THE mention of the firm Lansing Bagnall in a Memories feature, on June 7, led to a few enquiries about how the business began.

Situated in Kingsclere Road for about 50 years, the original buildings have mainly gone, while the firm is now known under the title Linde Material Handling.

The full story would take many pages, but the basic facts begin with the establishment of an office in London in 1920, when Mr W G Bagnall arrived from Lansing, in Michigan, America, to be a representative and distributor of electric platform trucks for the Lansing company.

Being an engineer who specialised in mechanical handling equipment, his type of industrial techniques were hardly known in this country, although in America they were common practice.

In 1930, the company in America ceased making trucks and tractors, so Mr Bagnall decided to manufacture them in Britain.

In 1937, Lansing Bagnall and Company Limited was formed at Isleworth, near London, but as the Second World War broke out two years later, business declined in that type of equipment.

In 1943, Emmanuel Kaye and John Sharp, who had a business at Mortlake, Surrey, decided to take over Mr Lansing's firm as partners, and, by combining their names, called it J E Shay Ltd. Mr Lansing retired soon after.

When the war ended in 1945, business started to improve and the premises where the work was carried out became too cramped, so a new site was sought.

Meanwhile, in Basingstoke, the local council had acquired much of the Merton Farm land to rent out to industrial firms, and in 1946, negotiations began between the firm, then called Lansing Bagnall and Shay's, and Basingstoke council.

In October 1947, the Ministry of Supply granted a licence to Mr Sharp and Mr Kaye to build their factory on the Kingsclere Road land, although, at that time, there was still shortages of raw materials due to the previous war and the effect that the big freeze of 1947 had had on the country.

As preparations went ahead to construct the buildings, on Christmas Eve, a letter arrived from the new Minister for Economic Affairs, Sir Stafford Cripps, stating that the licence was cancelled. In fact, all building licences in England were cancelled.

Mr Kaye and Mr Sharp appealed against the cancellation and, to their delight, on January 7, 1948, the ministry allowed them to proceed with the construction of their factory.

Work began in the summer in building various types of structures, such as workshops, factory bays, a canteen and an administration block, which covered some 40 acres in all.

In March 1949, the buildings were occupied and work on the various vehicles began, including smaller ones such as pallet trucks, which were popular with firms which had less space available. The larger fork-lift trucks, which could lift loads to heights that earlier ones were not capable of, were also in great demand.

Over the following years, Lansing Bagnall saw many important visitors. In 1965, the Duke of Edinburgh not only walked around the factory but also operated one of the fork-lift trucks.

Extensions were built over the years including a three-storey office block in 1962, while a new 100,000sqft factory was also constructed.

By the following year, some 1,500 people were being employed by the firm. Two of the leading men, John Peat and John Eddie, later became mayors of the town.

The firm had a large social club of which 85 per cent of the staff were members. Cricket, football and other team sports were played, while skittles and dancing were also popular.

Christmas parties and firework displays were also included in the firm's annual social programme. A drama group, called The Pegasus, was also formed.

There were moments of sadness, though, such as when the service and spares department was destroyed by fire in October 1957.

The saddest news of all came in April 1965, when John Sharp died while travelling back from a business trip in South Africa by aeroplane.

Over the years the firm received several Queen's Awards to Industry.

All over the world, Lansing Bagnall's trucks, with their symbol of the "Mechanised Muscle", proved that they were efficient with their rugged, manoeuvrable and comfortable handling.

In June 1973, the parts and service division building was opened. It was so large that it could house two jumbo jet aeroplanes.

Another factory had also been erected by then, at the Daneshill estate, for accessories for the trucks.

In 1989, Sir Emmanuel Kaye sold his firm Lansing Bagnall to the German firm Linde.

In the following year, under the heading Lansing Linde, the firm embarked on a £50million investment programme to completely build a new manufacturing plant on the Pelton Road side of the Kingsclere Road site. This was completed in 2000.

By then, much of the old Lansing Bagnall buildings had been demolished and various commercial and industrial units were later built on the site.

Sir Emmanuel Kaye died in February 1999, aged 84, having seen the vast developments that his firm had carried out during his lifetime.

As he once told a local journalist: "What a shame that my friend John Sharp never saw all this happen."