K4 colours, Nottingham Station codes and history of GXN202

I put the following question to John Thompson (co-author “The Green Machine”) and Ted Angus, both very knowledgeable ex-members of the AFS until it was stood down in 1968:

I have known for some time that the AFS used a fair amount of ex-wartime kit, especially Austin K2s, but I have only ever seen black&white photos. Were they still grey, or had they been repainted red at the end of the war? Did the AFS repaint them Deep Bronze Green to match everything else?

The reason I ask is that in restoring a 1942 Austin K4 Turntable Ladder, I have obtained a crew cab from another vehicle. Peeling back the layers of paint, at the bottom is NFS grey. Then there is some red – no surprise there, as they were repainted red when they went into the civilian fire brigades at the end of the war.

BUT the next coat is green – looks a good match for DBG. It is gloss, so not any form of undercoat.

Then the top coat is yellow – presumably when sold out of brigade or home office use, it was a private works brigate that used yellow?

Any ideas what is going on here?

Ted replied:
David,  In October 1945 the NFS authorised certain types of appliances earmarked for peacetime retention for future  brigade service to be repainted red.  TLs were included in this.    So that would be your first coat of red.  I have had a real in- depth dig into Scottish office records and many English HO records and never found any mention of a 60 ft TL going to storage.  The HO/SHHD stock ledger which gives asset /stock codes for every type of vehicle from 1938 to 1970 does not include any TLs.  They all went into brigade use then some found non-fire employment- this is where your odd colours may well originate from.

From various brigade records I have found a common instruction dated 1949 handed down from the HO and the Scottish Home dept that:  appliances drawn from store by brigades for AFS training  were to be painted and marked in brigade colours; The instruction lists how much money each local authority could claim for this painting. 3 prices were given, K2 ATVs, Heavy units  and finally trailer pumps.  Once all the new vehicles for AFS use came into service a small amount of the ex WW2 originally drawn from stock remained in AFS use, evidence is only a handful was painted into DBG.

Is your donor the yellow TL ex National fire museum at Weedon ?  Prior to Weedon it was in store at the Science museum at Wroughton.   It had been in Industrial use for many years.  I have a couple of pics of it, but none on the pc they are in a dozen boxes of thousands of pictures I have yet to scan .

John contributed:
I can confirm that NO records exist of any Austin K4 Merryweather 60’TL’s ever being issued to the Post war AFS, therefore, I cannot imagine any being painted in DBG. (In any case they were all accounted for as being issued to Post War Civilian Brigades).

In a number of Areas in the early days of the Post war AFS a number of Wartime Heavy Units (Austin, Bedford & Ford) some still in Wartime Grey some in Post War AFS DBG where issued, however, very soon after the Bedford Standard Emergency Pumps started to be issued most of the Ex Wartime Appliances were returned to the Home Office Stores, I think the last one in use painted in DBG was GLE907 (See page 55 upper plate in “The Green Machine” this one was Ex Bath).

The only other exceptions to this were the few Austin K2 Canteen Vans & Austin K4 War time Mobile Kitchens, finished in DBG.

I believe that one Austin / Merryweather 60’ TL (GXN202) was at one time finished in Yellow at some time in its existence, this Appliance served at Canterbury, Margate (Kent) and the RAE at Farnborough and after disposal it was preserved and when last photographed (in my collection) it was Yellow.

I should add that a number of Austin ATV’s where issued from time to time for use by the Post War AFS, the livery varied, some in still in wartime Grey, others in Silver!, others in Red and finally in DBG.

They where issued for use as general Runabout’s, but found use as Appliance Maintenance Vans, Radio Equipment Maintenance Vans, some even used as Pipe Bridge Carriers, ones in Silver usually issued at the time of large scale Exercises and used to gather up equipment, hose etc, they were usually returned to the HO Stores following the Exercise.

Some of the better ones in DBG such as the one used by Birmingham as a Mobile Workshop for AFS Vehicle maintenance remained in use right up to the “Stand Down” in 1968.

Ted continues:
Hi David,  Yes It was GXN202  from Kent FB it was bought by the AirMinistry and used at Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough- but not as a fire engine  so that is no doubt where it gained its odd colours especially the final yellow.

Nottinghamshire was 8 fire force, the city was D Div for most of the war becoming B Div in the post war shrinkage.   So a typical marking would be 8D-TL-1   often written on 2 lines 8D  then an underline with TL-1 below.

About lowdhamstation

I am a director of a small (and very technical) business, a committed Christian, a Reader (and preacher) in my local village church, husband to my dear Frances, am interested in heritage railways, and heritage fire engines. I currently run a group that displays wartime and early post-war fire engines at 1940s re-enacting events and steam engine rallies. O yes, and vintage cars and motorbikes, and we live in a Victorian railway station.
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