Page 1.   SD Enthusiasts' Club Newsletter  - Winter 2021.


When Peter Johnston, Chairman of McCreath Taylor Ltd. N.I. and a great SD enthusiast saw these photos posted by Bill Headley memories came flooding back of the harsh winter of 1962/63. He kindly sent to me a chapter from a book with the title ‘Belfast the Cleansing of a City’ written by a former motor mechanic in the Belfast Corporation Cleansing Department – Davy Manderson.

Chapter 15 has the title:- ‘The Half Crown Flakes’ and relates how continuous snow "the size of a half crown coin" started to fall on Belfast in the evening of Wednesday 6th February 1963 and carried throughout Thursday 7th. Belfast was ill equipped to cope with such an event although the Corporation’s fleet of Dennis Gully Emptiers were able to be fitted with snow ploughs and Davy recalls their attempts to clear the streets. On Wednesday night the crews wre unwilling to be called out, and Davy himself went out dancing rather than turn out for snow clearing duties. When he returned home a van was waiting to takev him into work. But it was chaos in the city's steets.

The Coat of Arms of the City of Belfast.

Eventually the British Army was called in to assist and a couple of the Gully Emptiers were wrecked because the soldiers showed no respect for the vehicles, Davy’s stories are amusing and I plan to tell you more in a future issue of the Newsletter.

Peter Johnston informed me that as a result in the Summer of 1963 12 Bulk Gritter bodies were ordered from Atkinson of Cltheroe at 6,840.00 each ex-works to be fitted to older SD ‘W’ type chassis after removing the Chelsea type bodies at the Gardener Street workshops. Here you can  see that Belfast No. 3 dated from prior to 1952 when larger headlights were introduced. Eleven of the 'W' types were from Belfast’s fleet with the twelfth having an IL Reg. No. and coming from Iniskilling.

Atkinson of Clitheroe, Lancashire, was a family run company in the ownership of the Lupton family. Its successors trade as Econ Engineering based in Ripon, North Yourkshire. See:-

Snow ploughs by Bunce were fitted who are based in Swindon, Wiltshire. Bunce (Astbury) have been trading for over 100 years and continue to manufacture snow ploughs. See:-

In addition Belfast Corporation established a Frost Stand By Team to be on duty every night from October to March consisting of two drivers and two mechanics.

At the time Peter Johnston was Divisional Manager in the Works Section of Belfast Corporation’s Engineers and Surveyors Department.

This photo shows Befast's 'W' type with Chelsea type body prior to leaving the SD works.

[Every completed SD vehicle was photographed on completion for many, many years. Clutterbuck's Commercial Photographers used a plate camera for this job. Many of these glass negatives were rescued when instructions were given to destroy and continue to exist.]


Memories of Winter 1962/63 also came back to me, your Editor.

On 8th December 1962 at St. Helen’s Church near Rotherham, South Yorkshire I married Dorothy Jeffries and we enjoyed nearly fifty years of a very happy marriage, until sadly Dorothy died over ten years ago. I had left SD in the October of that year to work at Newall Engineering in Peterborough.

The wedding was quite an SD affair. Joe Wilson, my Best Man, was a former SD apprentice and we had worked together as Planning Engineers. (I’m still in regular contact with Joe). My father, Percy, was the Company’s external Auditor over many years and my uncle, George, was an apprentice at SD from 1924. So four of us at that wedding had SD in our bones. When we set up home in Peterborough we experienced weeks of freezing conditions in January & February. Every morning the starting handle had to come out to persuade the engine of my Austin A40 into life. But Peterborough’s roads are flat and I don’t remember any problems driving on the snow.


When in January 2016 I decided to join Facebook I really had little idea what I was doing. Six years later I’m delighted at the change it’s brought to our SD Enthusiasts’ Group. We now have 567 members and receive a steady stream of interesting posts on SD related topics. I was frankly sceptical that the people I met could be described as my friends by Facebook, but when, after a recent short spell in hospital I mentioned it on Facebook I was touched by the number of people who sent their best wishes.

People are justified in being cautious about Facebook but if you haven’t looked at our Group on I think you’d enjoy what you find. You don’t have to join Facebook or the Group ton see our activities. It has proved itself as a fine addition to the things you find here on the website.

A recent example has been this:-

Tony Cauchi 01.12.21 Hello Brian ,I’ve seen this on another site that is a closed group .I have no info on it but the photo belongs to Adrian Goodman

01.12.21 I posted on our Facebook Group:- This photo from Adrian Goodman has been sent to me. KNG 612 V will be a 1979/80 registration with NG denoting Norwich. In all probability it is a PY vehicle – but can someone tells us what the contraption is on the chassis, please?

Karl Stonehouse:-It's a under lift. Recovery truck

Philip Clifford:- Looks like a recovery gear. Quite common for Local Authorities to convert an end of life refuse freighter for such purposes.

Johnathan Norton:- I don’t think that this a council vehicle due the colour scheme (Norwich City Council was a light Apple green colour in the 80s 90s) but I would guess based on the twin flashing lights on top and the colour scheme Norwich Airport .

05.12.21:- I posted:- I was most surprised to find KNG 612 V on the DVLA records when I visited The records show that it was first registered in December 1969 and the colour stated as silver. Tax was last due on 1st January 1994. There are so many SD’s on the DVLA records that surely have been scrapped without notification to the DVLA – of the notification has been ignored. But at least the colour silver gives every probability that this was originally a refuse collection vehicle.

Quick, convenient and useful!



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