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.

Wilson Summer Holiday 2019

So this week it was blue Monday, the most miserable day of the year. The day we all realise that things are so much better when we aren’t paying Christmas off, weren’t feeling full of turkey and cheese, when we were all wearing open toed shoes and high heels, and for anyone else other than the postman, those happy long, bright warmer days we can wear shorts. Every year I get a delightful blog, from a certain Mr S Wilson, who can’t keep himself away from the smell of hot tyres and the thump of a diesel engine (and I’m not talking about the cruise ship, SW!), so after a few happy days at the start of the holiday, when the novelty of family time is still in full flow, SW starts leaning back towards the day job, the passion ad the hobby, so I start getting the holiday photos come through. Yes the holiday photos, exactly the ones you I really want to see………the trucks of the Mediterranean on the various ports the cruise ship stops at on its meander around the clear blue seas of southern Europe.

As its mid-week, pull over, pull the curtains round, get a cold beer out the fridge if you have one (but no more, you’re driving in the morning!), fill the passenger foot well with some soft warm sand and pull up a sandbag while Mr Wilson tells us a story. Just picture the scene, warm sun, lovely gentle breeze, great views (even better than Gretna Services), the quiet slosh of the waves on the shore and perhaps, just perhaps the odd big old classic truck tootling around the docks……..now we are all chilled out and slouched down in our chairs………..I’ll pass you over to Simon Wilson (yes he of HC Wilson fame)………..

On a recent Wilson family visit to Corfu, we had a fabulous view from hotel rooftop bar looking east towards the evening lights of Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland.
After several nights sipping the local Mythos brew, I was fascinated watching the ferries crossing over to Igoumenitsa, along with the occasional passing cruise ships. So I decided it was time to take the ferry to have a look.
So I jumped on a Green Buses coach up to Corfu Town, then walked 1km down to the ferry port. €11 bought a foot passenger ticket & I walked in the bow door of the immaculately clean Agios Spiridon, along with other foot passengers, and several car passengers who climbed out & walked up the steps while the cars’ drivers parked further inside the car deck. A Scania tanker, a MAN tipper and 4 Volvo’s reversed up the front door ramp which was then raised and away we reversed off the berth, with the rear anchor being hauled in as we manoeuvred out. The Greek method of pulling up bow first and dropping ramp on the quayside has always fascinated me, with 1 rope pulling each way and rear anchor dropped approx 100m before the stopping place. But it seems to work well.

Most passengers went into the air conditioned lounge / snackbar for the 90 minute crossing, while I toured the upper decks enjoying the view of the mainland coast.
A large Anek Lines ferry & very small local freight ferry were in Igoumenitsa as we pulled up to the dock & dropped the front door. UK safety bods would go ballistic if they witnessed the exit of cars, trucks & foot passengers all at once, without a single hi-viz in sight! Only the loading officer is given a white polo shirt to signal who is in charge.
I walked 50m across the quay to buy another ticket for the return leg. Organised chaos ensued for around 30 minutes, with other trucks pulling in for a smaller ferry to Lemkimmi in the south of Corfu. Several trucks went via the port weighbridge before reversing on the ferries, amongst the suitcase pulling foot passengers! A local car rolled up at the last minute to drop a brown paper parcel off in the luggage room near the front door.
Soon we were off again heading back to Corfu Town. There are 3 ferry companies plying the route, so around every 30 mins there is a departure just like the Dover-Calais route.

The wildlife show then began. Some seagulls showed me their in flight bread catching skills from a lady 1 deck below me. Then 3 dolphins completed a few posing jumps as we slowed in towards Corfu port.
Volvo FH16’s and Scania V8’s appear to be the
favoured trucks, always left running to cool the driver! Some trucks still wear the the signwriting of their previous owners.
Soon the ramp was dropped again in Corfu Town. Car passengers walk off down the ramp, then stand on the quayside amongst the disembarking trucks waiting to rejoin their cars as they roll off. And so the sequence begins again!
All in all a great sightseeing trip, then back on the Green Bus to the hotel just south of Benitses in time for evening meal & Mythos.

