Old School Trucks: Ellesmere Transport — Part 1

By: Dean Middleton, Photography by: Dean Middleton

1 7 Many rural-based transport companies in New Zealand utilised Internationals in their fleets. This T-Line was a prime example. 1 7
2 7 A Classic Volvo G88 parked up in the Leeston yard back in the late ‘80s 2 7
3 7 Another G88, this one a truck and trailer on designated bulk tipper duties 3 7
4 8 Volvos remained popular in the fleet – this F10 Volvo is pictured towing a 3-axle rear-steer semi-trailer 4 8
5 7 Another smart F10 Volvo on livestock duties pictured at the Addington sale yards 5 7
6 6 N-Series Volvos also wore the Ellesmere colours – this N10 was a designated bulkie 6 6
7 7 A higher horse powered twin steer F12 Volvo pictured on livestock duties 7 7
8 6 German brand Mercedes-Benz has also been popular in the Ellesmere fleet for many decades 8 6
9 6 A bulldog badge wore the Ellesmere Transport livery in the form of this pre-loved Mack Ultra Liner, which came about by the demise of the failed Transpac era 9 6
10 6 FL Volvos superseded the F-Model Volvos. This FL10 pictured on livestock duties was one of the first of this model to enter the fleet 10 6
11 6 Another FL10 with similar spec but adorning a factory aero-kit 11 6
12 6 Craig Mitchell contracted this CWA340 Nissan Diesel Shotgun to Ellesmere Transport back in the early ‘90s 12 6
13 6 But wait.... there once was a Scania: This 113m model stood out amongst the other brands back in the ‘90s 13 6
14 6 A smart lineup at the Dunsandel yard back in the late ‘90s 14 6
15 6 One of two NL12 Volvos that were in the fleet, this one was on bulk tipper duties 15 6
16 6 An International S-line S3600 having a weekend break at the Dunsandel yard 16 6
17 6 This sleeper cabbed 420 hp FL12 Volvo was a step up from the previous 360hp and 380hp F10 in the fleet 17 6
18 6 Mercedes-Benz continued to dominate the fleet through the ‘90s – this 2433 model was a versatile sort/medium haul unit 18 6
19 6 This 3244 Mercedes-Benz was a frontline unit pictured on Livestock duties back in the late ‘90s 19 6

Ellesmere Transport can trace their roots back to the late 1930s and today is owned and operated by the Righton family of father and sons

Truck spotting of Canterbury based rural transport companies was surprisingly easy for a young fella living on the east side of Christchurch back in the 1980s. 

The Addington livestock saleyards were located next to Hagley Park only a few kilometres away from the city centre and, more importantly, only seven kilometres from where I lived.

This made biking to sale days after school a breeze to photograph the trucks loading out after the auctions.

The Addington saleyards were renowned for the layout with little room at the loading docks to swing a cat, never mind backing a truck and trailer unit into position. It was worth the bike ride alone, to see the level of skill on display by the operators of that era.

One company that almost always had a presence on sale day was Ellesmere Transport. Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and International in their blue and yellow livery with red crates certainly looked the part and were always a good score to snap on the old 35mm camera.

Ellesmere Transport can trace their roots back to the late 1930s and today is owned and operated by the Righton family of father and sons. Father, Murray Righton began at Ellesmere Transport more than 60 years ago as an employee, before progressing to management positions within the company.

From there Murray became a minority shareholder and in time the outright owner.
Ellesmere Transport have two depots, one in Leeston near the southwest side of Lake Ellesmere and the other in Dunsandel on State Highway 1, 30kms south of the outskirts of Christchurch.

Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, Volvo and Mercedes Benz dominated the fleet, along with various other brands, but there were a couple of noticeable exceptions:

One was a Mack Ultra Liner, which came about from the demise of the Transpac era, and the other was a 113M Scania, which turned plenty of heads in the fleet where only one of the Swedish brands was represented.

Livestock units made up the lion’s share of the fleet with bulkies, spreaders, town freight trucks, crane trucks and even concrete mixers making up the remainder. Next month, we take a look at how the fleet has evolved from the 2000s through to today. 

Find more trucks for sale in NZ

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Deals on Wheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook