CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES HERITAGE Honouring Our Past, Celebrating Our Future
Printed 2012 ÂŠ Bruton Knowles
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Throughout the process of writing this book, many individuals have taken time out to contribute. I would like to pay tribute to the late Toni Webber great great granddaughter of Henry Bruton and author of the Bruton Knowles Centenary Book. Also, special thanks to Simon Bruton for his recollections and photographs and to Kevin George from the Gloucestershire Family History Society for helping bring the history to life! Christopher Eldridge
02 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
Boddington House Farm Sale 1937
CONTENTS | 01
CONTENTS The Year Bruton Knowles Was Created....................................... 02 Honouring Our Past.................................................................... 04 In The Beginning......................................................................... 06 A True Partnership...................................................................... 10 The Next Generation................................................................... 12 Challenging Times...................................................................... 14 Turn Of The Century.................................................................... 16 The Effects Of War...................................................................... 18 Changing Times.......................................................................... 20 Family Ties.................................................................................. 22 Helping The War Effort................................................................ 24 The History Of Bruton Knowles At A Glance................................ 28 Market Growth............................................................................ 30 The Housing Boom..................................................................... 32 Expansion Plans......................................................................... 34 Increasing Our Reach.................................................................. 36 Twentieth Century Growth.......................................................... 40 The New Millennium................................................................... 42 Looking To The Future................................................................. 44 Partners In 2012......................................................................... 46 New Albion Chambers
02 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
Ciis a alita consequi cullaces alit aspel ipsa volore. THE YEAR BRUTON KNOWLES WAS CREATED
On Saturday September 20th 1862, the official announcement of the partnership of Bruton and Knowles appeared in the Gloucestershire Chronicle: “ Henry Bruton and William Knowles, Auctioneers, Estate and House Agents, Land Surveyors, etc., severally return thanks to each of their numerous friends for their support which each has received, and they now respectfully announce that they have entered into a Co-Partnership, and the Business will be carried on under the name and firm of ‘Bruton & Knowles’ at their offices in King Street, and to avail themselves of this opportunity earnestly to solicit a continuance of the patronage and support with which each of them has been hitherto favoured for many years. “ Gloucester, September 19th 1862.
THE YEAR BRUTON KNOWLES WAS CREATED - 1862 | 03
In the same year Bruton Knowles was created • Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Shellen created the eye chart.
• American Civil War: The first US ironclad warship, the USS Monitor, is launched.
• US President Abraham Lincoln drafts the Emancipation Proclamation. It declares “all persons held as slaves... are, and henceforward shall be, free”.
• French writer Victor Hugo’s epic novel about social injustice, Les Miserables, is published.
• Official US paper money goes into circulation.
• New Westminster Bridge, designed by Thomas Page, is opened.
• The first pasteurisation test is completed by Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard.
• Sioux Indians begin uprising in Minnesota.
D A F V
• Author Lewis Carroll begins writing Alice in Wonderland.
N E U C
• International Exhibition of Industry and Science
opens in South Kensington.
V A L Z L V
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HONOURING OUR PAST Henry Bruton and William Knowles were men of enormous vision and passion. Their descendants continued to build and shape the business and the values of integrity, impartiality and independence – so important in 1862, 150 years ago, remain an integral part of the business today.
Bruton and Knowles left their mark on the history of Gloucestershire by creating a partnership that has stood the test of time. One can’t go far in Gloucester without experiencing the impact Bruton Knowles has on the city. The business has expanded to become a national presence with colleagues operating across England and Wales. The commitment to serving clients which prompted the creation of the partnership remains at the core of the business, whilst much of the environment we work in and the technology we use has changed there still remains a dogged tenacity to create opportunities and solve problems which is at the heart of the Bruton Knowles brand.
On 19th September 2012, the Bruton Knowles partnership celebrates its 150th anniversary – an extraordinary milestone few organisations reach intact. Whilst there have been many changes in skills and services, the firm remains a private partnership with all the owners working directly in a business that has consistently turned adversity into advantage, demonstrating foresight, bolstering partnership and bringing people together. One wonders what old Mr Niblett would have to say about Bruton Knowles today: sitting and chuckling over his pipe somewhere and still claiming credit, no doubt, for a firm which has been a great contributor to business prosperity for more than a 150 years. Here, with gratitude to our founders and all those who have played a role in our history, we share the remarkable and surprising stories about the heritage and evolution of this proud brand – a partnership and families that all share the same name: Bruton Knowles.
Nick Millard, Chairman of Partners
HONOURING OUR PAST | 05
Reaching this landmark anniversary is a real achievement for any organisation...
Barton Sheep Fair 1932
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In the Beginning The middle of the nineteenth century was a time of rapid expansion and prosperity for Gloucestershire. In the 20 years since the opening of the canal, the city had become a major inland port and the growing network of railways had made it an important provincial centre. Farming prospered too and the Gloucester Cattle market, which had been established Act of Parliament in 1821, had to be enlarged in 1855. A new market was built, big enough to accommodate auctions of stock arranged by local auctioneers.
One had age and experience on his side, the other youth and enthusiasm...
The Bruton Knowles story is one of meeting the challenges of fifteen decades of economic, technological and social change and of overcoming adversities which beset both families and which might have stopped other businesses less well grounded in themselves and their community. It all began in 1862, when a Mr John Daniel Thomas Niblett of Haresfield Court decided to sell his home farm and herd of pedigree shorthorn cattle. However, he faced the dilemma of choosing a local auctioneer. On the one hand, he was keen to engage, the wellknown and trusted businessman Henry Bruton, the son of a Newent farmer, and, on the other hand, the young
Founding Founding partners partners William Knowles William Knowles Henry Bruton Henry Bruton
and ambitious William Knowles, son of a Cirencester hairdresser and fifteen years Bruton’s junior. Two men. Two firms. Mr Niblett wanted both. He invited the men to dinner and suggested that the two work together. It took only a few moments for both to agree to this suggestion and when they took leave of their host a short time later it was natural for Henry Bruton to offer the younger man a lift home in his trap. By the time the pony and trap reached Gloucester, the Bruton Knowles partnership was born. The partnership was a success because both men liked and respected each other and also each had the ability to appreciate the other’s qualities. The one had age and experience on his side, the other youth and enthusiasm. That the two men had complete confidence in each other was no doubt, for the Partnership Agreement that was drawn up between them was fully completed in all but one respect – it was never signed!
