Sunday, 30 September 2018

Interesting people in the Cab


David Hall has had some interesting people in the cab of his Leyland Beaver during and after a funeral, and three examples are described below.
David was involved in perhaps his saddest funeral in Easthampstead Cemetery for a 32 year old, Jamie Madden, who had lost his life, whilst working under his car. The Deceased left a young wife and two children, a son aged almost 3 years and a daughter aged 11 months. David felt the family’s loss more than any other funeral because Jamie was the same age as David’s own son and Jamie’s son was the same age as David’s Grandson would have been had he not tragically passed away in June 2014, after only 15 months on this earth. Loosing his Grandson Freddie affected David deeply, he carries his picture above the windscreen in the cab and he often looks at the empty space above the seat that David had created next to the engine for Freddie, which he never saw. 

It was unbelievable that on the anniversary of Jamie’s death that David should be back in Easthampstead and some amazing things happened. Two young boys were attending their Granddad’s funeral and the older one Austin Stratford, aged 5 at the time, came over and asked David if he could have a ride in the Leyland Beaver. David then spoke with Austin’s parents who agreed that he could take Austin and his brother Dawson, aged 3 at the time, from the Flower Area at the crematorium to the cemetery.
The two young lads were lifted into the passenger side of the cab, Austin sat on the passenger seat and Dawson immediately sat on the seat that David had built for his own Grandson Freddie. Dawson smiled at David in the same way that Freddie had whenever he saw David. Fearing that the noise from the Leyland 600 engine may upset Dawson David took his Ear Defenders and put them on the 3 year old’s head. However, Dawson took off the Ear Defenders and said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not frightened.’
During a funeral from Calne to Semington Crematorium David was under the impression that the Deceased’s son Stuart Smith would be travelling in the cab with him. However, when David arrived at the house there was a change of plan and the Deceased’s Granddaughter Sara Jane Smith would accompany David. Sara wore trousers and climbed into the cab without a problem.

Sara works in the motor industry and knows her way around a modern day lorry and she made some comparisons between the 1950 Leyland Beaver and those she normally sees. She said, ‘So no heater, no power steering, no synchromesh gearbox.’ As she was counting out the differences on her fingers she looked around the cab and asked, ‘and where does the driver sleep?’ Driver replied, ‘Back in the 1950’s Sara a driver never slept!’ David later explained in an email to Sara that large companies such as B.R.S. used to Double Shift a vehicle with a day man unloading and then reloading the lorry before handing over to a night man. He drove to another depot through the night and then slept in digs whilst his lorry was unloaded and reloaded. So the lorry was never still and nobody slept in the cab. There were, however, smaller operators who used drivers that were less likely to obey the rules which limited a working shift to 11 hours. It is said that those drivers hardly ever slept in their cabs and when they did it was on a wooden board laid across the engine, or on the sheet rack on top of the cab or in amongst the load if the vehicle was a box van.
For a funeral in Hollywell, North Wales, Shaun Parry, Grandson of the Deceased, paid for the funeral and asked to travel with David Hall in the cab because Shaun had his own haulage business. On the road to Pentrebychan Crematorium David asked Shaun if he had inherited the business from his Granddad and Dad. Shaun laughed saying, ‘I started the business myself and I employ my Dad who drives for me.’ Shaun went on to explain that after leaving school he became a trained Diesel Mechanic with Scania Trucks and then joined a local coachworks that built tipper bodies. During the evenings Shaun was engaged by a friend, who owned 8 Volvo Tippers, to service the fleet, which involved undertaking monthly inspections and rectifying any defects that had to be sorted that night.
So whilst his colleagues at the coachworks were spending their evenings in the pub, Shaun would be in his boiler suit, hammer in his hand checking wheel-nuts. Shaun banked all the money he earned and enjoyed watching it grow. Then Shaun had an opportunity to buy two Foden Tippers second hand, having secured regular work 5 days per week from a local quarry. The Drivers took their instructions from the quarry staff, enabling Shaun not to be distracted whilst he was fitting tipping equipment at the coachworks.
David was also very grateful that Shaun let him park the Leyland Beaver in his garage the night before his Granddad’s funeral and for providing transport to and from the B&B.

David told Shaun that it was an honour to meet a young man who had made a good living for himself and his family by hard graft. In these days, in David’s opinion, too many young people don’t know what they want to do, drift into university rack up huge debts and come out of the process with no career prospects. Too many opt for an easy life and would rather sit at home playing computer games and the thought of doing an 8 hour shift followed by a 4 to 8 hour period of work which requires intense concentration, would be beyond their comprehension.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Leyland Beaver back in Slough again


Following Max Van der Sloot’s funeral from E. Sargeant & Sons Slough in June 2017, David Hall wrote obituary articles for Heritage Commercials and Canal Boat which subsequently appeared on the shelves of W.H. Smiths in September. David’s first contact is with the Family to whom the sight of their Loved One appearing in a prestigious magazine means a lot and helps them with the grieving process. However, David also contacts the Funeral Director as a matter of courtesy. Most Funeral Directors never even acknowledge the email, however, Peter Wicks of E. Sargeant & Sons not only acknowledged the email he went out and bought copies.
Whilst David was working in his garage, dismantling the display from a Denmead funeral, Peter left a message on David’s answer phone. Peter said that he was most impressed with the magazine articles, however, another opportunity may exist for the 1950 Leyland Beaver as a ‘Scrap Man’ had passed away in Maidenhead.
When the Deceased’s Daughter, Nicola walked into the E. Sargeant & Sons office she was thinking about booking a Horse Drawn Carriage for her Dad’s final journey because he had loved betting on horses and attending Race Meetings at Ascot. As Nicola was looking through the options in the Funeral Brochure, Peter Wicks drew her attention to the 1950 Leyland Beaver and provided positive comments about David Hall’s commitment to achieve high standards and his attention to detail. Nicola thought that the price for the lorry was quite reasonable and booked the Leyland Beaver for her Dad’s final journey, but not for the reason that Peter Wicks had suggested. The Deceased had never owned a lorry and had never held a Driving Licence. He had used friends and family to collect scrap and when no one could help him he used his Wheel Barrow. He collected metal, mainly copper, from households, consolidate items into loads in his garden and then use his Chillington black Wheel Barrow with a red wheel to transfer the loads of scrap to W N Thomas & Sons in Stoke Gardens, Slough.
When Nicola saw the picture of the Leyland Beaver she immediately envisaged a Wheel Barrow on the deck somehow fitting into the display of flowers. She thought that her choice would be most appropriate as her Dad’s business would had flourished if he had owned a lorry, however, for his funeral he would have something that he had always wanted but could never have.
David contacted Nicola to get details of the Florist who would create the Floral Tributes and she told him that it was likely that ‘DAD’, ‘GRANDAD’ and a 5 ft Coffin Spray would be ordered. David shared with Nicola his initial ideas on potential layout options, however, Nicola’s first thoughts were confined to what she had seen in a hearse with ‘Name’ Floral Tributes positioned either side of the coffin. David said, ‘What I drive is not a hearse it’s a lorry with a 21 foot deck and my plan would be to position the Floral Tributes so that everyone can see them. Have you got any special requests you want me to include?’ Nicola then told David about her Dad using a Wheel Barrow and asked if David could provide one for the funeral. Fortunately Nicola had looked at the Vintage Lorry Funerals website, saw how David had secured Wheel Barrows in previous funerals (Portchester & Guildford) and could visualise what David was suggesting when he asked for a head & shoulders picture of the Deceased. David’s plan was to secure a Wheel Barrow, exactly like the Deceased’s, against the headboard and then position an enlarged laminated picture of the Deceased between the handles, so that it would seem like that the Deceased was holding his own Wheel Barrow. 

