Transport company marks 75 years on the road

It was the humblest of beginnings, with a Humber car, but transport company R Robertson and Son is now marking its 75th anniversary.

It was 1947 when merchant seaman Robbie Robertson established his taxi hire firm in Ulsta, Yell.

By the 1960s a number of school transport contracts were awarded to the firm.

The shop at Ulsta also became part of the expanding empire for a while, and over the years the fleet has grown further.

The business has doubled in size since 2020, with a mixture of 25 full and part time staff.

Managing director Sonia Robertson said she was delighted that the business has reached such an important milestone.

“We’ve actually traced the vehicle back that started it all,” she said.

“It was a 1930 Humber. It was a car – it all started off with a car.

“My grandfather was actually a seaman – he was in the Royal Navy during World War II. He came home after the war and he got this hire car. But he was still in a position that he also had work at sea and on the croft.

“So my grandmother would run the croft and do the knitting, and my grandfather got this car – he was a bit of an entrepreneur.”

In 1973, Robbie’s son – the late Tommy Robertson – joined the firm, and the name R Robertson and Son was established.

“He was helping his dad probably from the late 1960s, and come 1973 he joined with his dad on taking on the shop at Ulsta. There were more taxis and minibuses that started with school transport contracts.”

The shop proved a real money-spinner during the early oil years, when hundreds of workers gathered at Sullom Voe to build the terminal.

“When he got the alcohol licence the place was flooded,” said Sonia.

Robbie died in 1979, leaving Tommy to take the reins of the now firmly established family firm.

In 2000 a motor garage was established in an old nissen hut at the back of the shop.

In 2008 the garage and transport side of the business was relocated to Westsandwick in Yell. A new, larger garage followed.

R Robertson and Son expanded to the Mainland as the gas plant project developed, and a variety of bus routes operate across many parts of Shetland.


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