Wigan firm survives the pandemic to celebrate a very special anniversary
A family-run firm based in Wigan is celebrating a century of helping residents on the move.
Halls Removals, from Platt Bridge, is marking 100 years since it was founded by Edward Hall in Westhoughton in 1921.
In the early days of the firm Mr Hall combined helping people move house with working as a greengrocer and delivering fruit and veg to his community.
Ten decades later technology and the scale of the removal business has changed somewhat but the firm remains in the family’s hands, with owner Julie Hall marking the third generation to be at the helm.
The company has been based in the borough since the 1980s, first having its HQ at Aspull and then moving to its current location on Tram Street in 1988 after a severe fire at the premises next door to it.
Julie says she is extremely proud to be steering the company through the centenary year, especially after 14 months of the Covid-19 pandemic which has brought huge challenges to businesses.
She said: “My grandad was not just a removal man, he was also a greengrocer and had a shop at one point.
“My dad Norman Hall then worked side by side with him for a long time before he took over.
“In those days they did all the repairs themselves as well.
“With Covid we didn’t know how it was going to go and if we were going to make it to celebrate 100 years. I’m very pleased we have.
“It has been challenging. We had to furlough some of the staff when work dried up. We could carry on with what we already had booked but couldn’t take on new bookings.
“We would then get these Government e-mails when we were allowed to work.”
Over the years Halls Removals has done international moving, with Julie recalling one memorable trip to France in which they had to take a car across the Channel.
They have also helped shift the belongings of their fair share of famous names, including Kerry Katona.
However, the company also takes pride in helping and supporting people who are far from wealthy.
Julie’s son Darren Deady was in the military and died in 2010 and she has now set up the Darren Deady Foundation which uses the firm’s work to support people in need.
When lockdown came last March the firm also threw itself into the massive volunteering effort to support those on the front line of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “We get given quite a lot of furniture and the foundation distributes it to people who need it.
“We also have a foodbank here at the warehouse.
“Since Darren died I’ve always helped veterans and with Covid coming in it made me realise how many everyday people were struggling too. We now help them too.
“We did a lot of volunteering at the start of the pandemic.
“We had the warehouse open for sorting PPE and then a bunch of bikers would collect it and distribute it to doctors’ surgeries and wherever else it was needed.
“I’m not the type of person who can just sit down and start watching telly, I need to be doing something. We’re always kept busy.”
Julie said the removal business has been through a number of different phases related to changes in people’s lifestyles over the years..
She said: “When my dad was doing the job people had minimal stuff.
“They didn’t have as many accessories or as much furniture.
“Then it went through years where people had lots of furniture and now everybody is having fitted furniture.
“The jobs balance out with larger and smaller ones so overall it has stayed pretty much the same.
“We recently moved someone and he didn’t really have anything, all he had was some boxes.
“We’re going to give him a sofa. It hurts me to see people like that. We don’t realise how lucky we are.
“You see some things in this job but if I can do anything about it while I’m out there then I will.”
Currently Covid-19 has put any plans for a centenary party at Halls Removals on hold.
Usually the firm has between eight and 13 employees and at the moment four of them plus some self-employed staff are back.
Julie says the nature of the firm’s work means caution over a celebratory get-together is required, but she says she is hoping that the situation will improve enough for the tight-knit company to mark its incredible achievement of 100 years in business.
She said: “With the Indian variant we still have to be quite apprehensive. The lads are all Covid tested three times a week because we are out there in the midst of it.
“It would be a bit silly to have a big party at the moment but hopefully later this year or maybe next year we can do something.
“We’ve had to put a lot of things on hold this year. We had plans for charity fund-raising and we had to stop all that.
“We’re a big community here, I know all the employees’ kids and they all know me, so I would love to be able to celebrate 100 years with the lads and their families.”
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