1889. Gustave Eiffel’s famous tower opens in Paris, becoming the world’s tallest building. Birmingham is granted city status by Queen Victoria. Impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte opens the Savoy Hotel on The Strand in Westminster.

Meanwhile in Leicester, joiner and shopfitter James Jelley sets up in business, laying the foundations for one of the East Midlands’ best-known and most successful building companies. In 2019, Jelson Homes celebrates alongside these world-famous institutions as it marks its 130th Anniversary. 

After 58 years in business, the company known as J Jelley & Son incorporated as Jelson Homes in 1947, and today is run by Robert and Graham Jelley, the great-grandsons of the founder.

With 14 active developments ranging from Waddington, Lincolnshire in the north and Long Buckby, Northamptonshire in the south, today’s firm has come a long way from its humble origins in Shenton Street, off Humberstone Road in Leicester (pictured) – the base for the business until the mid-1950s, when Jelson Homes moved into its present headquarters on Loughborough Road. 

In the years since then, Jelson has become a by-word in the region for quality building and is one of the few construction companies to continue to use traditional bricks and blocks for its walls, even upstairs. The firm still has its own joinery shop, manufacturing kitchen components, windows and staircases for its developments. 

The business invests in its future staff, with a thriving apprenticeship programme which has produced many award-winning tradespeople. The latest batch of winning apprentices includes Katie Smith, the company’s first female bricklaying apprentice, who last year was named Prince’s Trust Young Achiever of the Year for the Central region, as well as Jewson’s ‘On The Tools’ Apprentice of the Year.

Jelson is a real family business. The Jelleys aren’t the only ones with multiple generations working in the firm – there are many others who choose to follow their parents and grandparents into Jelson Homes. 

People stay with the company. Jelson’s Quarter Century Club recognises those who have been employed by the business for more than 25 years and includes both current and retired staff. 

Reaching the grand old age of 130 intact is something few other UK house builders can boast. Jelson are keen to celebrate the achievement and will be holding an anniversary weekend of events this summer at its developments across the region. 

In addition, there will be a series of exciting competitions on its Facebook page, with prizes linking up with some of the other landmarks celebrating their 130th anniversary. Like and follow Jelson at facebook.com/jelsonhomes to find out more.