The Burtenshaw Family of Reigate
 
  
. . . . .In September 1935 George Burtenshaw and his wife Margaret of West Street, Reigate, had been married for fifty years. George had been born in 1862 and had married Margaret Pitts of London at St Mary's Church, Reigate, with the Rev. John Newman Harrison officiating. They had two children.
. . . .Their son George was well known for his motoring interests, having taken part in the Old Crocks Race several times. He was also an inspector in the mobile section of the special police. Their daughter Margaret had married Mr Nash, son of the owner of the White Hart Hotel, Reigate. and now lived in Canada.
. . . . . Mr Burtenshaw snr, who aged 73, had considerable connections with local sports clubs. He joined the Reigate Priory Football Club when aged sixteen and went straight to the first eleven in the days when the club was noted for its first class status amongst amateur clubs of the country. He had continued to play for around 22 years.
. . . . . Teetotaller and vegetarian George snr was also a member of the Reigate Priory Cricket Club and had been instrumental in bringing to Reigate some of the finest players of the time, such as Grace and Ranjitsijhi. It may well be that momentoes of those times may still be found in the portraits of the Priory cricket pavilion to this day. He also played for five years with the Reigate Hockey Club. His sport in latter years had been confined to bowls.
. . . . .
Mr Burtenshaw had seen great changes in the town of Reigate. It is difficult to imagine Lesbourne Road with only three houses in it, but that's how it had been when he had been born there in 1862. During the first world war he served with the Borough Special Constabulary. He remembered when almost all the shops in the High Street were buildings with steps up to their ofrnt entrances, a time when many of them would also have had gardens at the rear. Cattle were sold in the Market Square and cattle markets were also held on the Heath. When he was born fairs were still held in the High Street
. . . . As senior partner of the firm of Messrs T.Burtenshaw & Sons of the motoring firm of West Street, Reigate, George was the great grandson of the founder of the enterprise who had started with a horse-shoeing smithy. Stables and carriages and bodywork provided the development of the business that evolved into the motor-car repair works, filling station and car sales business of the 1930s. One newspaper articles record that the firm had been established for five generations from 1816, so it seems that the founder must have been Henry Burtenshaw at Horsham. But another states that George snr was the third generation and the company had started at West Street in 1816. (At least they agree on the date but see information below that modifies it to 1820).
IMPLE FAMILY TREE

John 1558
. . . . . |
John b1593
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John b1629
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John b1673 Albourne Sussex
. . . . . |
Richard b1696
. . . . . |
Bernard b1729
. . . . . |
Henry b c1766 Horsham
. . . . . |
George b1809 Horsham
. . . . . |
George b1838
. . . . . |
George b1862 Reigate d1938 Reigate
. . . . . |
George b 1888 Reigate d1943 Reigate
 
George and Margaret Burtenshaw
(Photo courtesy Pat Nash)
  
..

. .. .Coachbuilding seems to have been the backbone of the firm for many years and work had been done for royalty.Whether or not this side of the business went into decline at some stage is uncertain but the word 'revival' is used when it was reported that Burtenshaw & Sons had established a coach building works at the old riding school at Prices Lane, Southpark (year unknown) and coaches were made there for use in Scotland.

This seems to be an Edwardian photo of people either at the Burtenshaw coachworks, possibly the one in Prices Lane, or more probably at a display of Burtenshaw carriages at a show somewhere.The notice at bottom left reads, 'Built for C.Broderick, Liegh, Surrey. (Photo courtesy Pat Nash)

. . . . . Other members of the family that ought to be mentioned are firstly George's father, also George and b1838. He was a JP, a member of Reigate Town Council as well as Surrey County Council. One newspaper report claims he was 'a strong henchman of Mr F.E.Barnes when that gentleman was Mayor'. As Mr Burtenshaw appears to have died in 1895 and Alderman Barnes first term in office was not until 1897 this would seem to be incorrect. All of the above information other than the family tree has come from newspaper articles so it is hoped that most of it is of some substance. The family tree itself has come from another source and is not the work of this author. Much more needs to be known and if anyone has further information or would like to make any comments on anything on this page please contact author.
. . . . . Another family member seems to have been Frank Burtenshaw. He had what seems to have been a rival coach building works in Bell Street, Reigate. How he was related to George is uncertain - a brother perhaps - and why he went into rivalry is also uncertain. Clearly the presence of two firms in the same business under the same surname in the same town was a possible cause of confusion - perhaps this was the idea - and George's and Frank's early 1900s adverts contain some references to this.

One of Frank Burtenshaw's adverts where he states he is 'Late Burtenshaw & Sons' and makes it cleat that the Bell Street address is THE ONLY ADDRESS.

. . . . iN !In the 1930s George Burtenshaw operated from Bell Street and it is possible that he may have taken over Frank Burtenshaw's operation there.Further down the page are photos of that premises.
. . . . . A number of paintings by George Burtenshaw exist. These are assumed to all be by the George born 1862. As far as this author knows they are all of Reigate scenes and all that are known are shown below along with photos of the company premises in West Street and more advertisemants .

