The Early Days
The Williams Group was founded in 1909, but it didn't start out as we know it today. Originally created by John Henry Williams as the Williams Wheelwright Works, the group began life as a repairer of horse-drawn vehicles for London and North Western Railways.
Originally based in Cornbrook, Manchester they moved to Trafford Street in 1922 and ventured into motor maintenance in 1926. Williams operated the first break down truck in Manchester.
In 1940 the company started to function as an army auxiliary workshop in tandem with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers who were stationed on the site.
Following the end of the Second World War, in 1948 the MoD offered the group a workshop in Fazakerley, Liverpool which continued until 1985.
Williams Motor Company Walton was established in Liverpool in 1954 and moved to Scotland Road in the 1970’s and in 1976 switched to the BMW and Citroën franchises and began trading as the Williams Motor Company, later becoming Williams Liverpool.
A first car showroom was opened in 1960 on Deansgate, which sold new and used cars under the Rootes franchise, and in 1970 Williams acquired the BMW agency in Manchester. Around this time the Williams Bodyshop moved from Trafford Street to Hadfield Street, where it remains today.
A purpose-built facility was finally built in Manchester in 1984 on Upper Brook Street and in 1985 the Deansgate Showroom became the BMW Authorised Used Car Centre.
Land Rover was added to the Williams Group in 2000, the Solus MINI showroom followed in Liverpool along with BMW Motorcycles just a year later, with Williams purchasing Howarth BMW and Howarth MINI in 2003. A £7 million exceptional facility in Rochdale opened in 2006, while in 2008 Williams was awarded BMW and MINI Dealer of the Year Awards. MINI Manchester was also awarded the Regional Dealer and National Used Car Dealer award for the fifth year in a row, and BMW Manchester scooped the National Used Car Dealer of the Year for the third consecutive year. In 2009 Williams celebrated its centenary year before acquiring David Holmes BMW and David Holmes MINI in Stockport in 2010.
In 2013 Williams highlighted its ability to cope with the needs of modern motorists, as the Liverpool and Manchester showrooms became two of the first locations of BMW electric cars in the world with the addition of BMW i cars.
More recently, the group acquired the Jaguar franchise in Manchester in 2015.