Bayford & Co is a British petroleum company founded in 1919 by four survivors of the World War I who decided to pool their resources to establish a coal agents business in Leeds. Whilst searching for a suitable title for their enterprise, they hit on the idea of using the name of the Hertfordshire village of Bayford where they had been demobilized at the end of the war.
they were joined by Frederick Turner as an office junior only a few years after operations began. He was eventually to become the Company Chairman and remained so until the 1970s. The Bayford company maintained a steady growth in the solid fuel business in the first period of its life - successfully weathering difficult periods such as the General Strike, World War II and the nationalisation of the coal industry.
1962 It was David Turner’s decision to start selling oil, based on the view that as more and more people were turning from coal to oil for home heating, “one followed the customer or lost the business”.
1967 Bayford moved to new premises in Pepper Road, off Hunslet Road, Leeds. In addition to a new office block, the site included extensive parking area and modern vehicle servicing and lubricating bays. In the same year, Bayford began importing cargoes of oil from abroad via Immingham, to feed its Fleet storage facility and its tankers. This was a first for a UK independent company.
1968 In 1968, David Turner’s younger brother John, a qualified chartered accountant, joined the firm to handle the growing financial side of the business. 1969 Early in 1969, the company decided to market low price petrol. This move was partly intended to keep the tanker fleet busy during the quieter summer months. David Turner wanted to find a brand name that would be easily remembered and connected in some way with propulsion. The name Thrust was inspired by news reports of Concorde’s maiden flight and the description of the “tremendous thrust” of its engines. The first petrol pump to carry the new sign, complete with the Concorde insignia, was in Ossett, West Yorkshire. Motorists soon began to realise that they had had enough of promotional gimmicks and would prefer to keep the cash – Thrust offered savings of up to six old pence per gallon. Thrust rapidly built up to a chain of 45 outlets by the end of 1970 and 85 by 1972.
1974 In June 1974, the Yorkshire Evening Post carried a full-page article for the Burley Road Filling Station, a station that had been acquired a year earlier and extensively re-furbished. Following the switch to Thrust, sales increased from 36,000 litres a week to 200,000 litres, with prices of 50.6 pence per gallon for Two Star and 52.6 pence for Five Star (Old Fuel Rating prior to RON No.)
1976 Bayford was delivering 100,000 tones of coal each week to Yorkshire’s power stations, after striking an agreement with the CEGB (Central Electricity Generating Board). Bayford continued to supply significant quantities of coal into the 1990s, and during the 1980s were also supplying some 3 million litres of oil per day to the region’s power stations. By June 1976, Bayford was supplying over one hundred dealer sites in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Cheshire and the North of Wales.
1979 At the fifteen-acre storage depot by the Aire and Calder canal at Woodlesford, the annual throughput of fuel had risen to 150,000 tons per year. “Fleet” had given Bayford total control of their storage and distribution network, from the refinery gates right through to the customer.
1980 Bayford was still heavily involved in the coal market in the 1980’s. At its peak, Bayford Mining was producing from sites in Yorkshire, Lancashire and in the North and East of Scotland. The average life of an opencast mine was around eighteen months, after which time the land was restored to its former use.
1988 Bayford moves into its headquarters at Bowcliffe Hall in Bramham – a 19th century listed building next to the Bramham Park Grounds.
1990 In December 1990, Bowcliffe Grange was constructed in the grounds of the Bowcliffe Hall Estate. The two-storey office development was built to let, in the stable block area of the grounds.
1991 In the first of several acquisitions, Bayford took over Holderness Fuel Supplies Ltd. Holderness had a throughput of 35 million litres from three depots, in Leeds, Killingholme and Malton.
1993 Bayford bought out British Fuel’s share of the Fleet Storage facility at Woodlesford, for an undisclosed sum, giving the company total ownership of the site.
1994 Bayford acquired twenty-two Yorkshire filling stations from Elf Oil (UK) Ltd and seven petrol station sites in the North East from Texaco, which were operated under the Thrust Petroleum brand.
1995 Bayford acquired the commercial oil business, Burmah Petroleum Fuels Ltd. The move effectively tripled the size of Bayford’s oil business and made it Britain's largest privately owned distributor of commercial oils.
1999 Transport Minister Glenda Jackson officially opened the refurbished storage depot, at Woodlesford, near Leeds. Bulk fuel supplies were now delivered to the depot by barge from East coast refineries, using the Aire and Calder canal. This would save an estimated 16,000 road tanker journeys over the next five years - a fact which helped Bayford to secure a Freight Facilities Grant (FFG). Total investment in the site was over £300,000.
2000 After 12 years and various sales and marketing roles within the company, Jonathan Turner was appointed as Managing Director of the Bayford Group. Bayford Thrust obtained the permit for the sale of Leaded Four Star. Whilst banning the sale of leaded fuel, the Government (after heavy lobbying by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs) agreed to make a limited volume available to special interest groups. Bayford is the only company to have a nationwide distributor permit. Bayford acquired BP’s northern commercial fuel business, Dominion Oils (previously Wayahead Fuels). This included depots in Halifax, Sheffield and York, complementing the existing operations in Leeds, Northallerton, Keighley and Immingham.
2001 Bayford gains the UK rights to the Gulf brand, in a deal with Gulf Oil International, and also launched a new business, (Gulf Lubricants UK Ltd), in association with Gulf, to market and sell lubricants. The company becomes involved with a £47m deal to buy the 400-strong network of Save petrol stations, the largest independent petrol network in the UK. Jonathan Turner became joint Managing Director alongside his role at Bayford. These sites were eventually sold on to independent petrol station operators (many becoming Gulf sites) or in some cases, for redevelopment.
2003 Bayford launches Countrywide Fuel Cards in partnership with BP, selling fuel cards through BP branded sites. Bayford also launches InterCity Fuel Cards in partnership with Shell, operating initially as separate businesses.
2004 In March, the Bayford oil business grew again with the opening of a new office in the North East. This took the number of oil businesses to seven. Bayford was now able to deliver fuel from Lincolnshire right up to Northumberland together with North Wales.
2005 In August 2005 Bayford & Co purchases Delta Fuels. Based in Kendal on the edge of the Lake District, Delta Fuels complemented the company’s existing operations. In a busy eighteen month period, Bayford acquired three new fuel card businesses, Central Fuel Cards, Truckhaven Ltd and Routemate Fuel Cards. This saw Bayford’s fuel card business become the only company to have partnerships with the three biggest fuel brands in the UK, Esso, Shell and BP, as well as adding the most widely accepted diesel-bunkering card on the market, to its portfolio. In fact, in taking over three fuel card businesses (Truckhaven, Central Fuel Cards and Routemate) and two fuel distribution companies (Delta Fuels in the Lake District and John Ellis Fuels in North Wales), as well as an industry-related technology firm (PMD), Bayford earned itself the title of ‘Acquirer of the Year 2006’ at the Business XL Magazine Company of the Year Awards.
2006 This competition details the top employers to work for in the UK, and looks at all aspects of a company, including an employee survey, before the final positions are decided. The Sunday Times said of Bayford, “Having fun at the same time as meeting corporate objectives is the bottom line for the company.” Following a year of record profits and sustained organic growth, Bayford completed the acquisition of Askham Oil Supplies, one of the UK’s leading Authorised Distributors for Texaco. Bayford’s fuel distribution operations now extend from North Wales to the Lincolnshire coast, and right up to the Scottish border.