Meet The Mellor Brothers, for me the finest exponents of model truck and bus creation and display in Gloucestershire. It has been my privilege to know David and Paul for some years now and to set the scene, here is an account by Paul Mellor of how how he and his brother got startedwith their portrayal of commercial road vehicles from the 1950s to the present day:
THE MELLOR BROTHER’S RIVER VIEW TRANSPORT CAFE
As boys David and I were both very interested in all forms of transport and collected the usual Dinky and Matchbox models. As I approached my late teens I became more interested in model buses, collecting and making various ones from white metal kits such as Ambrico and Westward, and it was then that I became a member of the Model Bus Federation.
In 1969 I learned that one of the bus kit producers was also making white metal kits of various lorries and this is when everything began. My first model trucks were Westward Atkinson Borderer units, and one was built as an exact replica of a George Read, Longhope, tractor unit complete with scratchbuilt sleeper cab conversion and trailer carrying a scrap car load (pictured above) as was correct at the time. The other Westward kit of an Atkinson Borderer was built as standard in Nuttall Transport colours, and both can be seen sometimes at the River View Transport Cafe.
It was then that I decided to create models of trucks used by Gloucestershire operators, and now I not only make kits but also convert die cast models using replacement resin cabs and parts with brass and plastic card used to make fittings. Bodies and trailers are also scratchbuilt.
Over time, David has also become very interested in helping to make the various loads seen on the trailers and a joint decision resulted in the diorama of the River View Transport Cafe being constructed to exhibit vehicles from the late 1970s.
A great deal of these models are produced purely from a photograph and textbooks, manufacturers brochures and actual measuring of the real thing. We are always looking for photographs and information on past Gloucestershire hauliers vehicles in our campaign to recreate history.
Among the star exhibits on the River View Transport Cafe diorama – as seen above at Cheltenham in April 2006 – was a flatbed in the red livery of Febrys of Chipping Sodbury. A part of greater Gloucestershire until 1973, Chipping Sodbury is better known nowadays as the birthplace of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. The Mellor wizardry rolls on….
Indeed, if anyone has any photographs, plans, memories or other information about commercial road vehicles based in Gloucestershire from 1950 onwards that they would like to share with the Mellor Brothers please email me and I will pass the data on. Information is also sought on the Windrush Transport Cafe, formerly on the A40 between Gloucester and Oxford.
Looking at the array of constant 1/76 scale scratch built articulated semi-trailers and bodies for rigid chassis – including box vans and tipper designs – on show either at the River View Transport Cafe or lined up on shelves what really separates Paul and David from other road vehicle modellers in my mind however is their blend of historical research and steady hands. They use no decals!
As such their collection now includes many of the “one off” designs operated by Moreton C. Cullimore as well as their more familiar ERFs and Fodens. Similarly, their Mercedes artic with a large traction engine on its low loading trailer had twin flashing lights – rather than just beacons – to warn other road users. Two more items worthy of special mention at the moment are the Commer/ Scammell based furniture van operating as new for Staites Furniture and Removals in the 1950s and an up-to-date Scania “T” Topline in the livery of Maquires of Cheltenham. This huge bonneted tractor unit even had custom lining and flags on its Brunswick green and white metalwork.
Like an Aston Martin or a fine malt whisky, no Mellor vehicle is ever rushed. And the true connoisseur is happy to delight in whatever vehicle – new or old – is on display: either representing Paul’s membership of the Model Bus Federation or David’s affiliation with the National Association of Road Transport Modellers.
THE STORY OF BROCKLECOTE BUS STATION
Brocklecote may be a fictional bus station but like the name ( a mixture of Gloucester suburbs Brockworth and Hucclecote ) the backdrop of Cooper’s Hill with the World famous Cheese Rolling slope strikes a chord with many Gloucestershire exhibition visitors. Just as trucks naturally gather at transport cafes, so Paul and David’s Brocklecote Bus Station diorama can be used to great effect to display their range of public service vehicles. And just like the exquisitely lettered trucks and buses themselves, the fictional Brocklecote has an unexpected level of detail..
Purportedly built in the 1960s to serve a new town development, Brocklecote is also the hub of frequent services to Abbotswood, Abbeydale and Abbeymead areas. Sited on part of the old Gloster Aircraft Company factory in the shadow of Coopers Hill, its facilities are due for a makeover – not least because a new link to the M5 and the arrival of more industrial units nearby has made a separate long distance coach terminal a possibility.
Also next door are the offices and works of the North Western Road Car Co. (Glos) Ltd : the fictional City bus operator which has fought off takeover bids from many larger firms and, since 1960, continues to paint its buses red with an ivory trim and its coaches ivory with a red trim. This is a variation on the real-life North Western Road Car Co, founded in Cheshire in 1958.
As well as modern low-floor, low-emission buses at the various stands ready to take passengers all over Gloucestershire, Brocklecote also hosts executive coaches from time to time. One notable example is “Glevum 2000”, a vehicle with three axles to take not only the weight of its own equipment and that of passengers but of duty free alcohol purchased on “booze runs” to France! After much conversion from a standard die-cast model, “Glevum 2000” boasts an interior complete with tables, lounge areas and microwave oven equipped galleys! Also in the luxury coach market is the North Western’s own Glevum Centurion. Seen below, this features a Plaxton Paramount 4000 body on a Leyland Royal Tiger chassis.
More generally, the bus models displayed at Brocklecote began life as white metal or brass kits which were either epoxy glued or soldered together – although some of the earlier examples were original Dinky Toys: heavily reconstructed but only about one third of the cost to buy.
Just like a real life bus and coach fleet, the fictional North Western Road Car Co. (Glos) Ltd never stands still but is always cascading older vehicles to smaller operators and acquiring new rolling stock. An example of this practice was the April 2008 arrival in Brocklecote of a white liveried Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 demonstrator on a Scania powered Trident chassis.
After evaluation, the North Western Road Car Co. (Glos) Ltd decided to order a large sub-fleet of this low emission type for delivery in August in that year, including VX58 DYB seen loading passengers at Brocklecote for the 250 service to Lower Tuffley. Other bus types in service alongside the Enviro 400s included their smaller cousins, the Scania engined Alexander Dennis Dart Enviro Midi 200s, and Leyland Olympian double deckers.