NotesThe history relating to the Gillott family transport archive is divided into: local haulage; the depot, workshop and service station; taxis and hire cars; buses; highway haulage; and the move to Pymble.
Arthur Hellewell Gillott was born on 5 August 1906 at Palmerston North, New Zealand, the son of George Gillott and Clara Hamling. He undertook his Qualifying Certificate at Mortdale Public School in 1919. Throughout the 1920s and early '30s Arthur gained his early work experience in the motor engineering trade when motoring in Australia was just becoming a popular but expensive form of personal transport and the motor truck was beginning to take the place of the horse and cart. He also worked in the building trade and undertook office work being employed by the Warrawee Motor Works at Warrawee, under the management of Manager, D. Ross Limbach; Sidney Syne, contractor of Pitt Street, Sydney; The Boy Scouts Association in Margaret Street, Sydney; W.H Douglass, building and general contractors at North Fitzroy in Victoria, and the Lindfield Motor Works Ltd back on the North Shore of Sydney. During the 1920s he was also one of the racing car "kings" of the Maroubra Speedway and in 1929 married Enid Matilda Tunbridge of Warragal Road, Turramurra. From 1932 Arthur ran the service station at Lindfield for A.J. (Jack) Wagg, with a staff of six mechanics under him and also drove Wagg's Lindfield buses. Before he had turned 30 years of age Arthur had gained excellent practical experience as a motor mechanic together with office and administrative skills and working with staff which would all stand him in good stead.
On 1 January, 1935, Arthur set up his own haulage contracting business with his brother-in-law, Herbert Tunbridge, and formed the carrying firm, Tunbridge & Gillott. They each began driving a Chevrolet truck and advertised their firm as "Dependable Carrying Contractors Anything, Anywhere, Any time. We Supply Foundation Stone, Flagging, Sand, Metal, Ashes, Turf, Topdressing and Manure". The trucks undertook local carting jobs all over the North Shore at a time when building construction in the pre-War period was high. From the beginning it was a family business with Mrs Enid Gillott, Arthur's wife, an active member of the company working as his secretary.
By the Second World War Arthur began to expand his firm having two trucks working on the graving dock at Garden Island, another in Queensland and another in the Northern Territory with the Allied Works Council. After that he went back to hauling building supplies again around the North Shore. His trucks mainly comprised the chassis of the Canadian Chevrolet, "Maple-Leaf" with bodies built in his own workshop. The early trucks included:
Truck No. 1, a 1940 Maple Leaf 133-inch wheelbase tipper, in a blue livery, new on 10 October 1940, and paid for in cash for 596 pounds 10 shillings, with registration number KP588 and EZ318. During the Second World War Gillott sent this truck to Pine Creek in the Northern Territory to construct the road between Alice Springs and Darwin for the Civil Construction Company.
Truck No.2, a 1939 "Maple-Leaf" tipper, in a blue livery.
Truck No.3, a 1938 "Maple-Leaf" tipper in a fawn livery with registration number EZ 317. This truck was impressed for use by the Army on 26 May 1942.
Truck No.4, a 1938 "Maple-Leaf" tipper with a hoist, in a blue livery and registration number EZ 272.
Truck No.5, a 1936 International C35 bought from LS Board for 520 pounds with registration number NA 392. This truck was sold to C. Fletcher of West Ryde on 2 October 1943.
