Vanished lorries of the 1980s

Posted by Chris Graham on 3rd June 2020

In a nostalgic look at the commercial vehicle scene, Dick Furniss recalls some of the notable but now vanished lorries of the 1980s.

Vanished lorries of the 1980s

Vanished lorries of the 1980s: Seen at the second Great Working of Steam Engines, held on the Tarrant Hinton showground in 1989, this ex-WD Mk 1 6×6 Militant, Q778 OBP, was then in the ownership of G Smith of Totton, Hampshire.

I first started taking photographs of commercial vehicles, along with other forms of transport, during the 1980s, mainly at traction engine rallies and other preservation events. On looking through my photographs and records recently, I realised that quite a number of the vehicles that I saw and photographed during that earlier decade, have all but disappeared since, possibly because they rarely – or never – appear on the preservation scene nowadays. The reason for this may be due to a change of ownership, or the fact that some vehicles have been scrapped. Alternatively, there’s always possibility that I’m not attending the events at which these vehicles appear…

Anyway, my intention here is to present a series of captioned photographs – make by make – featuring some of those vehicles which I believe have rarely appeared on the preservation scene in the decades since the 1980s, although there’s a distinct possibility that I might be taken to task by readers more knowledgeable than myself, regarding the existence or otherwise of the featured vehicles. Of course, any information to this end would be gratefully acknowledged.

So, let’s get cracking with a diverse selection of AEC lorries that meet my criteria. Most of them were in preservation when photographed during the 1980s, but a few were still at work, although attending rallies as well.

Vanished lorries of the 1980s

Seen at the Cromford Steam Fair in Derbyshire, in August 1983, this AEC Mammoth Major Mk 2, EW 9706 (Huntingdon, 1936), was owned by long-established haulage contractor H Tideswell of Kingsley, from Stoke-on-Trent. I believe the company is still operational, but does it still own the lorry?


Vanished lorries of the 1980s

Seen at an early 1980s Stourpaine Bushes Steam Rally in unknown ownership, this tar sprayer was based on an AEC Regent bus chassis, CBV 783 (Blackburn, 1949). It was probably operated originally by the well-known Limmer & Trinidad company, which ran a number of similar vehicles for its road-resurfacing operations. Is this vehicle still around I wonder?


Vanished lorries of the 1980s

At one time owned and operated by Coventry Corporation, this AEC Mammoth recovery vehicle, PO 3922 (West Sussex, 1931), was spotted on Staffordshire tradeplates, 452 RF, at the Astle Park Traction Engine Rally, held in August, 1985. Although I only photographed this vehicle once, I believe that it appeared at the 1991 Crick Stop Rally, and also completed the London to Brighton Commercial Run on at least one occasion.


This AEC Mammoth Major 6, fitted with the Mk 5 cab was, I believe, new in 1966, originally owned by the Astran company and used on the Middle East run. It was later acquired by Warwickshire-based hauliers, Oldhams of Barford, and is seen here having been converted to a recovery vehicle, running on Warwickshire trade plates, 319 AC, at the CVRTC Rally held on Wellesbourne Airfield, just down the road from Oldham’s former depot, in July 1986. The AEC was later sold to John Murphy and restored in the livery of T&M Hollis, of Telford.


This Mammoth Major Mk 2, CLJ 995 (Bournemouth, 1936) was new to the Bath & Portland Stone Co in Dorset, and used on long-distance work until around 1962, at which time it was put on more local work, carrying the uncut stone from the quarries to the mills. The lorry was later fitted with a compressor and used around the quarries for a number of years, before being acquired for preservation, and is seen here in restored condition at the 19th Great Working of Steam Engines, held at Everley Hill in August, 1986.


This mobile generator unit, mounted on an AEC Mercury chassis, DTA 983C (Devon, 1965), was built by the Centrax company of Newton Abbot, Devon, with a gas turbine engine driving an alternator, supplied by the Electric Construction Co, at a total cost of £22,500. Seen here at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, in May 1988, the vehicle was operated by North West Electricity. Although I only saw the vehicle once, I believe it has appeared at a limited number of rallies since, including a London to Brighton Run.


AEC introduced the three-axle, twin-steer AEC Mammoth Minor model TG6RF, fitted with the Ergomatic cab in 1967, with production continuing until 1969. This example, at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, in May 1988, JUF 134E (Brighton, 1967), presumably started life as an artic tractor unit, before being converted into a recovery vehicle fitted with a Holmes 750 crane for Luckings, the theatrical removers.


Named ‘Lionheart’, this 1936 AEC Monarch, carrying a post-war-style cab and an age-related registration number – LSU 255 – is seen here in the livery of Jas Aidley of Urmston, Manchester, at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, in August 1988.


Probably the oldest commercial vehicles on display at the 19th Great Working of Steam Engines, held in September 1987 at Everley Hill, was BK 6332 (a Portsmouth 1921 number); a 1921 AEC with a period caravan, entered by A&C Baker of Uckfield, Sussex. Notice the lack of either side or headlights, although I’ve seen an earlier photograph taken showing these items fitted.


Very much a working lorry when photographed at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, in May 1988, this Ergomatic-cabbed Mammoth Major bulk tipper, JEX 581N (a Great Yarmouth number issued by the Norwich office, after the 1974 Local Government re-organisation), features the livery of M Ayres & Sons of Stanhoe, Norfolk.


Seen at the 1986 Astle Park Traction Engine Rally, I believe that this AEC Mammoth KGH 144 (London, 1949), was used as living accommodation and for towing Mr T Nicholson’s ex-George Flynn Gavioli fairground organ truck, partly visible in the background.


Well-known Leighton Buzzard haulier, RG Jellis & Son, was still operating this AEC Marshal Major, NKX 960P (Buckingham, 1975), at the time this photograph was taken at the Peterborough Truckfest, in May 1987.


The AEC Militant Mk l was produced in both 6×4 and 6×6 configurations, as seen here with this example, PSR 293R (Angus, 1979), at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, in May 1988, having been converted into a heavy recovery vehicle, most likely after use as a snowplough, following disposal by the War Department.


Another AEC recovery vehicle seen at Wollaton Park in 1988, this Ergo-cabbed Mammoth Major 6, registered Q426 MHK, is in the livery of Willesden, London recovery specialists, Arlingtons.


Vanished lorries of the 1980s

Seen in July 1986, at the Classic Commercial Motor Show, held on Wellesboume Airfield, Warks., this re-cabbed AEC Matador, FNH 606E (Northampton, 1967), was in the livery of well-known contractor and preservationist, Allan Lloyd, from Colwall, Herefordshire.


Vanished lorries of the 1980s

This 1940-built AEC Matador, GUJ 700 (Salop, 1950), in the livery of Shrewsbury timber merchant, Jabez Barker, was spotted at the 25th County of Salop Steam Engine Society Rally, held at Bishops Castle.


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