In the third of three stories with Thames Tap partner T A Fisher, we look at how the firm started 125 years ago.
While T A Fisher is a familiar and respected name throughout the Thames Valley, its origins are relatively humble.
The firm’s growth and evolution has largely matched that of its Reading base since it launched as a one-man-band in 1895.
Thomas Alfred Fisher started the firm as a signwriting, marbling and gilding provider. But he was an artist with an eye for business and even in those early days, diversity and innovation were much in evidence.
Mr Fisher turned part of his Cholmeley Road base in East Reading into an off-licence. It later became the Eastgate public house. Gradually the artistic endeavours gave way to building and development and, in 1960, Thomas Fisher’s grandson, Keith, accelerated the firm’s redirection, almost by accident.
The family wanted to build two bungalows on the underused part of the firm’s yard and Keith decided they should have central heating.
Speaking to local media in 2003, Keith, now 95, said: “What pushed us was that this was a time when central heating was first being thought of in small houses. Nobody had central heating then, so we put it into the houses at the yard.
“We ended up being official installers for Shell Mex and BP. We were the first people to put central heating in small houses.”
More and larger installations were taken on, including putting systems into entire estates. Growing levels of activity built the firm’s presence in the property sector, where it became a rarity – a local family-based developer competing among nationals with muscle and money.
Keith’s son, John Fisher, worked at the firm before a spell at Scotchbrooks estate agents in Reading.
His return in 1984 was another landmark in T A Fisher’s storybook.
As managing director of new homes and land at Scotchbrooks, he had to take a step down to return to T A Fisher.
He has been managing director since 1990 and during his 30-year reign, the company has broadened it horizons significantly, creating the wide-ranging company which is highly active in today’s market.
In the 1980s T A Fisher built, and moved into, new offices at Mortimer, the first of many thousands of square feet of commercial space it was to build. Naturally it was T A Fisher which converted that building to residential when the firm moved offices to Theale in 2015.
T A Fisher has assembled a sizeable investment portfolio which underpins its range of development and operational activity.
John Fisher said: “As a company we’re in a very good place and the diversity of our activities usually acts as an effective foil against particular market turbulence. The other key ingredient is that we stick to our core subject which is property in the Thames Valley and that policy has served us well!”
Image shows one of T A Fisher’s most recent schemes, Tower Gardens at Mortimer. Just one of the houses remains unsold.
Part One: ‘We won’t be among the casualties’
Part Two: ‘We need more SME housebuilders’
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