The Second World War and the Ministry of Transport Road Haulage Organisation set up from Berkeley Square meant the appointment of Unit Controllers throughout the country who were managers of the largest haulage companies.
I was one of those appointed in the S.E. Division whose headquarters were at Kelvin House, Victoria, where we had to attend long meetings each month. Our main job was the control of petrol, tyres, etc., to ensure priority of movement of all Government Departments traffic during the war period 1939-
We in London got to know each other quite well and decided to meet for lunch prior to our monthly meeting at Kelvin House to compare notes, etc.
A number of us had been, over past years fierce competitors for business, especially between North and South of the Thames, but all of that was, of course, put aside during the war, our sole aims being to serve the Ministry with the movement of all essential traffic for conduct of the War.
However, we worked long hours and had to register with Headquarters, the name and telephone number of a contact to summon us at short notice anytime. These were known as our "out of hours contact". Mostly, of course, these were our wives. Full advantage was taken of this by the Ministry, especially during the blitz of London.
So, after working together and enjoying a number of social activities with or without our "out of hours contacts" and for seeing towards the end of 1943, the War and the Ministry of Transport Road Haulage Organisation coming to an end.
We all agreed we would like to meet once a month in the future at the old Elephant & Castle Pub in South East London and formed a committee with W. Foster as Chairman, myself as Secretary and W. Stevens as Treasurer. Frequent committee meetings were held at my office, 170 Westminster Bridge Road, by a very energetic and enthusiastic committee.
We then invited all operators and Branch Managers who were attached to us to attend our monthly meetings, to which there was a good response.
Next step was to circulate all the Unit Controllers in the country with what we were doing in London.
Quite a number showed interest and started similar meetings.
We in London decided to give ourselves the title of Transport Managers Club, and drafted our"Aims and Objects and Rules" which are basically the same today.
Application forms were sent to all Unit Controllers inviting those interested to join the London Area with a nominal subscription of 10s/6d.
In the meantime, by the end of 1945 we had over 100 members in the London Area and together with those from other Areas whose application forms were registered we numbered over 300.
Many trips were made to Areas interested by me and one or two members of the London Area Committee lo explain the Aims and Objects and Rules and to assure them it was only a social club and all they could expect to get out of membership was good fellowship. Some thought it was the formation of a Union, others thought they might gain advantage in business etc. As, therefore it started, it remains today.
In January 1946, we held the inaugural meeting of the Midland and Liverpool (now Merseyside)Areas with a membership of 48 and 26 respectively, Manchester starting their monthly meetings in 1947 with 28 members and East Lancs. commencing their meetings with 29 members in 1948.
Each of the five Areas continued to grow in numbers and interchange of visits took place and National meetings and social occasions taking place, especially at Blackpool where our A.G.M. was held over an enjoyable long weekend and with our ladies.
It is right at this stage to say how much we owe the progress of the Club to our first National president, Henry T. Duffield, (my company Chairman) and first National Chairman of the Road Haulage Association, for the financial backing of London Area and facilities made available for our meetings and many social occasions, also for the support over many years of the Trade Press, especially the Motor Transport, who from the inception of our first meetings in London published each week under "Forthcoming Events", Area meetings, places, times, etc., and gave us much publicity of social occasions. I feel we owe a great debt to them for the backing they have always given to us.
So, we continued very happily with some 350/400 members over the five Areas until the upheaval in our industry came about with the 1947 Act in Nationalisation. A number of our Founders and other members who were prominent men in industry, either as owners of undertakings or well-
Needless to say, our numbers slightly decreased for a year or two until the 1953 Act, which changed the pattern somewhat of our industry and our membership.
We therefore decided, in consequence, to change our Rule 2 to accept membership from Managers or Executives who were primarily engaged in the transport of goods by road, in other words, C Licence Operators as we knew them in those days.
Once again our membership grew in each of the five Areas and so I and other Founders from London were pleased to be able to attend the inaugural meetings of the Northampton and Newcastle Areas in 1962 with 43 members and 56 members respectively.
So, we progressed with Teesside in 1964, Notts. and Derby in 1967, Sussex in 1970, Stoke in 1972, South Lincs., Bristol in 1975 and Southampton in 1976. Each of the 13 Areas are functioning well with steady increases of membership and activities, due entirely the the good Area Secretaries and the good fellowship among their members.
Unfortunately, Southampton Area has temporarily lapsed due to the declining transport industry around the port on which we were able to start the Area. We are hoping to revive it together with the changing pattern of industry around the port.
So throughout the years from 1943 to 1988, the Club, starting on its formation in London with some 30 Transport Managers meeting at the old Elephant & Castle, S.E. London, has, like the industry, gone through various changes over those years, and composition of membership, but the Club, I am pleased to say, has reached, at its peak so far, 1000 members and is at present approximately 900.
Its Aims and Objects:-
1. lt has undoubtedly developed good fellowship and understanding through the Road Transport lndustry, has brought together a large number of Members and families who would probably never have met, worked and enjoyed themselves together.
2. Each Area has found its own monthly meeting place, etc., and enjoy good speakers, visits to places of interest, social occasions, the dates and place of Meetings being circulated through the National Membership Card, thus enabling exchange of visits to each Area.
3. Many good working arrangements have been made between companies and membership over the years, as also exchange of posts and vacancies with some measure of success until 1976.
So, we can rightly claim that with the inception of the Club arising out of the 1939/45 War years, we have enjoyed the good fellowship of our Members, thus fulfilling the first of our Aims and Objects. Long may it continue. Attached is a list of the Unit Controllers, South East Division and Founders of the London Area and the firms they represented at that time.