Bristol University's Wills Memorial Tower rises to a height of 215 feet and houses
the ten ton bell known as Great George. The tower was commissioned and paid for by
Sir George Alfred and Henry Herbert Wills as a memorial to their father Henry Overton
Wills, the first Chancellor of the University. The Tower was designed by Sir George Oatley
and was opened by King George V in 1925. Henry Overton's grandfather, also called Henry
Overton, founded the Wills tobacco company in 1786. In 1826 Henry's sons Willam Day and
Henry Overton succeeded to the business, which then became W.D. & H.O. Wills, and in 1886
the company moved from Redcliffe to East Street, Bedminster. Wills once employed over a
thousand people in South Bristol and was considered as one of the best employers in the city.
Wills was one of the thirteen firms which came together in 1901 to create Imperial Tobacco.
In 1974 production in Bristol was transferred to a new site in Hartcliffe, the largest cigarette
factory in Euope. The East Street factory was demolished in 1986, although the frontage was
retained. The Hartcliffe factory ceased production in 1990 and was demolished in 1999.