'The Big Bopper'


New in 1959 Edward Beck's built to order S20 Foden heavy haulage 6x4 ballast tractor Reg No ODB 793 model No FRHT 6/80 was nicknamed 'The Big Bopper'. 


Powered by a Rolls Royce 220 BHP engine, in line with a 12-speed gearbox, this was the flagship vehicle of the fleet for many years.


The first driver of the Big Bopper was Teddy Martin pictured on the left with drivers mate Jack Bradshaw.


They are pictured here in 1959 while parked up in a lay-by on the A5 near Cannock.


Fitted with crew cab and powered by a Rolls Royce 220 BHP engine the 'Big Bopper' was the flagship vehicle of the Edward Beck fleet for many years but it had a few problems as Teddy Beck recalls below...


 "After being in service for a short while we found out that it had a number of design flaws.


One of the main problems was the location of the winch attached to the rear of the chassis which, on reflection, should really have been located up just behind the cab as when it was in operation under heavy load the front axle of the vehicle would tend to lift up and leave contact with the ground.


To alleviate this problem a large iron girder box section weighing around 2 tons was attached to the front of the Foden to act as a counter balance, later pictures of the vehicle show this modification which ran the full width of the cab".

Originally in the livery of Edward Beck's wholly owned subsidiary 'Contractors (Transport) Ltd' it was driven from new by Teddy Martin and mate Jack Bradshaw.

 It remained in service with Edward Beck for almost eight years until 1967 when, while making its way South from Stockport down to Cannock via the M6, a tyre caught fire just before Junction 12 resulting in the vehicle being burnt out and totally written off.


Compare the black and white image above with this digitally-coloured version below.


With many thanks to Gary Luck for taking the time and effort for supplying the superb image.


 More of his work can be found here on Flickr.


Seen here parked on Whitworth Street in Manchester in 1960 the 'Big Bopper' was hauling one of the company's tank transporter trailers with a tank on board.


 The company did a huge amount of work for the military during the 1950's and early 1960's running mainly out of the huge Burtonwood USAF storage depot near Warrington.


Taking time out for a photograph in front of the 'Big Bopper' are from left to right Bob Thorpe, Teddy Beck, Alan Illsley and Vernon Macro.


 Vernon would later become the regular driver of ODB 793 after taking over from Teddy Martin.


A rear end shot showing the large ship's propeller which was manufactured by Manganese Bronze Ltd Marine Division Birkenhead.


 Pictured standing in front of the cab are Bob Thorpe, Alan Illsley, Teddy Beck and Vernon Macro.


Drivers mate Jack Bradshaw looks on as the rear dolly trailer is adjusted as the 'Big Bopper makes a left turn.


The load is a barge which was one of several moved from Birkenhead down to Southampton at that time.


Another day and another load as the 'Big Bopper' makes it's way through the town of Hyde.


 It is transporting a large overhead crane gantry on behalf of the Wharton Crane & Hoist Co Ltd.


 Pictured here in 1963 the 'Big Bopper' is parked up on the A34 at Cheadle awaiting a police escort before proceeding down to the West Midlands.


Driver Vernon Macro pulls out of the Vulcan Foundry Works at Newton-le-Willows in 1964 with an English Electric locomotive on board destined for British Hydrocarbon Chemicals Ltd.


The 'Big Bopper' along with KV Cabbed ERF 4X2 tractor unit Reg No PJA 672 are seen here at the David Brown engineering works near Huddersfield collecting a ships gear box and other parts for export to New Zealand.


Don't forget you can click on any image and can then view it at full size.


 To see how this exact location looks today click HERE


The 'Big Bopper' is seen here about to leave the David Brown  engineering works near Huddersfield after collecting a ships gear box destined for New Zealand. 


To see this exact location today click HERE.


After loading up at the premises of Daniel Adamson & Co Ltd in December 1965, the 'Big Bopper' negotiates a left turn out of Adamson Street and heads west on to Dewsnap Lane in Dukinfield.


Destined for Middlesbrough docks this was one of the biggest loads ever to cross the Pennines at that time.


The load, 121 foot long, was a welded steel pressure column built for the Arabian-American oil refinery in Saudi Arabia.


For more information click Destination Saudi Arabia 


This particular shot was taken on the old Birkenhead Docks after the 'Big Bopper' delivered this large steel box section to the quayside for export.


With Vernon Macro at the wheel the 'Big Bopper' prepares to leave with another load as a couple of workers look on from the balcony of the engineering works.


The 'Big Bopper' is seen here in 1965 while hauling a RustonBucyrus excavator on a lowloader coupled up to a dolly trailer.


These dolly trailers came in handy as they enabled normal fifth wheel trailers in the fleet to be hauled by either tractor unit's or prime movers.


The 'Big Bopper is at the rear of the convoy as group of Edward Beck's drivers and mates take time out for a photograph next to this impressive line up of Edward Beck & Son Ltd low loaders.


 Pictured parked opposite the depot on Greg Street they are loaded with reels of high tensile steel overhead electric cable.


