Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 46, September 2002
By Alec Spinks
On 20 March 1953 my Grandfather, Alexander Duncan, from Old Maratoto Road, Hikutaia, purchased a new 1952 Bedford Truck, Model OLB 5 ton, from Linn Motors in Paeroa for the sum of £1,200 ($2400).Grandad was 70 years old and he could not drive as he was partially handicapped by only having one arm.
The engine has never been touched, the brakes have been relined and cylinders replaced; everything still works and it has travelled 54,600 miles. It is registered in the Register of Old Trucks in New Zealand.
Mr Duncan bought the truck to transport his daughter (my mother) Jean Spinks' "Royal Deecide" Stud Milking Shorthorn Cows to the A & P Shows around New Zealand. Mrs Spinks managed all the work with the Stud, which involved grooming and teaching the stock to lead in the Show ring.
The first A & P Show was always held at Claudelands in Hamilton, held in the last week of October, over three days. The truck would transport Grandfather, my mother and the stock on the Wednesday returning on Saturday evening. The Epsom Show, held in Auckland, was again over three days and held in the last week of November. The other shows were at Paeroa, Te Aroha and Waihi. Each of these were only one-day events. My mother's stud was extremely successful. It even had the honour of parading before H R H Queen Elizabeth II when on a visit to New Zealand, at the Claudelands Show Grounds, along with New Zealand's other champion horses and prize winning cattle.
The Bedford truck carried milk cans to the Hikutaia Cheese Factory and, in the flush of the season, would have fifteen twenty-gallon milk cans on the tray.
I learnt to drive the Bedford and as soon as I turned 18 years of age I got my Heavy Truck Licence. After I married, my wife Gayle and I built a thirty by forty foot shed to keep the vehicle out of the weather.
The Bedford was also used for general farm work and at hay time has never missed a season over the fifty-year period. When I am windrowing the hay for the baler I need someone to drive the truck. One year Robert Waite from Hikutaia drove for me and so enjoyed the task, he suggested that I leave the truck to him in my Will.
Another season, we were carting hay up to the hill hayshed, and the then tenant in our rented cottage could not believe the old truck was still working. He had been in the Royal Air Force flying over Germany on the historical "thousand bomber raids" and was, at that time, living near the Bedfordshire Factory where the trucks were made. He understood that these Bedford trucks were never built to last that long!
When Linn Motors held their Fifty Year Anniversary, Mr Clive Linn invited me to take the Bedford into the Show room as it was the oldest vehicle sold by them that was still in use. They displayed it on the carpeted showroom and the local mechanic could not believe his eyes to see the old truck.