David spoke with Tracy of Hearts & Flowers in Datchet who confirmed what Nicola had ordered, however, there was also a 19 inch Horse Shoe Floral Tribute. David sent Tracy an email of a sketch of a Horse Shoe and asked her to provide a number of measurements so that he could make a wooden stand which would mirror the shape of the Horse Shoe. In this way the ‘Horse Shoe’ Floral Tribute would appear to be floating unsupported, as David had previously done for funerals in Orpington, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Ely.

Given that the main Floral Tribute was the ‘DAD’ David was determined to keep the Support Structure in front of the coffin no wider than the ‘DAD’ and this meant finding a way to secure the Wheel Barrow with minimal support beneath it. David’s wife was able to edit the image that Nicola had sent to the size David required for the display and then Vintage Lorry Funerals’ Support Partner, Tech Office, in Trowbridge, laminated the picture. It was also fortuitous that David was able to find a Chillington Wheel Barrow exactly like the one used by the Deceased and the person who owned it was very pleased to help David and loaned it to him for the funeral.
David had all that he needed, apart from measurements taken from the coffin. As he was planning to work on building the Support Structures on Saturday, he sent an email to Peter Wicks. Normally Funeral Directors close for business on Friday afternoon at 1630 hours and don’t open again until 0830 hours on the Monday morning, so David didn’t expect a reply to his email before Monday noon. However, when David put on the computer on Sunday morning he was shocked to see an email from Peter Wicks which provided the measurements David required and it was certainly a first for a Funeral Director responding over a weekend.
Normally Funerals are in the late morning or early afternoon and David makes an early start, arrives at the Funeral Directors before the morning rush hour has started and often returns to Bradford-on-Avon before the evening rush hour starts. However, with the Slough funeral being in the late afternoon it was evident that the Leyland Beaver would hit the evening rush hour on the journey home and the plan was to fix the start time to miss the morning rush hour. So David left home at 0600 hours and encountered more traffic on the A342 than he normally does when he leaves an hour earlier. When it proved difficult to get vehicles past David looked for a lay bye, a bus stop or the wide entrance to an industrial estate to pull off the road for a minute and let a stream of cars get on their way. The Leyland Beaver pulled into Basingstoke to catch the last remnants of the morning rush hour and there was minimal traffic on the A30, A322, A332 enabling the lorry to arrive in E. Sargeant & Sons yard by 1015 hours.
The staff members at E. Sargeant & Sons were pleased to see David and Peter Wicks showed David the location of the hot tap and he spent the next 90 minutes washing the vintage lorry which had got dirty during the journey. Just about that time the Heart & Flowers van pulled into the yard with every Floral Tribute apart from the ‘GRANDAD’. Amanda asked where should she put the flowers and David suggested that they went straight onto the deck and into their Support Structures. David said, ‘It is always best to handle the flowers as little as possible’ as he placed the ‘Horse Shoe’ on its stand. Amanda was amazed how David had made the wooden structure so it was hidden by the flowers. As David was lowering the ‘DAD’ onto its stand Jose, the Limousine Driver, said ‘I know that it will fit first time, this man is very organised.’ Jose then made David a cup of tea, however, his key role was to help assemble the ‘GRANDAD’ which arrived as 4 and 3 lettered words. Amanda then did something amazing, she gave David two chrysanthemum flowers to take with him in case any flowers should pop out of the oasis bases during transit and it was the first time a Florist had ever shown so much care. 

Tony the Hearse Driver asked David if he knew the best way to get to the house in Maidenhead and used his local knowledge to improve David’s suggestion, eliminating Dual Carriageways by going through Eton. Unbeknown to David the route involved a sharp right which took the cortege past Eton School and David smiled as he saw young gentlemen in their gowns. Coming from a very humble background in Easington Colliery it is the nearest that he would ever get to Eton. A number of the young gentlemen were gathered on a zebra crossing and looked expectantly that the cortege would stop to let them across but it didn’t. As David cruised past he said, ‘Sorry to disappoint you boys, this is a funeral and we don’t stop for anyone!’
The cortege went over a cattle grid and the road went over a grass common area. A cyclist was wobbling on the road ahead, Tony in the Hearse just missed the cyclist and it was evident to David that there wouldn’t be enough space for the Leyland Beaver and the cycle between the kerb and a road island. With no oncoming traffic David elected to go the wrong way around the road island and his actions ensured that the cyclist was safe.
The Family were delighted to see the Leyland Beaver and the layout of the deck that David had created. A young Great Grandson showed interest in the lorry and David, after gaining the boy’s Dad’s permission, lifted the 8 year old into the cab and sat him behind the giant steering wheel for a short while.
As David approached the church he was most concerned that someone had parked two cars exactly where he and Tony needed to park to off-load the coffin. However, David needn’t have been worried because quickly Brian and his colleague, both E. Sargeant & Sons employees, jumped into the cars, which had been positioned to protect the space, and drove them into the side road. David quoted Hannibal Smith of the A Team and said, ‘I really love it when a plan comes together.’
There was a delay in off-loading the coffin as the cortege had arrived early. The Second Limousine Driver Lee said, ‘I wish it would rain then the Vicar will start the service early,’ and he got his wish. Hearing these words David thought of the Temptation’s song ‘I wish it would rain’. Rain started to fall as the coffin was off-loaded and the intensity grew during the service, however, it seemed to ease as the coffin was positioned back on the deck for the interment in Oakley Green Cemetery.
David left the cemetery at 1615 hours as the traffic was building and he hit the main rush hour traffic on the A322. As David was sitting in stationary traffic he had his second sandwich of the day and whilst he sat on the A30 at Camberley he had some coffee from his flask. The weather improved at Basingstoke and the deck was almost dry when he got home. Coming up the street behind David was a car with it’s headlights on and David was temporarily blinded as the light dazzled in his wing mirror. David stopped the Leyland Beaver and was just about to give the driver a stern talking to, when David’s wife who was waiting at the entrance to their drive, intervened to ask the man to use his side lights only. This was the best solution as David had been on the road for almost 15 hours and his tolerance was low.
Once the Leyland Beaver was safely into its garage David inspected the condition of the deck for dryness and found the two Chrysanthemum flowers still positioned loosely in their flower tray. David gave these to his wife and said they were a present from Hearts & Flowers as they were never needed as replacements in the cemetery.
As David had a bowl of soup at 2100 hours he told his wife how nice the Family and Funeral Director’s Staff had been with him.

