My first driving job out of the Army was with Adams Bristow, Kingston. This gave me a very broad education in transport because of the wide range of work: you can't just plonk boats and machinery on a truck and hope it stays there. Most of the jobs involved more than one truck, and so there was always an older driver with a bit of nouse to guide the greenhorns.
This picture is of a load of machinery for making tooth powder that we had collected from a dilapidated old works in Wandsworth to be installed in a brand new unit in Isleworth. The builders were still installing the brick offices inside when we arrived. There was a travelling overhead crane to unload us, and the operator gaily whizzed it down the building to where we were parked inside. What he hadn't spotted was the builders ladder resting up against all that pristine brickwork, The crane hit it, and the ladder went through the upper wall like a cheese wire. We couldn't see it, just all this hollering and crashing.
For that job I was driving the little Dennis at the rear, which had been fitted with small wheels to make it suitable for exhibition work. In those days people didn't worry so much about gearing,and it ended up witha top speed of about 35 mph. My next job with it was machinery move to Nottingham. You have no idea how far Nottingham is until you have travelled that A1 at 35mph!
The (BMC/Leyland/Austin) in front was one of those fitted with an early version of a pneumatic clutch. It was the motor I was given on my first day, parked across the entrance to the Yard, and the boss insistent that it was moved quickly to let the others out, the other drivers all standing there twiddling their thumbs and muttering. I couldn't find the clutch! I just started it in gear and got it around the corner to investigate thoroughly, and found this tiny button on the floor, like a dipswitch, and that was the clutch. A good idea, a pneumatic clutch, but in need of much more development : at that time it was either in or out: made London traffic very exciting.
The picture above is me and my Leyland(?) collecting some lathes and planers from a fifth floor factory just off Old St. Why anyone should put a factory with heavy machinery on the fifth floor is beyond me, but a job is a job!
The picture above is one of the gas pipelines where I was employed as an inspector/radiographer (bomber, in then current parlance, not a job description safe to use these days!). This is one of the uphill stretches on the South Downs very near Devil's Dyke outside Brighton. This section became so steep that a sideboom crane, as pictured, was taken to the top of the hill, the winch run out, and all the welding sets, generators, plant, even the tea-wagon, hooked together like a string of beads and dragged up as needed.
For those who might be interested, we hd a gas pipeline come through Borough Green during 2009, and my community website www.boroughgreen-news.com was given free access to take pics and allay local fears ( and because I love the machinery), but I got so many pics, and so many new friends, that a new website was needed, www.pipeliners-uk.com , also linked to a few videos on Youtube, ---- but you come back here after........
Above is a Cleveland trencher waiting at a road crossing. The man who drives this has his stove and victuals all set up inside the cab, because he works on his own, and is often far away from normal food.
I saw him parked one day near the River Adur at Henfield, sausages cooking merrily, kettle whistling, reading his paper whilst waiting for permission to dig through a farm road. Half a mile down the pipe a crew were starting to lift the pipe, continuously welded, into the trench. It slipped. I arrived, looked down the trace, and saw the sleepers that the pipe rests on being thrown into the air. When a pipe slips like this, it is as flexible as a rubber hose, and the ends can get quite a considerable whip on. I took a header over the fence, and ran for the hills.
The pipe reared up in the air, swayed back, and then shot across to hit the Cleveland sqaurely across the tracks. You would not believe that a machine that size could hop, but it did, about 6ft sideways, Paddy wasn't hurt, but his breakfast and paper were ruined. Last I saw of him he was heading off down the trace, fat dripping from his jacket, with a frying pan in his hand, looking for the now disappeared ditching crew.
This is one of the fleet of CWE Gipsies. They had been returned from a middle east pipeline contract, and were all lefthand drive and fitted with twin fuel tanks. I always rated the Gipsy as far better in the muck that the Landrover, mainly because of the extra weight of the steel body, and the 4-wheel independent suspension. This gives a massive degree of "articulation" meaning drive can be maintained far longer. What was of particular interest to as a bit of a wide boy, was the twin tanks: with paraffin in one, and petrol in the other, I could drive home to Surrey most nights without putting a strain on my fuel expenses. Smelt like an aladdin heater though!
This pic was taken on the side of Chanctonbury Rings, on the Downs outside Washington: now there is a spooky place!
Sample Photo 5
Despite my loathing of shopping and the consumer culture, I have been to Bluewater, and here is a picture to prove it. In those days it was a chalk pit running 24 hrs a day supplying some of the raw material for the massive Northfleet cement works. I was working with my little tipper on shunt for H&S contractors, who are still around today. This was a marvellous job for an owner driver. Finish on Friday afternoon, into Northfleet, and spend the whole weekend, day & night, hauling cement clinker or coal between stock heaps, all within the factory confines.
Finish early Monday morning, round the corner to Redland's Greenhithe wharf, a load of sea-dredged aggregate back to the Redland Readymix plant in Sevenoaks, and back to another weeks work for Tilcon. I'll sleep when I retire.