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).

The 1950's and De-nationalisation

In 1947 the Labour government decided to compulsory take over the Steel, Coal and transport industries.

Assessors were appointed to go out and put a value on each individual company and normally a fair value for the vehicles and premises was given.

As well as this, past profits were averaged and on this basis the owners were allowed a future five years profits as a sweetener.

On this basis a lot of the bigger firms with the older generation of owners were glad to sell out on a voluntary basis.

Smaller family businesses. such as W & J Riding, were not so keen and were thus compulsory acquired on the fore mentioned terms.

Some of the previous owners were taken on as managers as was the case with W & J Riding who became part of B.R.S. Burnley Group Unit No C 132 on the 30th of June 1948 with Jim Riding appointed Manager.

The next Conservative government, prior to being elected, had always said they would reverse the process and return things to private enterprise.

This duly happened and businesses were offered for sale by a tendering process.

W & J Riding tendered for their old business along with its premises and on the second attempt they were successful taking if over on the 8th of November 1954.

The vehicles that were acquired came with an ‘A’ licence which was very valuable and allowed you to ply for hire and reward over the whole country with no restrictions.

Thus you could buy say a second hand Leyland Beaver for £1,250 and the ‘A’ licence would cost another £1000 i.e. £200 per unladen ton for the vehicle.

In those far off days you had to apply for additional licences to the authorities and prove the need for them which meant getting the support from your intended customer.

This was not an easy thing to do thus there was a brisk trade in buying and selling vehicles at the time with a licence, the downside being that all sorts of rubbish could be bought just to get the operators licence.

Business was built up in this way until the system all changed again with a new Labour government who scrapped the system in the late 1960’s and brought in the current free for all.

This 1946 registered Leyland Beaver Reg No GLV 507 was of tremendous importance to the story of the company as it was the very first one to be purchased with an ‘A’ licence in 1954 when the government disbanded British Road Services.

Seen here loaded with a sheeted and roped load of sacks of PVC from ICI Thornton it had originally been registered to Union Road Transport of Liverpool.

Dick Robinson who drove this vehicle had been the first one of the original Riding’s men to be re employed after de-nationalisation.

Another shot of Leyland Beaver Reg No GLV 507 seen here loaded with a sheeted and roped load of sacks of PVC from ICI Thornton.

Pictured parked outside Riding’s Daniel Platt Garage on Whittingham Road in Longridge GLV 507 had originally been registered to Union Road Transport of Liverpool.

One of Tom Riding’s all time favorite lorries was this 1948 Leyland Beaver 12B/1 four wheeler Reg No NVT 460.

Back in 2011, in his own words, the late Tom Riding recalled…….

“The old man bought it in 1954 with it’s ‘A’ licenses from Preston BRS at Water Lane.

It’s regular driver was David Dixon from Clitheroe and the second man was Alf Dewhurst also from Clitheroe.

I remember well having just turned 21 years old taking this lorry and trailer with 18 tons of highly volatile ‘Trichloroethylene’ to ICI Maryhill Glasgow and bringing it back to Hillhouse with a full load of empty drums.

On the cobbled sets climbing up Maryhill Road, with the drive axle spinning, it certainly concentrated my young mind.

The actual day that this picture was taken in 1962, due to the massive swing to articulation, we pulled it in to our workshop cut it up and made it into a 4×2 tractor unit.

Originally, when new, it had been fitted with vacuum hydraulic brakes so we had to fit a compressor to change it to air over hydraulic after which time we ran it as a tractor unit for a further three years until 1965″


The date is November the 8th 1954 and this was the day when the  original business and premises were bought back from BRS.

From this date on these two vehicles passed back from BRS into family ownership and had been repainted into the familiar livery ready for the start of the new operation.

At this time William Riding was to take no further part in the business but his son James decided to retain the old W & J title.

Reg No KKA 486 (Chassis No 485789) was a Leyland Hippo which started life in 1948 with W Lewis of Liverpool and was later converted to an Octopus.

