A Family Tradition
In April 1947, at the age of 46, George Cox left the security of employment as a street mason with Eccles Corporation and began working for himself as 'George Cox Flagging Contractor.'
Getting work then meant going from door to door and advertising in local shops. George, who was unable to drive and could not afford to buy a vehicle, carried the flagging stones, sand, cement and tools for a day's work on his handcart and returned at the end of the day with all the waste. To his wife's dismay, their front garden in Farnworth became a storage yard and a place to park the cart. It was hard, physically-demanding work, and yet George persevered through the busy summer and autumn months with a regular supply of jobs. In the winter, he supplemented his income by carrying out roof repairs, drainage and even snow shifting.
Over the next two years George established his reputation and gained work all over Bolton. The purchase of a tipping lorry for £145 proved to be of great use but as he was still unable to drive, he persuaded a neighbour to drive it on a part time basis. George's two young sons, George Junior and Frank, would help him at weekends and during school holidays:,something that would become a family tradition.
In 1953, George Cox Senior and his two sons created their family company. George's wife, Elizabeth, was delighted when the business, now trading as George Cox & Sons, decided to move away from paths and drives - and out of her front garden - to work for local corporations including: Bolton, Atherton, Eccles, Sale and Manchester. In 1957, the company moved into its own depot on Fletcher Street.
By 1965, the firm was employing 72 men and operating nine lorries, three vans and three cars. That year, a concrete manufacturing company, Firwood Concrete Products, was formed with the same three directors as George Cox and Sons Ltd. George Junior became Managing Director of Firwood, whilst Frank took over the running of George Cox & Sons Ltd. During this time, many notable projects were completed, not least the Walkden Memorial. This monument had stood proudly on a raised mound in the middle of the A6 for over 100 years.
It now had to be moved to St Paul's churchyard 500 yards away. Each stone was taken down individually, numbered and lettered. Some that disintegrated during the move had to be re-cut and refitted exactly. Making the project even more memorable, a royal visitor came to town. Her Majesty the Queen, who was scheduled to visit Bolton, was to pass through the company's road works. The firm was instructed to stop work and make the site safe to allow school children to line the street as the Queen passed by.
The pedestrianisation of Victoria Square during the seventies was one of the biggest schemes the company had undertaken. The project required the closing of the road running past the Town Hall, the construction of two new water fountains and the housing of the full size beam engine wheel within a glass frame. Some 25 years on, the company also undertook the re-modelling of Victoria Square using many of the same employees who undertook the first job. Other landmark projects undertaken include Topp Way, Chorley New Road and Moss Bank Way. George Senior retired in 1970 at the age of 70 but George Cox & Sons has remained a family based company. It has come a long way from pushcarts and cash payments. Due to the ability and dedication of George's son, Frank, the firm's reputation now extends far beyond Bolton. In the 1980s Frank's two sons, Chris and Martyn, along with his son-in-law, John Walsh, joined the firm. In 1992, with Contracts Director Geoff Absalom they took over the reigns of the company and presided over its continued growth. The company has since acquired offices in Blackburn and Stockport in addition to its Farnworth head office. The company runs 15-20 sites throughout the North West undertaking a diverse range of civil engineering projects, including roads, bridges, retaining walls, landscaping and, still, high-quality paving.
With the support of its loyal and experienced staff, delivering quality projects to its clients, this well respected family company is now set to continue for many more generations. View some of our historic photos below.