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Our Timeline

Starting from humble beginnings, Walter & Herbert pays homage to the rich history of our company, encompassing 70 years of experience to create beautiful eyewear designed, made and tested in England.

1946

Walter Conway and Herbert Thorn moved to the quintessentially English town of Guildford in Surrey, where they established the headquarters for Optoplast Manufacturing Co. Ltd. With an initial staff of 6, surrounded by rolling hills and cobbled streets, this small team of workers were soon to make a name for themselves within the optical industry.

1948

Walter and Herbert worked closely with the National Health scheme to launch the first range of optical frames for the NHS, whilst Walter began work on the PIMO machine.

1951

The PIMO machine was launched and put into production, inserting metal reinforcements into acetate spectacle sides with absolute precision, an innovation that changed the way spectacles were manufactured worldwide. With 80 staff at work, Walter and Herbert were able to produce 2 temples a second, exporting more than 5 million a year to 11 countries.

1967

Walter and Herbert’s flourishing business relocated to a new, larger factory in Surbiton, spanning over 10,000 square feet on the outskirts of Surrey.

1982

At the age of 32, Walter’s eldest son Gary joined the company. Like his father, Gary’s charm and aptitude helped to negotiate new opportunities for the business. Over the next year Optoplast became the largest producer of spectacle frame sides in England.

1985

Following Herbert’s retirement, his son Daniel joined the company.

1992

The business relocated to Liverpool and set up manufacturing in Manchester. Gary and Daniel were appointed Joint Chief Executives. This was a milestone in the history of Walter and Herbert as the company was now in the hands of the second generation Conways and Thorns.

1999

Gary’s son James joined the company. 21 years old and fresh from university he quickly demonstrated his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for optics.

2006

A new design office opened in Weybridge, just 30 minutes from central London. With innovation and creativity at the heart of every design, the dedicated team of in-house designers skilfully create eyewear to appeal and flatter, whilst always maintaining the fundamentals of comfort, quality and wearability.

2012

Newly appointed Joint Chief Executives James and Daniel set up Optolab, a UKAS accredited testing lab that gave the company unique competitive advantage ensuring the quality, performance and safety of every frame they produced.

2014

The first production machines arrived allowing Optoplast to make beautiful eyewear in Liverpool, England.

2015

Walter & Herbert Made in England eyewear is launched signifying a new era for the company. Deeply engrained in heritage, the brand benefits from three generations of industry experience and expertise. Paying homage to Walter Conway and Herbert Thorn, Walter & Herbert frames deliver a versatile and original range of styles that are beautifully designed and crafted in England. Walter & Herbert is an exciting new chapter for the company.