Hugh Featherstone joined the forerunner of FTA, the Traders Road Transport Association, in 1958 when it was composed solely of manufacturers and traders who operated ‘C’ licensed vehicles. The organisation consisted of 13 virtually autonomous divisions and a very small head office in London where it shared offices in New Bond Street with the Road Haulage Association and the then Passenger Vehicle Operators Association (now the Confederation of Passenger Transport).
Hugh’s first task was to co-ordinate the 13 divisions (some of which were run by firms of accountants and solicitors) into a single body fit to meet the many challenges which faced road transport operators at that time. First there was the introduction of annual tests for commercial vehicles, coupled with an overdue tightening of safety regulations which led to the launch of the Association’s vehicle inspection service in 1966. Then came Barbara Castle’s Transport Act of 1968 and the introduction of operator licensing with significant changes to drivers’ hours legislation and ultimately the introduction of the Association’s tachograph services, notwithstanding the Association’s initial opposition to the ‘spy in the cab’. Today the Association inspects more than 2,000 members’ vehicles a week for safety compliance and maintenance standards and over two million driver records a year.
Hugh led FTA through the testing industrial relations of the 1970s and the ‘winter of discontent’ in 1979. It was Hugh’s foresight that resulted in the Association relocating its head office to Tunbridge Wells in Kent in 1975, where it remains based to this day.
Hugh retired from FTA in 1984, by which time it employed 330 staff, handing the organisation over to his deputy of many years, Garry Turvey. He was awarded the OBE in 1974 and the CBE in 1984.
Hugh is survived by his wife, Beryl, son Michael, daughter Janet, son-in-law Robert and four grandsons.
Funeral arrangements will be posted on FTA’s website, where a dedicated page has been created for those who worked with Hugh to record their memories. Please go to www.fta.co.uk/hughfeatherstone.