One of the best-known statues in Southampton’s parks is that of Richard Andrews, a successful carriage maker and politician in the town between 1832 and 1859.

Andrews was a wheelwright from Bishops Sutton who came to Southampton in 1823 and worked for William Jones, a carriage maker in Above Bar.

In 1832, Andrews opened his own carriage building works in East Street, quickly gaining a reputation for high-quality work. By 1842 he invested in larger premises in Above Bar, and in 1845 sold 300 carriages gaining Royal Warrants and employing 200 people.

Andrews died in 1859 and is buried in Southampton Old Cemetery. The business was then run by his son Arthur.

William Jones, who came from Sundridge in Kent, was also a successful carriage maker. He opened his Southampton carriage-building business in 1817 with Joseph Hiard, a partnership which was dissolved two years later.

Jones continued the business alone with great success employing 80 men at one time and earning an international reputation for his work.

In 1863 Arthur Andrews sued Jones for libel in a case involving Mayor Frederick Perkins famous for gifting the lime tree avenue in the parks.

Jones was accused of publishing a leaflet claiming that Andrews was to build a carriage for free which Perkins would present as a gift to Queen Victoria thus fraudulently earning himself a knighthood and Andrews a Royal Warrant. The matter was resolved when Jones issued a full apology.

Daily Echo: Jones' carriage works by Brannon

William Jones’ son Eustace Hinton Jones ran the business following his father’s death in 1864 and sold the business in 1866 to Arthur Andrews in order to pursue a career as a writer. William Jones is buried in Southampton Old Cemetery.

Another early carriage maker in the town was Jacob Ayton who began business in 1801 with premises in Above Bar. In 1819 Ayton and Hiard both transferred their business interests to Aslatt and Co. carriage and harness makers from Long Acre in London. John Aslatt set up carriage production in Ayton’s former Southampton workshops with showrooms facing out onto the Above Bar.

John Aslatt was awarded a Royal Warrant through family connections to Buckingham Palace but in other ways was most unlucky. In 1825 a fire broke out in his workshop burning it and his home to the ground.

Fortunately some of his carriages were rescued from the blaze but it was financially disastrous for his business as his insurance only covered a third of his losses and he had to resort to seeking financial support through the local newspaper.

On another occasion in 1847, a collapse of construction work for the railway tunnel under the Marlands made his premises unsafe for work.

Daily Echo: Carriage in the High Street 1847

Several ventures involving partners fell through but his son Alfred John Aslatt was able to inherit the business and continue trading and in turn pass the business onto his son Henry Poate Aslatt in 1875. Aslatt’s finally ceased trading in the 1890s. There is a memorial to the Aslett family in Highfield Church graveyard.

Richard Calloway another local carriage maker had a factory at Marland Place which on his death in 1845 passed to his sons Richard and James.

Unfortunately the sons did not have the business acumen of their father and by 1848 were insolvent and imprisoned as debtors. John Aslatt was their trustee and he bought what assets they had. Interestingly a Calloway descendant later produced bodywork for Rolls Royce.

Carriage-making provided employment for many local people which involved long hours over a six-day week working from 6am until 6pm Monday to Friday and from 6 am until 5 pm on Saturdays.

Daily Echo: Carriages in Carlton Crescent 1847

In 1897 the Institute of British Carriage Makers held their annual conference in Southampton with dozens of national carriage makers attending.

They were welcomed with a banquet in the Audit House where the Mayor’s speech referred to Southampton as the home of British carriage-making with many innovative companies specifically naming Andrews and Aslatt. The delegates cheered in full agreement.

Daily Echo: SeeSouthampton logo.

Godfrey Collyer is a tour guide with .