Retro Truck Show 2019 Vlog

Oh happy sunny days, when we could stay outside without drowning, when we could stand about all evening, enjoying a cool beer and a good yarn with other like minded folk, bring back the summer! The Retro Truck Show at Gaydon is still one of, if not the best Truck Show in the UK. This year was especially good, as I was able to take a beast of truck, in a convoy, with a V8 burbling away and smoke pouring out the stacks!

Myself in the 143 450 Streamline, James from HC Wilson in the 141 and Matt Ireland in the F16. Now there’s a convoy for the truck pervert! Although its not particularly good quality but the photo below is a sight for retro eyes, coming up the M40, probably how the M40 used to be with the Irish running between boats. I know we were spotted by a few, as there were various comments on social media over the show weekend about how people had seen such a great sight back on the UK motorways!

Anyway, my photo talents are sketchy at the best of times, but you can see the rest of my photos by clicking HERE – If this doesn’t float your boat, then have a watch of Matt’s little video of the weekend. Starting off with some convoy action from the drive up. A great afternoon and what a lucky bunch we are to have friends who will let us borrow these fine motors of yester-year. Just for the record I did realise that i am not one of those that gets fed up with the V8 growling through the open sun roof, even in the rain showers. Thanks again to all involved in a top weekend, you know who you are, thanks to Darren and his team for putting on another great show and thanks to all those who came with trucks. In my opinion the widest variety this year of different makes and models. If you have not been to the Retro show before, get yourselves along next year, or get yourself booked in with your retro motor. If you think yours isn’t up to standard or isn’t shiny enough, it really isn’t that kind of show. Those in, shall we say, “working” condition or those needing a little Tcut here and there get just as much attention as the show is full of enthusiasts.

Truckstar Festival 2019 – The Social Part

This years Truckstar Festival, well, what can I possibly say on here that would give you any idea on what this years show was like?! What I have thought of doing is making it a two parter, social part and trucks part, so here we go.

It was hot, now I mean hot, 40’c Friday, 36’c Saturday and a little cooler on Sunday but still over 30. We arrived at the show a lot earlier than in previous years which was good because we got to see plenty of stuff arrive and we were actually in the first wave of old timers arriving. So early in fact that the V8 hadn’t even arrived, let alone be set up and serving like normal. My very good friend Anton Brouwer and his merry team, soon arrived. As you can see above Anton was keen to give me a beer, he did home delivery. The above photo taken by me sitting in my deckchair as the big 140 Super arrived. From this point on the show became what I can only describe as the most social truck show I have ever been too. More so than all 7 visits to Assen or anywhere else for that matter. Why?……. I have no idea, perhaps the heat and the sun? Perhaps everyone trying to get into the shade of the beer tents? No idea but it was awesome. The Dutch are just the best!

I am sadly to young to have ever had the chance to get to Londra Camp in Istanbul, but like me I’m sure we all have a good idea what that place was like on a weekend, buzzing for want of a better phrase! To me this years Truckstar Festival made me think of Londra Camp. James and I met so many people we knew and have met before or not seen for ages, that we bearly managed to make one whole lap of the show truck area. Every 50 metres we met another old face, with who we shared a joke, a beer and had a catch up. Not only out walking the show. By the time evening came, the beer was flowing, old friends were dancing and drinking, then more people arrived at the V8 bar. Plenty more stories, plenty more cheers when the Danish contingent arrived. Then a little later a few more English, Irish and some Germans appeared. It was an endless flow of truckers from all over Europe, all meeting up for some time out, some beer and a good laugh. As with the big truck stops of the 70’s and 80’s some of these people I haven’t seen for a few years or even met before, but we all have a common interest and a common love of Trucks, beer and meeting new folk. It may be you won’t see them again, but that never seems to matter with trucking people. There is never any “ice to break” or any issue of who’s who, we are all there to have a good time. To me this is how I imagine the golden days of international trucking to be. If you’ve been lucky enough to enjoy such a night off in a far flung corner of europa, with a load of drivers you may or may not know, please please please let me know all about it.

