Sunday, 30 January 2011

The 1934 Norfolk Living Van takes shape...

We are currently renovating a very special old girl - a roadman's living van dating from the early 1930's. Her chassis is infact a First World War Army Lorry, (her brass plates are dated August 1918, so it is a moot point wether she saw active service), but post war she was converted into a haulage lorry for Blakeney Motor Engineers in North Norfolk.

For how long she remained a works lorry, we don't know, but at some point (we're guessing about 1934) she was converted into a roadman's living van. These were pulled by a traction engine and provided a home from home for the workmen. At 22 feet long, with a separate living and sleeping area, she could have been home for up to four men.

She was bought by Ben Short in 2009, and transported to West Dorset from the Cotswolds. Unfortunately, after uncovering the wooden sub-frame on her top half, it was decided a total rebuild was neccessary. We have saved as much original timber as possible to include in the rebuild, as well as saving old floorboards and some 1930's Arts & Crafts windows from a nearby pitman's cottage on Hardown Hill.

Springs have been replaced and a steering lock for the front axle has been designed and fitted. The original drawbar has been reinforced, too. Her steel chassis has also been shotblasted and given several coats of red oxide, followed by three topcoats of MF vintage grey.

As I've already written, the Norfolk Van will become Flintbatch HQ, residing in the yard at the top of the hill. As well as an office and part-time woodland shop, we hope to be able to offer her as a gallery space for artists, as well as a mobile pub for local villages who are now, sadly, without their pub.

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