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Before the Internet
1991- 1995

The origins of Transurban are to be found in the independent arts movement that grew out of self-publishing in the 1980s. The company officially began operating in 1991 and was known as Transurban Distribution. In those days, Transurban operated out of a small house in the UK Midlands and employed casual workers to deliver alternative magazines, such as The Total Event and Star Maps to independent shops in Birmingham and across the West Midlands. Initially, it provided some funds for members of the local youth culture, known as The Scene, and due to the demography of retail outlets, the distribution quickly grew to include Nottingham, Derby, Worcester, Oxford and areas in between.
Groups of volunteers attended the rock festivals and gigs where sympathetic readership of The Total Event, Star Maps and The Psychedelic Register might be found. They started a mailing list culture that became Transurban's first real customer base.
Most of the distribution work in the early days was for The Chanctonbury Press whose idiosyncratic underground magazines had an easily identified audience.
Music was also an important ingredient and when the young Astronomy Records gained the recognition that superceded its al fresco administration, record dealers from Europe and the USA used Transurban as the only contact they had on the literature to try and order products.
Almost by default, the company became Transurban Distribution and Shipping. So, a mail order operation began reselling The Scene's own products. In 1994 the company maxim 'across the city and worldwide' appeared on delivery notes and company stationery.

Worldwide Distribution
1995 - 2007

By 1995 awareness of the Internet and its offspring, the worldwide web was beginning its long run up to the web explosion of 1998. Transurban had been asked many times for details of its website by music fans who could not always get products from their local outlets, or for whom travel to major city centres was unreasonable.
In response to this, Transurban took some space on the now defunct SuperToob site. This site was run by an anarchic collective who revelled in the fashionable term of 'geeks' that quaint put down for web surfers by the general public who had yet to catch on.
With this universal point of contact established, the first sites became known as Transurban Online and the company finally found its place in the market.
transurban.com was registered later in 1995 and became a prime example of how the internet most benefits niche market companies dealing in goods that can't be readily sourced from the High Street.
Transurban grew to incorporate other enterprises from The Scene in Birmingham. The Chanctonbury Press morphed into Invisible, Ink., Omicron came in to handle the finances and the Virtual Media Group (a forerunner of today's Spiral Plot) channelled the artistic output of the group. transurban.co.uk was founded to deal separately with UK retail, now that Transurban had joined with Mighty Colour Music Publishing and a selection of non-media related brands.
The original Scene disbanded in 2004, though company products were still in demand. Transurban shifted its core business to support the publishing interests of its main customers and essentially bercame a lower profile wholesale operation.

The Payment Portal
2007 - Present

A combination of technologies and media delivery systems shaped the future direction of Transurban.
In 2007 a new system of online web accounts allowed business-to-business contact with customers across the world. The ability to order and ship seamlessly worked with a just in time production method that reduced physical stocks and logistics at a time when rising business costs were badly affecting other companies.
The download culture met with the trend to publish online and fully automated shopping became the norm. Internet currencies, however, were still in their infancy and it took several years for Paypal to become secure and trusted in the business world.
Today, it is hard to imagine a time when anybody could not get online, quickly find what they want to buy, view or download it, and create an instant and secure transaction from anywhere in the world. Transurban's place now is purely as a payment portal, in some ways less influential than in its days as a travelling shopfront when it could set the agenda for producers based around marketing opportunities.
Its role is more passive as the solid back end operation governing the flow of product and finance through the websites of established brand names.
Significantly, and in step with the democratic principles of its own beginnings, Transurban today interfaces directly with retail 'end user' customers using domestic accounts ,order tracking, micro payments and a shared community system to respond at an individual level.
All these are modern versions of the features which caused Transurban to become more than just an idea back in the day.

Transurban Distribution & Shipping. Operating worldwide out of the West Midlands, United Kingdom.
All marks and rights 1991-2020.