LASSCO has rescued and offers for re-use a large quantity of late Victorian Pine floor boards, salvaged from the demolition of an historic mill and warehouse site in Hertford.
The Hertford Town Granary was built by Walter Lawrence and Sons for Gilbertson and Page on a site belonging to the Marquis of Townshend between 1894 and 1902. Constructed in attractive load-bearing red and pink Fletton brick and extending over sixteen bays with cast iron glazed factory windows, the granary long held the Royal Warrant for game-food.
In an age where families great and small kept and provided game for the dinner table as readily as fruit or vegetables, Gilbertson and Page provided the means of keeping feeding these game-birds. Where a gentry family may have kept grouse or pheasant the labouring classes would have kept chickens or geese. Almost all country-dwelling people lived in this manner and, in the words of a local historian,: “They needed all the paraphernalia and advice that goes with that vanished way of life and Gilbertson & Page produced it: game and other animal feed; feeding implements; devices for dealing with pests; a monthly journal etc. etc.”
‘The Gamekeeper’ was published monthly by Gilbertson and Page for over a century from the mid 1800’s, keeping the public abreast of developments and innovations in a way of life that was slowly fading from the public consciousness as modern urban life began to transform lifestyles.
Rather like the Longbow or the Tea Clipper, the feeding implements and pest control devices made by Gilbertson and Page represented the very pinnacle of a centuries-old development process that was eclipsed almost overnight buy a sudden technological change.
During the First World War Gilbertson and Page held the Royal warrant for the manufacture of ration biscuits from the Hertford Mill. Honourable mention must be made of Frank Page who was a director of the business, as well as Mayor of Hertford from 1912-13. He fell at the head of his men during Battle of St. Julien in 1917 while commanding the 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment and is remembered on the Menin Gate memorial to the missing of Ypres.
With the arrival of battery farming, mass production and just-in-time logistics the once flourishing market for home fed game began to contract. The final two thirds of the century made needful a change of direction and a subsequent move into pet-food for the domestic market secured the future of the company which still holds the Royal Warrant for dog food.
The firm moved to Welwyn at the end of the 20th Century whereupon the old Granary buildings fell vacant. Despite a spirited campaign by conservationists and solid local opposition (the District Council received 107 responses to their ‘consultation’ from the public, with 105 objecting to the plans and none in favour) the council granted permission for the buildings to be demolished in 2021.
As ever LASSCO was on hand to reclaim and offer to re-use what could be saved. The solid Baltic pine floorboards are ideal for patching and repairs to existing Victorian floors or for use in sympathetic extensions. The age and appearance of the slow grown timber is listed-building compliant and suitable for all manner of period properties.