Vehicles with history at the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show

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The Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show is used to displays of machinery and equipment with interesting pasts, and one such machine is an Austin Army lorry with a connection to the Normandy Landings.

John Blant purchased the Austin lorry at a farm sale in 1963 for £35. “I made it into a tipper and changed it to a diesel engine, and I used it for a bit of work on the motorway in 1964 – the M1 junction 25 to 26,” he says.

The lorry was then used for farm work. “In 1974 I bought another lorry so the Austin stood for about 30 years in the barn, until a couple of friends convinced me it would be good to take it to Normandy in 2014 for the 70th anniversary.”

During the Normandy Landings, virtually every Austin lorry that was made went over to Normandy as there was such demand for them. “Some of the later lorries went over to Egypt for the Suez Canal crisis – we have tried to track down whether mine did go to Normandy, but I can’t find anything,” says Mr Blant. “But seeing as they couldn’t get them out there fast enough it’s quite likely it did.”

So with this goal of getting the lorry back to Normandy in mind, Mr Blant set to work. “In September 2013, I virtually rebuilt the cab – the body wasn’t too bad, I just tidied it up a bit and put living quarters in the back.”

Then he drove it across to France and to Normandy. “I drove it across the beach – it was quite a sight.”

And he has since taken it to shows, where it has been a talking point. “I met a chap at a show who asked to get in and have a go. He had driven one in the war – I  realised he must have been about 90 to have done that.”

And there’s another vehicle with a special history with the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show itself – a Series three 109-inch hard top, long wheel base Land Rover. “My mother bought the Land Rover from the Newark Show in 1970,” remembers owner John Hayward.

“In those times there was a very long lead time on Land Rovers; my mother went to the show early and Massey Ferguson dealer Winter and Stephenson’s – which also sold Land Rovers, had a cancelled order from Doncaster Corporation on their stand, so my mother bought it there and then,” he explains.

And it became a special gift. “She gave it to me as a wedding present.”

Mr Hayward ran the Land Rover for 20 years, with the intention of doing 100,000 miles. “Then I got a company car, so it sat in the barn for 30 years.”

And it’s 50 years old next year (2023). “I thought I would give it a bit of restoration; it was my wife’s birthday on 16 April, so I got it into the workshop then,” he says. “And I keep a log of the work I do – I worked on it every day until 1 September, when I got it on the road.

“It’s a labour of love and I’ve really enjoyed doing it.”

And now the work has paid off, with it being back on the road. “I have a modern Land Rover Discovery, and it’s a totally different experience – but enjoyable. This takes me back; it’s slow and noisy but it’s what I grew up with.”

Another vehicle with a vibrant past is the first double decker bus to circumnavigate the globe. The 1959 Eastern National Bristol K5G, numbered ONO 59, owes its survival to a group of young men who wanted to travel around the world. “The bus was built in 1959, and the boys bought it in 1967 – they returned in 1969 and the bus was sporting a union jack livery,” says exhibitor Mike Gallagher.

The bus had been completely converted to include eight bunks on the top deck, with a kitchen and living quarters on the bottom deck. “The bus has now been restored to how it would have been when leaving the factory,” says Mr Gallagher.

Visitors can see these special vehicles in the flesh at the Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show this year. “It’s brilliant to have all of these vehicles join us at the show, but what makes them really unique is the history behind them,” says show organiser Elizabeth Halsall.

“It’s great to have nearly 1,100 entries this year, of which 111 are commercial vehicles alone – which of course brings a lot of interesting history.”

Editor’s notes:

  • Advance tickets are now available for a discounted saving to the show. Advance tickets close on Friday 28 October. Thereafter gate prices apply.
  • There is also the opportunity to book a weekend camping experience which includes three nights camping and two adult weekend tickets.
  • To book tickets or enter the show competitions, visit

About the show

The Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show is organised by the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society and supported by the Nottinghamshire branch of the National Vintage Tractor and Engine Club (NVTEC).  The Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society is a charity whose main objective it to promote and champion agriculture throughout Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands region.

Contact for further information

Elizabeth Halsall

Events and Development Manager

Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society

Organiser of Newark Vintage Tractor and Heritage Show

T: 01636 705 796 E: [email protected]