Ardarth Tobacco Company

Audio recording by some who worked there.

By WGCHT & Martin Morris

Audio clip 1 duration: 6:57

Audio clip 2 duration: 5:23

The topic of these recordings is the Ardath Tobacco Company. The time period being discussed is the 1950s.

Ardath Tobacco Company Ltd. was established towards the end of the last century when cigarettes began to win popularity with smokers.

At that time the most important Ardath brand was State Express 555, which cigarettes were then hand-made. Over the years these cigarettes became world famous, and as sales were developed in overseas markets, demand so increased that enlargement of production became necessary, and a number of buildings in Worship Street, London, were eventually taken over by the company. Soon afterwards a factory was opened in Holland where business has been developed on a large scale.

During the second world war the Worship Street factory was severely damaged, and with the need for expansion in the post war years yet further accommodation had to be obtained. One of the landmarks in Welwyn Garden City – the film studio built by Associated British Pictures Corporation in Broadwater Road – thus became the new home for the manufacture of those various brands of State Express and Ardath cigarettes which enjoy so much popularity among smokers in all parts of the world.

It was realised, however, that even this factory would not be large enough to handle anticipated production requirements. Accordingly, a new ultra modern factory was planned alongside the ex-film studio in Broadwater Road and this was completed and equipped with up-to-date machinery in 1957.

Of a staff of many hundreds, the majority of the company’s employees at Welwyn Garden City live in this delightful area, while a number of long service workers travel daily from the London area.


Closed in 1960 and factory taken over by Polycell.

This page was added on 09/03/2016.

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  • Fascinating. My stepfather, Alan Murray, and all our family moved down from Leeds in 1959 as my stepfather had been made Factory Manager of Ardath WGC. The other BAT factories including Kirkstal (where my stepfather had been Factory Manager) were closed. After our move we were only here a year before WGC was closed too. We had to move again as Alan Murray managed to get a Factory Manager’s position with Kensitas in Stratford East. He had many anecdotes about his short time in WGC. He was a lovely man but died of Emphysema having spent much of his career in Tobacco.

    By Amanda Murray (17/08/2021)