HISTORY OF A K Bedford
By Mr Derek Saunders
I start this story with the second part of my working life. At the age of 18 I felt more adventurous and I went to see if I could get a job with Mr Keith Bedford a local builder at Bow.
He was busy
in his garage workshop when I arrived there. I asked him if there were
any jobs going and he said do you know anything about building work, I
said not a lot but was willing to learn.
livery was A T K Bedford Bulkers on the side of the lorries was Don’t
bag it bulk it .I was not old enough yet to drive these lorries but did
a few trips riding with other drivers in the tipper lorry and soon began
to feel this is what I really wanted to do with my life.
to an auction in Wales and bough a Austin 16 toner with a wooden body
and a bulk blower saying this would do for me to start with.
the main bulk collection area where this product was produced so it became
a regular run for me every day.
Most of the bulk bodies were built by AKB himself and by the 70s had a very smart fleet consisting by now of about 16 lorries. Staff by now was amounting to at least 16 drivers 2 mechanics a body builder and of course the dreaded Transport Manager.
This era for
me were the good old days.
What we had
not allowed for was the lorry that had broken down was an Albion 6 wheeler
and I was driving my Austin 4 wheeler it had a big body on so it didn’t
seem too bad until I got on the weighbridge and discovered that I was
4 tonnes overweight .
Because we were not long distance boys it meant that we had to do the job to the end and get it done in the day but if you had to park up a wave of your log book would soon get you a lift home with the first passing lorry, this was before the motorways were built.
By 1972 I had
driven most of the old British classics and was now given a brand knew
AEC Mammoth Major 8 wheeler with super singles on the rear axle and the
body built by AKB.
It took me at least a month to get used to the lorry the gearbox was not fitted with a clutch stop which meant if you missed a gear you had to wait at least 30 seconds to get your gear, that was nightmare.
I was by now feeling like one of the big boys and could park up in the roadside café with all the big artic’s. Our trips were getting longer running to Newcastle on Tyne with clay also Liverpool and London so the work days were getting longer 12 to 14 hours seemed the norm.
By 1975 a different seemed to appear more streamlined and faster my old lorry had a top speed of 55 mph and our Leyland Buffalo and the latest Leyland Marathon would knock at least a hour to hour and a half off our trips. The Scanias and the Volvos going up the motorway would make you look silly, a lot of them were owner drivers and the comradeship we once knew had gone.
I enjoyed my working life with AKB he was a good boss and I owe him all I know about classic lorries. In the early days we would work on in the garage doing repairs to our lorries changing gearboxes engines mending brakes springs and everything that made them tick. By 1977 I decided I had enough of the chasing around and wanted a quieter life so I joined the Milk Marketing Board and oh boy what a different life it was but that’s another story.
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