Wilks Price Hounslow Solicitors 9 Garfield Road Ryde Isle of Wight PO33 2PS

Telephone    01983 566241

 

 

The Story So Far...

 

The firm of Wilks Price Hounslow is a merger of the former practice of Sherwins, latterly Sherwin Price Hounslow and Wilks Solicitors. Lesely Kemp's practice joined us in 2017.

The firm of Sherwins was founded in July 1894 by Robert Walter Sherwin. Robert Walter Sherwin started working from home in Portsmouth and his original ledger shows a starting capital of £100.00, derived from selling his Clarence Pier Southsea shares for £55.00, withdrawing £25.00 from his Post Office account and borrowing £25.00 from his brother. The Law Society Examination fees, admission fees etc. cost £44 16s, Law Books £5 5s and an office safe £7 6s 6d.

 

In those days none of the present safeguards imposed on Solicitors such as keeping clients' money in a separate account, contributions to the Compensation Fund, and compulsory insurance in the event of negligence applied and therefore the ledger shows not only clients' money received and paid but also such items as “Paid Tom and Charles (his 2 eldest sons) School Bill £1 12s 2d, Coal account £17 2s, for house £2, Christmas expenses £3 and children’s clothes £1.  The balance at the 31st December showed total costs received £149 10s 5d, total expenditure £274 19s 6d, of which £125 13s 11d were for his personal and household expenses, from which he concluded he needed £375 a year income to cover his personal expenditure.

 

At the end of the first year in practice he had received £445 6s 4d in costs and his total expenditure including office costs, personal expenses and capital expenditure £684 2s 10d, but a note at the end of the account showed that there were several outstanding accounts owing to him and he estimated his net profit for the year was about £350.

 

His wife bore him 13 children, of whom 8 survived past infancy, and the 2 eldest sons, Thomas Miles and Charles Ernest, both qualified as Solicitors before the start of the First World War.  Tom was articled in London but Charles was articled to his father and intended to join the practice, but both joined the army following the outbreak of war.

 

During the first year he does not appear to have employed any staff but he did apparently have an arrangement with Mr Hollings, another Portsmouth Solicitor, whereby he paid Mr Hollings for the latter’s Clerk to engross documents on parchment for him.  All the ledger entries were in his own handwriting until late 1895 when the writing changed, although again there is no mention of any wages being paid so, possibly, one of his daughters was recruited into copying from the Bank Passbook into the ledger. The practice, however, flourished and by the outbreak of the First World War he employed 2 male Clerks, Tavener and Allen, who remained with him for many years.  All letters and documents were still being written by hand and copies were impressed into letter books.

 

Before the War ended, a lady typist, Miss Mackenzie, had been recruited and she remained the principal secretary until she retired to get married just before the Second World War.  

 

Tom Sherwin had a collapsed lung as a result of asthma when a boy and therefore was classified as unfit for service, and was sent to the Far East in 1916 serving in Hong Kong.  Charles became a fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps (subsequently the Royal Flying Corps) and saw distinguished service in France, being awarded the MC and Bar and decorated by the French.  After the War Charles did not want to settle at home in Portsmouth and, having heard of opportunities in the Far East from Tom, decided to go there and established a highly successful practice in Hang Kow, China, which flourished until the Sino/Japanese War in the mid-1930’s, when he had to abandon the same and flee with his wife and daughter to Shanghai where he set up practice again until the Japanese joined in the Second World War and invaded Shanghai. He and his family were interned by the Japanese, his younger daughter being born in a prisoner of war camp. After the liberation he joined a firm of Solicitors in Hong Kong before eventually returning to England.

 

Following Charles’ decision not to return to Portsmouth, Tom joined his father in the practice which became “RW Sherwin & Son”, with offices above the National Provincial Bank in Commercial Road, Portsmouth.  In 1931 the Bank wanted to occupy the entire building so Bob Sherwin bought 5 Hampshire Terrace and moved there.  At that time the majority of Portsmouth Solicitors had offices on “The Terraces” (Hampshire Landport and Kings Terraces jocularly known as “Thieves Row”) which had been built as terrace houses in late Georgian/early Victorian times just outside and following the line of the old fortified town of Portsmouth.

 

Tom had 4 children, all of whom saw service in the Second World War.  The eldest, Tim, became a Regular Officer in the Royal Navy in 1931 and was one of the youngest officers ever to be made a Captain during the Second World War serving on board various ships including the Barham, Warspite and Ark Royal.  Mike served in the 8th Army as a territorial.  Margaret served in the Wrens and the youngest, Pat, joined the Navy from school and became a Petty Officer.  

 

The War years were very difficult for the firm.  Business was almost at a standstill, mainly limited to War Damage Claims and Probate work for people who had been killed.  Miss Mackenzie (then Mrs Fradd) came back as secretary during the Second World War, as all younger staff joined up, and stayed until new staff had been recruited after the War.  The offices in Hampshire Terrace suffered consistently from air raids and Bob Sherwin, who was always a firm believer in investing in “bricks and mortar” lost all his investment income when the properties he owned were blitzed.  He died in 1944 aged 84.  Being a real “Victorian” he left the residue of his Estate equally between his 8 children, which meant Tom was faced at the end of the War with buying out his father’s share of the practice after 4 lean years.  To help, his youngest son, Pat, became articled to him as soon as he was demobilised from the Navy and qualified in 1949, having had his articles reduced by the Law Society from 5 to 2 years as a result of War Service.  Tom died in 1951 aged 64 from cancer.

 

In 1953 Pat Sherwin invited Bob Raper to join him in the practice and in 1955 the firms name became “Sherwin Son & Raper” and the first branch office was opened in Havant in 1955.  The Hampshire Terrace premises were outgrown and the Portsmouth office was moved to its present premises at 196 London Road, North End, Portsmouth in 1970.   The former neighbours Messrs Maidment Morgan & Palser of 3 Hampshire Terrace merged with the firm.  Messrs Polden & Co. of Southampton were taken over in 1977. The firm then merged with Oliver & Co. to become Sherwin Oliver. The firm then had 8 partners with 6 offices at Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport, Fareham, Southampton and Ryde with about 8 qualified Assistant Solicitors and a total staff of around 70.

 

 

On February 1992 the Ryde office separated from the remainder of the firm and became known as ‘Sherwin Price Hounslow’ with Robin Price and John Hounslow as partners and Pat Sherwin as Consultant. The firm of ‘Wilks’ was established in March 1982 by the late Ron Wilks who before retirement was Chief Executive Officer of Medina Borough Council (1974-1981) and prior to that Town Clerk to Newport Borough Council (1954-1974). His son, Paul, joined him in May 1982 and together they practised from the Wootton office until Ron sadly died in early 1984. Paul moved his practice to Ryde entering into partnership with Robin Price and John Hounslow in 1996 to form the renamed practice of Wilks Price Hounslow with Pat Sherwin MBE as consultant.  Sadly in March 2006 Pat Sherwin passed away.

 

In April 2008 Paul Wilks became a consultant and at the end of June 2008 left the firm due to ill health. On of 1st April 2014 Robin Price retired as a partner and became a consultant. Lesley Kemp joined as a Consultant in 2017 when her practice was absorbed into Wilks Price Hounslow. The firm continues as a partnership under the control of Gabriella Cuoghi and John Hounslow. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA registered 201513. Qualified to practice in England & Wales. Partners John H R Hounslow and Gabriella Cuoghi. © 2018 WPH. All rights Reserved.

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