Our Journey

In February 1959 Edward Hill was asked by S Young & Sons of Mistertons to supply 900 pigeon baskets, this welcome stroke of luck sparked the beginning of something that would become a four generation-long family business. Edward grasped the opportunity and proposed to his son that they each invest £25 by selling their car to begin their own basket making business together, E. J. Hill & Son.

Very first photos of Somerset Willow


E J Hill & Son is founded by Father & Son Edward and Aubrey Hill. The company's first contract was for a large order of pigeon baskets.

bicycle basket on a bicycle


Sees the company start production for a large order of bicycle baskets for Brompton Bicycles in England.

pigeon basket


The company veers away from pigeon baskets after new ruling prohibits railways from carrying livestock, all but killing off the pigeon industry.

Brexton Picnic Hamper


The company secures a large order with Brexton Picnic Hampers to produce bespoke picnic baskets.

Darrell and Aubrey Hill - Father and Son


Darrell Hill, third-generation joins the company. Working initially on picnic baskets and smaller items before eventually refining his skills to become one of the country's elite master craftsman

Darrell and Aubrey Hill in 1977


Company diversifies into making Hot Air Balloon baskets for a world-leading Hot Air Balloon manufacturer in Bristol.

St Mary's Church in St Mary Street Bridgwater


Sees the company relocate to new premises in St Mary Street, Bridgwater.

willow furniture on the Somerset levels


The company makes its first-ever furniture piece for Marston & Langinger.

Somerset Willow Team who created the Worlds largest hot air balloon basket


The company makes a world-record double-decker balloon basket capable of holding over 50 passengers.

1990 version of the Somerset Willow logo


E J Hill & Son changes its name to The Somerset Willow Company, and begins to benefit from having a corporate identity.

Newspaper clipping about Somerset Willow relocation


The company moves to its current site, just off junction 23 of the M5 motorway.

Arthur Edwards on the Somerset levels


Somerset Willow works with Arthur Edwards, leading furniture designer to create first ever conservatory furniture range.

Kitchen with kitchen drawer baskets


The company moves into kitchen furnishings with Siematic Kitchens.

Virgin Atlantic logo


Virgin Atlantic commissions Somerset Willow to make miniature baskets for inflight servicing of its Boeing 747 class of aircraft.

first ever willow coffin


Somerset Willow produces world-first, modern-day willow coffin made entirely from willow.

newspaper clipping about the wireworks estate fire


Fire rips through the company’s premises destroying everything. The result is a complete loss. Despite the odds, the company is determined to carry on.

Somerset Willow exhibition stand at NFE 2003


Company exhibits it’s Somerset Willow Coffin for the first time at the National Funeral Exhibition at Stoneleigh Park, Coventry.

Somerset Willow's current premises


The rebuild of the company’s site damaged by fire is completed.

Anthony Hill in 2005


Anthony Hill, fourth-generation joins the company. Initially training alongside his Grandfather Aubrey on Hot Air Balloon Baskets before moving into a managerial role helping to take the company forward.

willow harvesting on the Somerset levels


Darrell Hill and friend Richard Roberts start sister company Somerset Willow Growers, to produce and secure the company's own willow supply.

Darrell Hill with workers in far east


The company forms Natural Woven Products, the company’s alternative range of imported coffins.

celebrations for Somerset Willow's 50th Anniversary


Somerset Willow celebrates 50 years in business. Local dignitaries, association presidents, customers and suppliers are all in attendance.

Queens willow throne


Somerset Willow makes a one-off willow throne for her Majesty the Queen to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Chantilly Wine and Cheese basket


The company re-launches its home and lifestyle ranges and introduces its new Made-To-Order service.

Willow Guy Fawkes Figurine


Somerset Willow works in conjunction with the Bridgwater Carnival Association to produce a never done before 6-meter-tall Guy Fawkes figurine.

two workers form Somerset Willow


An apprenticeship scheme is started with Bridgwater College to provide opportunities for local students and to enhance the company's training programme.

Somerset Willow Hamper Basket made for Dior


The company secures a contract with Christian Dior to produce the world’s most exclusive hamper.

Somerset Willow logo


Somerset Willow undertakes a successful rebrand.

Somerset Willow Digital Transformation


The company begins its digital transformation program.

The Living Coffin in a Somerset field


Somerset Willow pioneers The Living Coffin, the world's first coffin made from living willow.