British lorries in Malta

Posted by Chris Graham on 20th December 2020

Carl Johnson brings us a great selection of photographs he took of the most interesting British lorries still operating in Malta during the 1990s.

British lorries in Malta

British lorries in Malta: A work-worn Guy Big J6 concrete mixer of Cement Mix, which is part of the Polidano Bros group of companies. Situated near the airport, the company is a big player in the construction industry, and uses the nickname ‘Caqnu’. The ‘L/O’ on the door is a term often used in Malta, meaning ‘Limits of’, which relates to areas close to, in this case, Luqa.

Following on from previous articles, it’s time to dip back into the archives to dig-out a further selection of photographs featuring memorable British lorries in Malta. There’s really not much I can add to what’s already been said about the Malta in previous articles, with regard to the way things were done over on that tiny, Mediterranean island. Not forgetting the neighbouring island of Gozo, of course. Both have been well-explored over a number of years, and a trip on the Malta-Gozo ferry is almost a must for many visitors, including vehicle enthusiasts.

British lorries in Malta

A rather smart-looking four-wheeled rigid tipper with the Michelotti cab; a configuration not offered by Scammell and, with the set-back front axle as shown, it was more than likely a cut-down Routeman Mk 2 eight-wheeler! As is often the case in Malta, it was also well-loaded…

Camera-wielding enthusiasts have always been made welcome and the Maltese owners have, over the years, offered first-class hospitality. Sometimes, I’ve even known them to take time out from their daily work tasks to show enthusiasts around, even taking the trouble to guide people to other, tucked-away yards. Such trips would often throw-up many a surprising vehicle that hadn’t been seen before and, sadly, probably not to be seen again. Too many were well past their sell-by date, even by Maltese standards!

British lorries in Malta

British lorries in Malta: The sad remains of a Foden S21 ‘Mickey Mouse’ eight-wheeler, parked near Ballut Blocks at Naxxar. Minus its drive axle wheels and hubs, it had no doubt come to the end of its working life. A little detective work saw us finding an old tax disc in the window, which gave its UK registration number as GYC 871C.

Anyway, I’ll let the photographs do the talking from now on because, as the famous saying goes: ‘a picture paints a thousand words…’

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British lorries in Malta

In the yard at Ballut Blocks (nickname Red Lion) was this fine Foden S80 six-wheeled mixer. Still in everyday use at the time it was photographed in 1993, the vehicle had lost its Foden script badge, but had been adorned with sign-written logos including reference to the fact that it was powered by a Gardner 180. Of interest is the ’35 Tons’ designation on the nearside front!


British lorries in Malta

Still with Ballut Blocks and, again with ‘32 Tons’ on the cab side, this Foden S80 tractor unit with articulated outfit does make more sense. Note that the concrete beam load may actually exceed the GVW, but that wouldn’t be a problem; the beams were actually using Newtons principle of gravity to keep them on board!


British lorries in Malta

‘Sexy Eyes’ may be referring to the vehicle, unless the driver thinks otherwise! Having a liking for the ‘working’ shot, this ex-Falklands Leyland Landtrain 19-29 is seen under the loading hopper at the Ballut Blocks quarry. A number of these robust vehicles were in use throughout the island, and gave excellent service.


British lorries in Malta

An Ergomatic-cabbed Leyland Octopus is seen waiting its turn to board the Gozo freight ferry that used to dock at Pieta Creek. A full load of soft drinks would have been collected most days from the bottling plant on Malta – in this case, a complete load of Coca-Cola.


British lorries in Malta

Another Ergomatic eight-wheeler, but this time an AEC Mammoth Major. However, in typical Maltese fashion, it was suffering somewhat from an identity crisis, with a Leyland Lynx front panel – or was it? You never know what you might be looking at! All quarries on Malta and Gozo are numbered, but this Hardstone Quarry No 13, near Mellieha, is now no longer used.


British lorries in Malta

Sporting the old-style, five-digit registration number, this derelict Bedford QL – which no doubt would have been ex-Army – was seen languishing in a field at a farmer/dealer’s premises, a little off the beaten track. The owner did, in fact, buy and sell lorries as well as running the farm, although determining which of the two was the side line wasn’t easy!


British lorries in Malta

A Motor Panels LAD (Leyland, Albion, Dodge) cab was fitted to this Leyland, which was more than likely a rare ‘Bear’ model, because of its short wheelbase. This model was made for the tipper and mixer market, whereas the ‘Retriever’ – also a six-wheeler – was a goods chassis.


The ‘O’ Type Bedford was a popular vehicle, both back in the UK and overseas (including Malta). However, as time has moved on, after giving many years of good service, there aren’t many left in everyday use. Searching around the islands often turns up all sorts of vehicles, and this particular fuel tanker was seen tucked away almost out of sight behind a building along the Marfa ridge.


Another LAD-cabbed vehicle, this time the short-door version fitted to a Leyland Comet short wheelbase tipper, which was seen exiting a farm track over in the St Pauls Bay area. The driver was a little bemused that we wanted a photograph of his trusty steed!


Yet another Scammell that wasn’t offered in this form by the manufacturer. As it has the step in front of the axle, we can safely assume that it was, at one time, a Routeman Mk 3 eight-wheel rigid. Attard Bros is another company engaged mostly in construction work, and runs tippers and mixers.


A short-wheelbase BMC which, once again, was in the Blokrete yard. However, it didn’t seem to be in service and had, in fact, previously been modified, as keen eyes will spot the fitment of an Albion rear axle.


Xan Trans has a reasonably-sized fleet, including this AEC six-wheeled flat, which was seen parked one weekend, away from the company’s yard. Most of the work back then was for one of the local wine manufacturers with curtain-sider artics, this vehicle obviously being used on other traffics.


This Bedford ‘S’ Type was often seen trundling around, loaded sky-high with boxes and little or no load restraints. On enquiring, we were told that it was actually engaged on work for the military. However, the work did seem a little beyond that remit at times.


A Foden S83 artic flat of Sammut Bros, seen parked in the road by the company’s garage; the driver literally ready to bail-out and abandon it where it was! However, most nights, all the vehicles were shoe-horned into the rather small garage. Most of Sammut’s vehicles were in very good order, and it’s a matter of opinion as to whether the signwriting is maybe too much for some.


To finish off I include a couple of Scammell Routeman lorries from what’s probably one of the largest fleets on the island. Emmanuel Vella (Eldorado) also trades as Express Trailers, which includes a service throughout Europe, including the UK. This first Scammell is a Mk 3 tipper.


Last of all is Vella’s Routeman Mk2, with the twin headlamp version of the striking Michelotti cab. This one was a flat platform lorry, which had just returned to the company’s yard. This yard also houses one of the goods vehicle testing stations, which are now in place, thanks to Malta’s EU membership.


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