Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Journey Down to Cornwall for a St. Austell Funeral

David Hall decided to increase the awareness of his service in 2011 by placing Business Cards in 20 Transport Cafes around Britain, including Woody’s Diner situated in the Stourton Cross Picnic Area just off the A30. David was recommended to contact Mrs Fay Long by Alan Kelso, now part of the management team at William Armstrong Longtown Ltd looking after the Livestock Fleet. 

David has known Alan for over 50 years as Alan’s Grandfather was Albert Kelso who owned Fellside Transport in Lazonby where David spent his holidays riding in the grey Leyland Beavers with red wings and Alan washed out the containers on a Saturday morning, in the yards in front of the garage or down the alley close to the fields. It was David’s exposure to Albert Kelso and his Leyland Beavers that led David to pursue a career in transport, to buy a 1950 Leyland Beaver when the opportunity arose and finally to start Vintage Lorry Funerals in 2002.
Back in the late 1980s Alan Kelso was on the road driving a 385 horse power F12 Volvo for T. Bell & Sons, Rosehill Estate, Carlisle, pulling a Double Deck Livestock Trailer. Alan would often take a load of 470 to 500 lambs, breeds ranging from Cheviots to Texels, to the abattoir of H.R. Jasper & Son at Launceston, wash out and then park up at Woody’s Diner overnight. In the morning Fay or her staff would cook his breakfast before Alan departed to collect Store Cattle from Taunton, Bridgewater, Highbridge or Chippenham loading up to 38 cattle for delivery to Cumbria or South West Scotland. Alan would take the load to Carlisle and if the trailer contained Cows destined for Saltcoats Abattoir, Alan would then hand over the rig to a second Driver, who was often his Dad, John Kelso. 

One day when Alan got to Woody’s Diner, at around 1500 hours, he found that there was a puncture on a trailer tyre and back in the day a Lorry Driver would change his own wheels. Unfortunately as Alan was standing on the extended wheel-brace, the wheel-brace slipped and Alan fell to the ground using his hand to break his fall. This resulted in a bad wound to his hand which was ingrained with road dirt. Fay Long was an angel, she picked out the grit, cleaned up the wound and bandaged it so Alan could get home. Alan will never forget the kindness Fay showed him over the years and he had no hesitation in recommending that David should contact Fay.
Woody’s Diner proved to be the best Transport Café at marketing Vintage Lorry Funerals as standard packs of 40 cards didn’t last long and after three replenishments of the Marketing Stand David sent up a bulk consignment of cards. It was understood that the throughput of cards was due in part to Fay’s personal invitation for customers to take a card from the box. Within 3 months David received his first opportunity from a card picked up from Woody’s Diner. A Builder from Bath was visiting his family in Cornwall and stopped at Woody’s Diner on the way home. Sadly within a short time the Builder passed away in his Brothers arms, caused by a heart problem which no one knew about. His Mother found the Vintage Lorry Funerals Card in his jacket pocket and his Sister contacted David to book the 1950 Leyland Beaver for April 20th 2011. 

David phoned Fay Long after the Bath funeral and offered to send her some flowers or chocolates, however, Fay didn’t want any thanks, and she was just pleased that the Builder’s demise was not due to her cooking!
On March 27th 2019 David was on his way to St Austell for a funeral and he called into Woody’s Diner to meet Fay Long and shake her hand. Fay followed David out to the lorry park to see the Leyland Beaver and she said that it looked as good as she had imagined from the picture on the Business Card. Fay declined the opportunity of a photograph in front of the lorry saying, ‘Maybe 20 years ago, but not now.’ 

David proceeded to St. Austell and found the Kwikfit location, where the Leyland Beaver would be parked undercover overnight, which was just around the corner from the Funeral Directors. David was talking to Stewart Yeo, Supervisor, about how he had popped in to see Fay at Woody’s Diner when Kevin Taylor, Manager, came across to speak to David. Kevin said, ‘It’s good to meet you, however, I have seen your lorry before. When you pay the bill in Woody’s Diner you are given the receipt and one of your Business Cards, and I have still got the card in my glove compartment.’

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

A funeral in Cherhill

In April most years David Hall enters the Leyland Beaver on the CTP Spring Road Run which involves a 100 mile trip around three White Horses in Wiltshire, the Westbury, Alton Barnes and Cherhill White Horses. Commercial Transport in Preservation is a group of Transport Enthusiasts who meet once per month in Salisbury, where the audience is entertained by Speakers on transport related topics. During the year CTP runs four road runs, the Gillingham Gathering in February, The Three White Horse Run in April, the Noggin Nash & Natter at Longbridge Deverill, on the A350, in July and a south coast run from Salisbury in the September.

