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Haulage magnate Edward Stobart dies, aged 56

image captionEdward Stobart (r) sold the firm to his brother in 2004

Haulage magnate Edward Stobart, who built up the Eddie Stobart lorry empire and ran it for more than 30 years, has died at the age of 56.

He suffered what were described as "heart problems" on Wednesday and died on Thursday in hospital in Coventry.

He took the business started by his father Eddie and built it into the best known haulage company in the UK.

Mr Stobart sold the firm to his brother William and business partner Andrew Tinkler in 2004.

In the 1970s Eddie Stobart took the company from a local firm delivering fertiliser into a road transport and warehousing company.

Drivers wore collars and ties, which was unusual at the time, and were also instructed to wave back and honk their horn when signalled by a passer-by.

By the 1990s the distinctive trucks, with each cabin bearing a woman's name, were a common sight on motorways across the UK and Europe.

'Massive loss'

The firm even set up its own fan club, which now has more than 25,000 members.

During the Kosovo crisis Eddie Stobart trucks delivered supplies to British forces based in neighbouring Macedonia.

When the company was sold in 2004 Eddie Stobart moved to the Midlands and took over a firm which built lorry trailers but that failed in 2009.

Ann Preston, chair of haulage company, Preston's of Potto, paid tribute to what she described as a "very, very kind man".

"He was very passionate about road transport," she said.

"From a young boy he didn't want to do anything else.

"He's a massive loss, he's definitely the most iconic figure that has ever been in this industry."

The Stobart Group said in a statement: "Our thoughts are with Edward's wife Mandy, his children and family at this difficult time."

The Stobart Members' Club said in a statement: "The club's members will certainly have fond memories of the man who started the phenomenon off, created the iconic Eddie Stobart brand and made it cool to spot lorries.

"Stobart Spotting will continue and the legacy of Edward Stobart will live on."

More on this story

  • Eddie Stobart sells up