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The Heavies 2020: Operator of the Year






As they say ‘from Acorns grow Oaks’, and that certainly is the story of Allelys. Founded in 1959 by Maurice Allely, the company specialised in livestock transport across the whole of the UK. Little did he know that his sons, Pete, Dave & Rob would take the company and develop it in to UK’s Leading Specialist Multimodal Transport company that it is now.

The success of Allelys is built on, Service, Dependability, Resourcefulness and an unlimited amount of Determination, to make the difficult look easy.

Allelys provide transport solutions on a daily basis for next day collection/delivery service utilising our Pallet Ways franchise. General Haulage of any cargo up to 80te gross weight, Heavy Haulage specialising in rolling stock transport, beit new or historic. Allelys Projects the specialist department dedicated to turn key project solutions, for transport and site heavy lifting services for the biggest loads that you see on the UK roads.

Allelys have also a Factory Installations Department that specialise in decommissioning and commissioning of Automotive presses, beit singular or complete factory press lines, and can be often seen working in all of the automotive manufacturing facilities across the UK and in to Europe. Vauxhall, Ford, Toyota, JLR and Nissan are just but a few of the blue-chip companies, that call on Allelys for their expertise.

At the Head Quarters in Studley we offer specialised heavy cargo storage in our various warehouse. General cargo storage in our narrow isle warehousing complex, along with outside storage for some of the larger and awkward shapes and sizes of cargo.

Allelys also have 50% ownership of our joint venture company ‘Osprey Heavy Lift’. Operated from our JV company are 3 Heavy Lift Crane, with the LG 1750 being one of the largest road going mobile cranes in the UK market. Along with the cranes we operate 130 axle lines of SPMT (Self Propelled Modular Trailers).

Within Allelys Projects is our Engineering department, that produces all of our operational documentation, along with safety instructions. We support Scottish & Southern Electricity with route surveys and feasibility studies, along with bridge investigations and approvals.

Being a family owned business we pride ourselves with the levels of services that we offer, mixed in with a personal feel to our customers.

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Expansion & Investment

2019/20 sees Collett undertake further expansion with the addition of our new 76,000sq ft warehousing Depot in Bradford. Answering our customer’s increasing demands for storage, Collett & Sons Ltd have invested in a dedicated 2.32 acre site situated less than two miles from Junction 26 of the M62. This new facility is added to our existing 5 acres of indoor and outdoor storage at our Halifax head office, 12 acres at our specialist heavy lift facility in Goole and our 3 acre portside Grangemouth site in Scotland. Further expanding our warehousing and storage facilities, this new investment can accommodate long and short term storage requirements, furnished with cargo lift and handling equipment up to 12,000Kg.

Not restricted to our premises, our fleet has also seen expansion with the addition of:

Three new MAN 6×4 heavy duty trucks
These STGO CAT3 vehicles feature 580 HP engines and meet all Euro 6 Emission Standards. With the first arriving in April, these vehicles are fully operational across our fleet.

R410 6×2 Scania complete with Effer 685.6S V-Stab 68 Tonne/metre crane
Featuring 6 boom extensions with a lift capacity of 18.8 Tonnes at 2.92 metres, and 2.93 Tonnes at 17.3 metres. The two front out riggers extend in a V shape, allowing the boom to move across the front of the tractor unit, providing the crane with a 360° slewing arc.

MAN TGS 41.480 8×8 tractor unit complete with Fassi F1150RA.2.26 115 Tonne/metre crane
Featuring 6 boom extensions with a lift capacity of 22 Tonnes at 4.15 metres and 5.62 Tonnes at 15.45 metres. This 8×8 crane vehicle offers the ability to not only be used as a heavy duty haulage tractor, but also offers the additional option for use as a ballasted tractor.

2019 also saw Collett achieve several new accolades:

First in our sector for ISO 45001
With the migration of OHSAS to the new ISO 45001, in early January 2019 we became the first in our sector to be awarded with this accolade.

Motor Transport Awards Team of the Year
After entering the Motor Transport Awards for the first time, Collett were presented with the Team of the Year award for our three transformer National Grid project. Judges said, “The project was extremely challenging, especially as these high profile moves attracted a lot of publicity and the Team were under great pressure to deliver.” One judge was especially impressed with the breadth of service provided by Collett, while another said, “They had only one shot to get it right and they smashed it out of the park!”

