Stately-Albion grew out of a company called Premier Caravans, situated near Bristol, which produced holiday homes, mobile homes and touring caravans. In 1963 that company was sold to Bluebird who discontinued production of the Premier range. In that same year, four of the men who had worked on the shop floor at Premier rented a farm building a few miles away and constructed a 30ft mobile home. Those four men were brothers Roy and Alan Hurd, John Whitehouse and Ken Rugman (Mr. Rugman left the company shortly afterwards). The new company was called Stately Caravans – which quickly won many orders. No one can recall exactly why the name Stately was chosen, although the ability to name models after well-known stately homes has been of enormous value since.
By 1964, Stately had outgrown its premises and a building was rented on a trading estate at Pucklechurch. During its five years at Pucklechurch, the firm steadily increased its production and outlets. The founders became directors of the company and Alan Taylor joined the firm from Nene Valley Caravans, staying some 33 years as Sales Director until his retirement. By 1966 the Pucklechurch factory had become too small, so a larger site was purchased on a new industrial development at The Prince of Wales Industrial Estate, Abercarn, South Wales. The estate had been built on the site of The Prince of Wales Colliery, which was the scene of a major mining disaster on 11th September 1878. The company and Directors moved to Wales in 1968, although John Whitehouse retired in the 1970s. Bill Mitchell, another employee of Premier Caravans, joined Stately at Abercarn becoming the Works Director (he sadly passed away in 1989) and Reg Golding was appointed as Purchasing Director until his retirement in 1988 (Reg also sadly passed away in December 2005). Cary his son succeeded him as Head of Purchasing and has himself now been employed by Stately for over 30 years.
Over the years the type of product manufactured by the Company has moved away from the ‘caravan’ image, to the fully furnished, centrally heated range of ‘bungalows’, which are produced today. Each of the range of homes embodies features to give the same self-contained comforts as traditional housing, but capable of easy relocation. In the 1970s the Company changed the name of Stately Caravans to Stately-Albion, to reflect their increasing involvement in exporting homes to Europe at that time. The recession of the early 90s affected the entire industry. That Stately not only survived, but actually grew, is a testament to the dedication of the management and employees.
In a small town like Abercarn, Stately-Albion is one of the largest employers, so it is not surprising that within the company there are quite a few of the employees who are related to each other. Adding to the family atmosphere is the fact that a significant number of employees have been with Stately for many years, over 20 of them have achieved 25 years service or more. Most of the personnel live within a 5-mile radius of the factory, such as Nigel Derrick – Sales & Production Manager, who has given over 30 years service to the company. There is one employee, however, who has clocked up over 40 years with Stately – Tony Trew. He started working for the company in 1963, when they first opened their doors for business in Bristol, moved with the company to South Wales and has continued to travel across from England to Wales every day to work.
The Company celebrated its Ruby Anniversary in 2003 and prides itself on being ‘a family firm’. Throughout its four decades the Hurd Family have remained the major shareholders in the Company. Alan Hurd – formerly Chairman, sadly passed away in 1987 and Roy Hurd, who retired as Managing Director in 1985, has been succeeded by his son, David. David’s wife, Yvonne, is Human Resources Administrator and Roy’s daughter, Diane, is Financial Director, her husband Arthur is Planning Manager. Another generation of the family has recently joined the business. In January 2006, Graham Hurd, one of David’s sons, was appointed General Manager at The Kirklees Light Railway, in West Yorkshire, which the company has acquired in order to set up a new showground of Stately Park Homes in the north of the country. Andrew, David’s eldest son joined the company in January 2007. He has previously worked as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor for a large multi-national main contractor in the south west of England.