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December 5 2013 Latest news:
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One of the UK's most well known property consultancies and venerable Cotswold business is 150 years old this year.
Patrick Downes added: Our founders were passionate about Gloucester, its heritage and property. Then, as now, the citys fortunes have always been key to the regions prosperity and, historically, Gloucester provided the industry that underpinned the regions economy. With the regeneration of the docks and city centre, Gloucester is recovering its former economic position.
Bruton Knowles commitment to building Gloucestershires prosperity can be traced right back to the start. A regular Gloucester cattle market, the innovative idea of William Knowles, rapidly became a weekly fixture in the regions rural calendar and remained so for well over a century attracting farmers from as far away as Scotland.
Bruton Knowles supports many charities and during the First and Second World Wars frequently organised auctions to raise money for the Red Cross and other charitable causes with one auction attended by Queen Mary. To mark its 150th anniversary, Bruton Knowles is supporting Spurgeons, a charity, founded in the 1860s, dedicated to meeting the needs of vulnerable children.
Last year Bruton Knowles acquired the commercial property management team from Countrywide plc in Coventry and has further plans to expand. No business can afford to stand still, especially in the present economic climate, says Patrick. We intend to grow our presence across the North West and Yorkshire, but well always remain proud of our Gloucestershire roots.
Historic accounts suggest that Mr Niblett of Haresfield Hall often boasted that he was the real founder of Bruton Knowles. 150 years on, hed no doubt claim credit for a partnership that has so far weathered two world wars and 15 decades of economic and social change.
Bruton Knowles Facts
â– Simon Bruton, the great great grandson (fifth generation) of Henry Bruton, was the last family member to work at Bruton Knowles. He retired in the 90s. Henry Knowles, the eldest son of founder William Knowles, was a partner at the firm until 1927, but the family line died out when his son Will, a professional soldier, was killed in Persia in 1920 aged just 26.
â– On September 4 1940, the first German bomb to fall on Gloucester fell onto the home of George Norman Bruton, the grandson of Henry Bruton, landing in the kitchen. The bomb failed to detonate, and, rather than tending to the holes in the buildings floors and ceilings, George got on his bike to make a pig auction at 11am, though he forgot to put in his false teeth.
â– Cecil Bruton, who represented the fourth generation of the family to join the business, had the privilege of auctioning a pair of Wat Tylers 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. Cecil, one of the firms great characters, retired in 1983.
â– Arthur Negus, the original TV antiques expert, worked for Bruton Knowles in the 1940s through to the early 80s and was employed by the firm when he first appeared on the BBCs Going For a Song.
â– Some of the more unusual properties that Bruton Knowles has been instructed to sell in the current century include a disused Victorian reservoir in Somerset, which once supplied water for Bridgwater in Somerset. This was put on the market for conversion into residential units. Earlier this year, the firm marketed a former House of Correction built in the 1790s complete with original courtroom and prison cells in Northleach. Prison reformer George Onesiphorus Paul, who sought to improve living conditions for prisoners, inspired its unique, innovative design.
â– For many years, Bruton Knowles arts and antiques team held successful auctions at the Tithe Barn in Southam, near Cheltenham, which attracted dealers and bids from around the world. As well as important collections of paintings, books and furniture, the auctioneers also sold unusual 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 legendary jewellers Faberge.
â– Bruton Knowles first office was in King Street, Gloucester with a larger office opened at the corner of King Street and Eastgate Street in 1962. Expansion in the seventies added offices at Tewkesbury and Cinderford. Since 2001,the firms Gloucester office has been based in Green Farm Business Park off Bristol Road.
Bruton Knowles celebrates 150 years in business
One of the UKs most well known property consultancies and venerable Cotswold business is 150 years old this year.
When Mr Henry Bruton and Mr William Knowles established their business in 1862, a popular queen ruled and millions were expected in London to attend an international event promoting peaceful competition between nations (the 1862 World Exhibition).
Fast-forward to 2012: A popular queen is on the throne, millions of visitors are again expected in London and Bruton Knowles is celebrating.
Bruton Knowles is one of the countrys most well established national property consultancy brands, with over 150 staff operating from nine offices across the UK and its headquarters in Gloucester.
There were Brutons in the business right up until the 1990s not bad going, though the Knowles family line died out in the 1920 (see facts box). Patrick Downes is now managing partner at the firm. He says the anniversary will provide the chance to reflect on the firms success and focus on the future: It is a huge achievement for the partnership to have reached this milestone and a reflection of Bruton Knowles ability to adapt to change and continuously improve its service offering, he says. But there will be no resting on our laurels as we look to 2013 and beyond to further strengthen our expertise and reach.
It all began in 1862 when a Mr John Daniel Thomas Niblett of Haresfield Hall near Gloucester decided to sell his home farm and herd of pedigree shorthorn cattle. But he faced a dilemma when it came to choosing the auctioneer. He was keen to engage, on the one hand, the well-known and trusted businessman Henry Bruton, and, on the other hand, the innovative and ambitious William Knowles, 15 years Brutons junior. Niblett suggested that the two work together and the Bruton Knowles partnership was born.
Since this opportunist beginning, Bruton Knowles now has a full portfolio of property services to clients from diverse fields including utilities and transport, commercial, rural, the public sector and charities. The firm has handled the sale and management of thousands of commercial and rural properties. It even has a road named after its founder family, Bruton Way in Gloucester city centre.
The firm has plenty to be proud of, having been entrusted to auction some of the nations best-loved buildings such as Tintern Abbey, sold to the Crown for 15,000 in 1901 on behalf of the Duke of Beaufort, and Chepstow Castle sold in 1914 for an undisclosed sum, to a Gloucestershire businessman. More recently, the firm provided expert advice to nationally and internationally significant infrastructure projects including the construction of the M5 motorway in the 1970s, and the creation of the channel tunnel rail link in the 1990s.
Not content with selling just one property at a time, Bruton Knowles has recently sold entire streets, including the historic Barton Court in Cirencester and Northgate and St Aldate Street in Gloucester.
It is the firms close ties to Gloucester that provides the focus for its anniversary celebrations, including a Question Time themed event at Gloucester Quays in April and a civic reception at Blackfriars on 20th June, to be attended by the Mayor of Gloucester, the Sheriff and representatives from the regions business, cultural and political communities. A book detailing the firms long and colourful history will also be launched at the reception.