In the 1890’s Frank Gadsby, the great grandfather of the present senior directors, was employed as an apprentice picture framer and gilder by Mr Steel at the Advanced Picture Framing works on Narborough Road in Leicester. He asked for a rise – another six pence per week – and when this was refused he walked out and started his own business from a shed at the bottom of Marquis Street. He had a bench in one corner and a piano in the other and his first commission was the re-gilding of several pictures and frames at the Trinity Church in Leicester. He was told he had three days to complete the task, to finish in time for the Sunday service – working day and night he just succeeded and so began the Gadsby business.
Soon Frank Gadsby courted and married Susanna Basford who was drawn into the business – starting a tradition that has continued to the present time. They had six children, all born over the first shop – a timbered property in Braunstone Gate, Leicester. Frank worked long hours, the business continued to grow and as the children grew up they joined in and helped with its expansion. At the end of the First World War the premises at 22 Market Place, Leicester was acquired and this larger property enabled the Company to branch out into the artists materials in which they were to become a leading distributor in the Midlands
The children set up their own branches – from Lincoln to Leeds and Walsall to Streatham in London, and of course continued to grow the core of the business in Leicester. Frank’s eminence in the trade led to his election as Master of the Fine Art Trade Guild in London.
Into the millennium
Gadsby’s specialist high quality picture framing for discerning customers across the country continues. Nationwide there are few companies that can match Gadsby’s experience and expertise, now including vacuum-creating compressed air systems to provide even pressure across a picture surface. Cleaning and restoration is an important part of the business as is the careful preservation and rebuilding of old frames. The Leicester city centre shop carries a huge range of art materials, offering one of the most comprehensive ranges of such stock in the country.