The Dutch have a great ability to make you feel welcome and to make sure everyone is included and having a good time. For those who have had the pleasure of visiting the V8 Bar in the Oldtimers section of the show, you will know this is exactly what Anton Brouwer and his team manage to achieve every visit. James and I are V8 bar regulars, but we were joined by the Van Der Nunn’s and also by trucking royalty, mr Mike Tasker. MWT is a proper English international owner driver, proper old school. A long time sub contractor to HC Wilson, there is no where in Europa Mike hasn’t been to with one of his V8’s, everywhere that is except for the Truckstar Festival. Apart from being like a kid in a sweet shop all weekend, Mike was a great example of the whole atmosphere of the show. Never been before, but after the first night at the V8 Bar, he has made some new friends and was chatting about all sorts with all sorts of people, drivers, operators and even farmers who just love old V8’s! GW your turn next.

The Dutch have made trucking a pleasure to be involved with, if you have lost you way with trucks, your job, driving in the UK, then somehow get yourself across the water to, what has become for me anyway, Europe’s trucking Mecca. A few days of trucks in the Netherlands will soon make you realise trucking is cool and well respected everywhere apart from in the UK. Get yourself to Truckstar Festival and this message will be hammered home like Thor in the tool aisle at a DIY shop! There are hoards of youngsters wanting to be truck drivers, most look hardly old enough to drink let alone drive trucks. There are families there who have no ties to trucks or transport and when asked, they will tell you they just love trucks.

Two Three things I have realised;

1) I was born 20 years to late to know what real European trucking was like back in the golden days.

2) I should be Dutch or at least living in the land of the wooden shoe.

3) If you like trucks you should MUST get yourself over to Holland for the Truckstar Festival. If you don’t…… well……. no euro-pop, accordion, trance music for you! Oh or the best trucks and truck people in Europe.

Wilson Wednesday – European Volvolution

I could have titled this blog many things, but I had to get another Wilson Wednesday on the blog for all the regular fans. Thanks to Volvo Trucks UK we can have a WW with a slight difference. Buying a Volvo will have been a big decision for HCW, especially as they haven’t ever bought a new one before. The last two they had in my early years at HCW we’re both acquired 2nd hand I do believe. I low height 6×2 and a low height 4×2. When I heard Simon (Wilson) had decided to order a new Volvo I have to say was a little surprised. Saying that all operators need to keep manufacturers on their toes and if one can supply a truck better suited to the operators specific requirements then their isn’t a lot that can be done. Over to Volvo;


Well-known industrial and plant fabrication carriers, H.C. Wilson Transport Ltd. of Suffolk has ordered its first new Volvo truck; a high specification FH-540 8×4 Tridem tractor unit, supplied by Ian Reed, Area Sales Manager at Volvo Truck and Bus Centre East Anglia.

The Globetrotter XL 3,900mm wheelbase Tridem Pusher Axle tractor unit is powered by Volvo’s D13K engine, producing a maximum of 540hp. The FH was ordered with an I-Shift Crawler gearbox containing a direct top ratio of 19:1 and a deep multi speed reverse gear with a ratio of 37:1. A gearbox-mounted retarder also provides a substantial secondary braking system. The final drive tandem single reduction axles carry a ratio of 2.83:1.

The vehicle is rated for maximum 90-tonne operations, but will predominately work in the 55 to 60-tonne weight brackets. Both the front and pusher axles are nine-tonne air suspension units, the latter contributing to a rear bogie capacity of 32-tonnes.

“We’d previously bought our four axle tractor units from Holland, but this requirement is now better served through a dealer local to our business,” states Simon Wilson, Managing Director at H.C. Wilson Transport Ltd. “Volvo were genuinely interested to quote for such a vehicle and having a factory built four axle tractor unit was also a bonus, saving on purchase cost and delivery times.”

A Jost cast fixed fifth wheel, steel front bumper and Dura-Bright EVO alloy wheels are also included the specification.

Simon explains, “European work makes up two thirds of our total business and the regulations around German axle weights drive our choice of four-axle tractor units. I’m not a big fan of really big engines, but we have to balance power outputs and fuel consumption levels with terrain traversed and higher operating weights. We operated some early Volvo FHs that were sourced as used in the mid-1990s, but this is our first Volvo ordered new. We’re feeling our way with the vehicle at present and it’s early days. However, there’s been no complaints from the driver,” he adds.

