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 When nationalisation was mooted. a major point of opposition from drivers was that there would be too much supervision and it would no longer be possible to fiddle the night out money and expenses. Also, work the colossal number of hours to boost the totally inadequate wages. There were large companies such as General Roadways, Eastern Roadways, McNamara and Spans the South to name a few, with well run, well maintained fleets which went on to form the backbone of what became BRS.

 

At the same time many hauliers felt they too would lose their freedom to squeeze every penny out of poorly maintained, well-worn vehicles and hard pressed drivers. Many hauliers relied on keeping wages down so that drivers were compelled to work long hours to make up their wages. In 1948 there was a huge anti-nationalisation campaign run largely by Henry Dutfield of H & G Dutfield who arranged for van loads of petitions to be delivered to Downing Street. When it came to light that at the same time he was organising the take over of his firm on favourable terms finally finishing up on the Road Haulage Executive he earned the sobriquet "Judas" still being used by those old hands in road haulage well into the '80s.

 

In 1948 there was a big anti-nationalisation rally, A newspaper photograph shows the massed ranks and at the front the Elsden brothers holding up a huge banner. What makes it memorable is that in 1952 a photograph in (possibly) the TGWU Record showed the even bigger anti-denationalisation rally and right at the front those same brothers now with their attitude fully transformed by the improvements instituted by BRS. These included proper pay, closely regulated working hours not only by statute, but by the management and the unions. Also, being allowed enough time to do the Job, with well maintained vehicles and every kind of support readily available. This support demonstrated by the size of the fuel tank on the Bristol eight wheeler which, at 32 gallons, was enough to travel between any two depots. All these things are still visible in the accurately restored vehicles on display at many classic vehicle shows.

 

It is soon forgotten that BRS. vehicles were the first to have cab heaters, proper radiator blinds and general attention to providing a decent working environment for the driver. The big square "boxy" cab of the last model Bristol cab was state of the art. BRS. went on to cooperate with Scammell to produce the Crusader. The impact that nationalisation had on road haulage and the movement of goods is shown by the effort of the incoming Tory government to make denationalisation of the industry its first objective and get back to the exploitative laissez-faire attitude which existed prior to 1948. Many old hands still say, "1948 was a step forward and 1952 a step back."