Upsizing, downsizing, cross-town, cross-country: moving house is well-documented to be eye-fizzingly stressful. Or maybe you’re just moving stuff. You know, that late night ebay surf where you spotted that incredibly cheap Welsh dresser except it’s in Inverness and you are in Southampton and how the hell is it going to migrate? You need a man. One with a van. Cheerful, capable, honest and careful. A mover not a shaker. To set your mind – and your stuff – at rest.
You will notice immediately, because you are beady, that we haven’t included prices in most entries. Every move is so different – loads, time, distance. So get an individual quote. Most movers are busier and pricier at the end of the week, the end of the month and during the summer holidays. Always – no matter how terrible you are at the haggle – see if they’ll shave a bit off their quote. They usually will. Particularly if you’re nice about it even though you’re deranged with stress. Honey, guys, not vinegar. Good luck.
1. Legend with a Lorry: The Removal Man
Ah Fernando. Nothing rattles this man. He’ll cart a table across London for a song, if the timing’s right. Or he’ll drive 400 miles across the country to help four sisters, all of whom live in tiny flats, pack up their parents’ huge family home into the back of his lorry. And even though when he arrives at the tiny flats and realises that fitting a beloved and enormous garden statue and chunky farmhouse table was pathetic fantasy, he still manages (after an intake of breath) a, “No problem, we can do this.” He’s huge and, he tells us, can lift a piano singlehandedly. His man and van prices are great value, starting at £34 an hour and they do Ikea pick-ups, ebay buys etc. Long live love, Fernando.
Contact: 07872 529 903 / www.theremovalman.co.uk
2. The M&S of Movers: Bishops Move
The big boys. Not the cheapest but they’re reliable, speedy and if anything goes wrong Head Office will sort it, refunds and all. You do need to crack the whip as they’ll try the old-dump-and-run ruse until you remind them that yes, you paid for the unpacking option, you do want them to unwrap every glass and yes, up on that top shelf there. One Midult says, “We found their efficiency could be overwhelming. They wrapped our kitchen bin complete with the week’s rubbish and brought it in all its glory to the new house.” If you have money to throw at your move this lot will deliver the goods.
Contact: 0800 107 8422 / www.bishopsmove.com
3. The Challenge-Me Champ: Ecowood Moves
Imagine how a small army would move your house. Say hello to Frank. An ex-Army man. When he says he likes a challenge we believe him. Nothing is a problem. He does house moves all over the UK and beyond (London, Paris, Monaco, Milan, even Hawaii). And Peckham, he points out. He’s bad at saying no, and that’s how he came to be doing this. He had a van for his flooring business but his mates kept asking him to help them shift their stuff. He couldn’t say no. Now he’s more house moves than flooring. He moves everything from fine art for Bonhams to transporting the Teletubbies. He’s down-to-earth and honest and his top tips are: “Don’t pay for the unpacking option, you’ll never know where you want things to go. And always get three quotes. I might not be the guy for you.” We think you are, Frank.
Contact: 07927 256 780 / www.ecowood.co.uk
4. Upmarket Movers: Anthony Ward Thomas
What do you when you realise the removal guys you hired have been trying on your clothes and stealing your shoes? You spend £500 on a van and start moving stuff yourself. If you’re Anthony Ward Thomas, anyway. Fast forward 30 years and he has more than 95 trucks, 300 employees and a highly regarded business. They’re not the cheapest (with an HQ in Chelsea, who would be?) but you get what you pay for, we hear. This lot are old school. Most of their employees are old-timers so they know what they’re doing and care about doing a good job. Efficient and friendly too, we’re told. They’ve moved Boris Johnson, Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom. They moved the Archbishop of Canterbury out of Lambeth Palace too. And if they can move HIM without being tempted to try on his clothes, we reckon you’re safe.
5. Declutter dons: Big Red Removals
We love the clear-your-crap option with these guys. They’ll do a pre-move clear out where they’ll come over days before moving day and clear away any stuff you don’t want, then take it to the tip, to charity or recycle it. Hell, we love the sound of that, even if we aren’t moving. Our source has used them a few times and says you need to crack the whip or they can pull the whole, ‘Oh did you want us to unpack?’ while pegging it down the street. But they’re au fait with every moving dilemma and think nothing of calling in a crane or taking out a window to get your furniture in, if it won’t fit up the stairs and so on. If you’re going for the basic man and van option, it’s just £40 for 2 hours.