IN THE BEGINNING – THE 1860s | 07
OUR FOUNDERS, 1862
...Mr Niblett invited the men to dinner and suggested that the two work together... By the time the pony and trap reached Gloucester, the Bruton Knowles partnership was born... HENRY BRUTON
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In the Beginning cont’d On Saturday morning September 20th 1862, the Gloucestershire Chronicle carried the official announcement: “Henry Bruton and William Knowles, auctioneers, Estate and House Agents, Land Surveyors, etc., severally return thanks to each of their numerous friends for the support each has received, and they now respectfully announce, that they have entered into a co-partnership and the business will be carried under the name and firm Bruton & Knowles.” A regular Gloucester cattle market, the innovative idea of William Knowles, rapidly became a weekly fixture in the region’s rural calendar. The market attracted farmers from all over the country. The farmers would take the opportunity to discuss the quality of cattle and the conversation soon came around to the production of roots and the best rotation of crops. This led to arguments. The old way to settle this was a stout arm, however, someone suggested a better way would be for specimens to be brought to Gloucester and weighed by unbiased judges. This laid the foundations for the Gloucestershire Root, Fruit and Grain Society in 1863. So many people came to see the display of crops that followed the first weighing that is was decided to establish a society whose purpose would be to organise an annual exhibition of roots.
The problem of offices for the new partnership was easily solved. Henry’s family lived in a big house in King Street that was more than ample for the families’ needs. He provided two rooms for Bruton & Knowles at a rent of £26 per annum. Not only were the premises close to the market, it also gave the company a completely fresh start.
H.W. Bruton was blessed with two of the biggest assets an auctioneer can possess – a great love for humanity and a ready tongue. Whatever the sale, be it at the market, a small farm or one of the great estates, H.W. had a knack of persuading purchasers to bid for a lot, whether they wanted it or not.
One more arrangement remained to be made, and, with William Knowles’s agreement, a clause was written into the Deed of Partnership, admitting Henry’s son, James, to an apprenticeship with the firm. But it was a great disappointment, when in 1865, after two years as a pupil of the firm, James decided to go his own way; his interests were in Gloucester’s expansion as an industrial town. In later life he became President of Gloucester Rugby Club, High Sheriff, nine-times Mayor and ultimately Member of Parliament for Gloucester from 1918 to 1923.
As well as cattle, the new firm dealt with the sales of farms and houses, and with estate management. In 1868, the first Register of Residential Properties appeared. In those early days, house sales were marketed with an emphasis on the proximity to the turnpike roads and the adequacy of the supply of spring or well water. Later on a new kind of property began to be mentioned: the “motor house”.
Henry’s disappointment was softened by the enthusiastic response of his other son, Henry William Bruton (known always as ‘H.W.’), who joined the firm on October 1st 1864.
H.W. had a knack of persuading purchasers to bid for a lot, whether they wanted it or not!
IN THE BEGINNING – THE 1860s | 09
Bruton & Knowles
Henry’s family lived in a big house in King Street – They provided two rooms for Bruton & Knowles at a rent of £26 per annum.
ALBION CHAMBERS, KING STREET
SIR JAMES BRUTON
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A True Partnership Henry Bruton’s son and namesake H.W. Bruton was taken into the partnership in 1870, and the style of the firm was changed to Bruton, Knowles & Bruton.
Henry would call Robert into his office, give him a few coppers and send him down to the shops to buy buns for the midmorning snack.
PARTNERS Henry Bruton William Knowles Henry William Bruton Lewis Henry Priday
H.W. became an agent for several important estates, including Stowell Park, Apperley Court and Longney Manor. A great lover of books and prints, H.W. had also become an ardent collector of the works of Dickens, Thackeray and the artist George Cruikshank. There is no doubt that it was H.W.’s interest in beautiful but inanimate things that fostered the fine arts side of the business. The market also flourished at this time and on January 1st 1872 the first weekly fatstock market was held at Gloucester. It was in 1878 that William Knowles’s eldest son Harry joined the firm at just seventeen. By 1879, it was decided to take in another partner and Lewis Henry Priday, who had been with the firm for thirteen years, joined the partnership. For the first time, the name “Bruton, Knowles & Co” was seen in the columns of a Gloucester paper. William Knowles was described at the time as a pleasant, sociable man and Henry Bruton as quick tempered and
HENRY WILLIAM ‘H.W.’ BRUTON peppery. But Henry Bruton had his softer moments, such as the occasional Monday morning, when the rest of the staff were at the market and only Henry Bruton and Robert Chapple, the chief cashier, were left in the office. It was then that Henry would call Robert into his office, give him a few coppers and send him down to the shops to buy buns for the mid-morning snack.
A TRUE PARTNERSHIP – THE 1870s | 11
GLOUCESTER MARKET 1877
Gloucester Cathedral from the banks of the River Severn
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The Next Generation In June 1886, when William’s son Harry Knowles was made a partner, Henry Bruton was 73 years of age. Though he came to the office every day, he was leaving most of the actual selling to the younger men. Each of them had his own particular interest; to William Knowles and Lewis Priday, the market was of prime importance; to Harry Knowles, land surveying and estate management; and to H.W. Bruton the sales of landed property and fine arts. In the days before the motorcar, a visit often meant a day away or even an overnight stay. The stables behind the offices had a pony and trap, maintained by the caretaker, available for the partners’ use. H.W. always preferred to travel by train because he liked being with people. His friendship with Sir James Horlick M.P. started on a train journey from Stonehouse to Gloucester. H.W. was returning from a farm valuation, when he started a conversation with this solitary stranger in the train compartment and heard that Mr Horlick was looking for an estate in the Cotswolds. Subsequently, H.W. sold the malted milk magnate the Cowley Manor Estate.
Good contacts were as important as good business then as they are now. Even in the age of the sovereign, it was rare to find large transactions carried out in cash. However on one occasion, Henry Bruton sold a Gloucestershire estate belonging to Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli’s wife to Worcester MP Mr Laslett for £13,000. Henry Bruton was taken back when he was paid in sovereigns – Mr Laslett having bought it to the sale room in a large bag! The banks were closed, and Mrs Disraeli didn’t know what to do with the money. Finally, at the Prime Minister’s request, the solicitor, with Henry Bruton as an escort took the cash home and kept it for safety under his bed for the night! In the 1880s, William Knowles received two shattering blows, His wife, Ellen died in 1884 and both his daughters, Catherine and Minnie were tragically suffocated in a fire at the Opéra Comique in Paris in 1887.
...at Benjamin Disraeli’s request, the solicitor - with Henry Bruton as an escort - took the cash home and kept it for safety under his bed for the night.
PARTNERS Henry Bruton William Knowles Henry Bruton HenryWilliam WilliamKnowles Bruton Lewis Priday HenryHenry William Bruton Henry Lewis Knowles Henry Priday Henry Knowles
THE NEXT GENERATION – THE 1880s | 13
Sir James Horlick MP
Cowley Manor Estate today Fire at the Opéra Comique in Paris
Xerum que videsci offictota vellam faccatus dit aut esciendenis poribus, odita quam, ullignis ut ut quae qui a as molora necuptur?
