FOR A COMPANY TO CELEBRATE ITS 20TH, 30TH OR EVEN 50TH ANNIVERSARY IS NOT THAT UNUSUAL: BUT FOR IMMINGHAM-BASED HEAVY HAULIER, JOHN SOMERSCALES LTD, 2015 HAS SEEN THEM BOTH CELEBRATE THEIR 115TH ANNIVERSARY AND EXPAND INTO A NEW PURPOSE-BUILT DEPOT. DAVID WESTON REPORTS.
The current owner and managing director, John Somerscales, is the third John Somerscales – and the fourth generation of the family to run the company. John’s great-grandfather (the original John Somerscales) used heavy horses on his farm in the North Lincolnshire village of Keelby. Finding that branching out into road haulage was a natural progression, he carried out his ﬁrst paying road transport job on 21st February 1900. That involved the transport of two round timber loads from Stallingborough to Joseph Ogle’s sawmill at Grimsby – for the princely sum of one pound and ﬁve shillings. His original invoice for this job is still displayed in his great-grandson’s office.
John subsequently had three sons, Tom, Herbert, and Stan. The sons continued to be involved in timber leading with the horses ﬁnally giving way to Latil timber tractors. During the Second World War, Stan became a Squadron Leader in the RAF piloting Halifax four-engine heavy bombers. He was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) before, sadly, being shot down by a night ﬁghter and killed over Holland.
With the coming of BRS (British Road Services), Somerscales escaped nationalisation because the business was involved in timber: and, to this day, the family continues to be heavily involved in the timber trade, operating both a timber haulage company and a large timber mill at Keelby.
After leaving school, Tom and Herbert’s sons – John, Roger and Peter – joined the company. During the 60s vehicles were usually 4x2s, and were used to transport timber, long steel and round bar. The preferred vehicle manufacturers of the day were ERF and AEC. This all changed in 1968, however, when John F Somerscales (the current John’s father) tried a Scania-Vabis LB76. From then, the company used Scania and Volvo vehicles. John still has one of the original LB76s, which is currently undergoing a full restoration in Holland.