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Transporting readers back in time

Author Deborah Walton-Derry has been delving into the history of Broadbridge Transport. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

One of Marlborough’s oldest transport businesses is set to grace the pages of a new history book, after a chance encounter in a pub.

When writer and historian Deborah Walton-Derry met Weir Broadbridge in the Cork & Keg pub in Renwick, he mentioned his interest in producing a record of his family business.

Although she wasn’t there often, Deborah says she kept seeing Weir and the plan for her new book was hatched and Highways, Byways and Detours was born.

The former copy writer’s fifth book will be published on Thursday, 28 November.

‘People say to me they’ve lived an ordinary life but no on has. People tackle things in extraordinary, life affirming ways.

“The brief was to stick to key things, the nuts and bolts of the business. In books such as these, it’s important that everyone maintains their dignity and respect all the way through and I’m very mindful of that,” she says.

The book took Deborah three years to write.

As with most of her writing work, she says she had to eventually “just let it go.”

“I know if I keep playing with it and changing sentences, it may never get done.

“I start at the beginning, with my research, and work through. This book’s not just about trucks, it’s about adventure, things that have gone wrong and what went right,” she says.

When she’s not writing, Deborah, who lives near Renwick manages and works on two vineyards.

Writing in the office can be difficult as she likes to devote at least a couple of hours at a time.

“I wait until I have a decent chunk of time and go to the office and know that I’ve got a couple of hours up my sleeve to do it justice,” she says.

‘It can be a bit of a juggling act.”

The livestock and log haulage business has a rich history that spans more than six decades.

In her book, Deborah takes an in depth look at its humble beginnings and impressive expansion, focusing on the people who were instrumental in its success.

She writes: “Cyril Broadbridge was a character. He loved boat racing – and he had a good ear for tuning engines even though he was not a trained mechanic.

“Cyril’s wife Hazel was a warm, kind-hearted woman who worked hard and combined helping run a transport business with bringing up seven children in challenging circumstances.”

Deborah’s book will be available to buy at Paperplus in Blenheim from Thursday following a launch at 5.30pm on Wednesday.

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