Syston timber merchant, George Walker Ltd, is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. Although their yard on Fosse Way is primarily a retail outlet, the company was established in 1814 as a haulage business. George Walker soon became involved in handling logs from the local country estates, and the natural progression into buying and selling timber was made. It was Harry Walker, a descendant of George, who first established a sawmill in the centre of Syston in 1915. The old sawmill was situated in the village centre on a large plot bounded by High Street and School Street, see picture above.
In 1976, the old yard was subject to a compulsory purchase order to make way for shops and houses, and the business moved to its present location on Fosse Way. Very little evidence of the old yard remains, but the original office and foreman’s house still stands at the entrance to Walkers Way, see picture left. Today, the demand for fencing and landscaping timber at George Walker Ltd continues to increase, driven by trends for products such as decking, sleepers and raised beds. The cranes and heavy machinery have long since been removed to make way for more stock, although a joinery shop and cutting service still exist. In its bicentennial year, however, George Walker Ltd is returning to its roots and opening a new sawmill at Belvoir Castle. The mill will process a range of homegrown timber species, including oak. Progress at the sawmill can be followed on the Forest Products page of their website: www.george-walker.co.uk.