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British Industrial History

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Risboro' Furniture

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of Station Works, Princes' Risborough, Bucks. Telephone: Princes' Risborough 33. Cables: "Furniture, Risborough, Bucks." (1929 and 1947)

1920 Goodearl Brothers of High Wycombe acquired additional premises in Princes' Risborough. Chair parts were assembled and finished in the old 'British School' at the junction of Wycombe Road and Station Approach. Increased demand led to purchase of a site by the Railway Station; building work was undertaken to house machinery and assembly facilities. During this period, Albert and Percy Goodearl were joined by Ernest Dean and Harold Dean, the latter being married to Edith, Percy's sister. The Company at Risborough was styled Goodearl, Dean and Co.

1924 The company name was changed and incorporated as Risboro' Furniture Ltd. Further land had been acquired making the site up to approximately ten acres. A modern sawmill with a travelling overhead gantry crane and railway sidings were established.

1926 Max, the eldest of Percy Goodearl's three sons, started work at the Risborough Sawmill.

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Patented and Registered Design Bed-Chairs and Settees. Unit and Group Tip-up Folding Chairs. Sole British manufacturing rights of "Stakmore" Folding Chair. Mass production specialists in Adjustable Chairs. (Stand No. PP.18) [1]

By 1930 a new factory had been built on the Risborough site. The main Factory buildings were single storey, apart from the brick faced Office block and the two shops behind. Natural lighting was provided by a partly glazed roof on the 'northern light' principle. To strengthen the two separate companies, which were virtually controlled by Albert at Wycombe and Percy at Risborough, and were pursuing separate policies, it was decided to merge. In October of that year, Richard Goodearl, their father died aged 87.

1931 Goodearl Brothers acquired the shares of Risboro' Furniture. From this period improvements at both factories continued, but with expansion at Wycombe being limited by space.

WWII the factory at Risborough was requisitioned by the Ministry of Aircraft Production (Phillips and Powis Aircraft), leaving only the sawmill in operation. The limited production of chairs for the various Ministries and other wooden wartime needs were sufficient to hold the much reduced labour force together until hostilities ceased.

Post War. The Goodearl companies were successful in being designated to produce Utility dining chairs and upholstered easy chairs.

Output proceeded to expand in spite of the difficulties of timber rationing, and every effort was made to utilise materials in plentiful supply. These led to a more diversified production and a large range of Plastics surfaced tables that found a ready market.

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of furniture in Light Alloy, Plastic Sheet and Mouldings as Follows:- Dining Chairs, Arm chairs, Upholstered Easy Chairs, Hotel and Restaurant Tables of all Types, Occasional Tables, Extending Dining Tables. (Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stand No. 691) [2]

1958 A new machine shop was built at Risborough. This greatly increased efficiency by enabling all machined parts to be produced under one roof. It also permitted a new kitchen cabinet assembly and finishing operation to be established at Wycombe.

1959 Progress was such that it became necessary to extend one or other of the companies facilities each year.

The Princes Risborough factory used the symbol of Whiteleaf Cross. Since the amalgamation of the two factories, the name Goodearl-Risboro' has been adopted, with Whiteleaf Furniture as the brand name. The trademark is now the shape of a White Beam leaf from the trees grow on the local hills. These also supply some of the Beech timber that provide much the raw material that the company uses.


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See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [2] Goodearl Brothers Website
  • Furniture Makers of High Wycombe [3]