Wilson Saturday??!

It’s been ages since we did a classic Wilson Wednesday, so I thought we’d have a little teaser to see the response. As an ex Wilson, what they get upto still fascinated me, even having helped moved everything from steel rolls, to boats, to plastic planes and everything else in my time in the traffic office. These days things are still much the same. 60% of the work is to and from Europe and as I’m sure is the way with most sectors of international haulage, imports are big and exports and few and far between. Even so some regular jobs are still ongoing. Above is Jon Pryke, seemingly an HC Wilson lifer! Loaded from Germany and heading to Ireland. In my time at Wilson’s I spent lots of time trying to get Jon to start taking photos and then trying to get him to take photos where you could actually see the truck. Now I have to say Jon takes some of the best photos on the fleet.

Next up with GT, Geoffrey Tarbun. Who doesn’t like Geoff? Who wouldn’t want a Geoff on their fleet?? Never moans, always smiles, nothing is to much of a problem. Then again if we all spent as much time on holiday as Geoff then we’d probably all have the same attitude to work! A nice easy load for the new DAF above, a load of JCB’s from the yard to Port. HC Wilson have a long history with JCB and at one point we’re doing more loads out the factory than Brit European. Legend has it someone wasn’t happy with red trucks delivering yellow machines…..but who knows.

Number 1 subbie, Mr Tasker. Not quite a lifer but defiantly a fully qualified Wilson. Now back to having just his own truck on the HC Wilson fleet, the heady heights of his fleet got to a total of four trucks at one time. By my calculations I think the current steed is number 8 or 9, but I’m sure MWT will tell us other wise. Loaded with a good size tree in Belgium and heading for Oxfordshire.

Finally in our teaser is the 2nd new DAF, driven by Ian “Slim” Godfrey. Once again another driver who has been at Wilson’s for 15+ years. It must say something about the job or the company when you have so many long service employees on one fleet. I have to say I didn’t get any load details on this one but I’m happy to publish such a great looking load! loaded from NL to Bristol. Apparently an airport sprayer. With the two new DAF’s having only been on the fleet for a few months there has been lots of talk about the new diagonal stripe from the back of the cab to the top corner of the window. Any thoughts???

Truckstar Festival 2018

It’s taken me a week to recover! This time last week James and myself were waking up a little tired and possibly hungover! I have no idea how it was a week ago already. Once again our Dutch colleagues surpassed themselves with their hospitality and friendliness. We met lots of old friends and made plenty more new ones. As we go with a Scania 141 from company Wilson we are in the Oldtimers part and it gets better and better.

This year we were joined with some more English Trucks and we were even able to all park together making an English display! Anyway there will be plenty more to come from the show over the next few weeks.

If you have the time then please look through my photos, I actually took a few which aren’t half bad!!

Click the following link to see my Truckstar 2018 Photo Album.

Truckstar, Assen – Day 4


Day 4 (Sunday) the last day. A late night last night but I’m glad I slept in the truck, I think I may have drowned judging by the lake we woke up to. Anyway the rain cleared and another pleasant day followed. As is becoming the norm, on the second day at the show proper we walk the other half of the track and see the rest of the working trucks. The idea of parking all trucks around the circuit (essentially a circle) means that you don’t miss anything. If everything is parked up in different sections and different areas it’s very easy to miss something, perhaps some of the U.K. shows should take note. As you don’t miss anything you find all sorts, ex show winners, everyday trucks and also the odd golden oldie. Although we were parked in the Oldtimer section, there are still some working that obviously park with the working trucks. The red 143 was adoreable! If Father Christmas is reading this, then I don’t need to write my letter this year. 



The rest of the day was spent wandering the main show trucks and also around the manufacturers stands. I’m not a big Iveco fan but they did look a treat sitting in the sun. Just to clarify the only reason I’m not so keen is down to an old dog I used to drive a few years ago, nothing against the new ones! Most of you will have worked out that I’m a fan of the MAN TGL LX, also a fan of old Scanias, 1995 backwards and also a very big fan of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros. Knowing  a fair bit about them they aren’t a truck that regularly gets pimped up, before you all comment yes I know there are a few. But in general there aren’t many so what a pleasure it was to find one. A GigaSpace with 630hp on tap. Very subtle in black with some well placed orange stripes, a nice set of fuel tanks and lockers on the chassis making use of the limited space, a few lights mixed in but best of all a pair of 7 or 8 inch straight exhaust pipes up the back of the cab. I had to sit down.


