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HGVs Through The Ages

HGVs undoubtedly play a critical role in keeping our country’s economy going. Heavy goods vehicles are essential in transporting goods throughout the country and across the chain, from suppliers to businesses, and then to the customers. If you look keenly on a modern road, you can easily spot one or more HGVs moving goods, every day of the year after completing their cpc or adr training. But that’s not the way things have previously been. Actually, the HGV is quite a modern development in the history of humans. Instead of seeing HGVs motoring along, you would spot smaller vehicles or horses and carts, moving goods in small amounts along a main road that cut through the country. So, how did we revolutionise from that, to this?

The 1900s – The Birth of a Lorry

In the early 1900s, a HGV driver job was an undesirable one. That came down to the fact that at the time, tyres were made of solid rubber, which made journeys rough, bumpy, and far from comfortable for the driver. However, around 1912, the pneumatic (or air-filled) tyres were invented, which brought some joy for drivers at the time and made driving a pleasant experience. These tyres also made HGVs faster, which reduced the time taken in shipping and freighting. This small innovation played a key role to the success of the HGV industry we know of today.

Another big factor that influenced the success of HGV driving or ‘trucking’ at this period came from America. It was in 1916 when The Seattle Chamber of Commerce held a demonstration, sponsoring a truck and a driver in the process, to travel from Seattle to New York. The trip was meant to send a message to manufacturers and merchants throughout the country that the new highways that were being constructed and the truck being developed were going to play a crucial role in the future. And if they didn’t jump on the bandwagon, they would miss out hugely! The trip went well, and was completed in 31 days.

The 1920s – Illumination Impact

Before the 1920s, electric headlights were only found on cars and were hardly found on HGVs. However, they became more common, and then mandatory, some years into the 1920s. While this might not seem like much, it was a significant milestone in the haulage industry. This meant that HGV drivers could not only drive during the day only. They could now drive at night, which meant faster completion of journeys. The haulage and delivery processes could be significantly sped up, and businesses could successfully grow and expand. Such efficiency only meant more demand, and haulage companies did well to keep up with the changes.

Another notable innovation in the 1920s was the introduction of the fifth wheel for HGVs. While the wheel had been around for some time, an inventive engineer figured out that the process of picking up and dropping off goods from lorry trips would significantly speed up if a fifth wheel was fitted. With this and electric lights, HGVs had become more efficient and better equipped.

These two revolutionary changes resulted in a huge spike in demand, which saw the hiring of more new HGV drivers, as well as the exploration of new routes than before. Businesses who witnessed the success of their competitors were on their toes to keep up with the competition, and HGV became a hugely important part of the UK economy. Coupled with the construction of thousands of new roads, the 1930s saw the registration of more than 329,000 long-haul HGVs in the UK.