The Depot, Workshop and Service Station
In 1943 Arthur Gillott bought the then closed multi-brand service station (Atlantic, Shell, Plume and Caltex) on the corner of Stanley Street and Pittwater Road (now Mona Vale Road), St Ives. (It changed to Atlantic when the single Brand stations began. The station had been used by the Army as a depot for the seven Army camps located at St Ives. Arthur had the service station site enlarged by Tom Richards. By the mid 1940s the population of St Ives was only about 350 residents served by a small village of four shops while the area comprised orchards, and market gardens growing vegetables and flowers, dairies, pig farms. Gillott's service station (later Esso) was developed together with a repair workshop and sales facility of over 9,000 square feet. The firm went on to employ six staff in the workshop which was capable of maintaining the fleet of vehicles, as well as rebuilding, painting and re upholstering them. To undertake this work there were panel beaters, painters, sign writers, mechanics and apprentices. Apprentices found the work in such a small but varied workshop of particular benefit including overhauling trucks and cars, and rebuilding engines, which would have been unavailable to them in a larger workshop. The workshop site was used from 1943 until 1974. In 1951 land was purchased on Mona Vale Road, St Ives, next to the old Methodist Church, and this became the depot for the buses where they were parked and fuelled. When the new depot at Pymble was opened in 1974 the service station at St Ives carried on selling petrol until about 1988 when the site was sold.
Taxis and Hire Cars
Late in 1943 Arthur Gillott was asked by the New South Wales Transport Department to take over the hire cars and taxis of a World War One "digger" who had been suffering the effects of wartime gassing and could no longer continue operating. Petrol rationing caused great problems for him even though the cars were running on gas producers. It was a popular service as not all areas were served by local buses. The hire cars were commonly used for weddings, funerals and afternoon excursions. Drivers during the War included a Mr Leonard and a Mr Duckworth. Apparently the Pymble taxi and hire cars had one of the first radio-controlled service in Sydney. The vehicles included a blue 1936 Standard Chevrolet sedan purchased second hand from Butler Bros for 235 pounds with registration number 149 557 later EZ314; a 1940 Chevrolet Pullman Deluxe with registration number JG269; and a Chrysler Royal. By 1962 the taxi and hire car fleet reflected the commitment to Australian motor engineering. All the six taxis were Holdens, built between 1957 and 1959, and the hire car was a 1962 Holden. Arthur Gillott operated taxis and hire cars from 1114 Pacific Highway, Pymble, for 23 years until 1966.
Arthur Gillott diversified into bus transport services on 9 June, 1943, when he purchased the St Ives Bus Services from another World War One veteran, James (Jim) Maunder of "Braeside" Cowan Road, St Ives, for 3,600 pounds. The St Ives bus service had begun in 1914 when a Model T Ford truck met the train at Pymble Station. Demand for this service out grew the old Ford and a second vehicle was acquired. Jim Maunder purchased the bus service in 1922 and operated it from Pymble Railway Station to St Ives. During the Depression he carried unemployed men to road construction sites on Eastern Arterial Road, Bobbin Head Road, and the roads to Coal and Candle Creek and McCarrs Creek Road. These were all built by the men with picks and shovels, in return for vouchers for groceries. The buses were in effect long forms built on extended trucks and were colloquially known as "Maunders cattle trucks". The local roads were badly corrugated, very rough and potholed and the second hand trucks suffered from broken springs. Maunder was not a mechanic and employed local "handymen" to repair them for him. Once the Second World War began, Maunder's pool of mechanics dried up as the men enlisted or went to work for the Civil Construction Corps building camps, airfields and roads. Maunder found it increasingly difficult to continue his bus service, especially after his wife died, and Arthur Gillott offered to take over his bus run, bus route service 191, from Pymble Station, to Ayre's Road and Hassall Park, St Ives.
Arthur Gillott began operating his St Ives bus company in 1943 with Maunder's two buses: a 1939 Metropolitan Maple Leaf with registered number M/O 136, with a 31-passenger body extended in the centre; a 1937 Metropolitan Chevrolet with registered number M/O 462, and fitted with a 25-passenger body; and an old White body from Fred Stewart's early 1920s bus service along Parramatta Road.
During the Second World War Arthur was exempt from military service, being an essential transport provider, although he was a member of the Auxiliary Reserve Corps in a unit of the New South Wales Fire Brigade. The St Ives bus service provided transport to and from Pymble Railway Station and the camps accommodating 10,000 servicemen in and around St Ives and the St Ives Showground. Arthur would supply buses to take the soldiers on leave and apparently leave passes were only provided to as many soldiers who could physically climb into, or on top of, the bus. Arthur met the last train from the city at 2 a.m. with his bus. Sometimes over 200 men needed transport back to the camp. For this service another bus had to be borrowed from Jack Wagg at Lindfield, to assist the Gillott bus. Nevertheless, the record load on a Gillott 33-seat bus was 101 soldiers!
