For almost one hunderd and forty years John Mason International has been helping people move their goods. The founder of the company was a lady called Mary Mason. Back in 1884 it was highly unusual for a woman to run a company, let alone start one – making Mary Mason one of the world’s first female entrepreneurs!
Mary had previously helped her husband John with his carting business – experience which proved very useful for her new venture. She had noticed a need for a coal merchant and removal contractor in the area and so established the business from her home, 85 High Street, Wavertree. More than 130 years later, the company is still thriving – expanding and providing quality moving services. Below provides some insight into the rich history that the company has. Click here to download a complete history from 1884 to 2023 of John Mason International
1884 – 1900
The company was founded in 1884 by Mrs Mary Mason in Wavertree, a township then on the outskirts of Liverpool. Before starting out on her own Mary Mason had earlier helped her husband John in his carting business. When Mary’s son, also John, began helping her in 1887 coal deliveries became the main activity. In 1890 Mary’s, by then, 17 year old son took over and expanded the business into a general carrying. In that same year a contract was signed with a local company that was to last for 68 years.
John Mason had seen the need for a general carrying service and though at first he had only a pony and cart he expanded the small business by offering to carry anything anywhere. The firm’s early records show that a wide variety of goods were carried including laundry to and from the large houses of the wealthy merchants who then lived in the residential districts of Wavertree and Woolton. One of the early contracts was to carry laundry for the Liverpool School for the Blind between its Wavertree and Liverpool establishments that contract would be held until 1958 when the city establishment was closed.
John Mason married Mary Hannah Baker in 1897 and from then on she assisted her husband with the clerical and book keeping work she would later continue to do for her sons in their turn.
Soon more vehicles and heavier horses were acquired. Furniture vans were built to John Mason’s requirements.
From the small firm’s base at 85 High Street, the Mason family home, the first long distance removals were undertaken in 1900 using horse-drawn vehicles. Early customers included the Anglo American Oil Company which would become Esso, the Cheshire Lines Railway Company and the English Margarine Works.
When work started on the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in 1904 the aptly named John Mason carried much of the carved stonework for Morrisons Ltd, the firm given the contract to build the Cathedral. Soon the firm’s activities had extended not only to Liverpool but to Manchester, many parts of Lancashire, Cheshire and North Wales using horsedrawn vehicles, whilst longer distances, those over 50 miles, were covered by rail.
The city of Liverpool was growing and as new districts were being developed contracts were obtained from the City Corporation to carry material to and from the new roads being constructed around the rapidly expanding city. John Mason was a man of great energy and enterprise never afraid of hard work – if necessary doing so round the clock. He also had a great passion for horses and his only hobby was buying and selling them for himself and for others. John Masons judgement was so respected that he bought and sold horses for a number of the principal dock contractors, and Lord Sefton even entrusted him with commissions to buy horses on his behalf. John would regularly spend a day each month at the Craven Arms Horse Repository and he was also keen on entering his horses in agricultural shows where his horses won many prizes.
By the outbreak of the first world war in 1914 John Mason had built up a thriving firm engaged in coal retailing, general haulage and household removals and, although the shortage of horses during the war, would restrict business John’s astuteness ensured that the business did not falter.
In 1917 the business moved to 127, High Street, Wavertree gaining more space for both warehousing and stabling for the firm’s horses John and Mary Mason’s eldest son, Leslie, born in 1904 entered the business in his early teens, he would play a full part in the firm for almost fifty years. Leslie had shown an early interest in the business from childhood and at the age of only 12 was already helping by driving a pony and wagon like his father before him; by the age of 16 Leslie was driving a team of horses helping to overcome the wartime manpower shortage and enabling him to learn the business from a practical point of view.
In 1921, when the first motor vehicle was acquired, an Albion, it had solid tyres and a chain drive. Although more motor vehicles would be steadily added to the fleet horse transport would still be the main form of transport for some time, and more horses continued to be bought for many years. It would not be until almost the outbreak of the second world war that all horse-drawn vehicles would be replaced by motor vans, platform vehicles and lift vans. Meanwhile with the increasing help of Leslie Mason the business developed and its reputation for good workmanship and the personal attention and courtesy of its employees became ever more widely known.
