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John Comer interviews ERF Trucks Author Patrick W Dyer

ERF Trucks, growing up and the 'At Work' Series

It would be hard to pinpoint the genesis of my passion for trucks. When I arrived, in 1968, I wasn't born into a haulage dynasty and the small, sleepy Market Town where I grew up was hardly a hot bed for truck movements either, but in my early years trucks proved to be my favourite toys. My dad did serve with the Royal Artillery in North Africa and Italy during the war, which inevitably brought him into contact with trucks, so maybe something filtered through the  DNA.

Things got really exciting for me in 1976 when one of my older sisters met a long distance lorry driver; I was seven at the time and he drove for what was then a small family firm from Somerset with around twenty trucks. Their meeting led to my first hands on experience and ride in a truck. It was only a very short ride but its impact on me was huge. Following their subsequent marriage, I fell into the blissful routine of spending the October half term holiday with them. This brought proper trips with nights out, cafe food etc. Forty years later, I can still remember how, on the eve of a trip, I would gaze out of the window at the truck parked across the road. It would look magnificent in the glow of the street lamps with its neatly roped and sheeted load and I can still sense the buzz of excitement I’d feel knowing that I would be up at 4am for the start of another great adventure. I have many happy memories of those epic journeys, from passing under the Clifton suspension bridge to hiding under the seat as we entered the Sugar Beet plant at Bury-St-Edmunds as children were not allowed in.

Although very much appreciated, this once a year contact with the real thing was not enough to slate my appetite for trucks and by the late 1970s I was an avid and regular reader of Truck magazine, a copy being put aside for me at the Newsagents each month. This excellent and much missed publication was crucial in expanding my knowledge of trucks and trucking. I would also save up to buy books, sourced as many truck brochures and spec sheets as possible and became a keen modeller of the subject matter, the latter doing much to familiarise me with the working components of the real thing.

Around this time, through the pages of Truck magazine, I discovered Edwin Shirley Trucking, the concert tour specialists, and its amazing fleet of trucks with lurid purple and yellow livery. I was also developing a keen interest in music at this time and the combination of the two was intoxicating. So much so, that the company has held a fascination for me ever since and I count myself extremely lucky to have been friends with Del Roll, the MD and one of the original founders, for twenty years. It was with his blessing that my own classic truck was eventually restored into a period Edwin Shirley Livery.

Books have always been important to me as a way to learn about my interests and I have a library covering subjects from ocean liners to Cold War buildings. Trucks are well represented within this library, but what I wanted for many years was a book solely on the Volvo F88 and F89, it was an F88 that figured in those childhood trips. Despite years of waiting it just didn’t appear. Then, when reading a magazine article, I was horrified to see an F88 misidentified as an F89. It was at which point that I decided I would have to write the book myself so that I could outline the history and the differences of the types and share the benefits of all those hours I’d spent reading books, magazines, brochures and spec sheets on the subject. Of course, I was also interested in other trucks and confidently told my first publisher that there could be more titles and thus the ‘at work’ series was born. ERF’s B, C, CP and E-series trucks are covered in the latest and I plan to write more as long as I have a passion for the subject matter.

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