Ha'way the LADs!

Nigel Robertshaw reminisces over his trips on the potato lorries in the mid-1960s and one vehicle in particular, the pride of the fleet, a LAD cabbed Albion Chieftain. The story continues with a look at the contemporary toys that feature the same distinctive Motor Panels ‘Vista Vue’, better known as the LAD cab…

 

 

I was fortunate in my youth because my best friend’s dad owned a wholesale fruit and veg merchant.

The mainstay of the business was the transportation of potatoes from the flatlands of Lincolnshire back to the depot in Bradford. From there the spuds were distributed to the then hundreds of (what we would now call ‘traditional’) fish and chip shops, to feed the insatiable appetite of the people of the industrial West Riding of Yorkshire. There were no pies or gravy (as found in shops over the Pennines), or curry sauce, burgers or battered sausages – and definitely no Mars Bars! The fish was 100% skinned and boned, but you didn’t order haddock or cod, it was simply ‘fish and chips’ – or maybe just a cake (a cheaper alternative to fish). If you were hungry and well-off you upgraded to a ‘special’ (a large fish) and don’t dare forget the scraps for the kids. But that was it, nothing else was on offer unless the chippy was a bit posh and had a pan of mushy peas on the boil. That’s how it was, a proper fish and chip shop. But I digress...

We were at that formative age of around 11 or 12 and during the school holidays we would be down at the wholesale fruit and veg market early in the morning trying to cadge a ride on one of the lorries. We were usually successful, although some drivers were reluctant to take passengers, especially the boss’s son. The lorries always left empty and after a run of around two to three hours we would arrive at the farm where we loaded up (all by hand) with half-hundredweight sacks of potatoes. If we were lucky we got to stop at one of the garages of the now legendary Doncaster independent bus operators on the way down. Spotting the enormous variety of makes and types of buses and coaches was a real treat and the highlight of our trip.

Once loaded and before we headed home there was one very important decision for our driver: should the load be sheeted before it was roped? The easy option was to not bother but this could be a real gamble. Even light rain would soak the paper sacks stacked on the outside of the load, which would spell disaster for both spuds and driver. Mostly things went to plan and it was a great, if exhausting, day out, often ending well after dark as we parked-up back at the depot ready for unloading the following morning.

 


The initials from this splendid line-up of preserved Leyland, Albion and Dodge lorries spell out the LAD cab name.


The transport fleet was relatively small comprising two Bedford TK flatbeds with fixed tailboards, an old Austin Pick-up and a brand-new shiny red Albion Chieftain. If we had a choice it was the pride of the fleet, the Albion, with its impressive ‘Sure as the sunrise’ themed Albion badge that we climbed aboard. There were, however, a few drawbacks to its stylish LAD cab. Fitting two lads in the passenger seat, separated from the driver by a huge engine cowl, was a tight squeeze, and then there was the roar of the engine, especially when fully loaded and grinding up the many hills on the way back home. It could be deafening. I must admit that we were, on occasions, swayed by one of the TKs, as it had a double, and therefore much more comfortable, passenger seat. But this review is all about the Albion with its striking ‘Vista Vue’ cab and the toys and models, both old and new, that carry the same stylish cab known generally in the business as the LAD cab.

Read the full article in Model Collector June 2017

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