Group News

Woodall Nicholson praised by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons

Following a question in the House of Commons from Bolton West MP Chris Green, Theresa May commended Woodall Nicholson for its investment in skills and manufacturing.

WNL CEO Geoff Hudson with Bolton West MP Chris Green.

Mr Green, who visited the Wigan Road-based company last month, said: “I recently visited Woodall Nicholson — a world-class coachbuilding manufacturer based in my constituency — and heard about their exciting plans for the future.

“Will my Right Honourable Friend join me in emphasising the importance of skills and manufacturing for our economy, especially as we look to leave the European Union?”

The Prime Minister responded by praising the firm as an example of how the country’s economy can develop successfully after Brexit.

Mrs May said: “Can I thank my Honourable Friend for drawing our attention to the example of Woodall Nicholson and to say how pleased we are to hear that they have those good plans for the future.

“And can I say to him he’s absolutely right as we leave the EU we will be doing that from a position of strength.

“He is right that skills and manufacturing are important parts of our economy for the future that’s why in the industrial strategy we are looking at how we can develop the excellence that we already have in the United Kingdom for a prosperous and growing economy for the future.”

Established in 1820, Woodall Nicholson is one of the oldest established coachbuilding companies in the UK and employs almost 250 people.

The company was acquired by private investors in 2013 and has since invested heavily in new products and infrastructure.



Chris Green MP visits Woodall Nicholson Ltd

Chris Green MP visited Woodall Nicholson Limited (WNL) at the invitation of Geoff Hudson Group CEO.

WNL headquarters sits within Mr. Greens Bolton West constituency. The purpose of the meeting was to update Mr Green on the progress WNL has made over the last three years.

WNL is a large SME with a staff levels approaching 250, it is a significant North West manufacturer that was acquired by private investors in 2013 under the leadership of Chairman Brian Davidson. The business has thrived over the last three years and continues to invest heavily in new products and infrastructure.

Chris Green Mp meets the WNL Business Development team

Key topics covered included a lively debate with regards to the impact public spending cuts are having on local authority vehicle replacement programs. Geoff Hudson explained that WNL is determined to maintain a presence as a key supply chain partner for the emergency services. However, this can only be secured through the development of alternative revenue streams from the incremental business designed to smooth out lumpy public service funded turnover and support business growth.

Geoff explained that Mellor, the Groups bus company based in North Manchester, continues to perform well because of the Group’s strategy to build low-floor accessible minibuses and expand from its traditional welfare and not for profit customer base into the bus sector. Geoff said, “there is a realisation in the bus market that size appropriate buses are now important and that one size no longer fits all”.

Geoff went on to say; “size appropriate buses feed the developing Mobility as a Service (MaaS) market which will be further enabled by electrification and autonomy” WNL are conscious of Government targets for both clean air and vehicle autonomy in public transport”

John Randerson who runs Mellor, showed Mr. Green around two recently launched and exciting new products designed to support bus companies
who are looking to find new ways of commercialising urban and rural routes. Whilst showing Mr. Green the new Strata and Tucana II buses John stressed that apart from the environmental and MaaS agenda opportunities, Mellor bus products can support social inclusion for our elderly and rural communities by making it simpler and more cost effective to run local bus services.

John went on to explain that some bus companies who predominantly operate larger vehicles are handing back rural routes to local authorities claiming them to be uneconomic. This, in turn has a wide ranging social and economic impact on those passenger groups who rely on a local bus service.

The Mellor Strata LF Bus

Mellor has worked hard to develop the Stata an extremely economical low floor 22 passenger capacity bus. Strata is built on the traditional Mercedes Sprinter based platform, it is fully DDA compliant and can carry two wheelchairs or buggies. It has all the features of a big-bus in a small bus format.

Since its launch, late last year Strata has attracted a lot of interest from both the smaller independent bus operator and the major players. The second vehicle displayed was the new Tucana II. This bus is narrow so that it can work in our antique towns, but still meets DDA compliance with its low-floor.

Many people will recognise the Tucana as the Direct Responsive Bus used by Dial-a-Ride organisations, over 600 are in service across the UK with 250 in service in London alone. The new Tucana II is fully low floor and provides inclusive for all. Lightweight and nimble the Tucana II can be configured to suit the needs of local authorities and dial-a-ride operations.

The Mellor Tucana II

Steve Reeves from the WNL business development team explained to Mr. Green that the Tucana will be produced in a ‘compact’ form to help creative strategies that use Private Hire operators to support lower value and disconnected routes.

The Tucana II bus can be configured as a Big-Taxi under 3.5 Tonnes GVW with eight seats; it too will be DDA compliant.

Businesses such as RATP Dev and Arriva are now offering experimental on demand services such as Bristol’s Slide Project these services plan to deliver on demand services in an economical way. They are a premonition of future service provision. We are well on the way to meeting Big-Taxi DDA compliant products in both diesel and electric.

Mr. Green fully understands the challenges facing business in the public sector, and was supportive of WNL strategy to pick up the challenge to provide leading and relevant products to the emerging MaaS market.

