The New Midland Horticultural Works, Cumberland Road

Neither the High Street factory nor the Sparrow Hill timber yard was ideal. The factory, in the centre of town, was enclosed on all four sides with little or no room for expansion. Similarly, the Sparrow Hill site, whilst less cramped, was enclosed and some distance from the factory. In addition, neither site was owned by the firm, added to which the relationship with Thomas Messenger appears to have been, on occasions, rather strained[1].



In 1884/5[2], the firm negotiated the purchase a piece of land, at the end of what was to become Cumberland Road, off Ashby Road, from Mrs. Clarkes’ trustees The field of 4 acres[3], 2 roods[4] and 34 perches[5], was at the time, on the outskirts of Loughborough, was to become the firm’s home for almost the next 100 years.

Ordnance Survey Map – 1886

They paid a total of £1,555 2s. 6d. for the site at £330 per acre. A deposit of £130 was paid on 29th October 1884, followed by the balance on 5th January 1885. The agreement was made conditional on the right of road being granted by the trustees of the Storer Charity[6].

Ordnance Survey Map – 1910


The existing tenant, George Withers, an innkeeper of the Griffin Inn in Ashby Square, was willing to give up possession whenever required on a proportional abatement being made. That request[7] was formally made on 7th January, two days after the balance was paid. The subsequent agreement, between Walter and Alfred Burder on the one hand and George Withers on the other, indicted that the new landlords only required about one acre, close to the Charnwood Forest Railway. At the time George Wilson was paying an annual rent of £7 per acre[8].

Sketch of Site c. 1895


It appears that the firm immediately started the process of fencing the site, spending £11 11s. 0½d. on labour and £19 3s. 7d. on materials during the first three weeks of February[9].


Sketch of site (after 1915)



The fact that the firm almost immediately began building a foundry, probably indicates one of the prime reasons for acquiring the site and one on the outskirts of the town, was to have total control over their own castings.


Entrance to New Midland Horticultural Works, Cumberland Road, Loughborough

 The transfer from the High Street facility to Cumberland Road was a gradual process, taking almost ten years. The target completion date was 1896, at the end of the 21-year lease on the High Street and Sparrow Hill sites.


Sketch of site (after 1915) with annotations


The new site was known initially as the ‘Midland Foundry’, it was only after they complete their move that they renamed it ‘The Midland Horticultural Works’. This was because High Street site had been christened ‘The Midland Horticultural Works’ by Thomas Messenger, as early as 1866[10]. Thus, to avoid any confusion the name was also transferred when they finalised the move in 1895.


1921 Map showing main buildings



  1. The London Gazette, 16th November 1880, page 33.
  2. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/289/1-4
  3. A unit of land area equal to 4,840 square yards (0.405 hectare).
  4. A unit of land area equal to ¼ acre (0.1 ha).
  5. An area equivalent to 30.25 square yards or 272.25 square feet (25.30 square meters).
  6. In 1713, John Storer, thought to have been a small-holder from Walton-on-the-Wolds, founded a charity conveying cottages and land in Loughborough to eleven trustees. The income was used to buy wheat to make bread, which was distributed to poor people living in the town, and coats for children in need aged between five and twelve years.In 1891, the Charity Commissioners made a scheme for the charity; the general basis was that half the income should go to the relief of poverty and the other half, towards the advancement of education for children resident in the Parish. In 1899 the distribution of bread and clothing ceased. The children, because of the stigma associated of being in receipt of charity, refused to wear the coats.Originally the income cannot have been great; in 1785 it was £30 a year, but with the Charity Commissioners it was now, in 1960, £1,850.From time to time, the Trustees sold off parts of the land in Loughborough. In 1891, 14 lots of Ashby Road, where Storer Road runs, and in 1960 the remaining Ashby Road land was sold to Leicestershire County Council for educational purposes.
  7. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/261.
  8. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/261.
  9. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/27.
  10. The Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury 16th June 1866.