The History of Marsh Plant Hire Ltd

Leslie Marsh was principally an engineer and draughtsman, trained in the early thirties in the Royal Army Ordnance Depot at Hilsea near Portsmouth. His decision to form a building company at that time with his friend and colleague Frank Wren was to say the least courageous and ambitious. The severest economic depression ever was still evident, and political unrest in this country and indeed throughout Europe gave little cause for confidence for the immediate future. Yet against all advice he and Frank went ahead and Leslie Marsh bought a small yard in Emsworth.

They started by building private houses in and around Emsworth. It was all pretty much on a shoestring at first and wasn't easy but they survived. So the building company slowly flourished and at the outbreak of the second world war was placed on the Admiralty list for defence contracts. One of the principal defence measures employed by the Admiralty was the creation of a 'decoy town' on and around the Binnes islands in Langstone Harbour. The company's first Admiralty contracts was to build these decoy defences.

In 1945 they returned to private house building. Clement Atlee's incoming goverment - pledged to an intensive rehousing programme - soon created a building boom, and the company became greatly involved in building a large number of new council homes. Working all over the area of Emsworth and Havant, at the height of this boom they were completing three houses a week.

There was increasing mechanisation in the industry with war-surplus machines, many from the United States, finding their way into civilian service. The prospering building company naturally used an odd assortment of this type of equipment, and sometimes hired them to other builders. As this activity grew, the basis of the first hire fleet was formed.

The Company was finally incorporated as Marsh (Emsworth) Limited in 1951, and decided that they should break away from the now highly competitive volume housing market. They concentrated instead on individually architect designed homes. Also working on more industrial types of building, drifting away from traditional ties with Portsmouth Dockyard other industries would flourish. 

These years brought dramatic developments in engineering. Hydraulic power was utilised in earthmovers, larger and faster concrete mixing machinery, powerful air compressors all revolutionised the building industry and improved construction techniques immeasurably. So that by mid fifties another company, Marsh Plant and Machinery Co. Ltd was created firmly establishing itself with several major sales agencies in addition to its growing fleet of plant for hire.

Then in 1963 the move to Havant, in New Lane its present location as it stands today, with Mr Geoffery Marsh as Chairman and Andrew Honeywell as Managing Director.