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British Industrial History

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Henry Boot and Sons

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Building contractors, of Banner Cross Hall, Sheffield

1882 Founded by Henry Boot

1900 Joined in partnership by Charles Boot. Firm trading as Henry Boot & Sons.

1910 Incorporated as a Limited Company

Erected many of the important public buildings in Sheffield

1914 A leader amongst Sheffield contractors. Premises: Large Joinery Works, Stone Works and Depots. Building new premises for the University of Sheffield.

WWI. Henry Boot and Sons built a British Army camp at Catterick in Yorkshire; RAF Manston Aerodrome near Ramsgate; the Calshot Naval Air Station at Calshot in Hampshire; Tees Naval Base; a U.S. Army Rest Camp and hospital at Southampton and Chepstow Military Hospital. The company also constructed over one thousand military buildings and over 50 miles of roads and sewers.

1919 The Company was floated to raise £300,000 of new capital to finance these plans. The Prospectus showed the Company operating out of London and Birmingham as well as Sheffield

1920s Housing was primarily undertaken for local authorities; at the end of the decade Company accounts stated that some 20,000 houses had been built for local authorities.

In the 1930s the emphasis swung to private development and Henry Boot became a substantial developer of housing estates, both for sale and rent.

1933 First National Trust was formed specifically to develop and administer estates to be let at low rents

At the beginning of 1935, the Company raised a further £400,000 of preference capital to finance expansion. The Prospectus stated that the Company had built around 30,000 houses since 1920. There is some uncertainty as to how many houses were built during the inter-war period.

WWII saw the cessation of housing construction and resources were concentrated on wartime requirements.

1955 Completed a film tank for Rank Organisation[1].

1965 Formed its own building society – The Banner Building Society - and this was sold to Midshires Building Society in 1982

1970s Henry Boot strengthen its railway engineering business and significantly increase it overseas work. The Company supplied all the track-work for the Mass Transit Railway in Hong Kong; there were further contracts for the Kowloon-Canton Railway and in Singapore.

1985 The group lost £7m primarily in overseas construction and in the following year Jamie Boot (the grandson of Charles’ younger brother Edward) was appointed managing director. The emphasis of the group was changed: the traditional railway engineering business was sold in 1988 and private housing development gradually increased – sales had risen to 700 a year by 2001.

Two years later, the company cited competing cash demands from the property and plant divisions and the housing division was put up for sale: it was sold to Wilson Bowden for £48m.

Today property investment and development, land development and construction are described as the group’s lead activities

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times 21 September 1955