Bedford Know Howe
Classic & Vintage Commercials|February 2017

Nick Howe’s fabulous Bedford TK restoration has taken nine years to complete, and is now correct in every detail and a superb reminder of a similar Bedford operated by the Howe family firm in the late 1960s. Peter Davies tells the story.

Nick Howe has amassed an archive of historic information on his family’s transport business. His comprehensive collection of documents and photographs provides a fascinating insight into the Howe family’s involvement in road haulage which began 110 years ago. The present day operations of A Howe & Sons may be small compared with those of the ‘sixties and ‘seventies but changing patterns of work over the years have led the company to explore other opportunities and to diversify into more long term investments.

Not content with documents and photographs, Nick has also set about recreating some of the family’s classic lorries that he remembers from his childhood. Some CVC readers will recall the splendid Bedford KM that was featured back in March 2007. Now that KM has been joined by an equally well restored TK of a type once operated by the company.

Nick, now 53, grew up with Bedfords since they formed a major part of the Howe fleet until the early eighties when the firm switched to buying Volvos. A Howe & Sons was formed in 1945 by Nick’s grandfather, Albert Howe, to specialise in brick haulage for the local Lincoln Brick Co. Albert’s two sons, Dennis and Abbey, later joined the company. Nick’s father, Dennis, headed the operations until his death in 1992 when responsibility passed to Nick who was then just 29 years old.

“After I left school at the age of sixteen I worked as a forklift driver in the brickworks”, explains Nick. “Soon I was offered the position of sales clerk and, at the age of twenty-one, I became manager of the Lincoln Brick Co, Brick & Block Factors. The Lincoln Brick Co was part of the AAH Builders’ Merchants Group. Manufacturing at the site ceased in December 1975 and the company was later purchased by Travis Perkins in 1996. A year after that Nick decided to look at wider opportunities and resigned from Travis Perkins.

The Howe family’s involvement in haulage goes back a long way in that, prior to the formation of A Howe & Sons, Nick’s great grandfather Zachariah Howe began in 1906 with a horse and cart transporting potatoes and produce to local markets. One of Zachariah’s sons, Reginald, set up R V Howe Ltd to carry on those operations while his brother Albert formed A Howe & Sons. Back in those days Bedfords were the first choice of truck and Nick has a photograph of a line-up of early ‘30s Bedford 3-tonners that were once run by the company.

Between 1960 and 1982 A Howe & Sons bought a total of nineteen Bedfords, including two J types, six TKs, nine KMs, one TM and finally one TL. The TM marked the arrival of their first lorry-mounted brick crane, a Hiab 650. The vehicle was a 1977 TM2600 6x2 powered by the 8.2 litre Blue Series engine. The body with crane was built at local Bedford dealers Charles Warner of Lincoln and A Howe was one of the first hauliers in the area to run such a crane lorry.

Over the years all of A Howe & Sons’ Bedfords have been supplied by Charles Warner. Sadly the TM sixwheeler suffered reliability problems and was part of the reason why Howe switched to Volvo in 1982. Despite this, Nick has fond memories of the TKs and KMs that the company ran back in the sixties when he was growing up. It is this boyhood fascination with Bedfords that led him to restore the KM and now the TK we feature here.

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