Contact: 0207 228 7651 / www.bigredremovals.com
6. The Family Affair: Rogers Removals
Another accidental mover: when Dennis Rogers left the Navy back in 1969 he bought himself a van to deliver fruit and veg to pubs. People started asking him to help move their stuff and over 45 years later Dennis junior runs the show with 11 vans and 35 staff. He’s the most reliable, straight-talking chap you’ll find this side of a packing box. Storage rates are good (half the price of Big Yellow) too. Loads of their clients are in North London and just want to move across town, though our source was moving out to the sticks and they recently did a big move to Columbia. So anything goes. They moved Liam Gallagher last year and last week it was Mary Portas. And if they’re good enough for the Queen of Shops…
Contact: 0208 368 7779 / www.rogersremovals.co.uk
7. Any Dude, Anytime, Anywhere: Anyvan.com
We’ve used this lot for shifting the odd chest of drawers, a few boxes from North to South and generally anything we couldn’t fit in the car. Also good for impulsive but impractical online buys you can’t get home (the French linen cupboard on Gumtree was only 10 minutes down the road and such useful storage and so pretty… except we didn’t have a car). You might be charged around £65 to ferry a wardrobe from Salisbury to London which isn’t bad once you’ve taken off the cost of petrol, coffee and probable parking ticket you’d have gotten trying to go and collect the thing yourself.
Contact: 0203 005 6000 / www.anyvan.com
8. Mr and Mrs Mover: Alexander Removals
A husband and wife team who pride themselves on being everything a big international removal company lacks; personal, stress-free service with a truck-load of common sense is their thing. They’ve taken on stately homes, schools, factories and embassies. You’re probably none of those, but they’ll tackle anything. They recently moved huge statues to various points around the City of London for the Italian Embassy at 5 am one morning. When it comes to house moves their mission is to make it frazzle-free – they recently did a move where mother and baby slept through most of the packing.
Contact: 0333 800 2323 / www.alexandersgroup.co.uk
9. Old-School Shifters: Durrants Removals
Talk about being on it like a truck bonnet. These chaps pitched up to a big house on moving day, ready to start stacking it all in the lorry when the clients suddenly announced there were cellars. Three cellars. With stuff in them. Oh and a full loft too. The sort of thing that would have lesser movers flapping, scratching, shaking heads and dragging feet. Tutting. Calls to the boss. Not these guys. They just got stuck in. Our source was impressed. And relieved. Most of the guys have been working for Durrants for years so they have all the good stuff like pride in their work and know-how. Nearly all their work is repeat business and they’re a good mix of old-school values without the eye-watering prices.
Contact: 01293 852 228 / www.durrantremovals.com
10. Cheap n’ Cheerful Chaps: The Man and Van Company
Great if you’re trying to move one or two big items or do a bigger move on a tight budget. There’s a cheapskate option where they rock up with a van and you load it and unload at the other end for £20 an hour. Or you can pay more to have them unload for you, reassemble furniture and so on. These guys work it all through their website. They’ll take bookings for the next day and their prices are great. Ideal for carting a piece of furniture across town without paying an arm and a table leg. But the move needs to be either from or to London. They do whole house moves, though we’d use them for the small stuff.
Contact: 0203 397 7017 / www.themanandvancompany.com
11. West Country Lads: The Small Move Company
They’re reliable. They’re family owned. Based in the West Country, these guys call a packing box a packing box. Don’t be fooled by their name, they started out small but these days they’re more about the big moves. You’ll have problems convincing them to shift a lonely item of furniture but house moves are definitely up their strasse. Obstacles like pianos and large bits of furniture that won’t fit down the stairs are not a problem for this lot, they’re fine to call in a lifting machine or remove a window to get things out and so on.
Contact: 01179 827 852 / www.thesmallmovecompany-bristol.com
12. The Uber of Van Men: Man and Van London
An online taxi service for your stuff: You book online, you pay online. Our source used it for a chest of drawers she bought on ebay. They were on time, efficient, and handy when it turned out that the chest wouldn’t fit up the stairwell. They tried everything then came up with a complicated plan involving a blanket and taking the legs off. Even when it slipped from the pre-booked one hour to over two, they were cheery, dogged and had an impressive repertoire of problem solving skills up their sleeves.
Contact: 0208 466 0640 / www.manandvanlondon.com
13. Shire horses: Yorkshire Movers
We love that they say on their website ‘Even did a continental house removal!’. So your big move to Hong Kong might be a step too far but if you’re doing a smaller move in the UK or want bits transported from A to B, Ophir is your man in the North. He’s moved a flying machine. A dressing table for a Katy Perry interview. And hair samples rumoured to be Yeti hair. So he can cope with most things you throw at him. He has a couple of vans and 4 or 5 guys. Just don’t call him van man. He’s trying to rebrand as Yorkshire Movers with a more upmarket website. His Twitter profile lists him as running a ‘Europe wide logistics company’. Eddie Stobart, watch out.
