Thursday, March 5, 2015

Before Astran: Middle-East Trucking in the 1930s.

____Here are a collection of old photographs that I found on the Internet. They are of Marmon-Herrington  and other vehicles that were part of the Nairn Brothers Transport company. Gerald and Norman Nairn started their transport business just after the end of World War One and ran an overland passenger and mail service in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

Nairn Brothers longest run was across the Syrian Desert from Damascus to Baghdad.

The Marmon-Herrington trucks were made in Indianapolis and tested on the Indianapolis 500 racetrack.

The all-wheel-drive 6x6 trucks were originally used to build pipelines for the Iraqi Petroleum Company: IPC.

The Marmon-Herrington trucks were first built in 1931 and fitted with a 150 horsepower Hercules air-cooled diesel engine.

One guy fixes the truck: seven guys pose for a photograph.

The Nairn Brothers favoured passenger carrying trailers for their desert-crossing service.

Marmon-Herrington also supplied trucks to West Coast logging operations in Pacific Rim forests.

Nairn also ran a freight-only service.

The 68 foot long and 20 ton truck/trailer combination was the World's largest passenger carrying vehicle.

Thirty passengers travelled in the air-conditioned trailer while two drivers and a local Bedouin guide rode in the cab.

There was a customs and passport check at the Syrian/Iraqi border; one of the few stops on the 20 hour trip. 

The trailers were luxurious with high-backed aircraft style seats and beds. Refreshments were served by an on-board steward.

 The drivers were British, American or from Australia and New Zealand. Most had served with the armed forces in the Middle-East before working for Nairn Brothers.

A photograph from the 1957 book; First Overland by Tim Slessor. The story of driving Land Rovers from London to Singapore.

The big lights on the cab roof helped the trucks run through the night. The open-sided hood helped keep the engine cool.

Trailers could carry two tons of freight with room at the front, in the back and on the roof.
The RAF commandeered the Nairn fleet during World War Two.
White Trucks were also used.
A tough truck was needed for a tough environment.

Although it was a cross-desert run; the rainy season could cause problems.

Tyres were a big problem with a life-span of only 5000 kilometres.

Luggage label.

Inside view of a luxurious passenger trailer.

A publicity postcard from Nairn transport.

A 1970s Scania-Vabis continued the tradition of  desert-crossing artic-buses in the Middle-East.

This Foden pulled a passenger trailer in Australia.

An AEC, another artic-bus in Australia.

Commer artic-bus, again from Australia.


1 comment:

  1. I travelled on one of these desert coaches c1946, age c6, as part of a rail-sea-rail-road-rail journey from Yorkshire to Basrah. 'Lost' a trunkful of toys on the way, but otherwise a treasured memory. Later became familiar with the pipe-carrier version. Delighted to see all these photographs.