Another adventure from the Vintage Lorry Hearse
Last February, during the wintery conditions that gripped the U.K., Vintage Lorry Funerals was booked for a funeral in Stockport. The advice from the Police was that you should not venture out on the roads where problems with snow and ice existed throughout Britain. However, David Hall, who owns the 1950 Leyland Beaver, is not easily deterred. Detailed planning is undertaken for every funeral and in the Winter David has established local contacts along a route who can give an insight into the local conditions, which is invaluable. Travelling the A-Roads is particularly hazardous and information on which roads will be gritted is essential.
The Leyland Beaver is equipped with a shovel, road salt, extra weight on the drive axle and rolls of stair carpet. Often in snowy conditions the main roads are cleared but local streets are often treacherous and stair carpet is rolled out to provide a safe roadway over deep snow or sheet ice. In addition, trundling along at 30 miles per hour, David is much less likely to skid off the road as high speeds are often the cause of mishaps.
On the day of the funeral in Stockport, heavy snow storms were forecast in North Wiltshire and it was likely that David would have difficulty getting home and reversing the lorry up his drive in the dark would have presented a big problem. So he phoned his friend Sean Hayward who runs a haulage business in Walsall. Sean agreed to let the Leyland Beaver stand in his workshop overnight and booked accommodation for David. The picture demonstrates the amount of snow that fell that day and provides the stark comparison between a 63 years old vehicle and those modern day juggernauts. The 1950 Leyland Beaver may have less mirrors, however, they are both contained within the overall width of the lorry, which enables it to cope with tight access facilities that can occur in funerals.
Black ice persisted in the morning and the backend of the Leyland Beaver was twitching whilst the lorry was heading south on the A34. Having a huge 9.8 litre engine means that David never uses his brakes to slow down the lorry, he just eases back on the throttle. In addition a large proportion of the lorry’s 5.5 ton weight is on the steering axle and the tyres can bite into the ice allowing the lorry to hold a steady course or to be steered on slippery conditions without sliding.
Coming south on the A441 through Redditch there was whiteout conditions with signpost obliterated with the Leyland Beaver trundling on virgin snow. Drivers who are normally desperate to overtake the vintage lorry were happy to travel in its tyre marks that morning.
Just south of Evesham the weather changed and snow changed to slush and the rest of the journey home to Bradford-on-Avon was uneventful.