JOHN CORAH TAKES A LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF THIS ICONIC VEHICLE
This Leyland Octopus 22.0/1 was built in Leyland in 1949 and left the factory of that year to be delivered to Courage Brewery before going to Butterfield's of Skipton to have this 3,500 stainless steel tank fitted; going on the road early in 1952. This model 22.0/1 was a 22 ton gross eight wheeler giving a payload in those days of 12.5 tons and an unladen weight of 9.5 tons. Fitted with a Leyland 600 diesel engine of 9.8 litres, a 5 speed 'crash' gearbox driving both rear axles and equipped with vacuum hydraulic brakes on the first, third and fourth axles. When tested and plated in 1970 her gross weight was increased to 24.5 tons giving an increased payload to 15 tons without having had any modifications or uprating to the engine and braking systems.
The London registration KYH bears witness to her time with Courage before being sold to the Taunton Cider Co. when five years old and remained on trunk from Taunton to London three times a week until withdrawn from service in 1973. Uploading with cider and backloading with either sugar from the Isle of Dogs or apple juice from the Kent orchards. In 1973 there was a fuel rationing scare over problems with the Suez Canal and to keep the Taunton Cider fleet on the road she did her last trip back to Norton Fitzwarren full of diesel. She was then parked up on waste ground at the cider works and left to the elements.
Seen here as restoration is about to start in the early 1980's. The tank had been removed but luckily not disposed of. So many preserved lorries that were originally tankers have become flat-bed lorries as the tanks were removed to be used elsewhere when the lorry finished its working life. As the picture shows the years stood in the corner of the yard at Norton Fitzwarren have not been kind to this once proud lorry.
The apprentices at Taunton Cider vehicle workshops were given the task of restoring her to her original glory under the guidance of the Transport Manager, Ted Southcott, appearing at shows for the first time in 1985.
A sad sight but a survivor!
Newly restoredin 1985 and here seen at the Winkleigh open day in October of that year. The significance of 'Kingston Black' is unknown and no longer there following a respray a few years later.
We, at the HTC, got to know Ted Southcott well as he attended several of our Devon Coastal Run's with the Octopus throughout the second half of the 1980's and he joined the Club. Then in 1991 he rang me to inform me he was retiring and no-one at Taunton Cider wanted to take on the responsibility of looking after her so would I, on behalf of the Club, like to take her on and rally her for Taunton Cider. This was arranged through their solicitors and KYH 367 was delivered to the Yard of Torbay Freight at Heathfield, Newton Abbot, where we kept her in those early days of being custodians of this handsome eight legger.
June 2017 Windy Ridge Café just off the A38 on the way to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway transport weekend. Edward Goodwin and me share the driving of her as well as the maintenance.
After Ted retired Anne Taylor, Taunton Cider's PR boss, became our contact with the Company and in 1995 she telephoned me to tell me that Taunton Cider had been taken over by Matthew Clarke and Norton Fitzwarren was closing down with the loss of all the jobs there, including hers. Her exact words to me were "do look after that lorry, won't you?" and from that day on we have done our best to do just that.
In July 2016 the gearbox had to be removed to replace a leaking front oil seal. A job beyond the capabilities of ourselves so Cannon Commercials of Heathfield, near Newton Abbot, quoted us £500 to do it. All successfully done at a cost of £14, that being the price of a new seal. Derek Greenaway, proprietor, would take not a penny and for that we are eternally grateful.
In November 2017 the four rear hub oil seals were replaced by Peter Hearn who specialises in the restoration of classic commercials at Winkleigh, Devon. Another job needing specialised equipment. Our member, Edward Goodwin, helped with the job but Peter also refused any renumeration, charging the Club solely for the seals. Thanks must also go to him.