About Us

In 1896 Joseph Bowles, aged 12, left school. He had decided at this young age to go into business for himself, hauling sand from Cardiff Docks, where it was delivered, to various locations around the City.

In 1896 it was necessary to be 21 years old to form a limited company and to be a director, so he persuaded his father, Frederick Bowles (the “F” of F Bowles), to do this and Joe would work for the company until he was old enough to take over from his father. The name ‘F Bowles and Sons Limited’ was kept in the name of his father as a sign of his appreciation for his father’s help in setting up the business due to Joe’s young age. The business was a great success and a few years later his only handcart was sold and he purchased a horse drawn cart (and a horse!).

Just after the turn of the Century (around 1910), at the age of 26, Joe decided that he did not want to continually buy sand from other sand suppliers and haul their sand around the City.  He was now living in a house overlooking the Bristol Channel and from his home he was able to see the sand that was exposed at low tide in the middle of the Channel.  He had the idea that if he waited for the tide to go out he could get to the sand by boat, shovel it on board and bring his own sand into Cardiff to sell.

So that is what he did. He bought a sailing boat and employed some men to sail with him to the sandbank, anchor the boat and wait for the tide to go out. The boat then settled onto the sandbank. With the tide out, he and his workers were able to put ladders over the side of the boat and use shovels to put the sand into buckets. The other workers who remained on the boat hauled the buckets into the boat and tipped the sand into the hold.  Once empty, they would throw the buckets on ropes down again for the men on the sandbank to fill them up once more. This was repeated until the boat’s hold was full. They then boarded the boat and waited for the tide to come in.

A few years after this Joe purchased a steel boat with an engine and had it converted to use a pump to suck up the sand into its hold. This was the start of what is now a worldwide business of suction dredging.

Today, of course, the huge corporations around the world employ this method using enormous ships.  Organisations worldwide who use Trailing Suction Dredgers should think back to Joe over 100 years ago. He was one of, if not the first, person to start getting sand from the sea.

In the 1960s ‘F Bowles and Sons’ became ‘British Dredging PLC’ and the company opened new depots  (wharfs) all over the UK.  It also expanded into Europe and had wharfs in Holland, Belgium and France.

 In the 1980s British Dredging was sold to Ready Mixed Concrete, then to an Irish company.  It was then sold to Cemex who today use many of the former British Dredging Wharfs from where they operate their suction dredgers.

The ‘F Bowles and Sons’ company fell into disuse after British Dredging Plc came into being and so today decedents of Joe Bowles have decided to resurrect the company and use it to continue on from where Joe left it before it was sold.

BDC Aggregates Limited

Barry Plant
Atlantic Way
Dock 2
Barry
Vale of Glamorgan
CF63 3RA

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Tel :
01446 738448

Email :
info@bdcaggregates.com

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