My great-grandfather, John Yardley, established the business, as a sole trader, in 1859. The premises were specially built (taking up Nos. 2, 4 and 6 Cowper Street) with stables and garaging for the vans and I have the contractor's bill for the house (copy enclosed). The business started, I was told, carting sand for the building trade but soon moved to the removal of furniture. It then started to specialise in the removal of pianos.
My great-grandfather had nine sons, but only my grandfather, Albert Edward Yardley, was interested in running the business and took it over when his father died. Albert had two sons, Albert John Yardley and Norman Harry Yardley, my father and uncle respectively, who both worked in the business and took over when my grandfather died. Unfortunately my uncle died early and my father was sole proprietor until he retired from the business in 1978 aged 70. He died in 1998.
In my father's day the business was chiefly moving pianos for private customers and for the music shops in Birmingham. The original vans were, of course, horse-drawn and my grandfather was very reluctant to trust the first motor van the firm bought. He much preferred to take the horse on long journeys because it would not break down! My father, born in 1908, drove the horse-vans when he was young but much preferred the motor vans which he largely maintained and serviced himself, being a very good mechanic.
April 6 1899 Mr Yardley. Contractor In a/c with Mr Jordan
Erecting house Cowper Street Summer Lane as per estimate £520.0s.0d
To providing house
To taking out end of stable and rebuilding £3.10s.00d (£3.50p)
To new loft door and frame and new loft doors 19.s 6.d (95p)
To two pairs of hooks and band hinges and bolts 1.s 6.d (15p)
Lintel 1.s 4.d (15p)
To painting door and frame 3.s 6.d (35p)
1 new doorframe to stable with doors hung in two heights including hinges and painting £1. 19.s 0.d (£1. 90p)
To extra on encaustic tile floor to hall (deducted) instead of 6" quarry floor £2.15.s.3d (£2.76p)
To providing and putting extra taps in yard 8.s 0d. (40p)
To running 5 extra gas lights 17s/6d (86p)
Extra on gates from contract £5.0s.0d (£5)
To colouring hall and staircase £1.13s.1d (£1.66p)
Total £538.8s.11d (£538.459)
To 18 new 11x 1 extra slide ring 7s/6d (37p)
To felting out pound and building manure pit labour and materials £2. 0s. 9d (£2.5p)
To ventilating stable 5s/4d (27p)
To pre-painting and fixing handrail to back staircase 7s/6d (38p)
total £541.10s.0d (£541.50p)
November 10 by certificate £100.0.0
December 2 by certificate £100
December 23 by certificate £100
1889 January 27 by certificate £100
Total £400 Balance £141,10s. 0d (£141.50p)
Brackets indicate today's price.