Woodhouses 1930-1939: Temporary Stable Origins
By 1930, Woodhouses were a well-established and respected show contractor and this agricultural focus lessened the effect of the great depression which followed the 1929 Wall Street crash. TVW’s three sons were hands on managers of the UK shows and when he died in 1931 the family business transfer was seamless. In 1933, Fred’s daughter Eileen Lillian (a shorthand typist) and TV Jr’s son, Leslie Vernon (a skilled joiner who had served a 7 year apprenticeship with W & J Simon, West Bridgford) joined. In 1934 TV Jr’s second son Bruce Charlton (who studied at Business College) completed the 3rd generation to work the family business. Woodhouses utilised the skills and experience of its site foremen to create innovative sectional hire equipment, which enhanced their on-site productivity and created safer temporary stabling. As recounted by Leslie Vernon 30/02/2002:
“During 1932, engineer Harold Duncan began to think in terms of a prefabricated sectional horsebox which would be easy to erect, dismantle and transport, as previously they were built on site using loose timber, boards and posts. Some thought went into this and in early 1933 a block of 6 horseboxes was made at our Nottingham joinery for trial purposes. This block consisted of 2 rows of 3 boxes standing back to back and facing in opposite directions. In spring of 1933, we had started work on The Three Counties Agricultural Show at Perdiswell Park, Worcester and the block of 6 experimental horseboxes was sent to us there. We were told to erect them on some rough ground because there was no suitable site at the joinery. The only rough ground we could find at Perdiswell was in the contractor’s yard and that is where we erected the trial block. I was given the job which I did one evening with Reg Westby after normal working time. We agreed the idea was very good and the 6 horseboxes went up perfectly so the positive report was sent to our Nottingham office and the rest is history.”
Following on from the trial, some 50 stables were built at the Nottingham joinery during the winter of 1933. These went out on hire during the 1934 show season to great acclaim and Woodhouses, as the originator of sectional stables, began our longstanding association with equestrianism. Key to the success of the sectional stables and pig pens was the innovative 4 way-6 inch-slotted connection which ensures the safe secure bolting of the strong T&G timber partitions, variants of which are still widely used today. Indeed it was so unique that on the 5th July 1934, Woodhouse secured its 1st Patent No. 412862 protecting the design.
Woodhouses SheddingⓇ was also very popular in the 1930’s where the 6”x3” posts were cut to size on-site, dug-in by hand and the roof nailed together. In 1936, the first mechanical post driver was introduced which improved site productivity and made the erection more efficient. SheddingⓇ was pulled down by ropes attached to a gable end and the timber sold locally or transported home by train. By the end of the decade standard length posts with pre-drilled holes and bolts were introduced to enhance the Shedding product alongside its trademark green and white canvas and uniquely level ridge.
Through the 1930’s, Woodhouses added Sussex County Agricultural Show, Bakewell Agricultural Show and Staffordshire Agricultural to its growing roster of shows.
By the end of the 1930’s, the LH Woodhouse business continued to grow, it was now a 50:50 partnership between brothers Fred and Harold Duncan as sadly their eldest brother TV Jr. had died of natural causes in 1933.
Woodhouses began contracting to:
- Cheshire Agricultural Society (Stockport) 1891
- Nottingham Agricultural Society 1891
- Royal Lancashire Agricultural Show 1891
- Devon County Show 1896
- Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales 1900
- Shropshire & West Midlands Show 1901
- Three Counties Show (Hereford & Worcester) 1903
- Royal Welsh Show (Welsh National) 1910
- Kent County Agricultural Show (Mid- Kent & East Kent) 1923
- Royal Cornwall Show 1925
- Sussex County Agricultural Show 1931
- Bakewell Agricultural Show 1936
- Staffordshire Agricultural Show 1936