Jun 5 2024

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Trailer firm favoured by Only Fools and Horses legend “Boycie” toasts 70 years in business

A family-run trailer firm that’s catered for iconic TV stars, the London Olympics and once helped deliver the Christmas tree to Downing Street is celebrating 70 years in business.

Morris Bufton & Co Ltd, based in Ludlow, Shropshire, is toasting seven decades of operation this summer and a long-held partnership with Europe’s top trailer maker, Ifor Williams Trailers.

The family-owned agricultural and horticultural machinery supplier, which has served Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Wales since 1954, was founded by the late Sydney Bufton and his partner, Leslie Morris, before the reins were handed to Sydney’s sons, John and Raymond.

Now in its third generation, the business continues to go from strength to strength under John’s sons Steve and Dan Bufton who hold dear to the values and vision of their late father. Steve’s son Max has come in to the business as the fourth generation, servicing and repairing Ifor Williams Trailers.

The firm, which sprawls across four and a half acres and employs 11 staff, counts legendary TV actor John Challis, who played “Boycie” in Only Fools and Horses, as its most famous former customer. The late star looked no further than the firm to meet all his horticultural needs over the years. 

And 10 years ago, the firm sprang into action to deliver the iconic Christmas tree that stands outside 10 Downing Street.

John lent a sturdy 18ft flatbed Ifor Williams Trailer to transport the splendid 22-foot Nordmann Fir from its growers, Dinmore Hill Trees, in Herefordshire to the Prime Minister’s official residence in London where it became an integral feature of Christmas news bulletins, standing guard alongside an on-duty police officer.

Director Dan Bufton credits trust, loyalty and his dad and grandad’s enduring charm as the secret to the firm’s lasting presence.

“My dad was quite the character and was a great salesman. He never retired – retirement to him was a dirty word!”, explained dad of two Dan, 49.

“He would take a chance on someone and always sealed a good deal. We often have customers coming in and sharing stories about my father and grandfather. That’s how we’ve built up trust over the years and why people keep coming back.

“We’re proud of the history of my granddad and the impression he left on people and how our own dad took over the reins.”

Dad-of-three Steve, 52, added: “Dad was a natural salesman. He was always looking for a deal, but it was his knowledge that was second to none. He had dealers themselves ringing him for advice on the value of secondhand trailers!

“He wasn’t a big advertiser, he always worked on the principle of word of mouth. He had a big network of customers that just kept on coming back and it really worked for him as we’re still here today.”

From humble beginnings, the firm grew with Sydney buying additional parcels of land surrounding the original site in Gravel Hill to expand the operation.

Operating in a post-war period, the firm originally serviced the likes of farmers and small holders.

When John came onboard, he took the business in a new direction by supplying horticultural machinery, establishing links with international brands such as Stihl chainsaws, STIGA gardening tools and Ariens mowers, and building up the trailer side of the business with top trailer maker Ifor Williams Trailers.

Dan was living in the US working in pharmaceuticals when he came back in 2015 to get involved in the family business.

“Dad’s health started to decline but he had a mobility scooter and could be seen zipping around the yard doing deals! He never stopped, he still wanted to be at the centre of the action and in the thick of it,” he said.

“We’re now carrying that torch. Obviously, you find your own way of doing things but it’s probably the same as dad would’ve done things anyway.”

Steve added: “When dad was ill, he’d go around the yard on his scooter with his oxygen tank. He was well-liked and known around here – it was all about the personal service for him.

“People who come to us like the personal touch and that bodes well for us. Both my grandad and dad always sealed a deal with a gentleman’s handshake.

“My Dad used to always say if someone comes into the shop looking for a trailer, they want to go home with one, they don’t want to wait around. That’s why he stocked so many. People like to come in and see and touch the physical product so they know exactly what they’re getting.

“John Challis from Only Fools and Horses was a regular customer of ours and used to come in for garden machinery and strimmers.  When he was filming one of the specials in Bristol, he came into the shop and got all the autographs we wanted from the cast.

“We also supply IWT horseboxes to some of the trainers around here including Venetia Williams and Henry Daly and dad bought all 16 IWT trailers used in the 2012 London Olympics’ opening ceremony to carry props.”

Steve’s wife Sadie now works in accounts and his son Max services the trailers. The volume of trailers the firm sells and stocks has increased over the years as the IWT production line grew, making for a constant flow of customers.

Dan added: “IWT is a tried and tested product. You have a company that’s been going for 65 years so they are doing a lot right. The trailers hold their value well. The name is synonymous with quality.”

Congratulating the firm on its enduring success, Carole Williams, from Ifor Wiliams Trailers, said: “To be in business for seven successful decades is no easy feat and we would like to send our warmest congratulations to Dan, Steve and the whole team on this remarkable milestone.

“We’ve enjoyed every minute of our relationship with Morris Bufton & Co – they are a highly valued distributor and I know our customers really appreciate their unrivalled knowledge and experience of our trailers. I have no doubt they will continue to be successful and fly the flag of Ifor Wiliams Trailers for another 70 years at least!”

To celebrate the anniversary, Morris Bufton & Co are hosting an open day on Saturday,  August 10 – the anniversary of the day the business was formed in 1954 - to showcase their brand partners and mark their historic legacy in the town.

PB081 2024 5

Celebrating 70 years at Morris Bufton & Co – Steve (left) and Dan Bufton


Back in 2014, Morris Bufton & Co provided the trailer to take a Christmas tree to 10 Downing Street – pictured are Colin Griffith of Dinmore Hill Christmas Trees and John Bufton.

Three Counties Show 1958 Leslie Morris left Sydney Bufton right

Three Counties Show 1958 – Leslie Morris left, Sydney Bufton right

Three Counties Show 1958 Morris Bufton

Three Counties Show 1958 – Morris Bufton

News » Trailer firm favoured by Only Fools and Horses legend “Boycie” toasts 70 years in business

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