1st Cabin built in the evenings on Frank's Drive
Legend has it that in the evenings of spring 1979 and after a full day's graft. Frank Rothwell built his
first cabin on the drive of his family home.
He sold it after a single advert in the classifieds of the Oldham
Evening Chronicle. Following this success he then built another one which also
sold after one night in the classifieds. Unsurprisingly, the
neighbours complained to the council because of the enthusiastic
hammering, but Frank now had the belief that he could make a success of
He called the business "Frank Rothwell Plant Hire" and rented a garage
near Fielding Mill on Radclyffe Street in Middleton, Manchester. On 5th April 1979 Frank employed David Proctor who had provided uninterrupted service until he retired at the end of 2015, after 36½ years.
(Keith Humphries is next up, see him below - starting 18th June 1986, with 7 other employees hot on his heels.)
1984 - 1987
Relocation to Manchester, 1st Cabin in Hire Fleet, 1st Hiab
1984 proved to be a significant year. Frank Rothwell Plant Hire
was renamed Manchester Cabins and the first commercial property was
purchased: 688 Oldham Road, in Miles Platting, Manchester. Manchester
Cabins quickly expanded into adjacent properties, formally Louis Edwards
Meat Factory. With this acquisition came the current boardroom table
where it is believed that Louis Edwards signed George Best for
Manchester United. Also our first hire cabin entered into the Hire Fleet
and the first Wagon Mounted Hiab Crane was purchased.
(Les is the driver in this photograph and he is still working for us too)
1987 - 1992
Exponential Growth, 25,000 sq ft Purpose Built Factory
To cater for the business's exponential expansion, in 1987 a 25,000 sq ft purpose-built factory was built on Drewett Street, Miles Platting. Also in 1987, a
revolutionary method of constructing our cabins was introduced that involved the walls were
prepared on a press and injected with Polyurethane foam instead of the
traditional stud walls and polystyrene sheet insulation. This helped to improve both the strength of our units and their thermal retention properties; making our units warmer and more energy efficient.
The recession hit the UK in 1990 and our business growth slowed, forcing us to take stock of our business model and strategy. With plans afoot for another move to a new factory to support our new construction process put on hold. Now was a good time to take stock, changed our course and ensure we are prepared to bounce back and continue our growth when called upon.
1992 - 1995
Move to new 52,000 sq ft Factory, 1st Bunkabin is designed
With the future looking brighter and a new business plan in place, in 1992 Manchester Cabins made a significant move to a 52,000 sq.ft.
purpose-built factory again in Miles Platting, on the junction of Oldham
Road and Hulme Hall Lane.
The Sleeper Unit (Bunkabin) was pioneered and designed in 1994 after it came to Frank's attention that construction workers were dying every year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning through sleeping in inadequate accommodation. With a new challenge set, Frank designed a unit that offered warmth and comfort, offered en-suite facilities and was specifically for sleeping in and, most importantly, had no gas. As it turned out, this was the first sleeper unit of its kind. It was not only an instant success, it was the beginning of the largest sleeper hire company in the UK.
1995 - 2001
The birth of Bunkabin
The first design for our sleeper cabins was called the "Original Sleeper" because that is exactly what it was - original. As a company we knew Frank had created something that would transform on-site living and as word spread about Frank's design, so did the demand. The growth was such that it was very clear that this product needed its own identity and in 1996 Manchester Cabins created and trademarked Bunkabin. And that's how Bunkabin Limited was born.
All this time Manchester Cabins was manufacturing cabins for other companies as well as itself. With the success of Bunkabin units and the demand for more sleepers from construction companies all over the UK, we again needed to review our company strategy.
Focus on Hire of Cabins, Bunkabins and an idea about Car Parks!
Once the strategic decision was made to manufacture
predominantly for Manchester Cabins and Bunkabin's own hire fleets, a
smaller factory was required. We re-located to Tweedale Way, Oldham at a
great strategic location just off junction 22 of the M60. Bunkabin was continuing to grow and the new factory fitted our business model perfectly.
While Frank was away from work and sailing around the world, he read an article about a surgeon who was bleeped into work (just before mobile phones became the norm) to carry out an emergency operation. The surgeon rushed to the hospital but was unable to park his car anywhere. Frustrated the surgeon eventually parked his car and made his way to the theater to scrub in. However, he was so worked up about his ordeal that he was unable to apply his brilliant mind and therefore withdraw from the operation. This story vexed Frank and again he set his mind to solving the problem. He returned to work with the bit between his teeth and set about designing and pioneered a portable multi-storey car park. Like Bunkabin, this proved another fantastic creation and several patents later Frank set up a company called Another Level Car
Parks, which has gone on to become another successful problem-solving business.
2005 to present day
The business decision to manufacture only for ourselves proved invaluable and allowed us to focus on our own customers and end users; honoring our fundamental principle to 'treat customers how we would want to be treated'
Now with three companies Manchester Cabins, Bunkabin and Another Level Car Park, Patents, Trademarks, and off course the Bunkabin Biscuits it was time to take a breath and make sure that what we do, we do well.
Manchester Cabins - Continues to offer great value for money within the Greater Manchester area offering - Containers, Anti Vandal, service Toilets and Jackleg Cabins.
Bunkabin - Has seen its fleet increased vastly to in excess of 2000 sleeping units and includes Diners, Shower and Toilet Blocks. We continue to pioneer the on-site sleeper ensuring everyone who sleeps in our units gets the comforts of a hotel room, with thermostatic heating, powerful showers and full size beds.
Another Level Car Parks - The perfect solution to car parking issues and still the only company that can install a 100 space car park over a long weekend. With over thirty car parks installed for Hospitals, Train Operaters and Supermarkets Frank design still overs short and long term parking solutions.
To be continued......