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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…

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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 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, 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.

A few years later, Albert was joined by his two sons Arthur and George, as two young boys. They ran the business but 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 continued to expand, a new sales person was needed and so 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 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 now 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 sales and together they developed the company expanding further into the heartland of East Anglia.

Over the next few years, they employed many 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 hoped for. Concentrating mainly on products for agriculture and haulage which was, of course some, of the biggest industries 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. Geoff and Alan were to remain a loyal and successful partnership for over 40 years.

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, estates 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. The Royal Warrant helps underline our company’s commitment to maintaining and building its reputation as producers of the finest quality lubricants and paints and suppliers of excellence.

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 and Richard Scarbrough as Sales Director. Not long after this the board was strengthened with Jo Welsh, Finance Director and Ali Bottom who would develop the Group’s Marketing We’re now proud, that the 4th generation of the Smith family is continuing in the business with Dominic Smith. The 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 proud to be a member of this association.

2012 

WITHAM GROUP REACHES GROWTH MILESTONE

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 original 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 

WITHAM MOTORSPORT STARTED & 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 Motorsportpartnership has unrivalled expertise and offers outstanding products, technical 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. Witham Group wanted to change this and developed the new unique concept of Blendtek, a flexible blending solution using ultra sound technology and solar panels. This special technique improves the speed of product blending, slashes normal gas and electricity 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 and sustainable legacy to the global lubricant Industry.

2021 

WITHAM CELEBRATE 100 YEARS OF BUSINESS

We were very proud in June 2021 to hold our company’s 100th Annual General Meeting at Lincoln, with the Board of Directors congratulating the business on reaching this amazing milestone. The meeting was both in person and online to account for COVID restrictions.

It would have been hard to imagine 100 years ago, that technology would allow team members to join a meeting without being there!. The AGM reviewed all aspects of the Group’s activities and successes as well as concentrating on the current challenges at all three depots.

Nigel our MD welcomed everyone to the meeting and said:
'Who would have thought a century ago, when the first generation of Smith family thought to have a go and set up our original business Witham Oil and Candle Company in 1921, that the business would then transfer to the success custodianship of Alan Smith and Geoff Bottom for 40 years, and then all the current Directors and Teams now involved across all three depots would see Witham Group grow to what it is today? I am so proud fo the business so here is a BIG CHEERS TO TEAM WITHAM GROUP – for those both now and those from yesteryear.'

2022 

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE

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 of putting our people and our customers first and yet we remain committed to innovation with existing product development, environmental breakthroughs, and technology advances as we face the challenges of our industry and the changing world around us.

Offering quality in all that we do, 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.