Ashley & Dumville was established as a coal and coke merchant in 1880 by Jonny Ashley and Tommy Dumville.
As the calling card shows, the company’s first offices were in Deansgate, in the centre of Manchester.
The business was bought in 1892 by Albert Smith.
The company continued to deal in coal for 118 years – until 1998.
In about 1900, the company expanded into premises on Ordsall Lane, Salford, adjacent to the recently opened Trafford Park industrial estate.
The Ashley & Dumville depot (right) was close to the Groves & Whitnall brewery (with chimney).
Members of the Manchester Coal Exchange circa 1910.
Somewhere amongst the gentlemen is Ashley & Dumville’s Albert Smith.
In the pre-war era the company grew to become a major supplier to industrial customers in Trafford Park.
The picture shows the Thomas Hedley Soap Works in 1938 – birthplace of Fairy Liquid and later to become part of Proctor & Gamble. The company supplied coal from the Bickershaw Colliery in Leigh - where James Smith worked as a “Bevin Boy” in 1943.
In celebration of the coronation of King George VI in 1937, Alderman Albert Smith JP, Mayor of Stretford, planted a ceremonial tree in the grounds of Stretford Town Hall.
In June of the following year, Albert Smith was knighted by the new king in the birthday honours list for “political and public services” in Lancashire.
During the Second World War, Trafford Park was a major contributor to the war effort. It was home to manufacturers of Merlin engines for Spitfires, steel tracks for Churchill tanks and Bailey Bridges, to name but three. All industries relied on coal of course.
Supply was interrupted three days before Christmas, 1940, when the premises on Ordsall Lane were destroyed by a landmine, dropped by parachute during the Manchester Blitz.
The picture shows James Smith by the privy at his digs, just back from the day shift at Bickershaw Colliery, Leigh. He worked the four-foot seam as a Bevin Boy during 1943.
Despite significant changes following post-war nationalisation of the coal industry, the company carried on its distribution activities with vehicles such as this 1953 “Stork” from Guildford-based Dennis Bros.
With the emergence of liquid fuels, Ashley & Dumville – now based in Regent Road, Salford - diversified into the marketing of fuel oil. They bought their first purpose-built tanker in the late 50s, an ERF, built in the Cheshire town of Sandbach.
In 1975, James Smith established the Knutsford Domestic Fuel Oil Company and introduced a distinctive fleet of red liveried vehicles.
The company was an authorised distributor for Philips Petroleum, supplying domestic customers and small businesses.
In 1995 the company was sold to the NWF Group.
Having worked as a journalist and newspaper proprietor in his early career, James Smith began a regular newsletter for the region’s fuel oil distributors. In 1977, it changed its title to Fuel Oil News which is today's voice of the oil distribution industry throughout the UK and Ireland.
Nick Smith – present-day Managing Director of Ashley & Dumville Ltd – had an early introduction to the coal industry. He is shown here as a boy during a visit to the Apedale Colliery in Silverdale, Staffordshire, from where Ashley & Dumville supplied such customers as La Porte, Clayton Aniline, AEI and ICI.
This was circa 1976 and Nick Smith is pictured with Barry McCreedy (right), one of the brothers who owned the pit.
By the early 1980s, James Smith had started selling fuels to industry and power stations by sea and road, with product sourced from the Eastham Refinery.
Eastham was built alongside the Manchester Ship Canal during the 1950s and is currently owned by Nynas and Shell.
Oil Recruitment was started by Nick Smith in 1998 initially serving the oil distribution market, but quickly moved into oil trading and shipping.
A year later, shortly after deregulation in the gas and power markets, “Energy Recruitment” was established as a separate division to focus on these markets.
In 2007, the publishing arm of Ashley & Dumville launched a new journal, Oil Installer. A year later Renewable Energy Installer was also added to the portfolio of titles.
2008 was the 10th anniversary of Oil Recruitment Ltd and to mark the special milestone in the company’s history, a celebratory party was held for friends of the business at the Lansdowne Club in London’s West End. A unique cake was designed and baked for the occasion.
During 2010 A&D Publishing acquired a new title to add to its portfolio of industry magazines - Bulk Distributor, a bi-monthly journal for professionals involved in the international distribution and logistics sector.
In 2010 A&D Publishing diversified into exhibitions. The Oil and Renewable Heating Show - held in partnership with the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) – was held at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.