Gloucester Market panorama
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PARTNERS Henry William Bruton Lewis Henry Priday Henry Knowles Henry Tew Bruton
In the early 1890s, Bruton Knowles and Co. received a further series of setbacks. Firstly, in October 1891, William Knowles died suddenly at the age of 59 after a short illness. William had only married his second wife, Sarah Holland earlier that year. “The whole city mourned as one man,” wrote the Gloucester Journal describing his funeral. An Alderman of the City of Gloucester and a Justice of the Peace, William Knowles, the man of ideas, was dead. Two years later, in 1893, Henry Bruton retired and later in the same year, on August 5th 1893, Lewis Henry Priday collapsed and died of apoplexy at Gloucester Market. He was only 43. A modest retiring bachelor, he had become a good friend of the farmers and he never ceased to further the firm’s reputation. At this time, only H.W. Bruton and Harry Knowles remained. These two remaining partners now looked to the younger generation. H.W. himself had six sons and the eldest, Harry Tew Bruton, a fully qualified auctioneer, entered the business at the age of 21, coinciding with his grandfather’s retirement. Henry was the possessor of a brilliant brain and the ability to sum up a situation both quickly and accurately. People who worked with him described him as the cleverest businessman they had ever known; his judgement was sound, rapid and always right.
In 1894, William Scott Knowles, son of Harry, was born. The line of succession looked secure. However, this was a time of crisis. Harry Tew Bruton was not well at this time and out of the business. He had contracted pneumonia and was advised to get away from the Gloucester air. H.W. was loath to ask his second son, Norman, to join the business. Norman wanted to take up farming in New Zealand, but he eventually joined the business in 1895 when Harry Tew fell ill again. Norman believed the strength was the continuation of the family and having made the decision to join he never wavered. The one part of the work he enjoyed most was the estate management with all its attendant tasks. In 1897, in yet another effort to fight ill-health, Harry Tew Bruton went to South Africa. He returned later that year to become a partner. He joined his father in fine arts and the sales of large properties. He loved beautiful things and he became almost as great an expert on porcelain as his father was on books and mezzotint engravings.
In 1898, the market was enlarged and improved by the addition of the new horse market, cattle and horse shed and cattle lairs. As the Victorian era drew to a close, the birth of the new century found Bruton Knowles & Co. more strongly established than ever. The firm had now been in existence for nearly forty years, and, like the plane trees that H.W. had planted in the market, “for the shadow of man and beast”, its roots were strong.
In 1894, William Scott Knowles, son of Harry, was born. The line of succession looked secure. However, this was a time of crisis.
CHALLENGING TIMES – THE 1890s | 15
Westgate Street, Gloucester, 1892
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Turn of the Century
PARTNERS Henry William Bruton Henry Knowles Henry Tew Bruton George Norman Bruton Basil Vassar Bruton
The firm was entrusted to auction some of the nation’s best-loved buildings, such as Tintern Abbey, sold to the Crown for £15,000 in 1901 on behalf of the Duke of Beaufort.
In an example of the common auctioneer’s mantra ‘there’s always another day’ the firm was retained by The Crown Estate to manage the Tintern Estate some 80 years later. Chepstow Castle was sold in 1914 for an undisclosed sum to a Gloucestershire businessman.
H.W. Bruton – Cheltenham Chronicle 1907
Another Bruton joined the firm, Basil Vassar Bruton and together with Norman Bruton became a partner on July 1st 1907. It was Basil who started the house agency side of the business. He believed in expansion and accused his father of being too narrow in his outlook. “People need houses,” he said, justifying the need to cover all aspects of estate agency. As a result, the house agency was added to the firm’s portfolio and Basil took charge. At the turn of the century, a young man named Francis Peter joined as a pupil. He remained with the firm until 1906, when he left to help his father who was Steward of 20,000 acres of the Berkeley estate. He was to return almost twenty years later.
Basil believed in expansion and accused his father of being too narrow in his outlook. “People need houses,” he said...
TURN OF THE CENTURY â€“ THE 1900s | 17
Right: Basil V Bruton
Shorthorn Cattle Sale 1904
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The Effects of War
PARTNERS Henry William Bruton Henry Knowles Henry Tew Bruton George Norman Bruton Basil Vassar Bruton Richard Westbury Dugdale
The market in 1910 consisted of two covered auction sale rings, two open sale rings, five horse sheds, a large covered enclosure for the display of farm implements and a public room. There was a large demand for young cattle during the spring and autumn months, with as many as 400 to 500 cattle passing through the ring a day. At this time there were four regular fair days attached to the market in April, July, September and November. In September 1912, Bruton, Knowles & Co. celebrated their Golden Jubilee and the partners and staff, plus Sir James Bruton as a guest (nineteen in all) sat down to dinner at The Wellington Hotel. The youngest was William Scott Knowles (Will Knowles), who had just joined as a pupil. It was a happy light-hearted occasion that set the mood for the next two years when land prices were stable and markets full. The mood continued even when war broke out in August 1914. Will Knowles joined the Honourable Artillery Company and Basil Bruton went off to fight with the 5th Gloucestershire Regiment. Harry and Norman Bruton joined the Volunteer Corps. The field that joined the garden of Norman Bruton’s house at Barnwood
was filled up with war-wounded horses during the first world war. Bruton, Knowles & Co. also supported the war effort by holding a sale in aid of the Red Cross. Norman’s eldest daughter Molly auctioned the first lot. In 1916 Will Knowles transferred to the Worcestershire Regiment and in October he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry although wounded for the third time. As the war entered the third year in 1917, Richard Westbury Dugdale was taken on as a partner. He had been with the firm for several years and was a popular figure in the market. Then came the first of a series of shocks that, in the space of six years, deprived the firm of several partners. In 1918 Basil Bruton was killed in Italy. Shortly afterwards, Harry Knowles received the greatest disappointment of his life
when his son Will wrote home to say that he had decided not to return to the firm. Soldiering suited him and he wanted to make it his career. He had transferred to the Ghurkha Rifles. It was a career that was only to last two years; on 26th November 1920 he was killed in Persia. He was the last of the Knowles family line to join the firm.
Then came the first of a series of shocks that, in the space of six years, deprived the firm of several partners.
THE EFFECTS OF WAR – THE 1910s | 19
Charles Brewer’s Biplane lands in Gloucester 1917
H.W. Bruton with sons... Back row: W. Bruton, B.V. Bruton, C. Bruton, C. Bruton. Front row: H.T. Bruton, H.W. Bruton, G.N. Bruton
Will Knowles joined the Honourable Artillery Company, Basil Bruton the 5th Gloucestershire Regiment, and Harry and Norman Bruton joined the Volunteer Corps.
