Started in 1983, James Brown reinvented the WH Bence legacy in Longwell Green, where it all began.  Since then, the business has expanded both its capability and its customer base, offering a variety of mobile spaces to Emergency Services, NHS and private customers.


When three of the region’s specialist vehicle companies went into receivership, putting James Brown out of work, he decided to launch his own company. Using an old coach painting shop, a bank loan, six coachbuilders and two painters, WH Bence Ltd was born.


The Bence site includes three build bays and a paint bay. A new wooden shed becomes the stores, with a Portakabin for offices. Expansion is rapid. More of the Longwell Green site becomes available, so we move our paintshop and add more building bays.


Space is again at a premium so James purchases a site close by at Armstrong Way. It’s a family affair, with his brother building the new factory on the site which opened on 4 July 1988. It’s a remarkable day as the new workshop seemed absolutely enormous, which of course it is, being three times the size of our original unit.


The panel shop was constructed in 1990 in response to changes in the construction of Bence trailer bodies. With the development of composite one piece insulated side and end panels a mechanical handling system was required to please the panel on the trailer frames. The new building was constructed with an overhead gantry to lift the panels. Initially the lifting frame was bolted onto new panels but this was not an ideal solution so the company invested in a vacuum lifting frame. The first vacuum lifting frame had to be replaced with an upgraded unit capable of lifting heavier panels.


The requirement for a standalone service department emanated from the Company developing more complicated specialised vehicles, including hydraulic slide-out sides, hydraulic levelling, lifting rooves, air conditioning, Satellite connectivity and on-board power generation.  It also became apparent that the regular maintenance requirement on our vehicles was problematic for our customers as a normal garage mechanic would not have the ability to work on vehicles of this complexity.


Bence build a new paint preparation and spray shop facility on the Armstrong Way site. This includes a low bake oven with the latest paint extraction system, high tech air-powered wall mounted gantries for our sprayers to move easily across the vehicles, and a preparation bay with the latest dust extraction equipment.


After 5 years of running the Service and Maintenance Department from our main facility and the continued demand to provide the service, Bence decided to invest in an additional property to be able to expand on this provision. The new 1.5 Acre site provided sufficient space and power hook up for up to twenty 13.6 meter trailers, as well as a new three bay trailer workshop built complete with a Rolling Road Break Tester and a service pit with a 10,000Kg vehicle lift jacking system. The workshop is used for repairs and servicing of Commercial vehicles and trailers Built and maintained by Bence. The site also benefits from and office block with seminar rooms for meetings and training plus office space showers and toilets.


Bence were approached by customers about the potential of applying our design skill to building Command and Control Trucks and trailers for the emergency services and internal security.  The size of command vehicles we have manufactured has varied in line our customers’ requirements,  from Nissan 4×4 Patrol cars to 13.6 Meter Semi Trailers.


In 2016 DEOS partnered with Bence to provide a complete service offering a greater level of support and maintenance for its customers going forward, aiming to save the Trust time and expense required to transport these files as well as reducing risk to these being lost or damaged  enroute (i.e. data security).


Due to increased demand for more complex internal and external livery schemes, creative design and innovative signage solutions on most projects we undertake here at WH Bence, in late 2018 talks began amongst our directors on establishing our own in-house creative division. This provides us and our clients the full in-house service, bringing this valuable resource under one roof allows us the ability to offer clients an exciting visual experience to complement our manufacturing expertise.