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billh35

Austin K2 - Tea Van - GLE 54 Help Required!

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Now in preservation and being extensively restored, it was believed that this was originally a London Fire Brigade vehicle but the LFB have confirmed that it wasn't? I suspect it may have been a centrally purchased War Ministry or National Fire Service vehicle. Can anyone tell me its' history OR point me in the right direction to find its' story. 

GLE 54.jpg

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These Tea wagons - canteen vans appear in many guises.  However they all started life as Auxiliary towing vehicle (ATV)  for the fire service in WW2. They were ordered by the Home Office via the Ministry of works purchasing dept; They were all registered in London C.Cc blocks retained for Ministries. See attached. There were several hundred built.

Turn the clock forward to 1949, the Auxiliary Fire Service and Civil Defence was reconstituted in light of the Soviet threat, Initially equipped with hundreds of different vehicles put in to store at the end of WW2 , work was put in hand to design and construct new vehicles for both organisations.. It was subsequently decided that instead of remaining in Cities and towns,  self- sufficient mobile columns should be formed on mobilisation which would move outside predicted target areas. This increased the number of types of supporting vehicles required for the actual fire fighting machines.  One of the requirements was canteen vans to accompany mobile columns to provide hot drinks at stopping points , the prototype converted from an ATV. I believe about 40 were subsequently converted and yours is one of them. See item 4 on the multi image picture. TED

b Lambeth Drill LFB.jpg

AFS expri col.jpg

Edited by ted angus
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Ted

The first name on the old tax book is Holland War Agricultural Executive Commission. Boston. Then it changes in 1949 to Lincolnshire Holland AEC (Agricultural Executive Committee), Station Road Kinton. A further change in 1951 sees it registered to Secretary of State, Home Office. Then Belfast Fire Brigade in 1969 and then Fire Authority of Northern Ireland in 1975.

It seems to have a curious career "appearing" to be used to serve tea to farm workers? Or were these just "front" organisations? I am assuming that between 1951 and 1969, it was stored in a central government like so many vehicles held in reserve.

I have had no replies from any of the organisations I contacted about GLE 54 except the LFB. 

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Towards the end of the war Austin ATVs were lent to various gov depts,  the AG committees were under min of food control, a number also went to the GPO and a number overseas to help countries get on their feet. The Nederlands had them in use as soon as we liberated,  with their post office and fire services.  I believe yours would have been in its original form with the AG comm  then after return to the Home Office  it was stored for a period until converted to a canteen van late 53 or early 54 . For the AG Comm I would think it was just used as a delivery/collection van. TED

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Do you have the history of this vehicle? Do you know where it was used initially?

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Afraid not, I have hundreds of WW2 and post war locations for these ATVs   but not yours. . TED

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