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ABOUT US
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A LITTLE BIT ABOUT US

In the mid to late seventies my wife and I were the classic 'Good Lifers', veg garden, goats for meat cheese, yoghurt and milk, chicken for eggs and the table, ditto the ducks and geese, horse, more chicken, woodpile and a poo heap. As fully-fledged good lifers, we had an obligation to build our own critter housing. Time were tough so to help cash flow we thought to market our housing and tested the market with a Classified ad’ in the ‘local’ which netted us fifteen calls for a then non-existent chicken house. Our market research had cost £2.75, and how little we knew that a three line ad would blossom into a lifetime’s commitment.

We early learnt that every house and every customer had the potential to champion further work, so we strove to always to exceed exception. Being keepers, we appreciated how important it is that in the first instance our work needed to pander to the needs and instincts of the ‘tenant’s, but also that if ‘landlord’ was to maintain a high degree of husbandry, the house had to be both accessible and functional. Also because the majority of our labours were to be on show in somebody's garden, the aesthetics where important, so attention to detail and these unnecessary little flourishes like the pattern on a plate, play a part. Best summed up by a customer who said “ this is housing even my neighbour can be proud of ".

For forty years we have laughed, cried, had successes, had failures, made mistakes, had triumphs, and had adventures, on one adventure, we got to look down the business end of a machine gun. Another had me holding the ladder for a real life friar tuck, 20ft up in his in flowing habit because he wanted a go with my hammer drill. However, the best part is always the people we met, from all walks of life. We have taken a Duchess down the pub, shared an old farmer's ham and bread doorstep, had cornflakes with a Lord, spent a day talking doves and dovecotes with a renowned filmmaker and his charming actor wife. (There’s lots of stories that need telling - check out my BLOG.) It’s a truth often said, ‘if its not broke, don’t fix it’, which is why we are as true to our roots today as we were four decades ago.
TIMELINE - HOW WE GOT THIS FAR
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1976

IT ALL BEGAN

When my wife Cindy and I brought No3 Forsham Cottages in Forsham Lane at the bottom of Sutton Valance hill, Kent. A third of an acre garden allowed us to start our Good Life, life. Chickens, ducks, goats, veg patch, log pile, compost heap, and one crazy collie dog.

1978

BROUGHT THE FIELD

Next to No3 Forsham Cottage, primarily to get Cindy a horse, but it enabled us to expanded our Good Life with still more chickens, ducks (dug a duck pond), a second goat, bigger veg patch, greenhouse, bigger log pile, bigger compost heap, cider barrels, a horse and a second crazy collie dog..

1979

FORSHAM COTTAGE ARKS WAS BORN

When we need to generate more income to help pay for the field. Having made our own housing we thought to started making and selling chicken houses

1985

WENT FULL TIME

When I lost my job in print (industrial dispute) and as Forsham Cottage Arks was morphing into a full time commitment, with Cindy’s backing I took the plunge and went full time coop making.

1986

ALLINGTON CASTLE

Commission two bespoke wall mounted dovecotes for their unique breed of chocolate brown doves.

1986

HAD TO MOVE

Because Forsham Cottage Arks had outgrown our garage and lean-to, so sold up and moved Forsham Cottage Arks to Goreside Farm Great Chart.

1988

HARRODS

Now sell Forsham dovecotes.

1990

KEW GARDENS

Buy and install a Forsham twelve nest dovecote.

1990

CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW

Despite a substantial waiting list Forsham are allocated a stand, on our first time of applying. We are allotted a highly prestigious stand in The Main Avenue amongst the show gardens. Our first stand obviously met the exacting standards required, because we were accolade a stand in Main Avenue for the following year and thereafter for a decade.

1991

OUR BIGGEST EVER ORDER

Was written when Forsham’s main avenue stand at the Chelsea Flower Show attracted the attention of the owner of German company, who on the first hour of the first day placed an order bigger than our entire earnings of the 1990 Chelsea Show. Over the next two years, our German friends doubled Forshams turnover.

