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Old joinery shop

The war years

The war years saw Durtnell carrying out a great deal of vital work, most notably on the aerodrome at Biggin Hill. The firm also constructed pill-boxes and tank-traps in preparation for a possible invasion. Post-war, the company not unnaturally found itself engaged in a great deal of repair and renovation work.

Richard died in 1955. His death caused immense sadness not only among the family, but most tellingly, perhaps, in the village of Brasted and among the Durtnell workforce. He was highly regarded by all who knew him, a characteristic shared by his son Geoffrey, who died in 1979. Geoffrey's two sons, Richard (b 1942) and John (b 1945), together with their sister Prudence, form the twelfth generation of Durtnells.

Although never put under pressure to do so, both Richard and John elected to go into the business. John attended the Brixton School of Building where he won the Acrow Award and the London Master Builder's Silver Medal and gained a licentiate before becoming MCIOB. Richard meanwhile, joined the family firm as an apprentice in the joinery shop. By 1969 both brothers were working for the company, but when ten years later a decision had to be made as to who should take over as Chairman, it was the younger brother John who took on the job, while Richard immersed himself more deeply in the management of Durtnell's extensive property portfolio.

In the next few years the company flourished as never before. Offices were opened in Warminster, Wiltshire and London but profits were under pressure and it was decided to cut back and re-structure. In 1984, a new contracting company was created - R Durtnell & Sons Limited - and the old Richard Durtnell & Sons Limited was re-named Durtnell Limited and became the parent holding company.

The wisdom of the decision to slim down the building business was demonstrated almost immediately when the final credit-fuelled boom of the eighties gave way to the slump of the early nineties. Things were tough, competition was cut-throat and profits were pared to the bone, but a combination of determination, hard work and firm management brought the company through.

Sadly, Richard Durtnell died in 2007 at the comparatively early age of 65, but on a happier note, John's son, Alexander Durtnell who joined the company in 2000 as Contracts Manager became a member of the Board in 2007 and became current Chairman in 2013.

Because this brief history has focused on the Durtnell family itself, a reader might conclude that the firm's success has been entirely a family affair, but this is not the case. Durtnell has always valued loyalty and integrity and as a result has attracted many individuals who, by their own hard work and talent, have contributed significantly to its progress. Without their input and the input of others like them, Durtnell would not be the company it is today - lean, confident, ready to make the most of the opportunities presented by a sixth century of trading.


Old joinery shop

The war years

The war years saw Durtnell carrying out a great deal of vital work, most notably on the aerodrome at Biggin Hill. The firm also constructed pill-boxes and tank-traps in preparation for a possible invasion. Post-war, the company not unnaturally found itself engaged in a great deal of repair and renovation work.

Richard died in 1955. His death caused immense sadness not only among the family, but most tellingly, perhaps, in the village of Brasted and among the Durtnell workforce. He was highly regarded by all who knew him, a characteristic shared by his son Geoffrey, who died in 1979. Geoffrey's two sons, Richard (b 1942) and John (b 1945), together with their sister Prudence, form the twelfth generation of Durtnells.

Although never put under pressure to do so, both Richard and John elected to go into the business. John attended the Brixton School of Building where he won the Acrow Award and the London Master Builder's Silver Medal and gained a licentiate before becoming MCIOB. Richard meanwhile, joined the family firm as an apprentice in the joinery shop. By 1969 both brothers were working for the company, but when ten years later a decision had to be made as to who should take over as Chairman, it was the younger brother John who took on the job, while Richard immersed himself more deeply in the management of Durtnell's extensive property portfolio.

In the next few years the company flourished as never before. Offices were opened in Warminster, Wiltshire and London but profits were under pressure and it was decided to cut back and re-structure. In 1984, a new contracting company was created - R Durtnell & Sons Limited - and the old Richard Durtnell & Sons Limited was re-named Durtnell Limited and became the parent holding company.

The wisdom of the decision to slim down the building business was demonstrated almost immediately when the final credit-fuelled boom of the eighties gave way to the slump of the early nineties. Things were tough, competition was cut-throat and profits were pared to the bone, but a combination of determination, hard work and firm management brought the company through.

Sadly, Richard Durtnell died in 2007 at the comparatively early age of 65, but on a happier note, John's son, Alexander Durtnell who joined the company in 2000 as Contracts Manager became a member of the Board in 2007 and became current Chairman in 2013.

Because this brief history has focused on the Durtnell family itself, a reader might conclude that the firm's success has been entirely a family affair, but this is not the case. Durtnell has always valued loyalty and integrity and as a result has attracted many individuals who, by their own hard work and talent, have contributed significantly to its progress. Without their input and the input of others like them, Durtnell would not be the company it is today - lean, confident, ready to make the most of the opportunities presented by a sixth century of trading.

Head Office, R Durtnell & Sons Limited, Rectory Lane, Brasted, Westerham, Kent, TN16 1JR

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