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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).

Volvo

The company were looking for a lighter and quieter tractor unit than the Seddon Atkinson 400 before the Seddon Atkinson 401 had come out.

In January 1982 Tom Riding was offered a damaged Volvo F7 4×2 tractor unit Reg No WCK 27V from the well respected fleet of Bowker’s which was soon followed by another one in a similar state in July 1982 Reg No WCK 180V.

These were soon sorted out and put to work with tipping gears and Wellworthy WS 9 compressors.

They did a good job and were trouble free and eventually the company bought two more from the same source Reg No’s WCX 26V in October 1982 and PCW 446X two years later in March 1984.    

Mr Bill Bowker, when in conversation with Tom Riding, said he regarded the Volvo F7 as the modern replacement of the Atkinson Mk I.

In other words they were durable, cheap to run and cheap to maintain, he ought to know, because Bowker’s had plenty of them in their fleet.

The first Volvo F7 4X2 tractor unit to join the fleet was Reg No WCK 27V Fleet No 11 ‘Coeur de Lion’ which was purchased with accident damage from W.H Bowker of Blackburn on the 20th of January 1982 for the sum of £3000 plus vat with an extra £2,864 spent on parts including a Wellworthy WS 9 compressor.

It is pictured here while coupled up to a tandem axle trailer with an Incobulk container discharging it’s load of powder at Wrexham.

The late Tom Riding recalled…

“The driver of WCK 27V was Tony Lee who is seen on crutches at the rear of the vehicle after previously hurting hurt his leg in a car accident.

He had still come to work but his condition worsened so i brought the outfit back home and Tony came home in my car.

Tony Lee  later went on his own and set up his own haulage business that lasted a few years”.

After four years in the Fleet WCK 27V was sold to on to Snow Commercials of Bristol, Commercial Vehicle Dismantlers & Recyclers, for the sum of £2000 plus vat on the 6th of June 1986. 

Driven by Tony Lee at the time here’s another side photograph of  Volvo F7 Reg No WCK 27V Fleet No 11 ‘Coeur de Lion’ taken while discharging it’s load of powder at Wrexham.

A pair of ex Bowker Volvo F7 4×2 tractor units head down Jubilee Way into Dover. 

At the front Reg No WCK 180V Fleet No 28 ‘Boadicea’ which was driven by Jim McColl while taking up the rear Reg No WCK 26V Fleet No 69 ‘Hotspur’ which was driven by Mick McKay.

Both vehicles were on their way out empty to Belgium for a load of plastic pellets for delivery to a customer in St Neots on a job which went on continuously for two weeks.

The late Tom Riding recalled….

“This was an emergency spot hire job so under the circumstances we should have been well paid”.

Former W.H. Bowker Volvo F7 4×2 tractor unit Reg No WCK 180V Fleet No 28 ‘Boadicea’ was originally registered new to W.H. Bowker of Blackburn on the 1st of October 1979 with Riding’s purchasing it when it was three years old on the 1st of July 1982 at a cost of £11,200 plus vat.   

Driven by Jim McColl it is pictured parked in the depot at Longridge and after five years in the fleet it was eventually sold on to Snow Commercials of Bristol, Commercial Vehicle Dismantlers & Recyclers, for the sum of £1,650 plus vat on the 10th of August 1987.

The first of a series of pictures with Volvo F7 4×2 tractor unit Reg No WCK 180V Fleet No 28 ‘Boadicea’, taken in 1983 while working down in Middlesex during the construction of the M25.

Over a period of a few weeks W & J Riding transported a load of peat per day from Ireland down to the M25 Holmesdale Tunnel construction site at Enfield.

On top of the tunnel they recreated a village green, thus the need for a vast amount of peat to cover the large area.

The second in a series of pictures with Volvo F7 4×2 tractor unit Reg No WCK 180V Fleet No 28 ‘Boadicea’, driven by Vic Mason, taken during the building of The Holmesdale Tunnel, adjacent to Junction 25 of the M25 London orbital motorway.

Another shot of Volvo F7 4×2 tractor unit Reg No WCK 180V Fleet No 28 ‘Boadicea’.

Driven by Vic Mason is pictured here tipping a load of peat during the construction of The Holmesdale Tunnel, adjacent to Junction 25 of the M25 London orbital motorway in 1983.

The late Tom Riding recalled….

This was a tricky tip because we were not tipping on firm ground and we had to tip beyond 45 degrees to get the peat out”.

The Holmesdale Tunnel was opened in 1984 and whilst the structure remained sound, over the years it suffered from decaying and time-expired mechanical and electrical equipment.

A major refurbishment of the tunnel began in May 2006 and was completed three months early in September 2007.

The final photograph in the series shows Volvo F7 4×2 tractor unit Reg No WCK 180V Fleet No 28 ‘Boadicea’, driven by Vic Mason, coming out of the Holmesdale Tunnel during construction of the M25 orbital motorway in 1983. 

Volvo F7 4X2 tractor unit Reg No WCK 26V Fleet No 69 ‘Hotspur’ was originally registered new to W H Bowker Ltd of Blackburn on the 1st of October 1979.

Purchased second-hand from Bowker’s on the 12th October 1982 when three years old for £11,000 plus vat it came to Riding’s accident damaged which was easily repairable.

On top of the original cost Tom Riding spent another £2,651 in house to bring it up to spec by fitting it with a blower and hydraulic pump.

It was driven by Mick McKay, long time Riding’s man, who took this photograph at the BP plant at Wingles in France.

Mick was loading polystyrene for Gillette at Reading having taken a load of plastic pellets from BXL Grangemouth down to France on his way out.

After five years in the fleet WCX 26V was eventually sold on to Snow Commercials of Bristol, Commercial Vehicle Dismantlers & Recyclers, for the sum of £1,600 plus vat on the 10th of August 1987.

Volvo F7 4X2 tractor unit Reg No PCW 446X Fleet No 6 ‘Sir Lancelot’ was another of the four Volvo F7 tractor units which were purchased second hand off W.H. Bowker Ltd of Blackburn.

Although seen here coupled up to a steel coil carrier the Volvo F7’s were light and very quite so were mainly used for discharging powder tanks when noise restrictions were in place at certain delivery locations.

Registered new to W.H. Bowker on the 1st of January 1982 Reg No PCW 446X was purchased from Bowkers on the 27th of March 1984 at a cost of £6,909 and remained in the fleet for three years until the 30th of April 1987 when it was sold on to Trapezium Transport Services of Middlesbrough for the sum of £1,650 plus vat.

Based in Scotland this Volvo F88 double drive recovery vehicle Reg No Q127 RDS, operated by Bobby Mcintyre & Howie Elder, is seen here recovering one of the company’s Seddon Atkinson tractor units on the M74 between Larkhall and Lesmahagow.

The late Tom Riding recalled below….

“This Volvo F88 belonged to two excellent fitters, Bobby Mcintyre and Huge Elder, who were self employed but used my garage in Motherwell to do all my repairs and recovery as and when required.

Above and beyond that they could do outside repairs so long as it didn’t cause me any grief and it was a good arrangement which worked well indeed*

Another shot of Volvo F88 double drive recovery vehicle Reg No Q127 RDS, operated by Bobby Mcintyre & Howie Elder seen here parked in Ridings Carfin depot at Motherwell.