Roadmender's living vans

Roadmender’s living vans

14th May 2009

We are poised to take on loan from Tyne & Wear Museum a 1020 built roadmender’s living van, seen in the photos below. Already on site at Beamish (in the Regional Museum Store), the van requires some structural attention, a repaint and a new roof canvas before joining Fiddler on the site roads. It is intended to fit it out for ‘living’ as an additional piece of interpretation at the museum. It will form part of the ‘train’ with Fiddler and the water cart referred to elsewhere in this blog. It will retain its Tarmac livery.

Below: A view inside the living van on display in the roadmender’s gallery at Amberley Chalk Pits Museum. The Tarmac van will be restored to similar condition. Such vans were not family homes, but provided accommodation for crews of two or three men (one often being an apprentice ‘boy’) while working on contracts remote from their home depot. As such, these vans could be seen many miles from home, sometimes following the steam roller by rail, to be collected from station goods yards. A small display is being prepared for the Power from the Past event on life on the road. Fortunately Robert Whitehead’s book ‘A Century of Steam Rolling’ covered this area in great detail, giving us every chance of creating an interesting and informative exhibit.