Rossiter and James of Parkend in the late 1930s.
Above: Robert's sketch of Albion KG127
The Web Site portrays the wagons belonging to Rossiter and James as being a most modern fleet , but back in the late 1930's that was not so.
I first became aquainted with these lorries in 1941 having started work as a 15 year old at Watts Factors Ltd. where most of their maintenance was carried out. The fleet consisted chiefly of 4 wheeled Albion 127's with either a 4 cylinder petrol engine or the 'pride and joy' with a Gardener 4 L K diesel engine. Wooden driver cabs clad with metal and a fixed body of wood carrying say 7 or 8 tons of coal or coke. There were no tippers in those days, hydraulics [oil] were a thing of the future, at least a few years away. The driver in those days needed a good physique. It was unlikely to have a self starter fitted to those early engines, you used the decompresion lever, grasped the starting handle firmly in the right hand, swung the the engine around as fast as possible, and released the lever to apply the compression - and it should start. On a cold winter morning two men on the handle, a couple pulling on a piece of rope attached to the handle, then one... two... three pulling it in to the compression cycle, and hopefully it would start.
The load to transfer from lorry to where-ever, was a no. 10 shovel, and you shovelled what ever was on, off. "Twas a tough and hard job, and very dirty handling coal" an ex employee told me.
When I was working for the firm none of the lorries had the R & J names painted on them. I felt sorry for a driver starting work for the first time. He asked Mr. Simeon James where his mate was to help him load. "Here you are mate, here you are mate, Sir". (he called everyone Sir!) and handed him a No. 10 shovel!. (The new fleet of lorries was very much up to date rather than the old Albion KG127) Mr. James continued ... "Don't forget, grasp the handle in the right hand, decompressor lever in the left hand, and turn the engine briskly." (If you were left handed how would you decompress!). I, (Robert) would say, "Give it a good push down the hill into Parkend! I was unable to locate a photo of this fleet of wagons dating pre WW2. There were lots of these models used by haulage companies and individual enterprising men. One large company was Mr. George Read of Mitcheldean who had many of these vehicles. No doubt someone would be able to supply us with such a picture. I include a sketch that I made .. perhaps this may trigger someones memory.
By: Robert Watkins
John Wilcox added: "... As a matter of interest at least some of the metal clothed wooden cabs were produced in a small garage [shed] at Woodside in Bream by my Uncle, Mr Bill Peachey. I am not sure for how long, or how many, but can recall seeing the wooden frames, one of which remained outside for quite a while, presumably unsold or unwanted. I also recall my father, who did some part time wartime driving, advising me that such was the chassis flex on a loaded vehicle that handbrakes were not adjusted too well otherwise they would be impossible to release once a vehicle was loaded".
George Gwilliam added (January 2019): "... When I was 16 I worked at my Father's pit in Braceland and can Rember Rossiter and James collecting coal, shovelling it by hand. Can still remember the shovel was as tall as the driver".
Above: an ad placed by Rossiter and James from 1929
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