History of Farr and Farr
How it all started over 40 years ago …
From June 1982 … The Birth of Farr and Farr
Layton Smith Osbourne and Partners who had been trading since the mid 70’s was bought by Farr & Farr and completed on 2nd June 1982 and immediately started trading. Julian’s brother and himself had borrowed £30,000 from their father which today doesn’t seem a great deal of money, but if you bear in mind that a 3 bedroom detached on Estcourt Road in 1982 was worth between £27,000 and £28,000, this was a big dedication and risk to take at the time.
1982 : New Trading Location
In late 1982, Farr and Farr moved to 2A Worcester Street, which was then a very busy trading position with many other significant agencies including Andrews, Brinkley Thompson, Hickmans and Lear and Lear, all within a few yards of each other.
It was one of the two centres where Estate Agents predominated, the other being in Eastgate Street/Clarence Street. Within Gloucester there were close to 30 active and established Estate Agencies and all businesses covering all of Gloucester and most of the Forest of Dean and far North of Tewkesbury. Julian’s brother and him were the negotiators, their father provided most of the money and did the accounts. Their mother organised the office. Mother and Father were only supposed to stay helping for the first 3 or 4 years until we were established, but carried on working within the business.
With the opening of a Cheltenham office in St Georges Road failed as we didn’t have the ability to finance both operations, it was closed in November 1983 and work started to concentrate in Gloucester alone. Gloucester was a prosperous working city not far in property values behind Cheltenham where you could buy in both towns, good sized first-time buyer terraced housing for under £20,000. An expensive house in 1982 was £45,000. Today, it would be worth well in excess of £600,000.
1985 – 1988: Baby Boom
In the early days it was a very competitive market and us being the new boys struggled with opposition such as Bruton Knowles, Hickmans, Brinkley Thompson, Beacham and Harris, RA Grahams, Lear and Lear and many others that are now long gone! It was not until the beginning of a boom which started in about 1985 that we started to see an improvement in the business and we began to become established and well respected as a household name for Gloucester estate agencies.
In 1987, the financial services industry started getting interested, as they thought it was vital to keep a relationship between financial services and the selling and buying of property. Many of the big companies, Prudential General accident, commercial union and others were buying up Cheltenham and Gloucester’s based established Estate Agents. But with the property crash after Nigel Lawsons budget in 1988, corporate run Estate Agents proved to be unpopular and badly run and the small number of remaining independent agencies (like ourselves) thrived.
1989/90 crash following the 85-88 boom was a very tough period, not just for Farr and Farr but for all within the UK. Many of the mortgage lenders panicked and repossessed many properties which led to a drop in price, in many cases up to 30%. But it was not until 1991 that the market began to recover.
During 1989 sadly Julian’s brother contracted cancer and was off for most of the summer. On his return to work he was still weak and we were very fortunate in early 1991 to have Peter Brinkley from Brinkley Thompson join the company, who bought energy and vigour and stayed for 21 years!
1991 – 1994
In early 1991 we acquired a proportion of the property in Longlevens (the vets) and opened our second office which proved to be immediately successful. We were the only agent in that area.
The 1988 crash had hit some of the larger agents and most of the corporate owned businesses very hard, and one of our very largest competitors Hickmans became unprofitable and had decided to sell.
We were fortunate enough to have a good relationship with Tony and Dianna and agreed to buy the business from them and acquired their Hucclecote Office in November 1994, which then gave us 3 offices and a fair control of the Eastern side of Gloucester.
Late in 1995 Cornerstone, another corporate Estate Agent run by Abbey National had hit the buffers and we managed to buy their Churchdown office in Church Road close to the Bat and Ball and this was opened by Richard Shorting in the Spring of 1996. Jenny who is still with us joined as a trainee aged 16 in October 1994 and the team now comprised of Peter and Julian, Jenny and 7 others (Richard and Claire, Jenny and Helen, Janet and Caroline, Annie, Jane and Diane), a very well run, efficient and tight net unit of 4 offices, all to the centre and to the East of the centre which has a strong independent presence. Julian’s brother unfortunately passed away in 1993.
The competition came and went, many names of Estate Agents starting and only lasting 3 or 4 years before folding. Some of the older independent companies had disappeared. Peter and Julian one day sat in the office on a quiet Sunday morning and put a list together of all the Estate Agents that they could think of which had been in Gloucester between mid 70’s and the late 90’s. They counted 168, of which at that time only 8 or 9 remained.
Estate Agency in those days had little or no computer or electronic wizardry. We were open 7 days a week until 7pm on weekdays. We relied heavily on the Citizen which was originally had lineage, but in the early 80’s produced the Homebuyer which was first on a Friday lunchtime and then brought back to a Thursday lunchtime, which the whole week and all the selling was based around that. It was office windows which supplied any information on new properties coming on, both new and old.
1996 – 2000
In the late 90’s, technology started to move forward and we went computerised using a very sophisticated remote system which allowed us to advertise properties almost immediately. The upcoming of Rightmove, Zoopla, Prime Location, This is Gloucestershire and the Homebuyers own website, was a completely new way of marketing and was the new beginning, ultimately putting an end to newspaper advertising.
2000 – 2003
In the early 2000’s, we were an established, stable and successful company, with 20 years of experience in the field. We were still an independent company that moved forward and expanded making use of modern technology and still working very long hours but offering a very complete personal traditional service.
2003 – 2011
In 2003 Britain won the Rugby world cup and it was the beginning of another property boom where house prices again rose much faster than inflation. There was a great desire to move. There was a significant freedom in banking and financial services much deregulation. This inevitably led to a financial crisis in late 2007 and to a long double dip recession which lasted over 4 years.
Times were much harder but as a small independent and relatively efficient company, we survived. Changes in technology were happening fast and the old way of selling was being lost, a lot was done online. The old meeting of people was disappearing. Peter who had been with us for 21 years and had seen great progress retired (2010) and the company by then (30 years old) had a period fighting against new opposition in the field, where competition was very fierce and there were new players coming to the scene due to this enhancement in technology and people starting business after the recession.
2011 – 2022
Sarah joined the company and by 2013 had begun the first steps of reorganising and updating with both obvious and difficult changes. The company is continuing to provide family values and service with the very latest of technology and the use of social media as well as efficient systems.
In 2019 we opened as a second part of a letting company which is now run out of our Oxstalls Office, and at the same time we moved from Oxstalls to our Cheltenham Road office next to the co-op where there is space for excellent parking.
Having started in June 1982, 2022 was our 40th year, much to everybody’s surprise or direction, Julian Farr has no intension of retiring anytime soon. We have acquired highly intelligent motivated younger staff and the business we believe is run still as a happy family orientated company.