FTA Road Freight Operator of the Year
Again, on our first time of entering, Collett were presented with the Road Freight Operator of the Year by the Freight Transport Association.

International Cranes & Specialized Transport, ICT50
For the thirteenth consecutive year Collett have featured on the ICT50, the world’s 50 largest heavy hauliers and specialised transport equipment owning companies. For 2019 Collett feature at number 39 with a combined modular trailer capacity of 6,340 Tonnes and a combined specialised trailer capacity of 6,713 Tonnes, providing a total of 13,053 Tonnes.

Sky One’s COBRA Series
Not an award or an accreditation but still an important accolade. Collett took on an important cameo role in Sky One’s latest drama series, utilising our Mercedes-Benz Arocs SLT 8×4 and drawbar 12-row to deliver a vitally important super grid transformer.

Notable Projects
Throughout 2019 we’ve undertaken a plethora of projects, here are some of the more notable ones:

Sarens SGC-250, the World’s largest crane
Completed in July 2019, Collett undertook over 400 deliveries to the Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Plant. After working two twelve hour shifts to discharge all the components from their arrival vessel at Avonmouth, Collett systematically delivered all components, with a cumulative weight of over 3,000 Metric Tonnes. With a Delivery Management System in place by HPC, each delivery, driver, vehicle and load had to be notified 72 hours in advance, providing a tight 1 hour time slot in which to complete each delivery, a task which had to be repeated for each of the 400 loads.

Sellindge Substation Transformer
From the Port of Dover, we made the 30 mile trip to Sellindge Substation in Kent to deliver the 335 Tonne transformer. Travelling at a maximum speed of 10mph, the 79.5m long loaded combination arrived on site, with our Team then undertaking SPMT manoeuvres utilising a 4-file 10-axle configuration before final jacking & skidding in to position. A popular story amongst our followers, with the video of our Team departing Dover attracting a reach of 1.1 million across three of our social media channels.

Clocaenog Wind Farm
Over 6 months in 2019 we delivered 27 Vestas V105 turbines to the North Wales Clocaenog Wind Farm. Through the snow of January, the storms of February and the record breaking heat of July, our Team methodically delivered each of the 270 components. With a total of 121 abnormal load movements and 15 self-escorted convoys, our Team covered a staggering 16,929 miles with a total of 12,420 Tonnes

Three transformers in four weeks
In a project which awarded us the Motor Transport Team of the Year and the FTA Road Freight Operator of the Year awards, we delivered Willenhall, Cellarhead and Lovedean super gird transformers in only four weeks. With a cumulative total of 168 miles and 507 Tonnes, this project involved all pre-planning works, the discharging of each transformer from their originating vessel, delivery, road closures, SPMT operations and final jacking & skidding in to position. A prestigious project for the Collett Team and a hat-trick we’re extremely proud of!

The UK’s largest Contract for Difference
One of our largest renewable projects to date, in late 2018 we delivered 59 Vestas V90 turbines, featuring 44m blades, to Dorenell onshore wind farm near Dufftown. Comprising of 531 components each from four separate European locations, our Team systematically transported each of the blades, nacelles, hubs, nose cones and top, middle & bottom tower sections the 80 miles from the Port of Inverness. With the addition of a change of port to Aberdeen for the final components to avoid essential works on the A96, our Team successfully completed the project, gaining praise from EDF Renewables for a project excellently executed.

We’ve helped restore access to the flood damaged Dales, transported a 62 metre footbridge to Leicester, and taking a festive turn, we installed the Christmas tree at Halifax’s iconic Grade I listed cloth hall, The Piece Hall.

In a year that’s seen us travel the length and breadth of the UK, these are just a snippeT of the major projects we’ve completed.

In other news, Managing Director David Collett was unanimously re-elected as the President of ESTA, The European Association of Abnormal Road Transport and Mobile Cranes. This third, and final term, will see David at the helm of the organisation for the next three years, completing a total of nine years spearheading the association. Whilst closer to home we’ve celebrated our longest serving employee’s 56 years with the company as Jack turned 92, and still religiously clocks in for work each morning!

All in all Collett is a well oiled machine with dedicated and experienced employees and top of the line equipment capable of taking on the largest and most prestigious projects. Not only completing them on time but to the highest standards gaining praise from our loyal customer base and generating column inches across the media.

