When Henry Boot died in 1931, he was described as the founder of a world-famous Sheffield firm. The company was only 45-years-old at the time, and surprisingly Henry Boot is going strong, still a respected construction and property development business.
Henry Boot was born in 1851 at Heeley, his father being a landowner and farmer, and was apprenticed as a joiner with a builder on Division Street. He spent thirty-three years learning his trade before launching out on his own in 1886.
Henry Boot was based on Moore Street, and moved into large scale public works and housing projects, and the growth of the firm makes romantic history.
During World War One, the firm carried out enormous Government contracts at a time of great difficulty.
The firm built a major part of Catterick Camp, in North Yorkshire, with accommodation for an Army Corps, and so substantial was the work that it was retained as a permanent training centre.
An urgent demand for an aerodrome at Manston, on the Isle of Thanet, also resulted in the firm getting the contract, construction completed in record time.
Other important war work included the Tees naval base, the famous Calshot seaplane station, Chepstow Military Hospital and the American Army Rest Camp and Hospital at Southampton.
Afterwards, the company set up an office in Paris and, in conjunction with the French Government, administered contracts for the reconstruction of devastated towns and villages.
Its Athens office also secured a £10million contract for irrigation work with the Greek Government (a project that lasted until 1952).
Henry Boot was also a prolific house builder, constructing over 80,000 homes in the inter-war period, over 50,000 of these for local authorities, and about 1,000 on the Manor estate in Sheffield.
Henry retired before the war, succeeded as chairman by his eldest son, Charles Boot, of Thornbridge Hall, at Great Longstone. Although Henry retained an active part, it was Charles that built the business into one of Britain’s major construction companies.
Henry Boot had two other sons, William and Edward, and seven daughters, two of whom had married and lived in British Columbia.