General Stampers Ltd was set up by a Dutchman, Mr Wim Van Leer in 1936. Mr Van Leer was born in Amsterdam on 29th May 1913 and trained as an engineer in Switzerland before coming to Welwyn Garden City. In the WGC Directory of 1939 the company describes its products as 'Door Furniture' (eg. hinges, handles, etc.). Later on in the 1940s it is described as manufacturing 'stamped and pressed parts in all metals and finishes for aircraft, motor, building, and allied trades, etc. Die-casting in high-tensile zinc base alloys up to 2 lb. Wire products and wire shapes. Spot welding. Electro-depositing in zinc, tin, chromium, and other finishes. Small sub-assemblies. Press tools and moulds. Experimental engineers and designers. Special machinery designed and built. Industrial X-ray service in metals and plastics.' Wim Van Leer travelled to Germany after a plan was hatched in November 1938 by WGC founder Captain Richard Reiss and Edgar Reissner - a young German student. Reiss and Reissner formed a refugee committee and made available Applecroft Hostel as accommodation. After negotiations at Gestapo headquarters Mr Van Leer returned to WGC on 15th January 1939 with 14 young Jews who would otherwise have been sent to concentration camps. Sam O, one of the refugees in this group, remembers working in Van Leer's factory "opposite Barcley Corsets, a firm called General Stampers. We did war work, small pressings, die-casting, etc. etc. The chap who worked there somehow managed to get me. I was not interned because we were classed as enemy aliens and for some reason, for very good reason he managed to get me exempted because, I suppose, he put down ‘most important chap, war work, etc, etc.’ I assume".

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General Stampers Ltd
WGC - part of the town plan drawn by Louis De Soissons - showing the General Stampers (Welwyn) Ltd factory site in Bridge Road East. (Factory no. 62 on this plan - highlighted yellow). Map from the HALS collection.
General Stampers Ltd
General Stampers interior - on the right is Ellis operating a cold press - one of the 'little machines'. Image from 'Industry At Welwyn' (published by the WGC Ltd company c1939 to attract new industries to the town). Item donated to the Welwyn Garden City Heritage Trust archive by Joyce D as part of the 'Where Do You Think We Worked? project.
General Stampers Ltd
General Stampers (Welwyn) Ltd - publicity material from a trade fair. This item is from the Graces Guide website and we are grateful for permission to reproduce it here.
General Stampers Ltd
WGC Directory 1947 - industries information. Page 27 - General Stampers Ltd. Item held at the WGC Library Local Studies Collection.
General Stampers Ltd
Health & safety poster - 'If you can't grow fingers grow careful'. Lettering beneath states 'Presented to the industry by General Stampers (Welwyn) Ltd., Welwyn Garden City, Herts, and associated companies. Copies on application. Copyright reserved. Lewitt-Him'Polish artists Jan Le Witt and George Him formed design partnership Lewitt-Him, moving to London in 1937. When WWII started Lewitt-Him designed some posters for the Ministry of Information.This copyright image is shown courtesy Wellcome Library, London
General Stampers Ltd
General Stampers Ltd - staff outing - a boatride on The Thames. Image donated to the Welwyn Garden City Heritage Trust archive by Gerd G as part of the 'Where Do You Think You Live?' project. Back Row: 1st from left Margaret Winslow, 3rd left Sam Ostro. Front Row: 2nd left Ernie Pooley (husband of) 3rd left Sonja Pooley - both have their arms resting on a life buoy. Seated on the far right of the photograph is Billy Boone. Gerd himself is pictured - seated 3rd from the right wearing a mac.
General Stampers Ltd
General Stampers Ltd - restaurant dinner event for staff and families - photograph dated 1940s. Image donated to the Welwyn Garden City Heritage Trust archive by Gerd G as part of the 'Where Do You Think You Live?' project.
General Stampers Ltd
Wim Van Leer beside the memorial plaque in Welwyn Garden City which reads 'This memorial was established with gratitude to Capt R.L.Reiss, Edgar Reissner and the Citizens of WGC by the 14 young Jewish men who were rescued by Wim Van Leer from German concentration camps after the Kristall Nacht in November 1938'. Image donated to the Welwyn Garden City Heritage Trust archive by Gerd G as part of the 'Where Do You Think You Live?' project.
 
 
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