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Homepage. This page: A cracking Austin van, one of many used for newspaper deliveries in the 1950s.

Austin FL1 van.

Old vans have been an interest of mine for donkeys of years, so finding a great photo of such a machine in service is always welcomed. When said van is shown in surroundings typically encountered during its working life - in this case delivering newspapers in the south east - then all the better. The vehicle here is an Austin FL1 newspaper delivery van, one of many such vehicles used in this role with the Evening Standard. Steve sent over a number of period photographs, this is my favourite. The location is outside the Old Ship Hotel, on Brighton seafront. His late father-in-law, Harry Chevalley, is the Austin's driver.
The van is registered NLL 924. This London series was introduced in December 1952, putting the date of this particularly van at about that time. Signwriting promoting the Evening Standard appears on the van's sides, their name also gets a mention above the screen, in an illuminated sign box. A large sign on the roof promotes an upcoming fashion show, as does the replaceable flyer attached to the side panel. A badge for "UNITED" adorns the painted radiator grille. Unlike the related FX3 taxi version, most of what would normally be chrome-plated brightwork, on the vans is in fact painted - as was common on commercial vehicles.
Perhaps somebody reading this can confirm the builder of this van's bodywork? I particularly like the curved side doors and entrances either side. Producing a more angular body would have been both quicker and cheaper to build, and other FL1s I've seen do have less curvy bodywork. This though is much easier on the eye, I think. Do any ex- Evening Standard FL1s survive?
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
An Austin FL1 van
An FL1 makes a fleeting appearance in a British film from 1965, titled The Liquidator. While the van shown above (fleet number 1371) has black wings, and a single main body colour, the c1951 van in the film (fleet number 1336) has black wings, what looks to be a maroon or brown main body, with a silver roof. It can be seen on this page, on the IMCDB website. The lightbox above the screen is also different, although the curved entrance doors and openings remain. More chrome plating is evident on this van too.

Background vehicles.

Being a street scene, a number of other interesting vehicles are in shot. YPG 468, a 1955/56 Surrey-registered Daimler, follows the FL1, while beyond the Daimler is a pre- or just post-war Rover, and a 1950s Morris Cowley. To the left, are examples of E-Series Vauxhall, Morris Minor and - I think - a Standard 8 or 10, their owners perhaps having pulled over to buy a few chocolates.

Other vans used by the Evening Standard.

In addition to Austin vans, the newspaper had many different makes of vehicle on their fleet over the years. Bedford's CA for example, also featured in their garages, as did attractively-liveried Crossleys, and American Dodges, in much earlier times.
The now-sought-after Morris J-Type also served the company during the 1950s - although things didn't always go to plan. This photo, on the Getty Images site, shows a J-Type that crashed through a wall and landed on its roof. Although slightly mangled, the body has survived the trauma, as I hope did its no-doubt-startled driver.
Thanks for the photo Steve!
Return to Page 18 in the classic & vintage photo gallery.

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