With half a century of transport experience under his belt, Frank Fiddy’s career came to an unceremonious end at the age of 65 when he was forced to retire. That was back in the Noughties, when bosses had the right to curtail employment once retirement age had been reached. Feeling he still had plenty left in the tank, Frank wasn’t happy about it, but took his compulsory retirement in good grace. Today, he’s enjoying life with his wife Mary in their Felixstowe home, from where he took time out to reminisce with us
“While I spent most of my working life driving, my first job wasn’t actually in trucks – at 15 I started in the Merchant Navy,” remembers Frank. “After a spell as a bedroom steward for P&O I joined the crew of a beaten-up old tramp steamer called the Baron Ogilvy, which operated out of Ardrossan. On my first trip, we got caught in the tail end of a hurricane just after we’d passed through the Panama Canal. The engines gave up and we had to risk life and limb cutting wires to release into the sea timber which had originally been stored on deck but had shifted and was now hanging over the side. It wasn’t a great start!
“By the time I was 20 I’d had enough and decided to move into road transport instead. I got a job with a small outfit called Eastern Counties Farmers who delivered animal feed around the Ipswich area. I only had a lightweight four-wheeler, but I got the driving bug, and it became my ambition to get behind the wheel of a proper HGV as soon as I could once I had turned 21.
“This was the early 1960s. There weren’t any tests back in those days, but to be employed as an artic driver you had to get some experience on rigids first. So the next step for me would be on a four wheel rigid, like the ones BRS used to use. I took a job with a firm called D. R. Munscon of Hadleigh. It was an awful outfit to work for, I didn’t like them one bit. So six months on I went for a job with a bigger company, Reece Brothers. They were based in West Ferry Road, London, but had a depot local to me in Ipswich.
“They asked where I worked, and when I replied Munscons they said, ‘well, if you can work for them, you can work for anyone!’ Reece were into general haulage and they had a fleet of Dodges, Fords and Seddons. They put me into a four-wheel Ford and over the coming years I gained the experience I needed.
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