The Bedford TK has been a familiar sight on the roads of Britain and beyond since the late 1950s / early 1960s, and many still continue in service, often pressed into weekend service as dependable horse boxes. The company's advertising slogan for many years was "You See Them Everywhere", and no-one could really argue with that. Produced in a wide variety of guises, tailored to many different roles in both civilian and military ownership, the TK will forever be remembered as a dependable workhorse, maintaining Bedford's reputation for producing sturdy and affordably-priced mid-sized commercial vehicles. The TK was introduced in 1959, as a replacement for the outgoing S Type. The militarised 4x4 version was referred to as the MK.
The four colour photographs featured below were kindly emailed over by Bruno, who lives in Belgium and has photographed many different vehicles over the years. These colour photographs all feature TK Bedfords, supplied by Garage Tuerlinx, a dealership located in Herentals, Belgium. My thanks to Bruno for sending over these fascinating photographs.
Bedford TK tipper lorry.
Photo number one is of a new TK tipper, shown demonstrating its hydraulically-operated tipping mechanism. Early TKs are fitted with what went on to be known as the "whisker" cab, thanks to the moulding that features on the lorry's front panel, close to the Bedford badging. This feature disappeared from later examples. The term TK is applied to all this series of vehicles, although each different chassis, cab and running gear specification had its own unique identification. Not being a guru on such matters, I hope that Bedford enthusiasts won't mind me simply referring to these vehicles as TKs, rather than their full title(s).
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
A driver with his lorry in 1964.
Finished in a similar red/black colour scheme to the lorry above, is this next example, parked while its driver enjoys a break from driving in 1964. A close look at the photograph reveals a small, supplying dealer, decal affixed to the front panel, to the left of the "B E D F O R D" lettering. An identical decal, albeit centrally-mounted, can be seen on the front of the previous lorry also. A 1959 Chevrolet Impala is parked in the background, to the left.
Coachbuilt furniture delivery van.
Next, a photograph of what must be a rare - signwritten - coachbuilt TK van, in use with a furniture manufacturer as a delivery vehicle in Belgium. In the background are the supplying dealer's premises, adorned with illuminated signs for both Buick and Chevrolet cars.
White van man.
Final image in this set of four, presents another specially-bodied TK, this one in an all-over white colour scheme. The TK features a full forward-control design of cab, with the driver being positioned at the front enabling an excellent view of proceedings from his seat. The engine nestles below the rear floor of the cab, out of the way.
If anyone has memories of driving these lorries when TKs were in regular use, say in the 1960s or 1970s, I'd be interested to hear from you and add them to this page. The Ford D-Series was a rival to Bedford's TK, but which was the better vehicle overall? Both types survive in reasonable numbers with preservationists, and of course within the aforementioned equine fraternity.
Bedford TK articulated lorries.
Next, a couple of photos emailed over by Robert Turner, who works for John Mason International (link) - a removals firm based in Liverpool, with a history going back to 1884. Both feature early TK articulated lorries, or "artics", in service. Many more photographs of much earlier vehicles were also sent over, but sadly they're too small to work well on the site, but fortunately those of the TK are fine.
The first is titled "1969 Canadian Trade Commissioner move - Woolton Road, Liverpool". Here a TK has been pressed into service, to deliver a load of furniture
shipped over from Canada.
The second again features a "whisker cab" TK, this example registered KKA 558D, also with a swan-neck trailer hitched to it. The location on this occasion was just outside the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, or Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, as it was known back then. The TK was registered late 1966/early 1967, and the cathedral opened in May of 1967.
Thanks for emailing the photos over.
Driving a TK.
The following video, posted on Youtube by a Maltese Bedford owner, gives a driver's-eye view of life behind the wheel of a preserved TK.