Elec­tric ve­hi­cles not a new idea

Gloucestershire Echo - - NOSTALGIA -

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.

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