Duncan Hill was born in Dearham, Cumberland in 1925. Following wartime military service he set up as a plasterer and bought a Bedford Type ‘O’ dropside flatbed lorry from Pattinson’s Flour Mills of Whitehaven to cart his plastering sand and other materials. His time in the forces had given Duncan an appetite for travelling and after de-nationalisation of road transport in 1951 he decided move away from the building trade and established himself as a haulage contractor. He worked for a number of local firms, mainly connected with agriculture but his big break came in the 1960’s.
He became the first haulage contractor to work for Marchon Products at Whitehaven. Prior to this, the giant detergent and phosphates producer, owned by Albright and Wilson had used their own in-house transport. Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s Duncan Hill enjoyed an abundance of work transporting mainly washing powder from Whitehaven to supermarket RDC’s.
Duncan chose to focus his operations in the south east of England. London became regarded as Duncan Hill’s patch. Few of the London hauliers were keen to come all the way up to Cumbria when they had enough of their own work at home so Duncan was able to get plenty of regular return traffic. The fleet grew to having six artics and a further half dozen or so owner drivers who would do sub-contract work on Duncan’s behalf.
The firm became a limited company in 1984. It was during this period that the present owners became involved with Duncan Hill. Edward Nixon, a dairy farmer from Camerton near Workington dealt in sawdust and wood shavings for animal bedding as a sideline to the farm. His main supplier was The General Chip Company of Rainham, Essex who used to deliver artic loads with their own transport – at a cost! Edward had met Duncan Hill socially and the two became friends. Duncan agreed to start bringing the General Chip loads to Camerton as a regular return load, an arrangement which suited both. When Duncan announced his retirement in 1990 Ned Nixon saw this as an opportunity to expand his business interests and bought the company as a going concern.