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Taskers of Andover

Taskers of Andover (1932) Ltd

The year after Taskers' last steam engine left the factory in 1927, a new product appeared that would revive the company's fortunes - though not before yet another liquidation a few years later in which the company name was changed to Taskers of Andover (1932) Ltd.

A semi-trailer is a trailer with no front axle. The weight of the front simply rests on the point where the trailer is attached to the lorry. On the Tasker semi-trailer this point of attachment, or coupling, allowed movement in all directions. Because of that it was possible to jack up one side of the lorry or one wheel of the semi-trailer without having to uncouple them first.

This was the product that brought Taskers back from the brink. With all their structural parts being steel, growing production of the various models of semi-trailer led to less and less use for the foundry. Finally, in 1937, iron founding at the Waterloo Ironworks came to an end. Robert Tasker may have turned in his grave, but business continued to improve.

Tasker lorry
A lorry belonging to a Southampton haulage company, George Baker and Sons Ltd, is here coupled to an early Taskers semi-trailer. The photograph was taken in Tasker's yard.

In 1938, with war looming, the Air Ministry asked for tenders for a trailer able to carry an entire fighter aircraft. Within ten days Taskers submitted not just a design and tender, but a full-size prototype. The contract was won, and in the World War that followed nearly four thousand of these trailers were built. They soon gained the nickname "Queen Mary", being, like the passenger liner, the largest of their kind.

The end
In the later 20th century Taskers shared the fate of many medium-sized companies, becoming first a production arm of a mighty conglomerate, then a casualty of changes taking place higher up. By 1968 the company had adopted the name Tasker Trailers Ltd and had branches in Scotland and near Wigan in Lancashire. But that year the old problem of insufficient capital led to them becoming a subsidiary of Craven Industries Ltd, which was itself owned by the huge John Brown & Co Ltd. The Craven-Tasker group, with a head office at Anna Valley and sites in at least six locations throughout the country, continued making trailers and a variety of agricultural implements until the early 1980's. Then, in 1983, John Brown & Co Ltd sold assets, including Craven-Tasker, to Montracon, a company based in Belfast.

Already having enough manufacturing capacity, Montracon immediately brought 170 years of business at the Waterloo Ironworks to an end. The next year, 1984, the factory buildings were levelled. The site of the Waterloo Ironworks is now occupied by housing.

 

The Tasker canteen
In World War II, as in World War I, women joined the Taskers workforce. However, it was felt necessary to segregate the sexes at mealtimes

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