William Bradford was a coal merchant in Pibsbury, Somerset from the 1780s. Bradford would transport coal mined in Wales by canal to Bridgwater. The coal would then be moved on by horse and cart to Yeovil and distributed to towns and villages in Dorset, Devon and Somerset.
In the 1850s the company begun by William Bradford became known as Bradford & Sons. As the railway system spread across Britain between 1850 and 1870, it became the new means of transport for heavy goods, and the company expanded along the railway lines with a number of branches and coal depots established.
At the beginning of the 20th century Bradford & Sons entered into the timber business and the building trade. The company continued to expand and following the Second World War it entered into the cereal seed trade and became the first company in the West Country to operate an aircraft crop spraying service.
In 1963 Bradford & Sons Ltd. made a substantial investment in an animal feeds compounding mill and seed cleaning plant at Crewkerne, Somerset. This was subsequently expanded but, owing to the escalating administrative and technical requirements of the cereal trade, the company ceased processing its own seeds in 1972.
In 1977 the company’s animal feeds manufacturing business was sold to BOCMS and the rest of the company was restructured. Three separate trading companies were formed : Bradford’s Agriculture Ltd., Bradford’s Building Supplies Ltd., and Bradford’s Coal Ltd. The latter two companies are still active today.