By Carole Murdock
David Chown and Russell Schooley met on a train. Literally. David was the supervisor at the Bognor Station and Russell was a train guard. During tea breaks, they chatted. They discovered they both liked collecting and going to boot sales. Russell inquired of his boss if he had ever heard of Wade. David hadn’t so one day Russell brought one to work to “show and tell.”
That one piece of Wade led to weekends of boot sales and collector events. It also led to a friendship that would last long past their railroad days. Today they are friends and partners in one of the most successful businesses ever—all forged on their fascination with Wades.
It has been 18 years since David and Russell commissioned their first Wade figure in 1992: an imposing blue rabbit called Arthur Hare. Like every character, Arthur needed a story so David and Russell contacted a local writer to pen the Silent Butterfly about the world of Arthur Hare and Friends. Soon Holly Hedgehog, Felicity Squirrel, and Edward Fox joined the Wade gang. Of course, all these friends needed a real home so David & Russell set up shop in Arundel in Spooners, originally a cobbler’s store. It was one tiny room with a spiral staircase leading to a loft where, if you were lucky, you would be served a lovely cup of English tea and a bisquit.
C&S Collectables Direct, Ltd (as they named their business) soon outgrew this charming space and moved down the street to Quay House on the Town Quay by the River Arun. This larger location allowed them to expand their growing business. This place even had its own loo. From this location in 1997, they held their first Wade Swap Meet. It is now in its 14th year renamed the Wade Collectors Meet, held in conjunction with Wade Ceramics. They also travel every summer to the Wade Fest, now in its 12th year, held in Pennsylvania1994 was an eventful year for C&S and Wade. Arthur & friends were joined by Andy Capp and Flo. It was the first time that Wade produced a licensed figure for someone other than themselves. Wade and C&S continue to collaborate on other licensed figures like Mr. Magoo, Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, Whombles, Snoopy, Garfield, Mabel Lucie Atwell pieces, SpongeBob, Gingie Bear, Rupert Bear, and Betty Boop. C&S also commission original figures like Whimbles, AnimaLand, FantasyLand, AquaLand, and Fair pieces. The list continues as quickly as their imaginations allow.
C&S Collectables now resides outside of Arundel on Ford Lane. The business occupies one of the restored barns that is part of an old farm turned into a business park. Recently David and Russell have added additional warehouse space in one of the large barns originally used to store huge farm equipment like columbine-harvester tractors, etc.
In 1999, the television show Antiques Trail featured Arthur Hare and creators David and Russell. They have been written up in various collector publications and have even made several covers of Collect-it! Magazine where they appeared in print almost every month. In 2005, they were voted #2 in the whole of the UK at the Gift of the Year Awards Banquet for their collector figures. They, along with Arthur Hare were featured in a double-page spread in the Daily Express and were written up in the Daily Telegraph, both very “posh” newspapers, according to Russell.
What a road David and Russell have traveled, from a small train station in West Sussex to around the globe. Besides being amazing entrepreneurs, they are both really nice people who donate part of their Wade sales to local charities every year and make all those who meet them happier for it.
2017 Betty Boop Catalogue
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C&S @ The Wade Collectors Club
Victorian Business Centre,
Ford Lane, Ford, Arundel,
West Sussex, BN18 0EF
Tel: +44 (0) 845 246 2525 or 01243 555371
|Monday - Friday||09:30 - 16:00|
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