Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

Posted by Chris Graham on 14th September 2022

Mike and Julie Blenkinsop report on the revived annual Tyne-Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run: Bedford MLZ removals pantechnicon, bodied by Marsdens of Warrington, has been a long-standing entrant in the Tyne-Tees for many years. In its Pickfords livery, it provided the ‘blue’ content of the red, white and blue theme for the Queen’s Jubilee weekend. It is owned by Barry and Peter Summers, financial accountants of Spennymoor. It is shown in Pickfords livery although the 1947 van was bought new by a removal company in Manchester, moving onto Preston in 1956. The van is a real star having appeared in many tv productions of Heartbeat, The Darling Buds of May and All Creatures Great and Small.

Organised by the north-east branch of the Historic Commercial Vehicle Society, it paid tribute to the Platinum Jubilee by running three of its vehicles over the ‘new’ Northern Spire bridge, which crosses the River Wear in the Pallion district of Sunderland, very close to where the legendary Coles company manufactured its mobile cranes. 

Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

Well-known garage owner John Mitchison of Ashington fielded his superb 1965 Bedford RL ex-Auxiliary Fire Service and Clyde Fire Brigade petrol carrier GYL 32 C.

The three vehicles chosen were red, white and blue; Paul Pearson’s 1951 AEC/Maudslay Merryweather Regent 3 fire appliance (towing his 1939 Sigmund Pump), followed by the 1965 Morris Commercial Wadham Stringer Ambulance of Alan Griffiths, with Barry and Peter Summers bringing up the rear of the trio in their 1947 Bedford MLZ pantechnicon in dark blue Pickford’s livery (a still image couldn’t be arranged as it was a live carriageway, but a video of the moving event is available on the HCVS’s Facebook page).

Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

A fine example of the Austin K9 4×4 breakdown truck used for light recovery in garages all over the UK. Barry Gordon’s is named ‘Nellie’ and is the control vehicle at the Durham Johnston school half-way break point of the Tyne-Tees run. These ex-British Army Austins with either cargo or box bodies were sold off in the 1960s and thousands were scrapped. There was evidence that Barry’s K9 may have been one of the many K9s used in hauling sea coal from the Durham North Sea coastline (Bedford RL and Commer Q4s were also used) as there was a large quantity of sand in its mechanical components and its fuel tank!

Starting at Stockton Riverside College Campus, the vehicles – ranging in date from 1936 to 2003 – made their way to Durham Johnston school for a coffee rest period, before heading to the coast at South Shields, finishing up at Bents Park on the seafront for display and judging.

Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

The Leyland Lynx articulated tipper (EYB 680 T) of Richard Bean of Thirsk was being driven enthusiastically past the Tyne-Tees coffee stop at Durham Johnston School. Built in 1978, the Ergomatic-cabbed Lynx hauled fuel deliveries for the first three years followed by five years in general haulage. It had a second life as a shunter with tanker trailers.

The Tyne Tees Run is one of the foremost road runs in the country, together with the London to Brighton, the Trans-Pennine and the Ridgeway. This year, 85 vehicles – ranging from a Ford Thames 5-cwt van to the Siddle Cook Scammell 240-ton GTW Constructor – made the journey.

Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

This nicely restored example of a Ford Anglia panel van, 425 FFU, was built in 1963 and had its first home in Lincolnshire but was found in a neglected state in a barn in 1999. The current owner, Ripon-based Phil Pickup, has owned it for the last 21 years rebuilding it as ‘A and D Murphy Greengrocer’s’ delivery van.

We would like to thank the Gordon family, particularly Emma Gordon, area secretary, for their valuable help in identifying the vehicles and their owners for this article.

Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

John Gornall of Spennymoor has participated in the Tyne-Tees Run for many decades. This is his 1975 Atkinson Borderer eight-wheeler, KGR 411N, supporting his Foden S106 and his Bedford OWST. The Gornall business has been based around hauling blocks and bricks for the construction industry.


Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

A Morris Commercial LD Ambulance bodied by Wadham Stringer in 1955 and supplied to the Sussex Ambulance Service. Powered by the Austin 2.2-litre petrol engine it started its retirement as a ‘hippy’ camper van until rescued by Alan Griffiths of Seaham Harbour. It is a bit of a star having been involved in a swimming incident in Scarborough Harbour for a storyline in the television drama, The Royal.


Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

Probably one of the newest vehicles on the Run was this Dennis Sabre XL Water Tender, X 92 JDA, from 2001 owned by Robin Raymond of Tyne and Wear; the DA registration suggests an ex-Wolverhampton/West Midlands Fire Service appliance.


Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

The Sturdy family of Belmont, Durham run a pair of Dennis Paxs. Flatbed GVL 877, new to Stockport Council, leads their other Pax, 238 XUN, away from the coffee stop at Durham.


Tyne Tees Commercial Vehicle Road Run

The biggest vehicle in the run was the mighty 240 gtw Scammell Constructor of Nigel Cook. XUP 999 F, built in 1968, was one of the last and biggest heavy haulers bought new by the Siddle. C. Cook operation in Consett, County Durham before it was taken over and merged into Pickfords. The Constructor was sent off to ‘Northern Ireland Carriers’ but returned to southern England in 1985 entering a private haulier’s fleet before the Cook family managed to buy it back.


A regular at this event, Justin Snowdon’s 1962 Foden S20, powered by a Gardner 150, pulls an exhibition-type semi-trailer.


This year the Tyne-Tees run was host to many more modern classics. Annfield Plain Commercial Vehicle dealer Kevin Dixon fielded his impressive, bonneted Scania 164L three-axle (third axle lifted) tractor with personal plate 4 KDC, powered by Scania’s powerful 580 bhp V8 diesel.


In ‘G and K Dodds of Thirsk’ livery, this Atkinson Borderer started life with W & J Riding in 1973 but was converted to a three-axle Chinese Six and named ‘Buccaneer’ by John Killingbeck of Blackburn. MVD 432 L is owned by P Archer of North Yorkshire.


A Morris Z telephone linesman’s van in the nostalgic livery of the Post Office Engineering Department. Brought into the GPO fleet from 1947 until 1958, the 5cwt van offered a decent turn of speed from its 918 cc 8hp four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a three-speed box, which also powered the Morris 8E saloon car.


Ward Brothers Plant Hire successfully bought back its S24 Scammell heavy duty tractor KCU 520 X after it had been sold-off and converted for dumper quarry work. The Wards bought it new, in 1982, for the considerable sum of circa £90,000 to carry heavy plant loads all over the country. The S24-CT44 worked hard for the company as its flagship truck, covering over 75,000 kilometres in its first year of operation. With a thirst for diesel from the Cummins NTE350 14-litre 350bhp turbocharged in-line six cylinder of between 4-6 mpg, the run would have proved an expensive day out.


An unusual plate, 87 D 445, attracted attention to the pedigree of this Bedford TL with useful material-handling crane from Longford in Ireland and now restored by its present owner Robbie Ralph of Bishop Auckland.


Preserved in its working state, 1952 Bedford ‘O’ type KSK 703 with short wheelbase and a platform body replacing its original tipper body. The Bedford six-cylinder 3519cc petrol engine has gone, to be replaced by a Perkins P6 diesel.


Literally flying the flag in celebration of the Queen’s 70-year reign, is this 1988 Kenworth W900B, registration F 209 AAB. Initially used to transport owner Richard Bullivant of Lanchester’s vintage tractors to shows, it was converted latterly into a flatbed hearse to carry the coffin of a departed friend on his final journey.


E & N Ritchie haa a fleet of vintage commercial vehicles and have been dedicated supporters of the HCVC and the Tyne-Tees Run for many years. This year’s entrant was a Commer QX six-wheeler flatbed in their Hetton-Le Hole company colours.


A very unusual, possibly unique, example of a Fordson E88W light breakdown lorry, CYF 477, built in 1936 and owned by Russell Storey of Chester-Le-Street. It appears in the livery of the ‘Tribley Garage’ of Beamish.


A Series One Land Rover, RYG 488, in fine condition. These practical and usable classics have shot up in value over the last few years.


This Foden S80 uses a block of concrete as ballast. GTS 67 N is in the livery of ‘W. Metcalfe’ of Applesett, Hawes; Tim Weallearns is the owner of this 1974 tractor unit.


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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