Classic postcard parade

Posted by Chris Graham on 23rd March 2021

Nina Smith delves into her collection again to present another classic postcard parade that reminds us of wonderful holidays past.

Classic postcard parade

Here’s a scene which will have changed completely today. This postcard shows the terminal at Malta’s Luqa Airport, complete with the tailplane of an aircraft in the later British European Airways colours. There’s also a Karrier Bantam ground service vehicle, in the reddish-orange livery BEA used in the last years before it was incorporated into British Airways, which dates the scene to around 1970.

The images presented in this classic postcard parade all feature period vehicles set in picturesque or interesting scenes. Consequently, they’re awash with nostalgia so are a delight for anyone with an interest in ‘the good old days’, to study.

Some of the locations will be recognisable to those who know the places depicted but, for those who don’t know them, they’ll provide pleasant views of places they might like to visit in the future. Unlike the vehicles populating them, many places still look much the same.

These cards were mainly produced to be sold at tourist destinations. Even today, such cards often seem a little out of date, especially when you consider the cars and commercial vehicles typically featured. Of course, a lot of people might regard the buses, lorries and cars as an intrusion on the scene but, for those of you reading this, they only serve to add to the interest, and act as poignant reminders of the past.

Collecting postcards is a hobby in itself, with plenty of people interested in buying and selling the many different sorts. For us, they provide a brilliant way of glimpsing the interesting vehicles of the past as they went about their daily business.

This selection includes some photographs taken farther afield, in Europe and beyond, in which some of the cars look particularly different to our eyes. These days we’re used to seeing the same, bland and shapeless vehicles the world over, but many in these images date back to a time  when manufacturers all had their own, distinctive styles.

So please enjoy these pictures, while you dream of getting out and about again, maybe even going on holiday somewhere…

Classic postcard parade

Providing a complete contrast to the airport above, this is the High Street Bala, in Gwynedd, Wales, near the lake of the same name. It’s a scene that will have changed little, apart from the vehicles. On the left we can see a BMC FG van in Lyon’s Maid livery, overtaking a Ford D Series van. Among the parked cars there’s an early Ford Capri, in that very ‘Seventies’ bronze colour, plus a Morris Minor van, behind a Morris Oxford.


Classic postcard parade

An interesting shot of Hertford Street, in Coventry, showing work on the foundations of the National Provincial Bank Buildings, in 1929, taken from a photograph by the Midland Daily Telegraph. This is probably the only time the Kings Head Hotel was ever seen like this. It’s all gone now, rebuilt after the WW2 blitz. There are a couple of motor lorries in this view, but also two horses with tipping wagons at work.


Classic postcard parade

Here’s another view which is more or less unchanged, since this image was made, probably during the 1950s. It shows Market Street in Kirkby Lonsdale, but the ‘Sun Hotel’ is now the ‘Sun Inn’. The shops are still there, but it’s unlikely that an Austin K4 lorry like the one seen on the right, would be passing!


Classic postcard parade

This postcard shows Atholl Road, Pitlochry, Perth & Kinross, in another scene that’s little changed today from this mid-1960s view. There’s a Ford Cortina MkI passing a Hillman Super Minx, an Austin A35 van and Hillman Minx Series 3A on the right, with a Bedford CA van and a Post Office Telephones Morris Minor van on the left, with a Regent petrol sign in the background.


Classic postcard parade

Here’s a view of Nelson’s Pillar and the General Post Office, in O’Connell Street, Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland, taken at the end of the 1950s. It includes lots of CIE buses, Leyland P2s, a PD3 with concealed radiator in the centre, plus many cars and vans. Among those parked in the centre is a now-extinct, Hillman Minx Mk 4/5 Estate, and an early Land Rover. Passing on the right are two Ford 300E vans, a Ford Prefect, Wolseley 4/44, Vauxhall Velox, Volkswagen and a Bedford CA van. More of the same are parked outside the GPO, which is flying the Irish flag.


Classic postcard parade

A historic view of the now disused and probably built-over Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong. It’s easy to see how this wasn’t a favourite with airline pilots! As well as five aircraft, there are all sorts of interesting vans, including two or three Commer BFs, an early Transit, a D Series box van, a VW Kombi or two, a BMC J2 and more. It’s a pity we can’t enlarge the image enough to see them all.


Classic postcard parade

A busy, 1960s view of Karlsplatz and the Konigshof Hotel (which is still there) in Munich, Germany, with lots of traffic, including several trams. In the foreground are a two-tone Ford Taunus 15M/17M, an Opel Kapitan, an earlier Mercedes 170, a DKW Sonderclasse and an early VW Kombi. Waiting to cross, we can see a Mercedes L319 van, a Hanomag pick-up with a canvas tilt, with a couple of Beetles and small Opel saloons.


A view of La Grande Rue and the Basilica of Notre Dame, in hilly Boulogne Sur Mer, just down the coast from Calais, on the French side of the English Channel. The interesting selection of French vehicles in view includes a Citroen H van on the right, a Citroen 2CV van on the left, a large, red integral van on a Unic Izouard further up the hill, being passed by a Renault 4L van, in front of a Renault Dauphine cabriolet with the roof down, plus lots of cars which Francophiles will enjoy seeing.


The Staatsbrucke – or State Bridge – over the River Salzach, in the centre of Salsburg in Austria, probably seen in the early, post-war years. Among the traffic on the bridge there are two lorries. Is the front one a locally-built Graf und Stift? The one with the draw-bar trailer looks like a Mercedes-Benz…


A 1960s view of picturesque Bergen, in Norway, looking across the harbour towards the old commercial houses on Bryggen (The Quay). On the road on the right, we can see a normal-control Volvo dropside, a VW Beetle and a forward-control Volvo tanker, being overtaken by a newish American Chevrolet or GMC. On the left, near the market and with open sides, are two earlier, normal-control American Fords or Chevrolets from the 1950s.


This is the New President Hotel, in Beach Road, Sea Point, South Africa, photographed in about 1970. The vehicles parked outside include two pick-ups – or ‘bakkies’ as they’re known locally – a Datsun, an American Ford or Chevrolet, plus a Toyota Corona, Opel Rekord and BMC 1100, among the other cars.


Back to Europe, and St Lambert Square, Liege, in Belgium, in about 1960. There are several tourist coaches, as well as a couple of town buses in the background while, in the foreground, there’s an Austin A40 Devon van on the pavement, possibly being used to serve food. Also there’s a Renault Dauphine and Ford Taunus Transit van, passing a normal-control DAF artic van, delivering Belga foods.


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