Remembering Alan Purchase
It is with great sadness that we announce the recent passing of Alan Purchase on the first weekend of November, after a short battle with illness. Alan only recently lost his lifelong partner Margaret and they are both survived by their daughters Melisa and Angela. The forty years that Alan spent in dedicated service to our company is truly worthy of recognition, and Chris Brimble encapsulated the sentiments of the all Wridgways staff in saying that “His passion for what he did was inspiring, his love for the “Wridgways” business, its clients and its people was immeasurable”. Below is the tribute to Alan which was featured after his retirement in the August 2001 edition of Around the Wridges. We extend our best wishes to Alan’s family, and hope you all enjoy reading about his life of adventure as an employee of Wridgways…
A part of Wridgways history came to a conclusion on Friday the 27th of July, 2001, when Alan Purchase (Group Linehaul Manager) retired from Wridgways.
In 1956 at 20 years of age Alan started with his father Clive contracting as an offsider. Clive had been in a serious car accident and was off work for 19 months. Alan took over his father’s truck until he was able to return to work and then Alan worked as an offsider to Bob Smith (contractor) on Interstate.
Bob had a five-ton Bedford van with a 16ft dog trailer doing the Melbourne to Darwin run. It was a five day trip from Adelaide to Darwin, the bitumen finished 60 miles north of Adelaide and the corrugation in the road was so bad they rarely got out of second gear, and at best third gear.
In those days, from Port Augusta to Coober Pedy there was a gate or fence every mile or so which had to be opened and closed to keep the cattle in. Both sides of the road were soft bulldust and if you stopped in it you could spend hours trying to get out. So Alan would sit on the bull bar of the truck, jump off, run ahead and open the gates to let the truck through, close the gate, then run like hell after the truck, catch it and jump back on board.
In 1961 Alan had a break from running interstate, and worked as a foreman at Faulkner store in Melbourne for twelve months. It didn’t take long for Alan’s passion to return however, and he purchased a 1961 42 cubic metre pan from Wridgways and operated as an Interstate contractor for two years. They were wild days without the laws we have today. Alan shaved the head of the engine, installed twin carbies and extractors, and his truck flew down the highway.
In 1963, Alan was on his way to Cairns, with a full load of antiques for a good friend of Mr Wridgway, when the steering wheel snapped, just north of Mackay. His offsider was thrown out of the truck, but Alan went all the way to the bottom of the Range. Miraculously, neither one was seriously injured, but the truck was a complete write-off.
You can’t keep a good man down though, and after the accident Alan leased a Leyland Comet from Wridgways and performed the Melbourne to Port Augusta shuttle, dropping off trailers at the rail in Port Augusta bound for Perth and hooking up to the trailer to linehaul back to Melbourne.
The following was Alan’s weekly schedule:
Sunday – Leave Melbourne
Monday – Arrive in Adelaide
Tuesday – Adelaide to Port Augusta and back to Adelaide
Wednesday AM – Arrive in Melbourne
Wednesday PM – Leave Melbourne for Adelaide
Thursday – Arrive in Adelaide
Friday – Adelaide to Port August and back to Adelaide
Saturday – Arrive in Melbourne and service his truck
Sunday – Leave Melbourne for Adelaide
Alan did this for NINE YEARS.
The company was going through a tough financial time, and Wridgways sold their trailers to the contractors, terminated the shuttle schedule, and the contractors concentrated on door-to-door linehaul movements.
Alan continued as an Interstate Linehaul Contractor for a further six years, and in 1977 he sold his faithful Atkinsons prime mover and trailer, and decided to have a complete change of career to become a computer mechanic. Alan thought computers would be big one day.
Bob Cheers, who was the National Operations Manager in 1997, convinced Alan to work for Wridgways for just a couple more months to write training manuals on removals, as none existed in the industry at that time. Alan agreed to take on this task, and put his computer career on hold. Much of the information Alan put together in formulating the manuals is still use today.
Alan then moved into the role as National Traffic Controller and the Terminal Manager at Cambellfield (Melbourne) for six years. In 1983 he transferred to the Auburn office to take up the position as National Training Manager which evolved into the National Standards Manager. This was years before Quality Certification ISO9002 was even thought about.
Two years later, in 1985 Bob Cheers retired and Alan took over as Group Operations Manager, a position which he held with enormous distinction until the day he retired.
With Alan’s background it is easy to understand why he had such an affinity for our sub-contractors, his admiration and respect for them is reciprocated in the silent knowledge and understanding only those who have done the long, hard, lonely miles can understand.
Alan has the respect of all of the employees and contractors around the country, and he will be missed by all of us.
We pass on a HUGE THANK YOU to Alan, and from everyone at Wridgways we send our best wishes to Alan and Margaret for a long and happy retirement.