The following morning David and his wife washed the lorry, however, as they were having a cup of coffee a sudden storm started and David ran, jumped into the Leyland Beaver and reversed quickly into the garage. David’s wife doesn’t reckon she has seen David move so swiftly saying, ‘That was like the start of the old 24 hour Le Mans car race!’            

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

A Funeral in Denmead


Most of Vintage Lorry Funerals trips involve an early start with the Leyland Beaver rolling out of Bradford-on-Avon in the dark. The journey to Denmead was no exception departing at 0500 hours on an August day when dawn was just about to break.
David enjoys the early starts as he witnesses sights that most people don’t see. It is magnificent when the top of the sun peeks above the horizon and then slowly emerges into an orange football. David has 1950 styled sun-shades that clip onto his spectacles that can be flipped up during normal conditions, but flipped down in bright sunlight. Often in the early morning David sees animals and on this trip he had a rabbit trying to outrun the Leyland Beaver in Holt. However, the most surprising sight was a herd of White Belted Galloway cows near junction 9 of the M3, some 500 miles from home.
The other amazing thing about early morning starts is that in David’s experience people are more courteous. At fuel stations where David stops to buy a paper he can find Scaffolders who will hold the door back for you and White Van men who will say ‘after you’ as you both approach the newspaper rack.
The funeral in Denmead was Vintage Lorry Funerals first for South Downs Funeral Services, a company started by Paul Lee-Bapty in 2011 and he has built up a successful business in both Denmead and Wickham by operating services at the highest quality. In David’s experience there is a huge difference between someone who conducts a funeral for a large organisation as opposed to the man who owns the company.
Initially David was worried how well he and Paul would get along, however, his concerns were unwarranted.  On the day of the funeral David saw that Paul’s determination to achieve the highest service levels were no different to his own.

Paul wanted David to reverse the Leyland Beaver into his driveway, however, David decided to leave the lorry on the street, a decision that would later prove beneficial. As David was preparing the lorry deck to receive the flowers and coffin a number of passersby expressed interest and took a Vintage Lorry Funerals Business Card. These individuals included:-
  • A man was returning from the Newsagents, who used to work for Calor Gas, a company which used Leyland Beavers for deliveries.
  • A man asked to shake David’s hand, having seen and read articles about funerals in many magazines.
  • A Scotsman in a car stopped and commented how well the lorry looked. He had maintained Leyland 600 engines in the 1950’s.
  • A car driver stopped twice, once to take a Business Card and the second time to say how wonderful the lorry looked with the coffin loaded and flowers either side.
  • A young mum struggling with a pushchair and an energetic youngster was given a card after her son was transfixed by the lorry.
   David found it interesting that the South Downs email address doesn’t start with info@ or mail@ but care@ and David saw a high level of care demonstrated when Paul started to page the lorry from his premises.
In a display that in David’s opinion had a strong military feel and perhaps a small piece of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, Paul commenced the paging process by bowing towards the radiator of the Leyland Beaver. Instead of turning and walking forwards like everyone else in the funeral world, Paul stepped backwards and used the fingers on his outstretched arms to entice the Leyland Beaver out of the side road like a Lion Tamer controlling a Lion, but having no whip. Paul continued to walk backwards still beckoning the Leyland Beaver until he reached the white line in the middle of the road. With the Leyland Beaver positioned halfway out of the side road, the traffic moving toward Portsmouth was brought to a standstill on the B2150. Paul seemed unconcerned about the traffic travelling from Portsmouth which was speeding past his back, only inches away.
Paul then enacted a military turn, faced the oncoming traffic, stopped it and then continued to page in the traditional way. The military feel was also exhibited at the crematorium. When the coffin was about to be off-loaded two South Down’s men were next to the lorry, and another two were standing next to their vehicles. Paul then called out the name of one of his men standing next to his vehicle and the man then quickly walked to the lorry. Paul then called out the name of the remaining South Downs man still with his vehicle and he then also walked quickly towards the lorry.
The four South Downs men then positioned themselves into two rows of two, facing each other either side of the coffin. Paul then joined them, he faced the head of the coffin and bowed. Paul and the two men either side of the coffin then took one step away from the edge of the lorry in a synchronised way taking the coffin with them. On Paul’s command he and the two men took a further step away from the edge of the lorry, whilst the two remaining men took one step forward and touched the coffin. At this point the coffin was about 4 feet beyond the roller and with Paul’s next command everyone took a further step away from the lorry edge and the coffin was now in their hands and was held at the same height as it had been on the lorry. None of Paul’s staff spoke at any stage and you could have heard a pin drop before Paul’s command and the coffin was then lifted to shoulder height.

