Charlton demonstrates its core strengths with Independent Builders Merchant Group

Monday, 8th November 2021


Long established as one of the UK’s leading suppliers of specialist truck bodies to the building supply industry, Charlton is now the preferred bodywork supplier to the rapidly growing Independent Builders Merchant Group (IBMG).

To date in 2021, Charlton has supplied IBMG with the bodywork for twelve new 26t chassis, plus five at 18t and one 16t vehicle.

Richard Beal, IBMG’s Senior Transport Manager says:

“We choose Charlton for our truck bodies for two main reasons. First is their exceptional build quality, with everything being supplied, fitted and finished by Charlton themselves. This means that when we get our trucks they are immediately ready to work.

The second is that Charlton makes enormous efforts to ensure that their products are always exactly what we want, and are therefore ready and willing to sit down with us to develop specifications that are precise to the finest detail. Our new trucks are very much the result of a real team effort to get them exactly right.”

Supplied to IBMG through Woking – based Translease Services, all the 18 vehicles delivered in 2021 are based on DAF CF and LF chassis.

The bodies of the 26t vehicles, as running with Parker Building Supplies, have 6300mm hardwood floors, triple planked aluminium dropsides and a steel framed tailboard. A full length subframe then supports rear mounted extendable stability legs, a short safety staircase and a rear – mounted Fassi F155 crane. As well as providing the best and easiest solution of driver access to the body, these cranes can be operated either by full remote control or via conventional levers.

By being mounted at the back of the truck the long – reach cranes also offer significantly increased versatility in being able to deliver loads at almost any point off the sides or rear of the vehicle.

Underneath the bodywork the rear – steer DAF 370hp CF 6×2 chassis provides an optimum blend of manoeuvrability and performance. Weighing in at just over 13t unladen, these new six wheelers offer a highly competitive payload allowance that is more than adequate for the generally mixed loads the trucks carry.

At 18 and 16 tonnes, the 4×2 DAF LF is IBMG’s truck of choice with the latest examples going to Group member Fairalls of Godstone. The bodywork of these trucks follows the core design and layout of the six wheelers, but on a reduced scale. These smaller trucks are therefore ideal for deliveries to more congested sites such as individual building plots and driveways.

In the last few years the Independent Builders Merchant Group has risen to become the largest independent supplier to the building trade across Southern England. As well as Parker and Fairalls, its members include Chandlers, Grant & Stone, Stamco, CRS, Perrys and RGB Building Supplies with the combined Group now operating from over 140 locations ranging from Kent to Cornwall.

Commenting further on his most recent new trucks, Richard Beal notes:

“the vehicles we need have to combine the highest possible levels of practicality, versatility and safety. They also have to be reliable and cost effective, right from the start. Getting the best possible specification is the key to achieving all those virtues, along with the very real expertise and support we get from Charlton and Translease.

This is a real team effort, and it works particularly well.”

Based in Dover, Charlton is a key part of the Croydon – based Thompsons Group.

Charlton and Translease will be supplying another 13 new vehicles to IBMG in 2022, with an as yet unspecified further quantity in 2023.




A SuperLite supertruck! Charlton rocks on the back of Steve Wills’ superb Volvo 8×4 FH 540

Thursday, 26th November 2020


The SuperLite


Still a stronghold of family-owned transport businesses, England’s far south west boasts some of the most individual and highly specified trucks to be found anywhere in the UK. And no company demonstrates this pride of ownership better than Cornwall’s Steve Wills Haulage and its brand new Charlton – bodied 540hp sleeper cab 8×4 Volvo FH.

Owner Steve Wills says:

“This truck is another step forward. We’ve long been big fans of Swedish trucks including Volvo’s FMX, but this is our first FH. For this truck – as with all our recent tippers – we’ve gone for an all-steel Charlton SuperLite body with a cab-operated tailgate that’s the perfect complement to the top-level spec of the chassis. Together, they are an ideal pairing.”

