History

The roots of this company, and in particular its involvement in steel, stretch back over a century to a time when two Belgian businessmen, a Mr Kyn and a Mr Lahy setting up KandL Steelfounders in Letchworth in 1917.

This operation was taken over by George Cohen Machinery (GCM 600) in 1928 and went to produce the world famous JONES cranes, including dozens of cranes mounted on the Mulberry harbours used at D-Day. The originally separate IRON FAIRY crane range was absorbed and continued  in right up until the early 1990’s.

In 1997 Southdown Engineers Ltd took over the support, repair, rebuild and spare parts business, which we continue to do so for an international client base.

The current Managing Director, Sean Donald Preston, family has been involved with transporting goods by road, originally with horses based around agriculture and are recorded as Ploughmen and Carters, for as many generations as can be traced and from at least the 19th century.

In 1991 Sean and his late father, Don, Southdowns founding Director, moved to the site of our current base and focussed on the repair and maintenance of HGV’s.

Don Preston began his working career as a fitter/driver and quickly progressed to operating the biggest earth moving kit in the business. He was always very proud of his time spent working on infrastructure projects as varied as the M1 motorway, Spaghetti Junction (M6), thousands of kilometres of gas storage and transmission pipelines including large sections through the rugged mountains and marshlands of Wales  and water management projects such as Ardingly reservoir. He was regularly involved in moving machinery weighing 70 + tonnes using the pre motorway road network of Britain in the 1960’s and it was a challenge he relished. In 1972 he bought his first truck of his own, primarily for site work.

In 1997 Southdown Engineers Ltd was registered as a limited company and it put its first beavertail truck with a HIAB crane on the fleet.

In 2001 we started www.roadplatehire.co.uk, which under the Southdown umbrella, has gone on to become the world’s foremost provider of road crossing and trench plates.

In addition, our expanding and evolving trucking fleet now means we have one of the most comprehensive ranges of Lorry loading Crane/self loading/off loading transport businesses in the region. Currently operating around 30 trucks, trailers, forklifts and associated support vehicles which are an invaluable asset to the blossoming hire business.