Page 5.   Shelvoke & Drewry Enthusiasts' Club Newsletter - Spring 2018.

Fifteen Years Ago.

It hardly seems credible that fifteen years have passed since the first issue of the SD Enthusiasts' Club Magazine was published. I'd launched the SD Website in July 2002  and on 27th January 2003 Channel 4 TV broadcast the Salvage Squad programme that featured Steve Jones' ex-Isles of Scilly PN Revopak Reg. No. SCY 786 X. That was the start of a flood of emails coming in  which encouraged me to start producing a magazine. The A5 magazine consisted of eight pages. It seems appropriate to look back over those fifteen years in a regular feature starting with this issue.

Issue one of the magazine had articles such as:- What is the fascination of dustcarts? An account of the Salvage Squad programme and a piece about refuse collection on St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly. I also wrote about the 'W' type Fore & Aft tipper. But re-visiting the magazine I'm mostly struck by the correspondence, so I've copied it in here.


From:-  Kim Syder, Sheringham, Norfolk.

Dear Brian,

My name is Kim Syder, but was Arnold. My Dad Jack Arnold was the General Service Manager at S & D, and a friend of mine has sent me a tape of Salvage Squad revamping the old Shelvoke dustcart. It made interesting viewing and brought back some happy memories. Dad started at Shelvokes in 1943, as an apprentice, and apart from a few years National Service, worked for them for over 40 years. Sadly he died ten years ago, but some old Shelvoke chaps still keep in touch with Mum. I'm sending you their names and addresses.

When I was home from College, in the holidays, I worked in various departments at S & D, so remember many of the people in the history of Shelvokes. I also remember going on parties and trips. Dad was in charge of restoring the Freighter to 1922 specification, and used to take it to shows.

Wishing you all the best, Kim Syder. Sheringham.

Kim also passed on the news that Morris Davenport, who was Shelvokes' Managing Director from1949 until his retirement in 1969, died fairly recently at Frinton on Sea. He was well into his nineties. We express our condolences to all those who will miss him most.

From:- Geoff Harris, Royston, Herts.

Dear Brian,

Both my father, Geoff Harris, and my grandfather worked at S & D, and when by chance I switched on Channel 4 last evening I was delighted to see one of Shelvoke & Drewry's dustcarts being restored. It brought back quite a few memories. My father worked on gearbox assembly, and grandfather was a fettler. I used to meet some of the S & D staff when I would visit the factory with Dad on a Saturday morning, or when watching his beloved Letchworth Town Football Club.

The names I remember are :- Arthur Dunham, a turning section chargehand, Arthur Negus who was in charge of the Welding Shop, Arthur Chapman, the Machine Shop Foreman, Charlie Atkins, John Huggins, who played tennis with both my father and myself, Maurice Davenport and Stan Quinn.

One of my fondest memories is of the annual Christmas party held over the Co-op in Eastcheap in Letchworth. All the children of employees were treated to a lovely spread, followed by entertainment, and then the highlight was being called by name on to the stage, to receive a present - happy days indeed!

I hope to hear from you, Geoffrey Harris.Royston.

In correspondence with Geoff, it turned out that I knew him when I was an apprentice, and he was, in his words; "a scrawny kid."

From:- Steve Jones, Sandown, Isle of Wight.

Steve Jones' preserved PN Revopak.

Steve Jones has written two long letters to me, this is part of what he had to say …

Thankyou for your letter and News Update.

Yes, I have been busy being filmed by BBC & Meridian TV News – both have been broadcast. And the BBC has done a feature at the end of the news on me. They kept flicking back to me during the news, as I was reciting various useless facts – ‘P’ series, ‘N’ series, reg. nos., fleet nos., and drivers’ names etc. “Keep tuned to find out what he is talking about,” they said. They put out an excellent report, Emily McGuire was the reporter – she was really into it. I have been trying to work as much as possible. I actually had to have training before I could help load a Biffa lorry on a round for Meridian TV News, and watched all the safety videos, and wore their overalls – not to keep!

The local newspaper, The County Press, have just done another more in depth article on me – not printed yet. The lady was interested to hear I’d spent Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year in the barn with my two Shelvokes and ……… Jenny. Who is “Jenny”? She’s electrifying, Jenny Rater – a generator. There is no power there so I had to rig up some lights. She also photographed me feeding my chickens – I have four as pets. She thought I was quite a character – Suggs calls me a ‘National Treasure’ – see website.

The vehicle I was ‘learning’ on in ‘Salvage Squad’ is a Shelvoke & Drewry PNL+ Revopak with a 5 man crew cab. D 93 DAJ came from Blackpool Borough Council. They let me have it for a couple of hundred pounds for restoration – my own project – I actually spent Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day working on it in a barn here on the I.O.W., laying in the hopper, scrubbing it out! It has 112,000 miles on the clock, and is in full working order. It was purchased by Blackpool in 1993 following a refurbishment. I came across this one via Malcolm Bates, editor of Public Sector Equipment Magazine. He had done an article, and Derek Brown, Transport Manager at Blackpool, replied to me and said they were due to get rid of it. They used it to empty the litter bins on the sea front. When they finally finished with it, I bought it back to the I.O.W., where it stands alongside SCY 786 X and the body section of D 729 MNY – which is crammed full of acquired spares.

You have to remember they had only 48 minutes of air time for the TV programme– on the 'driving lessons’ alone we spent 3 hours filming. Five of us were in the cab, and all the equipment – no n/s mirror – that was the cameraman’s shoulder! Don’t believe everything you see on TV. We kept driving around the same piece of road here on the Isle Of Wight. I was having to crunch gears, not look in mirrors, not indicate, etc., and my mate, Richard, had to pull me up over it every time. We got quite good at it all, after a couple of hours. My main concern was not to do any harm to my gearbox! It was all jazzed up for the camera, in much the same way as the Welshwoman, Maureen, in her blue Lada car, and her bad driving. I feel sure that was done in a similar way. I did have two uncles in the film industry!

Steve Jones.  Sandown, Isle of Wight.

From Mike Mullarkey, Exeter.

Dear Brian,

I am Mike Mullarkey, after 5 years with a Shelvoke Agency, I joined S & D in 1972, and in 1974 became the Depot Manager at Exeter. I stayed there until the demise of the Company. In the programme re the Isles of Scilly PN Revopak, I was shown as the gentleman handing over the keys to Brian Lowen, the Chief Technical Officer, on the quay at St. Mary's.

I look forward to hearing from you soon, it will be wonderful to discuss the company and the good old days.

Regards, Mike, Exeter.

The Salvage Squad programme featuring the ex-Isles of Scilly PN Revopak can be found on:-

It was letters such as those above that set the tone for future editions of the Magazine and later the Newsletter [from 2011], and which have enabled publication to continue quarterly. 

My grateful thanks to all of you who have written with your memories of S&D.

Brian. Editor.

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