The Langfords, from the mid−nineteenth to the late twentieth century, are an example of an entrepreneurial family that went where its business took it – in this case from landholdings in Timsbury, Somerset, both in agricultural production and in coal mining. Some adventurous members left the home village to create businesses in Steventon, a village some three miles south of Abingdon and on the main London to Bristol railway line. They initially used the railway as a means of transportation for the coal business, while later members of the family built on this to form a corn and coal merchant’s company. The first arrival was Robert Langford, in the 1850s, who was to transform the built environment of Steventon by adding at least fifteen houses to the village. By 1881 the family had virtually died out in Timsbury.
Robert’s nephew, Robert Smith Langford, added the role of farmer and lived in the house in Steventon now known as the Priory. With his offspring, he formed R S Langford and Sons Ltd., took the business to Abingdon, acquiring a local firm and in due course building a new headquarters at 30-32 Stert Street. The sons grew up to live in large houses in the Victorian garden suburb of Albert Park, and played a part in the local community, particularly Robert West Langford, who was organist in the Congregational Church and a governor of Christ’s Hospital. The firm was still in business in the 1970s, but as a garden supplier. By 2010 there was only one Langford in the local telephone directory – but no relation to this family.
© AAAHS and contributors 2013