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The Bradford Van

When the war in Europe was over in 1945 the UK made it a priority to export goods so that the balance of payments could be improved and they could start to pay off the national debt which the war had left them with.  Vehicle production had always been a good exporting industry.
Jowett decided to produce a light goods vehicle designed to be economical.  It was based on a previously produced 8hp van.  As was frequently done at that time, the chassis was to be built by Jowett in Idle, near Bradford, but the body was subcontracted to Briggs Bodies of Dagenham.
After the war there were major materials supply problems, particularly steel, aluminium and seasoned wood.  However because of the priority that had been given to the war effort many of Jowett’s historical customers, particularly many farmers, were in need of utility vehicles.
The 10-cwt Bradford van was announced in January 1946, and there was a substantial waiting list for the vehicle. 
Production used four production lines.  The first made the engines, which were a twin cylinder horizontally opposed engine of 1005cc, to produce a maximum of 19bhp at 3500rpm.  Starting from the opposite end and in line with the engine line, the three speed gearbox was assembled.  When the engines were completed they were moved to a test bed where they were turned over by an electric motor and then the engine was run properly and tested.  When the engine was accepted it was attached to a gearbox, which was nearby by virtue of the production lines meeting in the middle.
The production line for the body ran parallel to the engine line where iron sub frames were used to carry the Briggs body parts, which used aluminium sheet sides fastened to an ash frame, with steel doors and a heavy duty fabric roof.  As the bodies moved along the production line they were fitted with electrical parts, the wooden floor, wings and internal and external fittings.
The main chassis assembly line ran parallel to these lines.  On this line the chassis frame was built, axles were fitted; steering gear was added as were brake fittings.  The combined engine/gearbox was then lifted on and fitted, followed by the body.  All connections were made, wheels, front wings and bumper, and a driver’s seat were fitted and the engine was started and tested again.  All electrical functions were tested and adjusted.
The vehicle was then driven off the line, fitted with trade plates, supplied with a small amount of fuel and taken for a road test.  When it returned to the assembly area any faults were notified to the rectification department and once these had been corrected the vehicle was driven to the wash bay, where it was cleaned and polished.  They were then taken to the delivery and collection bay for drivers to take them to agents, or the docks, or for them to be collected by customers.
The second series Bradford (CB) was built in 1947 after having built about 5000 of the first series (CA).  In 1949 the third series was introduced (CC) with a more powerful engine.  At around this time the electrics were changed from the original 6V to a 12V system, overcoming some of the starting problems which had been experienced with the 6V system.
There were various utility vehicles produced during production of the Bradford van from about 1947 onwards, as well as pickup lorries.  The utilities typically had six seats, with side windows and with larger rectangular windows in the rear doors, although various versions were made with optional rear seats, depending on the vagaries of purchase tax during this period.  Many of the Bradfords were supplied as a drive away chassis so that customers could have special bodies fitted.
Production of these vehicles finished in 1953, with over 38,000 having been produced.
Some typical Bradford vehicles:

Jowett Bradford Van

Jowett Bradford Van

Jowett Bradford Van

The Jowett Bradford Utility vehicle:

Jowett Bradford Utility Vehicle

The Jowett Bradford Truck (pickup):

Jowett Bradford Truck


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