Arthur E Shepherd – a builder of Loughborough
12 March 2020
Arthur E Shepherd (1872-1962) was a Loughborough-born businessman and town councillor, his story a genuine tale of ‘boy done good.’
Arthur was born in Freehold Street on 16th March 1872, one of seven children of ‘very humble and God-fearing parents’ who worked long, hard hours and ‘had a great struggle to make both ends meet.’
An ‘old boy of Cobden School’, Arthur left school at the age of eleven and became first a shop boy, then an apprentice decorator and, at the age of twenty-two, a Master Decorator in his own right. As a married man with six children, Arthur ran his own shop and decorator’s business on Nottingham Road, living above the business.
With the guidance and support of local businessmen Mr Clemerson of Clemerson’s Store fame, Arthur’s entrepreneurial spirit saw him branch out into property development. In 1926, he bought shares in the long-established local building firm William Corah and Son when the current owner – Edgar Corah – passed away. Three of his sons joined him in the business.
Despite potentially devastating setbacks (he took out a huge loan to build houses just as the country plunged into war and all building work stopped), Arthur Shepherd achieved phenomenal success as a developer, both in Loughborough and beyond. His company was responsible for many attractive art deco-style buildings in the centre of town as well as a substantial body of housing in Loughborough, including the Park Road and Parklands Drive estates.
As well as developing the fabric of the town, Arthur Shepherd took an interest in the welfare of its citizens, elected as town councillor for the Hastings Ward at the age of 29 and serving on the council for ten years. He was a member of the congregation of the Baptist Chapel and in 1913, took on the role of organising the town’s annual ‘Robin’s Breakfasts‘ which fed poor children on Christmas Day.
From such humble beginnings, Arthur was able to enjoy the success of his hard work, moving away from ‘above shop’ on Nottingham Road to houses on Forest Road and, later, Holywell Drive, where he enjoyed growing roses and rhododendrons.
Arthur Shepherd died in February 1962 at the age of 90, after a long and happy marriage to his wife Eliza, whose support he credited with much of his success. Eliza herself died the following year, aged 91.
‘Memories of a Loughborough Man: A E Shepherd 1872-1962’ (Ed. Joy cross and Margaret Staple. Pub. Dept of Adult Education, University of Nottingham, 1994.)
‘Lynne about Loughborough’ website (Lynne Dyer, November 2020) – see here and here.