Joseph Lewis enjoys a visit to the Amberley Museum near Arundel, in West Sussex, where he discovers a 1981 Leyland ‘Bison’ concrete mixer.
The Amberley Museum, that’s situated between Storrington and Arundel in West Sussex, brings to life the industrial and transport heritage of the area, and allows visitors to explore exhibits dating back to the 19th century.
The museum covers 36 acres with over 40 buildings, and the site used to be a busy chalk quarry and limeworks. Buildings and kilns are preserved alongside others that have been rescued and erected on site, and are now used as displays themselves, and to house exhibits. The museum is a registered charity and works to preserve exhibits for the future.
One of the star commercial vehicle exhibits on show reflects the museum’s quarry and limeworks origins. Road and bridge construction uses vast quantities of concrete. The earliest mobile concrete mixers were made around 1930, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that they became commonplace. Ready Mixed Concrete Ltd became the market leader in the late 20th century, with a huge fleet of vehicles. One of these includes the 1981 Leyland ‘Bison’ Ready Mixed Concrete Truck, registered PPM 499X.
Based on the Leyland ‘Bison’ six-wheeled chassis, the mixer truck unit was made by RMC themselves. The lorry engine drives a hydraulic pump fitted to the front of the lorry which provides power to the mixer machine. The mixer’s concrete capacity is six cubic metres, weighing about 14 tonnes. This example is one of the last to feature the Leyland ‘Ergonomic’ cab that was first produced in 1964, and has a Leyland ‘500’ 170hp diesel engine.
The usual life of a ready mixed concrete lorry is about 10 years. This one operated in Southampton between 1982 and 1992. In 1994, RMC Engineering & Transport plc refurbished the truck at its Washington workshops for display in the Paviors’ Museum of Roadmaking exhibition. Significantly, it’s stated as being the sole surviving example of its type.
The Amberley Museum has quite a few other commercial vehicles, and usually holds a commercial vehicles day each year, both for the display of its collection, and vehicles belonging to visiting enthusiasts.
Many thanks to Julia Edge, curator, Amberley Museum (tel: 01798 831370, amberleymuseum.co.uk)
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