   

Reigate Bowls Club members, date unknown but probably 1930s. Presumably George Burtenshaw is in the group.
(Picture courtesy Patrick Nash)

 
. .. .In about 1937/8 George Burtenshaw had alterations made to the offices in West Street that resulted in the discovery of a 12th century fireplace. The newspaper report of the discovery noted that the cornerstones were in good condition and that it was thought that the fireplace may have come from Reigate Castle after it fell derelict. The removal of wooden panelling around the room revealed ancient oak roof beams as well as a solid oak window at the end of the room.
. .. .These discoveries and further examination of the building brought the conclusion that this was one of the oldest buildings in the town, having once been a medieval farmhouse. With the alterations completed Mr Burtenshaw retained the old features, enhancing them with coaching lamps and fittings found on the premises that were left over from the old coaching days. A collection of old coach panels completed the decoration for the new office.
. .. .The newspaper report put the date of the commencement of the Burtenshaw family business at the premises at 1814, two years earlier than previous newspaper reports on the business had done.
 
. . . . . Among paper cuttings referring to and probaly assembled by George Burtenshaw is the one on the left showing two people. The two photos appear not to be of the same person. The caption below says 'George Ray, 29 West Street, Reigate (Inset, Tom Walls). The questions are who were George Ray and Tom Walls?
. . . . . The answer to the first question is possibly answered by the drawing of the discovered room above. Although not very clear on the photo it is signed on the right 'Ray 1933'. Was Gearge Ray also George Burtenshaw? It seems likely.
. . . . . The answer to the second question is that Tom Walls was quite famous. A native of Northampton he was the son of a plumber. After leaving school, he spent a year in Canada and joined the police on his return. He then took up a stage career in 1905. Over the next few years he worked steadily, appearing in the West End as well as touring Britain, Australia and North America. By 1912 he was firmly established as a West End star.
. . . . . By the 1920s, Walls established a long association with London's Aldwych Theatre, where he produced, directed and starred in a string of popular farces written by Ben Travers. Walls functioned as both star and director in the first Aldwych-produced farce transferred to the cinema; box-office success Rookery Nook. In 1922 Walls co-produced and starred in the farce Tons of Money at the Shaftsbury Theatre. His next project was It Pays to Advertise. They moved to the Aldwych Theatre for this one and thus inaugurated the Aldwych Farce series of comedies. With its regular team of actors and its usual writer, Ben Travers, the series developed a strain of British comedy which featured silly-asses, henpecked husbands, battleaxe mothers-in-law and lots of innocent misunderstandings.
. . . . . When the talkies arrived Walls moved into the movies in the film version of Tons of Money. He directed 17 films between 1930 and 1938, acting in most of them. He directed his last film towards the end of the 1930s.This picture of him reproduced on a Players cigarette card is very similar to the inset picture of him on the left.
. . . . . Walls continued to act in both comedies and dramas until his death, often appearing as a character actor in other directors' films. In 1943, he appeared in Undercover, as the father of a guerrilla leader in Yugoslavia. Walls' final film was 1949's The Interrupted Journey. Walls also established a horseracing stable at Epsom where he trained his own horse, April the Fifth, to win the 1932 Derby.
. . . . . Was George Ray (Burtenshaw) a fan of Tom Walls and fancied that he was a lookalike, which it seems he was? Did the two men know each other? If there was once some text to go with the photos then it is lost, hopefully only temporarily, but for the time being we cannot know the truth of the matter.
  
   
THE WEST STREET BUSINESS All pictures numbered for reference
   
   
5
Burtenshaw premises and house in West Street c1920
  
6
This photo comes from a postcard that was posted in 1910, so dates from before that date. It shows Burtenshaws old building on the right with a vacant plot next to it. (see also photo 10)
  
78
Two more photos of the premises with the lefthand one possibly being 1920s and with George Burtenshaw in the doorway. Note the different signage. Photo 8 dates from 1936.
  
910
Photo 9 is probably the earliest of all the photos sos far as it comes from a book called 'Reigate up to date' by E.Harcourt Burrage published in 1902. It is not known who the man holding the pony is. The windows do not match the later building, which is explained by the demolition of this property and the erection of the one in photos 5, 7 and 8. Photo 6 shows that the building was demolished before 1910. The resulting bare plot can be seen in photo 10. The date would appear to be in the 1920s or 30s. (see also photo 24) The old windows can also be seen in the painting in photo 19..
  
