LEECH, Arthur (Jack)

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Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2012.

1904 – 1969

Arthur (Jack) Leech was born in 1904. He commenced carrying in the early 1920s when the economics of road transport were, to say the least, questionable. Through providing an urgently needed service to the far-flung and isolated farming communities in and around the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia he built a transport operation on which local people knew they could depend.

The Eyre Peninsula is very diverse in industry and offered lots of opportunity for a fledgling transport operator. Farming cereals, crops, sheep and cattle are the major industries but mining, dairy-farming, grape growing and commercial fishing also contribute significantly to the wealth of the area. Jack started his transporting days with a T-model Ford which he used for carting wood and building supplies in the early 1920s. He also carted pipes during 1924-1925 for the Tod River water reticulation scheme.

As did the rest of the world, Australia suffered badly from the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Eyre Peninsula region was no different. It was a period of high unemployment, low profits, deflation, plunging incomes and lost opportunities. The depression caused many businesses to struggle but Jack kept going and carted wheat from over the peninsula. Later as the economy improved fresh fish were carried from fishing ports along the west coast. This was in the days before refrigeration so the fish had to be iced and freighted overnight to the Port Lincoln depot at Kirton Point where they were re-iced and freighted to Adelaide ready for railing to the Melbourne markets. In 1939 Jack also did two trips per week to Whyalla carting building materials for the rapidly developing centre.

By 1950 the fleet of trucks grew to include Commers, three Diamond T 520s and a Seddon diesel. Road loadings had increased significantly and regular twice weekly runs were made along the coast on the Flinders Highway and through the centre on the Todd Highway carting much needed perishable supplies to and from the remote Peninsula population.

In 1954 Jack started regular fuel runs to Eucla 593 miles away. With his son John, they formed a company which they called Eyre Peninsula Freighters Pty Ltd and the fleet was upgraded to include bigger and more powerful vehicles such Fodens and Diamond Ts to cope with the tough long distance haul. Roads over the Peninsula were dirt and sand and arriving at the destination was an achievement in itself especially after winter rains. Eyre Peninsula Freighters was committed to providing these remote towns with a reliable and regular service. In the mid 1960s Jack and John formed Eyre Transporters, a subsidiary company of Eyre Peninsula Freighters, and continued servicing the region under the management of John Leech.

Arthur (Jack) Leech passed away in 1969 leaving his community on the Eyre Peninsular richer for his contribution to its development through his dedication to the road transport industry.


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