Tom Joule is happily animated when he talks about Badminton Horse Trials, it’s clear it’s an event that’s extremely close to his heart. With the Joule name being present at the horse trials for over 30 years, it’s easy to see why.
This historic horse trial was first held in 1949, the brain child of the 10th Duke of Beaufort – the then owner of Badminton House, who wanted to create an opportunity for riders to train for international events on home soil. The event has grown in size and importance to become one of the world’s most prestigious horse trials.
Looking back to our first days at Badminton you could say that Joules has grown alongside the event. Our first stall measured 36sq ft while this year’s stall is an enormous 270sq ft – that’s larger than some of our retail stores.
Tom remembers the very early years of the late 1980s. “There were just three of us back then, and we did everything from pitching up to setting up and manning the stall all weekend long. It was hard work but so enjoyable.”
Right from the beginning the Joules stall stood out from the crowd. Tom’s vision was that the stall, as well as the clothing, should be, “colourful and bright; reflective of happy times. We wanted people to associate us with their weekends and time off – the good times.” It worked, drawing crowds to the stall, many of whom became lifelong customers, calling in for a chat each year.
From a workforce of three there are now over 50 people who make Joules at Badminton happen. Visitors can still buy hats and wellies, but they can also pick up anything from pet beds and coats to kitchenware now too. “The stall is so well known now it’s become a landmark, a meeting place for people during the event.” We were trailblazers back then too, “we were the first traders to operate on the Wednesday before the trials. Well, us and the guy who sells the bacon sandwiches…”
Tom has attended Badminton every year since our first stall launched. If it wasn’t for a little bit of misfortune, MHS King Joules, Tom’s eventer horse ridden by Ollie Townend, would have been competing this year; he’ll be back for Burghley Horse Trials later in the year though.
The event has become a home from home for the Joules show team. “It’s set in the prettiest parkland and the surrounding area is beautiful – and welcoming to all us Badminton attendees. The camaraderie between traders is fantastic and as Badminton is the first large event of the season it’s where we all catch up on the year’s goings on.”
Badminton is so much more than a retail event for us; it’s a part of our heritage and one that we’re incredibly proud to be a part of. In Tom’s words, “It’s part of our DNA.”
Will you be attending Badminton this year? Be sure to come along and say hello to us if you are.