1991

CERTIFICATE of MERIT

Was awarded to Forsham for the standard of our main avenue stand at Chelsea . Ditto 1992, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 2000 & 2001. In 2000 Forsham Arks are awarded BEST STAND in SHOW.

1993

THE BIG BREAKFAST TV SHOW

Asked Forsham to supply a fox proof chicken coop, after a fox raided the hencoop in the BIG BREAKFAST garden. Chris Evans needed a replacement coop for the next morning’s broadcast. Late in day, Cindy and I built Mr E’s coop and delivered it to the sat midnight, ready for the broadcast a few hours later.

1995

A JAPANESE GOLF COURSE

Ordered nineteen Forsham dovecotes to be used as tee markers for a new English Garden themed golf course being built in Japan. Mention of which somehow that got into the Daily Mirror  

1995

SIR RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH’S

Family presented him with a Forsham dovecote and doves for his birthday. After the birthday, Lord A asked if Cindy and I would come to his home for lunch to talk doves. We had an enchanting day with Lord and Lady Attenborough, lots of stories, lots of laughs.

1996

THE BBC

Phoned to ask if Cindy would be prepared to do an interview about doves keeping, she agreed. They needed Cindy, a dovecote and doves to be at the Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham for 9am . An early start got us there on time. Whilst the crew and I set up the dovecote in the studio gardens, Cindy went to make-up and did the interview. We then reloaded and drove back down to London to continue setting up our stand at the Chelsea Flower Show, which is where we were supposed to have been that day!

 1997

THE DUCHESS OF RICHMOND

Asked if we would set up a dovecote with doves in her private garden, behind Good Wood House. As do a lot of our customers the Duchess invited us to lunch. Her ‘man’ burnt the sausages, but we didn't say anything! Over the years we visited, the Duchess lots of times with various products she needed and nearly always end up ‘down the pub’.

2000

BEST TRADE STAND IN SHOW

Is awarded to Forsham Cottage Arks for our stand at the Chelsea Flower Show . Needs saying this is 95% down to Cindy who was the forewoman, for once I just did told.

2002

BEST NEW PRODUCT

Awarded to Forsham Cottage Arks at GLEE* 2002 for our Peterborough Rabbit Run . (* trade show)

2003

CHANNEL 4’s BIG BROTHER TV SHOW

Had chicken for the ‘inmates’ to look after, Forsham Cottage Arks supplied the chicken coops .

2006

WHEN JIMMY’S FARM

Needed critter housing, Forsham supplied just about all the fowl and animal housing for the Channel 4 Jimmy’s Farm series.

2007

GORDON RAMSEY

Asks Forsham to supply a coop and a mammoth chicken run to a gourmet pub in the New Forest where he was filming an episode of his KITCHEN NIGHTMARES programs. Mr R wanted the pub to boast ‘eggs from our own hens’ on the breakfast menu..

2008

HUGH FEARNLEY–WHITTINGSTAL

Was filming a series on chicken welfare, as part of the programme Mr H has gets inexperienced chicken keepers rearing and tending poultry for both eggs and meat. Forsham Cottage Arks supplied the coops required for both the layers and the meat birds.

2011

THE PERFECT STORM

Of the Avian Flu scare, cheap copies of our work being imported from China and a global financial recession, brought Forsham Cottage Arks to its knees. We were issued with a windup order by HMRC. Two weeks later Forsham was sold out from under us for the equivalent of just two weeks turn over . Forsham products are now made in China.  

2011

GRANDDAD ROB DESIGNS

Was hatches when Rob & Cindy lost Forsham Arks and became grandparents within a few days of each other. Rob was determined to carry on and started over again, this time as GRANDDAD ROB DESIGNS LTD. Cindy’s first choice was to go back to stable work, but is now a much sort after gardener.

2019

CROWN ESTATES

Buy an Epsom Six Nest Floating Duck House for Windsor Castle

No hidden charges, our listed price includes both the VAT and *Delivery

Forty years’ experience, with approximately 14,000 units made

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