Oldest Family Firms In Essex

Warsop Stebbing

The Warsop Stebbing story begins in the mid 1800’s with Benjamin Warsop, a gentleman from Nottingham who moved to London to set up his cricket bat workshop in St Johns Wood. Along with the help of his four sons: Alfred, Arthur, Frank and Walter. Their craftsmanship and skill in the bat making industry was recognised instantly, which won them a first Order of Merit at the Centennial International Exhibition at Melbourne in 1888.

In this same year, Ben Warsop and his sons felled a tree in Boreham, Essex, close to where they now operate. The colossal tree was 101 feet high and 5 feet 9 inches in diameter. Planted in around 1835, it was three times the age of a normal cricket bat willow. Ben described it as ‘sound as a bell’ and he and his sons crafted 1,179 magnificent cricket bats from this one willow.

The order book in these first 20 years of business show that Benjamin Warsop and his sons were suppliers of large and regular quantities of cricket bats to Slazenger, Wisden and Junior Army and Navy stores, as well as clubs, schools and individuals. In 1893, Ben received an order from the master himself, W.G. Grace Esq.

At the turn of the century, the workshops moved even closer to Lord’s Cricket Ground. Benjamin was joined at this time by George Hunt who had learnt his trade from Venables of Lee Green, Blackheath, Stuart Surridge and George Bussey. He stayed with the firm for more than half a century. In 1907, after six years of working together they were in the big league supplying Harrods and Rio Cricket & Athletic Association of Brazil with world class cricket bats.

The Warsop’s sourced their timber from Essex soil, providing the finest bat willows in the country. The family and workers would take a train from London and hop off at the sight of bat willow trees, set up camp and fell
the timber before transporting it back to London. Eventually this lead to Walter setting up his bat workshop in Little Baddow, Essex. His son Cyril became the third generation to learn the skills of his father and grandfather and he in turn taught his children, Max and Shiela Warsop when they joined the business after World War II had ended and the game of cricket once again became a part of British life.

In the 1950’s, they welcomed Harry Stebbing into the partnership in their Danbury workshop. Warsop Cricket is now owned and run by the fifth generation of the family, Clere Warsop, alongside her partner Tony who
is a skilled batmaker. Together the team combine centuries of bat making skill with a vast knowledge of the game as it has evolved to produce world class English willow bats.

Clere Worsop, fifth generation owner of the business is proud of their heritage, adding that “For six generations we have been crafting our handmade cricket bats and in recent decades developing and innovating our collection of pads, gloves and bags, to give our players the finest cricket equipment to enhance their game.”

“We pride ourselves on our relationship with our customers and supporting our players through their whole cricketing life. This is a family business where our ethos remains the same as it was when the business started and where players are the centre of our business. Our cricket bats and equipment are all designed to enhance the ability and enjoyment of every cricketer we serve,” concludes Clere.

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