Road Haulage Archive #1 - Seddon

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Road Haulage Archive

Issue #1 - Seddon

OLDHAM’S FINEST SICE 1938 
Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: Kelsey Publishing; 1st edition February 2015
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781909786875
ISBN-13: 978-1-909786-87-5


Origins
The origins of the lorry-making company came about in an unusual way. Herbert Seddon returned home to the Manchester area in 1919 from serving in the Royal Flying Corps. He realised the demand for transport and, rather than return to the family butchering business, began buying and selling motor vehicles. He became so well-known that Ernest Foster asked for his help in selecting a new vehicle for his expanding milk round. They actually bought a Commer char-a-banc. Herbert’s father offered financial backing, provided Herbert’s brother Robert shared the business. Thus Foster & Seddon was established.

Running trips from their Pendleton, Salford base to the seaside, ploughing the operating revenue back and existing on the tips, the partners built up a thriving business. The fleet grew to 18 vehicles, mainly Commers, leading to a distributorship for the marque, plus the odd Dennis. Morris car and light truck dealerships followed, with Commer being replaced by Lancia in 1925. Meanwhile, haulage of goods replaced the seaside trips during the winter. With the depression biting, the directors of Foster & Seddon realised the potential for second-hand and reconditioned vehicles. The company had a well-equipped workshop and soon built up a reputation for rebuilt Leylands, AECs and Thornycrofts, which were made as good as new. The company’s auditor, Harry Redmond, was persuaded to join as company secretary, then a director. In 1930, turnover was just £30,000, contrasting with the £80 million when Harry retired 47 years later.

Success with the rebuilt lorries led to a distributorship for the American truck-builders, Reo. Reo had a plant in Hammersmith, West London, where a high proportion of local parts and materials were included in the vehicles built there, which led to success in the British market. Foster & Seddon sold 150 Reo lorries in 1933, out of the 1,000 or so produced at Hammersmith. The improved finahcial position of the company led Robert Seddon to think seriously about the company building its own lorries. He sketched out a design for an oil-engined lorry, which could carry six tons and be legally capable of 30 mph. In those days, this meant that it had to weigh under 2½ tons complete, or be restricted to 20 mph.

At the 1936 Motor Show, Perkins exhibited a new fast-revving diesel engine. This was the famous P6, then known as the Panther. Seddon designed a light chassis frame, with 8 inch deep side members, to take the P6, with the company’s own four speed gearbox, 3 ton and 5½ ton axles, front and rear, on leaf springs. A unique sheet steel floor pressing, incorporating front mudguards, dash panel and engine cover, made a light but stiff structure on which to build the cab.


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