|Mr. Ben Barnes|
Ben Barnes and Sons, haulage started off in 1906 from 419 Bury Road at Townsendfold close to the Hare and Hounds Hotel. The business was started by Ben Barnes (see above photo) and his wife Mary and at first they had horse and carts to transport their goods and by 1913 their business had grown to about ten times its original size and the the two horses they had at the start had become 29, in the following year 1914, they bought their first steam wagon (see photo above.... Strictly speaking "haulage" could well have already been in Ben's blood for many a year, after all his father John Barnes had begun a haulage business in Haslingden going back to the 1850's when he would transport by pack horse, corn from the local corn mills to the many surrounding farms of the area....
By 1916 Ben Barnes had purchased their first Thorneycroft Petrol chassis from Messrs. Cordingleys of Haslingden and the Company continued to prosper. By 1927 they were operating five steam wagons and also five petrol vehicles which used to be run as transport vehicles during the working week and then at weekend after a quick changeover of upper bodywork they would be converted to passenger carriers and this was the origins of the char-a-banc.
Most of Ben and Mary Barnes sons, Jack, Tom, Jim, George and Dick and their daughter, Margaret (Mrs. Middleton) worked for the business over the years. Jim Barnes was the youngest of the sons and entered the business in 1924 and by 1926 he was driving one of their Thorneycroft vehicles. Jim continued in the business right up until his retirement in 1975 and Margaret (Mrs. Middleton) worked in the firm up until her 81st birthday in 1977.
Ben Barnes died in 1932, and the firm then was made into a Limited Company.. His wife Mary, died six years later and Mr. George Barnes (Snr) then became Managing Director of the Company.
By 1941 the business had grown even more and now had 17 commercial vehicles and some of these actually had trailors and would be running anywhere between Scotland and London.
It was customary in years gone past for local haulage contractors to offer for free of charge the hire of a wagon or two to local firms who where taking part in the local Sunday Schools and Churches annual walking day processions. You can see in the photo above is one of the early Ben Barnes wagons carrying out such duties for the local Bacup firm of James Hargreaves (Taylor and Hargreaves Musical Midgets).....Just look how the tyres also have been spruced up for the occasion.
For most of the existence of the Ben Barnes business, their Office and garage had been at Holme Bank off Newhallhey Road, the garage is still there today.. but with a evergrowing fleet of wagons there would come a time when it was necessary to move to a larger site to run their business from.
In 1950 Nationalisation came along, and after 45 years of being in business there was now a possibility that the State would take over their complete fleet which would then become part of and amalgamated into the British Road Services. Thankfully for the family firm the Nationalisation eventually did happen but only appertained to 11 vehicles and their trailers. A large part of the business remained unaffected by the Nationalisation...
Over the many years Barnes's had also become established as Morris and Seddon agents based from Holme Bank and did supply many local firms with their vehicles, some examples here in photographs of vehicles supplied by Barnes's to: Rossendale Combining Company, Slater Ltd, Rhodeson Ltd, Welcher...
This 6 wheeler which later was converted to a 4 wheeler was driven from new by Milton Hoyle whom still lives at Staghills. He drove this vehicle for many years and its a good example showing the early livery colours of green and red, long before it was all changed over to orange....
In 1952 Tom died, and then in 1962 George had also died, And it also resulted in the early 1960's that Jack and Dick wanted to retire from the family business, and so the opportunity to sell out came along and the family agreed to sell.
During 1964 within East Lancashire and especially around the Accrington and Rossendale areas, a major take over of several very well known Cotton Manufacturer businesses took place eg: Nicholas Worsley Ltd, Rothwells, Carr Parkers etc etc.. but also involved in these take overs was the transport company of Ben Barnes and Sons Ltd whom for many years had held contracts with these particular Cotton firms. The takeover was by Sir David Alliance who purchased these firms under the banner of his already acquisition Messrs. Simpson and Godley whom at that time where based at Deans Mill, Swinton in Manchester and traded under the trade name "Spirella group" or later the "Coates Yvella Group or even later IPT. Although Barnes had been taken over by this group, they where still in the fortunate position to be able to run their business and remain autonomous.
As mentioned in a previous article The Ben Barnes and Sons Ltd up until 1964 had also ran coaches and limousines, the coaches based at Holme Bank and the Limousines based from West End. When in 1964 this takeover was in place, Sir David Alliance was only interested in the Haulage side of the business and so the Coaches where sold off to Ellen Smith Tours of Rochdale and the Limousines were sold on to Eric Shufflebotham who incorporated the cars into his already established business...and the West End was sold on to Cordingley's of Haslingden..
