Posts Tagged ‘Bedford’

The Bedford

February 9, 2014

My dad got our first family car when I was aged 11. It was an ancient vehicle then. You can read about it by clicking here. That car went to the great scrapyard when the Ministry of Transport decided cars over ten years old must undergo roadworthiness tests. It was rapidly replaced with car number two, smaller, post war and altogether much zippier – but still old. It was a Standard 8.

But then my dad got a job which required travel, reliably. A brand new car was mooted and in the end what was chosen was very much a multi purpose vehicle – a Bedford Dormobile. It had the same basic chassis and mechanics as Vauxhall cars of the day. Bedford vehicles were commercial – it started life as a van and a firm called Martin Walter did a conversion to a camper van.

The strange thing was that it was moderately cheap. Cars were deemed luxuries back in 1961. They carried purchase tax. A camper van was considered to be living accommodation – a necessity – and was free of tax. I remember being entrusted with posting off a cheque to buy the Bedford. It was for £873.

And here it is, actually on a day trip to the farm where camp was always held. It’s my brother Robin on the outside


My mum and I are inside the vehicle.

It was a 4 berth ‘home’ but the top bunks, up in the raised roof, were only used once. The Dormobile had no legs to stand on when in use as a caravan. It remained on its road springs. People tossing and turning in those top bunks caused the whole vehicle to rock – and everybody woke up. After that one sleep denying experience, a bit more privacy was given. We always took a tent as well.

My dad had chosen a pale free base colour with a dark green stripe. Nobody else seemed to have one quite like that. The green peril really was quite perilous, but not due to its colour. There were, of course, no seat belts. The sliding side doors could be kept open when driving and it did its 70mph quite happily. In the back there was a wardrobe, kitchen cupboards, a gas stove and a gas lamp. All rattled as you went along.

For some seven years this was the family car and then it became, almost, mine. I think this was a bit of inordinate kindness by Dad. He still had the job that required travel and decided the old Bedford might not be reliable enough. He bought a second car. And I, of course, had just passed my test. The Bedford was mine to use.

I’m not sure when the end came for it. I didn’t use it as a student – except during vacations and then I moved away. But I have very happy memories of ‘The Bedford’.

The dustbin lorry

October 22, 2013

These days refuse collection is a high tech affair. Huge lorries pick up the wheelie bins and may weigh them, recognise who the bin belongs to and even keep records of it all. To cram as much in as possible a press compacts the rubbish into a tight, tiny space.

Back in the 50s a much more personal service was not a bit like that. A small lorry with opening side hatches can round. The dustmen (or refuse collectors) came around to your back garden, collected your bin, took it out to the lorry and emptied the contents via the side hatches and then returned your bin. Of course, at Christmas time they may have made some extra clattering noises to remind you they felt entitled to a Christmas box – a small some of cash for their kindness and hard work throughout the year.

I do not have a photo of such a lorry, but I do have a Dinky toy version.


What a little beauty! I certainly had one of these lorries as a kid. It was old (as ever it was not new to me) and battered. This one – and I’m not sure if it is the same one, has been renovated by my brother-in-law who at one time enhanced his income by meticulously doing up such toys.

I have opened one of the side hatches for the photograph.

This is a Dinky version of a Bedford truck.


The first version of this model came out in 1948 but they were popular and stayed in production until 1965. If this is the very one I had as a child then it will be an early one.

So what’s that big handle on the side for? Well, like the real thing this is a tipper lorry. It has a rear hatch and if you wind the handle you tip the refuse container and the contents can fall out of the rear hatch.image006

It’s a lovely model and thanks to Bill for doing it up.

The Milk Float

August 23, 2013

Here we have a toy vehicle which dates from my childhood age but wasn’t mine. It originally belonged to my sister in law but seems to have ended up in my house and finds space with my old toy cars.  It’s a toy milk float.


This is based on an early split windscreen Bedford van – I would have called them an iconic vehicle of the era. This toy was made between 1956 and 1960.

It has that oh so distinctive Bedford front end.


The open back is well filled with daily pintas.


This particular toy is a ‘Matchbox’ toy made by Lesney. Sorry, we don’t have the box.


Now apart from the fact that it is rather sweet, why do I particularly like it?

Well, when I reached the ripe old age of 17, the family car was a Bedford Dormobile, based on the same chassis and engine as the Lesney milk float. I learnt to drive in a similar kind of vehicle, albeit without the shake and rattle of milk bottles in the back.

What a vehicle! I recall the three speed gearbox, with the lever mounted on the steering column and of course, the sliding doors which could be kept open – ideal, no doubt, for delivery drivers, but potentially lethal, particularly in combination with the total absence of seat belts.

So thanks, sister in law. I am delighted to have the little Bedford.

The South Uist Bus

February 7, 2013

We have looked at South Uist people haymaking on this blog. South Uist is one of the Outer Hebrides some 80 kilometres from anywhere on the West Coast of mainland Scotland. That’s over twice as far as England is from France.

In the middle of the island there is a bus/coach depot. South Uist is, perhaps, a bit time warped, but children throughout the island need to get to school so coaches exist. The resident population numbers almost 2000 and they are spread out over 120 or so square miles. Most of the buses and coaches were relatively modern, but one, beautifully painted, represented a past age.


It is in the livery of MacBraynes – a company now subsumed into Calmac but from long ago inspiring this anonymous verse.

The earth belongs unto the Lord
And all that it contains,
Except the Scottish Islands –
For they are all MacBrayne’s.

The bus is a Bedford (probably almost as old as me) and it reminded me so utterly of the bus my then fiancée and I took from Wick to John o’ Groats back in 1970. A bus like this was then in front line service.

But back to South Uist. It’s a fantastic little island and amongst its attractions was a superb, modern museum (where they didn’t allow photography).There is a café associated with the museum where they serve a superb hot chocolate.


Yes, that’s marshmallow slowly melting into it. I’m sure that’s not traditional South Uist fare, but on a day which was just a bit cold and damp, by heck it was welcome.