Our History

Eight decades ago, Gordon Welch laid the first stone of a foundation on which Welch’s Transport Ltd now stands and prospers. It took the physical form of a single Morris truck but Gordon realised that a successful business needed more than just wheels and a driver. He built the business around offering honest value for money by combining the best possible service with the best possible price and ensuring each customer was cared for on an individual basis so that each one could become an integral part of Welch’s future.

Take a look at a piece describing our first 60 years

 

Values which are still as strong today as they were in the early days; Welch's Transport is one of the most co-operative hauliers in Great Britain to date. Being a founding member of the Transport Association in 1955 they now hold the title of 'longest serving member', with none of the other 18 founding hauliers still in operation.

Our past customers’ longevity is also a testament to our family values, some of our longest standing customers are listed below and Welch's is proud to say that none of these relationships ended because of poor customer service:

1935 – 2004 East Anglian Cement Co (69 years): Plant shut down

1964 – 1978 BHS – British Home Stores (14 years): Contract sold to Christian Salvesen

1941 – 2009 Spicers (68 years): Local premises closed

1968 – 2007 ROM (39 years): Bought by foreign investor and relocated

1934 – 1998 Eastwood Cement Works - Welch's first ever customer (64 years): Plant shut down

Those same values are still the vital building blocks of your local, family-owned distribution and warehousing specialist as Jim Welch strives to hand this customer-focussed DNA to the fourth generation.


Welch Transport Timeline
  • 1934
  • 1935
  • 1940
  • 1949
  • 1954
  • 1955
  • 1974
  • 1994
  • 2001
  • 2003
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2010
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2017

On the 25th March 1934, Welch’s Transport is founded by Gordon and Jim Welch with a single Morris petrol truck to their name, in Foxton, Cambridgeshire. The first contract customer on the books was Eastwood Cement Works.

A second contract customer arrived in the form of The East Anglian Cement Co. (later Rugby Cement); a relationship that would last for over 60 years until the plant closed in 2004. The following year the Group obtained their ‘A’ Licence and within five years had acquired all three local hauliers that originally opposed the licence application.

The group acquires a second depot, this time based in Stapleford, Cambridgeshire. An impressive contract with Spicers soon followed, one which would last for 68 years.

The haulage industry was nationalised and Welch’s 15 vehicles were amalgamated into part of the ‘Eastern Region of British Road Services’ of which Gordon Welch was made manager. Welch Group Garages managed to acquire a ‘C’ Licence which meant they were permitted to continue running one vehicle.

In this year came the denationalisation of the haulage industry and within a few years Welch’s boasted a  fleet of over 200 vehicles with depots across the UK in Norfolk, Hereford, Bedfordshire, Essex, London, Yorkshire and Cambridge.

The Group ensures the retention of its family-run status as Roger Welch enters the business, becoming the second generation.

Welch’s consolidates its fleet and premises to three locations: Cambridge, Bedford and Essex.

Welch’s is a founding member of the Palletways palletised network, one of the first pallet freight networks in the UK and Europe. With the growing number of contract customers asking for additional services, like liveried vehicles, dedicated drivers and storage, the Welch’s Contract Distribution division is formed.

 

Space Age contract starts with Spicers leading wholesaler of office supplies; this lasts for 15 years until the Space Age division is shut down. As a testament to the contracts hardworking team, The Welch Group helps fund them to start up on their own, forming what is known today as JPS Installs.

Why not have a look at an independently written piece on our first sixty years

Hamleys contract starts and you will still be able to see a Welch’s unit and trailer parked on London’s Regent Street every night delivering the flagship store's daily intake of toys and games.

Welch’s acquired MJA Movement with its 25 years' industry experience of moving specialist loads, forming Welch’s Specialist Movements. In the following year Welch’s Transport’s Henlow Depot wins its biggest distribution and storage contract for Hanmere Polythene, a relationship still going strong today.

Welch’s becomes a member of the Hazchem Network, a UK-wide Dangerous Goods Network and starts working with key customers such as AutoGlym.

Welch’s contract division grows with Welch’s Transport taking on the majority of Paperchase UK Stores. Today, Welch’s vehicles service its 130 stores day and night.

Welch’s Transport joins the Palletline Network, becoming a member, a shareholder and winning a board seat. In 2011 the Contract Distribution division wins a contract with Ardex UK who today is its biggest contract customer, moving approximately 45,000 tonnes of product a year!

The fourth generation of the Welch Family joins the group in the form of Chris Welch, Jim Welch’s eldest son.

Stapleford depot and the ‘Top Garage’ close after 75 years of faithful service and, in January of 2015, move 5 miles down the road to Welch’s brand new, multi-million pound, custom-built transport and commercial Duxford site. A great facility designed to see the group through the next 81 years.

 

The first major hurdle to moving our Henlow operation to a new, bigger and better site is finally cleared as our Planning Application is accepted.

After a two-year long tour of The Group in order to understand every aspect of every business, Chris Welch is made Commercial & Marketing Director and begins to bring positive changes to help Welch's continuous improvement and evolution.

Andrew Welch begins his two-year "apprenticeship" of The Group and, just like his brother before him, will be rolling up his sleeves across all businesses.

Jim Welch is made Chairman of Palletline