Rutland family firm Pridmore's Haulage, based in Barrowden and South Luffenham, marks 70 years on the roads
A family-run haulage firm is set to hand on the L plates to a fourth generation after beginning its eighth decade on the road.
The livery of Pridmore’s Haulage has become a familiar sight around the roads of Rutland and beyond since it was founded in Barrowden on October 1, 1951.
Bert Pridmore set up the business after returning home to Barrowden from serving in the Second World War with his future wife Ernestine who he had met in Austria.
Driver Bert took over the Bates Brothers operating licence when they gave up the haulage side of their business and the Pridmore haulage dynasty began.
In 1963 the couple bought a house with a yard on Tippings Lane and based the business there, gradually expanding to a small fleet of five trucks when his three sons David, 72, Norman, 69, and Tony, 65 joined the team.
“None of us could wait until we were 21 and could get behind the wheel with our L plates,” said Norman.
“We were around all these nice shiny trucks and it was the idea of going out on the open road on your own.
“Having sat in the cab with father for years it does get in your blood.”
Tony and David also qualified as mechanics, while Norman was transport manager while continuing as a full-time driver.
Norman stepped away from the 12-hour days of the full-time driver three years ago after 45 years in the driver’s seat, but still gets behind the wheel to help out.
“I do the odd holiday relief still and a bit of night and weekend work,” he said.
“If I feel I’m getting in my wife’s way I can just go and do a couple of nights!”
So what is it like working with your family?
“When it was just my brothers and I we never really had a cross word," Norman added.
"We appreciated what they did and they appreciated what I did and we just got on with the job."
They took on the running of the business before Bert died in 2003, but with the brothers now semi-retired, David’s eldest son Steven, Norman's son-in-law John, and Tony’s youngest son Simon are now partners in the business.
Norman’s youngest daughter Vicki has an administrative role, while David’s youngest son Mark works alongside his brother and cousins.
And already the fourth generation are showing the same eagerness to get stuck in - Steven’s son Harley and John and Vicki’s son Cole both work on Saturday mornings.
“Seventy years is quite an achievement,” said Norman.
“We are into our third generation and have the fourth generation coming in at weekends to wash and help maintain the trucks.
“It’s nice to know that something father started all those years ago is still run by the family.”
In the past, the firm’s trucks could be seen up and down the country’s motorways as far as Cornwall, Scotland and Wales hauling to steelworks and iron foundries.
As British steel and iron industries shrank, today it’s generally local runs delivering building aggregate.
Yet despite the rising cost of fuel, tyres and escalating drivers’ wages over the last six months, the business remains in good shape.
In 2017 they took on WH Higgins and Sons, a garage, MoT centre and haulage yard in South Luffenham - fittingly where Bert started hauling in 1951.
The two businesses now run from the same premises with capacity to operate 14 trucks.
“We just built up the business gradually and that’s how we got where we are today,” Norman added.
“My father gave us a haulage yard at Barrowden and we looked after it there for all of those years.
"Now we have sold it and invested the money in the new haulage yard to set up the next generation.”