Page 3.   Shelvoke & Drewry Enthusiasts' Club Newsletter - Spring 2021.


S & D Memories  No. 2.


By Barrie Woods.

“You couldn’t make it up!”  A well-heeled saying which sums up this story perfectly!

Having completed several deliveries of brand new refuse vehicles successfully in my new role as Demonstration Driver at S & D in 1969, I came to my first Demonstration. This was in a TY 70 cu yd Pakamatic, sadly I cannot recall which authority we visited, I say ‘we’ as I was accompanied by a more experienced Demo Driver on this first demo.  It must have gone successfully as I was soon out on my own on these duties, often being away for a week at a time. One of my very early Demos was to Brentwood Urban District Council as it was named prior to the local government reorganisation in 1974.  It was probably a three-day demo as most were in those days, occasionally we might get a four or even five-day one, especially if the Council concerned had a couple of its own vehicles off the road for servicing!

This particular week was with the TN 20 yd Pakamatic. Single cab, so, space just myself and two loaders.  All went well the first day if recall.  The next morning we were working in one of the plusher areas of Brentwood, along the route of their side-loader.  Some of the properties along this main road laid back some way from the road, so normal practice was to drive down the driveway to collect the bins.  There was room to turn at several of the properties, this system saved the guys an awful lot of walking.

We did just that at a very smart looking house with lovely garden, I drove along the tarmac drive.  Now at this point I was nearly full, so probably weighed around 8 tons.  I was directed to the rear of the property which was ‘L’ shaped, and instructed to turn in to what was the crook of the ‘L’ shaped building, at this point we couldn’t be seen from the road.  The men jumped out, I reversed in to the crook, my rear end then being quite close to the house in order to negotiate a three-point turn.  Suddenly I had this sinking feeling!  I was going down!  The TN being far heavier than their side-loader was too much for the lightly laid tarmac through which the rear of the TN sank up to the rear axle!  The guys saw it happen and I jumped out to examine the situation, the vehicle was leaning over to the off-side with the top corner of the body about 3-4 inches away from the kitchen window – we had a problem!

I decided on a tentative move forwards to see what reaction the vehicle would make. The only direction I went was down even further with the front axle breaking through the tarmac as well!  We had by now established there was no one in.  One of the guys informed me it was the house of a local Vicar.  It would have been fairly easy to communicate in this day of mobile phones, but not in 1969.  One of the chaps decided to walk back to the road to find a phone-box. In doing so he flagged down a Council highways wagon, a Bedford tipper, probably a 13 tonner.  He came back in that. The crew on the tipper had a radio, so managed to call in to the depot.  Meantime we decided to try and haul my stricken vehicle out of the mire.  Chains were attached and with me engaging gear the tipper driver tried valiantly but hopelessly to move me.  The vehicle was simply to light and its rear wheels spun wildly.

A Council van turned up to survey the scene, probably the Foreman or similar I believe.  A discussion took place and another call to the depot resulted in an empty 16ton TY Pakamatic trundling down the drive. We shunted the Bedford and the van out of the way to allow the Pakamatic to position itself, chains were again employed, not sure what they were attached to on the TY, but the result after several attempts was the same, I was still stuck fast and had now leant a bit further towards the Kitchen window, now perilously close to actually breaking through it.

A TN Pakamatic.      Jaap Mikkers photo.

So there we were my TN stuck fast, a TY Pakamatic, A Bedford Tipper and a Council van all in this back garden.  Another call to the depot managed to procure a JCB Digger.  Now this was a bit meatier, it came down the drive, the driver in it had a good laugh when he saw us all and our predicament.  We shifted the TY out of the way, it was getting a bit crowded now as you can imagine and the lovely rear garden was beginning to suffer!  Chains were again brought into use and attached to the digger’s bucket, again I engaged gear and with the power of hydraulic rams we managed to pull me out of the hole.  A quick study of the underside of the TN revealed no apparent damage, apart from one of the rear wings had bent rather.  So there we were relieved and congratulating ourselves on a job well done, all standing there in the midst of my TN, the TY the Bedford tipper the Council van and a JCB Digger! At this point I happened to look around the corner of the house to see a green Triumph Toledo heading along the drive towards us.  It was the vicar!  He pulled up alongside me in full view of the instant lorry park that his garden had been converted to and just uttered those immortal words “Oh my God”.

It took some time to clear all the vehicles from his garden.  Although I related the incident to Gilbert on my return to Letchworth I never heard of any repercussions about it, the story quickly circulated around the works though!  I presume the Council footed the bill for the Tarmac and landscaping of part of the chap’s rear garden.                     

 Barrie C. Woods 20th August 2020

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