Belgian Belle’s

So there I was, digging a hole, hole in the ground, big and sort of round, it’s was flat at the bottom and the sides were steep……..but I digress (if you get that you’re as sad as me!). While out in the garden I checked my phone for some much needed garden advice from a pal, when I noticed I had a message on Instagram. Truckblog Instagram gets looked at a lot and plenty of views but very, very few comments by comparison. Intrigued by who it was, I opened the message only to find it was from very well known Belgian transport company, Sitra Group – yes that’s right the massive orange operator from Belgium messaged me, I’m honoured!

Sitra have obviously been bored during Lock Down and found my Instagram and taken a liking to it. Who ever does Sitra’s social media, likes my insta page and decided to message me. How very nice of them and if any other large European companies want to follow or get in touch, my Instagram account can be found by clicking this link TruckblogUK and Sitra’s by clicking this link; sitragroup.

For those who don’t know them or don’t know the name, Sitra are a family owned firm from Belgium and have been operating since the 1960’s. They have operated all types of vehicles from fridges to tankers. Sitra sent me these two awesome photos of days gone by, who knew the Belgians were big Mack fans?! Sitra also have a history section on their website so if you want to read more then please click HERE.

As for these two trucks, obviously both frigo’, so I asked Sitra what they did and where they got too and as with any proper, successful European haulier, anything anywhere springs to mind! Here’s what they told me;

These trucks mainly drove fridge trailers, with frozen and fresh cargo, across entire Europe: UK, Italy, Sicilia, France, Poland, Romania, Benelux, Germany, Greece, Spain,.. But also countries as Russia, Turkye, Kazachstan…
We transport goods like: meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy, chocolate…”

A lorry load of Belgian chocolate to anywhere you like, sounds like good work to me! Hopefully we may here a little more from my new friends at Sitra, but for now I hope you like these two photos.

TBHQ Update

Lock down isn’t to productive for blog writing although it has given me time to do plenty of titivating in TBHQ and also time to start writing the Scania Centurion book. I’ve even had time to rearrange my Middle East shelf and before you ask, the trucks on the shelf are actually heading west to east, hence the stickers in the correct order(ish). While I was doing this highly important work I was joined by Mrs Blog who kindly poured some cold drinks out the fridge.

I have been lucky enough to take some donations for TBHQ and also I have rehoused some items as not everyone has enough space to keep all their trucking memorabilia. If you do have anything to donate then please get in touch, if if it’s on loan then at least your cherished truck stuff isn’t heading for landfill. I do wonder how much guff I would have if I was still on the road!? Perhaps the cabin would need and extension if that was the case. I hope you like it!

Wilson Wednesday with Willis

I’m not going to harp on about the CV but what has been nice is that for once, along with many other unsung professions, truck drivers have actually had some recognition and limelight. This can only be good for our industry although knowing how fickle the UK can be, as soon as the virus has past we will all be the pain in the arse we’ve always been! That said those who are still trucking about are in one way or another doing vital work for the UK’s people and economy. Also for those who run their own trucks you need to try and find new work avenues and try to keep the wheels turning to keep the company going, essential work again in my book. All in all those who can work and those who can still try to do their “normal” job have been going about their business with quiet roads and less people about to cause any issues, if only the clear road thing would stay once it’s all over! We can but hope. Along with many other hauliers, HC Wilson Transport have, as ever, tried to adapt and keep on keeping on, so here’s a little blog by driver Ady Willis on a recent run to Germany during “lock down”.

Day one 31/03/2020.

We sailed from Felixstowe to a regular destination in Holland, Vlaardingen, with a load to Germany. Once we arrive in Holland, did our passports and ensured the trailer was at the correct running height, we were away. A very quiet road network, with very few vehicles all the way to Germany, where we refuel the vehicle.

Very quiet roads through NL & D.
Coffee time!

Once we’ve fuelled up we travel for a little while longer until suitable parking is found for a coffee. Even with the roads quiet some services are still not easy to access due to inconsiderate drivers. We continue to our delivery point and rest until the morning to unload. Happily we seem to be experiencing alot of politeness in the current pandemic. I’ve noticed only hand full of people in Europe not keeping to social distancing rules.

Once unloaded we head 250kms north to collect a nice new harvester to bring to back to the UK. We once again have very quiet roads from Germany back to Rotterdam. Highly unusual especially in Germany, we have seen virtually no enforcement officers on the road at all, I have only seen one in 4 days!! We get our nice shiney harvester on and secured down. We head in the direction of the ferry in Rotterdam.

Unfortunately there was no space to ship back due to restrictions on driver numbers. So I was able to relax for the rest of the journey and with 90% less traffic I was able to find some parking without the normal stress of wanting to go in services but having to be very careful as other vehicles usually block the services and abnormal load areas. During this trip I’ve noticed that service areas seem to still be open more in Europe than the UK.

We finish our rest and next morning we are back to the harbour in Rotterdam to get ferry. We are now experiencing only one driver per cabin and this is making it slightly more difficult for hauliers to get ship bookings, but 100% better for driver. We arrive in the UK and travel straight to Lincolnshire and deliver the machine. It’s offloaded and prepared for work and its then off to work straight away due to the increase in demand for UK grown produce, perhaps a plus side of the virus.

