by Nick Hibbitt

How it began

The company trace their roots back to 1938 when Harry Edward Payne began in transport as a coal merchant working a Morris Commercial 30cwt out of Tempsford railway station. During the war time years, the local farmers couldn't get their produce to market as their usual haulier - A Cooper & Son of Sandy - was working exclusively for the Ministry of War Transport. This opened the produce door to Harry and it remained a stable traffic until September 1989.

ETM 809 dates from 1947, the Ford 7V having the V8 petrol engine and
a 5 ton rating. Some 7V operators doubled this capacity by sliding a thick wooden chock between each of the rear swinging shackles and the vehicle chassis which in essence locked the rear suspension solid. The racing horse and greyhound badges on the Ford grille were an indicator of Harry's interest in these sports.

Harry Payne was tragically killed in a shot gun accident during 1948 on the day he was putting a second Ford 7V on the road. For the following 10 years the business was kept going by Harry's wife Edna and her mother-in- law Violet. In December 1958, David Payne left school still a month short of his 15th birthday - with the words from his mother that he could either make or break their fledgling business. Originally working as a mate, in January 1961, Paynes bought 662 ETM - one of the first 5 ton TK Bedfords - as it had an unladen weight just under 3 tons and thus could be driven by the 17year old David. PEG 603 came second hand about 1964 and it's first driver was Hugh Barnes who is now a manager at Paynes. Seen with a full load of potatoes and boxed lettuce, the Dodge had the Perkins 6.2 litre engine, 5 speed gearbox and Eaton two speed axle. Top speed potential was a rapid 65mph - albeit with poor brakes - although the vehicle is best recalled for it's large number of diesel leaks from the injector pipe joints. To combat this distinctive odour, David Payne went to Woolworths and bought a disinfectant block normally used in toilet bowls. Hung up in the cab, the block didn't stay very long as the combination of diesel and disinfectant fumes made David physically sick.

During the 1950s, Edna and Violet Payne had replaced the early Ford 7Vs with two petrol engined S type Bedfords - PBM 21 and TTM 809 - while the first S type four wheeler with 300 diesel engine was XMJ 782. Paynes first six wheeler was AFL 862B and Similar to CFL 387C, was a Leyland Super Comet converted to a trailing axle six wheeler with a York third axle. Keith Ashpole was first driver of AFL while Ron Randall was the regular driver of CFL, both vehicles having the 375 engine, Eaton two speed axle and an operational gross weight of 18 tons. The Payne bodies were built by Smiths of Peterborough and incorporated a small tail board which was added to prevent people walking off the end of the vehicle as they were loading produce. London markets were Paynes normal port of call although Liverpool and Manchester crept onto their itinerary when it was realized that sprouts were fetching a better price in the north west.

K Series Dodge FFL 112D was Payne's first tilt cab vehicle and is recalled for it's Chrysler-Cummins V6 engine. With five speed gearbox, the vehicle's maximum rate of knots was 56 mph but the noise it made tended to indicate a speed of 70-80mph. Regular driver was Brian Armiger who drove at Paynes until 1989 when he left to become an owner driver and in 1995 runs a fleet of six vehicles. Piloting the Dodge through London in the early hours, the dive through Hyde Park under pass allowed Brian to create a tremendous noise although this wasn't always appreciated.

When stopped by the Police in Barnet village one night, such was the trumpeting note
from the Dodge, the law man commented, 'What's this - a Masserati ?' Ran with good reliability for about six years, the Dodge was traded in for one of the six AEC Marshal 6x4s later operated by Paynes.

their growing years, Paynes bought their vehicles from various sources and David Payne recalls at one time having six vehicles, all painted different colours. Generally the livery was mid Brunswick green, black chassis and mudguards with gold paint lettering although recent years has seen chassis colour change to red. GDO 783E came second hand from Staple Brothers of Friskney near Boston. It sports a vegetable box cage of the type pioneered by Staples in the Boston area. Built up in sections - which nipped many a driver's finger - the cage gave greater strength to the lighter form of produce box being introduced. The LV ERF had the Gardner 5LW engine and although very economical, made painfully slow progress and was not a driver's favourite. When relegated to the spare vehicle, David Payne said that vehicle breakdowns seemed to cease as no one wished to drive the ERF.

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