Boss starts career on a milk round

Fred Smith
Fred Smith
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Fred Smith has come a long way since when he was a milkman.

The founder of the Chorley-based firm Blakedale Limited is now a multi-million pound motorway entrepreneur.

Fred Smith aged 25

Fred Smith aged 25

And now he had written his autobiography Milk to Motorways, which tells the story of his life and achievements, from growing up in the 1940s and ‘50s, and his rise to the top.

Fred writes about the “accidental conception” of multi-million pound family business Blakedale, which under the guardianship of the next generation was to become the country’s biggest supplier of road marker posts as well as a major supplier of specialist self-drive hire Traffic Management Vehicles.

Although not a mainstream celebrity, Fred, 75, is no stranger to local headlines.

As well as being a successful businessman he is also a champion powerlifter and has participated in six marathons.

Fred has been lifting weights since 1960, but won his latest title in 2012 aged 69 and has broken UK records four times.

They say a strong body starts with a strong mind.

Fred’s book is crammed full of challenges met and disappointments overcome, all indicative of his overwhelming strength of character and drive.

Before his retirement Fred was a prominent figure within the highways industry and Lancashire business community.

Chance and following his instincts have played a major part in Fred’s success as is amply demonstrated in the honest and often humorous accounts of his business ventures.

Growing up on his family’s dairy farm led to a brief career as a milkman.

In 1966, Fred branched out into landscape gardening.

Five years later, Fred purchased a trenching machine that took him away from gardening and into cable laying and street lighting.

A passion for boxing also led Fred to be present at the historical Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier fight at Madison Square Gardens on March 8, 1971, an experience he also writes about in the book.

Fred returned to New York in 2009 to support Chorley boxing champion and former world welterweight title challenger Michael Jennings.

So what inspired Fred to document his memoirs? “I enjoy reading other people’s life stories and it was while reading Steve Coogan’s biography on holiday that I had the idea to write my own book,” he said.

“It took me two years to complete and I enjoyed every moment of the journey.

“Writing the early chapters felt like bringing my mum and dad back to life again.

“I would like to thank my family and friends for their support and encouragement throughout the process and also Stephen Gill of Photo-Consult for restoring so many of the photographs used in the book.”

Available on Amazon, Milk to Motorways will be of interest to those who have ever met Fred and those who know the areas of Chorley and Lancashire in which he has spent his life.

It will also appeal to anyone who has ever travelled on a motorway and wondered what goes on behind the scenes.