The ‘Beddie’ Battalion
Until production ceased, Bedfords became the predominant truck in the Government fleet from the early 1950s. From the K, M and O models of the early 1950s, the Post Office operated most of the Bedford range at some stage, including some RLs. During the 1960s and 70s J models – JO to J5 – became the mainstay of the Post Office fleet, and in 1973 their numbers reached 1600.
The majority of the Bedfords used for mail were fitted with the 214-cubic inch engine, while lines branch trucks were a mix of 214 and 300-cubic inch. From the late 1970s into the 1980s, many North Island-based trucks were converted to run on CNG and onsite refuelling facilities were installed at many of the larger vehicle depots. As mail was still largely moved in bags, most of the trucks had canopies still, built by the Post Office’s own workshops.
Photo: Taken in 1979, this picture shows mail trucks in the landing area of the Wellington Mail Centre and includes both J and TK models. The dominance of General Motors’ product can be seen, with a CF van in the background. All the vehicles are painted in the standardised Post Office livery that was introduced in 1975 to replace the traditional Post Office red or grey.