Seeking stories of southern transport

Road transport has always played a vital role in Otago and Southland’s history and economic development.

Now a long-time road transport operator, Warren Hamilton, is seeking to record and preserve the history of road transport in the region in a new book.

“We are looking for previous owners, family members, drivers, or anyone else who has information and or photos to share with us,” says Hamilton, who is the former owner of Cromwell Transport and a senior member of the Road Transport Association of New Zealand (RTANZ), representing Region 5 (from south of the Waitaki River to Bluff). He is also a classic truck and model enthusiast with his own extensive model collection.

“We will happily travel the area to talk with people to collect as much information as possible as we are concerned with the passage of time the history both literary and photographic can be lost with family not realising the value of it to our industry.”

Hamilton says he is aware of at least 250 companies that no longer operate or have continued in name with greatly changed shareholding and he is sure there will be more.

He says the industry is full of colourful stories, illustrating how much it has changed.

“Years ago, when trucks were slower and pressure on time was a lot less, drivers were renowned for playing tricks on each other. After stopping for afternoon tea while in convoy with other trucks, a driver got back into his truck and some 30km up the road realised he didn’t have his trailer. His mate had lifted the ringfeeder pin and disconnected brake and light plugs, so he drove off then had to return to collect the trailer. This happened more than once.

“Another story was the manager of a company who probably every six months or so was sent around his customers to collect the necessary overdue payments. One particular offender never posted a cheque, always proffering the inevitable visit to have a chat. The cheque always was received but each one always was for 25 cents less as the businessman deemed that amount to be the cost of providing the coffee.”

Hamilton says while it is not envisaged the book will be full of stories but more a record of past operators, interesting happenings will happily be noted for future projects.

He says any help that can be provided would be greatly appreciated.

Please contact project co-ordinator Warren Hamilton,12 Kawarau Court, Cromwell 9310, call 03 445 0512 or 027 44 50 512; email W.E.Hamilton@xtra.co.nz.

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