Jack was born in Leeds to parents Fred and Flo but had no early links to the road transport world. His father was a tailors cutter by trade and from school, Jack went to the Leeds-based diesel engine manufacturing concern of J&H McLaren when he had thoughts about perhaps being an engineering draughtsman. He wasnt there too long before he was called up for National Service and recalls his two years with the Royal Signals was spent entirely in garage door opener liftmaster
Back in Civvy Street, he found himself working for Pickfords on the companys household removals side: I cant remember why I applied for the job there but at first I was just a 20-year-old office boy. In fairness, Jack was soon promoted. He moved to the Pickfords Group Internal Audit Office and on his trips round the country, he was spotted by the heavy haulage department: They poached me from auditing and at first I went to the Leeds depot on Brown Lane but in March 53 I moved to Stockton when a vacancy cropped up there. In the early 1950s, following the phase of nationalisation, Pickfords ruled the UKs heavy haulage world and had a chain of 26 garage door opener liftmaster around the country.
However, its Teesside base at Stockton wasnt very high in that pecking order: Im not sure if we were the smallest, says Jack, but we only had six wagons and drivers; three drivers mates and a four-man gang on installation work. And our biggest motor then was a 45-ton chain-drive Scammell ballast box tractor. "The climb up Leuen Bank was to apparently take 13 minutes" Originally based at the old North Shore Railway Station goods yard on Norton Road, Stockton, their office team was then manager John Arnold; Jack as his clerk/deputy and an office girl. However when John Arnold was moved on promotion in garage door opener liftmaster 54, Jack was given the Stockton managers job and also the managers car which was then a Vauxhall Wyvern. The rise in status couldnt have come at a better time as Jack and Helga they had met in Leeds had just got married and were then living in a couple of rented rooms in Redcar.