Thomas had been a carriage cleaner, who had recognised that the traditional transport of heavy loads by canal was being replaced by the developing railway system.
Robert was one of ten children and it was said of him that he was too small to harness the teams of several dozen shire horses that regularly transported flour from the mills in Newport, Wales and had to be aided by his elder sister Emma.
But he expanded the business rapidly, buying his late father-in-law’s timber haulage business and intensifying his own operation to meet demand from the increasing number of steel mills in the area. Robert invested heavily, in 1890 building the first boiler wagon capable of carrying 40 tons and in 1902 moving his entire operation, including over two hundred horses, to premises in Shaftsbury Street, Newport.
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