Operator of the Year - Dorenell Wind Farm
Operator of the Year - Lovedean Transformer
Operator of the Year - Sarens Crane
Operator of the Year - Sellindge Transformer
Operator of the Year - Willenhall Transformer
Operator of the Year - Clocaenog Wind Farm




The company started out well before the internal combustion engine had started making its mark on the UK’s roads. An early photograph in the S Lyon archives dating from the start of the 20th century shows a horse and cart proudly displaying the name Spencer Lyon Carting – the first record of the firm’s origins.

The location of this photo is important in telling the story of S Lyon’s success: it was taken inside the premises of industrial equipment manufacturer Ruston in Beevor Street, Lincoln. The company, which in 1930 joined up with US firm Bucyrus-Erie to form Ruston Bucyrus, was an early manufacturer of locomotives and steam shovels, and went on to make excavators, engines and gas turbines.

And, for much of the 20th century, the fortunes of S Lyon & Son were linked to those of this local manufacturing giant. The haulier started out using horses and carts to move industrial equipment for the firm, and then continued through the decades, building up its fleet of trucks and trailers to carry the heavy excavators, cranes and mining equipment that came out of the Lincoln factory, as well as the tanks and armoured cars it made during WWII.

S Lyon’s longest serving employee Arthur Hunter, who worked for the firm for over 40 years, remembers when the company got its first vehicle in the 1940s – a Bedford – to replace the horses. This was quickly followed by two others, one of which Hunter started driving when he was just 12 years old. Regulations were a bit more lax in those days, and Hunter says you could “pay two and six for a licence on Silver Street” in the city. One of his first trips in the lorry was to London – a journey that took seven hours in those days.

After the Bedfords, the firm’s next investment was in two AEC trucks which, according to Hunter, “you had to stand up to drive”. Again, a far cry from today’s comfortable cabs with all mod cons. These larger vehicles were mainly used with low-loaders for the Ruston Bucyrus equipment.

The workload continued to grow throughout the 1960s and 70s under the management of the second generation of Lyons – another Spencer (Ellis) – and subsequently Geoff Lyon, who was in charge until his death in 2017. The only hiccup came in 1985, when Ruston Bucyrus was bought by its management, and severed ties with the Americans, with the remaining part of the business becoming RB Lincoln. “At the time my grandad had 15 or 16 trucks running in and out of RB,” says current operations director and the fourth generation of the family to run the haulage business, Warren Lyon. “With the decline of it, they had all their eggs in one basket.”

The fleet was reduced in size, but to offset the loss of business at RB, the firm started diversifying into other sectors, such as moving drainage pipes from York, and drilling rigs for the oil and gas industry. As a result, under Warren’s father Geoff, the business became more diverse, and numbers went back up.

Warren Lyon says he was always destined to join the family firm: “Dad’s idea of babysitting was to be at RB messing about on trailers. It was in my blood. When I left school, I went to be a fitter, but it didn’t agree with me. So I started here as second man/van driver, and then worked my way up to Cat 1.”

Warren’s brother Craig is also in the business, running the boiler and machinery installation side. “We can move 100-tonne boilers,” explains Lyon. “We can jack them up onto a trailer, and put them on skates to install them. The drivers do installations and we also have our own installation staff, which means we can deliver, offload and position them into the building. It’s an all-round service.”

The firm still moves a lot of construction equipment, with a major client being JCB specialist TC Harrison Plant, and has also developed a market in moving demolition equipment. “There are lots of demolition companies in this area, and we move their plant and machines all over the country,” says Lyon. In 2016 the company invested in a six-axle Manoovr semi low-loader from Nooteboom specifically for moving large equipment that requires an ultra-low floor height.

Most of S Lyon’s heavy trailers are from either Nooteboom, Broshuis or Doll. “If you spend a little bit more money and get something that’s worthwhile, trailers will last forever if they get serviced properly,” says Lyon.

The trucks at the heavy end of the fleet have historically been Volvos – Geoff Lyon was a big fan of the Swedish manufacturer – but recent purchases have included a DAF and various Scanias. “I don’t know what my dad would think,” says Lyon.

The choice of vehicle is partly based on driver preference. “Warren and Craig decide, but they do take notice of the drivers,” says Transport Manager Sally Lyon, who joined the firm in 2004 and runs the office. “We want to make them happy in what they’re working in.”

