There is much more about the Pentons story I would have liked to have included in this article.
This is really a great story of how hard work and flair can build a successful company.
Early in the second world war, Roy and his brother were among those evacuee children from Wallasey, near Liverpool, who found themselves on Baschurch Station waiting for some kind soul to take them home.
Mrs. Maude Fox was that kind lady. Even although she and her husband, Jim, had no children of their own, they took the two Pentons and their friend back to the World`s End, a row of cottages in the middle of a field between Baschurch and Ruyton XI Towns. It is not recorded what three city lads thought of living in a field with no electricity or running water. On one occasion the boys arrived back at the cottage excitedly carrying a dead swan `for dinner`. Poor Mrs. Fox was convinced the king would find out and slap her in the Tower of London.
In due course, the boys` mother and then their father came to live in the area and the family never returned to Merseyside.
Roy grew up and married Beatrice Gregory and began a lifetime of hard graft. They started by hoeing beet to pay for keeping their caravan on Platt Mill Farm, and several other labouring jobs. They had a growing family, Barbara, Steve, Andrew and Gary so it seemed like a good time to start what became the highly successful Fish and Chip van, known all round the area. The business was so successful that Roy was able to buy the barns at The Cross in the village and build a big new house called Cross View.
In 1973, as his three boys, Stephen, Andrew and Gary grew up, Roy bought a lorry and started carting cheese for Express Dairies in Ruyton.
The business was first based at the barns at Cross View but, when the company bought their first artics in 1976, there were objections at that end of the village and an enforcement order was approved in 1978 after neighbours complained of “loss of amenities”. Roy was banned from washing, servicing or fuelling his three tractor units at his home, although the vehicles were actually parked at Ruyton Dairy, who provided work for Roy`s company. Interestingly, he had been told by Oswestry Borough Council just a month before that it was alright to carry on with the arrangement as the vehicles were only at Cross View for short periods and were parked at the Dairy.
Roy had bought `The Firs` at Shotatton as it had plenty of room for his vehicles, but planning had been turned down at that site as it was in a `white area` i.e., residential. There was support for Pentons from George Braddick, a local parish councillor and from several Oswestry Borough Councillors.
Roy won this village spat by buying the Leaman Garage from Rich Foulkes where no-one could object to family cars or articulated lorries being washed, serviced, fuelled and parked right in the middle of the village, and where no-one could object to the comings and goings of large lorries!
In 1988, Pentons had bought the garage at Babbinswood, near Whittington, and were not only doing maintenance on their vehicles at the garage in Ruyton but now had a business hiring out cars, vans and tractor units. Their addresses for Pentons Hire, were both Leaman Garage, Ruyton XI Towns and Babbinswood, Whittington.
In the late 1980s, the business developed rapidly, largely through its association with food manufacturing companies in the area. Throughout the early 1990s the family business continued to expand and then, in 1993, Express Dairy in School Road, Ruyton XI Towns closed and the opportunity arose to acquire the site, on both sides of the road, including chilled and ambient storage of dairy products.
Pentons Haulage was on the way to something even bigger.
The company negotiated for 92 houses to be built by Jennings Homes Ltd. on the river side of School Road, including affordable houses along the roadside. The rest of the Doctor`s Meadow was leased to Shropshire Council for a football pitch and play area, with adult exercise equipment and two benches donated by the Charter Group after the 2008 Charter Celebrations. A footbridge leads from the play area to a newly planted community wood. Pentons offered the old Dairy canteen to the Parish Council for a village hall on a 99 year lease however, the terms of the offer were not suitable.
In 1991, the company acquired their main site at Maes-y-Clawdd Industrial Estate in Oswestry and moved their base from Ruyton XI Towns.
Pentons Haulage has continued to expand and now operates 76 artics & employs 190 people. They are under contract to APB near Ellesmere delivering meat products all over the country. Meat you might buy from Aldi or Sainsburys comes from ABP in a Pentons Wagon. They deliver daily anything from one pallet to 54 pallets to markets all over the country.
From their website:-
“Pentons offer a comprehensive chilled warehousing and distribution service, including collection, storage, order-picking, delivery and product invoicing combined with 24/7 office cover. We offer the best solution for UK nationwide multi-temperature and ambient warehousing and distribution of food and groceries”.
Roy and his family were great supporters of the Ruyton Carnival in the 1980s, and there was always a train of Pentons Wagons supporting some of the wonderful and imaginative creations for the entertainment of the village.
When Herby Guest took the license of the Bridge Inn, Roy was a regular in the Top Bar, after all, he and Herby had been good mates since they had lived next door to each other at World`s End.
As the company and funds grew, two more houses for the family replaced the barns at the Cross and a super duper big new Georgian style house was built for Roy and Beat in Olden Lane, just behind the original house.
In 2019, Gary Penton organized the 6th Tractor Pull at The Marches Farm in the village, raising many thousands of pounds for Hope House and the Severn Hospice where his parents in law had been cared for. The boy`s sister Barbara also died of cancer and was cared for by the Severn Hospice at Home.
Those original Pentons lorries used for work with Express Dairies can now be seen at local events, in the vintage lorry section.
|Demolition of Penton`s sheds at the Cross 1985
|| Penton`s early wagons at the Shropshire Steam Fair
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