Commercials on show at Gaydon

Posted by Chris Graham on 19th September 2020

Peter Simpson reports on an excellent event which, despite Covid-19 restrictions, saw many excellent commercials on show at Gaydon.

Commercials on show at Gaydon

Commercials on show at Gaydon: The informal, classic commercial weekend held at the British Motor Museum, Garden, Warks., early in August was a great success, despite the limitations imposed by the Covid-19 situation.

Strictly speaking, the Classic & Vintage Commercials Show at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon, Warks., on August 8th-9th – postponed from its usual date in June – was cancelled and replaced by an ‘informal classic commercial weekend’ on the same date. But this event included as many elements of the usual show as it was safe and legal to run with.

The main difference from the customer’s point of view was that everyone – exhibitors and visitors – had to pre-book. This was in part due to ‘track and trace’ requirements, but also because it was necessary to restrict visitor numbers so that social-distancing on site was possible. It worked!

Commercials on show at Gaydon

AJ Thomas, from South Wales, was represented by a restored ERF C36 and a MAN 32-240; what a pair of beauties!

Yes, overall numbers were down, but that was intended and expected. What’s more, by and large, everyone acted responsibly, and the overall feeling was one of enormous gratitude to Tom Caren and the rest of the BMIHT team for putting on a show – and a good one – under such difficult and restricting circumstances.

But not only that, it was a good show, with an excellent turnout and plenty of interesting vehicles for visitors to see and enjoy. The light commercial side was also well represented, with individual entries and the usual strong support from the Ford Transit Owners Club, along with the Post Office Vehicle Club. The Bedford Enthusiast Club was also in attendance, together with the Commercial Vehicle and Road Transport Club.

Commercials on show at Gaydon

The North London-based McGovern collection is always a strong supporter of events at Gaydon, and this rally was no exception, with the line-up including this fine Foden ‘Mickey Mouse’ tractor unit.

As well as the outside display, the museum was – in the end – able to accommodate a small number of sales stands in the usual upstairs area. To comply with social-distancing, the café had ‘expanded’ out into the display area, but it all worked exceptionally well.

Heartfelt thanks must go to everyone at the museum for not only putting on a show, but putting on a very good one indeed, in a year when many were expecting nothing.

Commercials on show at Gaydon

This Bedford S Type – an ex-government vehicle judging by the registration – with a cherry-picker, made a very impressive centrepiece for the Bedford Enthusiasts Club stand. It’s owned by Philip Robinson Plant Hire, based in Northampton.

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Coventry-based Neil Bartlett Haulage was at the event with three of its preserved tipper collection; the business specialises in ‘decorative aggregates and quarry products’.


We loved this 1948 Thornycroft Nippy HF/ER4 and its display-load of period machine tools, including a rare, 1918 Hardinge lathe. New to Duttons Brewery, it was found in a derelict condition in 1984 and restored by Whitbread who subsequently used it for promotional purposes. It’s currently for sale with or without the display – for more details call 07773 766192.


Also on a brewery theme, we absolutely loved Tony Wallace’s 1974 ERF A Series tractor unit and matching trailer, in the livery of the product which, allegedly, ‘worked wonders’.


John Thomas supported the event with three vehicles from his preserved collection, including this 1979 Volvo F7, which was the first of many such vehicles that the company operated.


John Murphy’s 1965 AEC Mammoth Major V tanker was new to Shell-Mex before being used as a mobile fuel supply vehicle with the National Bus Company, based at Victoria Coach Station. It subsequently passed through several hands in preservation, before being acquired by John and restored into its current excellent condition.


Lex and Emily McKerlie’s ‘his and hers’ pairing of 1964 Mk2 Thames Trader and 1963 Bedford TK were presented in fine condition. The Trader was repainted last year.


Bernie Baily’s ex-Tate & Lyle Commer QX was looking as good as ever.


An impressive Scania line-up from the Charles Russell collection attracted a lot of attention – and deservedly so.


This Volvo F86 and 1968 Commer Maxiload are from the RT Keedwell preserved fleet. The Commer is a relatively recent arrival, having been bought in 2017. New to British Gypsum, it was restored in 2011-12 by John Morris and, subsequently, spent time with Bernie Baily and in the Gary Cooper collection.


East Yorkshire-based Simon Tootell brought along his 1970 Scammell Trunker II and Scania. The Trunker is Rolls-Royce 220-powered, was acquired in 2016 and, as so often happens, what started out as a repaint and tidy-up, ‘developed’ into a fairly significant overhaul, though the lorry was in good condition overall. The Scania was previously based in Perthshire, with tractor sales business, Earnvale Tractors.


This 1967 Bedford KM skip lorry is owned and by Warwickshire Waste, of Kenilworth. It’s been restored to a very high standard, indeed.


A 1950 ERF 54G in wonderfully-original and patinated George Wooliscroft & Son livery. A classic case for careful conservation, rather than full restoration!


This 1945 Thornycroft Sturdy has been in preservation for some time, and is now presented in the guise of a private operator that’s just been taken into public ownership; hence the BRS headboard and roundel applied over the private ‘Rugby Transport’ livery.


Last year, the classic van show was merged into the Classic & Vintage Commercials event. It worked, and the format was retained for this year. As usual, Pete Lee and the Ford Transit Club were here in force.


The Post Office Vehicle Club also supported the event with a display comprising a pair of Maestro vans and several GPO motorcycles, as used by telegram boys down the years. Many of you will recognise Stephen Knight’s Maestro Mailvan as it’s a unique survivor – while BT made widespread use of Maestro vans, Royal Mail was less impressed, and took just three, trial batches. Shown by Steve for the first time at the 2018 Gaydon van show, ‘Red Robbo’ was stolen a few days later and sustained significant damage, but has now been restored once again.


A ‘spot the difference’ competition, courtesy of the Standard Motor Club! Note the different number of doors; the four-door Vanguard (on the right) is an estate car, whereas the two-door version – a recent import from Belgium – is a converted van, though there’s evidence the ‘conversion’ was actually carried out by the factory. Curiously, both these are also thought to have spent some time as ‘flower cars’ with funeral directors.


This 1953 Fordson van – originally registered NUE 772 – spent 10 years in a South Wales motor museum before passing to a film company. Though fictional, the Kembleford Gazette livery may be familiar, as the van appears in this guise in the Father Brown TV series.



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