William Scott Knowles Medal Roll
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Four days after Harry Knowles received the news of his son’s death, H.W. Bruton was suddenly taken ill. He died in December 1920, aged 77. A friend writing in the Gloucester Journal, said of he “possessed of extraordinary business talent, rare judgement, the power of conveying confidence and reliance to all who sort his advice, keen sense of humour and deep love of literature and art, he lived a full life such as few men experience. His interests were so varied. A long day’s tramp on the Cotswolds, with his whole attention concentrated on agricultural matters, would be ended by a quiet evening in his “den”, with the books and prints which he knew so well and loved so much”. He had been a Justice of the Peace for twenty-eight years, he was a director of the Gloucester Gas Light Company and a former city councillor. His interests included numerous local societies, ranging from the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society to Gloucester Rotary Club. With the death of H.W., Harry Knowles now became the senior partner and the firm passed into the hands of the third generation. The years immediately following the First World War saw the break up of many of the big estates that Bruton,
Knowles & Co. had managed so successfully for so long. The government ruled that farm rents were not to be put up because of increased arable production, and, in consequence, large landowners offered the freehold of their farms to their tenants. In 1921, government subsidies were withdrawn and with food prices dropping the long years of depression began. In 1922, Francis Peter returned, bringing with him great experience and expert knowledge in land agency, agricultural valuations and rating work. Two more newcomers joined the firm – H.W.’s fourth son, Coningsby Walter Bruton, who had been growing fruit in California. The other, Ernest John James Randell, came to take over the house agency, which since Basil’s death had been looked after by Harry Bruton. The work had been proving too much for Harry who had been managing the fine arts side of the business after his father died. He had never recovered from the illnesses of his youth and his frailty could make him difficult and autocratic. Yet his staff adored him, and the shock was tremendous when, on March 18th 1924, Harry died at the early age of 52.
Henry William Bruton Henry Knowles Henry Tew Bruton George Norman Bruton Basil Vassar Bruton Richard Westbury Dugdale
There were now only three partners left - Harry Knowles, Norman Bruton and Richard Dugdale. Harry Knowles, always a quiet reserved man, had become even more retiring since his son’s death. In his way, he was a perfectionist and as a manager of several estates his professional work was of a very high standard. With Richard Dugdale concentrating on the market, it was left to Norman to handle the property and fine arts sales. In June 1927, Francis Peter, Walter Bruton and Ernest John James Randall were taken into partnership. The following year the Agricultural Credits Act was passed and the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation formed. Francis Peter was appointed one of the first valuers, covering a vast area from Monmouthshire to Wiltshire and from Warwickshire to Somerset. One of the biggest changes that came about during the twenties was the increase in the use of motor transport. Distant sales came nearer as cars were hired and buses
CHANGING TIMES â€“ 1920s | 21
Francis Peter and G.N. Bruton
used. The first person to have a car was Harry Bruton, who owned a Napier. Norman Bruton, with some daring, bought a Francis-Barnett motorbike, but he was always very nervous of it. The increased use of motor transport had its effect on the market too. Up until the First World War, farmers brought their livestock to market by train or by horse-drawn wagons. By the late twenties, more lorries were used and the market day became a scene of utter confusion, as lorries crowded into a market that had never been built to accommodate them. In 1929 this congestion caused the City Corporation, to consider transferring the market to the outskirts of the city. The scheme was opposed by all the auctioneers using the market, and the Corporation abandoned the scheme.
Gloucester Market in the late 1920s
Barton Fair - Gloucester Market 1929 â€“ G.N. Bruton selling rams.
22 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
In 1930, Norman Bruton’s 18-year-old son Cecil joined the office – the fourth generation of Brutons to be involved. Norman Bruton was made president of the Gloucestershire Root, Fruit and Grain society in the same year. As a young man Cecil had a burning ambition to go to sea and after leaving school had studied at the Nautical College, Pangbourne with a view to joining the Merchant Navy. However with the depression of the 1930s, his seafaring plans were scuppered. One of his first tasks as a young auctioneer was to rescue a scrapbook from a garden bonfire, which subsequently sold for £1,200.
One of his first tasks as a young auctioneer was to rescue a scrapbook from a garden bonfire, which subsequently sold for £1,200.
In 1932, controversy over the market flared up again with a proposal for a new double deck market. Bruton, Knowles & Co. vetoed the plan and Norman Bruton said: “It is the congestion and excitement that makes the market the success that it is”. It was to be another 25 years before the market moved. Harry Knowles, having had a stroke in 1929, retired in 1932. In the same year, Richard Dugdale died from a stroke after selling ewes and lambs at Barton Fair. Norman Bruton was now the senior partner. To take the place of Richard Dugdale, the partners appointed Harry Hay (Pat) Lawrence and he was made a partner in 1934,
George Norman Bruton Francis Peter Coningsby Walter Bruton Ernest John James Randall Harry Hay Lawrence Cecil Tew Bruton
after taking on much of the market selling as Walter Bruton contracted tuberculosis and later passed away in 1935. In June 1936, the firm handled the sale of The Longfords Estate, spanning some 561 acres. Bruton, Knowles and Co. faced a problem. Their offices in King Street – their home since their founding in 1862 and where Henry Bruton had moved his family home to in 1849 – were in the path of planned demolition for the Corporation’s development plans. Luckily, Norman Bruton had had the foresight to acquire a site across the road and in 1936 the firm moved to the new Albion Chambers, still on King Street. A dinner to celebrate the occasion was held at the Bell Hotel in Southgate Street on May 1st 1936. Ten days later, Harry Knowles died. He had spent a lifetime with the firm, joining in 1878. He was the last of the Knowles line. However, the Brutons carried on and on July 1st 1939 Cecil Bruton was made a partner. Two months later Britain was once again at war.
FAMILY TIES â€“ THE 1930s | 23
Staff autographed dinner menu from Bell Hotel 1936
Gloucester Market 1930
Left: Boddington House Farm sale 1937
Barton Fair, Gloucester Market 1931
Far right, Cecil Bruton with his father, Norman
24 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
Helping the War Effort
PARTNERS George Norman Bruton Francis Peter Coningsby Walter Bruton Ernest John James Randall Harry Hay Lawrence Cecil Tew Bruton
As the war effort increased, the effect was seen at Bruton, Knowles & Co. Cecil Bruton joined the Navy, Pat Lawrence was commissioned in the Royal Army Service Corps. The government took steps to increase home production. The Meat Marketing Board was set up and Norman Bruton was made its first county chairman. Gloucester Market became a clearing house for fatstock and the auctioneers were responsible for grading fatstock, selling to the government at controlled prices. This meant an enormous amount of paperwork and the nights spent at the office, fire-watching, were often used by the staff to complete the work that they had failed to finish during the day. Sales of dairy cattle and other stock still continued, but there were fewer auctioneers to take on the selling. It was common for Norman Bruton to start selling dairy cattle at 11.30am on a Saturday and continue without a break until 5.30pm in the afternoon. Francis Peter divided his time between the market and the Berkeley estate, where he had been brought in as an advisor on a project sponsored by the government, converting a large acreage of rich grazing land at Slimbridge to an area suitable for growing potatoes. So successful was this project that the production at Slimbridge was sufficient to feed the entire population of Bristol throughout the war.
