Wardle & Keach's "Business is Moving"
Wardle and Keach was formed in 1926 by the amalgamation of two family firms, one of which had been first established in 1890 and the other slightly later. Albert Wardle came from the village of Kegworth to manage Liptons in Kettering. At the age of forty he went into partnership in 1900 with Mr Jacques who died a few years later. Messrs A Wardle and Son, founded in 1905, continued the coal haulage business, and Harold Wardle took over from his father and ran the business independently into the 1920s. Meanwhile George Keach from Melton Ernest in Bedfordshire had also migrated to Kettering to make his fortune in the same field. He too delivered coal from horse-drawn vehicles before progressing to general haulage in 1912 when he purchased some steam traction engines. In time the business passed to his son Charles who ran it as a sole trader concern into the 1920s.
The two companies worked side by side, more often in cooperation
than in competition, until the young men decided in
1926 that they would benefit by amalgamating. The new
partnership of Wardle and Keach operated from the Keach
premises in Crown Street where they worked hard to expand
the coal business and to develop a furniture enterprise
up until the outbreak of war in 1939.
In the war years some of their vital lorries were commandeered for war use and Harold Wardle's son Norman was conscripted into the RAF. On his return he found things rather run-down, and the patched-up vehicles running on cannibalised parts, like so many around the country were literally on their last wheels.
In 1947 Charles Keach's nephew Mr Panter joined Norman Wardle in rebuilding the war-weary company. Their priority was to obtain new lorries, firstly furniture vans to take war evacuees back to their homes in bomb-battered London,
The business was expanding, and needed storage space, so
an empty factory was bought and converted for use as
a furniture repository with lifts installed. The influx
of American service families joining airmen stationed
at USAF bases at Grafton Underwood, Molesworth and Mildenhall
meant that up to ten, six to twelve ton loads of crated
furniture and possessions were arriving daily and a
fork lift truck was purchased to load and unload the
crates. The firm also entered the export business on
behalf of the USAF Norman Wardle retired in 1985 and
his son Peter ran the company briefly but then decided
to sell to the proprietors of another local haulage
firm, Henry's Removals, who were looking to expand.
Paul and Sue Henry became the new owners of Wardle and
Keach in 1986, keeping Peter on as company accountant
and transferring the business to the premises in Kingswell
Street from which Henry's Removals had operated. Under
their management expansion was so rapid that a larger
site was soon required, and in 1988 they moved to purpose-built
warehouse premises on the Brixworth Industrial Estate.
The company's current site at Little Houghton was purchased
in 1991, and construction of the new warehouse there
was completed in 1993. Wardle and Keach's growth has
continued through acquisition; Frosts Removals was purchased
in 1987, William Olivers in 1991, and more recently
Hillyards has become part of the firm. A fleet of eighteen
vehicles with expert crews carries out local, national
and international removals, and another warehouse has
been constructed which provides 10,000 square feet of
containerised storage enabling containers to be stacked
four high. Whilst the existing warehouse is now used
to cover the vast 'archiving section' of the business,
extending the firm's commercial and office removals
service to include archiving, complete with a retrieval
service with a total storage facility of 13,000 square
In becoming the largest independent removal company in the area, Wardle and Keach has remained a family-run concern with a caring attitude and a commitment to quality - values which have helped bring about success during this century and which will without a doubt bring even greater success in the next Millennium.