The firm which is now C G Fry & Son was started in the quiet Dorset village of Litton Cheney not long after the First World War. More than 80 years on, the company still has its base in the village, though its operations are spread across the south-west of England.
In 1918, nineteen-year-old Charles George Fry came out of the army and started work with his father George, who was the village undertaker in Litton Cheney as well as doing general house and building repairs.
Before going into the army Charlie had been apprenticed as a wheelwright and wagon builder – a skill he now brought to his father’s business. At that time just one other person, Neddy Pye, was employed.
The 1930s saw Dorset farmers starting to use tractors and mass-produced trailers. The wheel and wagon business faded away and the company concentrated solely on building work. In 1935 Charlie Fry built his first house – a stone house in Chalk Pit Lane at Litton Cheney constructed for a chemist from Weymouth. The firm was growing, and before the outbreak of the Second World in 1939 there were five employees. Most, however, were called up for war service, leaving only one.
After the war the labour force was restored to its former size, augmented by its first apprentices. In 1950 Eddy Fry, Charlie’s son, was apprenticed to a Dorchester building company, George Tate Ltd, as a bricklayer. After completing his apprenticeship and then his National Service he became increasingly involved in the running of the company, overseeing refurbishment work, new buildings and general repairs, working on most of the large houses in West Dorset.
In the mid-1970s came Eddy Fry’s first speculative development – a single house built on a site in Puncknowle. In 1980 the company was formed as C G Fry & Son Ltd. At that time Charlie Fry retired from the firm. A site of eight houses was developed in Litton Cheney, and while the contracting work was maintained, the house building side was gradually increased at other small sites in West Dorset.
In 1991 Eddy was joined by his son Philip, who had completed a degree in Quantity Surveying, subsequently working for a building contractor in London. Together they expanded the development side of the company, with award-winning developments in Abbotsbury and Broadwindsor.
In 1992 C G Fry & Son won a tender from the Duchy of Cornwall for the first phase of the building of Poundbury, and the firm has since been responsible for the construction at Poundbury of more than 600 new homes, offices and shops. Poundbury helped put the name of C G Fry & Son on the map as a leading regional construction firm, and the company now operates in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire.