Celebrating 160 Years in Moving
The year 2014 sees Bishop's Move celebrate it's 160th anniversary! Established in London in 1854 by a Norfolk farm labourer, the Bishop's Move Group is now the largest family-owned removals and storage company in the UK with the 6th generation of family currently working in varying departments within the company.
Over the last 160 years, Bishop & Sons' Depositories have grown from a furniture haulage company based in a small yard in Pimlico operating with horse drawn carts, to an International removals and storage company providing moving house, business relocation, international shipping and storage from its network of branches across the UK, and Europe.
In the Beginning
Joseph James (J.J.) Bishop's original plan had been to join Robert Peel’s newly established police force but he soon left this to open a greengrocers in Elizabeth Street, London SW1. It is from this location the haulage side of the business began to flourish - probably as a sideline at first. He also operated a horse-drawn bus!
By 1854, the removals and storage business was growing and J.J. bought premises on Hugh Street, just off Belgrave Road, in SW1. This coincided with the recent opening of Victoria Train Station - ideal for transporting furniture across the country. The pantechnicon wagons were designed so that they could be lifted of the wagon and put directly on to the railway. The colourful yellow vans were affectionately known by the public for their "eggs and bacon" livery.
In 1871 the greengrocer side of the business had been completely swallowed up by "Bishops Depository for Warehousing Furniture &c' - which was how the business was described at the time. More warehousing was built in nearby Ebury Street in 1876.
J.J. was joined by his sons Samuel William, Alfred and Walter Harry in 1878 and the business was renamed "Joseph James Bishop and Sons". J.J died in 1899 leaving his eldest son in charge. By 1904, the business had grown phenomenally with over 20 acres of warehousing to support the demand for storage.
The company had a list of illustrious customers including one Lord Bishop of London who wrote:"Under your care, Sir, I shall not in future have the same dread of a "move" as before."
Things soon changed with Alfred leaving the company followed by the death of Walter in 1907. Samuel was subsequently joined by his own 2 sons Albert William and Harry Victor - these 2 family members were still on the Board in 1954 when Bishop's Move celebrated it's Centenary.
The Roaring '20s
The 1920s saw a large expansion in the business with first the acquisition of Rugg and Sons of Clapham and then the purchase of Wright Brothers (Removals) Limited of Richmond and Twickenham. In 1927 the business was formally incorporated as a private company - Bishop & Sons' Depositories Ltd. Two more family members joined the company - Donald William in 1929 and his cousin John Grant in 1935 and worked alongside their fathers.
Horses were used by the company until the 1930s when other methods of transport started to take over. On 5th November, 1937 "sanction was given to buy fog lamps for 3 of the vehicles as an experiment".
The expansion of the company continued with Bishop's Move moving "north of the border" in 1936 with the acquisition of John H Lunn Limited of Edinburgh (Scotland). AJ Mills, Leatherhead (Surrey) was purchased int he same year, followed buy the acquisition of Oxford firm Stevens Removals Services in 1938. New premises were also acquired in Dorking Road, Epsom and Lupus Street, London in 1939.
World War I and II
Through both World Wars, Bishop's Move were involved in the necessary movement of Government Departments and Services. As well as operating institutional evacuations, we moved many special Museum pieces to their war-time hiding places as well as subsequently returning them! The company also felt the force of enemy fire with all 3 London warehouses being damaged by the Blitz. Both Ebury Street and Lupus Street premises were destroyed in one particular heavy enemy raid.
Despite the difficult times, both younger sons were serving overseas with the Armed Forces, the company's expansion continued with the purchase of Fellingham & Co of Brighton in 1943 and William Farr's of Chichester in 1944.
In 1949, the last horses were sold and the 1950s saw more rapid growth in the removals industry, especially in Scotland. The North British Coachworks were purchased, as were premises in St Stephens Street, Edinburgh. Whilst the south of England saw G Davies & Sons Limited of Haywards Heath join the Bishop's Move group in 1951 and the purchase of Mousell Bros (Exeter) Limited in 1953.
In October, 1953, Bishop's Move proudly undertook the removal of the offices of the British American Tobacco Company from Egham in Surrey to Milbank in London. 23 primrose yellow vans could be seen in convoy on the Kingston-by-Pass (now the A3). Altogether 100 loads of furniture, records, safes and storage units were removed successfully in just one and a half days!
Following the company reaching 100 years of business, the Board decided to form Bishop's Move Ltd and officially trademark it's familiar name in June 1955. There was also a small milestone achieved with Mr George Wright, a qualified accountant, becoming the first non-family member to join the Board in 1957.
Christopher and Timothy Bishop, sons of Donald, joined the Board in 1969 and 1972 respectively and John's sons, Nigel and Roger also gained their directorships in 1972 and 1976.
Throughout this time, the expansion of the company continued with the incorporation of Wright Bros (Birkenhead) Limited 1959, Hooper and Dark (Removals) Limited of Bath 1963 and F Winwood Limited of Worcester 1971. Whilst a brand new branch, Bishop's Move Wokingham, was created in November 1972. 1978 saw the takeover of Brocks of Exeter which amalgamated with Bishop's existing interest Mousell Bro's to form Bishop's Move Exeter.
The following years have seen the acquisition of Blatchpack in Exeter, Darvalls Iberia in Woking and the creation of branches in La Linea, Spain as well as in Gibraltar. As well as the UK branches of Thames Gateway and our first self-store, Ease the Squeeze in Brighton.
Peter, Grant and Neil followed their 3 fathers into the company business and are currently on the Board of Directors. The 6th generation of Bishops are at work in various departments of the company - including the first 2 women from the family!
Bishop's Move is now the largest family-owned removals and storage company in the UK. It undertakes local and national moves, as well as business relocation, storage and international shipping. And whilst the horses have been replaced by a modern fleet of purpose built removal vans - J.J. would still be able to recognise their distinctive yellow and red livery and their high level of customer service.