William Cooper, the founder of Cooper’s in Berkhamsted, was a young farrier born in the little village of Clunbury, Shropshire. He arrived in Berkhamsted by carrier in about 1842 with very few possessions and his pestle and mortar. By the time of his death in 1885 he was a wealthy man with a flourishing business, which was to continue to expand until its final demise at the end of the twentieth century. The names of those remembered on the monument trace the history of the firm. William was one of the first to qualify as a vet at the newly-formed Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and gradually became accepted by the local farming community.
His real interest, however, was in developing an effective powder –based cure for sheep scab, the principal ingredient of which was arsenic. This he began to produce at his chemical works in Ravens Lane in the mid 1850s, gradually acquiring more land as his business expanded. He ran his own printing department, the Clunbury Press, built houses for senior workers and members of his family (Sibdon Place and Clunbury House). William and Mary Cooper had no children, so as he grew older William brought three of his nephews into the business and the firm became William Cooper & Nephews.
Of the nephews, Richard Powell Cooper, the Ist baronet spent much of the time in Staffordshire but William Farmer Cooper, who developed the overseas market, and Herbert Henry Cooper were both benefactors of Sunnyside Church. H.H. Cooper lived at Sibdon House, Ravens Lane and is remembered particularly fondly by the people of Sunnyside. A carved oak chair, designed by C.H. Rew, the architect, was placed in the church in his memory. H.H. Cooper unlike his two brothers had studied law and named his occupation in the 1881 census as chemical manufacturer. Although spending much of the week in Staffordshire Richard Powell Cooper was greatly admired in Berkhamsted as was shown by the large crowds which turned out to show their respects at his funeral in July 1913 Richard Ashmole Cooper, William Farmer’s son, continued the involvement in Sunnyside Church. He set up the Cooper Research laboratory in Ravens Lane after the death of his father. The Cooper family continued to play a prominent part in the affairs of the town for most of the twentieth century. The family, the firm and Clunbury Press are still remembered fondly by the people of Berkhamsted. In its heyday the firm was the largest employer of the town.
The famous dip the helped cure the scourge of Sheep [Dacorum Heritage Trust]
The Rise and Fall of Coopers [Dacorum Heritage Trust]
A History of William Cooper [Hertfordshire Genealogy]