About Us - Our Story & Heritage
Waltons is home to an impressive range of garden sheds, summer houses, greenhouses, playhouses, log cabins, metal sheds and garden fencing to suit every garden and every budget.
The Waltons name was founded in 1878 and has evolved to become one of the most trusted in the garden building industry. Through excellent working relationships with our suppliers, we have established ourselves as one of the top garden building retailers in the United Kingdom. The full range of our products is available to purchase from www.waltons.co.uk.
Waltons were building garages by the time Henry Ford was building the model T.
First half of the century (1878 to 1927)
It all started with bees. In 1878, Mr. E.C. Walton was a lecturer of beekeeping in Nottingham and lived in Muskham, near Newark. Due to the high price of carpentry his students were often left without a beehive to work with so he decided to set up a manufactory in his home village to help support his student’s enthusiasm of beekeeping, and called it Waltons Muskham Beehive Works. It didn’t stop at beehives. Local farmers, fed up with their own collapsible efforts at providing shelter for their poultry, came to him for chicken- coops.
Summer-houses came next, or “consumption shelters” as the Victorians thought that fresh air was the best cure for the peculiar Victorian disease of consumption. Prices for his products ranged from two shillings for a modest chicken-coop to over a guinea for a particularly ornate Consumption Shelter. Waltons Muskham Beehive Works was doing very good business but it wasn’t making very many beehives. So by 1900, the company’s name had changed to E.C. Waltons & Co.
The company was starting to win some of the many medals it has collected over the years for excellence in manufacture, and started to expand during the early years of the 20th Century. This period also saw the arrival of E.C. Waltons son, E.D.L. Walton who took over his father’s role and built the company’s new factory at Sutton-on Trent, in 1927, where the factory still resides today.
Bungalows and the boom-years (1928 to 1978)
Not only did E.D.L. Walton bring the new factory up-to-date as one of the most modern timber-fabrication plants and installed his own electric generators but he also launched Waltons in to an entirely new market – bungalows.
A simple, two room bungalow started at £36, and variations were available with three rooms (£42) or four rooms (£52 10s). Top of the range was Waltons’ “Tudor” Bungalow at £319, after which the choice extended to brick-built houses. The “Sherwood” Bungalow offered two reception and four bedrooms (some of them 18ft 6in By 14ft) for the princely sum of £760. If you didn’t like the standard layout of rooms, then you could have altered, at no extra charge.
Many of the Waltons early bungalows are still standing, particularly on the east coast, which is a testament to E.D.L.’s build quality and attention to detail. One of the oldest Waltons bungalows still stands next to the factory: the family lived there from 1920.
During the Second World War, the factory was taken over by the War Ministry for storage purposes, though a small amount of building continued. Waltons would never again employ as many staff as the 600 who were on the payroll in 1939, as mechanisation bore the brunt of post-war reconstruction.
Post War effort
After the war, the company more or less had to start again. There were to be no more bungalows, and it was back to poultry-coops, summer-houses, greenhouses, and what was destined to become the most important product group: sheds.
This era also saw E.D.L.’s son G.C.D. Walton take over the reins from his father and was widely known as a keen innovator. He patented a design for a greenhouse with unbreakable glass, and, in 1962, designed and built the very first modular house. It got on to the front cover of the Sunday times colour supplement, and was hailed by architects and designers as a masterpiece – the new face of housing for the second half of the twentieth century. Back at the factory however, it was business as usual, which meant more sheds. Sheds in every size, shape and layout were being produced.
Into the second century (1978 to 1988)
The main task was the replacement of (nearly) all that 1927 state-of-the-art machinery that was approaching its retirement age. It was a golden opportunity to re-tool with the very latest equipment, and that’s what Waltons did. Automatic, programmable machinery with computer control is the order of the day in any modern factory, and nowhere more so than in the timber fabrication. Waltons had two subsidiary companies now, one making the garages and the other specialising in conservatories, each with their own design and manufacturing criteria, but the main factory is still making the product that E.C. Walton would have recognised.
Unlike the buildings, whether E.C. Walton would recognise the manufacturing process now is debatable as the serried ranks of carpenters patiently sawing, planing and sanding, rebating, mitring and dovetailing have vanished. As well as the private railway siding with trucks and Waltons’ own little railway system, whose tracks and tiny turntables are still visible across the factory floor.
Instead, a vast machine with a computer at its heart turns out perfectly proportioned tongue and groove boards from rough planking, cut precisely to thickness and length, grooved and planed, ready for the next section.
Most of the sheds come in common sections, which can be put together in a number of ways to make different buildings, according to what is selling well at the particular time. The show-site next door to the factory always displays a wide range of what’s available, along with different variations in roofs, windows, doors, and so forth. But the build quality remains the same, as well as the list options.
And the guarantee? Waltons offer the best guarantee there is. To use their own words: “We’ve been here for over 130 years. The customers know where to find us if there’s anything wrong and if there is, we’ll put it right.”
Craftsmanship and design remains the cornerstone of the success of the company today and our ethos for combining quality with value for money has been fundamental in making Waltons as a leading UK retailer of quality garden buildings.
A unique blend of experience and expertise separates Waltons from other competitors along with an exceptional and unrivalled nationwide delivery network providing a free home delivery service throughout the UK, Ireland and Scotland (certain restrictions do apply). Continual investment in new product development keeps the company fresh and up-to-date with modern trends. We also pride ourselves on our Customer Contact Centre which encompasses a fully trained technical team to assist our customers with any queries or questions.
Quality control and continuous improvement are central to the company’s philosophy. The Walton quality management system has been certified as complying with BS EN ISO 9001:2008. The products supplied are inherently safe and reliable and built to meet expectations. Attention to detail is crucial and Waltons strives to engender a total quality approach from every member of its staff from the material sourcing to the production team.
To improve our effectiveness, we seek to set objectives and to record review and improve our Key Performance Indicators especially in terms of productivity and waste minimisation, financial performance, adherence to customer and consumer lead time expectations and standards of customer service.