Each cable drum contained 3 miles of overhead weighing 32 tons and were manufactured by The Whitecross Company Ltd for export to Scandinavia.


You can see this exact location today by clicking HERE.


One of the longest loads the company transported was this gas storage tank built at the Whessoe Engineering works at Darlington.


Pictured here in 1964 it is about to leave the factory destined for Liverpool docks hauled by 'The Big Bopper'.


After it's long journey from the Whessoe Engineering works at Darlington the 'Big Bopper' is pictured parked up enroute to Liverpool docks beside the A580 East Lancs Road.


L to R is Edward Beck's wife Sarah Anne, Teddy Becks wife Irene and Edward Beck while Teddy Beck was behind the lens taking the photograph.  


'The Big Bopper' is seen here while laid over on the A34 at Cheadle awaiting a police escort before proceeding down to the West Midlands.


 The red car parked at the rear was Teddy Beck's Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato that he bought new in October 1962 at a cost of £5,210 from Hersham and Walton Motors in Walton on Thames.


 Foreman driver Jimmy Etchells, stood next the the keep left sign, takes time out for a photograph as the 'Big Bopper' negotiates a tight left hand turn with a long load out of the Daniel Adamson factory at Dukinfield.


The large steel vessel, manufactured at the Daniel Adamson factory in Dukinfield, brings traffic to a standstill in Reddish near Stockport.


 Foreman driver Jimmy Etchells can be seen in the centre of the picture along with one of Beck's Mini service vans on the right.


Parked up in Greg Street Depot the 'Big Bopper' is seen here coupled to a lowloader conected to a dolly trailer.


 As mentioned earlier these little dolly trailers came in handy as they enabled trailers in the fleet to be hauled by either tractor unit's or prime movers.



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Below is a selection of photographs showing the 'Big Bopper' in action while making it's way through the suburbs of Manchester in 1967.


The first picture shows the load after it had just negotiated the traffic island at the junction of the A57 Hyde Road and the A6 Ardwick Green South.

 


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This great period shot, best viewed at full size by clicking on the picture, was taken in 1967 and shows the 'Big Bopper' hauling a 100 foot long crane gantry section heading east down the B1308 Monks Road in Lincoln.


 One of a total of eight sections destined for Scunthorpe steelworks this route was taken due to tight turns and narrow roads in and around Lincoln and required a figure eight route through the city to get on to the north bound A15.


 The photograph was taken by the late John Charles Walker who sadly passed away in 2005.


 John took this image on a 35mm Kodak Kodachrome transparency slide and it was kindly sent in by his son James.


 It would not have been long after this photograph was taken that the 'Big Bopper' came to grief after a fire as can be seen in the images below.


Another shot showing the 'Big Bopper' hauling a 100 foot long crane gantry section destined for Scunthorpe steelworks as it heads east down the B1308 Monks Road in Lincoln.


 The two tall chimney stacks in the top right hand corner of the picture belonged to the long gone Lincoln power station.


This superb period shot, taken from a 35mm Kodak Kodachrome transparency slide, was taken in 1967 by the late John Charles Walker who sadly passed away in 2005.


Photograph courtesy of his son James Walker.


The first of two pictures showing the remains of Edward Beck's S20 Foden heavy duty 6x4 ballast tractor Reg No ODB 793 after it caught fire just before Junction 12 of the M6 while making its way South from Stockport down to Cannock in 1967.



This was all that remained of Edward Beck's S20 Foden heavy duty 6x4 ballast tractor Reg No ODB 793 after it caught fire just before Junction 12 of the M6 while making its way South from Stockport down to Cannock in 1967.


 The fire unfortunately spread rapidly resulting in the vehicle being completely burnt out and written off.


 The burnt out remains were later sold on and it was totally rebuilt with a new day cab by Fred Thompson of Macclesfield then used as a recovery vehicle by Staveley Lime Products Transport Division after which time it was sold on to S.P. Carter of Baldrine on the Isle of Man.


It worked on the island for a number of years until returning to the mainland when it was purchased by Chris Bennett of Stockport in 1997 who was going to restore the vehicle back to its former glory.


In November 2011, and still in need of restoration, it was up for sale by auction at Horwich near Bolton by Jones Lang LaSalle Machinery and Business Assets Limited under its original Reg No ODB 793 but failed to meet it's over the top reserve price.


On the 22nd of April 2017 Foden S20 Reg No ODB 793 came up for auction at Cheffins Vintage Auctions at Ely Cambridgeshire were it was sold for £9,800.


It is pictured above after the auction were it is about to be driven on to the back of a low-loader destined for restoration.


After being purchased at auction for £9,800 on the 22nd of April 2017 Foden S20 Reg No ODB 793 is seen here aboard a low-loader as it heads away from Cheffins Auctioneers at Ely in Cambridgeshire.


Actually all that remains of the original vehicle are the two chassis side members and the rear winch, which in reality makes it nothing at all like the original Foden that entered service with Edward Beck back in 1959.


To be continued........................................



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