Motor Wagons Break the Dock Strike.
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How "The Commercial Motor" Accompanied a Protected Convoy—Rudd' s Steamers Brought Many Tons of Food from the Docks During the Strike— The Moral Effect of Commercial Motors on the Mob.
Successful attempts have been made, during the recent dock strike, to convey food and supplies
from the steamers and the docks to the great distributing centres. Early one morning last week, a convoy, consisting largely of horsedra wu vehicles, left. theVictoria and Albert Dock, guarded by mounted police, and loaded with large quantities of fruit and frozen meat, No attempt was made by the strikers to interfere outside the docks, and trouble only occurred when the panting and perspiring horses were faced with the task of dragging the heavy load up a small hill on the way to Smithfield Markel-. Here an exciting skirmish with strikers took place, and the whole convoy was within an ace of being split up and destroyed. The drivers therea f ter refused to handle horse traffic further.
Home Office Asks for Motors.
Realizing the gravity of the position, a responsible official at the Horne Office entered into consultation with the owners of the as.
Highland Brae," and also with the buyers of the cargo stored in the holds of the steamship. As a result of the conference E. W. Rudd, Ltd., the well-known motor-haulage contractor, was approached with a view to securing the services of its fleet of motor vehicles, which could bring food from the ships, and help to reduce the fear of panic food prices which last week was rapidly growing on the people of London. Convoy Gets Through with Beef.
Later during the same day, a fleet of 16 steam wagons, together with their trailers, all owned by E. W. Rudd, Ltd., passed through the dockgates, and at 12.50 p.m. the loaded vehicles, convoyed by 100 mounted police headed by Superintendent Wells of Scotland Yard, and carrying altogether 1,500 quarters of frozen beef, roughly 150 tons, passed out through a crowd of sullen strikers. This was the first successful convoy to convey meat from the clocks to the markets, and the procession wound its way down the Commercial Road, Houndsditch, Liver. pool Street., Fore Street, Barbican, and into the Smithfield Market. We are enabled to reproduce some striking photographs herewith showing the wagons passing the strikers. A COMMEROTAT. MOTOR representative travelled with the convoy. Stones were thrown at intervals during the journey, and one or two of the drivers sustained minor injuries, including split lips and cut faces. The drivers of the. horse-drawn vehicles had previously refused to tackle the work which these motorvans performed successfully, and food was wailing in the holds of the ships. It is of interest to note that Mr. F.. W. Rudd himself steered the leading wagon of the first convoy, in order to prove that he was riot calling upon his employees to do unreasonable and excessively-risky work. The " Highland Brae" had brought, stored away in her holds, 24,000 quarters of beef. Docking Sunday, she should have left on Friday. Despite the strike she was only two days late in unloading her cargo. Two motor convoys a day, and sometimes even four, left the docks while the strike was in progress, and this without the famous permit from Mr. Tillett. E. W. Rudd, Ltd., now employs a fleet of modern Garrett steamers, as well as a number of other but older machines ; the company, it may be mentioned, has the carrying contract from the docks to the markets of the Swift Beef Co. Ltd., of U.S.A., which represents threequarters of the total carrying capacity of the Highland Line steamers. The business done by the Swift Beef Co., and incidentally by E. W. Rudd, Ltd., is the largest of its kind in Europe. Rudd's are also responsible for the haulage work of two other large concerns, and although this additional business has been a tremendous strain – the wagons have been working practically night and day—the regular services to Brighton, Guildford and Croydon, when beef is taken direct from the holds of the ships to the local markets, has been maintained without a hitch.
Interview with Mr. E. W. Rudd. Horses Useless.
It was a tired, but grim and determined personage whom our representative ran down in his dock offices on Thursday morning last. Considering that the gentleman had put in something like a 20-hour day for a week on end, a, little fatigue cannot be called surprising.
" I have no desire," said Mr. Rudd, " to beat down the men, nor to act as a breaker of labour. In my opinion, however, food for the people is of supreme importance, and I consider myself quite justified in going to any length to prevent the price of food rising in London. I think that the strikers are mistaken, and, as a proof that my actions and general business conduct are not inconsistent with these remarks, let me point out that the drivers of my wagons have not registered the slightest protest when called upon to do this haulage during the strike. It is only by using my steamers that. I have been able to cope with this extremely heavy work. Fire hundred horses would have been of no use to me. I cannot speak too highly of the work which the wagons have performed under exceptional strike .conditions. Superintendent Wells of Scotland Yard has afforded me the greatest assistance, and he has at all times been ready to fall in with any suggestion that I have made. I may say that during the ordinary working week my firm is responsible for the cartage of 200 tons of beef, and the steam wagons have proved, in this emergency, that they are elastic enough to carry double that amount, and to work for 24 hours a day if necessary."
Police Prefer Handling Motor Wagons.
While -continuing inquiries in the vicinity of the dock gates, opportunity was taken to secure photographs of commercial-motor vehicles engaged in running the gauntlet. It would, indeed, be a brave crowd of strikers who would care to charge a two-, threeor four ton heavily-laden vehicle, tearing through the gates at a speed of 10 or 12 miles an hour, a sight which, during the days of the strike, has been by no means uncommon. The photograph of the Schweppe steam wagon gives a. good idea of how the wagons rushed through the opened gates. Owing to trouble which has arisen in consequence of men's features being recognised on photographs taken inside the docks, and to assaults. which have followed the recognition of these men by their work-mates, strict orders were issued by the dock authorities that no cameras were to be allowed within the docks. Superintendent Wells, however, placed special facilities at the disposal of THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR which enabled the pictures which illustrate this article to be secured. E. W. Rudd, Ltd., also extended help to us.
A highly-placed police official gave it as his opinion that without the aid of the heavy motors the strikers would have scored a complete success. He stated that it was easier from the police point of view to handle and safeguard twenty motors than to look after a
couple of pair-horse vans. The strike has been broken, but it has not been by internal dissension, nor by the failure of the men to respond to their leaders, but by the fact that hundreds and even thousands of tons of food have been removed from the docks through the ranks of the strikers, and to the markets by the big motor vehicles.