Marlow Nostalgia: The name Tillions Haulage should stir many …
I can do no better than to use some notes written by the late Cyril Chalk who researched the history of this Marlow firm in 1978 and his page contains many interesting bits of information. Cyril may well have remembered the Ebenezer Chapel in Dean Street: I certainly don’t but I do have a 1915 Directory that lists a “Church Hall” at Number 30 – no doubt this was it. In the picture George Styles from 6, Wycombe Road was my wife’s grandfather, and there are several other well known Marlow family names in the line-up. Cyril wrote as follows:
“After the Armistice in November 1918 thousands of army vehicles were transported back from France to be dumped on land that is now the Slough Trading Estate. From this “Slough Dump” as it was then known, Mr George H. Tillion of 8, Dean Street bought his first Peerless X army lorry to establish what what was to become a successful haulage business. Another of the vehicles he bought had its commercial body removed and a charabanc one fitted instead and this did good business in competition with the town’s better known “Kingfisher”.
The first depot and offices of the firm were in Dean Street next door to the Ebenezer Chapel which had a motto over the door which I well remember “Stand by the right with all thy might”. Later also expanding into the yard behind The Horns in Chapel Street, George installed the first petrol pump to be seen in town. Previously “Motor Spirit” had just been available in cans from hardware stores. George’s father was the licensee at The Horns. Much haulage business resulted from Jacksons Millboard at Bourne End before they introduced their own lorries.
One of the early vehicles in the Tillions fleet was known as a “British Burner” and had to have its brakes adjusted each time it attempted to descend a hill. There is also a story that on one journey George had a mate alongside eating a pork pie. This turned out to be going bad and was spat out of the window with some force. Unfortunately a set of false teeth accompanied it. The journey was much delayed searching the hedgerows for the missing dentures. The firm remained a private concern until 1948 until the Haulage Industry was nationalised.”
Those are Cyril’s notes: I have a few doubts about his date of the first petrol pump, and also his last sentence, although it is a fact that British Road Services moved into the Dean Street yard. The first “Trip Back In Time” booklet had a picture of the Tillions lorry conversion off to Ascot races in 1924 with probably too many passengers on board. It seems to indicate that Cyril’s description of it as a “charabanc” was a little exaggerated: it’s just a covered lorry with a limited number of bench seats! Before the era of pneumatic tyres it must have been a rough and uncomfortable ride: I might dig out that picture another week.
Porter & Sons from alongside the Railway Station and G.H.Dean from Little Marlow Road were the other, and longer surviving, haulage firms in Marlow and perhaps they also deserve a Nostalgia page sometime.
Contact Michael at [email protected] or 01628 486571.