Over the years the equestrian world has been fit to bursting with family businesses that have stood the test of time.

A member of The Society of Master Saddlers since its institution 50 years ago, one such firm is M.E. Howitt – Saddlery and Leather Goods of Alton in Hampshire.

Nestled in the market town of Alton in Hampshire, M.E. Howitt Saddlery and Leather Goods is home to more than just a few memories.


The premises in Turk Street were first occupied by the Howitt family in 1947 when Maurice E. Howitt went into the saddlery business after a career in the Horse Guards in London.

Maurice’s son of the same name took over the business in 1972, after his father died, running the firm alongside his wife Sandra who is still at the helm of the retail store today with the support of saddler, Keith Pink.

A family so steeped in local business tradition they have had more than a celebration or two along the way with their Diamond Anniversary being enjoyed in 2007.

The business was one of the first members of The Society of Master Saddlers in its inauguration in 1966 and has been a valued member ever since.

The Society of Master Saddlers Chief Executive, Hazel Morley said: “The Howitt business is well known for its history and heritage and as part of our 50th Anniversary it is wonderful to mark such special names in the industry.”

Said Sandra Howitt: “The building was originally the home of John Oakley Saddlery and Harness maker that dates back to 1895, before the Oakley family were joined by the Bavage family.

“We have a very old photograph of the outside of the shop, which had then become Oakley & Bavage Saddlers & Harness Makers.

“It was later taken over by the Orchard family from whom Maurice then bought the business.

“Without doubt the shop and what we offer has been our life and it is wonderful to think we were one of the first members of The Society of Master Saddlers and still remain a member today 50 years on.”

Sandra took complete charge of the business after Maurice sadly passed away in 2008 and is grateful for the help and team work provided by Keith who has been with the business for well over 40 years having started with them in 1974 and celebrated his 25 years’ service in 1999.

Added Sandra: “Everyone in the family is very proud that M.E. Howitt is still in business and has embraced change where possible while keeping with the traditions that have made it such a success.

“My father-in-law was very supportive of The Society of Master Saddlers and very much enjoyed his year as President in 1969.

“In his time he was very forward thinking and was one of the first retailers to take a stand at shows and events to promote the business and products on offer.

“Let’s hope the name is still going strong in another 50 years.”