ONE man’s vision has led to a four-generation Blackburn firm celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Bowker has taken the town’s name around the world - and is still expanding in 2019.

But the centenary would not have been possible without the original forward-thinking William Henry Bowker.

He used his gratuity, leaving the Army after the First World War, to buy the hauliers' first truck, an RAF Leyland, and establish its first garage in the former Craig Street, in Mill Hill.

Fast forward to the present day and the group is putting the finishing touches to Bowker Porsche, a new dealership at Preston Docks.

The early days, when King Cotton ruled, saw the fleet gradually expand but it was the General Strike of 1926 which saw the firm come into its own.

Before long, their lorries were dispatching record consignments of fruit to Covent Garden Market from Liverpool Docks.

This reputation was cemented through the 1930s and Second World War but was abruptly halted when transport services were nationalised in 1949.

Reviving their fortunes in warehousing, William Henry bided his time until he got the chance to buy back his lorries, with a change of government, in 1954.

An overseas dimension was added when Bowker delivered a tufting machine on behalf of Blackburn-based Cobble, in 1961, to Holland. This was a precursor to depots in Hull and Zeebrugge, supporting a continental expansion in the 1970s.

The purchase of Clock Garage in Accrington, in 1984, foresaw a move into motoring which saw them take on BMW, Maserati and Harley Davidson dealerships.

In 2016 the firm acquired rivals Potters Logistics, and its reputation has spread to the chemical industry.

While the group has been transformed down the years, and the headquarters has relocated to Bamber Bridge, their loyalty to Blackburn has remained.

Bill Bowker, the third-generation managing director, said: “We have been very fortunate as a family business. We have employed three generations of the same family and people stay with us.

“That is important to us and we look to treat people like we would like to be treated ourselves.”

He is especially proud Bowker was named in the top 20 haulage firms of all time recently by trade magazine Truck and Driver.