Our History

Our History

In March 1903 Albert Hymas arrived back in England only eighteen months after departing for the gold fields of Klondike, Canada. He had decided to chance his luck on the less risky enterprise of building contracting and quarrying.

albert

 

Albert built houses in Starbeck, Harrogate for £5.00 per house. Where he and his team of two labourers worked so hard they laid bricks at twice the standard rate. As Albert and his labourers toiled, a horse and cart brought in supplies from his quarry in Killinghall to Harrogate at the breakneck speed of two trips per day.

In 1913 Albert bought a petrol driven wagon, the first Harrogate had seen. This made it possible for Albert to run supplies up from Killinghall much more quickly. Requests for haulage and hire came flooding in, including one from the town council who had bought the diesel engines out of a surrendered German submarine.

By the time World War One broke out, Albert had built the office at The Grove, Harrogate. While he was too old to fight himself, many of his employees were called up, so he pulled his 14-year-old son, Leslie, out of school to work as a bricklayer in the family business, much to Leslie’s chagrin. Leslie was eventually called up 1918, serving during the last stages of the war, to be de-mobbed a year later in 1919.

Over the next couple of decades Albert continued to build houses, schools and public buildings in Harrogate, including the Central Cinema on Oxford Street (1919), the tower of St Peter’s Church (pictured right – 1926) and, as leading contractor, on the town’s municipal offices in Crescent Gardens (1930) and the Odeon Cinema on Station Bridge (1933). During the Depression of the thirties, Albert completed the building of residential houses on Harcourt Road and The Grove.

Following the death of Albert in 1936, and with the arrival of the World War Two, the building arm of the business became less important as the transport element grew. John Leslie Hymas worked hard, but for him the business was always a means to an end: the provision of an education for his six sons and daughters, something the Great War had denied him.

John-Lesley

Despite becoming a limited company in 1957, business remained static. When his son Michael Albert Hymas joined in 1962, business was not as prosperous as it could have been.

Michael understood the world in which he lived, and though hard work and straightforward dealings he turned that understanding to profit. By the time he assumed full control in 1972, the business was back on an even keel. He diversified the haulage arm of the business, adding to the already thriving local market Spanish deliveries five days a week and taking racing pigeons to Eastern Europe.

Michael-Albert

 

Michael was fortunate that he didn’t have to face a foreign aggressor as his father and grandfather had done. But throughout the 1970s the British economy was battered by the energy crisis, strikes and labour unrest. Michael could be seen working, often by candle light through the power cuts, in the offices his grandfather had built in The Grove.

Michael changed his business structure to meet new demands of the economy. He started the self-drive hire business Readydrive in 1978, which flourished over the next 25 years. He also consolidated and developed the builder’s merchants and haulage arms of the business.

However, when Michael developed cancer in 1972, his view of the world changed. He had a young family and realised that he needed to provide financial protection for them. Commercial property was the answer. Over the next few years, he bought a number of properties in and around Harrogate. His innovation meant that Leslie’s death in 1980 made little impact on the day to day running of the business. Throughout he was supported in the business by his wife, Mary, who took an active role as director and company secretary.

As Michael’s family grew older he was joined in the business by his son Richard, at first just during the school holidays then later on a full time basis. When Michael died in 2003 he had secured the financial future of not only his family, now stretching down to his two granddaughters, but also of the business itself. The solid foundations that the previous generations had laid allowed Richard, with considerable help from the staff and Michael’s widowed wife Mary, to successfully move the business forward into the fourth generation.

Richard

 

The economy had changed. Richard knew that the business must evolve if it was to survive. With the help of Mary and many colleagues, Richard restructured the business. He moved Michael’s enterprises – Readydrive, Killinghall Commercials and the haulage business – on to new homes and embarked on a redevelopment program of the commercial property.

Today Albert Hymas Ltd is a property holding company specialising in the commercial and industrial property. It is a company that has never lost the tenacity and determination of its founder who, all those years ago, saw the future in the Yorkshire stone of Harrogate.

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