History of AJ Ball
If you feel it is important to know a little of the history about the companies you use then please read on, if not then just enjoy the pictures. The story begins in London and moves to Ramsgate after the war, it involves pubs, famous roads and great pictures of the business as it grew and transformed. There is even the receipt for the first Leicht kitchen ever sold by A.J Ball back in November 1977, exactly 40 years before today and three years before I was born.
I guess it must begin somewhere and the present day is no better place to start. I am sitting in the showroom as the newly appointed Bathroom designer and marketing aficionado. On the walls all around me are certificates, diplomas ageing photographs and group shots outside manufacturers premises. The last ten years spent as a commercial artist and photographer these items are just too intriguing. Drawers, filing cabinets and manila envelopes with old photos and documents that I wish to examine in the months to come.
Francis J Ball owned and lived in this pub on the Fulham Road, at the same time a business was started in nearby Kennington supplying rubber cement for shoe repairs and waxing for laces on football boots.
Here you can see the business with a stand at an exhibition in Crystal Palace at the turn of the century.
We move forward to the 2nd world war and the factory site relocates from London to Leek in Staffordshire, F.J. Ball’s son Albert James Ball (A.J. Ball) remains as a fireman in London during the war.
It is after this and with illness in the lung the family moves to Ramsgate (down from London) and opens the first store in 1948 in King Street, selling 2nd hand furniture. The store, way ahead of its time begins a focus on DIY, opening a second store in the 50’s in Broadstairs.
It is at the time that superstore DIY merchants begin to open nationwide, that the company moves into Kitchen specialisation. White wood kitchen cupboards into painted modular units, then developed into fitted kitchens see below with Tony Blackburn at the Ramsgate shop in the late 70’s.
Eric and Norman Ball the sons of Albert are now kitchen designers, planners and fitters, gathering experience on the job in a newly emerging industry. See here on 2nd November the first Leicht Kitchen sold for a total of 778 pounds to the Whiteheads.
Taking on Leicht meant the company had the backing an incredible manufacturer and the business went from strength to strength. Here are some photos of training sessions and certification undertaken at the Leicht headquarters in Southern Germany. It is at this time the premises I am now working from was opened and the year I was born 1980.
Opening up in 1980 in Broadstairs, converting the old chapel into the showroom you see now.
In part two we look at evolving trends, design and showroom space over the last forty years. Thank you for reading, best wishes. From all here at A.J. Ball and Sons.