W.S.LUSHER & SON LTD
Founder of the Business
W.S. Lusher & Son Ltd was a well known building firm, situated in School Lane Sprowston, where they traded for more than ninety years. William Slaymaker Lusher (1894-1978) was the founder of the business, which he started from his then home at 31 Tillett Road in 1924 (his unusual middle name was taken from his grandmother`s maiden surname). It is small wonder that William became involved in the building trade as his grandfather Humphrey (1814-1890) was a sawyer by trade in the village of Swardeston, an occupation that his son (also named Humphrey, 1847-1919) followed him into. The younger Humphrey moved to Sprowston as a young man living on Wroxham Road as it was known then, today as Sprowston Road, where he worked as a sawyer and timber merchant. So, there was already a connection to the building trade. His son Joshua (1869-1951) worked as a wheelwright and carpenter living in Blackhorse Row, later at 12 Gertrude Road where his son William S Lusher in 1911 was listed as a carpenter`s apprentice aged 17 years. After military service in WW1 William returned to civilian life and continued to further his future within the building trade. As already stated he founded his business while living in Tillett Road. In 1926 he was living at number 31, his father Joshua next door at number 29, as well as his younger brother Humphrey living at number 25. In 1931 while at this address it was also recorded that William had a workshop on Sprowston Road.
Business expansion and a new premises
By 1934 the business must have been successful as in this year larger premises were acquired in School Lane on the sight of a former brick works. As the firm increased in size it gradually built up a large workforce specialising in all branches of the building industry. Throughout the years, as well as conventional building contracts, including the City Crematorium on Earlham Road 1935 the much maligned Westlegate Tower in Norwich in 1959 and various other local buildings, the firm also began early on to specialise and gain a reputation for their restoration work. Many churches, stately homes and other historic buildings have been restored to their former glory by the skilled tradesmen during the course of the firm`s existence. Projects included the 14th century Briton Arms on Elm Hill, the United Reformed Church in Princes Street, both of which gained craftsmanship awards. Lushers was also involved in restoration work at Blickling Hall, Oxborough Hall, Fellbrigg Hall, and the Plantation Gardens on Earlham Road, as well as receiving various contracts for work on Norwich Cathedral, including repairs to the spire in 1962 and the Cloisters in 2002-2003. W.S. Lusher and Son Ltd also held a coveted Royal Warrant for its work at Sandringham House since 1978. In the Sprowston area around the firm`s base in School Lane renovation work was undertaken at St. Cuthberts church, St. Mary and St. Margaret church, building of the Memorial Cottages in Mousehold Lane in 1948-1950, also the building of Wroxham Road Methodist church which opened in 1958. In 1978 the firm opened its own joinery shop on site, creating bespoke joinery for its clients such as English Heritage, the National Trust and Norwich Cathedral. In 1998 nave sanctuary furniture and choir stalls were installed at Norwich Cathedral, great skill was required and displayed in this project, all items being made by their joinery department.
The family members in the business
William Slaymaker Lusher was succeeded in the firm by his son William (Bill) Ivan Lusher 1926-2010. Bill attended the Norwich School and later he became a student at the Norwich City College, his ties with the college continued as he was a governor there for some 10 years before retiring in 1991. Many of the workers at the firm were the product of Lusher’s own apprenticeship schemes as Bill was a great believer in the training of tradesman. He also played an active part in the local branch of the National Federation of Builders.
Bill had a 60 year association with the Masonic movement. He was appointed as Master of the Lodge of Sincerity in 1963 and served as Provincial Grand Senior warden in 1969. He retired in 1991 having handed over to son Mark.
Mark Nicholas Lusher, born in 1954, became the third generation to manage the firm and was at the head of the business for more than thirty years. His wife Sarah has also played an active part within the Company. In 2015 Mark`s eldest daughter Kim Sabina Lusher, born in 1987, was appointed general manager, making her the fourth generation involved in the business. Kim continued to work alongside her father Mark until the closure of the firm.
Up to that point, the Company had maintained their workforce during the long recession that started in 2008, it also diversified into working with developers and undertaking construction of large contemporary houses. But, regrettably, these initiatives put a huge strain on the financial side of the business and, in August 2016, the Directors took the decision to put the firm in the hands of Administrators. At the time of writing (February 2017), offers to purchase the Company could lead to a re-launch of the business.