When William Southerington bought a horse and cart in 1892 and started a removal and haulage business in Melton he would surely be proud to hear that it continues to thrive 125 years later under the stewardship of grandson John.
William, who was one of 16 children and left school at the age of nine, had saved £5 from making boots for workmen including Holwell Works employees.
The company was originally based at the former Bentley Square, close to where Norman Way is now, and it initially concentrated on haulage work. William helped Denmans build housing estates off Craven Street and Victoria Street by hauling the heavy materials to the sites.
Progress was slow as horses only moved at 3mph.
John (71), a director who has been involved in the family business for 57 years, said: “In the early days of removals my grandfather used to load the horse and dray up and then ship it to an address by rail if it wasn’t local.
“The company has gone through the stages of horse drawn carriages, steam lorries, Model T Fords and in 1952 we had one of the largest lorries around, a big petrol van.”
In the 1950s, the vans were resticted to doing only 20mph by law, rising to 30mph a decade or so later. One of their drivers was stopped for speeding on the A1 at Wansford in 1968 for doing 34mph.
Southeringtons used to garage vehicles on the old canal basin off Burton Street for 70 years up to the 1980s.
William reluctantly retired in 1946 at the age of 73 by which time his sons James and Jack had taken the reins.
The business relocated to its present home, off Leicester Road, in 1978. By now Jack’s son John was playing a big role, as he does today.
His son Paul is involved and is likely to take over in future.
Paul said: “I can remember carrying the odd box when I was 10. I used to enjoy being on the vans in the early days. It’s the biggest compliment being invited into someone’s house and being trusted to safeguard their effects.”