Originally, in 1785, the site was a farm, or small enclosure which was known by the name of Aincross. Based on Rishton Moor, there was a house, a meadow and a pasture. Near to this small farm, only about 9 acres in total size, ran the two streams that fed the canal reservoir, running from Cowhill and crossing a rough track which later became Blackburn Road. It was about the time of the building of the canal reservoir that the house was renovated or even rebuilt. This was 1828.
Because of the Sand Quarrying that took place here in the 19th Century, the house became known as Sandholes.
In 1909 it is recorded that the house was occupied by John Plant, a descendant of a Buckinghamshire Family, and in 1928 George Plant started a business there.
The Plant family moved from Steeple Clayden in Buckinghamshire about 1875, George was born prior to this move in 1873. The family lived on Henry Street in the town.1
The owner was a spare time wheelwright and became interested in cart bodywork repairs and eventually cars. The farm was converted and replaced.
By 1939 the house was known as Reservoir house, and it wasn't until the 1980's that the house was finally demolished. Part of the factory is now built on the site of the house.
An application was submitted for the storage of petrol on the 8th November 1951, under the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act, 1928, from Mr. G. Plant, Reservoir Garage. A licence was granted.
At the turn of the year 2000, the site was occupied by substantial modern buildings, and inside was found vehicles varying from diesel lorries to vintage cars. There were also 8 coaches available for hiring.
30 people were employed during the 1960’s, 8 of these from Rishton.
The garage served a radius of 10 miles, now it is a multi national company serving coach and body builders from across the UK. It is well situated for trade with Blackburn and Accrington. Few raw materials are needed; iron ore is delivered by road from Manchester and paint from Blackburn and Darwen.
There has been expansion and showrooms have been built, and the filling station, once on lease has now been incorporated in the firm. During the early 1980’s the petrol station was demolished and the engineering premises expanded even further.
George Plant died at 78 years of age, about 1980, after running Plants Motor Bodies for over 50 years. It was just 12 months before his death that the company was sold to Warwick and Bailey, George always staying closely involved with the running of the Company.
George Plant had lived in Whalley Road Wilpshire for his last few years and he died in Withington Hospital, Manchester after undergoing a major operation. His wife Elizabeth had only just passed away herself, in the preceding February, while their son Ronald, who had helped them in the business had died two years previously at the age of 52.
Even with full employment, work could only be found for about 50 employees during the 1960’s but today at the turn of the millennium, it is one of Rishton’s biggest employers, taking people from all the surrounding areas.
As of 2001, the company also deals with a lot of wagon refurbishments. It is now known as Wheelbase Engineering.
June 2003 saw the end of 94 years of association of the business and Rishton when the property went up for sale due to expansion. The new location in August 2003 is in Shadsworth, and in December 2004 renovation work started on part of the property for the new owners.
11881 Census Records for Rishton
A North east Lancashire Town by Marian Sleigh