In 1863, Chard was celebrating the marriage of the Prince of Wales. Unfortunately, one of the cannons firing as part of the celebrations misfired badly and Will Singleton had his arm so badly shattered by the ramrod that it had to be amputated to the shoulder socket.Some three years later, Singleton called at the ‘Golden Boot’ in High Street where James Gillingham ran a shoemaking business. In conversation he told Gillingham that his employer ‘had made his case known in London and nothing could be done for him’. Gillingham offered to make him an arm at no cost. Once it was made and fitted Singleton could lift a hundredweight or more and wheel a wheelbarrow. Gillingham later wrote:
only the principle of fit and adjustment.”
Gillinghams Factory for Making Artifical Limbs
By 1903 Gillingham had treated over 7,000 patients and later in the century many disabled ex-servicemen from both World Wars were to receive artificial limbs made in Chard.James Gillingham died early in 1924. Sidney, his son, and later Geoffrey, his grandson, maintained the family connection with the business until 1950 when it passed into other hands. The firm finally closed in the 1960s.