IN A WAY SOME OF US CAN ONLY DREAM, JON HARLE SCALED UP…
Did you ever have a toy that determined the direction of your career? I did! Like any small boy growing up in the 1960s I had a collection of Matchbox cars and lorries. But my favourite was a Pickfords lowloader. The trailer had two 3-axled bogies, and it was pulled by a Scammell Constructor in that evocative dark blue and white livery. From the moment I was given it, I knew I wanted to work for Pickfords Heavy Haulage.
Sure enough, several years later I left school after my A-levels and successfully applied for a job with Pickfords as a trainee traffic operator. I started at the company’s Park Royal depot in London in May, 1976. The biggest wagon we had was a Scammell Handyman with a 20-ton lowloader. But it was Pickfords. And it was a Scammell!
It was during that time that I first came to know one of the stars of the fleet: TM1277, the 12-axled 300-ton capacity girder trailer. In those days, all abnormal load movements through London had to take place at night: one summer’s evening I climbed up the ladder into the steersman cab on the rear of the empty trailer. I was astounded that even the empty trailer needed a police escort! But the outfit was about a hundred and thirty feet long, and weighed over a hundred tons!