Stuart Smith normally accompanies David on the Road Runs and he enjoys hearing about some of the amazing journeys that the Leyland Beaver has undertaken since he was last in the cab. In 2017 the Leyland Beaver went past Arthur Mays Funeral Home in Westbury four times on Sunday April 2nd twice during the CTP Spring Road Run and once travelling to Warminster for the start and once travelling home from the finish at Crockerton on the A350. At the start point David told Stuart that his next job was for Arthur Mays and the width of the entrance road seemed to get narrower each time he passed.

It was remarkable in April 2019 that the first funeral after the CTP Spring Road Run should be at Cherhill from a house from which the Cherhill White Horse could be seen. David had passed the entrance to the street as he trundled down the A4 towards Calne, however, he didn’t realise that he would receive a phone call from a Lady whose husband had passed away after 4 years in a Care Home.
The Funeral Director was situated in the middle of Calne and the location to load the coffin was in a small yard space behind Calne library and Stuart Smith was a great help as one of his Daughters works at the Library. David was sent pictures which demonstrated that a turning area existed and if this was clear then David could drive into the loading area and then reverse back into area behind the rear doors for the Funeral Director. This was a departure from the normal modus operandi in which David always reverses into a yard space from the main road, however, it would have created a high level of risk because the road through Calne is the busy A4 and the road around the library is often frequented by pedestrians taking a short cut to the town centre.
The Widow was worried about the width of the roads within Cherhill so David Hall went to Calne and Cherhill to provide solutions to the perceived problems. The direct road to the Church was too narrow, however, David suggested that the A4 could be used as it was a former three laned road at that point. It was also significant because during the 1950’s Leyland Motors positioned clocks on a tower by the roadside with ‘Leyland Motors for All Time’ spelt out with reflective squares and one of these clocks was erected at Cherhill.
When David checked out the area behind the library he was horrified to find a transit van parked in the loading area which was owned by a company that was servicing a door in the library. David spoke with the company and suggested in future the driver should leave a note in his window containing his mobile number so that the driver could be contacted if anyone should need the vehicle moved.
On the day of the funeral David was very concerned about whether or not someone would be parked in the loading bay and he turned right off the main A4 road, hoping that lady luck would be smiling on him. On turning the corner he found that the loading bay was clear, however, vans belonging to workmen attending to problems at the shops were parked in a way that would prevent David reversing out of the loading bay without any obstructions. David got out of the lorry and looked for any of the workmen to ask them to move their vans, however, no one could be found.
So David thought that if he could put the front of the Leyland Beaver right into the corner of the yellow hatched boxes of the loading bay there was a chance that he could turn it on a Sixpence and position the lorry between the van and the cars. The Leyland Beaver has an incredible lock, much better than any other classic or vintage lorry and MXV 610 has a Symms Injection Pump which has a unique feature that allows the lorry to gradually move when the engine is on tick-over. This allows David to concentrate fully on steering and when to apply full lock and when to release it.

The operation went according to plan with the lorry managing to fit between the van and the cars. As David was straightening up the Leyland Beaver the workmen returned and applauded because none of them thought that the manoeuvre David was attempting was even possible.
One of the workmen came forward to shake David’s hand because he had undertaken the funeral of Bob Hall in Trowbridge on September 21st in 2011 who was well known to the workman. The workman told David that people in Trowbridge still talk about his wonderful lorry and the magnificent job that David had done for Bob.
As numbers of squally showers were anticipated during the day, David used his see-through fly sheet to protect the deck during the journey from Bradford-on-Avon to Calne. Even though the journey was less than 20 miles the lorry needed a complete wash before the coffin was loaded and he knocked on the rear door of the Funeral Directors to request a small drop of hot water in his bucket. Unbeknown to David the Funeral Director’s location was not manned that morning and he had to speak to the café at the end of the terrace who were keen to help him. David was disappointed that he wasn’t told that the Funeral Director’s premises would be unmanned that morning because if he had known he would have brought two flasks with him, one with coffee and one with hot water for washing the lorry. David has used this technique a number of times when the coffin is transferred onto the lorry in some remote location.
Whilst the Leyland Beaver was waiting outside the house the heavens opened and the widow of the Deceased thanked David for his foresight in providing the sheet which kept the coffin completely dry. The family walked in front of the Leyland Beaver towards the church accompanied by the dog of the Deceased.

After the service in the church the Deceased was interred in the cemetery and the family members then thanked David for all that he had done. As David left the church and approached the A4 he had a wonderful sight of the Cherhill White Horse and the Lansdowne Monument.