1939 Rolls-Royce Wraith Limousine A Trivia

1786 to 1988

W.D. and H.O. Wills Tobacco importers and cigarette manufacturers.


Henry Overton Wills opens tobacco shop in Bristol As Wills, Watkins and Co (with partner Watkins).


Partner retires name changed to Wills and Co.

1791 to 1793

known as Lilly, Wills and co after merger with Snuff mill owner Peter Lilly.


After partner Lilly’s retirement Will’s two sons William Day and Henry Overton take over company.

1830 to 1988

Firm known by it’s familiar title.

In 1887 Wills were one of the first tobacco co’s to issue
advertising cards in their packets.

In 1895 they produced the first “general interest” cards (cigarette
cards-who remembers collecting them at school – ask your Grandad!)


Sir Henry Wills merges seven major cigarette producing firms founding Imperial Tobacco this conglomerate remains one of the world’s largest tobacco companies today.

It is also worth mentioning that in 1959 the company launched a short lived brand
“Strand” (three shillings and tuppence for twenty, 16pence in today’s decimal coinage –gone up a bit since 1959 haven’t they) with an iconic advert “you’re never alone with a Strand” the product was commercially a disaster quickly withdrawn but the advert continued to top the best advert. of the 20th century charts on T.V. until commercial advertising of tobacco products was banned and it could no longer be shown on TV (how stupid is that!).

The theme to the advert “The Lonely Man” reached 39 in the pop charts and was rising until the BBC banned playing it as “it constituted promotion of a cigarette product”.

You can however, still see the advert, classic 1950’s film noir, on You Tube.

Famous brands from Wills include: Gold Flake, Woodbine, Whiffs (cigars) and
Capstan all brands were withdrawn in 1988 when the name Wills was dropped with the
exception of Woodbine and Capstan which can still be found under the Imperial Tobacco