From the Thorley Archives

The Elliotts of Thorley

Thorley can claim an interest in the Elliott family who, following the Second World War, became a household name in Bishop's Stortford as its biggest employer. John (Jock) Elliott's family lived in Thorley Hill and had their building company's offices in Twyford House. They were responsible for the splendid renovation of this 18th century Queen Anne style house that we see today and the additional surrounding residential buildings

In 1928 Jock, having served an apprenticeship in the Sunderland shipyards, had to choose between football and the shipyard. He decided to move south where he played for the amateur team Crystal Palace while earning his living as a carpenter. Contracts in Bishop's Stortford brought him to this town where, in 1938, he eventually built two houses, nos. 24 & 26, Thorley Hill. The Elliott family lived at number 24. During the war he was put in charge of building facilities for the United States Air force at Stansted.

Football still featured prominently in Jock's life as he played for both Bishop's Stortford and Saffron Walden. During the war he persuaded the German prisoners of war to work on the football ground and he organised 'international matches' for them. Later he became manager of Bishop's Stortford Football Club and they achieved considerable success under his guidance. Jock then founded The Elliott Building Company in 1946.

Jock's son Chris has early boyhood memories of Thorley. It seems that much of Chris' time was spent roaming the River Stort and the fields of Thorley. When their house was extended in 1953, Thorley Hill was an unmade road with gates at the Havers Lane end to stop people driving through to London Road. In 1948, when they had a telephone installed, Chris' job was to go next door to Mr Frank Dale to relay messages when he was required in the signal box at the station.

In the 1970s & 1980s Elliotts were responsible for building and renovating many landmark buildings in Bishop's Stortford and London. In Bishop's Stortford they renovated the Corn Exchange, enlarged Hockerill Training College - now Hockerill School, and carried out many extensions to Bishop's Stortford College. In London they were responsible for the National Theatre Museum and the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden. Elliotts also played a prominent part in the Globe Theatre development and Docklands. Sadly, in 1991, the family firm went into liquidation.


Twyford House from the rear

The Elliott Company Plaque


Sons, Chris and Maurice Elliott, are publishing a book in late October that aims to be a social history of what it was like working for this building company. It is, in part, a compilation by the staff who worked for Jock Elliott.

Bill Hardy
October 2004


From the Archives