Reg No ABV 602 was an ERF with a 6LW Gardner engine and was used on overnight trunk to Darlington transporting Tate & Lyle sugar outbound and ICI products on the return leg back to Longridge.  

Note the Longridge depot, Burnley Group Unit C132 name-board still over the garage.

Another shot of ERF eight wheeler Reg No ABV 602 which was powered by a 6LW Gardner engine.

In those days anything without a Leyland badge on the front was undesirable so after de-nationalisation the ERF was not in the fleet long and was traded in for an ex Chester Farmers 1951 registered Leyland Octopus Reg No NFM 205 which is seen in the picture below.

The ERF eight wheeler ERF Reg No ABV 602, seen in the previous picture, was traded in for this 1951 registered Leyland Octopus Reg No NFM 205.

Ex Chester Farmers with 100,000 miles on the clock it was purchased from Woodward’s of Formby even with such a high mileage on the clock it appeared not to have been overworked and until the day it finished at Riding’s it always a gave excellent service.

The photograph above shows it a few years later when it had been fitted with the later style cab.

Leyland Beaver Reg No EM 4541 was originally owned by J.A. Webster of Richmond Road Trafford Park and was one of many Leyland Beaver draw-bar trailer outfit’s W & J Riding operated during the 1950’s.

The Crane built four wheeler draw-bar trailers with the ball bearing lock ring under the front were superb and would follow you dead straight at any speed.

The photograph above shows a well placed and chained load of conveyor belting from B.T.R. of Leyland.

This 1949 registered Leyland Beaver 12B/1 four wheeler Reg No EBA 151 was powered by a Leyland O.600 engine and was bought second hand from David Hall of Bury solely for it’s ‘A’ licence.

It is seen here loaded with drums of Trichlorethylene from the ICI Hillhouse works at Thornton near Blackpool which was good traffic flow for the company at that time.

The driver was Norman Holland and the second man on this occasion was Tony Adamson.

A number of years later this vehicle was involved in an accident resulting in a front end rebuild as can be seen in the photograph below.

A later shot of Leyland Beaver four wheeler Reg No EBA 151 now pictured here with a new style front.

The late Tom Riding recalled…….

“Early one morning EBA 151 was passing through Gisburn when a horse jumped over a fence into the path of the vehicle.

Needless to say the horse came off worst but it did sufficient damage to the front of the cab to warrant some major surgery.

In this particular case EBA 151 was shipped off to Richard Little, a skilled ‘tin basher’ in Preston who quite successfully grafted on the more modern style of grille”.

Leyland Beaver Reg No DBA 959, on the right, had been bought from the British Road Services Preston depot after de-nationalisation, while Leyland Beaver EM 4541, on the left, was already based at Longridge depot before the sale.

Both vehicles have been fitted with new later style cabs.

The late Tom Riding recalled…

“These Beavers along with Crane draw-bar trailers were unsurpassed in their day for longevity and reliability and were virtually indestructible giving many years excellent service to our company”.

This Leyland Steer Reg No LTC 901 Chassis No 495727, powered by a world beating Leyland 600 engine, was new on 1st of November 1949.

W & J Riding had been nationalised on the 1st of July 1949 so the vehicle was originally painted in BRS colours.

However five years later in 1954 during de-nationalisation, when this photograph was taken, it had been acquired with the purchase of Riding’s original depot, and had been fitted with the new later style cab.

It was driven from new by Dick Robinson who didn’t particularly like it as it seemed clumsy to him after previously driving a Leyland Beaver and trailer for many years.

Bill Coolican took it over and drove it for a considerable length of time until it was eventually replaced by a new Leyland Steer Reg No 262 DTC.

The late Tom Riding recalled….

“Believe it or not I had started work at Leyland Motors in August 1949 and was at the time an office boy in the jig and tool drawing stores.

I actually sat in the cab of this very vehicle on the car park eating my dinner whilst it was awaiting delivery.

Later in 1956, after my stint of National Service, i joined the company and drove it on many occasions”.