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RWT Edworthy & Sons

by Paul Edworthy

with thanks to Philip Edworthy, Jimmy Wills, Ron Yelland, & Kevin Smith

This is to tell the story of my grandfather Tom Edworthy and his business R.W.T Edworthy & Sons a family run haulage business based at the heart of Mid Devon in a Village called Bow. A big thank you to all the people that have given their time and knowledge, to help me to bring you the story of a hard working man and his dedicated family.

Tom was born on the 28th march 1913 at North Tawton, His father was William Edworthy and his mother was Lucy Edworthy formally Rowden, Tom’s father died when he was just 5 years old. He used to live with his mother in a house at the bottom of what now is the yard entrance;

He married my Nan ‘Patricia Giovanna Discombe’ Daughter of Francis John &Florence Hilda Discombe, from, Westwood, Crediton. They he moved into a bungalow now situated at the top of the yard lane at Johnsland Bow. They had three Children Philip born in 1947, Rosalind born in 1949, Peter born in 1953.the houses at the bottom of lane burnt down in the early 50s my granddad cleared away the remains of the cottages to allow a wider access to the yard.

Tom worked for Perce Steer for 17 years driving lorries bagging coal and drove the first ever lorry to come into Bow. Tom started his own business in 1945 he bought a Cattle lorry from a man from Morchard Bishop called Bill Edworthy.

He started off by working out of rockbeare quarry with a 2 tonne lorry. He used to take the sand out into a lay-by and tip it and then did five load like that then after 5 o clock when the quarry was closed he used to shovel it all up and bring home. He used to deliver sand and stone to builders and farmers all across Devon. The stone came from Oldborough quarry owned by the Notts a group of brothers from Morchard Bishop, Rockbeare Quarry, Meldon Quarry. In the 1950s Tom also started making and selling concrete blocks which he also delivered the blocks were made in the shed which is now the middle workshop.
At the peak of the business Tom had at least 45 workers a combination of Drivers, labourers and block makers which included farm workers that used to work in the fields and yard.

Tom also transported cattle for local farmers, slaughter houses and dealers nationwide and also carried out work for Crediton rural district council collecting refuge and taking it to the tips. In the 1960s he started selling coal which he had delivered in from Bideford Docks and then Tom used to deliver to the local villages around mid Devon.

Philip started driving in 1965 his first lorry was an Austin Loadstar Registration Number RTA354 he used to deliver sand and stone around the mid Devon area the.
Peter Started driving in 1970 his first lorry was a threepenny bit cab.
Tom bought Hayne Quarry at Zeal Monachorum in the early 1960s and rented Tucking Mill Quarry also in Zeal Monachorum. They started to expand the business and in the late 60s they started transporting bulk feeds, Swedes etc nationwide. The first weighbridge was located at the bottom of the lane near the main road with the hoppers close behind this is where the first loads of ready-mix concrete were made. Storage for feeds and fertilizer also started in the early sixties and the business expanded further in the seventies with the edition of Skips.

When I Worked for Tom Edworthy

By Jimmy Wills

This is a recollection of my early working life from 1958 when I was 13 years old.

My very first job was to help my mother with her paper rounds around the villages of Spreyton Hillerton and Bow I actually used to meet the paper train at Bow station around 6 30 am Monday to Saturday and would deliver the papers around Hillerton before I went to school.

One day my mother said to me “why don’t you try for a job on Saturdays and school holidays with Tom Edworthy” Transport Bow Devon. I went up to Tom’s yard and looked him out and asked him if there was anything I could do Saturday’s and school holidays, Tom said “yes” start this weekend.

Tom said he would give me 10/- (shillings) for 7am till 1pm 50p in today’s money. I turned up, riding in with John Stanley (cousin) as we both lived at Bow station and my first task was to fill Tom’s car with petrol. I remember the car well it was a blue Ford Pilot and after that the rest of the morning was bagging coal working in the concrete block shed or loading or unloading any lorry that came in the yard.

With that 10/- I couldn’t believe my luck, it was enough to go to the pictures in Crediton on Percy Steer’s bus (Bow Belle) and buy fish and chips and a drink and still money over. I had never been so well off in my life.

Bearing in mind all this happened about 51 years ago I will try and remember some of the people I worked with --------- Bill Wonnacott, Jim Manning, Fred Peach, Percy Lake, Bill Daw, George Tarr. Douglas Leaworthy,(whitesocks) John Stanley, Siddy Moore, Fred Tucker, Charlie Rounsley, Henry Tucker, Ron Yelland, Fred Salter, Jessie Jarvis, Donald Courtney, (Korky) Chesty Tucker, Gerald Easterbrooke, Jack Sparey, Titch Turner, Roy Butt, Bert Sandford, Ray Smith, Harold Matthews, Curly Yelland, Tub Gooding, Eric Woodman, John Stone, Jack Snell, Sam Snell, Vivian Hanniford, Len Jones, Peter Perris, Peter Clark, Gordon Paddon, Stan Henderson, George Dart, Ray Dawe, this is some of the work mates I can remember, no doubt there are more but these are some of the first ones I worked with.

