It came as something of a surprise to hear that the Lincoln Group is celebrating its 50th anniversary. I think I’ve been a full member for nigh on 40 years, passing my car test in 1984 then in 1997 my commercial vehicle test. Move on another 20 years, I had another go and got a F1RST.
When I first started writing Fordie’s World the newsletters were all printed and copied on a typewriter or similar, emails and such technology hadn’t really got going, the contents were rather “dry and flat” so, I stuck my tongue in my cheek and tried to inject a little humour, which, for the most part, was fairly well received.
If memory serves, nearly all articles were written in log hand and at first a lady (June?) would type them up and collate them. Somewhere along the way I got to be editor of the newsletter which meant reading through all the contributions, editing if necessary plus writing a short editorial to start off the letter followed by my own contribution. June (I think?) was superseded by Keith, I seem to remember a lot of “comments” about “daisy wheel” and “twisted ribbons”.
I had to let that position go, work was keeping me away from home and time was in short supply, again, if memory serves, we did a monthly newsletter.
Time moved on and whilst at Denby Transport I had the chance to take my commercial test, at that time, I was driving a 7 axle drawbar outfit with a gross weight of 60 tonnes – couldn’t do the test in that, so I was taken for 45 minutes “instruction” in a 3 axle Volvo tractor unit fitted with an automatic gearbox. Never driven one before in my life! Come the test and I rather gave the until I realized a bit of a “spirited” ride until I realised I could switch off the exhaust brake system which was linked to the footbrake and that quietened things down a bit.
The next “exercise” was to put the gearbox in manual (remember this was an autobox) and demonstrate that I could go up and down all 16 forward gears without making a muck of the job! After that the test progressed normally and fairly smoothly back to the depot where upon I was told I had “Passed”.
At that point, I let the examiner into the fact that I had only had 45 minutes practice before the test, upon enquiring which was my lorry, I pointed to the “beast” as it was known, all coupled up, close on 70 feet long and weighing a bonny 28 tonnes EMPTY, depending on trailer. The examiner’s face was a picture!
On another occasion, an open evening was arranged at Denby’s (I had retired by then) and one of the exhibits was a maximum weight and length artic (44 tonnes, 13.6 metre trailer) with a saloon car parked close to the nearside rear of the trailer, members were invited to sit in the driving seat of the lorry and say what they could see through the mirrors. Right at the end, someone said come on Fordie your turn, I declined with a sweet smile and told them I’d driven this type of truck in one configuration or another for over 30 years so I knew EXACTLY what was at the near side rear of the trailer and anyway, if I’d got in I would have wanted to go for a drive round the yard.
In the time I have been a member, there have been many notable occasions. Glenys Allerton winning the Fred Welsh Rose Bowl. Getting the Red Arrow Pilots through their Advanced Test. Two very interesting talks on the Battle of Britain Lancaster Bomber and some of the other aircraft in that group.
Another memory, organised by Ash, was to join in a skills day at the far side of Scampton aerodrome in conjunction with the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership. This consisted of various driving tests, the first one I went on was a saloon race car simulator, good job it wasn’t for real, I was on and off the track, in the fence, the Armco, up the grass bank and heaven knows where else, must have wrecked that car 4 or 5 times… guess I’ll never make a racing driver! Two more tests worth noting: driving and reversing an artic, a Transit type van pulling a low, two axle car carrying trailer around cones then reverse back along the same route and into a “garage”, I have to say I cracked that one, even the instructor said “why did I bother with that test”. The second, a blindfold drive where your navigator told you left or right, then, just to, cyclists make it more fun, the navigator had to say “port or starboard, then even worse, “to me—to you” reckon I went everywhere except on the road, no damage done but in the end we couldn’t do anything for laughing.
Over the years the venues have changed, when I first started, the meetings were in the Wildlife Pub on corner of Skellingthorpe Road and Birchwood Avenue. Eventually moving to the Fire Brigade HQ on South Park Avenue and finally to the Windmill where we are now. We’ve had to take time out for Covid and personally I had to take time out to care for my late wife but we seem to be settled, at least for the time being. Just a few reminiscences of nearly 40 years with the IAM.
Now, coming up to date, I am still keen to uphold the standards and skills promoted by the Institute but in my 80th year, health is not so good, walking is a bit of an effort and to that end I now have a Rollator Walking Aid with built in seat for when I get tired (or fed up). I feel I should equip it with a rear view mirrors and an orange flashing beacon because “A” I can’t see whose behind me and “B” I’m still invisible on the footpath… have you ever tried beating mothers with push chairs, cyclists, e-scooters or mobility scooters, come to that, this last is not too bad, we are, at least, kindred spirits.
So, over its 50 years IAM Lincoln has now grown to be IAM Lincolnshire – long may it continue, for another 50 glorious years!
Below, Fordie pictured with IAM examiner Mark Carlin, having achieved a re-assessment FIRST in 2017