The war came home to Norman Bruton in a very personal and dangerous way. In September 1940, the first German bomb to fall on Gloucester, happened to be a direct hit on his home. Norman himself was asleep in the house at the time, while his daughter, son-in-law and their two small children were in the air-raid shelter at the bottom of the garden. Through an incredible piece of good fortune, a small piece of clay jammed in the detonator of the bomb. It failed to explode, embedding itself in the cellar, missing Norman’s bed by inches! Not to be daunted, Norman Bruton, having been promptly evacuated from his house during the night, set straight back to work. The very next morning, dressed only in his pyjamas and dressing gown, Norman cycled to Young’s outfitters near the Cathedral, purchased a new suit and was ready to attend the market as normal.
In 1944, Bruton, Knowles & Co. organised a treasure sale to raise funds for the Red Cross. It was the fifth such sale to have been arranged and raised £29,000 – £24,000 more than any of the other previous sales. It was attended by Queen Mary and the highest individual price raised was £700 for a set of seven coloured sporting prints donated by the Duke of Beaufort.
Through an incredible piece of good fortune, a small piece of clay jammed in the detonator of the bomb.
HELPING THE WAR EFFORT – THE 1940s | 25
With the end of the war came a period of prosperity for British farmers.
With the end of the war came a period of prosperity for British farmers. The Agricultural Act of 1947 made provision for guaranteed prices and assured markets. Suddenly everyone went farming mad and the heavy demand for land sent prices rocketing. Pat Lawrence and Cecil Bruton returned from the war. Due to loss of staff in war time, five women joined the firm to pay out Ministry of Food & Fisheries subsidies on livestocks. Regular Ministry sales were now taking place and, as payment was made by cash, the Ministry insisted on high level of security: a police escort on a bicycle. Following the death of H.D. Brown, the cataloguer largely responsible for the success of the fine arts business up to that point, the partners wondered whether it would be possible to continue to meet such a high standard. They placed an advert for a cataloguer. This was answered by Arthur Negus who joined the firm in 1947. It soon became apparent that the Bruton Knowles flair for finding the right person at the right time had not deserted them.
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Above: Saturday store cattle sale
September 1940, Norman Bruton’s miraculous escape from the first bomb to be dropped on Gloucester
26 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
Helping the War Effort contâ€™d
Norman and Cecil Bruton at a treasure sale
HELPING THE WAR EFFORT – THE 1940s | 27
The very next morning, dressed only in his pyjamas and dressing gown, Norman cycled to Young’s outfitters near the Cathedral, purchased a suit and was ready to attend the market as normal.
G.N. Bruton with M.P. Price at Highnam Green
28 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
THE HISTORY OF BRUTON KNOWLES AT A GLANCE 1862
Bruton & Knowles is founded by Henry Bruton and William Knowles in a co-partnership.
H.W. Bruton is appointed partner and the firm auctions a Schooner at Gloucester docks (Lady of the Forest).
Lewis Henry Priday is appointed partner and the firm is known as Bruton, Knowles & Priday.
Harry Knowles, son of William Knowles, is made a partner. Bruton, Knowles & Co.
Bruton Knowles sells Cowley Manor to Sir James Horlick.
Tintern Abbey is sold to the Crown for £15,000.
Bruton, Knowles & Co celebrates its Golden Jubilee with a dinner at The Wellington Hotel.
War breaks out and Will Knowles and Basil Bruton go off to fight with 5th Gloucestershire Regiment.
Will Knowles is killed in Persia – he is the last of the Knowles family line to join the firm. The same year H.W. Bruton is taken ill and passes away.
Norman Bruton’s 18 year old son Cecil joins the firm – the fourth generation of Brutons to be involved.
The war comes home to Norman Bruton in a very personal way with the first German bomb to fall on Gloucester being a direct hit on his home.
The firm organises a treasure sale to raise funds for the Red Cross.
The new market is opened by the Minister of Agriculture.
Cecil Bruton sells the last lot at the old market where his grandfather had wielded the gavel nearly a century ago.
Bruton Knowles and Company celebrates its first hundred years and opens a new office on the corner of King Street and Eastgate Street.
Bruton Knowles who share the work of market auctions with Gloucester firm J Pearce, Pope and Sons decide to merge their market work and in the same year the firm opens a Cheltenham Branch office.
THE HISTORY OF BRUTON KNOWLES AT A GLANCE | 29
Firm advises on extension of M5 motorway.
Simon Bruton is made a Partner - the last family member to be employed in the business.
A new Style Property Shop opens in Clarence Street.
1983 1986 1987 1988 1994
Cecil Bruton retires and the role of Managing Partner was taken by Richard Law who goes on to oversee the growth of the business over the next 20 years or so.
Bruton Knowles reputation and reach continues to grow with the firm providing expert advice on the creation of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The same year the business opens a Nottingham office as a direct result of the East Midlands Electricity contract win.
Simon Bruton, the great, great grandson (fifth generation) of Henry Bruton and last family member to work at Bruton Knowles retires.
Bruton Knowles and James & Lister Lea based in Birmingham agree to merge to form one of the largest property consultancies outside of London.
Success at winning contracts in the public sector continued with the opening of a new office in North Yorkshire.
Following continued expansion into new skills and services the business opens a North West office in Manchester.
With the foresight so often called on in the past the firm acquires Countrywideâ€™s Property Management team in Coventry in a deal that bolsters Bruton Knowlesâ€™ strength in the Midlands.
Bruton Knowles and Pearce Pope merge completely and this is followed by the merger with Nock and Joseland in Wolverhampton. Growth in the Utilities sector continues with the appointment as agents for the Thames Water Authority. The firm now has offices in Gloucester, Bourton on the Water, Cheltenham, Cirencester, London, Taunton, Tetbury and Wolverhampton. Bruton Knowles successfully wins a tender to provide outsourcing to Buckinghamshire County Council and this is followed by the opening of an Aylesbury office.
30 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
PARTNERS George Norman Bruton Francis Peter Ernest John James Randall Harry Haw Lawrence Cecil Tew Bruton Peter John Kerr Robert Arthur James Poole
It was becoming increasingly clear that Gloucester Market could no longer cope with the amount of stock that poured in every market day. The market needed a more up-to-date means of keeping the area free from contamination and the market office was old-fashioned and poky, meaning that the staff had to undertake extra work under difficult conditions. Worse still, accommodation, both for livestock and lorries was insufficient. In 1951, Pat Lawrence read a paper to the City Corporation on the requirements of a new market. He had travelled as far as Edinburgh to see new markets and how they had adapted. A 35-acre site was chosen beside St Oswald’s Road. The area had been subject to flooding by the river Severn, but it was reclaimed by tipping to a depth of 11 feet. The design by the city architect included facilities for offices, shops, banks and trade displays, a restaurant, snack-bar, and lorry and car parks. The first stage for attested dairy cattle was opened by the Minister of Agriculture on 18th July 1955, almost exactly 100 years after the construction of its predecessor. Norman Bruton conducted the first sale but the new market opening did not go without the odd hitch!
