Bishopbriggs haulage company is crowned king of road

Bishopbriggs-based haulage firm John SL Watson has plenty to celebrate on its 50th anniversary after winning a top award.

It has been named Top Tipper Operator of the Year at the annual Transport News Scottish Rewards event, held recently in Glasgow.

Now in its 25th year, the competition attracted 600 road haulage industry guests and filled the banqueting suite of the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

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John SL Watson Haulage is currently celebrating 50 years in business, specialising in clamshell hire, grab loader lorry hire and lorry mounted crane hire.

It could all have been so different, though. Fifty years ago, at the age of 21, and as a time served mechanic, John Watson contemplated boarding a ship bound for Australia as a ‘Ten Pound Pom’.

However, he decided instead to buy a Dodge D308 four wheeler with a Perkins 120hp engine and a 22ft flatbed body for £500.

By May 1968, he was on the road.

The following year, John bought a second truck, another Dodge D308, for just £25. It required a new engine costing £50 and he also enlisted the help of father-in-law Alex Hamilton, who hand-painted the lorry from top to bottom.

“Painters could do that then and make it look like it was sprayed,” recalls John.

At the time, John’s father – Jimmy Watson Snr – was transport manager with Wm Carmichael of Port Dundas, and he joined his son’s growing empire in the mid-70s as the number of lorries expanded.

It became a real family 
affair as John’s mother May took care of the basic book keeping, with John’s wife Susan taking over as financial manger as the business continued to grow and expand. His sister Netta also joined as office secretary.

Years later, John and Susan’s daughter Lorna and son Alex joined the company, developing the renowned 
Thomas Muir Coffee Shop and Gift Shop.

Approximately 60 businesses now operate from the site – which has come to 
be known as Huntershill