William Henry Bowker MBE JP – 1935-2017

William Henry Bowker (Bill), who has died aged 81 following a short illness, was the widely respected, former owner of Lancashire transport operator W H Bowker Ltd.

Bill was a great supporter of the Lancashire Automobile Club not only taking part in many of the Club’s classic car events over the years but also being the principle sponsor of the Manchester to Blackpool Classic Car Run supporting the event both financialy and allowing the use of Bowker dealerships for Controls on the events.

It is however for his business interests in the north west that Bill is best known. The business was founded by Bill’s father in 1919, on his return from the First World War.

Based in Blackburn, the business started by making deliveries in East Lancashire and the docks in Liverpool on behalf of the local cotton industry. Following the sudden death of his father in 1955 just after the business had bought itself out nationalisation, Bill took over the running of the business at the age of just 19. He was later joined in the business by his brother Ken, son Bill, his nephews, grandson and his great niece who are now the fourth generation to work in the business.

Bill was actively involved in many local community and charity organisations. He was an active patron of the Ribble Valley Conservative Association for more than 20 years, eventually becoming its Chairman. He also became Chairman of Blackburn Magistrates and received an MBE for services in the administration of justice in Blackburn in the 2006 Queen’s News Years Honours List.

Whilst still very much a family business, with its Company headquarters now in Preston, W H Bowker Ltd, is a major UK and international transport and warehousing provider with nine UK sites. The Company also includes the prestigious Bowker Motor Dealership Group, comprising BMW, Mini, Maserati, Harley Davidson and BMW Motorrad in Blackburn and Preston.

His son, described his father as ‘a wonderful family man’. “He was a wonderful father who put other people before himself, never said no and always tried to help and support others. We are very saddened by his death.”

Bill’s wife Rosemary passed away in 2013. He is survived by his son Bill and daughter Elizabeth.