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Close to Rush Green Motors in the 1960s.

Just as Wembley is to football fanatics, and Wimbledon is to tennis enthusiasts, in the world of classic lorries, Rush Green Motors is hallowed ground. Rush Green was - is - a breakers yard that dates back over sixty years, still crammed with the decaying remains of many once-common lorries, vans, plant and other commercial vehicles. The internet is awash with photographs of the faded gems that cling onto survival within the grounds of this amazing scrapyard, reminders of a time when most of the lorries to be seen on British roads were of British manufacture, displaying proud badges on their grilles from the likes of ERF, Foden, Atkinson and Seddon to name just a few.
Rare though are photographs from when now-classic vehicles were simply old, worn out relics, worth next to nothing and set to be scrapped, of no more use to their commercial operators. I was really excited to hear from Richard Hughes, a regular visitor to OCC, with news that he'd turned up a superb set of old black & white photographs, taken over two years in the early 1960s by someone working on behalf of the local council. Apparently, they were investigating the presence of vehicles parked up on the road outside the yard. Some had clearly been abandoned, while others may well have belonged to people simply visiting the yard to find and buy used parts, but had parked inconsiderately. The collection of images is a fascinating look back at a problem that was extremely common in the early 1960s, at a time when the "Ten Year Test" (later called the MOT) had recently been introduced and led to many thousands of dilapidated cars simply being dumped. Evidently old lorries were often discarded in a similarly careless way too. Bad for anyone who lived nearby, but great for anyone now with an interest in road transport years ago.
With the photos was a map, showing the general layout of roads in the area and notes regarding the photographs that had been taken.
Map of the Rush Green Motors yard
The photographs were discovered in a box that was destined for a skip during a clearout, fortunately Richard managed to rescue them and was kind enough to lend them to me, in order that I could scan them and feature them here, so my great thanks to him for trusting me with them.

Photographs from 1962.

Two sets of photographs were discovered, dating to 1962 and 1963. Where there are several interesting vehicles in shot, I've included close-ups of them in addition to a scan of the original image in full. This page features all the photos taken in 1962, those from 1963 will feature on a second page soon.
---------------------- Photo 1 ----------------------

1. A line-up of classic lorries.

To begin with, a look down the road where a number of interesting old lorries and trailers are parked on 12th July 1962. They don't look to be in bad condition so I'm assuming that most, if not all, of the lorries belong to visitors to the yard, rather than being dumped. Closest to the camera is a Bedford S-Type, while on the other side of the road rests a BMC tipper, ahead of two ERFs.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
Bedford, BMC and ERF lorries
A couple of close-up views next, firstly of the un-liveried BMC tipper.
BMC lorry
The nearest of the ERFs, PMJ 696 shown below, belonged to Marston Bricks.
ERF belonging to Marston Bricks
---------------------- Photo 2 ----------------------

2. A classic Bedford tanker & more.

Looking down the road in the opposite direction, with the Bedford S-Type that sneaked into photo number one better shown, revealing its tanker body. Is that a Standard Pennant shown driving away into the distance?
Bedford S-Type tanker
A closer look at the fabulous Bedford tanker. The original livery appears to have been removed, or painted over. Its registration is NGF 901, a 1952 issue for the London area. At ten years old, perhaps it was time to put the old girl out to pasture.
The 1952 Bedford S-Type at Rush Green Motors
---------------------- Photo 3 ----------------------

3. A Guy Otter.

More wonderful old lorries, the nearest being a Guy Otter in chassis-cab form. Behind the Otter is a tired Fordson/Thames breakdown lorry, ET6 or 4D. I'm less certain about the vehicle behind that though, possibly a six-wheeled ex-WD Thornycroft? Many other vehicles are also shown scattered about either side of the road.
More lorries
Zooming in on the old Guy artic and the original signwriting has been painted over.
Scrap Guy Otter artic
And here, a better look at the two lorries parked behind the Guy. The Ford looks particularly battered!
Ford Thames breakdown wagon
---------------------- Photo 4 ----------------------

4. Scrap cars make an appearance.

Not only lorries were parked up haphazardly outside the yard, as this next photo demonstrates. The Humber Hawk in the foreground doesn't look in bad condition, interestingly it has a trade plate hanging from the grille so perhaps it was on a one-way trip to the cutting torch? A twin-steer lorry resides behind the Humber, while in front of that are a number of cars, including an Austin and a Morris J-Type van.
Humber Hawk
The Humber, registration OTF 44, doesn't look bad at all although my pet hates - headlamp eyelids - have been fitted, a crime on an otherwise classy-looking machine (IMO!).
Humber Hawk
This cropped version of the original picture better shows the twin-steer lorry, and a once-cherished Austin 16 saloon car. Note the tantalising glimpse of an old woodie.
Austin 16
More gems, including the aforementioned J-Type van, a partially-stripped Fordson 5cwt E494C van, and what looks like a Morris 10/4 or 12/4 with its bonnet open.
Morris J-Type van
---------------------- Photo 5 ----------------------

5. A Fordson van and an Austin woodie dumped by the road.

A photo to make any fan of old vehicles, especially light commercial vehicles, weep. On the left is the 5cwt Fordson van mentioned earlier, which belonged to a Mr Evans who was a chimney sweep in Hatfield. Another vehicle rests on its side - now devoid of its propshaft - it has three-stud wheel fixings, which makes me think the mangled remains of car reg. DTW 513 could be a late 1930s or late 1940s Hillman Minx. In close company is a Vauxhall 10. Visible beyond is a tired Austin woodie. The back end of the Austin 16 is also visible now.
Fordson E494C van and an Austin woodie
The stricken Fordson van doesn't look too bad really, I can already sense tears welling up in the eyes of anyone reading this who is partial to small Ford sidevalves. The three-stud wheel fixings of the upturned car are clearly visible here.
Fordson 5cwt van
This old Vauxhall 10 isn't going anywhere, other than to the jaws of a crusher sadly. Same for the tatty old woodie in the background.
Scrap Vauxhall 10
Another look at the Austin 16 parked half on the kerb, JTO 585.
Austin 16
---------------------- Photo 6 ----------------------

6. Swan-neck trailers.

The last of the 1962 photos is of this line of swan-neck trailers.
Swan-neck trailers
Clearly the local council were concerned about the vehicles that seemingly were being abandoned outside Rush Green's premises, as these photos from 1962 demonstrate. I can only think that rather than pay a few quid to have their jalopy scrapped, people simply dumped their old crocks outside the yard, for someone else to deal with. A return visit in 1963 led to another fasinating collection of images being put together by a council inspector. These will be added to the site shortly.

Further viewing....

Return to Page 20 in the motoring photographs archive, or visit the main index here for countless other original photos featuring classic lorries, cars, vans and more "back in the day".

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