It was a fantastic spectacle, however, some people in the funeral world have no doubt been disrespectful about Paul’s paging and conducting style. David was impressed with the level of theatre that Paul had created and he reflected that Paul and David were not that far apart in their aims to do their absolute best for a family. In the past David has been asked to dress like Fred Dibnah, to talk like Fred Dibnah and at a funeral in Guildford David was asked to be Fred Dibnah!
On the way home David encountered queuing traffic on the M3 between junction 11 and 9 with a high volume of vehicles wanting to be on the A34 on this Friday afternoon. On the A342 David tried to get cars past whenever possible but once a queue of at least 10 cars were trapped behind the lorry at 30 m.p.h. David looked for a lay-bye. This is something that modern Lorry Drivers won’t do and some people think that David is a Knight of the Road, but David dismisses this concept saying it is only commonsense. In David’s experience he can upset some of the people some of the time but it is best not to upset all of the drivers all of the time, because frustrated drivers can attempt dangerous things. Once David pulled into the lay-bye 10 cars sped past, two or three gave a friendly toot of their horn as a ‘thank you’ but there is always one who will put his or her hand out of the window and make an offensive gesture.
The traffic was gridlocked on the Melksham bypass due to rush hour traffic and David got home at 1730 hours but the drama didn’t end there. David’s wife always walks down the street to guide David as he tries to manoeuvre around obstructively parked cars. However, on this occasion David’s wife noticed that a young toddler had escaped from a garden in Highfield and had wandered out onto Woolley Street where cars speed up the hill in a rat run to get out onto the Bath road. Luckily David’s wife acted swiftly and plucked the young child out of harms way just in time as a car raced by. David arrived two minutes later and was oblivious to what had just happened. In the garage after his wife had checked that the brake lights were working she told David what had nearly happened. David then thought what was worse, a child nearly killed by a car or parents who didn’t seem to comprehend the danger that their bundle of joy could have been in.  

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Slough & Hereford with only one working day between them


David Hall received a call from a Slough Funeral Director about using his lorry for a 31 year old who had lost his life in tragic circumstances on his river boat. Given the nature of the death the Coroner would be involved and there was no definite date for the funeral.
In addition the Deceased had been a Self Employed Carpenter and initially there appeared to be no logical reason for his family choosing the vintage lorry. Consequently the family didn’t commit at an early stage that they would like the 1950 Leyland Beaver, unlike when the lorry is chosen for someone whose life has been steeped in transport.
Around the same time David took a call on his mobile from a family in Hereford and, as part of the information he requires before working out a price, David asked had any decisions been made about the flowers. The Son of the Deceased said that there would be a ‘DAD’, a ‘Pillow’, a ‘Spray’ and a ring of vegetables. David’s ears pricked up and he asked about the significance behind the ‘Vegetable Ring’ and was given some background on an amazing man. Gordon had been a Lorry Driver who took over two allotments when he retired and gave any surplus fruit and vegetables to The Salvation Army Citadel which helps needy families in the area.
David at an early stage wanted to do something special for such a special man and he envisaged creating a ‘Cold Frame’ with the ‘DAD’ Floral Tribute depicting the glass and the ‘Vegetable Ring’ being prominently displayed at an angle in front of the ‘Cold Frame’. Vegetable gardening is not as popular today as it was in the frugal 50’s when David’s own Dad grew vegetables, giving huge carrots to his Brothers & Sisters insisting that he was just thinning out, and often saying ‘you can’t eat flowers’.
David thought that the display for Gordon’s final journey could be enhanced with a collection of tools, so David approached a number of his neighbours who provided a Spade, a Fork, a Rake, a Hoe, a Dibbler, a length of Hose and a Line.
Within a 2 hour period David received confirmation of his requirement in both funerals, with Slough on Thursday June 29th and Hereford on Monday July 3rd, both being in the afternoon and within the distance so that they could be undertaken in a day from Bradford-on-Avon.
David spoke with the Mother of the Deceased for the Slough funeral and she confirmed that her Son, Max, would have wanted a minimalistic display with just his coffin and a Coffin Spray.
So David had a dilemma of being committed to create an intricate display, with tools surrounding the Floral Tributes within one working day of returning from Slough Crematorium with a clear deck. Although there was the cushion of Saturday and Sunday, both working days to a Self Employed man, however, most people only work 5 days per week. There would be a lot of pressure on David to create a complicated display within an 8 hour window if he needed any assistance from other people. There would also potentially be extra Floral Tributes from more distant Family members who would expect their flowers to be treated the same as the rest of the Family and this may lead to a re-evaluation of the display structure. David deemed that it was too risky to do it all in one day, so he did what he has previously done in the past.
He decided to build the display for the second funeral first, document it, dismantle it, and store each element in the sequential order of loading. The deck was then vacuumed for the first funeral in Slough and David’s wife did her exquisite job of polishing the lorry, in the same manner that she does for each funeral.
The Slough Funeral Director provided a picture of Max, that was destined for the Order of Service leaflet and the Vintage Lorry Funerals’ Support Partner enlarged it and laminated it. David, cognisant that Max had been a Carpenter, built a wooden structure to enable the picture to be positioned on the Headboard.

The journey to Slough initially went well with a 0500 hours starting time meaning little traffic in Wiltshire and David got past Basingstoke for 0730 hours. Everything was going well until David encountered a wall of stationary traffic at Bagshot. Mission Control, David’s wife, sent him a text, ‘M3 closed, all traffic diverted onto A30’. Cars were turning round in front of the Leyland Beaver and no doubt finding some narrow back lane to avoid the hold up, however, it wasn’t advisable for David to undertake such a risky venture. He felt that the traffic would eventually clear allowing him to be at the Funeral Directors for 0915 hours and David wasn’t wrong. After loosing 40 minutes in queuing traffic David took the A322 and then the A332 into Windsor passing Legoland on the left.
As David was waiting to load the coffin he was struggling to understand why his lorry had been chosen for the funeral. When a 31 year old passes away with a Glastonbury Ticket in his pocket a Funeral Director would normally expect that a Family may opt for the VW Camper Hearse rather than a 68 year old lorry driven by a 65 year old man.
Then a man and a lady came to talk to David following their visit to see Max and it transpired that it was Max’s Dad and his Partner, who were both unaware that David’s lorry would be used for Max’s final journey. David pointed to Max’s picture on the Headboard and he told them that he always tries to personalise a funeral. The Partner was a lovely Irish lady who looked at the rear square number-plate not realising what it was because most modern cars have rectangular number-plates. She then said to David, ‘What is the significance of the 610? I can see how that MXV closely resembles Max’s initials, but why 610?’
Max’s Dad explained that the sign was in fact the lorry’s number-plate and MXV 610 was the registration number. The Partner said that a wrist band with MV on it would be worn by Max’s cousin Anthony Watson who was representing the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand.
So as David left the Crematorium he reflected that his lorry had been chosen in the past for people who didn’t want a black hearse, for people who were too big to fit into a black hearse and some people who liked blue or red or the combination of both colours. However, now David believed that someone may have chosen the lorry perhaps solely for its registration number or is it a case of ‘Just my Imagination running away with me’, a song made famous by The Temptations.
The construction of the Gardener’s Theme went well on the Friday, in part helped by the pre-fabrication of the ‘Cold Frame’ the previous weekend. In fact the first fix was completed by 1500 hours but then David received a call about an extra Floral Tribute, a 15 inch ‘Open Heart’ from one of the Grandchildren who was close to Gordon. So David offered to position the ‘Open Heart’ between the ‘DAD’ and the picture of Gordon that was projecting out from a Produce Tray, like the kind he would have put his seed potatoes in, whilst they were sprouting. David saw that two lengths of 5 inch x 2 inch timber that had a 45 degrees cut at one end, which had been previously used as the Support Structure for a ‘Butterfly’ Floral Tribute, would be ideal to make the ‘Open Heart’ Floral Tribute appear to float.
On the Saturday morning as David was completing the second fix, including identification of which plastic fasteners to take for each Floral Tribute, another email arrived from the Florist. It contained a diagram detailing measurements for the ‘Open Heart’ and notification of a late order for a ‘Teddy Bear’. The Florist sent a further email within the hour with a sketch of the ‘Teddy Bear’ noting the key dimensions. David has never met a company like Hillman’s Florist whose staff were so helpful despite being incredibly busy on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily there was just enough room to position the ‘Teddy Bear’ next to the Spade.

