History

Evan Jenkins

Evan Jenkins, proprietor of Lincolnshire Firewood

Lincolnshire Firewood was founded in 1995 by Evan Jenkins who originally started supplying firewood in small pickup truck loads, in and around the village of Wyberton near Boston in Lincolnshire.

During this time he was also employed in countryside management, working on local estates in the immediate area. As the firewood business, and also the demand for firewood grew, the business was moved to new premises at its current location in Rowdyke Lane, Wyberton.

As the years have gone on the business has been constantly expanded until in 2001, Lincolnshire Coal Company, or Jenkins Coal Supplies, was formed to enable the business to supply all fuels required by our customers – and also to supply pre-packed fuel to retailers.

Sidney, grandfather of Evan Jenkins, aged 20

Sidney, grandfather of Evan Jenkins, aged 20

The Jenkins family are no strangers to the solid fuel industry. Whilst his great-grandfather (Jenkins) was mining coal in Wales at the turn of the century, his great-grandfather (Wooster) was supplying coal and firewood in Wealdstone, Harrow and the surrounding areas of Middlesex – trading as A. Wooster and Sons, Coal and Coke Merchants. This business continued trading until late 1995 spanning four generations of the family.

The fact of the matter is, that the Woosters are one of the oldest trading families in Wealdstone (North West London). Arthur Wooster was the founder member. One of 12 children, brought up in the final quarter of the 19th century in a modest Harrow Weald cottage. As a lad he started work on the Metropolitan railway but by his mid-20s he was self-employed and the owner of a horse and cart. He was first established as a Harrow coal merchant and then diversified to become a landowner, farmer, dairyman and removal contractor.

Arthur married into an old Harrow family, the Garraways, and fathered his own large brood of six sons and three daughters. The business became known as Arthur Wooster and Sons.

Sidney Wooster stood in front of the business in Wealdstone circa 1925.

The coal merchant’s business operated from an office in a nearby railway siding, but in 1911-12 Wealdstone railway station was rebuilt and a row of offices was constructed near the station approach. Before long Arthur’s business had transferred to one of the new offices – and was conducted from there until the business finally closed in late 1995. This was largely the inspiration for Evan Jenkins to establish the Lincolnshire Firewood and Coal companies, to carry on the family tradition.

After the First World War, Arthur sold his farmland for housing development on what became known as Wooster Park Estate. Roads on the estate were named after four of his sons – Victor, Albert, Edward and Sidney (the grandfather of Evan Jenkins).

Arthur bought several local properties for the purpose of renting to tenants and following the death of his first wife, he remarried prior to the Second World War. But his health soon began to fail and he died in September 1941 at the age of 69. Members of the family had acquired interests in various businesses but two of the brothers – Edward and Sidney (Evan’s grandfather) – had taken charge of the coal business when their father’s illness had made him incapable of further work.

One of Arthur’s daughters, Emma, married into the Scottish family of McGechan and her son George eventually took the business over. George went on to become Chairman of the Society of Coal Merchants; then President of the National Chamber of Trade; followed by Joint Chairman of the Solid Fuel Advisory Service of the London and Southern Region –  as well as President of the Coal Merchants Federation of Great Britain by 1988.

There are many anecdotes from the company’s history. Among the memorable characters employed by the company was a carman with the nickname of Doctor Tibble (real name L. Awcock). So regular was his delivery routine, workers in the nearby Kodak factory set their watches by him as he went past in his cart. He also provided an unusual service when a road near the factory often flooded. Workers piled onto his platform cart and the Doctor and his horse ferried them across the floodwater.

A billhead for A. Wooster and Sons

A billhead for A. Wooster and Sons, 1929

The Doctor refused to retire until he was nearly 80 years of age. He insisted that “if Winston Churchill can still run the country, I can keep going locally”. He was born in the same year as Churchill and was determined to pick his spot in Harrow Weald cemetery – which had to be under a shady tree – and that is precisely where the Doctor rests today.

Before the Second World War there were 30-40 coal merchants operating in Harrow. Up until the closure of the business in 1995 only Wooster and a rival coal merchant Charrington remained.

 


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