Labour of love to restore Bedford

Bedford 2 SUS-170818-103239001
Bedford 2 SUS-170818-103239001

A dream came true for businessman David Hance when he bought a classic lorry that he had admired as a child.

The now retired 72-year-old acquired the 1934 Bedford WS truck 43 years ago.

Bedford 1 SUS-170818-102816001

Bedford 1 SUS-170818-102816001

He painstakingly restored the dark green vehicle, and on Sunday, September 10, the lorry will be displayed outside Alexandra Park’s historic 1930s greenhouse to promote its Heritage Open Day.

A stunning dark green lorry, which took Mr Hance three years to restore, will also tour the surrounding roads to advertise the annual, national event which celebrates England’s cultural and architectural heritage.

The greenhouse, which is being repaired for use as an educational and horticultural facility by the Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group (APGG), will be open from 11am-4pm for plant sales and for visitors to see the ongoing restoration work.

Mr Hance, who lived in Ivyhouse Lane, Hastings, as a boy, said: “I first saw this lorry when I was eight years old. It was being used on a farm in Ivyhouse Lane. I have fond memories of it, but when I bought it 43 years ago, it was a total wreck.”

He learnt to repair the vehicle himself and, since then, has made the London to Brighton Historic Commercial Vehicle Run three times and has attended numerous rallies with the lorry. He also used the vehicle to transport his daughter, Belinda, to her wedding day at Sedlescombe 21 years ago.

Mr Hance, who lives at Guestling Green where he formerly ran the Hearth and Home fireplace and stove suppliers, said: “I don’t belong to a club; I just enjoy running the lorry.

“It’s not too difficult to get parts for the lorry. Bedford’s were so popular and there’s a lot of interest in them, so I can get a lot of parts for it. I located a new engine for it about 10 years ago; it had never been used and it has not done more than 1,000 miles now.”

His son, Barnaby, who runs Lovage, the vintage furniture and gift shop in Queens Road, Hastings, took the lorry to a vintage boot fair on Hastings Pier.

APGG chairman Linda Pearson noticed the vehicle there and arranged for it to be brought to the Heritage Open Day.

The group sells plants nurtured in the greenhouse and with the support of local businesses, repairs have been carried out, railings erected and cold frames built. Funding is currently being sought for repairs to the teak frame and installation of a permanent roof

For more details about the Heritage Open Day and activities at the greenhouse, go to www.greenhousealexpark.com or follow group’s work on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. APGG can also be contacted at alexandraparkgg@yahoo.com or 07852 487383.