M. S. SMALL
HAULAGE CONTRACTOR
ILMINSTER
SOMERSET

Mervyn S. Small 1910 - 2002
Masie Small 1908 - 1972

 

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Mervyn S. Small born 23rd February 1910 at Ilminster, attended the local grammar school in 1921 but left in 1926 due to financial pressures on his family. He joined Yandles Garage as a motor engineer apprentice. By 1930 he was driving a steam lorry and a charabanc and later diesel engined lorries for Reg Patten Transport.

In 1934 he married May Shepherd and lived at Ditton Street Ilminster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their first son Michael was born in 1936.

At the outbreak of the second world war, commercial vehicles and their drivers were commandeered by the War Department and deployed to military establishments throughout the UK. Mervyn with his 6 wheeled AEC was sent to RN Dockyard Devonport and the family relocated to St Budeaux, Plymouth.

Michael, aged 5 was evacuated to Merriott to live with his maternal grandparents.  

 

 

                                                                               

 

 

Second son Gerald was born at Merriott in 1943 but returned to Plymouth with his mother.

 

 

 

 

                                                              

Michael remained with his grandparents and continued his schooling at Merriott. 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of the war, the family were now living with May’s parents at Shyners Terrace, Merriott and Mervyn was employed by Bird Bros of Yeovil as a long distance lorry driver.

February 1949 Mervyn bought his first lorry, a 5 ton petrol engined Bedford, operating a "C" licence (A & B licences were nationalised) and contracted himself to The Wharf Lane Concrete Co, manufacturers of Minsterstone Fireplaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the end of 1952 the family had moved to Ilminster, living in a new house built on a plot of land purchased from W.L.C.C. in Station Road.

Mervyn’s fleet consisted of 3 Bedfords which were garaged in rented premises at Winterhay Lane. By 1954 the fleet consisted of 5 vehicles and had outgrown the Winterhay Lane premises.

W.L.C.C. agreed to erect a building within the factory to provide suitable premises as all 5 vehicles were employed by them.

Mervyn had continued to drive a lorry on a full time basis, managing the business in his spare time. However, the size of the fleet required constant attention and he ceased driving. The de-nationalisation programme of A & B licences was now in full swing and 3 vehicles together with their A licences were purchased from the Ilminster depot of British Road Services (formerly Patten Bros). One of those vehicles was a 1934 ERF YD 9325 chassis No.105 driven by Mervyn when new. (This vehicle was fully restored in the late sixties/early seventies and can be seen at The Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum, Carthew, St. Austell, Cornwall painted in the livery of English China Clays).

With the purchase of these 3 vehicles with their licences, the business was able to operate on a hire and reward basis with an unlimited radius. The original 5 vehicles operating on C licences were changed to A licences. Now with the whole fleet operating on A licences, transport services could be offered to other companies greatly increasing revenue.

Michael having left school in 1954 completed his National Service in the R.A.F. He joined the family business and drove locally and later long distance until 1959.  

                                                                                                                      May Small worked full time as the only administrator in the business with Mervyn.  1959 was a period of rapid expansion, further vehicles were purchased from BRS for their licences. Many of these vehicles were worn out and replaced by new and larger ones and extra licences were acquired. 

Also at this period, articulated vehicles were introduced into the fleet with trailers ranging from 30 to 50 feet in length.

The existing premises soon became too small and Mervyn purchased the remainder of the paddock adjacent to the family home and a purpose-built transport depot was built. (Today the family home and transport depot are owned by Kings Road Tyres).

The country was now in full recovery mode following the end of WW2. The local cities of Plymouth, Exeter and Bristol were being re-built after being severely bombed. New factories were being built, food was in short supply and farmers were expanding rapidly.

Old buildings were being replaced by new, larger ones. Many of these buildings were steel or concrete framed. New roads were being built requiring bridges and flyovers. The components for these structures were becoming longer and heavier and specialist vehicles were required to transport them. The next phase of expansion was crane hire. The fleet was then equipped to transport the goods, and cranes could now be supplied to offload the vehicles and erect the new buildings. Initially, a new Coles 6 ton crane was purchased and mounted on an ex WD 6 wheel truck with 4 wheel drive. Three further cranes were bought at a WD dispersal auction.

Michael ceased driving in 1959 and joined Mervyn and May in managing the business.

Small’s Transport expanded rapidly. The ‘Beeching Axe’ fell on local railway stations resulting in a vast increase in the volume of goods to be transported. Ilminster railway station was closed and the railway line from Taunton to Ilminster and Chard was removed. The railway lines (approx. 40 ft lengths), railway sleepers and various steel fixings were transported to steel mills throughout the country. Here the cranes played a prominent role, driving up the track and lifting the rail sections onto lorries. There was now a demand to transport concrete beams up to 70 to 80 feet long for the construction of bridges and large industrial buildings. Specialist vehicles consisting of heavy 6 wheeled tractor units and rear steerable bogies were bought to meet this demand. Hydraulic cranes were now available. A 12 ton capacity crane together with a 15 ton capacity crane were bought from Coles in Stockton on Tees.

The fleet now consisted of 30 vehicles, 50% of which were articulated. The remaining vehicles were 4 and 6 wheeled rigids, 6 mobile cranes, trailers from 30 to 50 feet in length and 3 steerable bogies. Drivers and mechanics numbered 50.

The running of the business was becoming more demanding and May’s health was not good. It was decided that the business should be merged or taken over by a larger company. In August 1966 Small’s Transport was bought by The Heavy Transport Company Ltd, which was a transport subsidiary of English China Clays Ltd of St Austell, Cornwall. Mervyn became depot manager and Michael assistant manager. On Mervyn’s retirement in 1970, Michael became manager. At that time, Ilminster was halfway house between Cornwall and London and became an important staging post for The Heavy Transport Co. However, with the completion of the M4 and M5 motorways, Ilminster lost its geographical importance to the company and the depot closed in 1973.

Mervyn bought the property back from The Heavy Transport Co and leased it to Kings Road Tyres. He later created the Slape Industrial Estate.

May died 3rd August 1972 aged 64.

                                             

 

 

 

Mervyn with grandson  Christopher 1978

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mervyn died 6th May 2002 aged 92

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