Page 2.   Shelvoke & Drewry Enthusiasts' Club Newsletter - Autumn 2023.


Sorry – Your days are numbered my old mate!


By the Editor.




Peter Johnston’s replica horse drawn dustcart.


I’m finding it very hard to imagine as world in which the horse drawn cart was still a common sight on our roads. But in 1922 when the first SD Freighter appeared a horse drawn dustcart often still collected household refuse. According to Kaleidoscope of Shelvoke & Drewry (to which volume I acknowledge my indebtedness for much of the following information), the newly formed SD company was somewhat surprised when local authorities realised the potential for the Freighter as a refuse carrier.

Through their service inspectors and sales representatives S&D uncovered facts and figures in 1924 & 1925. At the time a horse cost about 80 or 100 to purchase and had a working life of about five years. The Freighter costing roughly 500 however was expected to last at least ten years.

It was known that three people filled about one refuse bin per week, and Tynemouth reported that per head of population between 3.66 cwt and 7.30 cwt of refuse was collected per year. Eastbourne replaced two horses and carts with a driver and one loader by one Freighter with a driver and two loaders and reported a 27% reduction in costs. Torquay calculated that using a Freighter was 31% per load cheaper than using a horse drawn cart, whilst St. Helens experienced a fall in the cost per ton of disposing of refuse of 9% Middlesborough compared the cost of using a Freighter against a Ford TT and disclosed a saving of 21%.

The side loading Freighter didn’t supply any compression of the load and Councils, such as this example from Stockport, encouraged their customers to produce as little refuse as possible.


[The sides of the body made great advertising spaces.]


The SD Sales Representatives must often have been asked about the financial advantages of the Freighter as well as its advantages for driver and loaders. After the sad accidental death of Edward Asquith in 1926, Geoffrey Rackham was promoted to Sales Director and SD’s former factory representative in Australia, Rex Boundy, was appointed as Sales Manager.

The task of calculating estimated cost savings was a complicated one and in 1928 Rex devised a double sided slide rule to allow the Sales Representatives to make rapid calculations. The slide rule measures approx 8” x 3” and states that it was manufactured by Foster Intruments of Letchworth.


Recently I’ve had the opportunity to examine one of these slide rules, since in our Facebook Group Paul Lordster posted photos. About thirty years ago Paul found this slide rule on a rubbish tip and had been unable to discover its use until he found us on the Internet.

I imagine these devices were given to each Sales Representative. They will have asked the prospective customer for five statistics:-

(i) The annual tonnage of refuse collected.

(ii) The number of loaders used on each Freighter.

(iii) The weight of refuse in cwts per loader in a day.

(iv) The loaders’ wage in shillings per week

(v) The number of bins lifted by a loader in a day

On the front side the refuse in thousands of tons per year (i) was aligned with the number of proposed loaders (ii), then from the lower scale against the amount per loader per day (iii) the number of Freighters required was shown.





The reverse side has two sliding scales (numbered 80B & 80C)

First the top slide is aligned with the number of loaders (ii) against the loaders’ wages (iv) and a figure coded as Z is given. On the lower scale the Z code is entered against the amount lifted per loader in cwts (iii). or bins (v). The resulting figure is the cost in shillings per ton or per hundred bins in shillings.

An ingenious device to make the salesman calculations in the days before pocket calculators had been invented.

My thanks for the photos to Peter Johnston for the photo of his replica horse drawn dustcart to Shaun Taylor and to Paul Lordster for the other photos.