The founder of the firm, Robert John Winnicott, began his business in Portsmouth in 1904 at the age of 21.  He started in a small way - building extensions and carrying out repairs for private clients, but was soon asked to build houses for these same clients.  By 1907 he was buying land and building houses in the Copnor area of the town.


The business developed successfully and he was able to keep a number of the houses as investment properties, selling the rest.  During the First World War, Mr Winnicott served in the Fleet Air Arm and the business was carried on by his staff.


After the War, the business in speculative house building continued from offices and workshops in Copnor, moving from one side of Copnor Road to the other side in Moneyfield Lane. At this time a further company, "The Grit Company" was formed with other Portsmouth builders. This company constructed houses at Eastney and began the Cosham Estate for the Portsmouth Council.


By the mid 1930s "RJ's" son Harold had joined the business and contracting work was added to their activities, in addition to speculative housing.  The firm became a Limited Company in 1938.


During the Second World War, the work force was involved in defence work in and around Portsmouth, including making aircraft components in the joiners' shop.  Harold Winnicott served in the RAF during the War.


In the late 1930s, "Deerleap", a large house and grounds in Rowlands Castle, was purchased as a land bank for housing development.  However, with the intervention of Second World War this went by the wayside.  Instead, after the war, a branch of the business was established together with a small retail outlet catering for a growing DIY market.  By this time contracting was taking a greater role in the business and by the end of the 1950s speculative house building had ceased.


When the founder of the company died in November 1971, aged 88, his grandson Robert took over the business.  In 1975 the company moved out of the Portsmouth premises to a newly constructed joinery shop and offices at Rowlands Castle. This was followed in 1976 by the building of a new retail outlet facing The Green. In 1991 a second hardware shop in Emsworth was added to the business, a third in Romsey in 2000 and in 2006, the fourth in Alton.


Following Robert's retirement in 2004, the fourth generation of the family now run the business.  Robert's eldest son Adrian joined the firm in 1988 and runs the retail hardware side of the business along with cousin David Wagg. Adrian's younger brother Paul, who joined in 2001, runs the construction division.


During its history there have been several families from which two generations have served the company, some achieving 50 years service.  Currently there are a number of staff who have been with the company many years and, as always, a younger element join the team from time to time.  All these conscientious, loyal and hard working people have contributed to the success of the company and have its grateful thanks.


With the valuable experience and enthusiasm of its staff the company is in a strong position as it continues into its second century.

Old Lorry

5t Commer Lorry. Mid 1930s. Pictured in Southsea.



Mr R J Winnicott's firm. Outing to Harting. July 1910.


In front of terrace

Mr R. J. Winnicott (front row third from left) and his workforce building new houses in Copnor, Portsmouth. Approx 1907.



Mr Harold Winnicott being presented to Princess Elizabeth at the opening of The Nuffield United Services Officers' Club, Portsmouth. 20th July 1951