A good blog for your first one thank you Ady, not once did I say “Watch yo talking about Willis!”. It sounds pretty clear that the virus is having a huge impact across Europe and just perhaps the vast majority of the public are adhering to each countries lock down rules. Also perhaps there are just a few small silver linings to the huge dark clouds of Covid-19. Written with the kind permission of Simon Wilson.

Last Call for Scania Centurions

The Centurion book is being written. Yes it’s taken a few years but Richard Payne and myself are happy that we have almost all the info we can get our hands on…..for now anyway. Many of you have helped and many of you have contributed both information, leads and photos. The current plan is to have the book ready to launch early next year ready for the 30th anniversary of the Centurion.

Please have a think and if you have any thing else to offer (unseen photos would be great) such as information on any of the 6 Unknown’s that would be awesome. As it stands we have no information on original owner s for just 6 of the 100 trucks. That said we have 2 trucks we can’t allocate numbers two although we know they are legitimate Centurions.

Above is a beast of a Centurion we believe was new to Mr Peckham as pictured above. I have spoken to the 2nd owner today and he is sure Mr Peckham was the first owner and then he bought the truck 2nd hand when the truck was just over a year old. That said we still need to know the number of the Mr Peckham / Road Route Ltd flying machine.

Next on the unknown number list is this one. Owned at this point by Stephen Sanderson Transport, having spoken with Mr Sanderson he can’t remember the number either, but he thinks he was the second owner and we believe that this truck was new to AW Jenkinsons at Penrith but again nobody seems to know the number.

We also have the below 143 500 belonging to Blairmore. We made contact but have heard no more. Does anyone know any more about this truck please?

The 6 missing trucks are the following numbers; 036, 037, 039, 043, 054 and 067.

Without being a plonker, can I please ask you to think about what you know as we have an awful lot of info and know all the basics and don’t really want to go back through everything again but this is easier said than done. As we all know anything is easy once you know the answer. We need plenty of photos for alsorts of numbers as I said earlier, but again all the common photos are readily available on the internet. If you have anything that you feel may not have been seen or is your own photo then please email me and I can credit you in the book. My email; ben@truckblog.co.uk

Finally we have a cut off of the 1st of June in order to get everything written and ready for the start of the publishing process. Please email me on the above of make contact through the blog or social media of some kind. Thank you all!!

Ireland to Sweden 197? – Part 2

Following on from Ireland to Sweden Part 1 earlier this week, Roland Simey gave me the follow up leg of the journey through to Sweden. Please remember the whole point of these two blogs was to highlight and remember, these international runs back in the 1970’s were very different to today. Less dual carriageways and autobahns, more borders and less driver comfort, although the 1 Series Scania would have been the number one choice for a many drivers at the time.

Having negotiated central London and got ourselves to Dover, or indeed if you had taken the alternative route to Sweden and got the boat from Immingham direct to Gothenburg, there were of course still plenty of national roads to navigate to get you to your destination, all of course without the modern aid of Satellite Navigation on even mobile phones. Younger drivers everywhere are reading in shock I can tell, as I’ve said before imagine getting in your truck and heading to Sweden with no more than a road atlas, it’s the old way and the best way as you then get learn where you actually are. Anyway Roland did a little more work and concluded with the following; “Well that got me thinking and after comparing my early 70s run and Philip’s later from Killybegs to Stockholm/ Upsalla, Both with Kelly Freight, it is plain to see who had the easier one! Roughly mileages were 660 and 1,700. That is presuming Philip went Dover Zeebrugge Nordhorn Hamburg Tondor Fredrickshaven `Gothenburg. I may be a hundred miles out though.”

Once again thank you to Roland Simey and PhilIp Hegarty for the details and photos. If you are of the older generation, pre M25 days for reference, then I’d love to hear of any routes you remember and how it changed your trips to this of today. Please do email me with tales and photos and I will happily publish them here on the blog. My email; ben@truckblog.co.uk

Ireland to Sweden 197? – Part 1

Unloading in Stockholm – PH.

I came across the above photo on a Facebook group posted by ex Kelly Freight driver Philip Hegarty, I think you’ll agree it is a belter of a photo. Tipping in Stockholm, Sweden. Just look at the others tipping on the other loading bays. Anyway it made me wonder and prompted me to ask the question of just how did you get your load of prime Irish meat all the way to Stockholm in the 1970’s, by this I mean what was the route bearing in mind most of the A74 was single carriageway and the M25 didn’t exist to help you round London and down to Dover like you would today. I don’t think it’s a silly question to ask, as in my 40 years on the planet, the M25 has been there as long as I can remember.

I asked the question and the reply from Philip was as follows; “We mostly went from Ireland to Dover /Zeebrugge up through Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark another ferry to Sweden and over to Stockholm. Great times plenty of good places to eat along the way.”