Lyon adds: “Recruitment is very hard. I’m not saying the tail should wag the dog, but once we’ve trained somebody that can do the job, they should have a little bit of a say in things.”

In the past few years, S Lyon’s business has taken what Lyon calls “a different path”, thanks to a very successful relationship with Briton Fabricators, based nearby in Nottinghamshire. The manufacturer specialises in fabricating road and rail bridges, and S Lyon delivers these structures to project sites throughout the UK (see box).

Briton is supplying all the gantries, signage structures and footbridges for the A14 upgrade. In anticipation of this work, S Lyon has applied for and received the Silver level of accreditation under the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS). The company, which was already in possession of FORS bronze, has just undertook its first delivery to the Thames Tideway project in London, and Lyon is aware that high profile clients like this demand the highest standards when it comes to safety accreditation. “It’s a big investment for FORS, and it takes a lot of time, but we may go for Gold,” he says.

Other current clients include Lane Rental Services, which uses S Lyon to move its in situ cold recycling machine, and industrial boiler specialist Cochran, based in Annan in Scotland, for whom S Lyon is the preferred haulier. The firm also gets employed every year to transport specialist machinery that is brought from Holland to Immingham docks to be used to maintain flood defences on the Lincolnshire coast. “It’s a Dutch company who ask us to bring two big machines and three dozers from Immingham, offload it, and take back at the end,” explains Lyon. “They choose us for reliability and quality of personnel.”

The company currently employs 11 drivers, each driving a dedicated tractor unit. “It’s a nice size now,” says Lyon. “It would lose its personal touch if it got any bigger.”

That personal touch is evident in the firm’s links to the local community. S Lyon pays for the kit for a youth football team based in the nearby village of Saxilby, and every year installs a Christmas tree in support of local hospice St Barnabas at Lincoln Cathedral, a charity very close to the hearts of the Lyon family and staff. “It’s one of the most important things we do,” says Lyon.


In mid-2018, S Lyon undertook one of its biggest projects, delivering a new footbridge to Northumberland Park in north London as part of a major upgrade of the station. The haulier was contracted by Hucknall-based Briton Fabricators – a long term customer, which uses S Lyon to transport the majority of its large steel structures.

Elements for the new bridge were collected from three different sites, at Hucknall, Doncaster and Scunthorpe, and together made up more than 30 loads, ranging from 12 to 21m in length. Route surveys were done in advance of the delivery, due to length of some of the loads.

Many of the deliveries were scheduled to be done at night, so the trucks were loaded up the previous day before to ensure they got there in time for the allocated time slot for tipping. “It was a live line, so unloading was scheduled around closures,” explains Transport Manager Sally Lyon.

All 11 of S Lyon’s drivers were involved in the project, as well as some subcontractors from other haulage firms. In order to fulfil the contract within a tight time frame, some of the drivers had to collect a load, take it to the site in London, offload and then come back for a second load.



Farm Lane Bridge over the M49, North of Avonmouth.

Supply, fabricate, paint, deliver and install 3 x 33m long braced pairs of plate girders. Britons to deliver beams to site, Galliford to install formwork and paraslim, Britons to install.


We have 11 HGV drivers (2 directors are included in this) and 2 office staff that coordinate everything together with staff members from Britons. Of course we are up against the pitfalls of the weather, drivers hours, loading times, road closures and tip times.


Jamie Pilbeam joined S Lyon & Son eight years ago at the age of 17. He drives the company’s latest acquisition, a Scania V8 R520 XT.

When did you decide you wanted to be an HGV driver?
“Within the first year of working with S Lyon I knew I wanted to drive lorries myself if ever given the chance, and I was lucky enough to get given the chance thanks to S Lyon. I wanted to because I get to go all over the country seeing different places.”

What do you like most about the job?
“The thing I like the most is the variety of work – there’s never a day the same. I particularly like doing abnormal and heavy [work] because it’s always different and interesting.”

What is the worst thing about the job?
“Traffic is one of the worst things, along with some long days/hours.”

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
“I haven’t really got a favourite or most interesting project; we do a wide range of boilers, gantries and plant, and I enjoy it all.”

Ben Oglesbee has been a driver at S Lyon & Son for more than 10 years, but got the haulage bug at the age of 12, after spending time at the company during school holidays. He left school at 16 and a week later moved from Boston to Lincoln to work at S Lyon full time. He now drives a Volvo Globetrotter XL FH 540 150-tonne double drive.

