company moved premises from the original site on the Brayford Pool in Lincoln to Webb Street in Lincoln and there the company started its path to further success. On earth floors, the company blended lubricants for many types of customers, not only in Lincolnshire but also into parts of Nottinghamshire and beyond. Agriculture was changing and needed oils and greases for tractors, combines, sprayers and haulage to transport the produce. This became one of Witham’s specialisms. Knowing the local farming communities well, unique and high quality products were developed to serve the prosperous agricultural heartland of Lincolnshire and neighbouring counties.

1968 

A UNIQUE PARTNERSHIP

In 1968, the third generation of the Smith family joined Witham Oil and Grease. Alan Smith was a chemist and looked after the technical and financial side of the business. Geoff Bottom was responsible for customers and the sales of the business and together they developed the company in the heartland of East Anglia. They were to remain a loyal and successful partnership for 40 years.

They employed over the time hard working and loyal team members some of which are still working at the Lincoln factory today. Under this unique partnership the company grew beyond anything the founding fathers would have ever believed. Concentrating mainly on products for agriculture and haulage which was of course some of the biggest industry in Lincolnshire at the time, Alan and Geoff cemented key beliefs in the business to offer the best prices they could backed up by the best service that bigger companies could not match.

The company kept on growing geographically and in 1983, new customers were using the business in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. In 1984, the much prized Royal Estate in Sandringham became users of our lubricant and paint products, which was the start of a very proud relationship for the Witham Group.

1987 

NEW HEAD OFFICE IN LINCOLN

By 1987, the Webb street premises was not large enough to cope with the growth of the business, so the company moved to our current site on Outer Circle Road in Lincoln. The whole factory was moved by the team, our own lorries and a lot of blood, sweat and tears!

1991 

ROYAL WARRANT

Perhaps one of our Company’s most proud moments is when, in 1991 we were appointed the Royal Warrant to HM The Queen. The Appointment was only the start of a magical journey which has culminated in us supplying lubricants and paints for the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, as well as other connected properties and farm land.

Since then, we have become members of the Royal Warrant Association and are proud to have been involved in many events including the Royal Coronation Festival held at Buckingham Palace in July 2013. We continue to support the Royal Warrant Holders Association as a flagship of quality manufacturers and suppliers.

1993 

EASTERN COUNTIES LUBRICANTS PURCHASED

In 1993, we purchased a new company called Eastern Counties Lubricants Ltd in Soham, Cambridgeshire. This was the start of the Witham Group of companies. Soham now assisted in the distribution and expansion of our products in East Anglia and the Midlands and developed as a vital trade depot over the years ahead.

1996 

UNITED PAINTS ADDED TO THE WITHAM GROUP

Only a few years after Soham was acquired, a successful paint manufacturing business was also purchased in Lowestoft. United Paints Ltd helped with the product offering to our existing customers as paints and coatings were a complimentary need of businesses with machinery and vehicles. Specialist paint expertise was acquired and the addition of a new distribution depot on the east coast was an invaluable addition to the Witham Group.

2004 

THE NEXT GENERATION TAKES OVER

With the retirement of Geoff and Alan, the third generation of the Bottom family took on the reigns. Nigel Bottom became Managing Director, his brother Richard Transport Director and a new Board of Directors with Mick Kenyon taking on Technical and Operational aspects with Richard Scarbrough as Sales Director. We're proud now that the 4th generation of the Smith family is continuing in the business with Dominic Smith. This new team ensured the Witham Group would be in safe hands and continue to grow from strength to strength.

2007 

NEW SOHAM DEPOT

With Soham growing rapidly, the depot soon outgrew its premises and so moved to a new address on Regal Drive in Soham. With a brand new trade shop and room for more stock and storage, this location serviced our expanding customer base throughout Cambridgeshire and the Midlands.

2010 

THE VLS IS BORN

Witham Group were most proud to be involved in the origination of the VLS (Verification of Lubricant Specifications). As a new subsidiary of the United Kingdom Lubricant Association (UKLA) the VLS provides a credible and trusted means to verify lubricant specifications. Today this organisation helps improve and monitor the quality of lubricant products in the UK market, tackles false claims and maintains high standards for the end user and the industry as a whole.

Witham Group's Managing Director, Nigel Bottom joined the Board & Supervisory Committee of the VLS in 2010 and is a proud to be a member of this association.

2012 

WITHAM GROUP REACHES £10m

A milestone of success for the Witham Group, in this year, saw the groups sales top £10 million. Customer focus continued to remain at the heart of the business and this was rewarded with a strong growth in customers throughout our oringinal heartland of East Angila and now nationally throughout the UK. No longer was the business based on suppling mainly agricultural and haulage industries. Now plant and off road, marine, and many other types of businesses were on-board.

2014 

NEW LABORATORY INVESTMENTS

To keep up to date with technological advances and legislative requirements, huge investments were made into the lubricant blending plant and laboratory in Lincoln. A new mezzanine floor with redesigned pipework was installed as well as state of the art volatility and contamination testing equipment. This would continue to improve the quality and accuracy of finished products and ensure all our manufactured lubricants would continue to be produced to the highest standards.

2015 

NEW MOTUL PARTNERSHIP

Immensely proud to be chosen as the UK Importer and Distributor of the world renowned Motul Automotive Products, 2015 saw the exciting launch of our new Motorsport brand. We love all things racing and cars and became heavily involved in supplying and supporting race teams, engine manufacturers, garages, workshops and dealerships with proven products from across the Motul range. The Motul and Witham Motorsport partnership has unrivalled expertise and offers outstanding products, techical lubricant knowhow and an enviable service reputation, in an exciting performance arena.

2016 

NEW LOWESTOFT DEPOT

The Lowestoft Paint factory was getting old and tired and so a new trade depot and decorating centre on Newcombe Road was acquired, to create a face to face new customer experience in the area. The new shop and distribution centre enabled customers to see all our products and services displayed with easy access for parking and collections. Branching out to the buoyant marine and environmental industries in the area, this new depot helps with the distribution of products throughout the South East of the country.

2018 

DEVELOPMENT OF NEW ULTRASOUND BLENDING METHOD

The cost and environmental impact of traditional lubricant manufacturing has for many years been huge. Necessity to change this brought about the unique concept of Blendtek, a flexible blending solution using ultra sound technology. This special technique improves the speed of product blending, slashes energy consumption and is totally scalable to suit manufacturer’s requirements. We are proud that our innovation is now being marketed across the world to other lubricant blenders so helping create an unprecedented carbon neutral blending process.

2021 

THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT

We are thrilled to have reached our 100 year anniversary in 2021, and there is so much for the Witham Group to look forward to in the coming years.

We remain traditional in terms of our core values and we remain committed to innovation, the environment and technology as we face the challenges of our industry.

Looking after our customers, our teams and our community, and ensuring all our products are made to the highest of standards, will always be at the very heart of what we do, both now, and long into the exciting future ahead.

'We have come a long way, working hard to ensure the business adapts to keep on top of our industry. Our biggest asset is our heritage, and we will endeavour to continue to put our customers, quality products and unrivalled service at the heart of all that we do' Nigel Bottom MD.