“ENGINE shot, wiring gone – who’s gonna fix my old van out ‘ere in Walmington-on-Sea?”
“Don’t panic! I think I know someone who can!”
“Don’t be silly boy, we want it done properly.”
“No honestly, I know someone who works at Ford…”
And so the iconic 1935 Ford BB van, which features in the legendary sitcom “Dad’s Army” as Corporal Jones’s van, has been given a new lease of life.
Just in time Sir too, if I might say, in finest Captain Mainwaring tradition.
Because the new Dad’s Army film is showing at the picture house and it wouldn’t be the same without the old van.
A platoon of Dagenham-based Ford apprentices, under the command of Ford’s heritage vehicle technicians, have helped repair the running gear of Lance Corporal Jack Jones’s famous van – in the same building at Dagenham that it would have left at the plant, more than 80 years ago.
The original Dad’s Army television series ran from 1968 to 1977, and “BUC 852”, the van’s registration, made its screen debut on 11 September 1969 in the first colour episode.
This month it appears in the big-screen version of Dad’s Army with stars including Sir Tom Courtenay, Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sir Michael Gambon.
The van, belonging to local butcher and home guardsman Jack Jones, is known for its role as a support vehicle for the Walmington-on-Sea branch of the Home Guard. It is now owned by the Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford, Norfolk.
Although it had undergone extensive cosmetic restoration, Ford, together with a team of its apprentices, was tasked with returning it to operational duty.
The Ford BB truck was among the first commercial vehicles produced at the Ford Dagenham site, which started production in 1931. The mechanical repairs were carried out in one of Dagenham’s original buildings which remains in use today as Ford’s heritage workshop
This included a full engine rebuild, replacement clutch, and new wiring looms.
The Ford BB truck was among the first commercial vehicles produced at the Ford Dagenham site, which started production in 1931. The mechanical repairs were carried out in one of Dagenham’s original buildings which remains in use today as Ford’s heritage workshop.
Stuart Wright, from the Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford, said: “This vehicle has a special place in British entertainment history, and is enjoyed by the many visitors to the Dad’s Army museum.
“It’s fantastic to see the van operational again and we hope it will capture the imagination of the younger visitors less familiar with Dad’s Army, as well as triggering happy memories for the older generations.”
Today the Ford Dagenham estate is responsible for powertrain design and engineering, and manufacturing up to one million diesel engines every year for the global market. Ford Dagenham also plays a vital logistical role in the movement of vehicles and parts through its own internal rail network and jetty as well as on road-going transporters.
Paul Neighbour, Ford Dagenham Engine Plant manager, said: “It has been wonderful to see the van back at Dagenham after all these years, and we’re delighted that our apprentices have had the opportunity to get involved with getting such an iconic vehicle back on the road.”