North East Lincolnshire Historian Ray Newcomb has written a book to mark 50 years of Humber McVeigh transport, which is part of the Vintage Roadscene Archive
Image: GrimsbyLive/Donna Clifford)
A bucket filled with a bin liner for a toilet, no comfy bed and not returning home to your family at the end of your shift.
These are just some of the issues, HGV drivers face.
But, the pressures in the haulage industry in North East Lincolnshire will be overcome, according to one transport expert, Grimsby Live reports.
The region’s lorry drivers have long held a tradition of being masters of their profession and successfully adapted to the many changes in the industry, historian Ray Newcomb explains.
He has experienced the ups and downs of the industry, as his father Dennis had a lifelong service in the transport industry.
Ray now brims with confidence that the current issues with shortages will be overcome to continue the long-standing traditions of the local industry.
His family and their colleagues played a key role in the success of one of the biggest transport operators in Grimsby, Humber McVeigh.
The merger over 50 years ago of Humber Warehousing and McVeigh Transport created the biggest transport operator in Grimsby with around 700 vehicles, 900 trailers and around 1,000 drivers.
The late Ralph Rouse was one of the pioneers of the industry in Grimsby.
He began working for McVeigh Transport, which later became Humber McVeigh. Ralph became a general foreman with the firm with a huge fleet.
Sons John and Mike took their apprenticeships with the firm which was one of the biggest in the UK with a vast fleet and over 890 trailers.
Today there are more than 3,000 lorry drivers locally. But many complain of the disrespect towards their profession and the poor quality of service at truck stops.
That is beginning to be addressed, Ray said, with better working conditions and greater safeguards at work.
The construction of the M180 50 years ago and its A180 extension were key factors in the growth of the region’s haulage industry.
The biggest change, however, came with the containerisation of lorries. That was a major improvement for the fishing industry in Grimsby and its food processing industry. It boosted pride as Britain’s Food Town.
“The new roads speeding things up,” Ray said. “But when containers came in it changed everything.
“You could load a container in China and it would be here on boats or taken all over the world and could be put on a 40ft lorry. It saved firms huge amounts and put an end to pilferage.
“The industry has seen so many changes and it will adapt. It just needs a Government who can keep up. Wages will also have to go up and the Government needs to ensure drivers have adequate places to stay overnight.
“There are places that you can get for £30-a-night and maybe a free meal. But most drivers have had to put up with appalling conditions and stop in laybys. They use a bucket with a bin liner for a toilet and some just sling that in the ditch. There are some who use bottles to pee in even when they are driving. That has to stop and conditions improve.
“What many in the industry want to see are shuttles. So you can have two containers pulled by one lorry on a motorway and ending at a hub, where another lorry will take it to its destination. If they can halve the number of lorries that will ease part of the problem,” Ray said.
He said the industry needs to attract more drivers with improved conditions.
“Most people when they have finished the job go home to their family, but for lorry drivers, it is not the same,” Ray said.
“They are away so much of the time and need to be better looked after. We have had all the changes with infrastructure on roads, motorways, weight limits, trailer lengths and now we need to look after the drivers.”
He has written a book to mark 50 years of Humber McVeigh transport, which is part of the Vintage Roadscene Archive and is priced £8.99.