THE brewing days are over for drayman Trevor Blackford who delivered more than 250,000 of Arkell’s barrels over the last 44 years.
The 65-year-old, from Overbrook, is enjoying a welcome rest after an eventful career, spent travelling the country and often crossing paths with eccentric landlords and patrons.
Trevor was recruited at Arkell’s at the age of 22 and loaded lorries and transported fine ales to hundreds of the company’s own public houses as well as countless pub chains and supermarkets from Sunderland all the way down to Portsmouth until he retired this month.
The father-of-four, whose brother-in-law was a drayman at the brewery, was later joined by his own sibling Steve.
Trevor and Josh Williams at work delivering beer
Swindon’s oldest established business soon became a family affair for the Blackfords, as two of Trevor’s nephews followed in their father and uncle’s footsteps.
His four children didn’t escape the veritable rite of passage and themselves undertook work placements with the company.
“When I left school I worked on the railways,” said Trevor.
“I was on the footplate which means I was shovelling coal. My brother-in-law got me the job. He was a drayman and my brother has been a drayman for 33 years. It’s a family affair.
“We should have our own beer. But that sums up Arkell’s Brewery – it’s a family.
“I’ve delivered at least 250,000 barrels and if you count the gallons, you go in the millions. I’m going to miss it. Some of the landlords were characters.”
Far from a peaceful or dreary role, his job has brought its fair share of excitement and even distress.
On the road, Trevor, often accompanied by his brother in the passenger seat, saw major events including IRA bombings – literally getting caught in the crossfire or the traffic resulting.
“We got caught in traffic during major news events, the bus bombings, the King’s Cross fire,” he said.
“The one that shocked me was when army horses were killed at Knightsbridge. My brother and I had come over Tower Bridge and there was police with guns and all. A police officer held us up and said he had to inspect our vehicle.”
Despite having been in the trade for more than four decades, the former drayman never treated himself to a cheeky drink on the job.
In fact, delivering alcohol taught him moderation.
“I do have beer but not a lot,” added the grandfather-of-15. “The job makes you careful. You can’t drink and drive. I had a beer on a Friday and possibly on a Saturday but not Sunday because I worked on Monday.”