The History of UK Haulage

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Here in the UK, it’s not unusual to see dozens of lorries on a daily basis, making their way along the motorway or stopped off at the services. Yet, for all the high-tech machines delivering various payloads every day, the industry itself came from much more humble beginnings.

The first semi-truck and the growth of an industry

The first semi-truck was developed in 1898 by American inventor Alexander Winton, believing ‘horseless carriages’ were the way of the future; little did he know how important his work would be. By 1900, the UK was seeing a spike in demand for various supplies, which were transported by the newly developed haulage trucks.

It was during these formative years that the industry saw a whopping 300% increase in business. This coincided with a steadily rising GDP during this time, meaning more and more goods were transported across the country. By 1925, there were over 300,000 active goods vehicles in operation in the UK, firmly cementing the industry.

Wartime haulage

Sadly this rise in prospects for the haulage industry would be stopped in its tracks due to the start of World War II. As the war effort required all hands on deck, many haulage vehicles were modified for military service.

Haulage was a vital component in helping to win the war, aiding in the movement of weapons and supplies to the front lines. By the end of the war, haulage vehicles had been developed even further, becoming ever more efficient.

The Golden Age of UK haulage

With the 60s in full swing and the UK finally beginning to make positive economic strides after the war, the haulage industry experienced a true golden age. There were over 600,000 lorry drivers in work around this time and the industry achieved growth never seen before.

To keep up with this huge demand, rules were changed in order to allow drivers to transport heavier loads. Before 1964, the maximum weight of a load was not allowed to exceed 24, by the end of the year, drivers were able to transport up to 32 tonnes.

The 80s and 90s

As the industry moved towards increasingly tech-focused apparatus, with the introduction of computers into the logistics process, the haulage industry began to enjoy a more efficient, streamlined operation. However, the 80s would not be particularly kind to hauliers, with many succumbing to the increasing unemployment of the time.

Luckily, by the turn of the century, fortunes again turned and the haulage industry had become a much safer place to work, with speed limiters and other safety installations minimising risks whilst on the road.

Haulage today

Today, the haulage industry has thrived with the growing push towards online shopping, injecting billions of pounds into the UK economy every year. With this in mind, hauliers still remain as important as they were 100 years ago.

In need of a quality haulage service for your operation? SG Haulage has a comprehensive fleet of state of the art vehicles to help you move your goods with confidence. Want to learn more about how we can help? Visit our website or get in touch on 01522 702 443.