The United Kingdom has never been one to sit back and watch the world go by. So it should come as no surprise to hear that the UK was a pioneer in the field of transportation and the conveyance of goods and people long before it became an industry in itself. During the late 19th century Britain enjoyed the birth of the industrial revolution and with it a growth in haulage jobs. The steady evolution of what we now know as the modern vehicle has provided the industry with thousands of jobs and opportunities for work over the years, and it doesn’t appear to be ready to stop. |
One could make the argument that the first haulage jobs came about with the discovery of the wheel. However for the sake of brevity, we’ll jump forward to when the job became somewhat recognisable as that which we know today. In the beginning steam engines were the most common vehicles for transporting goods and people. The increase in demand from the public for more freedom to roam led to smaller, more personal-sized vehicles being created.
In 1895 John Thornycraft designed and built the first steam vehicle in his factory in Chiswick. The rules and regulations surrounding the use and ownership of such vehicles began to be relaxed and the sight of goods being transported by road became much more common. Thus the first haulage jobs were born.
The Joy of Freedom
Between 1903 and 1924 the haulage industry saw a 300 percent growth rate in the UK. By the mid-1920s commercial vehicles were a common occurrence with over 300,000 of them on the roads of Britain. Although firms began to introduce petrol fuelled vehicles, diesel had yet to become an option.
As the popularity and usefulness of road-going vehicles became apparent, the UK began to invest in better road conditions and relevant laws were passed to ensure road-users safety and protection. Laws were also put into place to accommodate and facilitate the growth of the haulage industry which eventually became one of the most important sectors in the country’s economy.
By 1935 Britain’s roadways and vehicles were also identified as vitally important to the war effort. By that time the industry had created over 1,250,000 haulage jobs, including work either directly or indirectly related to them. It was now obvious that the motor industry would forever more play an integral role in the nation’s well-being.
Over the years the haulage and logistics sector has evolved and grown like no other industry. Our constant demand for newer, fresher goods, in better and faster conditions has forced hauliers to keep pace and become more competitive. We have learned to drive smarter with the help of modern technology. Haulage jobs now require a lot more brains than brawn but have remained a profession not to be taken lightly.
Drivers today utilise modern technology such as sat navs, mobile communication and hi-tech security devices. In effect the job could be considered easier and safer than the gruelling work endured by the industry’s’ early pioneers. However, like most jobs, the challenges involved with the work have also evolved just as quickly as its technology devices. The pressure on lorry drivers to meet time demands and work quotas has increased exponentially to what would have been unimaginable levels just 50 years ago.
New Faces of the Industry
Truck driving was once considered a ‘man’s job’ due to the physical nature of the work and the need to be away from home for extended periods of time. However, haulage jobs have become more and more appealing to a much more diverse group of society. The variety and type of work now needed within the industry, from drivers to logistics analysts, have become opportunities for all. Given the consistent growth rate of the haulage, freight and logistics world it is reasonable to expect even more exciting changes in the future.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage jobs with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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