Thank You!

A special thank you to the late Thomas William Riding, former managing director and chief executive of W & J Riding for 25 years, to whom this website is dedicated.

Over the years Tom was kind enough to supply a vast amount of detailed historical information along with many of the superb rare photographs featured and without his invaluable help and dedication this website would not have been possible.

The site now contains over 2500 images, complete with in depth details, all of which are accessible via the main menu & side menu (marked with the mobile menu icon of 3 lines on a mobile & tablet).

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The Complete History of W & J.Riding Ltd

The haulage company of W & J Riding Ltd originated in Longridge near Preston Lancashire in 1922 when local farmers Mr William Riding and his eldest son Jim Riding started to supplement their income by using horse and carts to move coal and cattle food from the local railway station.

Deciding that the future was in using motor vehicles they built a large garage on part of their farmland and named it Daniel Platt Garage, after the adjacent family owned Daniel Platt Farm.

Jim bought a second hand Karrier six tonner from Tommy Cunliffe which allowed them to do much longer journeys but, unfortunately, the lorry was very unreliable and frequently broke down.

However they soldiered on until 1929 when the Karrier was eventually traded in for a brand new Leyland QH4.

The Leyland QH4 four wheeler was a great success and from this time on Leyland lorries would be used almost exclusively by  W & J Riding and by the late 1940’s they were running a 10 strong fleet dominated by Leylands.

Further expansion of the family run firm came to an abrupt halt when on the 1st of July 1948 the company was nationalised and became Unit C132, part of British Road Services Burnley group, with Jim Riding staying on as depot manager.

Three years later, in March 1951, Jim Riding bought a company called Queensgate Motors from his brother-in-law Walter Carefoot whose premises were on Blackpool Road Longridge.

At that time in 1951 Queensgate Motors consisted of just two Bedford tippers and when de-nationalisation began in 1954 a number of former BRS vehicles, with their valuable ‘A’ licences, were purchased and added to the newly named Queensgate Motors (1954) Ltd business which Jim Riding ran as a separate company for a total of nine years from 1951 until 1962, after which time it was wholly amalgamated into the W & J Riding business and the Queensgate Motors name disappeared from all the vehicles when they were repainted.  

On November the 5th 1954 Jim Riding had also bought back his original depot on Whittingham Road along with the vehicles from British Road Services Ltd and decided to retain the original W & J Riding name, even though his father William took no part in the purchase.

At this time Ernie Higginson, from the Preston BRS depot, joined the company and thanks to his connections got Riding’s into the ICI Hillhouse works at Blackpool which opened up a vast amount of traffic for the company between Lancashire and the North East. 

ICI was so impressed with Ridings reliable service that when they opened their giant Wilton site in the North East they made them their prefered haulier for traffic heading up to Scotland and back to the North West.   

As for the family Jim Riding’s eldest son James had already joined the company two years earlier in 1952 after leaving university and in 1956 and after a five year engineering apprenticeship at Leyland Motors from 1949 to 1954 and two years National Service from 1954 to 1956 his other son Tom also joined the company in November 1956.

By this time Ridings had established what it called ‘The Golden Triangle’ where general haulage traffic was flowing between the North West, North East and Central Scotland with the general haulage fleet never going  further south than Birmingham or further north than Glasgow and only went as far East as Teesside.

Ridings used the clearing house connections of David Vetters to find back loads from Scotland before opening their own depots in Scotland and one on Teesside and acquired substantial amounts of contract work especially from the ICI plants at both Teesside and locally in Lancashire along with transporting vast amounts of steel plate from the British Steel Corporation plant at Ravenscraig and also the Turners Asbestos plant in Scotland. 

From this time on the rest is history with W & J Riding evolving into one of the most famous haulage firms in the country at it’s peak operating well over 100 vehicles throughout the UK.

In 1963 the haulage company William Metcalfe of Darlington was acquired with seven ‘A’ license’s while also, from September that year, all brand new vehicles introduced into the fleet would be allocated registration plates ending in a zero for example this Atkinson Mk 2 Silver Knight, Reg No BTF 140J, pictured above left, captured heading West on the A59 near Skipton.

Five years later, in 1968, a wholly owned subsidiary company called W & J Riding Bulk Haulage Ltd was created and the company moved into the bulk powder business which became a major part of the haulage work that Riding’s undertook and, unlike the general haulage side, covered all of the UK and Southern Ireland.

Come August 1971 and the hugely successful family owned company of W & J Riding, which at that time ran 74 vehicles, along with it’s subsidiary companies was acquired by the Transport Development Group Ltd (TDG).

The consideration for the acquisition consisted of the issue of 670,732 ordinary shares of 25p each of Transport Development Group, credited as fully paid.   

Tom Riding was not to happy about the situation and seriously considered about moving up to Penrith in Cumbria and starting his own transport business but the management of  TDG implored him to remain, which after some negotiation he duly did, with Tom becoming chief executive and his father James Riding continuing as director.

For the following 24 years Tom had total control over all aspects of the operation including finances, wage negotiations, vehicle purchases, new contracts etc etc with Tom also stipulating that the original W & J Riding livery should be retained not only on all the existing vehicles in the present fleet but also applied to any future new vehicles that would join the fleet during his tenure.

In 1974 Tom decided that all the vehicles in the fleet at that time and all future one’s would be given individual names many of which were named after steam locomotives and in later years Riding’s trade mark logo ‘The Best In The Long Run’ was applied to the front grill of many of the companies vehicles which, by 1980, had become a 100 plus strong fleet.

As mentioned previously back in 1971 Transport Development Group had agreed to let managing director Tom Riding retain the familiar W & J Riding blue and grey livery until his retirement some twenty five years later on Saturday the 28th of October 1995 after which time, and literally within a period of a few months, all the tractor units in the fleet were re-branded into the bland Transport Development Group Ltd scarab green or blue livery. 

After the retirement of Tom Riding in 1995 TDG Ltd continued to operate from the same depot on Whittingham Road in Longridge where W & J Riding had originated back in 1922, until the transport department finally moved out in December 2010 with just rip and tear operations continuing until October 2016 when the depot finally closed for good.

In March 2011 Transport Development Group were bought out by Norbert Dentressangle for £241m, whom in turn, were bought out by US logistics company XPO Logistics for £2.3bn in June 2015 and today XPO have 248 locations and approximately 26,000 employees across the UK and Ireland.

Today the depot on Whittingham Road Longridge has long since gone and in it’s place is an Aldi supermarket and a large housing development aptly called ‘The Ridings’ but thankfully the memory of the company lives on in this ‘The Complete History of W & J Riding’ website. 

Please use the menu across the top and down the left hand column of this page to access all the fine details and pictures of the company dating back to the early days in 1921.