Mr. Green and the WNL team also discussed Mr. Green’s role on the Science and Technology committee. Initiatives are being run by Innovate and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous vehicles to help enabling technologies and the businesses that deliver them such as WNL. This is important because the local and national economy are dependent upon significantly improving the ability to transport goods and people by utilising the emerging electric drive and communication technologies. There is a real opportunity to provide sustainable improvements in this area for business and transport users. Mr. Green was pleased to see an energetic company based in the North West and in touch with its markets,

“It was fantastic to hear about Woodall Nicholson’s exciting plans for the future and see first-hand their manufacturing base in Westhoughton, as well as two of their brand new buses.

“This is a thriving world-class business with a long and successful history. I was particularly impressed with their plans to adapt and innovate for new and emerging markets.”

Mr. Green also looks forward to meeting the team again in April and to be one of the first to see a new electric 16 seat bus designed by Mellor.



Rachael Buckley
Group Marketing Manager
01942 815600

Woodall Nicholson Group Makes Further Acquisition

CM Specialist Vehicles


Today, 05/09/2014, the Woodall Nicholson Group, based in Westhoughton, Bolton UK, has acquired the intellectual property and manufacturing assets of the former Auto Electrical Services (Manchester) Limited (AES).

The deal will result in the intellectual property and manufacturing assets of AES being brought into Woodall Nicholson’s CM Specialist Vehicle Division which supplies a range of quality vehicle conversions and modifications to Blue and Amber Light fleet sector and public and private sector fleet operators across the country.

Woodall Nicholson Managing Director Geoff Hudson commented;

“We are delighted to add the AES offering to our automotive portfolio. This acquisition will further enhance our leading position in the markets within which CM Specialist Vehicle Division operates, and will extend the range of products, services and expertise which we are able to offer customers.”

This latest acquisition will underpin the growth and success of the CM Specialist Vehicle Division, which has gone from strength to strength since the financially strong Woodall Nicholson was acquired by new investors in July 2013.

CM Specialist Vehicle Division has substantially increased its penetration of the public and private sector markets in the last 12 months with significant investment in resources to increase its productivity and output. The deal allows the division to further expand its offering, to new and existing customers, through the complex integration of robust electrical systems into specialist vehicles. CM Specialist Vehicle Division aims to continue investing in this sector to become the first choice for Blue and Amber Light clients, as well as specialist covert vehicle operators across the country.

WN Group Intervention Helps to Save Scarborough Jobs!

Wood_Nic Banner 72 DPI 2014


On 14/07/2014, the Woodall Nicholson Group, based in Westhoughton, Bolton UK, acquired the intellectual property and manufacturing assets of the former Bluebird Vehicles Limited.

The deal will witness the Orion and Tucana low floor buses being brought into Woodall Nicholson’s Mellor bus business which manufactures a range of accessible bus and van conversions in its Rochdale factory.

It is understood that the deal will assist in saving jobs in Scarborough as it enables Bluebird Engineering Solutions to concentrate its resources upon its growing subcontract bus manufacturing facility.

Woodall Nicholson Managing Director Geoff Hudson commented;

“We are very proud to add the Bluebird range of buses to our automotive portfolio. The acquisition will generate more jobs in the North West and further strengthen the Mellor range of market leading accessible vehicles”.


Staff from Mellor Coachcraft will be in contact with Bluebird suppliers and customers in due course to provide them with further information and key contacts to enable a smooth transition and minimum impact on production.

This deal will underpin the growth and success of the Mellor business which has gone from strength to strength since the financially strong Woodall Nicholson was acquired by new investors in July 2013.

Coleman Milne moves customer-care forward with brand new reception facilities

New Reception_s

With an enviable heritage as one of the UK’s premier suppliers of funeral vehicles, Coleman Milne has built its reputation on the foundation of excellent customer care. Not content to rest on its laurels, Coleman Milne has constantly sought ways to improve its relationships with customers.

As part of this ongoing campaign, the company has recently begun a programme of improvements to the facilities at the Westhoughton headquarters. The first phase of this development has been the refurbishment of the public areas of the factory and offices. A complete refit of the reception and other areas accessible to visitors has been completed in contemporary styling to Coleman Milne’s exacting standards to give customers an inspirational experience upon their arrival.

To celebrate the completion of this first stage, the company held an open evening in the new reception area which was attended by various friends and colleagues. The guest of honour on this celebratory occasion was Simon Fisher, President of the NAFD at the time, who performed the opening ceremony and later said, “it is a pleasure to be invited to open these outstanding new facilities. Coleman Milne have, for many years, delivered excellent customer service to NAFD members. This new facility not only reinforces that reputation, but actively demonstrates their intentions to build stronger, more valued relationships with customers.”

Coleman Milne Managing Director, Geoff Hudson said, “This enjoyable event was a fantastic opportunity to welcome our industry friends and guests to join us in celebrating the first stage of our ongoing campaign to offer Coleman Milne customers the very best service. We are proud of our new reception and look forward to welcoming more of our guests to our new customer-friendly environment.”