When did you decide you wanted to be an HGV driver?
“When I was at school I never knew what I wanted to be until I starting helping at Lyons; then it just seemed like a career I would enjoy day in day out. I started off as a yard boy washing lorries, being a trailer boy and helping in the garage, then went on the installation side putting boilers and machine tools in factories and hospitals etc. Then I got my driving licence and went into escorting, and then worked my way up to what I do now. I have had my Class 1 [licence] nearly five years now, and still can’t believe I have a brand new truck and get to do the things I do already.”

What do you like most about the job?
“There are so many little things about the job that make it great. A big bit is the truck; I mean what other jobs are there where you get given something worth the money it is and get told it’s yours? It’s basically giving you a home and transport in one bundle. I am a big fan of music, so being able to listen to music all day while you work is awesome. I also like the challenge of loading the unusual loads we take where you have to use your head to work out how to get them on safely and secured; and the task of taking them down the road is always fun, especially when people ask how you got that round there and take an interest.”

What is the worst thing about the job?
“I think the worst thing about the job is the risks involved with driving on the roads these days – not just other people on the road you have to think about, but also the rules and regulations we have to follow. There are that many rules about driving hours you need a degree to know it all. I also say that there is so much more risk compared to money in this job that there is no wonder young people aren’t coming into the industry; it’s only people like me that are brought up in it that want to do it these days. There isn’t any other job where you have people stopping you doing your job and giving you fines that are more than your week’s wage for trying to earn a living.”

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
“It’s so hard just to pick one. There are a few that I really enjoyed, one of them being the pontoon job I did last year. This was where we took 19 pontoons out of Falmouth and took six to Heysham, 12 to Barrow-in-Furness and one to Immingham. These were 6m wide and weighed 78 tonnes each. Doing one load each on two lorries a week kept me busy for a long time. Another of my favourite jobs was doing the smart motorways for Britons Fabricators doing a range of different full span gantries and sign gantries is always interesting. Another Britons job that was a favourite is the Heads of the Valley project that’s on going now, delivering unusual bridges to the A465 project that are long, wide and unusual shapes ranging from 30 to 80 tonnes. The final project I enjoy is one we do every year which is for the sea defences at Anderby Creek. We take a 360 [excavator], loading shovel, and three dozers to the beach near Sutton-on-sea to do the sea defences project.

First row of images:  Cock Lane, Werrington
Second row of images: Northumberland Park

Please find herewith a list of all completed and ongoing projects:



In 2019 we celebrated 125th years in business, expanded our road haulage fleet, and increased our abnormal loads capacity to 150 tonnes.

Describe the main objectives
With 125 years under our belt, we take a long-term view to strategy. Day to day we strive to maintain the highest level of service to ensure customer satisfaction. We believe in the importance of quality equipment maintained to the highest standards, and of well-trained, experienced team members. Our continued success is built on a long reputation for reliability and a can-do attitude: our customers know we will get the job done, no matter how complex.

Our growth comes organically from adapting to the changing requirements of our customers and the industries we serve. In 2019, we purchased several additional pieces of equipment, including a Broshius 4-axle low-loader and a DAF XF 530 8×4. We had noticed a trend toward larger, heavier loads. Keeping these jobs in-house means we are able to better control the project outcomes. We have also increased the size of the regular fleet with a new STGO truck and flatbed vans to provide flexibility and support for complex projects.

Celebrating our anniversary, we undertook a wide-ranging PR campaign and rebranded our fleet with a new, gold “125” insignia. Meanwhile, DAF have run several campaigns focusing on our new truck, including a photoshoot, article in Heavy Torque, and a video.

What were the outcomes?
2019 has been a very successful year for the Transport team, both in terms of the press coverage generated by our anniversary, and in terms of work done.

Early in the year we began to make plans to promote our new truck, but word of mouth and the basic need for this capacity has meant the truck has been in use from the day it was delivered. It has been in action on a range of projects in the marine, energy, civils and shipping sectors.

Meanwhile the rest of the fleet has also become steadily busier in line with our targets for sustainable growth.

In short (40 words), please summaries your entry
In our 125th year in business, we are pleased to have upgraded our road transport fleet and expanded our capacity with a new heavy-haul truck and trailer.


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