Chickens come home to roost and when mentioning roadside vehicle checks in the last issue, little did I imagine that by the time my comments appeared in print, I would be pulled over for one.  I can't really complain after all the last time I was stopped must be over thirty years ago, so perhaps a check was overdue?
I was on my way to Great Dorset on the Sunday afternoon before the show opened, travelling from Salisbury about six miles from the show ground with a friend following, when we were both directed into a layby. On this occasion tachographs were hardly mentioned, the bee in this particular VOSA official's bonnet was driving licences, specifically those bearing the C1E entitlement.  The police were very fair and more interested in stolen caravans; indeed one was recovered while we were being detained.
The upshot was that Ken was made to leave his caravan, although he is entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to a combined weight of eight and a quarter tons and on this occasion his total vehicles weight was under seven and a half tons.  Nevertheless we were eventually allowed to continue to the show ground where I left my caravan and then returned to fetch Ken's.  No great harm done save a delay of well over an hour and the consequent inconvenience of having to put awnings up in the rain as the weather had deteriorated.
Mr VOSA really was not clear as to the meaning of the symbols on the back of the licence as he told me that because my licence has C1E on it that I did not have the appropriate entitlement although it also has CE clearly printed on it and had only just been renewed following my annual medical.
The fundamental question here is what one's entitlement actually is ???
  The classes of both vehicles and weights of vehicle trailer combinations you are legally licenced to drive depend on when you passed your test and on your medical fitness. For the older amongst us, who passed their test say in the sixties, in the heady days before the introduction of HGV licences let alone a separate HGV test; at a time when to legally drive any lorry you only needed to pass your driving test in a car and then, at twenty-one, the world became your oyster.  HGV licences came later, issued in a smart black gold embossed hard backed booklet but no further test was required providing the "grand father's rights" exemption could be met, indeed I had a class 2 licence as a result and only acquired my group 1 qualification in the early eighties, now known as CE.  If a test was taken back then what can now be driven?
  The right to upgrade to the old class 1, 2 or 3 HGV licence has long expired but my understanding is that the entitlement to drive a vehicle and trailer up to the combined weight of 8.25 tons, with no specific limit as to the trailer's weight, remains but this was not Mr VOSA's contention. He merely inspected the vehicle's ministry plate giving the gross weight of the towing vehicle and the MVW on the caravan's drawbar added the two together and as these were 7.5 tons and 1.4 tons pronounced judgement making 8.9 tons. The C1E licence, according to him, only permits a trailer weight of up to 750 kgs whatever the actual weight of the towing vehicle.  This does seem a nonsense when one can legally tow the same caravan behind a car but not behind a small lorry even if the combined weight of the two does not exceed 8.25 tons.
This problem needs to be sorted as it affects several members and I have written to Ian Edmunds of the Federation of British Federation of Historic Vehicle Clubs who has in the past given guidance on DVLA matters for definitive advice on this issue.  As space precludes its inclusion here the text of the letter may be seen on our Website, I will report the outcome as soon as it is to hand.

'Whitlock Brothers', is a new book just published that gives a detailed account of the family's, farms, forage works, foundry and factory at Great Yeldham, written by Adrian Corder-Birch with the help and assistance given by surviving members of the Whitlock family.  Great Yeldham is a village close to where I live and I knew many former Whitlock employees who were drawn from a wide local area and have owned both Whitlock diggers and the later Hy-Mac machines myself.
Whitlocks built a range of farm and earth moving machinery but are best remembered for the first hydraulically operated tractor mounted excavators called "Dinkum Diggers".  Many of their products were powered by Ford components and they were leading wheeled excavator loader manufacturers for many years.  Whitlock Bros was founded in 1899, incorporated in 1941 and became part of London and Midland Industries in 1967 where it was allowed to operate autonomously.  They were sold to Powell Duffryn in 1972, which explains the later Hy-Mac connection.  It is well written and will be of great interest to those interested in Whitlock machines, diggers and Ford powered machinery alike.
It is priced at £14.95 plus postage of £2.90, cheques payable to A Corder-Birch, Rustlings, How Drive, Halstead, Essex, CO9 2QL: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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