The Early Days
Oakes, a private limited company incorporated in 1945, can trace its roots back to 1825 when Thomas Oakes set up in business on his own at 114 High Street, Hungerford, at the premises at the junction with Park Street, which was the original premises used by Oakes Bros. Ltd. when it was incorporated and only evacuated in 1957 when new purpose-built premises were constructed in the Station Yard at Hungerford.
It is understood that Thomas Oakes was firstly employed by a man named Church who lived and worked somewhere in the High Street. Although the exact site is not certain, he did in fact marry the "boss's daughter" in 1825 and it was then that he set up in business on his own. Unfortunately, his first wife died and strangely enough, was it not for that unhappy event, the Oakes Bros business may not have been created. He married again and the second marriage produced eleven children, eight of whom were boys, seven of whom became blacksmiths.
It is impossible to say which brothers were the ultimate forge upon which the business was struck but it may well be that this collection of brothers, who had their own businesses in and around Hungerford earlier with strong connections at Whittonditch, Lambourn Woodlands, Ramsbury and at Kintbury, were "the Oakes Brothers." We sold our first tractor in 1918, a Titan to Mr W.H. Box of Chiseldon.
This state of affairs must have carried on for many years through several generations until 1920 when a gentleman named James Seddon joined the operation, ultimately purchasing the firm, and there is no doubt that his involvement, bringing a managerial aspect to the business for the first time, allowed for consolidation and more firmly established the development of the business towards what we see today.
A Growing Business
In 1945 Mr Seddon sold the firm to Mr and Mrs Donald Baker who had previously carried on business under the name of T. Baker & Sons (Compton) Ltd. in a company originally started by Donald Baker's grandfather, Thomas Baker. Following the acquisition and subsequent mergers, premises at Grove Street, Wantage and Mayers Lane, Newbury was added to the company's operations.
Over the course of time, Oakes Bros. became agricultural implement merchants and the business gradually expanded as the demand grew for mechanisation on the farm.
In 1950, the company was appointed Ford tractor main dealers and since then Oakes Bros. have acquired various sites and businesses with the latest acquisitions being Watson & Haig at Andover in 1990, John Wilder (Agricultural) at Reading and Wallingford in 1996, Sussex Tractors at Horsham in 2004 and William Wheatley (Wickham) Ltd. in 2005.