Sunday, 16 November 2008

Standard Practice

You know how it is. You go rummaging about in old cardboard boxes looking for one thing and end up finding fifteen things you weren't. This Saturday's foray into a cold garage (Albion lorry badge hanging up on a rusty nail) resurrected an early 1950's Leicester Official Handbook. I can't even start to tell you the joys suddenly released from the ever-so-slightly damp pages, but here's one. I was born half way up a cul-de-sac in Wigston Fields, and there are those who say I've spent all my time since crawling up the other half. My elder brothers were much older, so I took my pleasures on my own in exploring, inch by inch, my neighbourhood. A red letter day came when I reached the pub at the bottom of the road and I watched the Holes Newark Ales yellow brewery dray unloading wooden barrels at the Royal Oak. But next door to the pub was something much more exciting. This was Browett's service depot, where they maintained the ranks of newly-bought little grey Ferguson tractors and red and yellow Massey-Harris combines and muck spreaders. Such was the post-war demand, Browetts signed-up a fleet of Standard Vanguard vans with the evocative tractor silhouette. I just stared and stared at them over a fence that has been air-brushed from this picture. You can hear the manager can't you, the evening before this picture was taken: "I want all mobile engineers to be here with their vans (washed) at eight in the morning".

10 comments:

A F-A said...

Great photo isn't it? Given the links between M-F and Standard, I bet there was a good deal done there - and it's a real tribute to Sir Harry that I bet there are lots more Fergies extant than Vanguards!

Toby Savage said...

Hate to lower the tone, but I'm pretty sure it was old man Browlett who was done for cottaging in Abbey Park about 15 years ago. I had the dubious pleasure of photographing the interior of the Gents to prove the Policeman could not have seen what he alleged he saw, from where he claimed to have seen it. Another triumph for British justice.

Peter Ashley said...

Another dream shattered.

A F-A said...

Obviously set a rather low public Standard...ho ho ho!

Ron Combo said...

Life is a Vale of Tears and nothing more.
If he'd got caught cottaging now he'd probably get a street named after him, a lifetime's supply of choirboys and a weekly show on Radio 2.

Jon Dudley said...

Leaving the cottaging to one side for a moment...the Ferguson System logo is a gem isn't it. We had a Standard Vanguard saloon for a bit, reliable, dull and hopeless for ploughing without a three point linkage. Great photograph though, and it looks as if there's a radio mast atop the roof...did they have radio contact with their service vans?...very Dan Dare if they did.

Peter Ashley said...

Now you come to mention it Jon, they did have radios. You can just see the aerials on top of the vans. As a child I probably thought they were for receiving The Archers whilst in transit.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Interesting idea naming a car Standard. I suppose the idea was evoke 'Gold Standard' rather than the depressing term 'bog standard' which is so prevalent today. 'Bog standard' - does that bring us back to cottaging?

Peter Ashley said...

I am reliably informed by my neighbour that Standard got into trouble with using this name. Their export markets didn't want to be associated with what they perceived was 'standard' ie: no frills, certainly not de luxe. Standard refused to think about changing the name, and the rest is automotive history.

A F-A said...

Reginald Maudslay is reputed to have said "I want my car to be composed purely of those components whose principles have been tried and tested and accepted as reliable standards. In fact, I will name my car the Standard car." Later, of course,the Union Flag (or Standard) was incorporated into the logo.