Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2014.
James Ashley has been profoundly deaf since the day he was born. For his whole life he has never heard a sound or spoken a word. Until he was 17 he attended a school for the deaf. His work in the transport industry began when he was just 14 years of age. After school and on weekends, young James cleaned trucks for 50 cents a vehicle at Toll’s Chadwick depot in Canterbury, New South Wales. He loved the industry. By the time he was 15 he was driving the trucks around the yard. James was fairly short in stature and needed to strap blocks under his feet so he could reach the pedals.
On his leaving school James was offered a full time job on the road with Toll Chadwick carrying general including brewery supplies for the Kent and Waverly Breweries. For the first three years he drove a Leyland Comet bogey and a Ford bogey. He then drove for Lindsay Bros Transport hauling general, refrigerated vans and fork truck deliveries.
James was the first deaf person to obtain a B-double licence in Sydney. His first semi was a B-model Mack. For the next 20 years he drove many B-doubles behind all kinds of trucks including Kenworth, Mack and Ford Louisvilles for Lindsay Brothers. He later found employment with Johnston’s Transport Industries and for the next eight years carried out big machinery movements including operating heavy forklifts and cranes, and doing low- loaders work as well as carrying general freight. James then spent the next four years with Booth Transport where he worked driving B-doubles, tankers and forklifts.
After that James spent another eight years driving buses for Veolia Transport where he was kept busy doing school runs, charters, and rail runs. One of the highlights of James’ bus driving career was when he drove buses for the full eight weeks of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. James has always had a keen interest in sports and has dedicated much of his life to deaf sports. He is recognised as the founder of the N.S.W. Deaf Sports Association and has played basketball and rugby league for N.S.W. and Australia.
James became the first and only deaf driving instructor to teach the deaf to drive, not only cars, but trucks. Over a period of many years he has driven extended tours for the deaf all over Australia and New Zealand including outback safaris to the top end of West Australia and far north Queensland. For the last three years James has been driving for Bankstown Coaches.