Fifty years on, and having a hwyl of a time
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
Eddie Price is probably Cardiff's best-known haulier but his influence has been felt far beyond South Wales, as Tim Blakemore discovered when toasting his health
NOT EVERY haulier in the land has had a lunch party given in his honour by his bank manager. But then how many hauliers, or businessmen of any kind for that matter, can claim to have held a company account at the same branch of the same bank for over half a century?
One who can is Thomas John Edward Price (Eddie to everyone who knows him), though it is typical of the man's unassuming nature that it took a telephone call from his bank manager to notify him of the significance of November 22, 1982, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the T. J. E. Price (Cardiff) account at the Midland Bank in the Welsh capital.
The original company name was E. Price, and it was not until 1946, when Eddie registered his business as a limited company that T. J. E. first appeared on his vehicles' Post Office red livery.
Why had he not saved on the cost of signwriting and simply called the company E. Price Ltd?. "I wanted to be recognisably different from all the other E. Prices on the road," says Eddie.
His father's transport business was set up before the First World War but there was no red livery then, nor indeed any motor vehicles — the horsepower was of the four-legged variety. Eddie remembers having to put frost nails into the horses' hooves during the winter to enable them to climb the slippery South Wales hills. He also remembers how in 1928 six of the horsedrawn vehicles were replaced by one "motor lorry".
Try as he might, Eddie's father could not get on with the newfangled machine and in the in terest of other road users' safety as much as the company's profitability Eddie took charge of it. The experience he gained with his father's lorry convinced him that "recession or not, I could make a success of my own business."
In 1932 he bought an existing one-vehicle business at Rumney in Cardiff, where his premises are still located, and began to carry building materials, coal animal foodstuffs, wooded crates for the Albion Box Company, and "any other traffic I could win from the strong competition, all loaded by hand, of course." That included tinplate in 1cwt packs which were then just beginning to be produced in large numbers by the South Wales tinplate works.
As this business developed strongly, so the Price fleet, which continued to carry its fair share, expanded.
Another boost to his company's development, which Eddie Price recalls with some satisfaction, is "the Welsh pop affair." "Pop" was the Welsh Hills Mineral Water, better known as Corona, made by Thomas and Evans of Perth.
Eddie Price was offered thE contract to deliver all the CoronE produced at the new Dumballs Road factory in Cardiff, but only on condition that he did it for E flat rate per crate, for delivery anyway in the UK.
His response was to accepi but with his own condition thai no load would be less than 3,00C crates. "Thomas and Evans agreed," recalls Eddie, "though am sure they thought I was mad, for few vehicles at that timE could actually carry as many as 3,000 crates. By buying vehicles that would.do so, I became thE man responsible for taking Co. rona to the English."
1934 is a noteworthy year ir the history of T. J. E. Price fo two reasons: Eddie was calle( before the first licensini authority, A. J. James, an granted an operator's licence fo our vehicles; and he joined the rganisation, then called A.R.O. Associated Road Operators) hich later was to become the oad Haulage Association.
Eddie Price's association with he association has been long nd distinguished. He now epresents South Wales on the HA's National Long Distance unctional Group and was its hairman for five years. He has een equally active on many ther committees including the outh Wales Area Committee of hich he was chairman in 948/49.
Eddie's achievements in other rganisations are perhaps even ore impressive. He was a ounder member of the Confedration of British Industry when was known as the Industrial ssociation of Wales and onmouthshire, a founder ember of the Development orporation of Wales and is a ember of the South Wales aintenance Advisory Commitee.
Eddie Price is also founder ce-chairman of the Cardiff and ewport Training Group and onsiders himself privileged to ave recently been admitted as a iveryman of the Worshipful Company of Carmen.
But the man who is probably Cardiff's best-known haulier would much rather talk about his company than himself. In 1949 when road transport was nationalised there were twelve vehicles in the Price fleet and Eddie Price was put in charge of the Cardiff Group. He later moved to the district office and by 1952 was at the divisional office.
Perhaps surprisingly he is full of praise for many of his contemporaries in the nationalised transport industry but it is clear too that his belief in the potential of that organisation was short lived. In late 1953 he resigned from the Road Haulage Executive and restarted his own business.
Nowadays, T. J. E Price the company is effectively run by Dilwyn, Eddie's younger brother as managing director, and another brother Idris, as fleet manager.
Eddie, though, could hardly be described as retired, such is the extent of his continued activity within the road transport industry and in such organisations as the Cardiff East Rotary Club — yet another club of which he is a founder member.
He remains one of the few men in transport these days who can look forward to the next telephone call from his bank manager.