One cow, frightened by the clatter of the new gates, bolted through the new sale ring and on to the roof. The cow ended up falling through a skylight on to Archie Workman, a local drover! Between 1955 and 1958, the cattle market was gradually moved completely over to the new 35-acre site and Cecil Bruton sold at the last lot in the old market, where his grandfather had wielded the gavel nearly a century ago. In 1954, Alec Brown joined the firm to help with the house agency work. This area had expanded since the War and the agency now dealt with a far wider range of properties, especially commercial properties and industrial land sales, such as businesses, garages and factories. In 1957, the BBC was looking for someone to go on their new antiques programme as resident expert. They came to Bruton Knowles, as they had seen their fine arts catalogues and were very impressed – whoever had produced those certainly knew their stuff!
In 1959, Arthur Negus found a marquetry table made for a French King on the Earl of Llangattock Estate. The table was sent to auction where it was sold for 34,000 guineas.
MARKET GROWTH â€“ THE 1950s | 31
Below: First cow sold at the new market Arthur Negus
Left: The 34,000 guinea marquetry table
Right: Opening ceremony at the new market
32 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
The Housing Boom
The sixties saw the first housing boom, and in April 1960 Bruton Knowles managed the large sale of Flaxley Abbey together with its contents. Norman Bruton passed away in December 1960. Although only a month away from his 85th birthday, he had taken an active interest in the firm right up until the end and still personally held the agency of one or two estates. He was renowned for his wit and had the auctioneering skills of his father, which was aptly demonstrated in his opening remarks to the crowd gathered at the start of a house contents sale on a very wet afternoon. The property was called Heaven’s Gate in the Forest of Dean and Norman Bruton announced that “if those here are an example of what I might meet at the pearly gates, I am tempted to go to the other place!” A former City High Sheriff of Gloucester, a city councillor for 22 years and a Justice of the Peace, Norman Bruton was well known in public life. However, his public duties always took second place to his work for Bruton, Knowles & Co. and the interest he took in the development of Gloucester Market. His obituary in The Times stated: “A product of Victorianism, he had the virtues and the failings of a Forsyte - the same unswerving, almost stubborn, integrity, the same love of art, and the same outward appearance of conformity and dignity with which he sought to hide the laughter and zest of a heart that was forever young.”
Norman Bruton was succeeded as senior partner by Pat Lawrence. Mr Lawrence believed passionately in the economic viability of the ‘small man’ in farming. This was clearly demonstrated by him having made a loan to a Mr Bill Hampton to take over the tenancy of a farm. His belief in Mr Hampton proved justified, as within 10 years the money borrowed was paid back and farm production doubled. With the housing boom of the sixties gathering pace, the firm decided to open The House Agency in 1962, a new office on the corner of King Street and Eastgate Street. There was also an office move to new Albion Chambers in Barton Street in 1965. Alec Brown became a partner in 1961 and was instrumental in the founding and expansion of the industrial and commercial business. His expertise regarding the valuation of industrial and residential building land was well respected in and around the city of Gloucester. The number of partners had now increased to five working from a head office at Albion Chambers, King Street, Gloucester with a sub-office in Eastgate Street, Gloucester
Harry Hay Lawrence Cecil Tew Bruton Peter John Kerr Robert Arthur James Poole Robert Alexander Brown John Lawrence
and a farm stock sales office at the new Gloucester market. Bruton Knowles and company celebrated the first hundred years of its existence in 1962 with a grand reunion of staff, wives and husbands, “old boys and girls” of the firm at a dinner at The Bell Hotel, Gloucester. In 1967, foot and mouth disease forced the closure of the Gloucester Market for six months. However, the majority of farmers returned when it reopened. Bruton Knowles began to share the work of market auctions with the Gloucester firm of J. Pearce Pope and Sons and the two firms merged for market work in April 1968. At this time the livestock market was now the third or fourth biggest market in the country in the country in terms of throughput and turnover. Buyers came from as far away as Scotland every week for the Monday and Thursday cattle markets. Bruton Knowles opened a Cheltenham Branch Office in May 1968.
THE HOUSING BOOM â€“ THE 1960s | 33
The Bell Hotel, Gloucester
Centenary Dinner 1962
The Partners, 1962
34 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
The property boom the business enjoyed during the sixties ground to a halt and the cost of living soared, with electricity up 264%, food up 277% and rail travel up 381% in only one decade. The seventies marked a decade of expansion for Bruton Knowles with new offices at Tewkesbury and Cinderford in 1974.
Simon Bruton was made a Partner in April 1975 – the last family member to be employed in the business.
Cecil Bruton who represented to fourth generation of the family to join the business had the privilege of auctioning a pair of Wat Tyler’s boots. He remarked that Tyler, one of the leaders of the 1381 Peasants Revolt must have been relieved to remove them as they looked very uncomfortable. It was known for Cecil to sell on six days a week: Monday, Thursday and Saturday at the Cattle market, Tuesday and Wednesday farm sales as well as furniture sales on a Thursday as well. It was at this time that the computer age came to the Market office with clients paid out almost immediately and with automatic balancing of sales, purchases and statements attached to cheques.
Harry Hay Lawrence Cecil Tew Bruton Peter John Kerr Robert Arthur James Poole Robert Alexander Brown John Lawrence Keith MacWilliam Flemington Richard Manaton Courtenay Lord Richard Arthur Law Charles Westbrook Chivers David Christopher Jones Simon Richard Henry Bruton
The business was also expanding its range of services and was responsible for providing expert advice to landowners on nationally significant projects including the extension of the M5 motorway. Simon Bruton was made a Partner in April 1975 – the last family member to be employed in the business. The firm held the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Appeal Auction in October 1977. The sale took place at Badminton House organised with the help of the late Duke of Beaufort who stated in his speech at the sale that “the auctioneer seated before you (Cecil Bruton) is without doubt the finest auctioneer ever to conduct a sale”. High praise indeed.
EXPANSION PLANS - THE 1970s | 35
Cattle market enters the computer age
Bruton Knowles continues to work on behalf of landowners in relation to the M5 Motorway extension
Westgate Street, Gloucester
...the auctioneer seated before you (Cecil Bruton) is without doubt the finest auctioneer ever to conduct a sale. – The Duke of Beaufort
36 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
Increasing Our Reach
Bruton Knowles merged in 1980 with the old established Gloucestershire firm of Bloss, Tippett and Taylor and their Bourton-on-the-Water and Winchcombe offices gave Bruton Knowles additional regional strength. The merger was designed to provide a wider and more specialist service for clients in all aspects of the profession.
who were undertaking a number of new pipeline schemes to improve water supplies in the Oxford area.
