Wm Ellis – Coal Merchant

William Ellis - Coal Merchant - 31 Kaikorai Valley Road Shown at this location in these years 1908 to 1950.

William Ellis – Coal Merchant – 31 Kaikorai Valley Road
Shown at this location in these years 1908 to 1950.

Photograph and Information supplied.

THE FIRST TRUCKS

Bill Ellis undertook what could have been the longest journey of his life when he took the train to Invercargill to buy his first motor vehicle. After looking over the old Commer truck and hearing it run he agreed on the price and shook hands with the old owner. Can you drive? the man asked. Being told that he had never driven before, the man soon got Bill sorted out. This makes it go fast, this stops it and here are the gears he said. Around the block went Bill, soon pulling up once more beside the sales man. “O K” the man said as he pointed his finger. “That’s the road to Dunedin”.

The old Commer had been used as a bus in Invercargill and so needed to be converted into a usable truck. This work was undertaken by the local blacksmith and farrier, Mr N. H. Brown. His workshop was on the corner of Kaikorai Valley and Taieri roads, where the Shell Service station is at this time (1st January 1999) he soon had the truck ready for work. The gears were changed by sliding a lever around a notched metal bracket that curved around just below the steering wheel. Later a 1920 era “Thornicroft” was added to the fleet. Both of these vehicles had solid rubber tyres.

Alma Ellis (later Still) with Fred Ellis's Plume petrol tanker.

Alma Ellis (later Still) with Fred Ellis’s Plume petrol tanker.

Graeme Swete, Mervyn and "Jock" Still in front of the Bedford truck in the coal yard.

Graeme Swete, Mervyn and “Jock” Still in front of the Bedford truck in the coal yard.

(Original Article by Alan Gilchrist)

Ross

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