Astley Samuel Leeder Ltd
Astleys is one of the regions longest established, locally owned firm of Chartered Surveyors, Estate Agents and Property Consultants, established in 1863 by John Mack Leeder Esq
Defining Our Landscape Since1863
Although we are a firm that will always look forward to ensure we are at the forefront of this ever changing property industry, we are also proud of our heritage. Please see below some key dates that have shaped the way we conduct our business today.
2016 Astley Samuel Leeder exceed £250m in assets valued within a 12 month period
2014 Astley Samuel Leeder acquires Raglan House for its out-of-town Head Office
2013 Vacated offices at 49 Mansel Street, Swansea (in occupation for 67 years)
2011 Astley Samuel Leeder incorporated as a Private Limited Company
1992 Astleys Samuel Leeder bought back from Nationwide by Messrs. Morse, Smith and Cowley, operating as a Partnership
1987 Astley Samuel Leeder Sold to Nationwide
1946 The firms of Astley Samuel & Co. and Leeder & Co. amalgamate to form Astley Samuel Leeder & Son to specialise in the reinstatement valuation of properties affected during the Blitz
1930 Mr Ernest Leeder appointed as National President of the RICS
1920 Astley Samuel & Co. Established
1863 John M Leeder & Co Established opening a Swansea office where he built up easily the largest general practice in valuation, agency and auctioneering in West Wales
Our Heritage – The Full Story
Two centuries ago the practice of “the profession of the land” was very different from the practice of today and this was basically because estates were then very large and in the care and management of relatively few people, most of whom were attorneys-at-law who styled themselves as “Stewards”, assisted by bailiffs.
Any sort of transaction involving a private negotiator representing the tenant was unusually out of the question and private ‘agents’ acting for the tenant were practically unknown. The tenant would be interviewed by the Steward and that usually ended the matter which more often than not was on a take it or leave it basis.
But change was taking place. In the latter half of the 18th century we had come to the days of combined and company enterprise and even public ownership. Harbours were being conceived, canals constructed, road diversions made, commons enclosed, townhalls being built and purchases of land by compulsion envisaged. Business was being created on an ever growing scale. The large agencies in London could no longer cope with the growing activity taking place in many parts of the country and undoubtedly it was the family of Leeder that brought eminence and skill and the ability to keep up with growth and change.
The first-comer here was in the person of John Mack Leeder, born 1825, the son of Cullam Dade Leeder of Dereham in Norfolk, who at the age of 22 came to manage the large estate of John Biddulph Esq., manager and part proprietor of the Copper Miners Tinplate Co. Ltd., who had works at Cwmavon and Pembrey. Biddulph was an agent at Swansea for the Branch Bank of England in Temple Street. The great influence and importance of Biddulph quickly secured Leeder the Agency of the Chambers and the Stepney Estates. This was followed by the interest of John Henry Vivian of Singleton, The Townsend Woods, The Naylor Bensons and the Swansea and Nantgaredig Estates of Baths; copper ore importers and ship owners. Leeder had involved Richard Holthem, the Gloucester Architect and when Holthem’s brother Joseph came to Swansea in March 1859 to build the new Synagogue in Goat Street, Leeder decided to open a Swansea office.
Mr John Mack Leeder unfortunately died in January 1911, having handed the business over to son Ernest in 1898. The true climax, perhaps, of Ernest Holtham Leeder’s career was his appointment as National President of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 1930/31.
At about the time Mr Ernest Leeder’s appointment of the Presidency of the RICS the firm Astley Samuel & Co. had only been in existence for about ten years. Originally started by the former schoolteacher, Astley Samuel, he gave up that profession in his early forties to take up auctioneering. On the 1st January 1946 the firms of Astley Samuel & Co. and John M. Leeder & Co. amalgamated, occupying their main head office at 49 Mansel Street, Swansea.
From there on the firm grew from strength to strength, appointing a number of younger partners to solidify the firm’s presence in this ever changing property industry.
It was only until the late 1980s the firm experienced a significant change in structure. A significant boom in the economy and an upturn in the property market during the late 1970s became the catalyst for a number wide-scale takeovers, which in turn saw a number of independent estate agency practices being bought out by corporate financial institutions. However, the firm was acquired quite late in 1987 by Nationwide Building Society. Up until the late 1980s, the majority of estate agency firms throughout the UK were in fact controlled by various national banks and building societies.
However, it was not long until the economic tide started to turn, during the early 1990s, when the UK economy hit a stumbling block. The recession forced a large number of financial institutions to turn their back on the property industry, whereby a number of these firms were then resold back to management. The longstanding established brand of Astleys was no different and the opportunity to acquire such as prestigious firm was too good an opportunity to miss by senior employees Phil Morse, Jeremy Smith and Robert Cowley. The firm was subsequently bought back in 1992.
Towards the end of the 1990s the property industry began to pick up again and since then, house prices have consistently outstripped both inflation and real wages. The supply of housing has not met the ever-increasing demand and inevitably, a housing bubble was created up until the significant housing crash in 2008. During this time, like most firms, Astleys had to adjust to ensure the firm continued to thrive and despite these difficult times managed to expand further with the relocation of their main head office to Raglan House in September 2014.
This is where we are now… still one of the leading independent property firms in South and West Wales.
We also write further to add that despite the uncertainty we currently face during such unprecedented times, when this blog was written, we are still able to look back with pride but continue to look forward with determination.
Thank you to all our clients past and present. Here’s to another 157 years!
Sean Thomas MRICS, Director – April 2020
Credit: Mr. Phil Morse (former Director) and the late Mr William C. Rogers (former Head of Estates)