Broughton Lubricants spans over 90 years. Beginning life as East Lancashire Lubricants, the company was founded by George Broughton and his business partner at the time, J. Bentley. George was a forward thinking man who realised that lubricating oil was something that the increasingly mechanised world could not live without. At that time motor cars were a rarity on the roads but were just beginning to make their presence felt. It was this that persuaded George to resign from his office job at Imperial Mill, where his father was secretary and strike out with Bentley in Cook Street, blending and supplying the lubricants needed to keep the wheels turning. The street, which was situated off Copy Nook, no longer exists. These were the tenuous foundations for the company which today handles millions of litres of oil, distributing fuels and lubricants to a wide variety of industries across the UK and overseas.
Some time in the 1920s Bentley moved on leaving George as the sole owner. He changed the name to Geo. Broughton & Co. By 1928 the business had expanded to such an extent that it required new premises. A move was made to Whitebirk Road, into a building that had once housed horses belonging to Whitebirk Colliery and later the offices of a local brickworks. The company traded from there until March 2007. The Second World War curbed trade because oil supplies were commandeered for the war effort and it was a difficult time for the company, as it was for most. In 1942 George's brother Edgar joined as a director and the business became a limited liability company.
In 1948, George and Edgar were joined in the company by George's son Rex, who had recently been de-mobbed from the Royal Navy. Over the next ten years the use of lubricants for machinery in the cotton mills started to decline and in the late 1950s Rex made the decision to diversify into the supply of fuel oils. A five gallon home delivery service was started.
The very first delivery of tractor vaporising oil caused Rex a few headaches. The farmer who placed the order wanted a staggering 280 gallons and it had to be supplied in 5 gallon drums. The load filled both of Broughton's small vans.
Such orders were tying up the vans for a whole day and it was decided to buy an Austin three-way load van, which was equipped with a 300 gallon tank and a hand pump. Eventually in 1957 the firm bought its first bulk tanker, a Morris Commercial for £325. Shortly after, the brand name Gebrol was introduced, devised by Rex, as a short version of the full company name. The 1960s saw rapid growth in the use of oil fired central heating and the company soon had a fleet of tankers supplying homes, farms and industry with paraffin and heating oils. The two oil price shocks in 1974 and 1979 sent this market into temporary decline as heating oil escalated in price. At this awkward time the third generation of the family became involved in the business, with Rex's son Ian joining in 1978. He had previously worked as a research chemist for a major oil company in the field of lubricating oils and greases.
During the 1980s the business went full circle as Ian went back into the supply of lubricants, this time the more specialised end of the market. Today the firm supplies oils for most industries and has years of technical expertise, which gives it the edge over the competition.
The company is proud to have been an authorised distributor of Castrol products since 1979. Castrol were acquired by BP in 2000 and in 2005 the range of products offered by the company was expanded further with the addition of the full range of BP products. The rapid growth in the number of products stored led to the company investing in a new warehouse storage facility in the nearby town of Clitheroe. In April 2007 the company joined forces with Hermon Hodge Ltd (known by its trading name as Ribble Fuel Oils), another North-West based family firm which has specialized in the supply of bulk fuel oil for over 40 years. The Whitebirk offices and fuel depot were closed at this time and the fuel oil operation was transferred to Ribble Fuel Oil's larger depot at Preston.
During 2009 Merseyside based Ormskirk Oils was also acquired and merged with the Geo. Broughton operation. Such was the overall growth in sales it soon became apparent that the business would quickly outgrow the new Clitheroe premises and a search began for a new larger warehouse. During 2010 a suitable site was identified in Preston and the move of both offices and warehouse to this central location was completed in February 2011.
To coincide with the re-locatiion the new larger lubricants divisions has undergone an overhaul of the Geo. Broughton brand identity. The fresh new mark and typeface is reflective of the modern, dynamic and responsive company of today, whilst retaining the essence of our heritage and experience within the industry. The company name itself has also had a small but significant change removing the ‘Geo.’ reference so that on all materials from branded stationery to truck livery and website we now carry the new identity and are known as Broughton Lubricants
Broughton Lubricants have now earned themselves the title of ‘Castrol Ambassador Distributor’, and are extremely proud to be. They are the only UK distributor with this accreditation with access to such a vast range of Castrol products, including; industrial, automotive and power generation. Due to the continued growth and ever expanding product range to be stocked, new premises had again to be sought. The new warehouse is almost double the size of the last facility, with 8,800ft² floor space and floor to ceiling racking.