1111a
West Street in the 1970s, Part of the old cottage has been demolished and the 1930s extension is in use by a different company.Advert from 1903. This ad carries no reference to any other company of a similar name (see text under fpllowing ads)
  
1314
 Above advert from 1913 Holmesdale Street Directory
  
16
The above five adverts all bear the message 'OUR ONLY ADDRESS' as Frank and George Burtenshaw apparently strive to keep their businesses separate. In advert 16 GEO. and WEST STREET are underlined. In photo 10 it can be seen that George had 'THE ORIGINAL REIGATE COACH WORKS' signwritten on the side of the house. Advert number 12 appeared in the Kelly's street Directory for 1898-89. . Adverts 13 and 14 carry the date of establishment of the company as 1820.A coach outside the West Street works in the 1930s
(Picture courtesy Patrick Nash

See contribution by Michael Fenton re coach bodies built by Burtenshaw below.

  
1718
A 2009 view up West Street towards the town The House and coach works were justafter the Blue Anchor pub whose sign can be seen on the right. The different colour blue immediately below the sign is explained by photo 11 rightDuruing renovation work c 2008 an old petrol advert was revealed
  
Coach Bodies Built by Burtenshaw.
 
Michael Fenton is currently (October 2012) writing a book about the small bus and coach bodybuilders of Britain between 1930 and 1960. It is a massive project which he estimates will take about three years. He has been doing it so far for six months and has just about reached the end of the Bs. The part of his piece that deals with the vehicles bodied by Burtenshaw, of which there are believed to have been just 13, is as reproduced below with Michael's kind permission.

.... 'The Gilford Motor Company Limited, a maker of bus and coach chassis, closed down towards the end of 1935 along with Wycombe Motor Bodies Ltd. of High Wycombe, a coachbuilder closely associated with Gilford and one that had built almost its entire output on Gilford chassis.  Several Wycombe bodies were under construction or on order at the time of closure and George Burtenshaw must have become aware of this as his company acquired the part-built bodies along with Wycombe's jigs and stocks of usable materials and components.  Most of the coaches on order were for the Western SMT Company Ltd. of Kilmarnock, but the first one to be produced, or more accurately completed, by Burtenshaw was on a Gilford Hera for Tavistock Super Coaches of Croydon and this was followed in 1936 by those for Scotland.
.... 'These Western SMT coaches were 32-seat rebodies on Leyland Tiger chassis and it might seem strange that a major Scottish fleet would order from a Buckinghamshire coachbuilder, but they had already purchased more than 30 bodies on Gilford chassis and were, presumably, happy with these.  The order is believed to have been for 12 bodies for fitting to chassis that dated from the period 1929 to 1932 and the bodies were built to Wycombe's final style having sloping window pillars and stepped waists.  No other bodies were ever built by Burtenshaw, nor is it known whether any other orders were pursued.'

Grateful thanks to Michael for this information

 
  
THE BELL STREET BUSINESS 
  
  
1920
A fairly early advertisement for Frank Burtenshaw's business in Bell Street, Reigate1921 advert
  
2122
Four photos of the Bell Street showroom taken in the 1930s. Was this where Frank Burtenshaw once carried on his coachmaking business? (All four photos courtesy Patrick Nash)
2324
Unusually the left hand two photos (nos 21 and 23) above were taken at night. In photo 24 the date is 1931, just ten years after the 1921 advert above (picture 20)
  
  
THE PAINTINGS All pictures are of Reigate
   
2526
This painting is of the earlier West Street premisesA coach arriving at the Swan Hotel in the Market Square
  
2728
The Market Square again. A coach is pulled up outside the Crown Inn on the right - perhaps the couple have just disembarked - while another passes between the Swan Inn and the Old Town Hall.An old shop in an old town. This Bell Street building to this day still retains some features of the medieval Chapel of St Lawrence
  
29
Unfortunately no colour copy of this 1901 painting is known but the original must have been in colour. It is called 'Fair Day' and shows the Red Cross pub with one of the horse buses that plied between Reigate and Redhill outside. One of the fair stalls is shown and another can just be seen.
  
30
This sketch is in the possession of Mr Patrick Nash, a descendant of the Burtenshaw family, and shows the new West Street premises on the left and the old on the right. It can be seen that the new premises did not replace the old but were built alongside (see also photo 1). The wording reads: '21 West Street Reigate, A record of 118 years successful trading'. under the lefthand drawing is the date 1938; under the righthand drawing is the date 1820, which is four years later than the 1816 mentioned in the newspaper articles that sourced the introductive text at the top of this page and six years later than the report of the discovery of the 12th century fireplace described above.
  
31
32
A postcard owned by the Burtenshaw/Nash family. It is a drawing of the White Hart Hotel in Bell Street, Reigate. By the look of the car shown it dated from the 1920s/early 30s.. (courtesy Patrick Nash)A photo of the White Hart Hotel taken in the early 1900s
  
3334
Two more postcards owned by the Burtenshaw/Nash family, both being early photos of Reigate Heath.(courtesy Patrick Nash)
  
  
 
If you have any information that would add to the above, or have any comments or corrections to make, please contact author
 
This is a page on Alan Moore's local history website www.redhill-reigate-history.co.uk