The Greene King depot in Bury St Edmunds makes about 222 deliveries a day, delivering the equivalent of around 270,000 pints. Lee Sanders and Jason Channing are part of a team of 75 draymen who deliver beer to 1605 pubs per week, covering nearly 20,000 miles. They’ve worked together for seven years and deliver to central London.
We leave the depot in Bury St Edmunds at 4am but need to check the truck and run through the deliveries before we leave, so it’s an early start for us!
The London route suits us perfectly – we get a great view of London first thing in the morning, driving past all the sights without any of the traffic. There are some road restrictions in central London so getting there early means we can get to where we need to as easily as possible, and get as much done as possible before rush hour starts.
When we’re on our way we give the pub manager a quick ring to let them know we’re coming. Each delivery is carefully planned so we know how long we’ll be spending at each pub. Our whole day is scheduled so we try to keep to time as best we can.
Being a drayman, you build up a good rapport with the pubs you deliver to. Often we’re waking them up early to take delivery but they’re always pleased to see us. One of us will go down to the cellar to pass up the empty casks and kegs and get ready for the delivery to be dropped down. A keg weighs approximately 60kg so when moving beer kegs into cellars and underground storage spaces, we use drop mats to protect both the containers and the floor below. The mats reduce bounce and give the kegs a safe landing so they can be easily transferred and moved into the required storage position.
When we get back to the depot we unload all the empties in the yard. Throughout the delivery we try to load the empties back onto the truck in pallets to make it as easy as possible to unload. Once we’re finished we complete the paperwork – noting any missing items, and making sure the night loaders know where the next day’s deliveries need to go on the truck, so when we pull up to our deliveries everything’s in the right place.
Delivering the London route is the best part of the job. Seeing the city so quiet in the early hours means we get the best views of all the landmarks. You’re also spending a lot of time with one person so it helps if you get on well! We work really well together and hope to carry on for many years to come.