Historic (ish) Photos

Thanks to Tony Hoare for letting me put a few of his photos of The Duke on my blog. Also thanks to Ron Fulton at BDAC for his help.

These were taken around 2004 during The Duke’s stay at the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. Apparently most of the land vehicles have left BDAC now.

Attempts to contact BDAC succeeded this evening and they confirmed that QinetiQ claimed ownership and sold The Duke which had sat in the BDAC collection for several years. Apparently they have both financial and recycling targets to meet.

BDAC were relieved of the vehicle in late 2008 but do not have the missing parts. So who can I blame for their loss? Perhaps I could contact QinetiQ, but I doubt it’d be cost effective for them to sell individual parts on eBay! That leaves only two possibilities: either Witham removed the parts before placing The Duke in the tender, or a member of BDAC, Witham or QinetiQ staff had them away on the sly.

In his natural habitat at Boscombe Down
Looks more or less the same at the front – now I’ve replaced the lenses on the lights! Strangely, I think indicators and side lights are swapped over in this photo!
Rear projection. NATO tow hitch still in place and clearly its got fog lamps not reversing lights!
The interior: More or less as it looks now, but the dashboard and centre-console-lighting-switch are missing.
Very cool field telephone. Doubtful this would have made it through the demobbing and sale process, as most radio equipment is removed. Might be able to pick one up at Sodbury though…

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll be putting the new door tops on and starting work on the dashboard. There will no doubt be more blogging when I’m done.

Interesting to see that one door top is missing in the photos and the other looks in a very bad state. Shows that they wore out over a long period of time.

Here are a couple of links I found to forums where Tony (I presume) posted when The Duke was at BDAC…

http://www.hmvf.co.uk/forumvb/showthread.php?t=2392
http://www.hmvf.co.uk/forumvb/showthread.php?t=2316

Stop Press

About five minutes after I posted about history last night I decided to put The Duke’s military reg into Google. I’m sure I’d tried this before, but maybe without the quotes or something. Anyway, this time I found something…

Pictures of my beloved Land Rover!

Bit of a shocker really, and not what I’d expected to find. Turns out that Boscombe Down is also home to the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection (BDAC), who restore and maintain aircraft which have been let-go by the flight testing centre.

The bloke who took the pictures helped out there and took some time to investigate a Land Rover 109 HSV – now known as The Duke! Pictures of the identification plates in the cab, complete with military reg and chassis number, confirm this.

Clearly someone cared about it for a while. Text from the web page is very positive!

This Land Rover has spent all it’s working life at Boscombe Down. She now has a Q plate but the Army REG NO was 52 AJ 79. Her first job on the air base was to aid the prototype Lynx helicopter and then the air ship which spent a while under trials at Boscombe. For her age she is in very good condition apart from a burnt out clutch which is currently being sorted out. As long everything goes to plan she should be up and running very soon and attending some local shows.

Excellent quality photos of the inside and outside of the vehicle show things in much better order than they are today. Military lenses and NATO tow hitch are present, so is the dashboard. The text says that there are no problems except a burned out clutch, so I guess that the distributor and carb were still in place! There’s also a very cool looking field telephone and some other bits and bobs which have now gone.

So how did the BDAC get hold of it? Why were they never registered as the owners? Why did they start fixing it up then change their minds, rip off anything of any value and ditch it? Have they still got the bits? Can I have them please?

I emailed the bloke who took the pictures (tracked him down on the EMLRA forum, asking questions about clutches and 109 HSVs!) and he replied within the hour. Seems he’s no longer helping out at BDAC and last time he saw The Duke it was in good condition. I emailed BDAC too, but am still waiting for a response.

If the plot gets any thicker you’ll be able to stand a spoon in it, but one thing’s for sure: I need to add a new clutch to the shopping list!

Detective Work

The quest to find out about The Duke’s history makes for an interesting alternative to going outside when it’s below freezing. I got the log book through a few days ago, but it wasn’t ’til today that I actually thought to look who the previous keeper was.

QinetiQ Ltd,
MOD Boscombe Down
Amesbury
Salisbury
SP4 0JF

On April Fool’s Day, 1997, they registered him on a Q plate because the date of first registration was unknown. Very interesting! Didn’t take long to find a map of Boscombe Down and work out some possible usages for a helicopter servicing platform: The Rotary Wing Test Squadron and the Empire Test Pilot School are both based at Boscombe Down and both fly Lynx helicopters.

Hopefully the EMLRA will be able to provide information about what The Duke was up to between his manufacture and Q registration in 1997.

Interestingly, QinetiQ didn’t exist on the date which the V5 claims they registered The Duke; they were incorporated in 2001 when the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency was split up by the government. I guess the company name was changed at the DVLA at some point.

Registration on a Q plate because the manufacture date is unknown is all fine and dandy, but why was the manufacture date not known? Normally, the military registration (52 AJ 79) is enough to trace this. Also, the chassis number can be sent to Land Rover or the Heritage Motor Centre to find out. I guess some sloppy employee needed to get it on the road but couldn’t be bothered to work it out.

Finally, Witham didn’t mention that it wasn’t a direct sale from the MOD. Obviously they didn’t say it was an MOD vehicle either, but given that their website is entitled “MOD Sales” there’s a strong implication! Nothing massive to complain about I suppose, but slightly annoying.

So, I have one of the world’s largest defence research establishments to thank for letting my Land Rover get rusty!