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A Brief History of Willard Conservation

To celebrate 60 years of Willard, in our latest blog, we delve into the back history of how our founder, Jack Willard MBE started out in the diverse industry of engineering for cultural conservation tools, equipment and supplies. Read on to discover how it all started at Willard. 

One unusual request

Back in the 1950’s, Jack Willard was already an accomplished engineer and toolmaker based in Chichester when a young trainee conservator living in the local area approached Jack with an unusual tool request. She described the hypothetical tool’s use and required application as there wasn’t anything available at the time. The resulting tool was the very first commercial Heated Spatula to be produced. Being so pleased with her new tool and the precision application now achievable, she soon spread the word about this new conservation tool and requests from Conservators across the UK soon spilled in for more Heated Spatulas and additional tools.

heated spatula, conservation tool

The next step in conservation innovation

Jack Willard continued to develop more tools to cater to the growing, and increasingly specific needs of conservation professionals, all the while building his reputation as the go-to toolmaker for the conservation profession. By the early 1960’s Jack had pioneered the design and manufacture of the very first heated suction/vacuum relining table, variations of which now reside in some the most prestigious museums and studios around the World. This was gradually followed by the development of a core range of tools and equipment designed and built to meet particular conservation needs.

conservation equipment & supplies, spatula, suction table

Dedicating most of his working life to the production of high quality, innovative products for the advancement of conservation methods and techniques, Jack Willard was awarded an MBE for his outstanding achievements. Jack Willard passed away in 2007 at the age of 79. Jack Willard’s son, Paul Willard who joined the business in the early 1980’s, today manages Willard Conservation Ltd. Paul and his team of specialist engineers today continue to enhance and improve the range of conservation supplies to assist with the increasing challenges faced by the next generation of conservators.

conservation equipment

Conservation Tools that last a lifetime

A testament to our long-standing reputation for quality tools and conservation equipment, is when earlier this year we received one of our early Heated Spatulas in for its first repair. Once we checked the serial number, we discovered the year of manufacture was in fact 1976, making it 40years old!Read more about this customer story here. Our tools are still made to the same high standard of quality today, just with modern components. If you purchase one of our heated spatulas today, we are sure it will still be fully functioning in 2056.

Read more about Willard’s Commitment to the conservation industry and business ethos here.

Browse and shop our growing range of conservation supplies here.


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