Thursday, 07 July 2022

Mayor given lift on old Royal Mail truck at vehicles rally

Mayor given lift on old Royal Mail truck at vehicles rally

A FORMER Royal Mail delivery truck took the eye of Henley Mayor Michelle Thomas at the start of the Ridgeway Run in Henley on Sunday.

The event featuring classic commercial vehicles from across the UK returned after not taking place for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dozens of coaches, heavy trucks and other workhorse vehicles filled the car park at the station.

As per tradition, the Mayor was given a ride to the town hall in the vehicle of her choice.

Councillor Thomas chose the
70-year-old mail van belonging to John Ayres, 82, and his wife Janet, 77, from Surrey.

She said: “The reason I chose this one is that it is the Queen’s platinum jubilee year and it has the crown on.

“I love that the signs on the side have been kept. It was a real working vehicle and a local one from Didcot too.” Mr Ayres said the vehicle first went into service on June 5, 1952, only three months after the Queen ascended to the throne.

He and his wife have been married for 56 years and attending classic commercial vehicle rallies for almost all that time.

Mrs Ayres said: “The first lorry we had was for 30 years of marriage. We have just sold that one and this one is our baby now.” 

Mr Ayres said the truck had caused him some trouble since he bought it. 

“She blew up on the London to Brighton Run last month,” he said. “I had just got three miles from Brighton when the engine went bang.

“I have rebuilt the engine again. I don’t like to go over the top and I keep them how they were.”

Other participants included Bernard Rogers, 80, from Kidderminster, who had brought along two classic coaches from the Fifties, along with his family.

He said: “It the first time we have been on this rally.

“We have a Leyland Tiger Cub 1957 with a Burlingham Seagull body.   She has a Leyland 400 engine and I have owned her for 24 years. This type of body is really rare now. It was a coach ahead of its time in the Fifties.”

Another rarity was a 1962 Morris J4 camper which owners Barry and Sheila Gandon had driven from St Leonards in East Sussex.

“I’ve owned it for 10 years,” said Mr Gordon. “This particular one was converted, as new, into a camper. You see hundreds of Volkswagens but you don’t see many of these. I have seen three.”

The convoy left the car park and headed north on a route of about 50 miles towards Quainton.

The event was organised by the Historic Commercial Vehicle Society.

It celebrates the Ridgeway, an ancient track which is 85 miles long and thought to be Britain’s oldest road.

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