Auctioneering remained a prominent feature of the business and 1980 produced some outstanding results. These included a larger turnover in sales of property, both rural and urban, and a number of very interesting furniture and fine art sales with high prices being realised. On the market side, there were a number of successful sales of pedigree cattle on farms over a wide geographical area in the Midlands, Southern and Welsh counties. The firm even arranged and conducted a spring sale of Jersey Cattle at St Helier on the island the same year.
Pat Lawrence retired in April 1981 after 49 years with the company. And this was followed in March 1983 with the retirement of CT Bruton, one of the firm’s great characters, after 53 years with the organisation. He was a Senior Partner and also headed the Furniture and Fine Art Department of which the BBC’s “Going for a Song” personality Arthur Negus was an associate. He sold a 17th century picture found tossed to one side in a country cottage at Whitchurch, Ross on Wye, which was later sold by the firm for £21,000. Arthur Negus had a remarkable find of his own when he discovered the sixth oldest spoon in Britain tucked away in a kitchen drawer of a country house. On the retirement of Cecil Bruton, the role of Managing Partner was taken by Richard Law who has joined the business in 1974 and was to oversee the growth of the business over the next two decades. In the mid 1980s Richard Law became a Senior Receiver and subsequently Senior Managing Agent for The Crown Estate a relationship which was to last for the next 20 years and see the firm managing estates as far apart as Dunster and North Wales.
During 1980, the firm undertook over 500 Mortgage Valuation Reports for banks and buildings societies. The partnership was more active in the utility and transportation sector. The opening of the Northleach Bypass took place in 1984, which was one of a number of road schemes Bruton Knowles advised on. They were involved with no fewer than nine other large road schemes, including the Ebley Bypass, Brockworth Bypass, Birdlip Bypass, Bewdley Bypass and a motorway scheme in Kent amongst other projects. The firm was also appointed agents for Thames Water Authority,
Harry Haw Lawrence Cecil Tew Bruton Robert Alexander Brown John Lawrence Leslie Albert Hall Keith MacWilliam Flemington Richard Manaton Courtenay Lord Arthur White
Richard Arthur Law Charles Westbrook Chivers David Christopher Jones Simon Richard Henry Bruton Peter Foyle Charles Henry Michael Gray Jeremy James Chambers Akers
The eighties saw estate agency business become computerised. With over 2,000 potential homebuyers on the Bruton Knowles register, a new Digital 11/23 Plus computer was purchased to help match buyers to homes. As Mr Courtney Lord explained in the Company Property News in the summer of 1985: “The speed and accuracy of microchip technology has to be seen to be believed. The computer will carry out a full matching scan of our residential property register and in seconds produce a complete print-out of suitable homes for a potential buyer in just half a minute.” In 1982, a new Style Property Shop opened in Clarence Street and negotiations were under way for take over local competitor Davis Champion and Payne complete with five offices in the south of the country, however, this did not occur. In 1983, Bruton Knowles was named the top provincial firm for selling the highest value of property by auction, with £7.692 million sales and a success rate of 97% for all auction sales.
INCREASING OUR REACH – THE 1980s | 37
A record sale in the eighties came from the sale of contents from Ronnie Summerfield’s shop and house, which lasted seventeen days, with over 14,000 lots!
Following introduction of the Milk Quota system in 1984 for all dairy farmers, the firm saw the opportunity to assemble a special team to handle quota sales. However, this was a period of diversification as well and whilst services to farmers and landowners grew so too did the firm’s work in the urban economy. By 1984, only about half of the partners and staff were connected with the agricultural side of the business. In June 1985, the firm opened another new office. This time in Castle Street, Cirencester. The fine arts and antiques side of the business started to run two auction rooms for fine arts in Southam and Suffolk Square, both in Cheltenham. For many years, Simon Bruton, with support from Simon Chorley and the rest of the arts and antiques team, held successful auctions at the Tithe Barn in Southam, near Cheltenham. As well as important collections of paintings, books and furniture, the auctioneers also sold items, such as military medals, including one from the Battle of Waterloo and other rare items, such as a miniature egg and jade puppy by the legendary jewellers Faberge.
A record sale in the eighties came from the sale of contents from Ronnie Summerfield’s shop and house, which lasted seventeen days, with over 14,000 lots! By 1986, the market was averaging around 300,000 animals per year. At this time, Bruton Knowles was acting for a large number of the Abbeydale landowners and was instrumental in Gloucester’s biggest ever housing development: a 3,000 home scheme to the east of the city in Abbeydale. This represented a massive private building programme that took fourteen years to complete. Proposals for the development began to take shape in the early eighties and the go ahead represented a successful culmination of years of negotiation and complex preparation work. At this time, Bruton Knowles was one of the relatively few firms qualified to give highly specialised advice to landowners about all aspects of residential land development a skill which remains at the forefront of our services today.
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38 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
Increasing Our Reach contâ€™d There were considerable changes within the property professions during the eighties. Many practices lost their identities and key personnel due to a wave of takeovers and sell-outs to large financial institutions. Several mergers during the decade helped grow the business further with the inclusion of long-established chartered surveyors Pearce Pope in Gloucester and also Nock and Joseland in Wolverhampton. Bruton Knowles was to open its first London office in December 1986. By 1988, the firm had grown with offices in Gloucester, Bourton on the Water, Cheltenham, Cirencester, London, Taunton, Tetbury and Wolverhampton. At this time, the firm was managing several large estates including The Crown Estate, Forthampton Estate, Cirencester Park Estate and the Eastnor Estate. The business was also providing advice on all aspects of woodland management, including forestry grant schemes, timber valuations and sales, and amenity and forestry planning schemes, including tree surveying and nursery work. Bruton Knowles were directly managing estates totalling close to 200,000 acres providing support with everything from land management through to dealing with wages and crop rotation.
In 1989 Richard Law was elected President of the Rural Practice Division of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, continuing the trend of service beyond the firm established in the Nineteenth Century. Another partner, Keith Flemington, a well known livestock auctioneer, was elected President of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers.
The computer helps match buyers to homes
INCREASING OUR REACH â€“ THE 1980s | 39
Richard Law Growth in infrastructure projects
New style property shop
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, In 1983 was named s Knowle rovincial firm p the top g the highest in for sell property f o e valu ion. t c by au
40 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
Twentieth Century Growth
The firm continued to develop with specialist areas under partners, each dealing with a specific discipline of the profession. This policy resulted in business coming to the firm from across the UK.
Simon Bruton, the great, great, grandson of Henry Bruton, and last family member, retired.
