The history of the Calder family in connection with timber dates back to the 1820s when a coal merchant in Dunkeld opened a saw mill. Of his two sons, one, named Charles developed the business and shipped timber grown in Scotland to the North of England where it was used chiefly in the mines.
The first Calder about whom any real information can be obtained is the grandson of the founder, James Calder. James was described as an extremely tough and vigorous businessman as well as being full of energy. A friend of the family writes:
They quite often went to London from Scotland twice a week by train. Four nights in a sleeper in a week!
Of James' two children it was the youngest, also named James that went on to develop the company. He became known as 'a Grand Old Man' of the timber trade, and obtained a CBE in 1920 before being knighted in 1921.
Sir James was still chairman of the company in 1957 when it was taken over by Great Universal Stores and died in 1962 aged 92. His nephew John Calder was a director at the time, but resigned the same year when the firm was taken over by Great Universal Stores, thus ending the Calder family's grand connection with the timber trade after some 140 years.
The original site at Boston, Lincolnshire was established in 1896 at the town docks. This site gave excellent import and export capabilities, and also allowed for expansion into what were then the emerging markets of railway sleepers, pit props and fencing.
In the 1930s Calders outgrew this site and moved to its new location on London Road. Still used to this day, the much larger site allowed Calders to enter into the telegraph and transmission pole market. This again, at the time, was another new market as telephones were just reaching out into rural areas.
In 1945 Calders Ltd acquired James Grandidge Ltd, and in 1959 a new company came into being, Calders & Grandidge Ltd. In the same year Calders was acquired by Montague L Meyer Ltd who subsequently merged with International Timber in 1982 to form Meyer International.
1986 was a proud year for Calders & Grandidge. It was at this time the company was granted its royal warrant for the supply preserved timber fencing and gates to HM The Queen. Since then products supplied by Calders & Grandidge have been a part of the scenery at the much loved country retreat of Her Majesty, Sandringham.
Today, the head office and depot are still located in Boston, Lincolnshire. In recent years this site has developed the production capability for top quality creosoted fencing and gates which are available in a wide variety of designs and bespoke products specially manufactured to meet customers’ requirements. Timber poles and railway sleepers still remain at the company’s core.
These most recent investments and developments at Calders & Grandidge should ensure the company’s strong positioning in the market well into its second hundred years of operation.
The head office and depot are still located in Boston, Lincolnshire
Remarkable Site at Boston's Busy Dock
Wherever one wonders on the dock there is timber all around them and looking into the dock itself, one sees little water, but still more timber!
Extract from the Boston Guardian, November 1930.
Calders & Grandidge is the UK's leading manufacturer of timber utility poles for the communications and power industries, track timbers for the railways, as well as a wide range of fencing, gates and landscape timbers for the agricultural, equine, local authority and domestic markets.