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Homepage. This page: In at the deep end, learning to drive on a brand new crash-box Albion lorry.

First drive, a 1920s/30s Albion chassis cab.

Robert kindly sent over this interesting story relayed to him by his grandfather, which involved him collecting a brand new Albion chassis/cab from the Albion works, despite not yet having learnt to drive.
Albion lorry radiator badge
"I served my time at Wm Gillespie and Sons in Paisley before moving on to a variety of different experiences before settling with Volvo Truck and Bus for 27 years, 3 years as a technical instructor then spending the rest travelling around Scotland, Ireland and the North of England putting out fires when the dream became a nightmare, and also trying to ensure that my dealers were doing everything they should be. I am retired now and doing my volunteer guide at Riverside museum in Glasgow. I guess I've got motor oil in my veins.
I have been writing my personal history of Volvo, and also a tale of my early life before (for a few years now), maybe one day I'll get it finished. In the meantime I will fish out some stories related to old cars and send them on. This one relates to my grandfather who was a big influence on me. He ran away from home at 16, lied about his age to join the army in WW1, and was wounded twice before his 18th birthday. After the war he also worked for Gillespies, but in their slating and plastering division. One day his boss, Willie Gillespie, gave him 5 bob and told him to get a driving licence as he had a job for him to do. Grandfather had never driven anything but the boss said, "Don't worry about it ! Someone will show you! "
He went out, got his licence and set off in a tramcar to Renfrew Ferry to cross the Clyde, and from there on another tram to Albion Motors at Yoker to collect an Albion lorry chassis/cab for Gillespies.
When he arrived and checked in, he was told to wait and someone would come and show him where it was. "Well, eh, actually, um, I don't know how to drive!" "Don't worry" said the man in the office, "Someone will show you!"
The foreman came out, showed him how to start and stop it and change gear, which was of course of the constant mesh crash variety. He picked it up quite quickly and set off on the first drive of his life. When he arrived at the chain-driven ferry at Yoker he was first in line, and had both cab doors wide open. The ferry man was obviously puzzled by this as it was not a particularly warm day, and asked why the doors were open.
"If this thing goes intae the water, I cannae swim and I'm no goin in wi' it!"
He quickly moved on from this and became Gillespies' demonstration driver and driving instructor. The driving test did not come in until 1935 and between the wars many people who bought cars could not drive, and part of the deal was for the garage to throw in driving lessons. Gillespies' sales territory was Renfrewshire, Argyle and the Isles which was a big territory and grandad would deliver the new car and stay with the customer, which in those days tended to be those with big houses, estates, and farmers, until everyone who had a need or desire to drive was competent. He spent a lot of time away from home which I believe suited Granny well enough."
Visit the motoring memories pages at oldclassiccar for more articles like this. If you're interested in original memorabilia relating to the Albion company, then this page, which features two letters from 1929 on official headed paper, may be of interest.

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