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The French Group UK is a family firm of tipper haulage contractors working mainly in the highway maintenance sector of the construction industry. The company operates a number of eight wheel 20-ton capacity tippers in conjunction with surfacing contractors and planing companies. In addition, the company supplies recycled road planings and other aggregates for agricultural track and yard reinstatement, building work and specialist equestrian projects. The company undertakes small-scale civil engineering projects and provides an advice service for its clients.


The company is run by father and son Keith and Jack French and their team, from the family base at Arborfield in Berkshire. Keiths father Peter was involved in a varied range of demolition and construction work as well as daily muck away contracts from the factories in the Slough area throughout the 1950s and 60s. Peter was a phenomenally hard-working man. In the early days, it would have been no surprise to anyone to see him loading a 10-ton tipper with a shovel, or what he would call it the ‘1RB’! The first lorry he drove on this work was a little Commer Superpoise.

This was replaced with a Ford Thames Trader with a 6 cubic yard Anthony body. He never liked this vehicle very much.  Although reliable, he declared ‘it was like trying to drive sitting on the floor’. The arrival of the Bedford TK in 1960 on the market was a turning point. This was a huge advance in vehicle design, lacking only the essential advantage of having a tilt cab.

The small fleet of three 10 ton vehicles with high drop-sides was maintained to the highest standards, with the minimum of facilities. Despite the grueling work, they were put to drawing starches and dextrins waste from Starch Products of Langley and paint products from ICI at Slough. Throughout their working life, Peter would have the engines out for rebuild and the same with axles and gearboxes. Broken half shafts were an everyday occurrence. Besides this work, they were engaged on demolition, particularly of the farm cottages scattered across the area east of the village of Datchet, which was designated for the construction of the huge reservoirs in the 1960s.  Yellow stock London bricks from this job were cleaned and re-used to build a new house for Peter’s family in 1963. The shovel soon gave way to machine with the arrival of one of the first Chaseside hydraulic loaders. Based on a Fordson Major, this revolutionised the task. It was followed by an early JCB3 that Peter mastered quickly and was always in demand for house footings and other similar work. Other regular work was the construction of tarmacadam drives and car parks and also on snow clearance in the harsh winter of that year. However, as the local tips became no longer available, Peter eventually moved off to what he always called ‘lighter work’. But he retained his work ethic all of his life. Returning to the family farm in 1991 he set about rejuvenating it.

His expertise with the JCB 3CX came to the fore in the construction of a new farmhouse, putting in almost a mile of drainage connections, building yards and barns. Once again the Bedford was the vehicle of choice, Keith acquiring a TL12/60 long wheelbase, drop-side tipper, secondhand for the work. Peter passed away in 2012 at the age of 88, but his skills and advice have not been forgotten.

Today the firm operates 20-ton capacity eight wheel tippers and maintains them in their own workshop along with a range of plant. The family is well-known for their fleet of vintage vehicles, and their Foden heavyweights are often seen on road runs around the country.     


Ford Thames Trader

Bedford TK

Chaseside Loading Shovel

Snow Clearance Duties

Site Clearance 

Peter Digging Footings

Bedford TL LWB Tipper

Peter French 1923 - 2012

Foden Alpha Tippers

Fodens Old and New