Ford and Walton, the Kilburn builders of BBC Broadcasting House
Richard Thomas Ford and Francis James Walton were both employed by the Kilburn building firm of John Allen and Sons which was based in today’s Kingsgate Studios building. Then in December 1903 Ford and Walton set up their own building firm with a small office at No.1 West End Lane. In 1905 they acquired the large yard behind Nos. 242-252 Kilburn High Road. Number 242 was re-numbered in 1923 as No.254, which today is the address of the new 60-flat development ‘Park Place’ overlooking Grange Park.
Richard Ford grew up in Kilburn and was living with his parents at No.9 Lowfield Road in 1881 and at No.1 Kylemore Road in 1891. In 1894 he married Clara Saxby and they had three children. In August 1904 their little daughter ‘Dottie’ or Doris, died aged only nine and a half at their home, 42 Dyne Road. Richard Ford died in 1911 when he was living at 23 Mapesbury Road, and he left £7,401, today worth about £720,000.
Frank Walton lived in St Pancras. He married Anne Martha Stevens in 1890, and they had five children. In 1929 he was at 2 Morland Close Hampstead Way close to the Heath, when he died living £63,401 (today worth about £3.6M) to his widow.
The firm kept going under the sons of Richard and Frank and had lots of work around London. In 1930, they signed the contract with the BBC to build Broadcasting House in Portland Place, and it was completed in 1931.
The Grade II* building is in the Art Deco style on a steel frame. The first radio broadcast was made on 15 March 1932 and it was officially opened on 15 May.
The 1931 photograph has the Ford and Walton sign on the front and was taken before the Eric Gill statues of ‘Prospero’ and ‘Ariel’, and those by Kilburn sculptor Gilbert Bayes, were installed.