Tuesday, March 31, 2015

1941 Austin K2 YMCA Tea Van

click photo to enlarge
What, you might ask, is a 1941 Austin K2 YMCA Tea van doing in the grounds of Croome Court, a mid-eighteenth century Palladian mansion? The fact is, what looks out of place is actually perfectly located because during WW2 this building and its extensive grounds were an adjunct of the nearby airbase called RAF Defford.

The airmen and civilian staff who received refreshments from such vehicles were involved with the Wellingon bombers of No. 23 Operational Training Unit. Members of the Radar Research Flying Unit worked here and had notable success in the development of airborne interception systems for night fighters. Air-to-surface-vessel radar that was a significant factor in the successful targeting of U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic was also worked on at the site. The National Trust, who now look after Croome Court have developed the house's RAF connection in its presentation of the site to visitors. My shot was taken from beneath a large, military canvas awning over a metal frame where picnic tables had been set out!

During the war the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), a government organisation, provided most of the clubs, bars, shops, cafes, restaurants and other social facilities for the armed forces. However, these were supplemented by a number of civilian bodies such as the Women's Institute, the Salvation Army, the Women's Voluntary Service (WVS), the YMCA and local church groups. This vehicle has been painted as it would have been when in the service of the YMCA. Interestingly, this particular example was found in the Netherlands where it appears to have been left at the end of the war. It was bought and brought to Croome for restoration and eventual display, though it does more than just sit there and look interesting. The interior has been fitted out with a tea urn and electricity so that refreshments can still be served from its hatch, though this time to visitors to the house.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 56mm (84mm - 27mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/125 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On