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A Spotlight on Roy Dodsworth Author of Trucks of the Trans Pennine Run

Roy Dodsworth is the author of the upcoming book “The Trucks of the Trans Pennine Run”. We caught up with him to find out more about him and his inspiration for writing the book.

Roy, tell us about yourself and your career

Well I am now 71 and have spent my life working in the police and retail security. I’ve always had an interest in all vehicles – I’ve loved buses, trucks, cars and planes since I was a child. My dad worked for 45 years on the buses as a driver, and ended up being the manager of the West Yorkshire Road   Car Company in Ilkley so that was where I was born. I went to the bus garage with him most weekends and I was allowed to sit in the buses and lark around and at 10 years old I was allowed to sit on the driver’s lap and with his cap on I steered a Bristol Lodekka around the depot – probably the youngest driver of such a bus.

 What inspired you to start taking photographs?

It was when I was in my mid 20s that I bought my first camera. I thought it was a good idea to take photos of all the vehicles that I saw and I now have a collection of around 30,000 photos of vehicles of all kinds though my biggest interest is in trucks and commercial vehicles. Originally all my photos were on film and so I scanned these from the negatives, but now I take them all digitally.

Tell us about the Trans Pennine Run?

The Trans Pennine Run has been taking place on the first Sunday of August annually since 1969 and attracts an annual entry of some 200+ vehicles. In the late 1990s I joined the Historic Commercial Vehicle Society, who organise the run and I started attending the rally and I now volunteer as a marshal each year.

The rally takes a route from Manchester through Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire into North Yorkshire ending a Harrogate. It goes through some absolutely fabulous scenery, particularly through the Pennines and crossing the border between Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire and that makes a great backdrop for my photos.

I take as many photos as I can up to 8am at the starting place at Birch services on the M62 at Manchester. Then I jump in the car and head for the Harrogate Stray to catch all the vehicles entering it. I probably take an average of 250 photos at each event.

Have you ever taken part in the run yourself or restored an old truck?

No I haven’t although I have taken part in lots of other events with my classic cars.

Tell us about your book

Since retirement in 2011, I have indexed all my photos and as I have so many of them, I thought a book of some kind might be a good idea. I sorted a few pictures out – probably 200 and did a few captions. I had no idea who to send them to but then I saw an advert in a magazine for Old Pond asking potential authors to get in touch, so I got in touch with the Commissioning Editor, Rachel Turner, and that’s where the journey began.

The book includes some of my favourite photos and includes a bit of history about each of the vehicles – many of which have been restored to their original livery.

What is your personal favourite vehicle? Be it truck or car?

I confess that it is the Leyland Octopus, with its 8 wheels. Be it flats or tankers – whatever! But the Leyland Octopus with the Ergo cab and the cab prior to the Ergo cab - they are just magic to me! I look in awe at well preserved ones – some pictures of which are in the book. My particular favourites were some of William Hunter’s ones – an 8 wheeler in red – which is a flat truck and also a green coloured 8 wheeler, which is a tanker which has the National Bus Company livery on it. Bill Hunter, sadly now deceased, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Run. His company Huntapac provide 2 packed lunches for every driver and partner.

There is a similar badged vehicle – an AEC, 8 wheeler, which has a different badge but is in essence the same vehicle – it’s just wonderful!

It’s surprising how many people have found wrecks of vehicles and restored them more or less as they were manufactured and preserved these vehicles for prosperity and for people to enjoy. Classic commercial vehicles, classic cars, steam vehicles, steam tractors and ordinary tractors are an important part of our heritage and all the hard work done by people on their vehicles has got to be applauded!

Tell us about the classic cars you own?

I have 2 classic cars – a Triumph 2500S top of the range saloon with stag wheels and a Bertone X1/9 sports car.

My first car is the Bertone X1/9 sports car. To cut a long story short I had a long period of illness and when I recovered in 1984 I wanted to treat myself, and luckily had the money in place to do so. I decided I wanted an MG and went off to the Classic Car show at the NEC in Birmingham, but I didn’t see anything that caught my eye. However, on the way home at around 10pm, I saw a metallic red X1/9 going round on the showroom turntable, lit up with purple lighting. I knew that this was the one, so I bought it next day, without even having tried it!

32 years later it is still in mint condition and having done less than 50,000 miles it is one of the best examples of the model in the UK.

I often write articles about cars for magazines and I had a phone call one evening from Bill Cooper, who was a retired headmaster of Harrogate Boys and Grammar School. He had his Triumph from new in 1973, but had to have a heart bypass and in 1989 he was advised that it was no longer sensible for him to drive. As Triumphs are popular cars for stock car (drag) racing, Bill was anxious that the car be bought by an enthusiast and so wondered if I might be interested or might know anyone else who would be.

I expressed my enthusiasm and he invited me to his house for an “interview” where I met him and his wife Sheila, and we had tea and biscuits. He was worried about me living in Bradford as it is the location of one of the biggest stock car racing circuits in the North, but he did allow me sight of the car. It was all in the original condition, and all the tax discs, invoices etc were all preserved too.

He said he would get in touch in due course and a couple of weeks passed before I heard from him again – but I was delighted to receive a call telling me that he wanted me to buy it. So in 1989 I joined Club Triumph and I’ve since taken part in lots of activities organised by the club, including doing their Reliability Run.

Tell us more about the Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Runs

I have done the run 3 times now! It is a biannual event that goes from London to John O’Groats and down to Land’s End and then back to London– a distance of 2040 miles in just 48 hours! It starts at 6pm on Friday night at the Plough Inn at Enfield in Middlesex and the journey goes North through the night, with the aim of arriving at John O’Groats at 8am on the Saturday morning in time for breakfast, then setting off South to have breakfast at 8am the next day at Land’s End. Then back to the Plough for about 4pm for tea and cakes.

You have to maintain an average speed of at least 40mph to do it and usually we do it in about 46 hours. Some 120 Triumphs take part each year and the club has raised over £510,000 for various charities since the first run in 1990, so Derek Pollock, the organiser of the first event and later ones, was honoured with an MBE last year.

Have you got any future books in mind?

Being involved in the publication of this book has been such a thrilling journey. Sometimes it has been a bit stressful, but mainly it has been a delight, and now that we’re getting to the end of the road, it is very exciting. I really hope that the book will be enjoyed by the people who buy it.

As well as my interest in trucks I am also still very interested in cars. Every year from 2000 up until 2014, I went to the Geneva, Frankfurt and Paris motor shows, taking many pictures of world premieres and concept cars, so I’m thinking of doing another picture/caption book of concept cars, as many are only seen once and then they disappear. I think that a book including photos of these once-seen cars would be of interest to a car fanatic or someone with a general interest in cars.


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