After many years travelling from farm to farm as a journeyman blacksmith, it was in 1906 that Robert Bunning finally decided to settle in the village of Gressenhall, ideally situated in the heart of rural Norfolk, England.
Here at this location he opened the doors of his new smithy tending to the needs of local farmers, as a skilled farrier, renowned within his profession and highly decorated having won many awards and trophies.
It was in 1925 that he was joined by his son George Thomas Bunning whose initials form the business name as it is today. George followed in his father’s footsteps, also becoming an accomplished blacksmith. They continued to service the community for many years, thriving throughout the forties and fifties. As the need for horsepower in farming gradually diminished, the diversification into general agricultural repairs seemed a natural progression for what was to evolve into a strong family concern. During the late fifties, George’s son David had joined the business and the first farm trailer was developed and manufactured in 1959.
In 1962 John Bunning joined his father and brother, followed by Robin Bunning in 1969. Expansion was gradual, largely driven by local demand. Regular manufacture of trailers commenced thereafter as farming was becoming increasingly more mechanised. Demand was strong and new product lines were introduced to include a range of slurry tankers, water and fuel bowsers. Rapid expansion was required to fulfil orders. The site had grown to approximately 5 acres with new factory workshops being erected to house an ever increasing workforce. It was in 1987 that John Bunning designed the first Bunning manure spreader which became the company’s signature product.
“David had bought a small farm next to where he lived,” recounts John, “and had begun doing some agricultural contracting work. He’d bought a couple of manure spreaders but they kept breaking down and I said “I’ll make you one that will last.
“It was shown to a number of local farmers who all wanted one and mine was sold. I never did get that spreader” jokes David.
George Bunning retired in 1982 leaving Robin, David and John as partners and in 1995 the firm was incorporated as GT Bunning & Sons Ltd.
Over the next two decades Bunnings became one of the most respected manufacturers of agricultural machinery within the UK, establishing a reputation for both quality and service. Innovation and continuous product development secured an enviable presence in both home and export markets. A presence retained to the present day.
A deliberate policy was introduced to specialise purely in the manufacture of manure spreaders and so from 2010 onwards this was put into effect. Efforts were concentrated on building high performance, high quality spreaders on the market incorporating the latest of technologies.
To the present day, machines are manufactured under licence in the USA by Norwood Sales Inc. with Alpha Equipment Limited supplying the established Lowlander brand of rear discharge manure spreaders to the North American market. The Company also has a distributor network operating in Australia, South Africa, throughout Europe and the UK.
Now employing members of the fourth generation, the Bunning name remains synonymous with quality and the Company continues to actively seek new opportunities to maintain its outstanding reputation and global market footing.
Robert Bunning’s forge still remains as part of the premises today, although not operational.