When the takeover was in place during 1964, Mr. Jim Barnes was offered the position of Managing Director, a position he was to hold until his retirement on his 65th birthday in 1975. There where one or two employees whom had been with the Barnes's business for many years and here we do have a photo of a presentation to George Albert Holden (better known as Wally) and this presentation was for something like 60 years service to the firm. On the left of the photo is Mr. Jim Barnes, Wally in the centre, and to his right is Mr. Jack Bertrum Woods whom was brought into the Company from the Rothwell/Worsleys during the 1964 takeover...
By 1975 the Company had 38 lorries and 50 staff and Jim's son David had now followed his dad into the firm and was now the Transport Manager, and would later become the Managing Director, and he had also just like his dad learned the business from the roots, by first becoming a driver's mate and also later taking the wheel himself.
By 1979 it had become absolutely necessary to find alternative garaging for the vehicles because by now the fleet was still growing, and so alternative garaging was found at Lower Mill which had many years previously been the old home of the Whitehead Brothers. The photo above shows a group of employees having a quick "welcoming to Lower Mill" party..and the photo just above is showing Mr. Jim Barnes and his sister Mrs. Middleton whom where at the elm of Ben Barnes for most of its lifetime.
By 1980 and aged 30 David Barnes had become the Managing Director with a fleet of approx 84 vehicles which comprised of two articulated lorries (although this was to increase to about eight articulated) and 82 rigids of which most of them were Seddon Atkinsons, but some were Leyland DAF and Mercedes. The total workforce at that time was 115 with 12 office staff and the rest drivers, mechanics and loading bay workers.
Ben Barnes and Sons Ltd would make 300,000 deliveries a year, travelling some three million miles. 50 per cent of their work was for Coates Vyella and the remaining 50 per cent was general haulage, nation-wide. The turnover of the business was £3.5 million.....
In 1994/1995 The IPT group had taken over Ben Barnes Transport, yet owing to varying circumstances which included the sale of the Lower Mill premises to the Hurstwood Group, it was decided to close the transport business of Barnes's in the Spring of 2000.....
(Please Click over advert to enlarge) Thanks to Paul Anderson for kindly letting me have this photo of the advert which was from January 2000 Edition of Commercial Motor.)
To finish off the Barnes history it is great to be able to include below, S653RJA the only survivor in the Barnes's original livery nine years on after closure (2009). When the fleet was auctioned off in 2000 this vehicle was purchased by local businessman whom owns Response Footwear at Cloughfold and it has been driven all these years by ex Barnes man of 25 years, Bob Wallwork who takes the vehicle on deliveries mainly to the Midlands and Burnley areas..I am indebted to David Barnes for kindly supplying most of the factual information and photos.
I have today (4th December 2011) kindly received from Paul Anderson, the undermentioned photo of HTJ 538K which was taken by Peter J. Davies
(added 3rd July 2013) Here now are two photos kindly sent in by Paul Anderson. The first is a E305TBU and the next one is of the breakdown vehicle towing on the M1 whilst passing through Watford Gap services.
|E305TBU (Click over to enlarge)|
|Wagon on Tow on M1 passing through Watford Gap Services|
(please click over photo to enlarge.
Hi Bryan, my name is Gail Garrard from Melbourne Australia. My mother put me onto your site. She is Georgena Barnes, and George Barnes was her grandfather. Her own father Ben Barnes passed away only this year aged nearly 91 or 92. My great grandfather passed away when I was just a baby I think but he had remarried a lady called Cathy when his wife died. My mother called her Grandma Cathy and all of us lot did too. She lived in the Barnes cottage Benbar. Because I was a relatively well behaved girl I often got to stay with Grandma Cathy in the cottage. the last time was in 1978 when I was 17. She was quite old but very robust and still drove her car around. She was profoundly deaf though and trips with her were very scary as she couldn't hear car horns. My grandfather Ben Barnes I think had maybe been disowned by George? I remember seeing Ben Barnes and Sons trucks and thinking they were my grandads but he just would shake his head and ignore them. He had a big garage in Helmshore with massive tow trucks etc. they seemed to live quite well and had a nice house in those days and had a maid etc. By the time I went back in 1978 they had gone bankrupt and drove matching red and white minis instead of Porsches. They lived in a little one bedroom apartment and Grandma said they had never been happier. I was surprised to learn that the Ben Barnes Company was still going so recently. It was like it never had anything to with this set of Barnes. My uncle, Keith Barnes, is still alive in the area. Anyway, I just wanted to say what an amazing site! It just seemed strange reading about my family. Regards, Gail Garrard
Here is a article from July 1975 on the retirement of Jim Barnes (kindly sent in by Jackie Ramsbottom of Haslingden Roots) Please click over to enlarge