A Brief History of World Wide Wickets
In 1841, J. P. Wacker began making wickets in his barn near Hartford, Connecticut. In 1843, he got a contract from the city of Hartford to supply wickets. With more contracts and a steady business he incorporated as the Connecticut Wicket Company. By 1846 the company had a new manufacturing plant in Hartford and was supplying 10,000 wickets a year.
At the outbreak of the Mexican war, the company got the concession to supply wickets to the army. This greatly expanded the company, but they had to search for new markets at the close of the war. Fortunately, the California gold rush began in 1849, and California had a great need for wickets, and a manufacturing plant was opened in Sacramento that year.
In 1851, the O'Connell Wicket Company of Belfast was bankrupt, and the Connecticut Wicket Company acquired their assets, and in 1854 united the two companies as the World Wide Wicket Company. In 1857 they began using the motto: "World Wide Wickets for a wider world."
WWW supplied wickets to the U. S. army in the civil war, opening a new plant in St Louis. In 1865, the O'Connell family sold their interest to Wacker, who became sole proprietor.
In 1874, Mr Wacker retired, and, as none of his sons wanted to take over the business, incorporated it as a joint stock company, and became known as World Wide Wickets, Inc. The wicket business was strong through the rest of the 19th century, and new plants were built, including Essen, Germany; Krakow, Poland (which, when it opened, was part of Austrian Galicia), Bombay, India; and Caracas, Venezuela. The original Hartford plant was closed, being obsolete, and a new head manufacturing plant was opened in Jamaica, New York.
The navy had a need for wickets in the Spanish-American war, and to supply them WWW opened a plant in Hampton, Virginia. Around 1900, WWW had become the largest supplier of wickets in the world. WWW supplied wickets to the army and navy in both world wars, and in the Korean war. The Essen plant was seized by the German army in WWI, and after the war became Deutsche Wicketten GmbH. The plant was destroyed by allied bombing in WWII.
Around 1919, WWW determined that the Sacramento plant was obsolete. There was a growing need for wickets in the Los Angeles area with the growth of the film and oil industries, so a new manufacturing plant was built in Torrance, California. This became known as "the new western plant."
After World War II, WWW built a new office in Turin, Italy, to supply both the Italian and German market. The Krakow plant, heavily damaged in WWII, was seized by the communists in 1948, and once again produced wickets, but they were of inferior quality.
By 1961 WWW had ten buildings in the United States: the headquarters on Park Avenue; the main manufacturing plant in Jamaica (Queens, N.Y.: the "eastern plant"); business and manufacturing offices in Hampton, Chicago, St Louis, Torrance, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, and Atlanta; international offices in Montreal, Belfast, Turin, Caracas, Manila, and Bombay.
In 1961, the company underwent a crisis. Eight of the U.S. buildings were damaged (Torrance and Jamaica were spared) in an ill-advised treasure hunt gimmick, but the company emerged from the disaster with stronger leadership.
Although the Torrance plant survived the 1961 crisis, it was destroyed in the 1971 Los Angeles earthquake. Having been built of unreinforced masonry, it had not been built to contemporary standards, and completely collapsed. A new manufacturing plant was built in the City of Industry, which opened in 1973. No trace of the Torrance plant exists today.