Welcome to the Gardner & Co History page.
Scroll down to find out more about the origins of our company and founder Philip John “Pip” Gardner and our more recent history up to the present day.
The first factory for J. Gardner & Co was opened in circa 1873. The first factory was in Dockhead, Bermondsey, 0.6 miles from the current head office in London.
Start of World War I
28th July 1914
Philip John “Pip” Gardner was born on Christmas Day 1914 at Sydenham, South London, the son of Stanley J Gardner.
End of the First World War
11th November 1918
He was educated at Dulwich, where he played rugby for the school and blew the bugle on Armistice Day. He chose rifle-shooting in preference to cricket & practised on ranges at Bisley. At 17 he joined J Gardner and Co, the family engineering firm.
When he was 19 the company sent him to Hong Kong for two years, entrusting him with the drawing work for the installation of heating and ventilating equipment at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.
Whilst here, he joined the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Force.
Edward VIII abdicates
10th December 1936
After returning home, he joined the Westminster Dragoons TA in 1938, confiding to a friend in a letter: “I must do my duty, but I’m no soldier”.
Britain declares war on Germany – World War II
3rd September 1939
In March 1940 Gardner was commissioned as a subaltern into the Royal Tank Regiment. In September he spent four weeks at the Irregular Warfare School at Lochailort on the west coast of Scotland, where Lord Lovat was in charge of the field-craft course.
He was posted to the 4th Royal Tank Regiment in the Western Desert in 1941 and was awarded two gallantry medals for his actions during his time here.
The first, his MC awarded in June 1941 and his second, the VC awarded in November 1941.
In June 1942, after the fall of Tobruk, Pip Gardner was captured and sent to Italy as a prisoner of war. He later escaped, but was recaptured by the Germans and sent firstly to Stalag IV B in Muhlberg and then to Stalag 79 near Brunswick. Here he helped to raise £13,000 in pledges from other POWs to start a boys club in Fulham. After the war he returned to Gardner & Co.
World War II Ends
2nd September 1945
The citation for his VC declared: “The courage, determination and complete disregard for his own safety displayed by Captain Gardner enabled him, despite his wounds and in the face of intense fire at close range, to save the life of his fellow officer in circumstances fraught with great difficulty and danger.” Gardner was invested with the VC by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on May 18th 1945.
A site for the Brunswick Boys’ Club was purchased in Fulham and building work completed in 1948. The Duke of Edinburgh opened the club the following year. Philip Gardner was president for 40 years.
In 1951 J Gardner & Co completed work on the Royal Festival Hall where they manufactured and installed 170 tons of air duct.
After the war, Gardner was appointed joint managing director of the family firm; he became chairman in 1955.
The Sydenham “New Monument works”, factory estate in Kent House Lane was an amazing place, almost totaly self sufficient.
It had, along with the sheet metal, structural steelworks and semiskilled workshops and stores, it’s own maintenance department (in case of machinery breakdown), garages with fully trained mechanics to look after all of the company’s vehicles, 2 drawing offices, Contracts Drawing Office and Production Drawing Office.
Estimating and commercial departments, a rate fixing department for giving, piecemeal, manufacturing targets and a print room, where the dyeline “blueprints” were produced, as well as both staff and works canteens.
Gardner & Co were the first Ductwork Company to undertake an “Airside” package, this was first introduced on the Cutler’s Gardens (Devonshire Square) development near Liverpool Street station.
Shortly after this Gardner & Co took on full contractor status on Finsbury Avenue and Broadgate developments.
Philip Gardner approached Peter Legge and Bill Cox to see if they were interested in the purchase of Gardner & Co – and with financial backing of Mr C. W. Egleton – a deal was done and the ownership passed to the three of them in late 1984.
The company floated on the third market of the London Stock Exchange and with the acquisition of the other companies the name was changed to “The Beckenham Group”. However, J Gardner became a division of the “The Beckenham Group” under the leadership of Peter Legge.
Numerous projects were carried out over the next 7 years, including CAP Southampton, Waterloo International, European Bank, Herbert Smith and the continuation of Broadgate.
Due to the major recession in 1994 the only profitable arm of “The Beckenham Group” was J Gardner division and therefore after the demise of “The Beckenham Group”, J Gardner was reformed initially to “Invicta” but subsequently to “Gardner & Co (Kent) Ltd”
Staffed by J Gardner Directors, Kevin Burrows (Contract Director) and Mike Grace (Commercial Director) and other staff under the leadership of Peter Legge as Managing Director. The Company went from strength to strength.
Major airside projects started this year include 31 Gresham Street.
Major airside projects started this year includes Christ Church Court and 59 Gresham Street.
The first airside project started on Chiswick Park. (Gardner & Co successfully completed Airside Packages on 14 Buildings on the development in the following years).
Philip “Pip” Gardner passes away on the 14th February 2003.
Major projects started this year include W8 Regent Street and One Bishops Square.
Peter Legge took on the role of Chairman, Stephen Legge became Managing Director and Richard Legge joined the board as Sales Director.
Major projects started this year include Unilever House
Major projects started this year include Bow Bells House
Richard Legge was promoted to Joint Managing Director based in the new London office at 1-5 Bermondsey Street.
Major projects started this year include HP Enterprise Services Mega data centre at Wynyard Business Park, Billingham
Major projects started this year include Park House
Following the success of the data centre project, Stephen Legge sets up new venture – Gardner Data Centres Solutions (GDCS) and Richard Legge became Managing Director of Gardner & Co.
Major projects started this year include NEQ (Regents Place) and The Place (London Bridge)
Major projects started this year include 70 Mark Lane
Major projects started this year include South Bank Tower
Gardner & Co continue to specialise in Airside Package projects as one of Britain’s leading Ductwork Contractors.