Information Leyland Beaver’s
life-saving fruit diet

A Only having to work when the fruit was being harvested meant one not-so-busy Beaver is still in remarkably good condition today — even before being restored.

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Designed in 1943 to meet the expected needs of the invasion forces, the Leyland Hippo Mark II six-wheeler was being turned out at a rate of forty vehicles per week by VE Day, with about a thousand lorries produced in total. To get peace-time production going again after the war, the considerable stock of parts for further Hippos was utilised to build a few hundred civilian four-wheelers, these being designated Interim Beavers, model 12-I-B. They had 7.4-litre six-cylinder diesel engines, five-speed gearboxes and servo-assisted hydraulic brakes.

A user of Interim Beavers in Ireland was Smithwicks, the Kilkenny brewers, and the Leyland agents here were Ashenhurst Williams of Talbot Place, Dublin. Another Beaver customer was Lamb Brothers of Inchicore, the jam manufacturers who had extensive fruit farms. They bought Beaver LI 3724 (pictured) to provide additional transport during the fruit harvesting season and this vehicle was therefore taxed for only a few months at a time.

One fascinating memory of this vehicle came from a visitor to Transport Museum. A retired lorry driver, he recalled that during the long bus strike in the autumn of 1947, the Beaver, fitted with temporary benches, collected young fruit pickers at Gardiner Street every morning for the farms of north County Dublin, returning them to the city in the evening.

LI 3724 appeared briefly for many years but vanished during the mid-seventies. However, its memory remained with transport people who from time to time recalled the distinctive Beaver with its tall radiator. Some thought it might still exist, but it gradually faded from memory.

On Saturday 17th February 1990, the late Mr. Peter Teeling, a Malahide farmer, called to the Museum in Howth. He said that he was clearing out his yard which contained an old lorry he would like to donate to the collection. It turned out to be the Lamb Brothers Beaver which he had bought many years earlier with the intention of cutting it up to make a trailer, as has happened to so many superannuated lorries in the past. Happily, for some reason he never got around to it and was now anxious to see it preserved. A week later, when the Museum recovery team arrived to collect it, the lorry had been taken out of its shed, with its tyres pumped to ease removal. Mr. Teeling's tractor placed it neatly behind our towing tender outside on the narrow road and LI 3724 was quickly taken away; amazingly, four hours later it was moving under its own power.

Several Interim Beavers are preserved in Britain, a particularly fine example being in the Greater Manchester Transport Museum at Boyle Street. According to their members, the TMSI vehicle, which has been in covered storage since acquisition, is in better condition than theirs was before restoration and should prove a relatively easy task: but until pressure on our severely overworked members eases, we can only hope for its early refurbishment. When used on fruit haulage, the Beaver hauled a trailer and by the time it is restored we hope that a suitable similar unit can be found for it.

Musaem Náishínta Iompar na hÉireann