Our 10 favourite family connections at Bill Richardson Transport World
Every detail here at Bill Richardson Transport World tells a story. But did you know there were so many Richardson family connections hidden throughout our incredible collection?
One man’s passion started it all. What started in some back sheds quickly transformed into an incredible private collection. Bill Richardson once said, ‘I hope that when I die someone will be interested enough to carry it on’.
Bill certainly got his wish.
When he passed away in 2005, his daughter Joc O'Donnell not only inherited HWR Group – she also became responsible for her father’s astounding collection of trucks.
An idea was sparked.
A decade later, Bill Richardson Transport World was opened to the public. Bill’s collection of beloved trucks, many renovated to gleaming perfection, were lovingly placed alongside an emporium of vehicles, vehicle-related memorabilia, and nostalgic bits-and-pieces gathered by Joc and her family.
Keep reading to find out some of the hidden backstories behind our collection.
- Bill’s workshop: Tucked away in the centre of Bill Richardson Transport World’s cavernous sheds is a little workshop. This isn’t a replica; it’s the real deal. Bill’s workshop boasts the first truck he ever collected, his grandfather’s 1933 International D1. There are no plans to restore this. In fact, Bill’s workshop has been kept in the condition it was in when he passed away in 2005. If you listen carefully, you’ll even hear the strains of Robbie Williams singing. His daughter Joc explains: “Not long after Izzy (Joc and Scott O’Donnell’s daughter, Isabella) was born – so 2001 – we had Christmas at home. We took the dining room tables out under the trees. I got that Robbie Williams disc as a present. I’ll always remember him dancing and clicking his fingers – he always clicked his fingers when he danced – on the deck with the kids. He said, ‘how come nobody bought me this for Christmas?’ He really liked it. The next day I went and bought one for him.”
- Tex, in living colour: As everybody with even a fleeting knowledge of Bill Richardson Transport World will know, Bill’s pride and joy was his beloved 1940 Dodge Airflow Texaco tanker – known affectionately around these parts as ‘Tex’. The bright-red beauty was Bill’s personal favourite within his collection, and Tex sits pride of place in the entry to Bill’s Shed. But tributes to Bill’s love for Tex don’t focus solely on the vehicle itself. In the Refuel Station in our events and conference facility is an air-brushed painting of Tex: another Christmas gift from Jocelyn to her father.
- A taste for wheels: It must run in the veins. Not only were Bill and Harold (Bill and Shona’s son, who was a huge part of the business prior to his tragic death in 1995) avid collectors of vehicles. Joc’s husband Scott and their two sons, Harrison and Cameron, are big fans too. But everybody’s taste is different. Scott is a huge fan of racing vehicles. The area we’ve dubbed Pit Lane has a revolving display of racing vehicles, many owned by Scott himself. Scott is a well-known endurance and classic car racer and still actively competes both in New Zealand and overseas. Harrison, meanwhile, has inherited a love of Citroens from his Uncle Harold and is also keen on Nissan GTRs. Cameron, Scott and Jocelyn’s middle child, is an avid fan of the infamous Mini. He and his girlfriend Milly even recently competed in the Pork Pie charity run, travelling the length of Aotearoa in one of Cam’s beloved Minis. Scott and Joc’s daughter Izzy has still got plenty of time to add her own touch to the collection too. And as for our Kombi collection?
They are Joc’s personal favourite.
- His Master’s Voice: If you’ve ever wondered about this vintage display, and what it is doing here in Bill Richardson Transport World, it’s a pretty special story. When Joc headed to London on her overseas experience – a rite of passage for many a young Kiwi – she loved going to antique markets.
(Does the impressive collection of retro pieces here make sense now?)
Her favourite was Alfie’s Market in Edgeware Road, where there was plenty of memorabilia relating to His Master’s Voice – a well-known logo that appeared on records worldwide for decades. “Dad really liked the His Master’s Voice story and Nipper the dog, so I would buy bits and pieces and send them home to him,” Joc says.
- A gag insurance policy “Smash in case of emergency” – a wooden box, fronted with glass protecting a $1 note, that sits in the Bill Richardson Transport World library is a joke Christmas gift from Jocelyn to her father.
- Vintage vault: The vintage vault, part of the mezzanine in the Les Kennedy shed, houses quite a few bits and pieces the Richardson family have gathered over the years. As well as some of Joc’s childhood roller skates and a wedding portrait from the big day of Caroline Barclay and Donald McKerchar (Donald was first cousin to Shona Richardson’s grandfather, Duncan McKerchar), visitors will find a vintage crib. Bill gave this crib to Joc as a gift when her eldest child, Harrison, was born. “Unfortunately, the crib didn’t meet safety regulations, so we never got to use it – but in typical Richardson fashion I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away,” Joc says.
So into the Bill Richardson Transport World collection it came.
- Two wheels: When Joc was a young girl, her best friend Joanna had a chain bike. Joc was incredibly envious: she always wanted one too, but it wasn’t to be. Not until years later, that is. Bill’s mate Allan Davis – a corner in the Les Kennedy shed is named after him – stumbled across one in Dunedin, and brought it home to Invercargill for Joc. At the age of 40, she finally had her chain bike.
- Joc’s office: If you’re in Bill’s Shed and you look upwards, you might be able to get a glimpse of Joc’s office here at Transport World. Once your eyes have taken in the extensive collection of art that Joc has accumulated, you’ll notice the beautiful wooden furniture her office is kitted out in. All of it was Bill’s, once upon a time. Among the items is a beautiful solid wood desk and Bill’s original wooden office chair, from his early days at Southern Transport’s Otepuni Ave office. The furniture was hand-built at Bill’s father’s joinery business.
- 1933 International D1: We have two of these trucks within our collection. It’s fair to say this make and model is what started it all – Bill Richardson for a long time desperately wanted to buy his grandfather’s truck and restore it. However, by chance Shona found a 1933 International D1 on the way home from Christchurch – and it was in such good nick that Bill drove it all the way back to the south, with little Harold in the front seat. It is one engine number away from Bill’s grandfather’s truck. Apart from a coat of paint, our second truck is in its original condition. That might explain why Bill chose to refurbish this identical truck, rather than his grandfather’s actual vehicle – which sits, unrestored, in Bill’s workshop.
- Bill’s Shed: It is easy to be overwhelmed when you first enter the collection. Bill’s Shed is a stunning purpose-built facility and it is full of spectacular renovated classic vehicles. Once you manage to pick your jaw up from the floor, you will hear Kiwi songstress Hayley Westenra – one of her song’s actually played at Harold’s wedding to wife Julie. Hine e Hine, the Westenra cover that plays at Bill Richardson Transport World, is a Māori lullaby written by Princess Te Rangi Pai in 1907.
The song is especially fitting, given that Bill Richardson Transport World was opened by a daughter honouring the legacy of her father.
E tangi ana koe
Hine e hine
Kua ngenge ana koe
Hine e hine.
Kati tō pouri rā
Noho i te aroha
Te ngākau o te Matua
Hine e hine.
This translates to:
You are weeping,
Little girl, darling girl,
you are weary,
Little girl, darling girl.
Be sad no longer,
There is love for you
in the heart of the Father,
Little girl, darling girl.