Or another suggestion from a certain Roland Simey; “Earlier Philip, when we loaded out of Killybegs we used to go direct from Immingham to Gothenberg. Half load to Uppsala then onto Helsinki with the rest of the vacuum packed Lobsters. Then when empty, due to the loading restrictions in Sweden, back to Arhus DK to load back to UK or anywhere else!”

All sounds fair enough to me but then I wondered about the actual route, as I said a lack of motorways and dual carriageways back in the 70’s. So being the quizzical chap I am, I asked for a little more detail and this prompted a reply from the one and only Roland Simey, yes he of R Simey Refrigeration (Adastra). Roland is more than qualified to give us directions on any European route from Ireland, so sit back take the wheel and follow Rolands instructions; “From Stranraer , no Cairnryan yet, there were no bypasses until Gretna which was by then dual carriageway until Carlisle then M6 , M1 down to what is now J2 then crossing the North Circular , Holloway Road, Whitechapel, Commercial Road (A13), Blackwall tunnel to Greenwich, Welling in Kent then A2 with the new bypass to Medway before returning on to old A2, past the Gate cafe and through the inner circular in Canterbury, down in and through Dover to the docks, no Jubilee Way. Hope that helps.” ……and to help even more and to give you physical sight of the roads, the following images are taken from Rolands 1973 Bartholomew Road atlas. The first batch are Stranraer to Carlisle.

So now you have made it from Stranraer into England and Carlisle, we should all be able to make it to London, coming in on the M1. If you are then a little unsure as many drivers do try to stay out of London at all costs, here’s a page of the atlas for London. Once you are through and heading for Dover on the A2, get yourself through Canterbury town and then you will queuing for the boat before your kettle has boiled!

A big thank you to both Roland and Philip for their help down to Dover. If you need a few pointers on how to then get to Sweden from Calais, come back for part 2. In the mean time if you still haven’t worked out who Roland is…….

UK Show Date Changes

With the impending doom that is Covid 19, lots of UK shows have been cancelled or postponed to later in the year. I was sent a list at work yesterday of a few of the bigger ones for the UK and I thought it’d be a good idea to share it with you. In the mean time, if your already missing the truck show season and the thought of not being able to go and show your pride and joy, then get on Facebook and search for my Corona Truck Show Group. I started it a week ago and we already have over 3000 members. It’s an online truck show for you to post a photo of your truck and remember to put on which country you are from. So far we are big in Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and a few others. All a bit of fun! Next up, the date changes;

2 April                  Mercedes-Benz Trucks Dealer Awards (Event Postponed – new date tbc)

2 April                  Edinburgh Clean Air Event (Event Postponed – new date tbc)

28-30 April           CV Show (Event Postponed – new date tbc)

9-10 May             Truckfest Peterborough (Event Postponed – new dates 30-31 August)

12-15 May            APSE Aviemore (Event Postponed – new date tbc)

13-14 May            ITT Hub (Event Cancelled – will take place in 2021)

28-30 May            Tip-Ex Harrogate (Event cancelled – will take place in 2021)

30-31 May            Truckfest North East (Event currently being reviewed)

16-18 June           Multimodal (Event Postponed – new dates 4-6 November)

1 July Motor Transport Awards (Event Postponed – new date 27 August)

A Nearly New-by LP

The blog gains a few fans every week and more and more are asking if they can write a blog or I ask them if they want too. Either way it means we all get to enjoy a wider variety of trucking stories. This time around I asked my friend, Dominic Newby, of MB Roadstars fame, if he would write a few words about this “as-new” Mercedes-Benz LP 1626. Luckily for us Dom is happy to share his photos and a few words about this Danish beauty. I think it needs a retro frigo trailer behind it though, who agrees??

The LP 1626’s cubic cab is the very model of minimalist design; debuting in September 1963 at the IAA in the heavy duty category it’s huge windscreen, surfaces and right angled lines, the vehicle’s exterior is modern, even by today’s standards. The design allowed the driver to experience a new world: a comfortable entry, space behind the wheel, a magnificent panoramic view and a minimal sized engine tunnel. The LP’s tilting cab was immediately recognisable by doors drawn to the height of the bumper and the slightly raised roof was integrated in 1969.

“I was lucky enough to experience one of these beauties at the recent Stuttgart Retro-Classic. This LP is a dump truckconverted to a fire truck and is now in its third lease of life as a semi-trailer tractor unit, despite these different ‘lives’ it has hardly been used. The gears feel just as they did on day one, the V8 growls at the first rev and the frame and chassis are a million miles away from rust and bearing damage. It could have just rolled off the production line.

“After a lengthy restoration converting the old fire truck the finished article is simply stunning. The theme of the LP is Denmark; there is red and black patterned material on the rear wall and on the mattress, the engine tunnel is upholstered in red man-made leather and there is fur on the seats. The rear wall also contains a lampshade bought from a flea market, all of which lends character to the cab. On the exterior, fire engine red is combined with green along with a ‘Danmark’ illuminated sign on the roof. This LP is truly one of a kind and is exactly the type of lorry I would love to add to my collection – long live the true ‘retro classics’!