Remembering Clutha's Leyland years

By: Greg Bush, Photography by: Greg Bush


IMGP2103 Geoff Martin, now retired, enjoys showing off his Leyland Albion at local truck shows. IMGP2103
IMGP2102 Nice job. Geoff repainted the Albion himself. IMGP2102
IMGP2109 Sydney Classic and Antique Truck Show visitors read up on Clutha’s history. IMGP2109
IMGP2100 Geoff re-printed a story on Clutha’s coal trucks from the old and now defunct Truck and Bus magazine. IMGP2100
IMGP2108 The original identification plate. IMGP2108

Trucks are in Geoff Martin’s blood, especially the old Leylands he drove for Clutha. In memory of those years, Geoff brought an old Albion back to life.

Remembering Clutha's Leyland years
Geoff Martin’s Leyland Albion at the Sydney Classic and Antique Truck Show. Notice his little T model Ford on the back.

 

Geoff Martin’s rare Leyland Albion is a reminder of the blue Clutha trucks which rolled along the Burragorang Valley in NSW during the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Geoff drove one himself, although he says "mine was a Comet. It didn’t have a tilt cab, it had a narrow axle."

Geoff started working for coal haulage company S&M Fox, owned by Stan and Millie Fox, in 1970. Stan Fox, also a prominent racehorse owner, passed away in 1974. The company was bought out by Clutha and Geoff drove for them until 1984, running to the mines at Nattai, Oakdale and the Top Wash.

Although he was a qualified mechanic, he began driving trucks because it was a better paid job.

"A Mack was the last truck I drove there. I had a Mercedes and two Leylands, the half door one and then one of these," he says, pointing to the Albion, which was on display at this year’s Sydney Classic and Antique Truck Show.

Geoff found the 1965 model Albion on a property at Temora in October 2014, having sat in a paddock for 15 to 20 years.

"I bought it because it was part of my past," he says. "It wasn’t bad … it didn’t have much rust in it for its age. And they’re the original mats on the floor. I put a piston sleeve in it, I painted it inside and out, painted the wheels, put some tyres on it and tidied it up. I had it on the road in about three months."

Each S&M Fox truck had a unique number; Geoff’s being 203. The original number had faded on the Albion, so he resurrected his old number and the S&M Fox signage as part of the paint job.

"I spent 18 months driving a square cab; 120hp pulling 14 ton," he recalls. "It used to be hard work. You’d be working your guts out climbing up Bulli Pass, coming out of the valley."

Geoff remembers the arrival of the new 1418 Benz trucks, which still carried the name of S&M Fox.

"They must have had to carry the name for a certain period," he says. "Then they rubbed it off the bonnet and put Clutha on."

Read more of Geoff Martin’s Albion and the Sydney Classic and Antique Truck Show in the July 2016 edition of Owner//Driver.

 

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