The early days
Oakes Bros. can trace its roots back to 1825 when Thomas Oakes set up in business at 114 High Street, Hungerford. The premises lay at the junction with Park Street which was the original premises used by Oakes Bros. Ltd. when it was incorporated in 1945 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' 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's 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.'
The company sold its first tractor in 1918, a Titan to Mr. W.H. Box of Chiseldon in Wiltshire.
This Titan tractor was delivered by Oakes Bros. in 1918
An expanding business
In 1920, a gentleman named James Seddon joined and ultimately purchased the company. His involvement laid down the building blocks to the more firmly established business that we see today.
In 1945, Mr. Seddon sold the firm to Mr. and Mrs. Baker who had previously carried on business under the name of T. Baker & Sons (Compton) Ltd. Following the acquisition and subsequent mergers, premises at Grove Street, Wantage and Mayers Lane, Newbury were added to the company's operations. This was the same year in which the business became a private limited company.
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 a Ford tractor main dealer.
Oakes Bros. at the Newbury Show, Berkshire 1958
Oakes Bros. at the The Royal Counties Show, Kingsclere, Hampshire 1965
Celebrating 150 years
On September 20th 1975, Oakes Bros. reached a landmark 150 years of trading, a significant milestone that the company proudly commemorated.
Joint owners of Oakes Bros. Donald Baker (centre) and Stan Lewenden (right) celebrate 150 years of trading in 1975
Acquisitions and growth
The business made further acquisitions of various sites and other businesses including:
1990 - Watson & Haig at Andover
1996 - John Wilder (Agricultural) at Reading and Wallingford
2004 - Sussex Tractors at Horsham
2005 - William Wheatley (Wickham) Ltd.
In 2008, a new Super Depot and Head Office were opened in Micheldever, Hampshire. The company currently operates out of three further depots located at Coombe Bissett, Wiltshire, East Ilsley, Berkshire and Horsham in West Sussex.
Oak Bros. Head Office in Micheldever, Hampshire
The present day
Oakes Bros. is firmly focused on maintaining its continued growth and we're really looking forward to celebrating our 200th anniversary in 2025.