We are proud to be celebrating our 125th anniversary in 2016. So here, our MD Richard Leach tells the story of the beginnings of our business and the Leach family connection that runs through it.
“Back in Victorian Yorkshire of 1891, George Leach made a gift of five pounds to his 20-year old son Arthur to help set him up for life. Arthur, already an enterprising and driven young man, invested the money in acquiring a small portrait photography business – photography being the booming technology industry of the times.
Despite quickly becoming an accomplished photographer, within three years Arthur decided his skills were better suited to the scientific and technical requirements of printing photographs rather than to the artistic and creative skills of capturing them. So he created the country’s – and possibly the world’s – first photographic printing laboratory, and by 1897 had developed a specialist technique for making black and white enlargements as big as 8x4 feet. In so doing Arthur laid the foundations for the Leach business of today, specialising in graphic-rich interior environments and retaining a passion for innovation within these markets.
It is interesting that, as I enter my 17th year running the business, I am still much the shortest serving head of the company. There have only been four of us and, despite the company having spent a period outside family ownership half a century ago, we have all been Leach's. Arthur was head of the company for 46 years, followed by his son Eric for 30 years, then Eric’s son and my father John for 32 years. (Incidentally it is Arthur’s father George Leach, our original benefactor, after whom I have named my own son – his Great Great Great Grandson.)
I really feel that stability and longevity in management and in the local West Yorkshire community, where we have always been based, have been strongly reflected in our workforce and customers over the years. The bonds of trust in, and loyalty to, the company run very deep. Of course we would not be here today without the dedication of generations of employees and the trust of thousands of customers and our gratitude goes out to all of these people.”
We are currently working on a fuller history of the company covering all of our 125 years, and this will be published during February 2016.