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Home page » About Tennant Transport
Walking around Tennant's newly delivered DAF CF Euro 5 tractor unit admiring its recently applied traditional livery, it made me think how far road transport has progressed in the last century or so.
Yes, this is a story of great progress over four generations which was literally staring me in the face, as in one hand I carefully carried some black and white photographs of the firm's first horses and carts, no doubt produced back then at some expense and in the other hand was my digital SLR camera, ready to record several instant colour images of this new high tech 6x2 prime mover.
Away back in 1900 some principles were the same as today; in that for your business to survive, often as not you must diversify.
Peter Tennant started with his horse and cart delivering all manner of goods around his home village of Forth, most of which was collected from and delivered to the nearest railway station at Wilsontown.
A charabanc was amongst the first motor powered vehicles to join his fleet and this double purpose vehicle, which carried cargo through the week and passengers at the weekend would set a business precedent for later years.
In the 1930's, Peter's two sons; Peter Jnr and Tom, assisted by sisters; Nance, May and Cath also ran a coach fleet alongisde the road transport concern and this dual operation continued right up until the mid 1990s when the coach operation finished.
In the heydays coaches accounted for about 50% of the fleet and at one stage were 20 in number.
Back in the pre-driver legislation days, it was quite the norm for the weekeday lorry drivers to drive the coaches at the weekend and there was some fierce competition over who did what tour route!
The family business, which in all the years has operated from the same premises in their home village's main street, survived the two world wars and nationalisation intact, despite some of the bus fleet being requisitioned by the War Office during the latter conflict.
In the early days Ian Tennant recalls that most of the haulage work was local, with agricultural work being a cornerstone of the business. Up to ten cattle trucks were operated at a time alongisde the general haulage fleet.
Tennant Transport started the collection of milk from farms in cans and through time the cans were replaced by milk tankers. This work expanded over the years and the company had a dedicated milk depot at Lanark where they operated 12 farm collection tankers, collecting milk from as far South as Abington to Stirling, Fife and as far east as Haddington.
This milk was then transhipped into 10 artic bulkers for onward movement to Aberdeen, Newcastle and Manchester. This mainstay would often throw up a few challenges, particularly in the harder winters of years gone by, when accessing some of the more rural farms could be difficult if not impossible.
The 1960's witnessed progress in leaps and bounds as the next generation; Ian and the third Peter Tennant, who followed in the tradition of joining their father in the business.
Ian recalls that their first venture into long distance in the early 60s was moving cattle feeding from Birkenhead to the local Lanarkshire farms.
This was followed by their involvement with Turner & Newell moving asbestos from Clydebank to all over the UK. The fleet at this time consisted of a fine selection of British lorries, primarily Albion, Chieftains and Reivers, Leyland and ERF.
These vehicles, although they did sterling work, always seemed to have major overhauls on the go. With so many different models requiring a wide variety of parts, they almost had a full time spares collector on the road!
Every day you could bet on a tyre, road spring or half shaft failure and the mechanics were never short of work....