Woodhouses 1950 to 1959

Woodhouses 1950-1959: The Growth Years

The 1950s ushered in frenetic change across the UK; from growing car ownership to home appliance automation, from telephone communications to fashions in clothing & hairstyles and above all how the public spent their leisure time. For Woodhouses it was a time that saw them achieve major growth and development with new shows, new products and a 4th generation family employee, LVW’s eldest son, Robert Leslie who joined in 1958.

In 1950 LVW was asked by the Bath & West Secretary to assist with the Stock Section at The Royal Smithfield Show. In 1952 BCW joined LVW and Woodhouses started providing reliable contracting services to the society for the 1st time. This included stand fitting and working all night to schedule the arrival and departure of stock via trains from as far afield as Scotland direct to the Earls Court basement and then by lift to the show floor.

1951 Thank you letter Bath & West Southern Counties Society

1951 Thank you letter Bath & West Southern Counties Society

Woodhouses outgrew their Iremonger Road Nottingham workshops and in 1952 they dismantled the buildings and over the decade built a new 30,000ft joinery with canvas workshop where the Shedding, Grandstands and Stables were manufactured. They also bought a 7 acre site at Camelot Street, Ruddington to store the growing stock of reusable hire equipment required by the expanding business.

Woodhouses Introduce Grandstand and Trackboards

The end of timber rationing in 1955 gave Woodhouses the opportunity to, once again, push the design boundaries introducing the 1st 12 tread sectional grandstand at The Devon County Show. In 1956 the Woodhouses Trackboards, made from homegrown Elm,  premiered at the Bath & West Show, these were used in twin-track format to improve access at shows and were indeed the forerunners to today’s Trackway products.

1956 Bath & West Cardiff, 1st use of Woodhouses Trackboards and  this Bedford Truck cost £575

1956 Bath & West Cardiff, 1st use of Woodhouses Trackboards and
this Bedford Truck cost £575

This also allowed Woodhouse to design more adventurous demountable buildings to accommodate the main National Eisteddfod pavilion. Reg Wesby was our site manager on this contract building, dismantling and relocating the palatial structure which accommodated some 7000 enthusiastic Welsh language and culture attendees on tip-up seats (bought from closed down Nottingham cinemas).

1953 Eisteddfod

1953 National Eisteddfod, Rhyl breaking ground. Reg is seen in the left corner of this photo.

National Eisteddfod of Wales

1957 Aerial view of the National Eisteddfod, Llangefni, and the 1950-54 Contract

Woodhouses even ventured abroad in 1957, representing the best of British design, with the 1st use of their 30ft and 40ft timber Shedding structures at the British Trade Fair, Helsinki, Finland.

1957 Helsinki

1957 – The British Trade Fair, Helsinki, Finland

Woodhouses equestrian client base continued to expand, in 1952 we contracted for our 1st  Royal Windsor Horse Show and 1st Brighton Horse Show reflecting the growing popularity of show jumping and showing among competitors and the general public. In 1955 it was the turn of the Eventers when we worked on our 1st Harewood Horse Trials (the predecessor to today’s Burghley Horse Trials) and in 1958 Badminton Horse Trials joined the contracts roster.

The 1958 April ledger records indicate contract revenues across 80 shows of some £155,700 (£3,067,000 – 2014 RPI adjusted). This was a fivefold increase in revenues of the 1891 ledger records.

1958 Ledger detailing Show contract values

1958 Ledger detailing Show contract values

1950 Great Yorkshire Show Malton

1950 Great Yorkshire Show Malton

1951 Bath & West Dorchester Aerial photo

1953 Sussex County Show Aerial View

1954 Royal Welsh Machynlleth flood

The challenges of show contracting, 1954 Royal Welsh Machynlleth flood


In the 1950’s Woodhouses began contracting to: