Richard James Leighfield was born in Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire on 8th March 1859. He founded the Company in 1885 when he was 26 years of age operating from premises in Clifton Street, Swindon. At the turn of the century, encouraged by the growth of New Swindon, he purchased a parcel of land on the east side of Whitney Street, on which he built a house known as 1 Whitney Street, where he lived, behind the house he developed office accommodation, yard, stables and a workshop from where he conducted his business. On the rest of the land he built 6 cottages which he let, principally to members of his staff.
Richard James Leighfield had four sons, James, Richard, David and Arthur. On leaving school, in turn James and Richard learnt their trade whilst working for their father. When Arthur left school in 1917 a partnership of R J Leighfield, James Leighfield, Richard Leighfield and Arthur Leighfield was formed, which traded as R J Leighfield & Sons until in 1930 when the company of R J Leighfield & Sons Limited was incorporated.
Witney Street in the late 1940's
(Left to Right)
Richard, RJ, Arthur, James
Many major projects were successfully completed. One landmark remaining today is Commonwheal School, situated in the Mall Swindon that was completed in 1927.
Commonwheal School (1927)
WORLD WAR II
During the war years the Company was engaged in various projects of national importance. At the outset the Company built blockhouses which formed part of the defences which were erected in readiness for a possible invasion.
For long periods, as a Ministry of Works Maintenance Contractor, the company was responsible for the maintenance of not only all Government buildings but also for bungalows which had been built just before the outbreak of war by a national contractor to house workers engaged in aircraft production.
The Minute Book records that in 1944 the Company was appointed to a panel of contractors who were to be engaged in carrying out urgent war damage repair work in the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich. At the time London was suffering nightly raids carried out by German V1 & V2 rockets, the repair works were being undertaken in an endeavour to assist in maintaining the moral of the residents of Woolwich.
R.J LEIGHFIELD (1859-1948) - DEATH OF THE FOUNDER
In April 1948 Richard James Leighfield died aged 89 years and Arthur Leighfield was elected to succeed him as Chairman.
ARTHUR LEIGHFIELD OBE., JP., FCIOB (1903-1989).
Arthur Leighfield was actively engaged in the day to day running of the Company until R J Leighfield & Sons became part of the Chivers Group in 1979, when he became non-executive Chairman of R J Leighfield & Sons and its subsidiary company Swindon Heating Installations. He retired in January 1986 when the Company became part of the Crampton Group.
In addition to his involvement in the affairs of the Company, Arthur Leighfield paid an active part in the public life of Swindon. In the early 1940’s he was appointed a Magistrate and for many years he was Chairman of the Juvenile Bench followed by a long period as Chairman of the Swindon Bench, a position he held until he retired on 31st March 1974 when the County and Swindon Benches were amalgamated. For services rendered as a Magistrate he was honoured by the Queen in the 1975 New Years Honours List when he was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
MAURICE LEIGHFIELD (1931- ) JOINS THE COMPANY.
Maurice Leighfield, Arthur’s son, joined the Company on Tuesday 3 August 1948 as a pupil. His Deed of Apprenticeship, dated 15th September 1948, being for a four year period. Maurice was formally appointed Managing Director on 27th May 1960 an office he held until 30th May 1998 when he retired and was succeeded by his son Simon. Maurice remains on the Board as a non-executive Director.
SIMON ROBERT LEIGHFIELD ACIOB (1962- )
After completing, in 1980, a full time College Course in Building Construction Simon Leighfield joined W E Chivers & Sons, the construction subsidiary of Chivers Holdings. In 1983 he was seconded to R J Leighfield & Sons serving the company as a Contracts Manager. In 1996 he was appointed Contracts Director the position he held until in 1998 when, upon the retirement of his father Maurice Leighfield, Crampton Holdings Main Board appointed him R J Leighfield & Sons Managing Director.
Early in 2005 the Company moved to Unit 6 Coped Hall Business Park, Royal Wootton Bassett, situated within a development carried out by Crampton Leighfield (the name under which R J Leighfield & Sons traded for some years).
FIFTH GENERATION OF THE LEIGHFIELD FAMILY JOINS THE COMPANY.
During the summer of 2012 Robert Leighfield, son of Simon, joined the Company.
Coped Hall Business Park (2005)