As well as having a bigger cab, at 1250mm high the all – steel SuperLite’s bodysides are that bit taller too, making the new FH equally adept at carrying almost every type of payload from sand and aggregates to rocks and recyclables. And working in a county with plenty of steep inclines but no motorways, it made clear sense to specify the truck with Volvo’s mighty 540hp 13 litre diesel engine, which also pushes out a massive 2600Nm of torque. Fuel economy for the FH is great too, as that big engine not only reduces gearchanging but has also enabled the truck to be fitted with a higher differential ratio than is usual on Volvo tippers.

And the lucky driver of this new super – tipper? None other than Steve Wills’ 19-year old son Anthony, who has been driving for the company since the day he passed his test.

Anthony says:

“I still can’t quite believe it. When you see it in the yard before dawn it kind of takes your breath away. We’ve always gone for top level tippers, and this one is the best yet. It’s an absolute joy to spend the day in, and attracts highly positive comments from everyone who sees it. In turn, it’s a great advert for our company which, in addition to its huge capacity for work, is a key reason for having it.”

Surprisingly perhaps, the new FH is still very competitive on the weighbridge. This is partly because spec for spec, Charlton’s curved floor, ultra – durable SuperLite is the lightest steel tipper body on the UK market, so therefore an ideal choice for this particular chassis.

Anthony Wills also notes that “whilst the larger cab has obvious advantages – better forward visibility, extra room and reduced noise levels – it’s really just a bigger box of fresh air. The twelve alloy wheels also save around 240kgs or so over a standard tipper. As a result, the FH tips the scales at a very reasonable 12,900kgs to give a clear 19 tonnes plus payload which, given the performance and versatility on offer, we are more than happy with.”

Set up by Steve Wills almost 40 years ago, his haulage business remains a true family affair, with his younger sons Matthew and Daniel also keen to play their part. The company philosophy has always been to operate on a highly personal level, to keep things manageable and aim to be the very best at everything it does. The new FH bears clear testimony to that – as indeed do another two Volvos already on order for delivery in 2021.

Speaking for Charlton, Sales Director Andrew Gunn comments:

“Having supplied Steve Wills with tipper bodies for some years, we are delighted to have been chosen once again for their latest FH fleet flagship. Thanks to customers like Steve, Charlton has now established itself as the leading tipper bodybuilder for operators in the South West, our products having secured a premium reputation for quality, reliability and performance.”

Steve Wills’ new truck was supplied by Kevin Wills (no relation) of Stuarts Truck & Bus, Volvo main dealer for south west England. Providing local service and support in Cornwall, Stuarts has a branch just off the A30 at Roche, outside St. Austell.

Top-spec FH tipper

Anthony Wills



The Wills family


“We needed eight, so it had to be Charlton” says leading brick and block carrier Steward Transport

Wednesday, 30th January 2019


Having previously built many of its own truck bodies, leading brick and block carrier Steward Transport turned to Charlton to deliver all the bodies for its eight truck fleet update programme.

The order, to provide bodies and cranes for five Volvo FH 6×2 drawbar rigids and three FM 8x2s, is the first time Steward has opted for the Charlton product.

Director Jamie Steward comments:

“Last year we decided to make a big investment in new vehicles, ordering eight new trucks in one go. As a result, it became obvious that we would need to work with a bodybuilder having proven expertise in our field. Charlton has an excellent reputation for providing top quality bodies for brick and block work, so you might say our choice was almost automatic.”

Based at a 5 acre site in Paddock Wood, Kent, Steward Transport currently runs 22 drawbar rigids, 10 eight wheelers and 8 artics, almost all being Volvos supplied by MC Truck & Bus of Maidstone. Splitting the fleet between these three vehicle types gives Steward the maximum possible versatility in delivering their products, with the artics generally doing full load drops, the shorter eight wheelers doing inner city work in London and the drawbars, with or without their trailers, offering the option of both.

Looking at the 6×2 FHs, their 6.25m long Charlton platform bodies feature fully aluminium construction including crossmembers, headboard and a 6mm heavy duty floor. Each truck also features a remote control, rear mounted HMF crane giving full reach over both truck and trailer. Running at 44t gross weight, these top spec trucks provide an easy 28 tonnes payload.

