Electric vehicles not a new idea
Electric vehicles are said by some to be the future of transport. Perhaps it’s true. But what’s for certain is that they’ve been around for a long time. The first car to break the mile a minute barrier was driven by a Belgian named Camille Jenatzy in 1899. This, by the way, is a fact worth remembering for when you’re next taking part in a pub quiz and asked to name a famous Belgian. The future success or otherwise of electric vehicles as a replacement for the internal combustion engine largely depends on the development of more efficient batteries. Or the development of very long extension cables.
As a tease to the opposition, the photo of the van advertising electricity was taken outside the gas showrooms opposite Neptune’s Fountain in Cheltenham. The picture dates from 1946 at which time the domestic charge for electricity was a halfpenny per unit (whatever that meant) In September 1957 an exhibition of electric cars was staged in Cheltenham. To drum up publicity for the event, the racing driver Ivor Bueb, who lived locally, drove the town’s Mayor Charles Irving to the show in a veteran electric car. In the Echo picture you see here Mr Bueb appears to be rowing the vehicle, but in fact he is steering it with a tiller
Electric milk floats were and are ideal for stop-start deliveries. Consequently the sight of the cheery milkman with white coat and peaked cap set at a jaunty angle, whistling cheerful tunes to the percussive accompaniment of the bottles clinking together in his crate has been with us for many years past. In the days before cholesterol was invented and you could put Gold Top milk on your cornflakes with a clear conscience, Gloucestershire Dairy’s fleet of electric floats purred silently about the town. The firm’s depot was in Imperial Lane and their café above Will R Rose’s photographic shop was a fine vantage point from which to people watch in the Prom below
In the 1970s Gloucester Corporation ran a fleet of electric vehicles, some of which were assigned to the cleansing department as can be seen here. This refuse truck was built by Harbilt and is pictured near Chequers Bridge. This picture appears in “Gloucestershire goods and service vehicles” by Colin Martin
As in other areas of commerce, small, family run dairies have disappeared over the years after merging or being taken over by larger firms. Today Tewkesbury based Cotteswold Dairy is one of the largest in the area and among its acquisitions in the 1960s was Bayshill Dairy. The cavalcade of milk floats pictured here was snapped by an Echo photographer in 1973 when the Bayshill fleet was trundling from its former HQ in Swindon Road to its new base in Church Lane, Leckhampton
In its early days Gloucestershire Dairy relied on horse power, the four legged kind, to deliver daily pintas. But in the mid 1930s the firm acquired its first electric float and eventually ran a fleet of over 50 battery powered vehicles.This picture appears in “Gloucestershire goods and service vehicles” by Colin Martin, published in 2000 by Tempus.