The Early Years...
1927 - 1939
In 1927 William Armstrong, a farm labourer, acquired a 25 acre smallholding at Newtown, Irthington near Brampton and so founded his haulage firm. Today, the third generation of the Armstrong family is running the business. Livestock lorries based at the Longtown depot can carry 35 cows compared with William Armstrong's original Model T Ford that could only carry one cow and a co-operative one at that! While he was never to make his fortune moving single cows he saw the opportunity for retailing coal brought from the nearly Hallbankgate drift mine which he sold for around the equivalent of 6p a cwt.
It was the arrival of the Nestle and Angle Swiss Condensed Milk Company in Carlisle in 1928 that really established the business. The 1928 agreement was that Armstrongs would bring nine churns of milk into the dairy every day - for the sum of 10 shillings (50p) and William received a cheque for £15 for the loads carried in September 1928 with which he opened a bank account.
Milk was rapidly becoming the backbone of the business but the Model T Ford did not carry enough churns as farmers began to produce more milk for the enlarged market. A Model A Ford and a Chevrolet followed but in 1936 came a new Bedford, which together with a second hand Bedford was the Armstrong fleet for 11 years, hauling feed on top of churns and also carrying sand and gravel.
At this time the Milk Marketing Board was formed and Armstrongs worked for them until de-regulation in 1994. Runs with livestock were as far afield as Hawick, Newcastle and Darlington. Petrol rationing meant that during the war the longer distances had to be curtailed and the two lorries were given first call to the Home Guard.
1940 - 1970
In 1947 Bob, William's eldest of six sons and one daughter, passed his driving test. 17-year old Bob, who had been driving since his feet could touch the pedals was immediately given responsibility for the lorries and the business while his father concentrated more on running the larger farm he had bought at Penton.
The 50s saw rapid growth at Armstrong's. In 1953, Bob Armstrong saw the opportunity of getting into livestock haulage by taking over Millican's livestock vehicles. Bob's brothers, Harold (having returned from national service) and Jock joined the company, later to be joined by Cyril. Meanwhile Bob's wife Margaret was setting up the office systems.
In the 60's, cattle were being transported to Devon by rail but Armstrongs won business by cutting delivery schedules to a fraction of the time. Local farmers were also travelling as far as Caithness to buy their sheep. Armstrong's saw this as an opportunity, so their first 20-hour haul back to Longtown with North County Cheviots began. Today the journey takes nine hours and is over 30 miles shorter with the help of bridges en-route. At the famous one-day lamb sale at Lairg, Armstrongs lead the industry by carrying home around 6,000 of the 36,000 sheep sold.
1970 - 2000
By 1970 the business had developed a strong general haulage section. In the 70s the transport industry was revolutionised with the use of articulated vehicles, palletised goods and forklift trucks.
1984 saw the untimely deaths of Jock, Harold and founder William Armstrong. Through these difficult times Armstrong's drew on their reserves and the business continued to grow supported by a loyal workforce.
In April 1994 the company was signed up as the first independent haulier to handle the milk transport arrangements for Nestle UK in North Cumbria and Dumfriesshire.
The general haulage division continued to grow with Armstrong's exploiting their unique position to service Scotland for major customers in the agricultural and food sectors.
2000 - Present
The 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak had a severe effect on the region and the company diversified by joining with other UK hauliers to form PalletFORCE, a palletised goods distribution network run by its members and operating throughout the UK and Europe. Wm Armstrong were honoured by fellow members by being voted Palletforce Depot of the Year 2003 at the annual awards ceremony.
In the following years the company expanded its haulage operation with the acquisition of Robsons Haulage Ltd and Forster's Light Haulage and the opening of the Wm Armstrong Depot at Uddingston Glasgow. It has also diversified into commercial vehicle sales and service with the acquisition of Cumbria Truck Centre Ltd in 2002 and opened Armstrong Trucks Centre at Uddingston, Glasgow.
Other new business growth in recent years includes the Truckapart online parts store which went online in 2010 and our VOSA Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) at Cumbria Truck Centre which opened in 2015
The Armstrong Group was delighted to win the Transport and Logistics category in the inaugural Cumbria Family Business Awards in 2017, putting the business in a great position for the future.
Everything changed when The COVID-19 pandemic struck.
In what proved to be a very difficult time, we sadly lost Vice Chairman Cyril Armstrong and Traffic Team member William McGowan to Covid-19
It was also a year that made The Armstrong Group very proud of the role we played in delivering essential goods throughout the UK during the Pandemic.
The Armstrong Group also continued to move forwards when they opened a state of the art, built for purpose, multi vehicle MOT testing facility on their site at Uddingston near Glasgow.
Armstrong Vehicle & MOT Centre offers, New & Used Vehicle Sales, specialising in Low Emission & Electric Vehicles, Authorised MOT Testing, Servicing & Repairs. We can work on any vehicle from a Mini to an HGV.
Looking to The Future
As a forward thinking fully compliant Group who embrace new technology - we never forget our rich family heritage. We will always have one foot in the past and continue to learn from our historical journey.
As we drive towards a low emission, greener, fully digital paperless future, we are still proud to be a family business with a valued team of people who help us to achieve our goal.