Over the decade, political and economic pressures combined to reshape the management of property assets in the public sector dramatically with the drive to improve results, reduce costs and create greater flexibility. Demonstrating that Bruton Knowles had not lost its legendary foresight, a successful strategic push into the public sector, through making the most of tendering opportunities, resulted in the opening of new offices to support local authority contracted outsourcing work. The firm finished the decade with offices in Aylesbury, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gloucester, Leatherhead, London, Nottingham, Taunton and Wolverhampton. Despite the enthusiasm of the firm to retain a livestock market in Gloucester, the new Cattle Market site closed in the nineties to make way for the present retail development. Several alternative sites had been put forward for consideration but planning restrictions meant
Richard Arthur Law Peter Foyle Leslie Albert Hall John Lawrence Paul Hird Joseland Keith MacWilliam Flemington Arthur White Charles Westbrook Chivers Jeremy James Chambers Akers Simon Richard Henry Bruton Roger Jeffrey Bush Christopher Guy Hamilton Turney
Simon John Pontifex Anne Vivien Williams Terence Michael Dinham Richard Michael Atkinson Richard Charles Over Nicholas Robert Millard Colin David Smith David Howard Knowles David Shepherd-Cross Richard Philip Crofton Patrick Stephen Downes Anthony John Carver
no viable site could be realistically obtained – much to the disappointment of the Partners and of course farmers using the market. During the nineties Bruton Knowles reputation and reach continued to grow and this was aptly demonstrated by the firm when it provided expert advice on the creation of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. The decade also saw Simon Bruton, the great, great grandson (fifth generation) of Henry Bruton and the last family member to work a Bruton Knowles, retire.
TWENTIETH CENTURY GROWTH â€“ THE 1990s | 41
Buckinghamshire County Council tender win
Providing expert advice to Union Railways on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link
Firm wins East Midlands Electricity contract and opens a Nottingham office
42 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
The New Millennium Up to now the business had enjoyed controlled expansion both organically and through acquisition. The Partners were keen to capitalise on this successful growth and in December 2000, Bruton Knowles and James & Lister Lea based in Birmingham agreed a merger to form one of the largest property consultancies outside of London. On January 4th 2001, Philip Williams Deputy Business Editor for The Birmingham Post wrote: “The 155-year-old Birmingham property partnership James & Lister Lea has merged with national rival Bruton Knowles to form one of the largest property consultancies in the Midlands” Following a period of vigorous expansion the firm consolidated its Eastgate Street and London Road offices into one new building on the city’s southern outskirts. Some of the more unusual properties that Bruton Knowles has been instructed to sell in the current century included a disused Victorian reservoir, which once supplied water for Bridgwater in Somerset. This was put on the market for conversion into residential use. The firm also marketed a former “House of Correction” built in the 1790s complete with original courtroom prison cells in Northleach. Prison
reformer George Onesiphorus Paul, who sought to improve living conditions for prisoners, inspired its unique and innovative design. Not content with selling just one property at a time, Bruton Knowles had recently sold entire streets, including the historic Barton Court in Cirencester and Northgate Street and St Aldate Street in Gloucester. Fine Art has been an important part of the firm’s services with a painting by L.S. Lowry selling for £160,000 in 2001. This was the highest price Bruton Knowles achieved for a lot in a fine art sale. However, with the firm successfully winning more public sector work and the opportunities for growth from new market channels, the firm made a strategic decision to exit from the Fine Arts and Antiques market. In 2006 this area of the business became Simon Chorley Art & Antiques Ltd.
Success at winning contracts in the public sector continued with the opening of a new office in North Yorkshire in 2007 and this was followed only a few years later by expansion into the North West with a Manchester office in 2010. Success at winning contracts in the public sector resulted in the opening of a new office in North Yorkshire in 2007 and this was followed only a few years later by expansion into the North West with a Manchester office in 2010.
THE NEW MILLENNIUM – THE 2000s | 43
Working in the charity sector
Compensation advice on the Hull Gateway Project
Following a period of vigorous expansion the firm consolidated its Eastgate Street and London Road offices into one new building on the city’s southern outskirts.
44 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Professional people would tell you that they are only as good as their last job, retailers say they can only survive if they have something that customers want and sportsmen will tell you they only concentrate on the next game. In this, our sesquicentennial year, I feel all of these sayings could easily apply to Bruton Knowles.
Our business is about relationships and that is why we like to listen and consider advice carefully. Supporting Spurgeons in 2012
I certainly believe that we owe our continued success to being able to manage change, and indeed create change when it is needed. Our partners feel proud to be custodians of such a strong business during its 150th celebratory year and we acknowledge that our mission today, although current, could be applied at any point throughout our history: • To deliver profitable market focused property advice • Meeting the highest level of professional standards and integrity • Creating worthwhile career progression for our personnel • With full regard for the environment and our social responsibilities.
As at any other point in time, once our celebrations are over, it obviously falls to us to continue with our sustainable planning and to drive the business forward. Today we have an excellent client base in commercial, rural, charities utilities and public sectors; we have 140 staff (including the 28 Partners); 9 regional offices and our eight primary property skills of Property Management, Building Consultancy, Valuation & Rating, Landlord & Tenant, Compulsory Purchase, Agency, Land Development and Strategic Consultancy. I am confident Bruton Knowles will continue to grow, and change, to ensure we continue to navigate the business effectively and provide a quality of service our clients have come to expect. We are committed to managing our operations responsibly, and providing fairness to our employees. Not content on resting on our reputation, we are always
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE | 45
Bruton Knowles is now one of the nation’s most well-established and respected property consultancy brands.
looking for new ways to improve the business. We aim to continue strengthening the expertise and reach by providing clients with impartial professional advice to the highest quality, enabling clients to maximise their income from property as well as their capital worth, as we have done for the last 150 years. Here’s to the next 150 years of Bruton Knowles!
Patrick Downes, Managing Partner
46 | CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
PARTNERS IN 2012
1. David C Pugh 2. Andrew J MacLeod 3. Ian R Mercer 4. Paula Davies 5. Ian S Pitt 6. Peter Foyle 7. Roger J Bush 8. Nicholas R Millard 9. I Scott Winnard 10. Guy C Emmerson 11. Anne V Williams 12. Richard D Brogden 13. Richard M Atkinson 14. Gavin E Loynes 15. Patrick S Downes 16. Philip S Boothroyd 17. Anthony J Turnerv 18. T Bruce Fowler 19. Angus J Mylles 20. James Bailey 21. William J Simms 22. Michael J Rees 23. Steven R Cox 24. Richard A Frost 25. Jonathan C P Smith 26. Nigel Billingsley Not present: Christine A Janaway and Matthew R Peters
Designed and produced by James Ford Design
Each has evolved during the course of the 150 years since the establishment of the partnership. We have an incredible family and partnership history, rising from humble beginnings and overcoming adversity to become a national property consultancy brand with authenticity and heritage that stands the test of time.
Barton Fair , Gloucester Market, 1929
CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF BRUTON KNOWLES
To really understand Bruton Knowles, one needs to know that the very name Bruton Knowles has three meanings: integrity, impartiality and independence.