Old truck makers, number 1: Thrifty Bespoke Lorries Ltd. (1921-1924)

Laurie Dealer is always on the look out for the rare and when a funnel turned up in a dredger just of the Dorset coast it reminded Laurie Dealer of an old engineer, who was willing to try and build anything...on the cheap. 

Manufacturer: Thrifty Bespoke Lorries Ltd, West Coker, Som.

Timespan: 1921-1924

Vehicles built: 1 (Price new: £2 s.3 d.8; RV: unknown)

By A. Chalker, first published in Western Gazette in 1924.

Cheapskate engineer Eric Shoemaker, founder of Thrifty Bespoke Lorries, built his first wagon by welding together metal table legs, dustbins, an Aga, a steel funnel, and pram wheels.

Weighing 2.3-tonnes and dubbed Nora I, his wife Nora, launched it ship style with a beer bottle. Nora I sped towards Weymouth, a seaside town five miles away, from his hilltop factory at 09.17 on a Monday.

Forgoing any steering mechanism to reduce costs Shoemaker clung in dismay to Nora I as it demolished two houses, bent a signpost, and narrowly missed several bystanders before careering through the docks and into the sea at 10.12.

According to on-lookers Shoemaker made good his escape on the 37 bus, which left Weymouth bound for Yeovil at 10.27. It is not known if he paid his fare.

This remains the only known picture of Nora I.

Woodland eyes profit growth through rebrand

Woodland Group says after it endured the recession last year it has entered 2010 in a strong position, with expectations of enhanced profit and turnover.

Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2009 show that turnover for the group fell by £8.3m to £59m, with a £361,000 pre-tax loss.

However, company secretary John Stubbings says a major rebranding and refocusing exercise has placed the international freight forwarder, warehousing and distribution business in a position that will return it to the black.

The overhaul of the company's image brought nine of Woodland's separate businesses under one umbrella.

Stubbings says: "It's helped us to raise our profile - one group with a common name. Before then it was slightly fragmented; we have grown fast over a number of years and we had bolted-on entities.

"When we stopped and looked at it we realised it could be a little confusing, not just to our own people, but to the outside world."

Stubbings adds: "We have streamlined things such as administration; efficiencies have come out of it. There have been cost savings, but I would be lying if I said there have been cost savings overall. A lot of money went into rebranding, signage, vehicle livery, etc."

The group made around 25 redundancies during 2009; but 15 were based in the US.

He concludes that trading in 2010 has been "not bad at all", adding: "But we don't want to be out there waving the flag. We are confident we will come to the end of 2010 with profit enhanced again.

"Turnover will certainly be enhanced. Turnover is not everything, but it gives you buying power."