Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 20, 2018
Webpage updated: February 20, 2018




The Plymouth business house of Messrs W G Heath & Company Ltd, electrical engineers, was located at 41 George Street, Plymouth, before the Second World War and at 5 and 33 Princess Square and 28 Westwell Street thereafter.

William George Heath was born in Kennington, then in the county of Surrey, in 1878, to Mr Frank W and Mrs Elizabeth Heath.  His father was a clerk and had been born at Dursley, in Gloucestershire.

The family moved to Plymouth between 1887 and 1891 as at the time of the census in the latter year they were living at number 12 Sidmouth Terrace, off Alexandra Road, Mutley.  William was at school, as were three of his siblings.

It is understood that William opened an electrical shop in 1898 and is reputed to have installed the first electrical streets lights in the Town the following year.

Mr William George Heath married Miss Clara Helena Hurrell, daughter of the late Mr Henry Hurrell, of Peverell Park Villa, on Tuesday March 6th 1900 at Mutley Baptist Chapel.  She was over ten years older than he was and from a wealthy and prominent family in the area so it would be interesting to know how this liaison came about.

It was Messrs W G Heath & Company that installed the electrical gear in Plymouth's first cinemas and for the British Broadcasting Company when they opened their Plymouth station.  They later installed the equipment on the radio mast at North Hessary Tor and later still for the new Westward Television.

Mr Heath was a founder of the Electrical Contractors' Association and became a director of Rediffusion and Britannia Electrical Cables Ltd.  He was a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers.

In partnership with Mr Henry Hurrell, trading as the Plympton Electric Supply Company, Heath's company laid the main electricity cables in the parishes of Plympton Saint Mary, Plympton Saint Maurice, Brixton, Eggbuckland, Plymstock and Saint Budeaux.  That project started in 1925.  Six years later, they commenced the same operation in Tavistock and Okehampton.

By the end of the Great War Heath's had branches at Plympton, Tavistock, Buckfastleigh and Ivybridge.

Mrs Clara Helena Heath died at "Westbrook", Crownhill, on November 25th 1935 at the age of 70.  The funeral service was held at Mutley Baptist Chapel on November 28th 1935.  She was survived by her husband and their two children, Willie and Dorothy.  Being a prominent lawn tennis player, she had been one of the earliest members of the Mannamead Tennis Club and was also a member of the Women's Electrical Association.  Mrs Heath had been a very keen supporter of the Three Towns Nursing Association.

In 1935 their shop was at 41 George Street, opposite the old Theatre Royal, and their depot was in the Old Sugar Refinery in Mill Street.  There they advertised lighting, power, heating, bells, and country house plants, along with wirelesses, telephones and Frigidaire refrigeration.  Their telephone number was Plymouth 60316.

During the Second World War the Company manufactured parts for aircraft at Millswood Mill, Brent, where Heath's employed some 50 men.  The factory was destroyed by fire during the night of Sunday February 8th 1948.  The manager, Mr Tornberg, and his wife, who lived on the premises, managed to get out of their rooms in the three-storey building and three families in adjoining cottages had to evacuate their homes.  National Fire Service men from Greenbank Fire station attended the blaze until they were relieved at 2.30am the following morning by units from Totnes and Buckfastleigh.

In 1956 the business was turned into a Limited Liability Company.

Mr William George Heath died on January 31st 1961 at his home, "Brookfield", Looseleigh Lane, Crownhill.  He was 82 years of age.  The funeral service was held at Mutley Baptist Chapel on Friday February 3rd 1961 and Mr Heath was buried at Efford Cemetery.  The service was conducted by the Reverend Norman Wright.  He was survived by one daughter, Miss (Helena) Dorothy (Hurrell) Heath.  Interestingly, one of the mourners was Mr A L Johnson of Messrs Johnson & Baxter, who later took over the business.

On Friday August 4th 1972 the business was taken over by Messrs Johnson & Baxter, the largest privately-owned heating and ventilating contractor in the South West.

In October 1972 the shareholders wished to dispose of the assets of the business but not the shares.  In order to do so the purchasers acquired a business named Messrs Ebnal Electrical Engineers Ltd and changed its name to Messrs W G Heath & Company Ltd, at the same time changing the name of Heath's to that of Ebnal Electrical Engineers.  That Company was then liquidated.

In March 1993 a new business, Messrs W G Heath (Electrical Services) Ltd was incorporated following the announcement of the closure of the parent business of Messrs Johnson & Baxter, with Mr Martin Axe was Managing Director.  Messrs W G Heath & Company Ltd ceased trading on June 30th and the new Company took over from Thursday July 1st 1993.


  With grateful thanks to Mr Martin Axe, formerly managing director of Messrs W G Heath (Electrical Services) Ltd.