As it’s the last day of the show we packed up all of our stuff back into the little cab of the 141 and waited for the 1630hrs exit. We had to get away sharply so we had the best chance of getting back to the boat. This was of course fine, a good run with 1980’s tunes on the radio and the sun beginning to set (although we all know the sun never sets on a long distance lorry driver!) and a co driver feeding me sour pastimes and hanging out the window taking photos! These will follow at some point. As is customary in the Netherlands thousands and thousands of people come out on Sunday evening to watch the trucks leaving the show. The devices on the motorway way are packed, people sitting in parks and gardens waving and thousands on bridges over the motorway virtually all the way back to Utrecht, that’s about 160km. I can’t do it justice but to see this many people enjoying watching trucks come pass is almost mind blowing. I think I struggle with it as trucks are so hated in the UK it’s just an alien concept. Anyway a good run back and a good shower and hot meal onboard Stena Brittanica saw out what can only be described as my best non-family weekend of the year. If you’ve not been but you like trucks, I know you do otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, then get yourself out to next years Truckstar Festival, it’s just awesome. TB out. 

Truckstar, Assen – Day 3


Day 3 (Saturday). Where do I start? Not such a good nights sleep in a leaky tent but hey ho. Up, shower, breakfast then off to walk one half of the track. For those who don’t know Assen is a famous race track and there are about 2600 trucks parked all the way around the edge. It’s always a bit of a mission but well worth the gentle walk to see all the working trucks. As with most shows there are all sorts, smart, different, polished and some not even cleaned but they are all here for the same reason, to have a good laugh with your mates. 


Walking round you realise how different this show is to anything we have in the UK. Every body brings cabins, bars and portaloo’s and what ever else to make a little camp to be the base for all the fun. Half way round we stopped for a beer and currywurst which is much needed by that point. 


After the walk the afternoon was spent wandering around the trade and manufacturers stands. I have to say that I’m not a huge Volvo fan but the Royal Edition did float my boat. Metallic Browns and a one off brown leather and suede interiour. Too much brown? no not really it just looks right, to top it off it is a rear bogie lift too!

When night falls the show takes on a second life. All trucks in the show truck section have lights on and engines running. We all know trucks look as good at night as during the day if you get the lighting right. There really are to many to mention and show you but that just means you’ll have to come yourself one year. Here’s a small selection but I will do more over the next few weeks. The night finished at some ungodly hour with a beer and a pot noodle back in the cab. 

Truckstar, Assen – Day 2


Day 2 (Friday). Off the boat after a few hours sleep and the convoy of two headed North. The idea was to stop at De Lichtemis near Zwollé for lunch. This was fine, a good run up meant we made good time until we got stuck at a nasty accident for half an hour or so. Not to worry the traffic cleared and we pulled into our lunch stop behind the well know fleet of Verbeek. You can’t fault these trucks in anyway they are delightful. Mr Verbeek claims he does it all for the love of the truck. Good man. 


After lunch and driver change, I was in the pilot seat and bearing in mind the slight issues we had encountered with the clutch/high range, I have to say I think I’ve still got it!! We got to the circuit at Assen around 1330hrs and joined the queue to book in. Booking in done and a bit of shining about we were parked up and left with nowt to do but have a beer and a chat with the Dutch. Nice. 

The rest of the day passed without many incidences, a few beers, a walk about and lots of talking with various trucker types meant it was soon time for bed and the tent. Walking round the show trucks is an experience you can only truly appreciate by coming to the show. The effort drivers put into making their trucks look good is only emphasised when it gets dark. It’s one thing having a good looking motor but it’s another thing having a motor that looks right in the dark. Various interior and exterior lights do the trick of course but as we all know it’s a fine line between too many and not enough. There are very few trucks here that haven’t got the balance right.