I worked up at Tom’s yard until I was 16 when I bought myself a Lambretta scooter. I saw a job advertised with W A Davey of Copplestone “wanted” a fork lift trainee I fancied getting mobile (driving something) so I applied and got the job. The job never worked out Mr Davey used to put me down his house gardening and I never really took to that I stayed there about 4 months but never did get to drive the fork lift. I was so fed up I swallowed my pride and asked Tom if I could have my old job back.

Tom said I could so I went back to work at the yard.I was now 16 and Tom wanted me to drive around the lime spreader for Len Jones, (Joana) as for some reason he had lost his licence to drive on the road. For the summer of 1961 I used to move the tractor a 4 wheel drive Fordson around farm to farm and help off load the lime (shovel) a bit of real graft never hurt anyone, the thinking about it has done in a few.

When there was no tractor driving it was yard work as usual coal, block shed, hay bales, off loading corn sacks and anything that needed to be done. I was on the dump cart for a while, sometimes with a cattle lorry until Tom got a purpose built lorry a Commer, we first had to go to Morchard Bishop to pick up Jimmy Ford he would ride in the back and sort out any “goodies” scrap metal etc.
We tipped off the load mostly at Mr Hutchings farm Easton Barton, Lapford, sometimes we became stuck in the mud and would have to run up the farm and get Mr Hutchings to pull us out with his tractor.

I can remember off loading Midhurst Whites lime Tom had a big store at the yard, also basic slag from South Wales a big stack of that, sand would come in from Bishops Court and Rockbeare and three quarter to dust from Meldon all shovelled on and off. I can remember some of the lorries some BMC’s and Austin Loadstar’s one or two Bedford’s some of them tippers. A few of the first cattle lorry’s had push in back ramps and blow me if they didn’t seem heavy but later the spring loaded ones was a doddle.

Tom had two Quarries one at Tucking Mill out at Zeal Monarchorum and the other at Hayne. I used to go out to Tucking Mill quite a lot and operate the cracker. The cracker used to crack large stone into say 4 inch and run down a shute to a loading bay down by the river bridge where in the early days you would load it by hand with a stone fork but more latterly Bill Daw with his chaseside.

I well remember the winter of 1963 the snow was so bad there was very little to do. I remember Fred Tucker and I dug the pit for the old original weighbridge at the bottom of Tom’s drive. The winter lasted a long time, sometimes I used to go with some of the drivers delivering sea meal from out by Exeter airport and cattle feed from Davey’s it was so cold I don’t remember any such cold frost’s as 1963.

Other jobs I recall would be going into Crediton station and off loading coal trucks and delivering it to Jacksons factory Bladen dairies Western lodge I very often went with “whitesocks” on a Saturday to do this. Summertime I used to go out haymaking Tom would ask if I wanted to do some overtime which I was always up for so he would give me and a driver sometimes Charlie Rounsley a bit of tea maybe a sandwich and a cake and off we would go until dark.

The goods yard at Bow station was still in operation and I used to go out and offload beet pulp, cement, slag lots of things came in by railway. The Railway pub was still up and running when I was a youngster. I remember the first person that ran the pub was Fernly Northcott then Sam Luxton took it and the last person I recall having it was Jack Jewell.

The highlight of my childhood was going over this pub on a Saturday night and getting a packet of Smith’s crisps and a cherryade funny how you remember things like that. Lunch times up in Tom’s yard was brilliant, my mother was still living at this time and she used to put me up cheese and piccalilli sandwich’s and we sat on old lorry seats in the garage. I remember the stories of the older drivers about driving on ice and steep hills and all sorts of things, so very interesting (history) Tom was a really good boss he would give a job to anyone that asked and the amount of people that he helped in his day, including me, would have been numerous.

I never wanted to do any other thing than drive lorry’s I got my experience from age 13 backing around lorry’s in the yard to load and off load, I used to beg any driver I went with to have a little drive in farm lanes. I remember I went once with Henry Tucker to Port Talbot for a load of slag, Henry let me drive almost all the way over and back (no Severn bridge) it was a two day trip we got a bit of shuteye by a big TV mast near Cowbridge. I would have still been only about 15/16 wonderful experience.

I stayed working for Tom until I was about 17 when I went to Cheltenham to live with Harold Matthews and his family as Harold’s daughter Rosita was my girlfriend at the time. We left for Cheltenham on the train from Bow station where I was to stay for the next two and a half years. It was some time before I got a job in Cheltenham but I got a job with a scaffolding company eventually it was while I was putting scaffold up at one of the customers that a foreman of J H Storey offered to teach me building work therefore offering me a job which I took. The foreman put me with an old experience builder called Ray Howes and I then began to learn plastering and building walls, brickwork, pointing in fact all aspects of building. Little was I to know at the time it would be a big part of my life in the future, going on in later life to build myself and Margaret a 5 bedroom bungalow at North Tawton.

