The hot weather has been making thirsty work for the nine draymen from Arkells Brewery in Swindon who have been working hard to keep the brewery’s pubs and hotels stocked up with real ale and cool drinks.
They certainly have enough experience of getting the job done, with an incredible 249 years of brewery service between them.
Pictured from left, left to right:
Steve Blackford, Ron Fisher, Pete Smith, Joe Brown, Simon Paginton, Jon Dance, Jim Burdock, Trevor Blackford, Dave Telling
Longest serving is Trevor Blackford, who’s worked as an Arkell’s drayman for an incredible 43 years – beating his brother Steve Blackford who’s clocked up a mere 33 years behind the wheel. Jim Burdock comes second, having driven the highways and byways of the South and West of England delivering Arkell’s ales for 42 years.
Joe Brown’s done 37 years and Jon Dance 34. Dave Telling and Ron Fisher have done 29 and 25 years respectively, and then there are the very new boys: Simon Paginton and Pete Smith who have only done three years’ apiece.
However, Simon in particular knows what might be ahead of him, being the third generation to work at the brewery. His dad is Dave Paginton, who is Arkell’s Transport Manager – and his grandfather worked on the bottling line.
Arkell’s Brewery draymen clock up thousands of miles’ driving every year, delivering beer, wine & spirits and soft drinks to the brewery’s estate of 100 pubs, as well as to many more free trade customers, and when the weather’s as good as it has been recently, demand is higher.
Their day begins at around 6am when they load up their engines and head off. It’s a tough job too – the full barrels of beer are heavy, each weighing over 100 lbs, depending on the barrel size.
In the olden days, where a horse and cart delivered beer, draymen were often rewarded for their delivery by a pint of beer at each pub. If they had ten or more drops, it was probably their horses that guided them safely back to the brewery. That’s no longer the case now deliveries are made by lorry, and draymen are more likely to be offered a cup of tea and bacon roll.
On their return to the brewery, the drayman’s day doesn’t finish until mid-afternoon after the empty barrels are offloaded and the lorries parked up safely for the next day’s delivery.
Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: “Our draymen are a vital link between the brewery and our pubs. When the sun shines, they know they’re in for a busy few days, and when it snows, they are unstoppable in their determination to get through with the beer. They really are the Kings of the Road.”