IN the world of heavy goods vehicles, there are ‘trampers’ and there are ‘trunkers’.

While trunking usually involves making deliveries on a regular, and often shorter route, ‘tramping’ refers to making journeys over a number of days, with the driver living out of the vehicle.

For the team of drivers at JR Dixon Ltd, based in Lillyhall, tramping is a way of life and has been for generations of employees over the company’s 50-year history.  

The business was started by Sylvia Bates, the grandmother of current managing director Philip Clarke, and her partner John Dixon, who borrowed some money to buy their first truck in 1973.

It began expanding its customer base and its number of vehicles, transporting goods from the north of Scotland to the south of England. Today JR Dixon Ltd has seven articulated lorries, travelling thousands of miles each week and, in October, the business was named Northern Haulage Company of the Year at the Transport News Northern Rewards.

Its Cumbrian clients include nearby Enfield Tubes and Cumbria Recycling, both in Lillyhall, while it also delivers stock up and down the country for retailer The Range and distributes Coca-Cola from various national depots.

It also works beyond the UK, delivering items including engines and other machinery to Germany and Italy.

"I like to meet people and introduce myself and show them the vehicles because we've got very high spec vehicles that stand out from the crowd,” said Philip, who started working for the company driving vans at the age of 18.

He spends much of his time out on the road himself, with wife Helen taking care of accounts and HR in the office, alongside two other office staff who coordinate the activities of the seven drivers. "I think it's all about personal touch," said Philip.

"Speaking with customers, visiting them, showing them that you’re a family business and not just a name on a computer.” 

He says despite its relatively remote location, being in West Cumbria is no barrier to running a successful haulage business. “It doesn’t matter where you’re based, as long as you’re on a major trunking route and I love where I live in Cumbria because it’s God’s country," he said.

“We want to grow and grow and create more jobs and get more wagons and hopefully the business will be going and even bigger and better in another 50 years.”