Derrick Such is the former M&B drayman whose story featured in Bugle 1067 a few weeks ago, and because of the wealth of material he brought with him on his visit to Bugle House, we thought it only right that we should show several more photographs from his collection that evoke fond memories of the Cape Hill Brewery.
As the title suggests, it was all in a dray's work, when thousands of barrels and bottles of beer were loaded up and transported out to destinations far and wide. The product and the means of carriage remained much the same for nearly a century, but as the pictures reveal, the style and design of the drays changed quite a bit.
But you can't help but feel affection for the early motorised drays, when lorries oozed character, and in the case of the drays operated by Mitchell's & Butler's, each of them had a unique number.
Looking at the picture of the vintage drays lined up along the loading bay, carrying crates full of beer bottles, they could almost be mistaken for cartoon characters; the elaborate headlights, a hand operated horn outside the cab, and the crank handle at the front of the vehicle to start the engine, chrome bodywork features and spoked wheels.
Interestingly Nos. 51 and 53 at the head of the fleet are identical in every respect except for the wheels, one of which has pneumatic tyres fitted, with the other sporting solid rubber wheels, which is in fact the same for all the other vehicles that can be seen in the picture. Even though the concept of the pneumatic tyre was first tried out in 1845, it wasn't until its reintoduction by John Boyd Dunlop in 1888 that it actually got public recognition. It took a further seven years (1895) before the Michelin brothers manufactured the first pneumatic tyre to be used on an automated vehicle, and also around this time legislation was introduced to discourage the use of solid rubber tyres.
It may well be the M&B fleet were in the process of this change when the photograph was taken. Perhaps the mechanic in the workshop was deliberating on whether the dray he was working on needed pneumatic tyres fitted to replace the solid rubber ones? But judging by the space where most of the engine should be, it was more likely he was working on a major parts overhaul, a change of tyre specification being the least of his problems.
The drays featured in the pictures are like a collection of Dinky or Corgi toys, representing different eras of transport, and their design strikes a far more attractive pose than the more streamlined trucks we see today. It would appear Leyland was the favoured make of lorry at M&B to carry out the duties of the dray, and the one pictured sporting No. 49 is in fact a Beaver, one of a series of Zoo models that Leyland launched in the 1920s.
Leyland Motors began life as the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in 1896, with James Sumner and Henry Spurrier joining forces to cash in on the new age of motorised transport.
But the two friends could never have foreseen the incredible success story which would give the town of Leyland world-wide recognition.
Their first petrol engine vehicle nicknamed The Pig was produced in 1904, and M&B used this model to great effect for several years, supplying their inns and taverns throughout the Midlands with ‘Good Honest Beer’.
In the late 1920s some of Leyland's legendary models were introduced which put the company at the forefront of bus and truck design, starting with the Leyland Zoo range, including the Lion, Lioness, Llama, Leveret, Tiger, Badger, Beaver, Bull, Bison and Buffalo, and the non-animal Leviathan, Titan and Titanic.
These models brought the company back to posterity after a tricky time in the early 1920s, and were names that would be synonymous with Leyland for nearly sixty years.
With a product that could satisfy, a Good Honest Beer that was enjoyed by thousands of manual workers, and a distinctive fleet of drays, the good name of Mitchell's and Butler's will always be fondly remembered down at Cape Hill.