Clarke Transport is a family business – one of the leading privately owned multi-service transport organisations in the UK. We currently have our 4th Generation of Clarkes working within the business.
We’ve built our reputation on efficiency, trust and quality over many years - however, we don’t believe in resting on our laurels. Innovation is also a vital aspect of the way we work, and it’s been a key feature right from the word go.
Back in 1933, Clarke Transport was established to provide the very first direct road service between the industrial Midlands and Scotland. This pioneering spirit has taken us forward to our current industry-leading position, and we now offer a wide range of delivery and warehousing solutions to many satisfied customers.
Today we have more than 450 employees – and counting – as well as over 220 vehicles. Our head office is still based in the West Midlands as well as our main hub which is close to the M5, M6 and M42 motorways, and serves our impressive network of strategically located regional depots.
Professional expertise, years of experience, a commitment to quality and superb customer service have really put Clarke Transport on the map.
In 1933 the business was operating from Corser Street in Smethwick, where it steadily grew until 1960. In 1942 the military came, and even though Clarke’s trucks were already being used in the war effort – moving arms and components around the UK – the best two trucks were commandeered for direct military use.
In 1951 the business was starting to flourish and Clarke's was offered the work distributing US Royal Tyres. Twenty-one extra trucks would be required, in addition to the existing six trucks working on general business. Alf needed to raise capital, so he borrowed money from the family, pawned their jewellery and emptied his three sons’ piggybanks. All were repaid with interest within 12 months. The three sons – Alfred, Maurice and Bill – grew up working in the business with trucks in the back yard, but that's another story.
(This group photo was taken around 1985, and although some of the people on the picture have retired or moved jobs, several still work for Clarke's, including:)
Bill Clarke Senior - Managing Director, Robert Clarke - Operations Director, Bill Clarke Junior - Commercial Director, John O'Neill - Contracts Manager, Trevor Caron - Driver and Kenneth Pritchard - Driver.
As a young man Alfred joined the Coldstream Guards with his brother, who went on to become a Sergeant Major. Unfortunately, Alf was taken ill, and it was discovered that he was only 15 so he was discharged.
He returned home and took on three jobs. Early each morning he worked as a tyre cutter, during the day he delivered coal with a horse and cart, and in an evening he worked as a doorman at the local cinema.
He met his wife-to-be, Anna, while she was working in a fish and chip shop. They married in 1923, despite her father’s protests that she should keep away from the rough Clarke family. Anna was from Aston and Alf was from Ladywood, both now suburbs of inner-city Birmingham (and home of the finest football team, Aston Villa).
As time moved on Alf progressed from his horse and cart to delivering coal on an already worn-out truck. It was then Anna told him to stop gambling and save his money to buy a truck of his own. In 1933 Alf started the business with one truck and found his first paying load to deliver. This was to Scotland, and for more than 50 years as the company grew it was known as Clarke's, the specialist Scottish Carriers.
This picture was used for promotional work by both the local Ford dealer and ourselves. It shows our distinctive blue and yellow livery with red on yellow signage. The company colours came about because Bill Clarke had recognised years ago that all-blue trucks looked a little dull. Rather than completely respray the vehicles, which would cost too much money, it was decided to paint the top only. The colour was Volkswagen Yellow, though this is no longer used – it is also available as Clarke Yellow.
From left to right
Robert Clarke – Operations Director
Bill Clarke Senior – Managing Director
Bill Clarke Junior – Commercial Director
They say that every picture tells a story, and this one certainly does! It’s not just the slim young Clarkes with a full head of hair, but the fact that Robert hadn’t bought a suit for the shoot. He had to borrow a somewhat smaller suit that day – check out the cuffs and the bursting buttons. But hey, he still managed to look cool.
We have been using the delivery service for 8 years, and in that time, we have built a good working relationship with both the transport office and the drivers and the sales team. We are notified by email direct off the traffic office if there are any issues with deliveries for example driver have run out of time or such like issues, Any delivery that is delayed is promptly dealt with and is sent for delivery the following working day.
All of the collection drivers that we deal with on daily basis are extremely helpful, patient and help where needed.