John Bosworth, a local builder in Daventry, set up his business in New Street, Daventry, Northamptonshire, shared with the Blencowe family of Stonemasons, to provide construction services to the local authorities, as well as local Churches and Country Houses, Estates, particularly Cottesbrooke Hall who remained a customer for over 100 years.
Weedon Barracks by that time was no longer the Munitions and Prisoners of War depot of the Napoleonic War, but had become the principal Equitation school for the British Cavalry, the start of a long association with the Armed Forces.
Horace Wakeford (born in Basingstoke) a Surveyor with the Daventry Council, married John Bosworth's daughter Hannah and established the partnership of Bosworth & Wakeford, later incorporated into a Limited Company in 1928.
The activities of the business were expanded further afield in both Warwickshire and Northamptonshire and included management of a private water company (eg, Dodford near Weedon).
Robert (Bob) Wakeford joined his elder brother Jack Wakeford (Architect) in the family business with a degree in Civil Engineering from Imperial College seeing new opportunities in the recent Public Health Act for the construction of foul sewage treatment works and drainage schemes, particularly in rural communities. This extended the operational area of work of the business to Cheshire, East Anglia and the South Coast investing in new machinery particularly Ruston Bucyrus excavators, heavy transport and mobile offices, as well as reusable formwork made in the joinery shop. It was to become the more profitable part of the business through to the 1970s.
The 1930's brought difficult circumstances to all businesses to survive the Great Recession. Horace Wakeford used Company resources to open out the development of The Inlands housing estate in Daventry building semi-detached houses which still stand and remain very popular for their well-apportioned accommodation. This development provided valued employment to many local craftsmen during a very prolonged difficult time (a time of hardship never to be forgotten). A noted project at this time was the new Agricultural College at Moulton, all built of local Hornton stone.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, the company established links with the Army through Kineton Ordnance Depot, later extended to Central Ordnance Depot at Bicester. Other wartime services included local RAF and Army bases as well as maintenance of the Naval Gunnery workshops in Coventry throughout the duration of the Coventry Blitz. This was a key facility for the repair of naval gun turrets brought to the works by train for overhaul and repair. After the War, the naval paint Battleship Grey became the livery of the Construction Business because of its durability when restoring machinery and vehicles requisitioned for wartime use.
Wartime activities extended southwards to High Wycombe including Bletchley Park and eastwards into Lincolnshire with the establishment of the branch at Grantham to serve Army and Air Force bases in Lincolnshire.
There was a Company reconstruction to separate out the property investment and development activities from the principal construction business and, at that time, Stepnell Estates also became the owner of Malabar Farm at Daventry purchased from the Badby House Estate.
A headline project in the mid-1950s was the construction of Seawalls at Waxham on the Norfolk coast following the disastrous floods of Winter 1951/52.
Stepnell Developments and Stepnell Properties were established to facilitate the development of the Rokeby Housing estate in Rugby. The Construction Company became known as 'Bosworth, Wakeford & Stepnell'. Horace Wakeford suggested to his sons that 'Stepnell' was an unusual name for promoting the business (a prominent Spinney on the Farm). However, as the business flourished in new areas away from Daventry, particularly further south, it was soon abbreviated to “Stepnell” (who was that man?) and so the decision was made to adopt that name solely for the Construction Business.
Brackley Builders was acquired in 1975, a small family Banbury business with good staff and some housing land assets of which the Rydes Development at Bodicote (Banbury) was the most successful.
The Yard at Wantage (Grove) was also purchased at that time to serve Building Contracts in the Oxford area for the MOD and also the Atomic Energy Authority at Aldermaston, Harwell and Rutherford Laboratories.
This office has grown to be our main base for operations around Oxfordshire, the M40 corridor, Reading and the surrounding area.
We have developed the office to be a base for our operations in Dorset and it continues to provide strong levels of customer service and delivery to our long standing customer base as well as new clients.
Brackley Investments was established as a developer of primary care facilities utilising City funding (not PFI) for leasehold developments which resulted in over 100 such premises being built in different parts of the country until Government support for privately funded primary care premises lapsed.
Early 1990 also saw the need for an operational base at Poole where a good client base was soon established for Military contracts and Dorset Council.
The acquisition of George Law Limited took place in 1999, a specialist Civil Engineering company based in Kidderminster whose principal clients were Severn Trent Water Authority, British Waterways as well as the local private Railway Company. However, not long after, Severn Trent changed their policy for construction operations favouring national contractors only, and similarly British Waterways Board restructured their construction procurement from two national contractors. Whilst it proved difficult to sustain a specialist civil engineering business in consequence, the business successfully financed and completed a secondary school at Whitecross, Hereford through the Private Finance Initiative.
In 2011 the entire business was restructured with shareholders no longer engaged in the business being bought out.
2014 saw the establishment of a new base at Eldon Park, Nottingham strengthening the presence in the East Midlands, closing 'the wartime' Grantham branch due to the reduced opportunities for work in that area. This geographical relocation was shortly followed by the acquisition of a new administration office at Chandlers Ford, to become the principal administrative base for the south coast, whilst the operational base was retained at Poole to support an effective direct works team servicing the local Dorset communities in that area.
This is the main office on the South Coast, providing a base for all our teams across the South with a growing portfolio of projects across Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire.
This is now a thriving and growing regional base with a strong management team and a good track record of work in Bristol, Bath and the surrounding areas.
The opportunities now offered by Frameworks is enabling the company to restore and resume construction work in the public sector both for local government and national public authorities, very much the traditional historical work base of Stepnell, now also including Design/Build services where requested. Our strategy of securing a place on national and/or regional frameworks is paying dividends, with success on SCAPE and Southern Construction Framework (SCF) adding to our ever growing presence on the construction industry’s most relevant frameworks across our breadth of geography. In addition our repeat work across both the public & private sector now stands at 72%. Our services are in demand across multiple sectors and across all six of our offices.