14. Do-it-all Deliverers: Brittania Lanes
Their website may look basic but fear not, we’re told they do a cracking job moving you with as little stress as possible. They offer the whole deal, from vans you can rent yourself for as little as £19 an hour, to the full removals service, storage and even document shredding. Based in the West Country they have the advantages of a biggish company (competitive prices) but they’re small enough to have a solid team of dependable, long term staff. Incidentally, if you want to see more of them, you can click on the website’s 10 Bare Necessities of Moving tips. Think body paint and thongs.
Contact: 01872 560 147 / www.brittanialanes.co.uk
15. Upwardly Mobile: Gentleman and Van
With these guys – sorry gentlemen – you get van prices but a more corporate, less I’m-being-fleeced-but-too-scared-to-say service. One Midult says, “We used them when we’d bought a kids’ playhouse on Gumtree. It was built better than our own house. A nightmare to pull apart. Worse to rebuild at the other end. There were mutterings about roof insulation and inner membranes. While we were kicking ourselves for not buying an Argos playhouse instead, they were problem-solving, improvising and did a cracking job.” They’re professional, slick and do whole house moves too. Real houses.
Contact: 0845 226 3525 / www.gentlemanandvan.co.uk
16. Steady Solid Scots: Clark and Rose
They take themselves pretty seriously these guys (more Gordon Brown than Billy Connolly) but if you are staring down the barrel of a London to Scotland house move, this lot have been recommended twice over. From starting out as a bike shop in 1904, they’ve had 100 years to hone the art of a pain-free house move. And we’re told they’ve got it. A classic option for moves to and from (or within) Scotland, they’re based in Aberdeen but have offices in London and Paris. International moves are bread and butter for them. They’ll cost a bit more but if you want a top-of-the-range mover who will take all the stress out of your hands, they take the shortbread.
Contact: 0845 230 1906 / www.clarkandrose.co.uk
17. Movers Not Shakers: M25 Movers
Not the flashiest packers on the block but these guys get it. Their website says it all: Have you ever tried to get a service provider in London? The hassle, the promises that you know will not be kept, the 0845 number, the automated phone system, the endless wait to speak to a human being, the 10-page contract, the hidden charges, the signing your life away, the delayed arrival, the rude driver, the endless cigarette breaks, the ‘You didn’t tell us about this…’ on and on and on… M25 is small, nimble and all employees can become partial owners in the company. And in spite of their name they’ll travel countrywide. Our source (who used them more than once) loved the handyman they sent round to hang heavy pictures and mirrors. We love that they’re community minded and plough some of their profits into various charitable causes.
Contact: 0203 743 2328 / www.M25movers.co.uk
18. Kick-Ass Kiwis: Kiwi Movers
Such lovely men, we’re told. Even if you aren’t moving they’re a joy to have around the house, these cheery, strapping lads. Our source seems genuinely sad they didn’t hang around once the last box was unpacked. No matter what the move throws at the Kiwis, everything is met with a breezy ‘It’s all good, no dramas’. They offer a great package all round (no sniggering at the back) with all sorts of add-ons such as post-move cleaning, rubbish clearing and they’ll deliver single bits of furniture or do one-piece pick ups too.
Contact: 0208 877 9682 / www.kiwimovers.co.uk
19. One-Stop-Shop Site: Shiply
You know it’s the sensible grown-up thing to do, calling up three movers for quotes – but who has time? One only quotes per sq metre, the other by the hour and the third won’t answer the bloody phone. Forget it. So in comes Shiply. You put in the item, where it’s coming from and going to, and it’ll send you a list of quotes from different delivery companies. Just. Like. That. The downside is that you’re having your thing delivered by a company you probably don’t know but so long as you’re not transporting your most precious thing, you’re probably OK.
Contact: 0203 137 2454 / www.shiply.com
20. Clutter-Clearers: Easyclear
These guys are all about helping you get rid of your shit. They’ll either rock up and pick up 10 boxes you had in the garage or they’ll help you go through your things and sort them for recycling, auction, or donation. Other companies do this but they tend to just dump at the tip, or worse, fly tip. Easyclear do it all ethically and ecologically. A family business, David is in the driving seat. He’s pretty unflappable. A recent job in London for a solicitor involved clearing squatters out of the house. Then when they got in, they found hand grenades, firearms and a bottle of mustard gas. Cue bomb disposal and road blocks. Your house will be a breeze after that.
Contact: 0207 773 2000 / www.easyclear.co.uk