The History Of The Lorry Driver

For a long time now lorry’s and trucks have been critical in moving goods up and down the country and to customers overseas. Everywhere you look on today’s modern roads you will see long-haul HGV’s transporting anything and everything from one place to another. There’s no denying it, lorry driving jobs take people places every day of the year!

Of course, it wasn’t always the case. At one time in the past it was rare to see anything approaching the size of a truck, lorry or HGV on the road – and back then it was literally a road. One road connected the vast majority of the UK together, instead of the thousands of motorways, A roads and other roads we see today.

1900’s – The Birth Of Lorry Driving

Back in the early 1900’s if a truck was travelling the roads, their tyres were made of solid rubber, making the journey very slow and rough for the driver. This made it very undesirable to be a truck driver right up until the 1920’s, when pneumatic (air filled) tyres were introduced, making the ride much easier on the driver and allowing them to drive at much higher speeds. This in turn helped speed up the shipping and freighting process. Without this innovation, lorry driving would not have become the booming industry it is today. Another big influence on the development of ‘trucking’ as an industry was a demonstration by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, who sponsored a truck and driver to travel from Seattle to New York in 1916. The trip showed the manufacturers and merchants of the country that highways and truck transports were going to become major influences. The whole trip took a total of 31 days!

The 1920’s – Let There Be Light 

In 1912, the first lorry was equipped with electric running lights, which allowed it to travel during the night and make up for time previously spent sleeping and waiting until it was light. This could essentially double the progress a driver could make in a journey, speeding up the freighting process. The in the 1920’s the fifth wheel innovation came to be, which radically sped up the process of picking up and dropping off loads from lorry trips. These two inventions added speed and efficiency into the delivery process, and there was a big spike in new lorry drivers and routes being planned by businesses who has seen the success of their competitors. Thanks to this and the installation of thousands of new roads, there were over 329,000 long haul lorries registered in the country by the 1930’s.


The 1950’s – Wartime Worries


During the 1950’s the price of diesel and petrol was a lot higher than it is today. This made it very expensive for long haul drivers – especially those operating refrigerated vehicles, as these took a lot of fuel (both petrol and propane) to keep them chilled and working properly. During World War 1, many trucking companies began manufacturing lorries and trucks for the war effort and transport, sending the number of registered long haul vehicles skyrocketing. In total 227,000 new lorries and trucks were produced during this time, and the many long haul and haulage companies today were founded from this boom in industry.

Of course now it’s something we don’t even think about. Seeing hundreds of lorries on the road during your morning commute is just an average day, but in reality it’s a booming industry that been decades in the making. It’s hard to imagine a world without an army of trucks, lorries and HGV’s to deliver produce and goods anywhere we care to send them. We can’t wait to see the next big development in lorry driving – though we hope it isn’t the self-driving lorry! For more information about lorry driving or to start your journey to becoming a HGV driver, get in touch with us today.