NOEL WHEATCROFT & SON
Leon Warwick Wheatcroft FRICS IRRV died on the 17th October 2009 at the age of 86, after a long illness, he is sadly missed. He was the last of the Wheatcroft line, his sister Joy died tragically many years previously.
On the 1st of June 2002 after 79 years of business, the family directors decided to sell their Residential and Management Practices to the central Derbyshire firm of Scargill Mann & Co.
Another chapter in the firm's history was written when on 6th February 2004 the Matlock Auction Gallery was sold to Bamfords Auctioneers.
Brief history -
Noel Wheatcroft started practice as an Auctioneer and Valuer in November 1923. In those days the Matlock area was suffering badly from the recession after the First World War and the gradual decline of the hydros. The town was much smaller and each area had its own Urban District Council, for example Darley Dale was separate from Matlock, and the pace of life was much slower. Mr. Harry Marriott, who was responsible for Noel Wheatcroft's early training, used for many years a horse and trap, rather than a motor car.
Ownership of property was restricted to the prosperous but there was always a large number of cottages to rent, and a sale of a single property would become an event as it was almost inevitably dealt with by Public Auction.
Noel Wheatcroft initially commenced business in the Old Market Hall on Dale Road, and at that time he tended to specialise in furniture sales because of the lack of Estate Agency Business. This old building, previously a covered market with small shops down either side, was ideal. The shops converted to offices and the main hall to an auction mart. The property is now occupied by "Worldspan" opposite the National Westminster Bank.
The purchase of Mr. Harrison's small estate agency practice in the Peak Park village of Tideswell at the end of the 1920's, gave the business a broader base and by that time the professional side was increasing. This work included agricultural, in the north of the county, and public house valuations, which were in themselves a way of life. Leon, Noel's son, remembers as a small boy, arguments which went on into the early hours of the morning between valuers and clients after providing the opposing valuer with a substantial liquid supper.
The gradual progress of the practice included the management of properties, (i.e.: lettings) and in those early days rents were severely controlled, and Noel Wheatcroft used to say that "if one felt the necessity for revenge the simplest way was to leave a row of cottages to your foe".
Because of what was thought to be a large rent increase, the Old Market Hall Saleroom was abandoned in 1936, when the firm moved offices into what is now Potter & Co. Solicitors. The late Mr. J.S. Potter was a shareholder in the Matlock & District Gas Company and he would not allow the firm to install electricity on the premises!
In order to accommodate furniture sales the stable yard at Noel Wheatcroft's home on Farley Hill was converted into an Auction Gallery and many sales were held there even after the Second World War by his son. The Tideswell Office was closed during the war because of the petrol shortage and the business was concentrated in Matlock.
Noel Wheatcroft unfortunately died very suddenly in 1946 during Leon Wheatcroft's leave from the army and he, Leon, took up the practice as soon as possible. The firm's name was then changed to Noel Wheatcroft & Son.
It was at that time that Mr. Potter was persuaded to install electricity at the Dale Road Office and some of this electricity was then loaned to Mr. David Brooke-Taylor so that he might be able to work a very modern innovation, "a dictating machine".
In the 1950's the new Smedley Street Sale Room was closed on the basis that a small firm could not do everything.
The late Charles White, the then Chairman of the Derbyshire County Council, persuaded the Council to purchase what was Smedley's Hydro in order to establish a County Office. This single move was perhaps the greatest input of prosperity to the Matlock area, that has happened since the popularity of hydrotherapy. Hundreds of new houses were built in the area, the majority being sold by Wheatcrofts.
In 1960 the practice of George Marsden & Son of Wirksworth was purchased, this Company was established in the Victorian times and with them came the acquisition of beautifully bound copies of sales particulars dating back to the beginning of this century, which the family still treasure to this day.
In 1973 the firm purchased the properties previously occupied by Moores Bakery and converted them into offices and ground floor reception.
In 1981 the practice of Robert E. Spark was acquired and with it the Auction Gallery a year later, which continued to flourish on Old English Road with regular Household, and Antique and Collectors Sales.
During the heady days of the 1980's there was further expansion to include several new offices and in 1987 the firm changed from a single practitioner to a private limited company adopting the trading name of "Wheatcrofts".
During the recession in 1980s the firm reverted back to its original name of Noel Wheatcroft & Son and all its Directors were now members of the family. It was during this time that the property at 39 Dale Road was redeveloped with the creation of luxury flats on the first and second floors. Whilst at the rear, the post war brick bakery was demolished and the original Victorian stone bakery was completely redeveloped to create four mews cottages. The opportunity was taken to create a garden and landscape area at the rear down to the river as well as the redevelopment of the gennel and the creation of new Residential and Professional Department offices on the Ground Floor.
The firm continued to prosper and expand and the decision was taken in 1997 to transfer the Auction Gallery which had been trading since 1982 from Olde English Road to the Old Picture Palace which fronts onto Dale Road which proved to be a wise and popular move.
The practice started with Noel Wheatcroft and his wife Kate, continued to develop with Leon and his sister Joy. Joy had studied Estate Management and achieved an Honours Degree and also became a Chartered Surveyor like her brother.
Today the partners
are Richard Kinnear and his wife Jane. Richard is thoroughly enjoying
retirement. Jane has successfully completed a full
time course at Sheffield Hallam University gaining a BA Hons in Silversmithing
and Jewellery, three demanding but thoroughly enjoyable years. Elizabeth
Rose Designs . The other family company of E S Rose Ltd., est 1858, continues to go from strength to strength.
Alex is now married and has a delightful little boy. She has taken a position with Bransby Horse Charity as Maketing Manager.
Moores Bakery at the turn of the last century
The office conversion in 1973
Head office refurbished in 1996
Matlock Auction Gallery
Est 1982 sold in February 2004
Alfreton Office opened in August 1998
Completely refurbished after the acquisition of the practice of Lee Son & Coupe