The natural deposit of red iron oxide in Redding Pit Lane near Winford had been worked for many centuries for use as a dye or the making of paint and reference to it can even be found in the Domesday Book. It was not until 1876 however, that a company was formed and the mining of the red oxide was done on a commercial basis. The Winford Iron Ore and Redding Company as it was called, transported the raw material from the mine to the Littleton Mills to be ground and bagged for sale to customers all over the world. During the first half of the twentieth century the company prospered and at one time employed well over a hundred people. Towards the end of the nineteen fifties natural oxides came up against severe competition from synthetic colours and bye products of the aluminium industry and the business suffered to the point that the shareholders decided to put the company up for sale. The existing management decided to purchase the company, in what would today be referred to as a management buy-out, and, although the new company continued to produce red oxide for a number of years, it was eventually decided that the mine would be sold and the look for new uses for the Littleton Mills premises began. Upper Littleton Mills was converted into a trading estate and planning permission was sought to open a garage business on the Lower Littleton Mills site, where we are today.
In the beginning Winford Road Garages was an independent garage employing just three people, providing the service and maintenance of vehicles to the local community. In due course, the filling station was added and a limited amount of car sales commenced. Unfortunately, planning restrictions prevented the development of the sales side of the business and so the company purchased a small garage and showroom in Chew Magna, at the top of the high street. Ultimately, planning permission for car sales at Littleton Mills was obtained and the Chew Magna site was sold.
Winford Road Garages started trading from the Littleton Mills premises between Winford and Chew Magna in the spring of 1967 but was in fact a diversification of a business that was formed in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
In 1977 the company became a Ford dealer and then in the early eighties ‘Bestcars’, a Ford dealership in Whitchurch, was purchased, opening up a whole new market to the business. The two dealerships traded successfully throughout the eighties and continued to trade through the difficult years of the nineties. However, following a major fire at Whitchurch the decision was taken to close the dealership, sell the site for development, and concentrate on expanding the Winford business. The majority of the Whitchurch staff were relocated to Winford, bringing many of the Bestcars customers with them and a new era in the company’s history began.
Trading under the WINFORD FORD name, the company has established itself as one of the largest Retail Dealers in the south west region, selling in excess of three hundred and fifty new and used cars a year and with an enviable reputation for good service and customer care.
It is often said that “a company is only as good as the people it employs.”
Good people are the single most important factor in any business and we are justly proud that the majority of our staff have at least ten years of service, with many of those exceeding twenty years and more!
In recent years, recognising the growing demand for convenience shopping, a large Spar store has been added and the number of staff on-site has grown substantially.