Bayley Brothers Funeral Directors in Hereford were excellent. Being based in narrow side street with rows of terraced housing either side, some people that David knew in Hereford thought that there was a chance that the Vintage Lorry couldn’t get into or out of the street. Roger Bayley explained that he would endeavour to protect the space around his location, however, if cars were parked obstructively then an arrangement was in place to transfer the coffin and flowers onto the Leyland Beaver in the additional car park at Hereford Crematorium.
The Leyland Beaver left Bradford-on-Avon at 0545 hours and was on the south side of Hereford by 0815 hours, where David took a 45 minute break in The Bunch of Carrots car park whilst the rush hour traffic subsided. David progressed to Cotterell Street and found that Bayley Brothers had parked cars on the street which enabled the Leyland Beaver to park in front of the Funeral Directors. As David was fixing the Floral Tributes to their support structures a lady, two doors down from the Funeral Director, came out to speak with David. David was expecting the lady to complain that he had taken her parking position, however, she said, ‘You are creating a most exquisite display, are you a member of the Family?’  David explained that he did funerals for a living and handed the lady a Vintage Lorry Funerals Business Card. She then said, ‘I can’t believe that someone employed would take so much time and effort to get the flowers just right with everything lined up with the ‘A’ in ‘DAD’ being the centre line and the flowers appearing to float.’
The Family were very pleased with David’s efforts and a large crowd was gathered at The Salvation Army Citadel.

Gordon was laid to rest, with his favourite Hoe alongside him in the coffin, near where he lived as a child in Peterchurch to the east of Hereford on the way to Hay-on-Wye. Parking outside the Church presented a challenge, however, David got out of the cab, discussed a plan of action with the Funeral Director and then told everyone what they needed to do to prevent an obstruction on the main road. It was most touching how each Family member stepped forward to take their Floral Tribute off David, before Family bearers took the coffin to the cemetery.
The return journey took the Leyland Beaver south through Monmouth and then down the Wye Valley to Chepstow and onto Severn View Service where David took a 45 minute break to let the rush hour traffic subside. David arrived home at 1945 hours and a young boy in his Father’s arms waved to David as he reversed in off the street at the end of a 14 hour day.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

A Long Lead Time for the Leyland Beaver in Highworth


The Highworth Funeral involved the longest timescale yet experienced, from confirmation of the booking to the date of the funeral was 35 days in total.
David submitted a price for a Highworth funeral on May 12th and received a call on his mobile on May 16th to say that the funeral would be on June 20th. David said to the Funeral Arranger, ‘Haven’t you got the wrong date, surely you mean May 20th?’ There was no mistake and the 1415 hours booking slot at Swindon Crematorium was advised.
David was astounded at the length of time before the funeral day and this was far beyond anything he had experienced in the past 16 years. Sometimes a long lead time can result from:-
  • Families can struggle to get a particular person to conduct the service.
  • Relatives can only fly in from America on a specific day.
  • Sometimes holidays fall at the wrong time and can’t be changed
  • Some family members choose to have a holiday before a funeral!
 The Highworth funeral lead time was not due to any of the above factors and the reason is not known. David spoke to the Widow about the flowers and treaded very carefully about the lengthy lead time in case she was unhappy about it, however, she was happy with the timescale.
David has found from his experience that a lead time beyond 7-10 days can give certain families members time to think about how the funeral could be personalised and the Highworth funeral was no exception. The Widow asked if David could accommodate within his design a Sack Barrow and sacks as her Husband had delivered bags of animal feed in the 1960’s before the advent of bulk deliveries.
Rather than trying to design securement techniques remotely, a meeting between David, the Widow and her Brother-in-Law was arranged for the sack Barrow to be handed over. This was just as well because it was an original Slingsby Sliding Wheel Sack Barrow from the 1940’s and it was extremely heavy. David explained that the price he had given to the Funeral Director was for carrying the coffin and flowers only and the creation of a ‘Sack Barrow Theme’ would involve addition time and required an additional premium, which the Widow understood.
So David was left with the challenge of how to secure the antique Sack Barrow and making it highly visible for all to see and become the main focal point in the area in front of the coffin. The solution involved David designing a rear end of a 1960’s Rigid with a ‘TERRY 1’ number plate and a ‘CAUTION AIR BRAKES’ sign. The Sack Barrow was secured to the 1960’s flat-bed Theme using wooden clamps and it was also fixed to the Headboard of the 1950 Leyland Beaver.