Jamie Steward, adds:

“What we really appreciate from Charlton is that as well as building a top quality body they also have the complete range of engineering skills to deliver a finished truck that’s immediately ready for work. Drawbar vehicles with cranes are highly specialist both in terms of hydraulics and electrics, in addition to their requirements for subframes, crane plates and all the necessary couplings to the trailers.”

Founded in 1968 by John Steward, the eight new trucks might also be seen as a celebration of the company’s recent 50th anniversary. Right from the start, Steward Transport has always opted for top specification trucks as they not only create a superb image for the business but also deliver real economic benefits too.

Jamie says:

“Our drivers tend to stay a long time, and they really look after their motors. Equally we like to run our trucks for as long as we can too. This whole business is all about investing in the long term whilst also doing the best job we can day to day. That formula seems to work, as we’re proud to have achieved the top level FORS Gold standard with Earned Recognition.”

Speaking for Charlton, Sales Director Andrew Gunn notes:

“We are delighted that Steward Transport has come to Charlton to body their latest eight trucks. As one of the leading transport companies in their field, we greatly appreciate their trust in us being able to deliver the full package of their requirements. Steward Transport offers us an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the full range of Charlton’s engineering skills and customer service.”

Charlton delivers the full package for Ovenden’s new super – spec tippers

Monday, 9th July 2018


Kent – based Ovenden Tipper Services has turned to Charlton for its latest batch of tippers, a key reason for this being that Charlton could source and install every part of Ovenden’s particularly high bodywork specification.

Carried by Scania ‘Next Generation’ XT chassis with G cabs and 13 litre 410hp engines, Ovenden chose lightweight all – steel curved floor Charlton SuperLite bodies fitted with air operated automatic tailgates to provide an ideal blend of strength, payload capacity and practicality.

To complete the vehicles, each truck also features an Edbro TS32 underfloor tipping gear, a weather – sealed Shurco front to back sliding sheeting system (with full remote control), a rearward facing ‘traffic light’ load weighing display mounted at the front of the body and a Brigade 360 degree ‘birds eye’ camera system (including a view straight into the tipper body) – with everything being supplied and fitted by Charlton.

Company director Alex Ovenden says:

“As a complete package, our latest tippers are pretty much unbeatable. We’ve gone for a higher spec than ever this time around, with the really big bonus being that Charlton supplies and fits everything we ask for. Andrew (Andrew Gunn, Sales Director) and Edd (Edd Bromley, Production Manager) are just so easy to deal with. I sat down with them and detailed what we wanted, to get everything perfect from tipping angles to finished paint. And everything was delivered on budget, on time.”

Portraying a first class image in the company’s highly distinctive red and yellow colour scheme, Ovenden’s new trucks are some of the first Charlton – bodied Scania XT’s operating in the South East, regularly covering not just the company’s tipper work in Kent but also working in London and around the M25.

Alex adds:

“Our tipper work is changing, with higher demand for both recycled concrete and on-site earthworks projects, and the new trucks have been designed and specified to reflect that. We continue to run some alloy bodies, but what you gain in extra payload you lose in durability.

We need trucks that can handle any job that comes along, and these lightweight steel SuperLites give us exactly that capability.”

With the first of the new trucks now out on the road, driver Paul Bradford is also mightily impressed.

Paul says:

“Of course, who wouldn’t want to drive a new G – cab XT? But the fact is that it’s the whole vehicle that really matters. I much prefer the underfloor tipping gear, both for its extra stability and higher angle of tip. The sheeting system is also great because I can open and close it by full remote control whether I’m inside or outside of the cab.

Overloading is now a thing of the past too because the body – mounted traffic light display system immediately tells the excavator driver when the maximum limit’s been reached. All small things perhaps, but taken together they speed up the job and make the truck that bit more efficient.”

Speaking for Charlton, Andrew Gunn says:

“Whilst we’re delighted to have one of our leading local tipper operators come over to Charlton, we’re particularly pleased to have worked with Ovenden to give them a notably higher and more innovative vehicle specification. Charlton prides itself in being able to provide its customers with exactly the vehicles they require, with us doing all the work required to deliver a vehicle fully finished and immediately ready for work.”

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