R Wilkinson & Son was founded in 1947 by Reginald Wilkinson, who, together with his young son Arthur, moved to London from Stourbridge, the home of the English glass cutting industry. Together they set up a small workshop in Battersea and produced cut glass tableware for the London department stores and tableware wholesalers. In the late 1940's, they received a chance visit by an antique dealer, requesting they re-cut some glass to remove chips and damage and this heralded the company's change of direction to the glass repair and restoration business.
The company enjoyed continued growth through the 1950's and they moved to larger premises in Balham in 1954 and were joined three years later by Reginald's son-in-law Roy Warner.
Reginald retired from the business in 1965, set up an antique shop in Wimbledon and wrote "The Hallmarks of Antique Glass" which today is still regarded as one of the most authoritative books on the subject.
Arthur and Roy continued to develop their skills of recreating cutting styles all but forgotten since the 1800's and this in turn lead to the creation of reproduction English chandeliers from the 18th and 19th centuries for Town Halls and Stately Homes at a fraction of the cost of original antique chandeliers.
The 1970's saw another move to larger premises in Forest Hill with Arthur's son, David, joining the business in 1974. Around this time, the company acquired the art metalworking business of Parker Bros. of Clerkenwell which allowed them to manufacture and restore more chandeliers "in house".
In 1985 the company acquired the remnants of the Osler & Faraday lighting company. F&C Osler were the most important chandelier manufacturer in the last half of the 19th century and were famous for creating crystal furniture for the Maharajah's Palaces and the giant crystal fountain for the "Crystal Palace"
In the 20th century Osler merged with the electrical company of Faraday & Son, founded by descendants of the great scientist and inventor Michael Faraday. Together they continued to produce decorative lighting until the 1960's.
The Osler archives, along with the pieces accumulated by Reginald and Arthur, mean the company today holds one of the largest collections of antique patterns and samples in the world.
Reginald Wilkinson died in 1986 aged 80, shortly after seeing the company he founded receive perhaps the highest accolade, the Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
The company has continued to flourish, with a name change to Wilkinson plc. David still continues to head the business and was joined in 2005 by his daughter Jodie.