We sold 15 horses in our first year. Within a year we had outgrown the farm and bought our first workshop in Bethersden, employing two friends as carvers. Initially we only made Dapple Grey rocking horses as instructed by our Uncle James, but soon changed construction methods and introduced new hardwoods to increase the range and choice.
We decided very early on to number and date each horse on a brass plaque as many of the Victorian makers did not label their rocking horses and identifying them was difficult. This would also give our horses a more collectible appeal in the years to come.
The British Overseas Trade Board were contacted early on, we realised we had to get out into the global marketplace and could not wait for the market to find us. Our first world tour was in 1985 where we attended Trade Fairs in London, New York, Boston Dallas, Los Angeles then Sydney and Melbourne in just six weeks. We came home with £20,000 of orders and took on two new members of staff.
A Big Year
1988 was a very big year indeed. Having finally got our horses into Harrods, we were then commissioned to make a Merry-Go-Round for the Sultan of Brunei, who happened to be the richest man in the World at the time.
We made a 12-horse hand cranked Dobby set with two carriages all carried on twisted brass poles. The delivery trip was a highlight. It was to be erected at his second wife’s palace, perched high on a cliff top overlooking the sea.
It was huge, all in marble. The profit from that helped us to rebuild our workshop and double its size to 5000sqft including a new showroom. We persuaded the local Council to sell us some gardens from the neighbouring houses and added a car park too. We could now be visited properly and encouraged our clients to take a day out from London to the country.
To this day, we have a friendly local farmer with an airstrip and we give the co-ordinates out to anyone that wishes to fly in. We also offer a collection service from the three local railway stations and can recommend B&B’s locally too.