Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Ronald Wallace Wates

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Sir Ronald Wallace Wates (1907–1986), builder and benefactor

1907 Born in Streatham, London, second child of Edward Wates, builder, and his wife, Sarah Holmes.

Educated at Emanuel School, Wandsworth

c.1923 Worked in an estate agency and qualified as a surveyor in 1928

Joined the family building firm (Wates), of which he became a director in 1931.

1931 married Phyllis Mary Trace; they had four sons.

The family firm took advantage of the suburban growth in south London with output of housing rising to 2000 a year.

With his brothers he managed the family firm - Ronald contributed sound financial sense, a good feel for property, and an organizing ability.

WWII The Wates firm carried out much high-priority work including a major contract for sections of Mulberry harbour for the 1944 Normandy landings.

Post-WWII the firm's reputation grew as its activities widened, extending to contract housing, tower blocks, City redevelopment, and other large-scale construction projects. Ronald's contribution lay in his keen eye for a valuable site and, increasingly, his City contacts.

1969 Unexpectedly took over as chairman when his brother Norman died. Subordinating his other interests, Wates continued until 1973, when Norman's eldest son, Neil Wates, took over as chairman and he became president.

1975 He was knighted for his charitable and philanthropic services

1986 Died in Ashtead Hospital.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Ronald Wallace Wates, ODNB