85 Years in Business

Northern Energy is proudly celebrating its history, with 85 years in business. The business remains family-run by the Illingworths.

Here we look at some key moments in the history of Northern Energy


Ralph Robinson was in Clint Bank Lane. As he waited for the train, he noticed an upset dairy farmer stood next to his horse and cart at the station. The farmer relied on the train to make his milk deliveries to the dairy. Seeing a business opportunity, Ralph tiurned to the farmer and asked “Would you allow me to come and collect your milk from your farm and take it to the dairy for you?” And so Ralph's delivery business begins.


The milk business was now fully established. Ralph now had a number of different dairy farms he was making regular deliveries to the Leeds Dairy for. Ralph realised he could maximise profits by bringing coal to the farms from Leeds on his return journey. This is where the energy element of the business began.


Ralph realised he need help to the run the expanding business at this point. Ralph asked son-in-law John Illingworth to join him and help run operations. During the second world war petrol had been pooled, but petrol companies were now free to market their brands of fuel again. Major petroleum companies were on the look out for independent petrol distributors when they met Ralph and John...


Esso were impressed at the many farming  contacts the business had made.They approached Ralph to ask if he would be interested in delivering agricultural oil to rural businesses. This lead to a rapid growth in the business and the need for larger premises. Ralph and John purchased farm buildings just outside Hampsthwaite, for £1,500. The business still operates from here today.


Robinsons Petroleum took over former ESSO Petroleum premises, the Railway Goods yard at Bedale to give Ralph and John more office space to operate from.


After leaving school at 15, David Illingworth (John’s eldest son) joined the business as an apprentice mechanic.


Ralph decided to sell the milk element of the business to the Milk Marketing Board shortly before retiring.


Howard Illingworth joined the business after working for a local accountancy firm - Hayton, Smith & Dewar.


The name of the company was changed to RPD Fuels and Lubricants.


RPD Fuels and Lubricants purchased Durham Petroleum Distributors.


Steve Walmsley joined the business and helped develop an LPG cylinder department in Bedale. The oil company expands North, taking on Hexham and Tynemouth areas from Northern Farmers Oils. John's youngest son Mark Illingworth joined the sales department at this time.


The most significant investment in the company’s history took place here, when a decision was made to expand the LPG business into the bulk market. The business commissioned a £150,000 LPG plant at Bedale.


John Illingworth retired in November of this year. Howard Illingworth became Managing Director with (brothers) David Illingworth running Operations and Mark Illingworth in Sales.


A 32 year partnership with ESSO came to an end due to a change in market conditions. A new relationship with French supplier TOTAL is developed.


RPD Fuels and Lubricants has a name change to Northern Energy Supplies. This was to reflect the diversification into new energy markets. Northern Energy Supplies became an independent re-seller.


Northern Energy Supplies entered the natural gas market trading as Northern Gas Supplies.


Northern Energy Supplies offered customers a 'dual fuel' solution by entering the electricity market.


After 7 years growing the Gas and Electricity business and gaining more than 25,000 customers, it was decided the business was sold to D-Valley Water.


Northern Energy Supplies expanded into the Skipton area by acquiring Silsden Fuels.


LPG Homeheat was formed. This was to take advantage of deregulation in the domestic LPG market. Howard’s eldest son, James Illingworth, joined the company to concentrate on this business.


Ted Illingworth (Howard’s youngest son), leaves school and joins the Northern Energy Supplies sales team.


After spending 5 years in Logistics for various Blue Chip companies in London, Howard’s middle son, Stuart Illingworth joins the business.


'Northern LPG North West' and 'Northern LPG Scotland' were formed to establish LPG operations further north.

And the future...

Northern Energy strives to be the best independent energy provider in the North of England. The business continues to evolve through the digital age, making communication with customers easy and convenient. Northern Energy takes pride in it’s various social media outlets and informative website.