In 1964 two friends from Guy's hospital in London drove a second-hand truck 5,000 miles from England to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Neither had ever driven a truck before and they were armed with only a compass and some basic maps - but incredibly they made it there and back. In so doing they were responsible for opening up the first overland trucking route right across Europe and deep into the Middle East.
This book is the story of Astran, the company one of those men founded. It documents the complete history from its roots as the fledgling Asian Transport to the thriving Astran Cargo Services that it is today. Author Ashley Coghill has interviewed many of the people involved in the company whether as drivers and subcontractors or directors and staff. He has also amassed the extraordinary collection of photographs contained in the book.
Most of the drivers agree that the early years were the best ones. This was when they were pioneers accepting that they might be stranded 6,000 feet up a mountain pass in a temperature of 40 below. Only two weeks later they would be bogged down in soft sand under a blazing Arabian sun - all part of the long-haul driver's work.
About the author:
Ashley Coghill has always had a very keen interest in trucks. All he ever wanted to do was drive them and as soon as he could he was off down the road. He is still in the road transport industry driving a Volvo FM12 eight-wheeler moving generators around the south-east of England. Okay, it's not the Middle East run, but it pays the bills.....
Ashley's interest in trucks doesn't just stop at driving them. He is also a keen photographer who has accumulated a vast collection of truck photographs. Trucks running into Europe were a high priority for a snap, but those going further afield have always held a special fascination for him.
Ever since he was a boy he's had a great feeling of awe whenever he's seen an overland truck. Today they are few and far between, but every now and again he will spot one complete with tell-tale Saudi Arabian transit plates and instantly he gets that same gut feeling.
His first sighting of an Astran rig was in Dover in the early 1980s when he was shipping out on a trip to Germany. The bright yellow-and-red rig of Scania AOO 67X was parked near him and he was all over it like a rash, taking photos at every angle and of every nut and bolt.
Ashley stood around for ages waiting for the driver to return so he could talk to him, but alas he didn't appear before Ashley had to board the ferry. He now knows that the driver would have been Dick Snow and if only he'd waited a little longer, maybe he could have shaken the great man's hand.
It was only a matter of time before Ashley did something substantial connected with the company he believes to be the number one trucking outfit in the world: Astran. This book is the culmination of all his lifetime's enthusiasm.