By 1926 the first lift vans for rail were bought and overseas removals agents were appointed to look after the firm’s interests abroad. A year before the outbreak of the second world war in 1938 John Mason’s second son Stanley joined the business. Born in 1921 Stanley would play a major role in developing the company but his practical training involving driving and packing was interrupted in 1941 by him being called up to serve in the Merchant Navy for the duration of the war.
As in the first world war domestic moves were much reduced, though contracts gained from the government helped keep the business going despite both a manpower shortage and petrol rationing. The second world war which brought to an end the era of the horse-drawn vehicle saw the firm’s motorised vehicles being called up for war service. One of the many interesting jobs undertaken was the continuous removal of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s instruments around the country enabling it to continue to give regular performances. The orchestra gave many concerts to troops and civilians during the war years; Mason’s driver Bill Clarke was never late for a concert even though he had to contend with all the hazards of the black out and enemy bombing.
During the war ‘Masons’ did vital work evacuating schools, institutions, government departments, commercial and industrial concerns and homes. Munitions and other war equipment were carried, whilst to meet the call for decentralisation extra warehouses were acquired on the outskirts of the city and at Penmaenmawr, in North Wales, for furniture storage.
Each evening Mason vehicles reported for duty at Civil Defence and Fire Posts. During the intense bombing of Liverpool the Mason team played its part.
The end of the war brought with it the enormous problems of rebuilding after the destruction of the blitz. Industry and commerce had to be reorganised to meet the needs of the post-war world. The Mason brothers, with hard work and foresight, made great progress. Large office removals were undertaken and a considerable contribution made to the transport services required by the vast rebuilding programme which would take place. Weeks of pre-planning were necessary in some cases for the removals of private and government offices to ensure the minimum disruption of office routine, and several had to be undertaken at weekends. Many hundreds of tons of files, papers and office equipment were involved in one of the largest moves during which the Inland Revenue, Ministry of Food and other Ministerial offices were moved from LLandudno to London.
In 1948 a daily removal service from Liverpool to London was started; London depot facilities would be eventually acquired from FL Pettman Ltd to facilitate distribution in the London area and return loading and by 1950 the company became one of the founder members of FIDI – the Worldwide Federation of International Furniture Removers. John Mason, who had retired at the end of the war, died in 1953 after which Leslie and Stanley became managing directors jointly running what was now a company. In 1948 the business had grown to such an extent that the private limited company of John Mason (Wavertree) Ltd had been formed with John and Mary Mason and their sons Leslie and Stanley as its directors. To ensure reliability all vehicles had always to be kept in first class condition so that delivery promises could be honoured. Now the fleet and equipment would be kept constantly up to date by the purchase of new vehicles.
Steady expansion of Mason’s service was made to cover the whole of the United Kingdom. During 1955 a daily removal service to Ireland using the Preston/Larne Roll on-Roll off ferry commenced and, combined with the daily Liverpool/London service, offered the quickest route available from the capital to Ireland. Mason’s would be one of the first removal firms to use the ferry service from Preston, and at the time the only firm in the north west offering an almost daily service to Ireland of articulated trailer vans, a service offering considerable savings in packing and handling costs since loading on and off the ferry by cranes was no longer needed.
To give a more local service in Cheshire in 1955 Leslie and Stanley became directors of B Dudley & Sons Ltd Removers of Bebington, a firm established in 1869 and both companies worked in close association. In 1959 Dudley’s would be taken over completely by Masons. By the closing years of the 1950s Masons, in association with four reputable South of England firms, had also established a network of distribution routes serving the Midlands, the South West, the South East and the South of England as well as many parts of Wales, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
In 1959 a new 16,000 sq. ft warehouse was opened in Wavertree, built to the company’s specifications and specially designed and constructed to store customers’ effects with the highest possible degree of safety. By 1962 the continued growth of the company resulted in the purchase of a 36,000 sq. ft warehouse in Kirkby. The company launched into the antique shipping business which required large consolidation and storage facilities. By 1967 a further 2,000 sq. ft warehouse was acquired bringing the company’s total Merseyside facilities to 72,000 sq.ft.
Stanley Mason was elected President of the Overseas Division of the British Association of Removers in 1965.
Sadly 1971 began with Leslie Mason’s death, following which Stanley’s wife, Jean, joined her husband as a director; they were joined in 1972 by their eldest son Paul.
