John Jempson & Son Ltd

Jempsons stalwarts

Posted on: December 20th, 2016 by Amy Maynard

This month we grill two of the company’s longest-serving members of staff, Malcolm Sargent and Gordon Durrant.


Malcolm Sargent

Driver Malcolm Sargent, 65, began working for Jempsons in 1973

Where is the most unusual place you’ve made a delivery?
“We used to take Forestry Commission chemicals to far-flung places in Scotland. There were no mobiles or CB radios in those days. It was a bit concerning as youd go down these tracks and just hope you were going the right way.”

Are there any breakdowns that stand out in your memory?
“My throttle broke at the Dartford Tunnel once and a bit of wire, sticky tape and an old bit of wood got it going. Sometimes Mick Dixon  [HGV fitter] would come out on my breakdowns. You could give him a baked bean tin and he’d get you going again.”

Have you had any accidents?
“I was once involved in a 20-vehicle accident on the A21. There was a broken-down car in the fog and someone hit it and it caused a pile up. My lorry jackknifed. The person who was behind me sadly got killed. There was nothing anyone could have done. It made me wary for a while but you just accept that these things happen if you spend so much time on the road. You see lots of accidents over the years.”

Have you had any memorable incidents during your time with the company?
“We used to do a lot of wide loads from an engineering firm at New Romney. The company then went into liquidation and we had to rush down to get our equipment. I managed to get in but the gates were welded shut by officials and Jonathan had to come and get me out!”

A last word…
“I’ve been very happy at the company. I’m not going to say I’ve loved it otherwise people will think I’m exaggerating and my street cred will be gone!”


Gordon Durrant

Driver Gordon Durrant, 66, began working for Jempsons in 1972

Where is the most unusual place you’ve made a delivery?
“I once took Colt Houses to a remote Scottish village called Killin. I’ve also driven on the continent – Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Spain. I would be away for two or three weeks at a time. I once took Barry Brignell [now-retired General Manager of Jempsons] along for his holiday. He had some time off and asked to come with me. He probably wanted to check up on me!”

What’s the strangest consignment you’ve delivered?
“I remember taking fish meal for animal feed to Robertsbridge.  It absolutely stank. You could hang your overalls on the outside of the lorry and you still couldn’t get rid of the smell.”

How many miles have you driven for the company?
“About two and a half million [this equates to about 100 times around the world…]”

Are there any breakdowns that stand out in your memory?
“I blew two tyres in the Olympic Village once after catching them on a roundabout. We used to be able to change a lorry tyre by ourselves with a jack but now, with health and safety, you aren’t allowed.”

A last word…
“It’s been a good company to work for. And there have only been two occasions when there were hold-ups with my pay packets – the bank’s fault, of course!”

Copyright © 2024 John Jempson & Son Ltd