The story of a Buckinghamshire furniture company
From its beginnings in 1870 until it closure in 2001
and its rebirth as whiteleaf ltd

Part 4:   Goodearl-Risboro' Ltd

Mostly taken from an account by WMG.
With further information from L.J.Mayes book:
'The History of Chairmaking in High Wycombe'.
Additional research by Mr. Ken Goodearl.

The Company Trade Marks

The Wycombe company was known as Goodearl Bros. Ltd with the trademark of a vase of flowers .
The Princes Risborough factory was called Risboro' Furniture Ltd, and it used the symbol of Whiteleaf Cross

Since the amalgamation of the two factories, the name Goodearl-Risboro' Ltd has been adopted, with 'Whiteleaf Furniture' as the brand name. The trademark is now the shape of a White Beam leaf from the trees grow on the local hills. These also supply some of the Beech timber that provide much the raw material that the company uses.

Risboro frontage

The frontage in Station Road .

The New Sawmill

In the mid 1970's, a major reinvestment programme was undertaken at the Sawmill. The Bandmill was replaced by a new electric semi-automatic machine from the Belgian company Brenta.

The steam engine was scrapped, and the elegant chimney dismantled brick by brick. Waste wood would now be chipped and stored, along with sawdust from the Machine Shop, in a large silo.

Two new boilers were installed. They burned the wood chips as well as being able to run on oil. The steam produced heated the factory, the kilns and was used in the Bending Shop.

Bandmill being installed

The Bandmill being installed.

In the 1970's the Machine Shop was relocated into a new building which joined the main Factory to the Sawmill.

Because the slope of the land, this was constructed as partly two storey, the upper floor being level with the Sawmill, and the lower with the rest of the Factory. A lift connected the two.

Sawdust was stored in the large silo, 16 ft in diameter and 50 ft high, before being burned to heat the factory.

The site in 1973

The site in 1973. The new machine shop joining the sawmill buildings to the main factory.

Kitchens and Bedrooms

For many years the Company made fitted kitchen units, at Wycombe as well as at Risborough, along with fireside chairs, dining chairs and tables. In the mid 1980's the cabinet shop's production was switched to the newly established range of bedroom wardrobes and chest of drawers, and the manufacture of kitchen units ceased.

The increased capacity of the new shops allowed most of the old Factory to be sold off. With the growing popularity of the new Bedroom ranges, some of the Sawmill's under-utilised storage sheds were refurbished to provide a modern working environment. A new building was erected, which although reducing the length of the gantry, providing greater production capacity, and enhanced loading facilities for the companies fleet of delivery vehicles.

In 1999 the company name was changed to Whiteleaf Furniture Ltd.

On the 28th January 2001 the Company ceased trading. However, following a management buyout the Bedroom cabinet department continues in production at the present site.

Kitchen Furniture catalogue 1957

Kitchen Furniture Catalogue from 1957

Gantry before building the new Cabinet Shop Beech trees waiting to be sawn into planks.

The overhead crane gantry extended to Picts Lane before it was shortened to allow the errection of the new Bedroom Assembly Shop.

Sawmilling to the end.

The Sawmill continued to cater for the Factory's timber requirements, though in the final years there was a change of policy to buying in home grown plank rather than milling the trees. It also provided the sawmill service of Kiln Drying for the trade. Steam Bending was also undertaken for other manufacturers, from as far away as Scotland and the West Country, either by supplying the timber or using that provided by the customer.

See The Sawmill at work:

Whiteleaf Furniture' from the road