The company Henry Williams Ltd was set-up in Glasgow in 1883, to produce railway equipment and signal fittings. By 1911 the company had grown and moved its base to Darlington. In 1921, it opened its first manufacturing facility in Calcutta, India, and was instrumental in the development of the Indian railway, employing over 4,000 people by 1946 when this arm of the business was sold to GKN.
Owen Richard Williams (1879-1958) was the third son of the founder of Henry Williams Ltd. He graduated from Glasgow University with an engineering degree, before becoming a director of the company. In 1910 he visited India to arrange for the sale and export of the Company's products. Trade was interrupted by WW1 but in 1921 he returned to India to set up a new production site at 97 Andul Road, Howrah. An Indian employee, who worked at Andul Road from its opening, recalled that Owen Williams was 'a strict and conservative person; a tall, reserved figure, he would occasionally appear in the factory aloof'.