A W Blake Ltd is a family run business, based at Ivegill, Carlisle. We have been supporting our customers for over 35 years in the local area and beyond. The business has evolved over the years so we thought our story would be of interest to see how we have changed and adapted our business over the decades.
A W Blake Ltd began as a weekend hobby. In 1980 whilst Andrew was working as a technician at Newton Ring College he began buying old used tractors, taking them apart and selling the tractor spares as a weekend pastime, from his home. In 1983 he decided to make it a full-time occupation as the tractor spares business grew. The same year a mechanic was acquired to assist.
In 1985, Andrew’s wife Elizabeth Blake, started working in the business mainly with the paperwork, accounts, and deliveries. By now tyres and wheels were being sold and one or two pieces of machinery were made available for hire. GEHL skid steers were on the hire fleet and were incredibly popular with the local farmers. With the requirement for machinery to be moved, the first wagon was purchased. This eventually lead to specialisation with low loader haulage; moving larger diggers, tarmac equipment and forestry machines around the country, including abnormal loads.
By the late 1980s the hire fleet expanded as farmers requested different equipment. A wide range of equipment was available from tractors, diggers and telehandlers, to cultivators, straw choppers and mill mixers.
By 1996 when the business became a limited company, a tractor dealership had been acquired; also the importing of mini-diggers from Germany and many other dealerships. The number of staff grew to match the expansion of the business and in the late 90s, new branches opened in Dumfries and Stranraer.
Early 2000s the farming sector experienced its worst trading conditions as well as foot and mouth. Other avenues for hire began, including the hire of portable site offices and storage cabins. Plant hire expanded to the construction industry. At this time the company decided to concentrate work from one location rather than three. The haulage side of the business grew as more of the wagons had Hiab cranes that meant greater variety in the jobs and clients. The start of hiring generators for events and weddings began and word of mouth spread quickly about this new offering.
During the decade of the 2010s, the hire of welfare units, shipping containers and portable offices grew due to the demand of these in the area. Throughout the decade events and weddings bookings continued and the company provided packages of hire and support to festivals, concerts and country shows in the region. The wagons continued moving our hire machinery and units a well as with abnormal loads, and specialist moves. During this time Hannah, Andrew and Elizabeth’s daughter joined the team as the company continued to grow the different sectors.
COVID 19 happened and changed the world at the start of this decade. 2020 was the year that we helped agricultural continue to work through the pandemic. It also lead to the company supporting government, local industries and businesses to be able to stay open with the provision of cabins for testing and creating more on-site space for staff. The events started to return in 2021 and construction companies were able to continue their pre-pandemic schedules. 2022 the year events, shows and weddings resumed (as well as number of rescheduled weddings from previous years). As we move through the decade, we continue to be flexible and always evolving to the dynamic economic and challenging landscape.