The story behind the naming of Ellis Close

Looking down Ellis Close from Five Oak Green Road the passing pedestrian will see an array of modern homes and apartment buildings grouped around a road that sweeps on into the small housing estate. However, few may be aware of thse industrial heritage of the site or indeed know the story of the person after whom the road was named.

Isaac Ellis was born in 1893 and grew up with his parents at St. Nortons on the Five Oak Green Road. He served in World War One with the East Kent Regiment and saw action in India and then Mesopotamia (now part of Iran) where he was wounded and invalided out at the age of 22. He completed an apprenticeship as a wheelwright and coach builder at Gibson and Brown in Tunbridge Wells and then moved to South London where he met his future wife. 

Returning to Capel he started his own company, I. Ellis, located in one of a group of farm buildings which stood in the triangle of land between the junction of The Alders and Five Oak Green Road. In 1943 Isaac incorporated Ellis & Son in anticipation of his son Ernie joining the company after the Second World War ended. The business made trailers and equipment for the local agricultural community but then a chance encounter at the Festival of Britain in 1951 led to a government contract to supply gun carriage wheels to the King's Troup, Royal Horse Artillery. Aside from this, the business was also expanding from servicing the needs of the transport and distribution companies that were rapidly developing in the area.

The company outgrew their original site in Tudeley and in 1962 Isaac bought a plot of land in Five Oak Green on which he initially built a family home and then added workshop buildings. The land was bought from a Mr Carter who had a transport business that occupied approximately the right half of the site area that we see today. The other half was purchased not long afterwards from a Mr Delves in an agreement that allowed Isaac the first option to buy the remaining land.

The site development continued after Isaac died in July 1965 and the business passed to Ernie. In the early 70s, the village blacksmith, Mr Wigmore, decided to retire and sell his business which was on the additional land bought from Mr Delves. Ernie purchased the company and renamed it Wigmore Ellis.

By the early 2000s the company began to realise that it would be more efficient to find an alternative site than continue to work in the assortment of workshops in which they were based. Ellis and Son sold the plot in 2004 to be developed for housing by Persimmon Homes and it became what we know today as Ellis Close, with the company moving via Horsmonden to their current location at Knowle Road, Brenchley.

Interestingly, the naming of the road after the company founder came as a surprise to the family as during the building phase the site was known as Alderbrook and it was assumed that this would become the road name. The longstanding involvement of Isaac Ellis in Capel both as an employer and in various voluntary organisations such as the British Legion, saw the Council appropriately choose to name the road after one of its most prominent citizens.

Below is the obituary of Isaac Ellis written by his good friend the Rev. Frank Forbes and printed in Capel Parish News in August 1965:

Below: Centre image is of Isaac Ellis and right is inside the Ellis and Son workshop.