Goodbye to “Mr Self-Build”
A pioneer of our industry who will be greatly missed...
Here at Potton we are extremely sad to say that our former owner and Chairman Peter Hutchinson passed away on Thursday 2nd July at his home in Bedfordshire. He was surrounded by his family and died peacefully in his sleep, he was 83 years old and had been unwell for some time.
Always the entrepreneur
Peter’s early life was spent living in Potton Town where he was born, he lived in a little old two up, two down cottage with an outside toilet and washroom, the family lived with his grandmother and he shared a bedroom with his brother Jack. Later on his parents moved into a 1930s semi-detached house where he lived until he was married.
On leaving school he went straight into an apprenticeship with a local joinery company where he worked in most of the departments including the drawing office where he was a design draftsman. Following this and having served his National Service, Peter embarked on a big venture to set up his own business, something he had always wanted to do, this was in 1964, who would have thought back then that during 2007 he would have received the OBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace for his services to the building industry.
From the early days of making pallets and fruit packing cases for local farmers the company got involved with manufacturing engineered timber components for the construction industry, in fact as Peter used to say “if it’s made of wood, we will manufacture it” by this time the company that had started up with absolutely no experience or money was employer to 12 local people.
Potton was born
On an early trip to America Peter saw for himself the opportunity to be building timber houses in the UK, especially as nobody else was doing it.
Throughout the 1970s Potton produced literally thousands of kits for council houses in new town areas throughout the UK, at this time the company also entered the export market and sent house packages and modular buildings to the Middle East and Africa.
When the building of council houses came to an abrupt end in the late 70s the company’s business literally disappeared overnight so Peter set his sights on the private sector. Potton started to supply major developers and builders throughout the country with timber frame kits, with the likes of Barratt Homes and Laing Construction being among some of their early clients. This was an extremely busy period for the company, as in the early 80s they had also become involved with supplying, and building Travel Lodge Motels for The Trust House Forte group, during that period over 200 Motels were manufactured and built throughout the UK and Ireland.
The first ever Potton Heritage home, 1981
Peter Hutchinson with wife Rita, collecting his OBE at the Palace.
However, seeing his daughter renovate an old cottage and re-discover all of the structural beams behind the plasterboard Peter started to think about a desire he had always had, to design and build country cottages for rural England, so with his close friend Architect Clive Plumb the two embarked on designing a post and beam structural system that was inspired by the Tudor style of houses, this is how Heritage range was born.
For over 10 years Potton built a different show house at London’s Earls Court “Ideal Home Exhibition” they were featured on breakfast TV had numerous visits from Royalty including the Queen and the then Princess Diana, this put the name Potton firmly on the map and was further enhanced in 1992 when the UKs first permanent self-build show centre was built at St Neots in Cambridgeshire and feature 3 fully finished homes for aspiring self builders to visit.
A job well done
And now with over 13,000 people every year self building their own homes in the UK Potton have become an established and well respected company providing a large percentage of the self-build market with stylish, bespoke and beautifully designed homes.
Potton self-build house packages have also been taken up by discerning builders in various parts of the country with the largest site to date featuring 67 Tudor styled homes in the Essex countryside, the houses have also been exported to Japan, The USA, Spain and Israel.
Peter always said he wanted the name Potton to roll off of peoples tongues in the same way as the name Hoover does…Well Peter, We think you most certainly achieved that!
Peter Hutchinson…A man ahead of his time, he will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him, and worked with him.