David’s wife received a group photograph that included the Deceased and she skilfully cropped it and it was laminated by one of Vintage Lorry Funerals Support Members.
The Highworth Funeral Director is situated in a cul-de-sac and the yard is a tight 90 degree turn off a narrow road and the best way to approach the yard was by reversing in off a very busy main road. When undertaking such a potentially dangerous manoeuvre, it is paramount to attempt it when no one else is around so an early start was planned.
Working out the route was simple because Trowbridge, near to Bradford-on-Avon, is on the same road as Highworth the old A361, although an extra 4 is added as the road winds through Swindon. The old road numbering system is based on the hands of a clock with London being the centre of the clock, Newcastle is at 12 o’clock and the A1 runs from London to Newcastle and beyond to Edinburgh. The A2 runs from London to Dover and the A3 runs from London to Portsmouth and roads in the sector between the A2 and A3 all start with a 2, so the A20 runs from London to Folkestone, the A21 runs from London to Hastings and the A22 runs from London to Eastbourne. The A361, however, breaks the rules because it starts in Daventry and goes all the way to Barnstaple!
David left Bradford-on-Avon at 0515 hours and was in Swindon by 0620 hours. The Magic Roundabout, near the Swindon Town Football Ground is only magic if no one is around and David found it deserted when the Leyland Beaver cruised anti-clock wise around the first mini roundabout in top gear. David arrived at Highworth at 0645 hours and reversed in off the main road with a modern Lorry Driver holding back the traffic. The width of the yard into which the lorry had to be reversed was extremely tight, in fact so tight that David couldn’t get his sandwiches out of storage box behind the nearside drive wheel, the gap between the lorry and the brick wall being less than 9 inches. Luckily a Coop Retail outlet next door came to his rescue, although David had to vary from his normal ham, cheese and pickle sandwich combination.          
Julie, of the Memorial Department upstairs, was the first to arrive at 0735 hours and offered David a cup of tea. Vickie, also from the Memorial Department, was the next to arrive and kindly offered David the use of a private office which was a most welcomed gift on a day when ambient temperatures were 30 degrees. David used the time to write this blog and also plan out the next two funerals which were within 3 working days at the end of June and the beginning of July. Dianne from Highworth Funerals was next in at 0820 hours, her first day back from holiday, however, despite landing at a very early hour she did get the chance to make a Chocolate cake which she does for every funeral day. David  tried a piece, which was offered by Paula, who spoke with a lovely Canadian lilt. David told Dianne the cake was exquisite, but he kept his distance from Paula, who had a cold, as Self Employed people can never be ill.

Jo, who conducted the Funeral was excellent, she had no trouble getting in and out of the cab, which was commendable given her short stature, and she was very communicative advising David precisely what she wanted him to do. The cortege brought Highworth High Street to a standstill and stopped outside the Beds ‘N’ Baskets Shop that the Deceased ran with his wife.

Coming back through Swindon David got an unexpected present, he came across a Breeze Fuel Station which was card only with no attended staff, offering a saving of 6 pence per litre on current prices and the forecourt was deserted. David often finds small retail sites with cheap fuel, however, the queues are too long, regularly funnelling back onto the roadway and stopping the traffic. However, on two occasions in Wakefield and Swindon David has found card only fuel stations that were not only staff less but also customer less. Far be it for David to question the strategy of ‘Card Only’ fuel stations however it does seem odd that the two he has visited were in less affluent areas where perhaps only a small proportion of the people have a credit card.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Basingstoke Festival of Transport


With the Kelsey Media decision to merge The Classic Commercials Enthusiasts Show with The Tractor Show, David Hall looked for a new venue to widen the awareness of Vintage Lorry Funerals.
Having been to the Basingstoke Festival of Transport many years ago and had funeral referrals from people looking at his pictures, David, in May 2017 decided to renew his allegiance to the show which is held on The War Memorial Park in the middle of the Hampshire town. The Basingstoke Festival of Transport is run by The Thornycroft Society in recognition of the town being the manufacturing location of Thornycroft vehicles from 1897 to 1977.
David spoke to Tom Mansbridge in The Thornycroft Society to check that there would be no problems with the Leyland Beaver deck having an exhibition of 24 pictures from previous funerals. A phone call to John Bond established that the gates would be open at 0800 hours and David confirmed that he would be there around 0815 hours.

The Leyland Beaver left Bradford-on-Avon at 0600 hours on Sunday May 14th and the roads were very quiet. After collecting a paper from Popham Services on the A303, David was at the entrance gate in Crossborough Hill at 0810 hours, and the Leyland Beaver was one of the first lorries on site. Luckily the Marshall positioned the Beaver next to the walkway within the circle of stalls, selling everything from plants for gardens through to parts for vintage lorries. David looked up and saw that the line of portaloos was only 100 yards away and he envisaged that a good footfall of visitors would be passing the Leyland Beaver, and David wasn’t wrong.  Below are examples of the people who stopped to talk to David and take a Vintage Lorry Funerals Business Card.
Before the gates opened to the public at 1100 hours, a number of owners of vintage lorries came to see the 1950 Leyland Beaver, including John Doe from Ash who has a similar vehicle to David. John & David spoke about spare parts that are required to run Vintage Lorry Funerals.
One member of the public came forward to shake David’s hand, explaining that he had taken a picture of him in action in Dart Road in Farnborough in July 2015. David immediately recalled that it was Jamie Madden’s funeral, a very sad send off for a young man killed under his own car. The gentleman who took the picture explained that he used to work for the BBC and he promised to email David a picture, once he had been able to find it!
Later in the day one of the Funeral Bearers at Jamie Madden’s funeral came forward and introduced himself. He was a former Police Officer who had been trained to visit families to inform them that a close relative had been killed in a road crash and this empathetic skill set has proved most useful in the funeral world.
An elderly man with a white stick and a younger companion stopped to talk to David. The man was 93 and had previously worked at Thornycroft in the administration department. Once David understood that the gentleman was not partially sighted but totally blind, he took him by the hand and led him to the front of the Leyland Beaver. David then guided the man’s fingers over the chrome BEAVER letters and he spelt out, ‘ B E A..oh it’s a Beaver! There should be Leyland above it with wings either side.’ So David guided his hand further up the Radiator cover and the gentleman smiled. David asked if he could place a business card in the man’s top pocket suggesting that he should give it to someone who needs it. The elderly gentleman said, ‘That someone will be me.’