Joseph Edwards & Sons continue with Coleman Milne

Joseph Edwards _s


Joseph Edwards & Sons have been operating as a family business for over 125 years making them one of the most established names in the Cheshire and Stoke on Trent area. Times have changed since 1882 when they were established, and now have modern offices with lounge areas, peaceful chapels of rest, modern mortuary facilities and a garage which houses their brand new fleet of funeral vehicles including a private ambulance, hearse and limousines. The vehicles are a very important part of the service they provide and reliability was a key factor when they chose to continue with Coleman Milne and renewed their fleet with a Cardinal Hearse and two Dorchester Limousines, all with an EcoBoost Engine.

Joseph Edwards_Sir Stanley Matthews

Joseph Edwards & Sons are famous for taking care of the funeral arrangements for Sir Stanley Matthews’ Funeral. Picture shows their Coleman Milne Hearse in the funeral procession 14 years ago.

George Brooke Ltd. continue to increase their fleet


George Brooke Funeral Directors is a family run business that has served the local community since 1952. The first privately owned Chapel of Rest in Dewsbury was built by George Brooke more than half a century ago. The business has grown to be the largest independent family run organisation in the area with one of the most modern fleet of ceremonial vehicles. Photo shows Neil Brooke taking delivery of the latest Ford Dorchester MK11 Limousine in a stunning Garnet colour, from Coleman Milne’s Operations Manager, Mick Barlow.

Mercedes Hearse for Beckfords Funeral Services



Beckford’s is a family run business based in Guernsey, and is the oldest funeral company on the island. They have been serving the local community for over 135 years by providing a complete and tailored funeral service while maintaining an independent status thus offering an unbiased choice to their valued clients.

Photo shows managing director Jane Duquemin and chairman Philip Duquemin with Peter Potter of Coleman Milne who personally delivered the new Mercedes Hearse to Guernsey. Mr Potter also stayed to carry out driver training and also to help register the hearse.

Philip believes that the new hearse is the first of the latest generation of Mercedes vehicles on the Channel Islands. It is also the latest new investment for the company having recently had very smart new premises built to complement the service that they have offered for 135 years so far.

Pendle Funeral Services in Cornwall

Pendle -small


Tony and Dee Richards of Pendle Funeral Services in Cornwall, taking delivery of the Ford Cardinal Mk 11 Hearse, with their son Jamie who has recently joined the family business. 

Pendle Funeral Services is a well-established independent family business owned and run by Tony and Dee Richards, serving Helston, the Lizard Peninsula and surrounding areas in Cornwall.  The extreme weather conditions in February this year had a significant impact upon the Firs Funeral Home, as windy conditions lead to 15 mature fir trees falling like dominoes in a single night.

“After securing everyone’s safety by closing the main road, the first thought was to move the recently purchased Ford Cardinal Mk 11 Hearse which was located perilously in the garages below the falling trees.  Fortunately, nobody was injured and no property was damaged, although the incident caused quite a stir in local and social media.  We were overwhelmed by the local community’s response and their contribution to the clean up operation.  We’re now debating a new name for “The Firs”; perhaps “The Tree Stumps” would be appropriate for the time being!”

Pendle’s have built a strong and growing reputation for their caring and dignified service to families for over 20 years. Over time, they have acquired an elegant and high-quality fleet of vehicles from Coleman Milne: Tony and his team have always been delighted with the service and the quality of vehicles and they will be looking to add to their fleet in the coming months.

Tony and Dee’s son, Jamie, joins Pendle’s after 5 years working in retail management following a degree obtained from the University of the West of England in Bristol.  He is looking forward to working and learning alongside the experienced team at Pendle’s.


Cowburn Funeral Service



Cowburn Funeral Service was started in Westhoughton in 1905 by John Cowburn.  Like many funeral directors John was a joiner and builder who made coffins in his workshop alongside window frames, staircases and doors.  Handwritten records show he arranged his first funeral in November 1905.  In 1906, in his first full year as a Funeral Director, he arranged 16 funerals and in December 1910 he helped to arrange the funerals of 15 men who lost their lives in the Pretoria pit disaster, one of the UK’s worst mining tragedy’s.


In the 1920’s Albert Worthington started as an apprentice joiner.  Albert showed he had an aptitude for funeral directing as well as joinery work and he became John’s business partner, taking over sole control when John retired in the 1940’s.  In the 1950’s Albert was joined in the business by his son John.  Cowburn Funeral Service is a long standing member of the NAFD and is still an independent business, owned and run by the Worthington family with Albert’s grandson Ian now the main Funeral Director.


Ian Worthington, Funeral Director said ‘Coleman Milne is only a mile down the road from us and we have purchased a number of vehicles from them over the years.  We decided about 6 months ago it was time to upgrade our fleet so I spoke to Eddie to brief him on our requirements.  We are really pleased with the results.  They are a matching pair in immaculate condition and they will help us to continue to supply an excellent service to our clients.  We have been running the vehicles for 2 weeks now and we have noticed how much more fuel efficient they are.  They have been well designed and are practical and easy to use’.

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