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).


AEC Mercury 4×2 tractor unit Reg No 470 OTB Fleet No 54 was a brand new addition to the fleet in 1960.

Nicknamed ‘Our Tom’s Baby’ it was bought in preference to a Super-Comet and was in fact the only AEC vehicle to enter service with W & J Riding.

Back in 2017 the late Tom Riding recalled…….

“Powered by a AV470 engine in line with a 5 speed gearbox and 2 speed axle it had excellent brakes and was very nice to drive.

Unfortunately, in my experience, the AV470 engine could not take the same pain as the Leyland or Gardner engines and engine life was always it’s problem.

The main problem was down to there simply not being enough securing studs in the right places to suit their wet liner engine; only one stud to clamp down the head between each cylinder.

The Av 470 relied on 13 studs per head whereas by comparison the Leyland 600 had 23, the Gardner 6LW had 22 and the Gardner 6LX 24 per 3 pot head.

We purchased it new from Oswald Tillotsons but it was only on the road for a week when we had to have it towed back to Longridge after the cylinder liners failed and subsequently fitted it with a brand new engine. 

Beset with even more engine problems over the following months and years this resulted in us only ever having this solitary AEC tractor unit in our fleet”

Normally driven by long serving driver Ted Woods it is pictured above early in 1961 after Tom Riding himself had just returned to Longridge with two brand new 26 foot Crane built trailing arm tandem axle trailers he had collected from the Crane factory at Dereham in Norfolk.

Later that year Crane partnered with US-based Fruehauf International Ltd. to become Crane Fruehauf Trailers Ltd – expanding their Norfolk operations with a new factory in North Walsham.

The only AEC ever to enter service with the Riding fleet, Reg No 470 OTB Fleet No 54, was driven from new by Ted Woods.

It is pictured here parked in the depot in 1961 among three Leyland’s which were the vehicles of choice at the time. 

Another shot of only AEC Mercury tractor unit ever to run in the fleet, Reg No 470 OTB Fleet No 54, seen here parked in the depot at Longridge in 1964.

A final shot of AEC Mercury 4×2 tractor unit Reg No 470 OTB Fleet No 54 while parked up in Longridge depot.

A brand new addition to the fleet in 1960, and driven from new by Ted Woods, it was the only AEC to enter service with the company due to  poor reliability of it’s AV470 engine..