One lady looked at the Lone Range & Tonto on the replica 1950’s TV set and said ‘Clayton Moore & Jay Silverheels.’
Roy from Kent and his mate John expressed an interest in how David uses reclaimed timber to create support structures for the Floral Tributes. David said that the most significant use of previously discarded material was the 1950 Leyland Beaver. David explained that lorries that had run up and down the country in the 1950’s were put off the road overnight in the 1960’s. Construction & Use legislation failed the ratchet hand-brake of the Leyland Beaver, the 7ft 6 inches wide deck was too narrow for sea going containers and the top speed of 30 mph was deemed too slow for the forth coming motorways. David said that one of the Leyland Beaver’s biggest perceived weaknesses in the 1960’s was now one of its greatest strengths as the 7ft 6 inch width is ideal for the gates of most cemeteries.
David was attempting to draw a comparison between Vintage Lorry Funerals and Motown Music where Berry Gordy had found a new use for Jazz Musicians whose heyday had been in the 1950’s. David said to Roy, ‘Everyone knows about Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye but most people have not got a clue with regards to who played the instruments.’ John then interjected, ‘ Dave, it was the Funk Brothers. Earl Van Dyke on piano, James Jamerson on bass, Benny Benjamin on drums, Robert White on guitar, Jazz Musicians in the 1950’s who were used by Motown to produce that unmistakeable sound. So Barry Gordy did the same as you did Dave taking something from the 1950’s that had been written off in the 1960’s and finding a new use that couldn’t have been evident at the time’ David thought that he couldn’t have put it better himself. John then explained that he was in a Rhythm & Blues band.
Roy told David that he worked for McLaren Racing and he agreed with David that he modern Racing Drivers weren’t the same standard as Jim Clark in the 1960’s and Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950’s. Roy recalled how Fangio had arrived at the start of the 24 hour Le Mans race, where two drivers take shifts to drive one car, only to find that his Co- Driver had not arrived. So Fangio decided to drive non stop for 24 hours and he won the race because he saved time not having to stop to change drivers. His great weakness proved to be his greatest strength. David confirmed that this was also his understanding and when the hot sweat was dripping down Fangio’s back he pretended that it was cold water from an alpine stream. Roy said that it was all about mental strength and David explained that long distance funerals often involved him off-loading the coffin at the crematorium and then having an 8 hour drive home.  On the way home, David goes through towns during the evening rush hour, incurring the wrath of motorists and a total shift of 15 hours. David needs a touch of Fangio’s mental strength as the concentration during a 15 hour shift is immense. Imagine if you are going into work at 0900 hours and you are still there and about to leave at 2400 hours!

Bob Ledger spoke to David about his love of Leyland Lorries that he had driven in the 1970’s. So strong was his love for Leyland Lorries that his Mum knitted him a jumper with LEYLAND emblazoned across the chest. David asked if he could take his photograph for this blog and Bob asked if he could have a copy of the picture sent to him through the post as he didn’t have a computer. Bob offered to pay for the postage but David declined the offer saying that he would gladly do this once he had finished preparing for his next funeral.

The van parked in front of David bore the logo, Service, Civility and Satisfaction which was used on a local delivery vehicle from a village store in Hurstpierpoint. Civility is a word from the 1950’s which is seldom exhibited in today’s brash culture. However, David thought that the order was wrong, surely it should be Civility, Service and Satisfaction! 

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Almost Three Steps from Heaven


At the beginning of April each year David Hall enters the 1950 Leyland Beaver in the C.T.P. (Commercial Transport in Preservation) Three Wiltshire White Horse Road Run which encompasses the White Horses at Westbury, Alton Barnes and Cherhill, on the A4, near Calne.

C.T.P. is an organisation for anyone interested in historic commercial vehicles, with meetings each month featuring talks from interesting speakers and 5 events each year when owners take their vehicle out on the road.
For David it provides an opportunity to spend a day with Stuart Smith, whose Father had his final journey on the Leyland Beaver two years ago. It is also an opportunity for members of the public to see the vintage vehicles on the road and sometimes coverage of the Road Run in the Wiltshire Times broadens the awareness of Vintage Lorry Funerals. David also likes to speak with fellow enthusiasts who run similar vehicles. Around 30 vehicles were on the 2017 Road Run ranging in size from a small Morris former Post Office van through to the gigantic Eight Wheeled Atkinson and Draw Bar Trailer, driven by Tony Thompson.

David also uses the Road Run to exhibit one of his funeral Themes and in 2017 it was a 1950’s TV Set with The Lone Ranger & Tonto on the screen.
David was first at the start point at Warminster and Mary Bailey, C.T.P. Events Organiser, is always pleased that David can create time between funerals to take part in Road Runs.
A number of vintage vehicles arrived and one member of the public complimented David on the cleanliness of the Leyland Beaver. The man said, ‘This Road Run is a fine opportunity for these vehicles to get out onto the roads once each year.’ David replied, ‘Actually my lorry is out and about 3 or 4 times each month’ and at the same time he handed the man a Vintage Lorry Funerals Business Card. The man was flabbergasted that he could have his final journey on the Leyland Beaver and he asked if he could keep the card, swiftly putting it into his wallet.
Stuart Smith arrived with his daughter Sara and they were pleased to see David again. Sara was worried that she had parked her car in the wrong place, which had been earmarked for Road Run vehicles by the C.T.P. Marshals, buzzing around in their hi-vis vests. David told Sara, in front of her Dad, not to worry about where the car was parked stressing, ‘Sara, a good looking woman is never parked in the wrong spot!’
The route involved going through small villages with very narrow streets and parked cars often providing obstacles. However, the biggest problems arose from inexperienced drivers who were unsure of the width of their cars. On a number of occasions David would pull into the side and invite oncoming cars to come through the gap, however, the inexperienced drivers would stop, unsure of what to do next. On one occasion a driver panicked, decided to reverse but stalled the car and then couldn’t easily start it again. The driver also had very poor reversing skills and eventually stopped forcing David to negotiate a tight gap, even narrower than the gap David had offered earlier to the driver. Stuart complimented David on his exemplary manners and demeanour towards other road users.

