Guildhall Properties based in Bury St Edmunds specialises in commercial property from industrial units and trade counter units to modern offices to let in the Suffolk area.
In the 1920’s the company originated from a domestic washing business started by Mrs Kelsey in her house in Guildhall Street. She employed laundry maids from the town and villages who lived in the attics upstairs. Parcels of household linen were taken in to the front shop, washed in a washhouse at the back and dried outside in the yard. As the business flourished Mrs. Kelsey was able to buy the old Flax factory and land off Hardwick Lane by the water meadows. ‘The Hand Laundry (Bury) Ltd’ was set up as a mechanised steam laundry, surrounded by gardens, a swimming pool and tennis court for the benefit of a staff of over a hundred. Vans provided a collection and delivery service to houses, hotels and hospitals.
In 1936 the company was bought by the Mager family from London, and Mr and Mrs Forbes were appointed as managers. George and Avis Forbes saw the company through the war years taking part in the war effort. There was a lot of extra hospital and troop work which meant that the laundry was open all night for shifts to support the many army and airforce camps in the country.
After the war George and Avis undertook a complete modernisation of the factory and established laundry and dry cleaning shops in Bury, Stowmarket, Thetford, Mildenhall and Brandon.
Success in the fifties was threatened in the sixties by a decline in the laundry industry with the availability of cheap domestic washing machines and the concentration of contract catering and other commercial cleaning into huge centralised automated factories.
In 1961 Jim Bayne joined the business, later joining the Board as another working Director. He was closely involved with the exploration of new projects for diversification particularly in finding new uses for some of the superfluous buildings. These were let to a variety of small businesses. There was revealed a demand for such mixed, flexible premises. New ones were built and the Hardwick Industrial Estate became an exciting development. Eventually it overtook the laundry business which was sold to the Saffron Laundry continuing to trade from Saffron Walden.
Jim Bayne was joined by his daughter Justine Murray in 1986, who is now the Managing Director, and they moved completely into property development and commercial letting. They changed the company name to ‘Guildhall Properties’, linking it to the company office, which had continued in Guildhall Street until it’s move to the Forbes Business Centre on Moreton Hall in 2005.
Company Reg no: 244914 Registered in England
Registered Office: 16 Forbes Business Centre, Kempson Way, Bury St Edmunds IP32 7AR