Albury legend: Arch McLeish

By: Tamara Whitsed


Arch McLeish’s 1948 White WB20. Arch McLeish’s 1948 White WB20. Arch McLeish’s 1948 White WB20.
Arch McLeish says he still has distillate running through his veins. Arch McLeish says he still has distillate running through his veins. Arch McLeish says he still has distillate running through his veins.

Retired Albury transport operator, Arch McLeish, reflects on his four decades in the industry

 

Sixty-five years have passed since Arch McLeish first travelled the Hume Highway in his White WB20, but the retired Albury transport operator says the White is still his favourite truck.

Arch, 89, worked at Beaurepaires in Albury, New South Wales, after he left the Navy. He purchased the White from a customer late in 1950.

"I’d serviced it," Arch says. "I knew it was a good truck.

"I was good to it, and it was good to me."

His business, AJ McLeish, was boosted by a rail strike in the early 1950s. Arch carted wool from Albury to Melbourne, returning with beer from Carlton & United Breweries (CUB).

Transport regulations tightened up again when the rail strike ended, but Arch still had plenty of work for his White.

The Hughes & Vale decision of 1954 led to another trucking boom. Arch expanded his interstate freight service between Albury and Melbourne.

"We had two trucks by the time the 1960s came and we went up to about 10 in the 1960s."

Supermarket goods, produce, grain, steel and building material all helped him build his fleet.

Arch believes AJ McLeish was the biggest truck company in Albury by the end of the 1970s.

His fleet peaked with 17 prime movers in the 1980s when he was carting rolls of newsprint from Albury to Melbourne. "We were loading five a day."

In 1989 Arch retired and sold his trucks. He enjoyed one last run on the Hume, driving his SAR Kenworth.

"I took a load of pet food to Melbourne and brought a load of cans back. It was a bit different to the first load I’d done."

Arch was a popular guest speaker at the Crawlin’ the Hume dinner at Albury in April. He entertained the audience with memories of the old Hume Highway.

Read more about Arch McLeish’s trucking career in the June issue of Owner//Driver magazine.

 

 

 

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