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A PIECE OF HISTORY
England’s oldest handmade rolled gold eyewear maker
In 1898, Max Wiseman and Co. is founded by Victorian entrepreneur Max Wiseman.
The birth of Algha Works
In 1932, Wiseman aquires two factories producing rolled gold spectacles in Rathenow, Germany, and transports them and their team of artisans to Smeed Road in East London, the city’s historical manufacturing quarter. He renames the company Algha Works.
The war years
Algha Works supplies the RAF with Aviator sunglasses years before the formation of Ray Ban. In 1939, the company is called upon to support the war effort by manufacturing gas masks and aviation goggles.
In 1940, a bomb explodes in front of the factory on Smeed Road during the Blitz. Algha Works miraculously survives.
National Health Service
In 1948, Algha Works is awarded a major contract to supply the newly-formed National Health Service. The famous round eye and other original designs remain the eyewear industry’s vintage reference to this day.
The Beatles' choice
In 1967, the Beatles release their ground breaking album, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The eyewear of choice for all the Beatles at that time was made by Algha.
Lennon’s round eye glasses
In 1971, John Lennon composes ‘Imagine’ wearing his iconic gold round eye specs with orange tinted lenses, a colour he finds inspirational. A pair of his original frames sold for £1m at auction, and a replica is on display at the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. Savile Row still makes Lennon’s original round eye glasses.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
In 1981, the Indiana Jones film series debuts with ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. Harrison Ford stars, wearing a pair of Savile Row ‘Beaufort Panto’ with chestnut rims.
In 1985, the NHS discontinues its free glasses programme. Only children and low income groups are given vouchers for glasses, ending the factory’s heyday.
American Optical sells the company
In 1996, American Optical sells the company back into private hands. Algha Works’ unique history is preserved.
In 2001, the Harry Potter film franchise sees actor Daniel Radcliffe wearing Savile Row’s distinctive rolled gold Warwick frames from Algha Works. The size of Daniel’s glasses grow with him – over a hundred pairs are created over the years for his role as Harry Potter.
Emblem of high-quality
Savile Row’s new acetate production floor opens. All orders are still handmade to order. The name Savile Row remains the emblem of high-quality, bespoke eyewear.
The era of Kudos begins
In 2020, Algha's ancient machines are taken to Italy for refurbishment by Cadore’s legendary craftsmen. In 2022, Savile Row relaunches its authentic range from Kudos, its new Italian facility, offering unprecedented quality and attention to detail in line with the world’s finest eyewear.