Stuart and David decided to stop for their sandwiches on the A4 in a lay-bye opposite Solsbury Hill and Stuart commented how lucky they were to find such a spot, saying, ‘People come from all over the world to park here and see this ancient burial mound’. Within 5 minutes a large Mercedes Benz pulled in front of the Leyland Beaver and out stepped a well dressed man in his 40’s and an olive skinned young lady, who showed interest in the lorry. She asked if she could take a picture and explained that in her homeland, Sri Lanka, similar lorries are still on the road. David gave the young lady a Vintage Lorry Funerals Business Card, explained the lorry’s use and invited her to look at the 1950’s TV Set Theme. David said that some of the words that Tonto said are still relevant 60 years on, like “White man speak with forked tongue”. The olive skinned young lady then looked very sternly at her companion and David felt guilty that he had stumbled on a sensitive area.
As Stuart and David were having their lunch David pointed out some of the changes he had made to the Leyland Beaver since Stuart was last in the cab. Included, was the picture of David’s Grandson, who sadly passed away aged 15 months on June 9th 2014, and the laminated picture of him smiling is now fixed above the windscreen on the right hand side of the wiper motor.
Coming through a wooded area just after Seend there was a massive bang with something falling from the sky and hitting the Leyland Beaver. It all happened very quickly with David and Stuart seeing a black & white flash in front of the windscreen. David couldn’t stop with a number of vintage lorries travelling behind the Leyland Beaver, so he pulled into the next lay-bye.
Four other vehicles followed David into the lay-bye and the drivers rushed to check that David was alright. An external inspection revealed that the cab was dented just above the windscreen.
Tony Thompson who was driving an Eight Wheeled Atkinson and Drawbar trailer knows David from him undertaking Tony mate’s funeral in Chichester. Tony is an Eddie Cochran look-a-like at night and Lorry Driver by day. Tony looked inside the Leyland Beaver cab and said, ‘Dave, I don’t know who the little boy is, but he must be your Guardian Angel. I saw what happened, a huge branch fell from a tree and hit the top of the cab. If you had been half a second slower the branch would have come through the windscreen and you wouldn’t be doing someone’s funeral next week, someone would be doing your funeral. Eddie Cochran used to sing about Three Steps to Heaven but you Dave were only three inches from Heaven.’
David remarked that it was just like being back in the 1950’s when it was common place for other Lorry Drivers to stop and investigate if they could be of any assistance to a Lorry Driver broken down by the side of the road.
At the end of the Road Run at Crockerton Retail Park David laid out on the deck of the lorry three magazines featuring Obituary Articles that he had written, ranging in size from a quarter of a page, half a page and a two page spread. David said that only one of the families had thanked him for getting the article into the magazine and he asked Stuart and Sara to select which article had generated a response from the family. Sara chose the magnificent two page spread, however, her Dad chose the smallest article and Stuart was correct.
Tony Thompson asked if David was alright and offered to polish out the mark the branch had made on the cab. There was a suggestion from Mary Bailey, C.T.P. Events Organiser that next year the April 2nd date for The Three White Horse Road Run may have to move until later in the month. David mentioned to Tony that the Road Run should be moved to the Sunday nearest April 17th and Tony agreed, suggesting a small detour to Rowden Hill in Chippenham and stopping at the Eddie Cochran memorial.
Eddie Cochran performed his last concert at the Bristol Hippodrome on Saturday April 16th 1960. On Easter Sunday April 17th Eddie was in a taxi on its way to Heathrow, however, the car crashed on a bend on Rowden Hill and spun around into a concrete lamp post. The injuries that Eddie suffered were fatal and he passed away at 1610 hours in St. Martins Hospital Bath with his girl friend Sharon Sheeley by his bedside.
On Monday April 3rd David’s wife washed and polished the lorry whilst David dismantled the Theme and prepared the deck for a minimalistic funeral in Westbury on Tuesday April 4th. It was amazing that during the Sunday Road Run the 1950 Leyland Beaver had been past Arthur W. Mays, Funeral Director, in Warminster Road, Westbury four times and David commented to Stuart that the narrow alleyway seemed to be getting narrower each time the lorry went past the entrance.

On the Tuesday Arthur W. Mays staff stopped the traffic and gave David all the time he needed to reverse to the end of the drive. Anthony handed over a cheque inside a blank envelope and David thanked him for the cheque and for not writing on the envelope, which would enable David to reuse it. David thought to himself that Arthur had taught his men well. Since this funeral, Arthur has sadly passed away and the business is now run by Simon and Anthony.
Whilst the Leyland Beaver was being paged into Semington Crematorium, Trevor Porter, Photographer, popped out from behind a tree and a picture of David behind the wheel appeared in the Wiltshire Times the following week.
The second funeral in April was for Fred Stevens Funeral Directors in Nailsworth and the Deceased was one of the Bearers who had assisted David when he last worked there in 2010.
The Deceased had been a Model Collector with over 630 model vehicles, never out of their boxes, stored on shelves in a temperature controlled room, from which light had been excluded. David created a replica Model Toy Box and the Family were delighted with his efforts.

Two days before the funeral, David became aware of a massive hole that had been dug, but not re-filled, on the roadway into the Funeral Directors. David believes in providing solutions not problems so he brought with him lengths of 4 x 4 inches timber and created a ‘raft’ so that the 68 year old lorry could gently descend into the hole and then to climb out of it. The Deceased was a very practical guy and David felt that he was looking down and smiling as David gently manoeuvred the Leyland Beaver over the problem area.
The Deceased’s Family came to the Funeral Directors to see their Dad on the vintage lorry and they wanted a photograph of his wife and children in front of the coffin. The Eldest Daughter was organising the photo-shoot when she sadly realised the battery was low on her mobile phone. David stepped forward and offered to help saying, ‘Can I be of any assistance? I have something in the cab called a camera!’ Everyone laughed and this provides a good example of how David uses self deprecating humour to create a distraction for grieving families on their darkest day.
The crematorium selected on this Easter Saturday was Westerleigh, near Bristol, and the journey involved travelling 35 miles mainly down the A46. The first challenge was the very steep hill out of Nailsworth, however, assertive driving at the roundabout in the town centre enabled David to slip the 68 year old lorry into top gear and the old girl cruised up the hill at 25 m.p.h. Getting cars past in the early part of the journey wasn’t difficult with little traffic volumes and the long straight stretches of this former Roman Road. However, when the A433 from Tetbury joins the road the traffic density was increased. With over 50 cars trapped behind the Leyland Beaver at 30 m.p.h. David opted to pull over into a long lay-bye to let the cars past. Twenty cars roared past but the Driver of a grey Range Rover saw that David was coming towards the end of the lay-bye, he flashed his head lights twice and invited the Leyland Beaver, which was still in top gear, back onto the carriageway. The Range Rover was driven by someone attending the funeral, and he followed the Leyland Beaver all the way to the crematorium.
The Range Rover Driver introduced himself to David after the service and explained that he was also a Lorry Driver. David said that he had deduced that from what he had done on the A46. Not only because he had flashed the Leyland Beaver out of the lay-bye but he had also demonstrated his knowledge of Lorry Drivers’ Signalling Code, which was prevalent in the 1950s ( Two Short Flashes means you come out, but one long flash means hold back because I’m coming through).
Also at the Crematorium was a Photographic Student who took numerous pictures, one of which is exhibited below. David is indebted to Kieran Wakefield for allowing his images to be used to develop the awareness of Vintage Lorry Funerals.