HGVs are definitely essential to keeping our nation's economy moving, They transport goods all over the county, and also into suppliers and to businesses and finally onto customers. You will see HGVs everywhere out on modern roads, transporting goods from one location to the next, 365 days per year. However, this was not always the case. In human history, the HGV is actually a fairly modern invention. Instead of seeing HGVs on the roads, in the past, it was smaller vehicles or horses and carts that transported small quantities of goods along the one major road going up and down the entire country. How do we get to where we are now from there?
The 1900s - The Birth Of The Lorry
Driving a truck was a very undesirable job during the early 1900s. That was mainly due to the fact that the tyres back then were made from solid rubber. That meant that the driver had a very uncomfortable, bumpy, and rough journey while driving a truck out on the rads. However, around 1912, pneumatic (air-filled) tyres were invented. They made the ride a lot more comfortable for drivers and made driving actually a pleasant task. It made the driving process faster as well, which helped to speed up the entire freighting and shipping process. This innovation was key to creating the successful Easy as HGV industry that we have now.
Another major influence on trucking or HGV driving becoming so successful came from America at this time. The Seattle Chamber of Commerce put on a demonstration in 1916 and sponsored a driver and truck to go from Seattle over to New York. The purpose of the trip was to show merchants and manufacturers all over the country that the trucks being developed and the new highways being built would be major influences in the very near future. So people would end up being left behind if they failed to get onboard. Completing the trip took 31 days and it was very successful.
The 1920s – The Impact Of Illumination
Although cars had electric headlights prior to the 1920s, HGVs rarely had them at that time. They did not become common until the 1920s, and then ultimately became compulsory. That may not seem like a big deal, however, within the haulage industry, it was revolutionary. HGVs were suddenly not limited to being able to drive during the day. Drivers were able to travel at night, which doubled the journey's progress and cut time significantly. That allowed the entire haulage and delivery process to be sped up and made it possible for businesses to grow a lot more effectively. However, more demand came with more efficiency. Fortunately, haulage companies were able to keep up with all the changes.
During the 1920s another key innovation was the fifth wheel being invented for HGVs. Wheels have of course been around for a very long time. However, a very enterprising engineer figured out that if an HGV was equipped with a fifth wheel, it could significantly speed the process up of dropping off and picking up a load on lorry trips. When combined with having electric lights, it made HGVs much more efficient and better equipped.
Those two major changes resulted in a major increase in demand. More HGV drivers were hired, and there were even more new routes planned. Businesses who had seen their competitors becoming successful rushed to try to keep up,. The importance of the HGVto the UK's economy became firmly established. Combined with thousands of new roads being built, by the 1930s, the UK had more than 329,000 registered long-haul HGVs.