In 1974 the company joined Eurovan, a consortium of around 180 mainly privately owned international removals companies and by 1977 a record volume of antique shipping was recorded – some 250 ISO containers were packed and despatched from the company’s warehouses. By 1982 that success was consolidated with a record year for inter-continental removals: over 400 containers were exported winning the company the Eurovan ‘Biggest Booker’ award.
The following year, in April 1983, Stanley Mason died and his son Paul now joined his mother Jean as a director of the company.
More than a century of successful trading has been achieved not only through the hard work of the directors but very much because the company has always enjoyed a completely loyal and hard working staff. Their contribution above all else has played the central role in the growth and development of the business. It was in that spirit that the firm entered its second century in 1984.
In 1989 all the company’s local activities were transferred to Wilson Road, Huyton whilst a new warehouse and offices were opened in Croydon.
2000- Present Day
In 2016, the company moved from their Southern location from Croydon to a new warehoue in Hemel Hempstead providing the company with much improved transport links, better placed to serve trade customers across the south. The new site also provided the firm with the option to expand should they require additional storage facilities.
Today international removals, as well as commercial and household moves and storage are at the core of the firm’s business. The prestigious removal firm Mason’s currently facilitates over 8,000 removals each year across the globe.
From a single horse and cart and undertaking only local work, during the course of many decades the firm of John Mason International Ltd has grown into a major player on the world stage for overseas removals. But despite its massive growth the firm has still managed to retain the virtues of a small family firm: flexibility, a genuine appreciation of its employees and an unswerving commitment to meeting its clients’ needs. In 2021 a new family took ownership of the company with a passion for excellent customer service.
Over the years the company have moved people from all walks of lives, from members of the Royal family, Hollywood fim stars, Rock and roll singers and sports mega stars. With the company strengths direction focused more and more on international moving, the company slowly reduced the amount of domestic and European moving services.
The early passing of Paul Mason resulted in his children and fifth generation Mason family members Simon and Caroline Mason join Paul’s wife Vivian on the board taking over the company in 2014.
In late 2015, the company had outgrown it’s southern based premises and moved to Hemel Hempstead. Hemel Hempstead provided the company with much improved transport links and better placed to serve trade customers across the south.
In April 2016, John Mason International launched a pet relocation service, as part of its comprehensive offering. This was followed up with the launched of an FX currency service and cost effective baggage shipping service, ideal for customers who are only moving a small quantity of items. 2016 also saw the company become one of the first in the world to offer video surveys to its customers.
In 2017 Vivian Mason retired and Simon and Caroline Mason become soul owners of John Mason International Ltd. Over the next few years the current generation of the Mason family increasingly stepped away from any day-to-day involvement, with their priorities focusing on family and their own careers. Noel Briscoe, Managing Director, Ken Crane, Finance Director and Simon Hood, Sales and Marketing Director continued to steer the ship in their absence. However it became apparent that ultimately for the business to thrive in the future it would need long term ownership that was much more engaged and hands on thus the Mason family started to explore options to exit and sell the company.
In late March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the company hard, resulting in the company closing the doors as the company with put into a national lockdown. The majority of the staff were furloughed, with just the import department remaining working. Slowly as the country came out of national lockdown the company started to kick start again with it’s export department opening up fully in June 2020 and staff starting to return to work, with many working from home.
In February 2021, a new family took ownership of the company with a passion for excellent customer service. Simon Hood, long time friend of the Masons and who had joined the company in 2016, purchased the company in a Management Buy Out from the Mason Family.
The company continues to grow from strength to strength and in January 2023, John Mason International became the UK’s most trusted international moving company after becoming the first UK moving company to achieve the IAMTrusted Moving Company (ITMC) status.
Each year we now help move over 10,000 people around the world with our top shipping destinations being Australia, New Zealand, UAE, Canada and the USA. We’re not the biggest moving company but that just make us work even harder for you. Our team are some of the most experienced international moving specialists you could hope for and they manage thousands of tailored worldwide moves each year, for all kinds of people (we even do it on behalf of other moving companies). We value being part of your new start and look forward to making your move with John Mason International the best decision you’ve ever made.
Wherever you go, you’re at the centre of our world