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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Family firm celebrates 50 golden years

A WELL-KNOWN family business will celebrate its golden anniversary next week.

Brothers Tom and Jim Fowler set up their firm of plasterers from a yard off Senhouse Street in Workington on June 18, 1962, which meant surviving a first winter during the notorious big freeze of 1963.

Youngest brother Arthur joined them once he had left the Army and, 50 years later, Fowler Brothers is still going strong, with a third generation maintaining the proud tradition.

Now based in Distington, Fowler Brothers has been a limited company since 2003 and is a founder member of the Federation of Master Builders’ Whitehaven branch, handling both domestic and commercial jobs.

During their half-century, the Fowlers have worked on many well-known buildings in the county, including schools, shops, hospitals and sports facilities. Recent jobs include Whitehaven Golf Club and they have also worked on flood damaged properties in Cockermouth and Carlisle.

Fowler Brothers have also worked on lots of different housing estates across West Cumbria at locations including Whitehaven, Seascale, Cleator Moor, Hensingham, Cockermouth, High Harrington and Dearham, and into South West Scotland and Furness.

Sub-contracting has been carried out regularly for award-winning Cumbrian house-builders Lattimer Homes and many other reputable construction firms.

Jim, 78, and Arthur, 73, are both retired while older brother Tom is sadly no longer with us – and neither is their original yard, which was a victim of town centre development.

So the standard-bearers now working out of a yard behind Jim’s home in Distington are his sons Neil, 45, who lives at Wilton, Egremont, and Jeff, 37, who lives just round the corner from the business base, as well as Arthur’s son Steven, 34, who lives at Camerton.

Fowler Brothers’ current workforce of eight also includes a third generation represented by nephew Robert Latham, 24, who lives next-door to his grandfather in Distington.

Arthur’s wife, Mary, was also involved in running the business and handling the books, helped by Neil’s wife Lesley.

Recalling those early days, Jim said: “We basically just had a little van and a bag of cement. I’d served my time and then went into the Army, doing two years in Hong Kong.

“When I came out, it was 1957 and I started back at work with the same firm. Then I got married on January 1, 1959, and we went on our own in 1962. A bloke from Seascale got on to us to do a couple of jobs and it just went on from there.

“I remember our first winter. There were 12 or 13 weeks of frost. We didn’t foresee that. It wasn’t easy. We had to have gas heaters in houses where we were working to keep the frost out.”

For further information, contact Jeff on 07799 667316 or fbplastering@gmail.com.

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