Arthur was anxious to acquire more buses but this was difficult both during and after the War as all motor truck supplies had ceased. Nevertheless, he was able to add another bus to the fleet in 1947 after an old South Coast timber hauling truck from a wrecking yard at Chullora was acquired and the chassis lengthened in the Gillott workshop. A body was built for it by Sid Wood, designer and builder of motor bodies at Chapel Road, Bankstown, and within 14 weeks the firm had a new 33-seat bus for 708 pounds. By 1948 the bus fleet had grown to five buses with four new Sid Wood bodies built onto second-hand truck chassis. The fifth bus was a new 1948 model Maple Leaf 37-seat bus. The next two buses, Leylands, were purchased second hand from the Government bus fleet. These were double deck models and were converted to single deck in the Gillott workshop.
The bus runs extended from Pymble and St Ives to Gordon. The service operated through the suburbs during the week and on Sunday and holiday mornings buses left Pymble Railway Station for both Coal and Candle Creek in the Ku-ring-gai National Park and Dee Why Beach in the summer months. Buses could also be contracted out for various outings but probably the most unusual occurred in March 1947 when one of the Gillott buses took the junior crew of the film production unit for Charles Chauvel's "Sons of Matthew" from Sydney to O'Reilleys in the Lamington National Park in Queensland. Arthur Gillott drove the bus (M/O 891) with co-driver, Jim Leonard. Arthur gave up regular driving in about 1949 but continued to take out a long-distance truck, taxi or bus, just to remain familiar with work and to understand the issues facing his family and staff. In fact he held a valid bus license continuously for 52 years from 1926 until 1978.
The bus section of the Gillott company was then managed by Arthur Gillott's eldest son, Arthur Edison Gillott, who had undertaken his mechanical apprenticeship with another firm and returned to help run the family business in 1952.
In December 1959 Arthur Gillott Sen. ran successfully as a candidate for the Gordon Ward of the Ku-ring-gai Municipal elections. He was very active in the community of St Ives being a member of the St Ives Chamber of Commerce, St Ives Bowling Club, St Ives Pre-School Kindergarten Committee and Ku-ring-gai Business Men's Club. He was also a patron of the Ku-ring-gai Show Society, St Ives Rugby Union Club and Vice President of the St Ives Liberal Party. (In 1978 he was singled out as a "Distinguished Citizen" of Ku-ring-gai, during municipality's golden jubilee year.)
From 1960s Arthur saw the suburb of St Ives develop into one of Sydney's "dress circle" residential suburbs with five primary schools and a high school. Understandably, as the area grew, so did the bus company to meet these demands. However to expand the bus services Arthur's trucking business subsidized the purchase of additional buses thereby preventing the St Ives Bus Services from failing as many similar-sized local services had done and having to rely on patrons for subsidies or operating as a co-operative with limited services. The St Ives bus service was even more important to the development of St Ives by providing essential public transport as it is some distance from the rail transport corridor. The era of two and three-car families was still very much in the future. A Saturday service operated late into the evening to take patrons to the Gordon cinema but when that closed it only ran until late afternoon. A Sunday service ran mainly to take worshippers to the Roman Catholic church at Pymble (now Ku-ring-gai Town Hall) in the morning and afternoon. As cars became more readily available, petrol rationing finally ceased and the new Catholic Cathedral opened at St Ives, the Sunday service ceased (though restarted again in 1990).