Although building work was to be a great part of my life I never really lost the love of driving lorry’s and after I returned from Cheltenham I had a short spell working for my brother Ken where I acquired my PSV licence to drive coaches. I did a school, bus round around Follygate and Exbourne for a couple years and building in between. After that aged 23 I joined the Milk Marketing Board where I stayed until I took early retirement in the year 2000.

Woking for Tom Edworthy was a wonderful experience to teach you how to work and not be afraid of it, really, working in Toms yard built up your strength with all the lifting and for the rest of my life I never looked back. My friend Peter Clark and I always had a competition who could lift or carry the most. I remember a time when Peter carried 2 hundredweight of cement about a hundred yards from the block shed to the top of the weighbridge but sorry Pete I did manage the 3. It would be nothing to carry a 1cwt bag of coal to the top of Bow village, we must have been mad. Looking back it was graft all the way but wonderful too.

Please View the Workers who have worked for Tom if you have worked for Tom but do not see you name please get in contact with me.

Many Thanks,


Workers: Percy Lake, Arthur Sutton, Ron Yelland, Arthur Braund, Jeff Evely, Gert (Brian) May, Daisy (Michael) May, Clive Atherton, Roy Butt, Curly (Cecil) Yelland, Dave (Sam) Yelland, Ron Yelland, Trevor Mills, Edgar Mills, John Stone, Ron Moyse, Gordon Leach, Kevin Smith, Ken Ford, Colin Rickerby, Dave Cole, Terry Sutton, Andrew Courtier, Wayne (Max) Leigh, Bill Heardson, Bill Daw, Siddy Moore, Ron Atherton, Cyril Rice, Brian Cobb, Ashley Cole, Andrew Leach, Peter Perris, Bill Bracey, Jimmy Wills, John Parkhouse, Cyril Hookway, Terry Hookway, Bill Wounacott, Mark Bosaki, Steve Bosaki, Colin Wonnacott, Jack Sparey, John Sparey, Mike Sparey, Brian Smith, Roy Butt, David Bird, Bill Balsdon, Robin Bending, John Brazier (Ginger), Dennis Blatchford, Ken Boucher, Gordon Baker, Dave Brooks, Peter Bisset, Donald Courtney (Corki), Walter Cann, Steve Cockerham, Peter Clark, Louis Courtier, Ray Clarke, George Clarke, Dave Colegrave, Paul Carpenter, Tony Cann, Eric Cann, Francis Cann, Henry Davey, Ray Dawe, Les Dickerson, Jeff Denford, Robin Drayton, Chris Drake, Fred Drake, Fred Earle, Terry Cox, John Fouache, Francis Friendship, Gordon Gatting, John Gorrett, Tubby Gooding, Edward Greenhalf, Brian Godbeer, Phil Hand, Harold Honeychurch, Steve Honeychurch, Chris Honeychurch, Ken, Hutchings, Gilbert Huxtable, Stan Henderson, Vivian Hannaford, Bob Hanton, Reg Hill, Martin Ireland, Len Jones (joner), Ivan Jones, Dave Johnson, Bill Kelly, Jack Kelly, Stuart Knowles, Bill Kingdom, Bill Lockyer, Alan Lock, Graham Lock, Geoff Lovelock, Douglas Leaworthy (Whitesocks), Russell Lashbrook, Derek Lashbrook, Dycksy Lane, Fred Lee, Geoff May, Walter Mears, Jim Manning, Fred Milton, Cyril Milton, Sam Manning, Herbie Middleton, Ian Nisbet, Ron Nichols, Henry Orton, Fred Pillivant, Derek Penna, Geoff Penna, Bernard Peerless, Geoff Petherick, Fred Peach, Herbie Parker, Fred Parr, John Pye, Len Quick, Charlie Rounsley, Cyril Rounsley, Trevor Rounsley, Paul Ridd, Tom Reed, Mick Rolfe, Harry Reddaway, Tony Sanders, Jim Sanders, John Stanley, Bert Sandford, Steve Sandford, Bill Stone, Sam Snell, John Snell, Geoff Stevens, Paul Sneezby, Peter Sutton, Keith Smith, Fred Salter, Dave Staddon, Roy Snell, G Starkey, Fred Tucker, Henry Tucker, George Tarr, Ken Tyrell, Fred Tonkins, Titch Turner, Farmer Tapp, Taxi, Sid Vinnicombe, Steve Vinnicombe (Benny), Arthur Vicary, Herbie Venton, Eric Woodman, Derek Welham, Lonzel Warren, Tubby Webb, Len Williams, Kevin Watkins, Cedric Wheeler, Charlie Walker, Tubby Webb,Betty Kirk, Tony Watkins, Gordon Rookes, Brian Stevens, Adrian Ford, Steve Cockeram, Brian Smith


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