Patrick Boniface reports from the Communications and Commercial Vehicles Day held recently at the Amberley Museum in West Sussex.
The Amberley Museum, in West Sussex, played host to the annual Communications and Commercial Vehicles Day on August 21st. The venue attracted 35 classic Royal Mail, GPO, British Telcom and even some military communications vehicles. The oldest vehicle on display was Graham Skinner’s 1928 Austin Chummy van. But there was also a large contingent of 1940s commercials also in attendance, including John Plant’s 1946 Z type Morris that started work in the Guildford area before being sold in 1976, and Terry Smith’s Fordson 5 cwt light van.
Much attention was paid to the smartly displayed 1938 Morris Minor Van that, when new in 1938, was allocated to the Head Postmaster in Brentwood, Essex. Simon Grainger acquired it in 2011 and has had it restored to its current condition. One of the rarest vehicles on display at Amberley was a 125cc 1965 Bantam D1 motorbike.
Supplied by BSA to the GPO at Wembley in September 1965, this telegram bike served in London, Fareham and Portsmouth before being sold out of service in 1971. It’s currently owned by Gary Allen. Nearby, was the only survivor of thousands of Morris GPO J2 vans. This one (U110710) was a garage runabout vehicle at Kingston workshop. The current owner – Fraser Clayton – purchased the vehicle after it was retired from service, during which it had driven more than 280,000 miles.
The newest two vehicles on display were both from the 2000s; a well-presented Ford Escort Royal Mail van and a 2007 Renault Master owned by Jon Richards that, in a previous life, had served as a British Red Cross Incident Support Unit – Radio Communications Trailer. The vehicle provided mobile command and control facilities to manage the tactical response to major incidents for the British Red Cross. The vehicle was part of the response to the Grenfell Tower disaster. It was on site for four-months following the fire and is still operational today.
Away from the communications vehicles, there was a modest display of commercial vehicles, including a 1955 J Type Commercial 10cwt ‘Bread’ van imported from New Zealand in 2004, four Land Rovers plus a splendidly turned-out 1951 AEC Mammoth Major Mk 3, owned by Fraser Clayton. This truck is a dropside eight-wheel lorry that was supplied new to Whitbread in London, and was used for carrying crates of beer. It later passed to Ridgeway Transport for general haulage work, and then on to Forrest’s the Showman of Dartford, to carry its dodgem track. Later still, it was rescued from a scrapyard and completely overhauled by Fraser Clayton.
The report comes from the latest issue of Heritage Commercials, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE
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