In 1964 a 50-seat Leyland Royal Tiger Cub was purchased. This was a very large bus as at the time even a 45-seat bus was considered large. (This bus is now registered as an Historic Commercial Vehicle and in 2006 was owned by David Fairless of Oxford Falls). The Royal Tiger Cub was followed during the 1970s and early 80s by Bedfords and more Leylands, mainly the Leopard models. The bus routes extended from Dalton Road to the end of Warrior Road at the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park; from Hassell Park to Kitchener Road and the Wildflower Gardens at Richmond Avenue and Mona Vale Road; from Mona Vale Road down to the Acron Road area; from South St Ives and Barra Brui to Gordon; as well as the East Gordon run to Gordon. By 1966 the fleet comprised nine buses with the company serving a population of 10,000 residents as well as providing school bus services for nine schools. Gillott's bus work comprised three main areas, a local feeder network, taking school children to and from school and school contract work, transporting children to and from sporting activities and excursions.
The Highway Haulage division of the firm, which had been established in January 1957, further diversified the extent of the firm to provide an interstate trucking service. It remained in the family and was run by Arthur Gillott's son-in-law, Allan Hibble, as the manager. Allan was a master mariner with 13 years' experience and was chief-officer on the NZ Shipping Company's 10,000-tonne ship, 'Devon'. He gave away the sea in favour of long distance trucks. By 1959 Allan was sending seven trucks interstate. These included three 22-ton trucks, 4-axle Foden table top trucks and a couple of Foden semi-trailers. The trucks usually traveled to and from Brisbane on a twice-weekly schedule. Other trips included hauling out to mining sites in the Northern Territory and on to Mary Kathleen and Mt Isa in Queensland. This was at a time when outback roads were still rough and unmade and the drivers had to contend with ploughing through mud and crossing flooded creeks to deliver their loads.
By 1975 Highway Haulage were operating out of a terminal in the Sydney suburb of Thornleigh to a Brisbane depot at Rocklea. The fleet by then comprised two Kenworth trucks, one Peterbuilt, five ERF's, (another British heavy vehicle), one Cummins-powered AEC with Fuller Transmission and 14 semi-trailers. Four depot prime movers were also listed in the Heavy Haulage fleet. By the time the vehicles were sold on 1st September, 1989, to Kenco Transportation Services Ltd, the fleet comprised Kenworth and Atkinson prime movers and Haulmark tri-axle trailers. The Gillott family retained the depots which were then leased.
The move to Pymble
As commercial development and traffic congestion in the heart to St Ives became an issue the location of the Gillott depot began to pose problems for the local community. In 1973 Ku-ring-gai Council's Planning Scheme was gazetted which limited Gillott's use of the Stanley Street workshop and depot and it was forced to move. The former depot and workshop was redeveloped into 19 town houses and a medical centre although their Esso service station at 237 Mona Vale Road continued in operation until 1988 when the site was sold for redevelopment. By way of remembering the firm's time in St Ives, the lane off Stanley Street, parallel to Mona Vale Road, was named Gillott Way in 1991.
Sydney's leafy North Shore is noted for its lack of industrial zoning and difficulties were placed on the Gillott firm in re-siting their depot despite its obvious importance to the local community. One of the few sites available was a large corner block on a steep hill adjacent to the Pacific Highway at Pymble just north of the intersection with Mona Vale Road. The Gillott depot and workshop moved to 28 Bridge Street, Pymble, in 1974. A three-level concrete building was constructed with workshop, office areas and the provision of undercover parking for 15 trucks and 16 buses. Developed at a cost of around ½ million dollars, the depot also incorporated stockpile bins for 800 tons of sand, metal and soil as well as a public weighbridge, the only one on the North Shore. The new depot, with state-of-the-art facilities to assist employees, especially the maintenance staff, included ready access to compressed air, electricity and water outlets adjacent to work stations in the workshop. An air-conditioned machined shop, a vault in the workroom to protect precision instruments such as micrometers, and separate washing facilities for mechanics and drivers were provided. The workshop was managed by Arthur Gillott's younger son, George.
A company called, AMEGA Pty Ltd, was established by the Gillott family to operate the depot, workshop and office complex. This name was formed from an acronym of the family company directors: Arthur; Mavis (Arthur's daughter); Enid, (Arthur's wife); George, (Arthur's son); and Arthur, (another of Arthur's sons).