Rowland Bros. History

Thomas Evans Rowland and his brother William Richard Rowland started their timber business in 1874. The location of the sawmill in Simpson Road was a wise choice, lying adjacent to Fenny Stratford railway station, the Grand Union canal and close by the Watling Street. Logs could be brought by train from the great forests of Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire to the east and west, and just a mile down the railway track was Bletchley station on the main Euston to Birmingham line.

From the original investment, rumoured to be £20 each, the Rowlands brothers built a thriving business and became not only employers but landlords to many local people. During the winter month's, when work slackened off in the yard, the carpenters were used to carry out maintenance on the many houses owned by the Rowlands' in Fenny and Bletchley. The business survived the recession of the late 1920's but the workforce did suffer a wage reduction. Top carpenters dropped from 1s 3d an hour to 1s 2d. By the 1930's the timberyard , which was now managed by the sons of the Rowland brothers, was producing a wide range of wood products and services and had showrooms in London's Oxford Street.

The steam engines which had originally powered the saws and other machinery had now been replaced by a modern gas turbine. Bill Pengelly, charged with the maintenance of the gas engine, would go in early in the morning to get the engine ready for the working day. Initially the engine was started with town gas produced across the canal by the Fenny Stratford Gas, Light and Coke Company. It would then run for the remainder of the day on gas produced from bark, woodshavings and sawdust within the yard. This was cheaper than the town gas and disposed of some of the waste material, the remainder of which was dumped on a site further down Simpson Road

With the outbreak of the Second World War there was a decline in activity at Rowlands', with supplies of raw materials being requisitioned for the war effort and men from the timberyard being called up for military service. Women from the Timber Corps, a section of the Land Army, were used to help fill the gaps left behind by the men who had gone to war.

In 1942, the business was sold to London based timber company James Latham who had been keen to purchase it as a source of home grown hardwood. The war had disrupted their own supplies from South America. Continue..

History The Timberyard Fenny Station Fenny Lock St Martins