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Walter Edmundson (Haulage) Limited celebrates 75 years in business

16th February, 2009

Edmundson Ronagency have been specialists in freight transportation to and from the Isle of Man for over 35 years having pioneered "Lift On / Lift Off" and later "Roll On / Roll Off" services to the Island

1920's Walter Edmundson started trading in Preston as a timber merchant. Walter Edmundson was the father of the present Chairman, John Edmundson.

1934 Walter Edmundson Ltd. was registered as a private limited company

With the coming of the Second World War, timber became rationed. The timber trade became almost inoperable due to restrictions on imports. Walter Edmundson turned his activities to Storage, and was greatly involved with the Ministry of Food. He also launched C.R.S. (Carton Recovery Service) in Preston to preserve stocks of paper.

Post War Walter returned to timber merchanting, whilst keeping his links to the Storage industry. His premises were the first storage premises in the Preston area for such household names as Bird's Eye Frozen Foods, Coco-Cola, Persil etc, and in the mid 50's stored new transit cases for the U.K.A.E.A.

Walter Edmundson's first venture into Road Haulage was by the acquisition of Mitchell Bros. of Darwen, but this was short-lived, due to the Nationalisation of Road Haulage in 1948.

1955 With John Edmundson now having joined his father in the business, they re-entered the road haulage industry in a very small way. At this time, the Company purchased it's present operating base in Preston.

Preston Dock was at its peak of success at this period in time, and Walter Edmundson Limited became Preston agents for Companies servicing Northern and Southern Ireland with the handling of ships from Larne, Belfast, Dublin & Waterford. Edmundson's represented In Preston companies like Northern Ireland Eggs Ltd., Ulster Ferry Transport Ltd., and Jenkinson & Archer Ltd.,(J.&A. Line of Dublin) who later became part of the George Bell (Bell-Line) empire. Preston dock, at this time was said to be busier than both Liverpool & Manchester ports.

1960's There came a call for bigger and faster vessels to serve Ireland, and preferably from non-tidal ports. Preston then lost out to Liverpool & Fleetwood, and the ever increasing popularity of the Scottish ports at the top end of the M6. Sadly Preston dock eventually had to close. It is today, a thriving marina.

1966 A company called Ronaldsway Airport Agencies Ltd. was formed in the Isle of Man to handle airfreight at Ronaldsway airport. Walter Edmundson Ltd. soon joined forces with Ronaldsway Airport Agencies Ltd., and formed Ronagency (Shipping) Ltd., abandoning their airfreight activities in favour of seaborne freight. The Isle of Man office to this day handles road deliveries around the Island from clients who have airfreighted their cargo directly to Ronaldsway airport.

The company opened up Glasson Dock for unit load operations by the construction of two 25 tonne cranes at the small port. Walter Edmundson died two weeks before the Glasson Dock operation started.

Soon there was more than one ship required, and at the peak, four ships were chartered, including the M.V. Parkesgate which John Edmundsons's wife had the pleasure of sponsoring at her launch in the Solent.

Walter Edmundson Ltd., continued to carry out the haulage operation for Ronagency (Shipping) Ltd., and later took control of the Company in it's entirety, John Edmundson becoming Chairman.

Late 60's / Early 70's Traditional methods of Lift On/Lift Off containerised shipping were by now being superseded by Roll On/Roll Off (RORO) vessels.

The Isle of man became embraced in this new method of handling cargo. Ronagency (Shipping) Ltd., Walter Edmundson Ltd., and a few small private investors formed Manx Line, and purchased M.V Monte Castillo from Navier Aznar of Spain. She was refitted in Leith and emerged as Manx Viking.

This seaborne operation became embroiled in the massive organisation that was Sealink, and Sealink eventually acquired Manx Line, itself becoming a part of Sea Containers empire shortly afterwards. Sealink became privatised, and merged with Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. Ltd.

1990's Walter Edmundson's new subsidiary, Walter Edmundson (Haulage) Ltd., is still one of the Steam Packet's largest single clients, and has a fleet of over 90 articulated trailers vans, tautliners, tippers, etc., all serving the Isle of Man, coupled to a fleet of modern articulated tractor units, at both their Preston and Douglas depots.

1999 The company continues to go from strength to strength employing over 50 people at Preston and Douglas and has an annual turnover of over £5 Million.

2003 John Edmundson retires and the business is purchased by Manx Independent Carriers to form the largest transport company shipping to the Isle of Man with more than 200 staff.

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