Former haulier Bill Bowker dies aged 81

William Henry Bowker MBE (Bill), who ran Lancashire-based transport operator W H Bowker Ltd for many years, has died aged 81 following a short illness.

The business was founded in Blackburn by Bill’s father in 1919, on his return from the First World War and started by making deliveries in East Lancashire and the docks in Liverpool on behalf of the local cotton industry.

Bill took over the running of the business at the age of just 19, following the sudden death of his father in 1955 just after the business had bought itself out of nationalisation. He was later joined in the business by his brother Ken, son Bill, his nephews, grandson and his great niece who are now the fourth generation to work in the business.

Bill was also involved in many local community and charity organisations. He was patron of the Ribble Valley Conservative Association for more than 20 years, eventually becoming its chairman. He also became chairman of Blackburn Magistrates and received an MBE for services in the administration of justice in Blackburn in the 2006 Queen’s News Years Honours List.

W H Bowker, which is now based in Preston, is a major UK and international transport and warehousing provider with nine UK sites. The company also includes the prestigious Bowker Motor Dealership Group, comprising BMW, Mini, Maserati, Harley Davidson and BMW Motorrad in Blackburn and Preston.

His son, described his father as ‘a wonderful family man’. “He was a wonderful father who put other people before himself, never said no and always tried to help and support others. We are very saddened by his death.”

Bill’s wife Rosemary passed away in 2013. He is survived by his son Bill and daughter Elizabeth.

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