Blakedale | First Past the Post: What you may not know about key road safety products…
It is no secret, that across the UK, Blakedale has established itself as a highly regarded Company specialising in the hire, sales, build and service of traffic management vehicles.
Blakedale runs the largest privately owned operation of its type in the UK from their base in Chorley, Lancashire. It is well known that they provide customers with specialist traffic management vehicles, ranging from low body 3½ tonne TM vehicles to 18 tonne state of the art Impact Protection Vehicles, as well as employing an ever-growing, and highly skilled operations team who provide the technical backup services required to maintain these complex, vitally important, and safety-critical vehicles.
Perhaps what is not quite so commonly known, is that Blakedale is also the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier in the niche area of Distance Marker Posts and Hazard Delineators.
Indeed, Blakedale has been manufacturing road marker posts since the 1980’s when the then owner, Fred Smith, father of the current owners, was running the operation on a day to day basis and crash cushions were a thing of the future.
As a family business, current Joint Managing Directors Carmen Bowley and her brother Richard Smith are following in her Father’s footsteps by upholding Blakedale’s reputation and legacy when it comes to distance marker posts. Whilst the times have changed, Blakedale’s commitment to road safety, and the products that help to maintain it certainly has not.
Blakedale’s range of products covers all of the highway and motorway distance marker posts seen the length and breadth of the country. The company also produces a range of hazard delineators, from snow poles to overhead and underground cable warning posts. In recent years they have also expanded their range to serve customers in the rail sector and sustainable energy markets, where Blakedale posts are now being utilised, demonstrating how versatile these products can be in their application.
“It was in a meeting with one of our Marker Post clients in the early 2000’s that we first heard a ‘crash cushion’ mentioned.” says Carmen, “They were just coming into use on the UK motorway network and our interest was piqued. Soon after that, we bought one, followed by another, then another, until eventually, we arrived at the place we are today, with a specialist fleet of over 350 and growing.
“However, during the many years that we have increased and developed the fleet side of the business, we have also expanded the marker post side of the business, and in fact, there is sometimes a cross-over where we supply the same clients with marker posts and vehicles. Indeed, recently we have built and sold two vehicles to one of our largest marker post clients, which is enormously satisfying.
“The marker posts are such a simple concept, but vitally important in providing critical information for maintenance crews, emergency services and the general public. They are the kind of product that most people aren’t even aware of until they need the location information the products display – known as chainage in the industry.
“Only recently, an old acquaintance contacted me to say she had broken down on the motorway and our marker post location reference meant she was rescued very quickly, she was incredibly grateful for that particular post! In the early days I used to make and dispatch all the orders myself, so have to confess to being something of a marker post geek, and I can certainly spot the networks where posts I made years ago are still going strong.
“The fleet side of the business may have grown to be bigger than the marker post operation, but I am always aware that, without the marker posts, we would never have seen the opportunity in the vehicle hire and build sector.
“It is also satisfying to know that we are supporting our many customers with a quality product that enhances road safety for the benefit of everyone on the highway and motorway networks.”