Home - Events Diary - Events Gallery - Members Vehicles
Area Reports - Articles - For Sale/Wanted


Crank Up at York Castle - April 19th
By Mike Humphreys

A record number of vehicles drove into the centre of this historic city for our first event of the season. By 11.00am some 85, plus 4 motorbikes and two push bikes had squeezed onto the small circle of grass between the Museum and Clifford’s Tower. Chris Smyth, our organiser for the last 15 years or so, says this must be a World record for a one day event. Chris and his wife Val had chosen their Quad for the outing which was the only brown vehicle on display! I had left home around 9.00am for the 100 mile round trip in the MW and travelled via the fairly busy M62/M1/A64 to reach the lay-by outside Tadcaster. Vehicles from the west of York gather here for the annual convoy run into the city via the A64 and the A19. A most impressive line up queued to join the busy dual carriageway, but invariably got split up as we journeyed in. Fortunately a brief rain shower was all we experienced in terms of poor weather and then the sun came out. This allowed everyone to catch up with old friends and have a very pleasant afternoon.
Parked around the edge of the green was the heavier stuff which included Dale Shipley’s and Nick Calvert’s Reos, armour in the shape of Nic Clay’s Fv 436, two impressive Stalwarts, the Fenton’s two K2 Ambulances, Ian Garbutt’s US Navy GMC, a Bedford RL, a Berna Olten 2 VM truck and ‘Big Olive’ a small, by US standards, International flatbed truck supporting USAF markings.

As you would expect quite a number of Jeeps and Land Rovers were spread across the site, but there was also a rarer Austin Gypsy amongst them. Denis Matthewman’s Morris Quad restoration is coming along but he has yet to fit the complicated arrangement of lockers. It does however provide him with much better sleeping arrangements than his former Standard Tilly.

Parked next to me, with his 1953 Austin Champ, was Jonathon Williamson from Delph. He bought it some 5 years ago and it is due to be stripped down later this year for refurbishment and a fitted with a black Rolls Royce Mk2/2a engine which is ready to go in. He also owns another Champ painted in Desert Sand colour. Nick Dunsford’s Bedford MWR was supporting new canvas and luckily I was able to provide him with two old side screens for recovering in readiness for his upcoming trip to Guernsey to complete the job. He had also fitted a load rack on the rear which I assume he has copied of an old photograph. His MWR supports the Guards Armoured Division insignia.
Parked together in the centre were two Willys MBs in lovely condition owned by friends Peter O’Brian and Geoff Birch. They had come up from Sheffield. Peter’s Jeep is a 1943 model which he has had 3 years and prior to that had resided in the Philippines. Jon Newbould, over the border in Lancashire, refurbed the gearbox for him and he is delighted with the end result. Geoff’s Jeep came from Norway some 4 years ago and is a genuine 1945 ex Airborne version which had been flown in as part of Operation Doomsday in May of that year and then left behind. It is fitted with Tandem Hitch which is a towing A frame. 

See - http://www.paradata.org.uk/events/norway-operation-doomsday

A type of Land Rover, not often seen had been brought along by Peter Hicks from Leeds. Made in 1968, the Series 2B forward control was the precursor to the 101. Finished in gloss green with a GS body and fitted with a 3.0 litre petrol engine it looked really well. Peter told me these were originally designed as gun tractors.
Sat rather comfortably inside their 1943 GMC Workshop body were Sarah Carr and Adam Wright. I didn’t think that I had seen this truck before and Sarah confirmed that they had bought it from the south of England in January 2014. They think it may be ex French Army but their interest lies with the American 80th Division, part of Pattern’s army and the truck is to be stencilled up in those markings as a workshop. I must say what a superbly practical truck for going to events it is. 
Kevin Wilson and his wife Megan hadn’t travelled too far with their son in a 1977 Land Rover 101 Ambulance. Again this was another relatively new acquisition and another practical vehicle powered in this case by a 3.5 V8 engine. Kevin reminded me that I had chatted to him some years ago when he was at Elvington with his Russian Zil 131 Electronics Repair Workshop truck. 
John Gray said he was looking forward to a series of events in May starting with a trip over to Holland with his son Thomas, Ivor Waterhouse and Mike Peacock, Connor and Richard Young, Mick and Steve Dobson, Simon Roberts, Anthony Pearson and Hugo Hunter. The mode of transport is jeeps and the party were leaving on Friday May 1st returning Wednesday May 6th. 
The trip had been arranged in conjunction with the Mayor of Utrecht and is in memory of Hugo’s late father who fought with 49th Division Reconnaissance during the War which was part of the First Canadian Army. John was also pleased to announce that a 1942 Ford GPW had been acquired in Belgium for his other son Matthew to restore. Apparently this had been parked up a long time ago prior to being bought and is now stripped down to a rolling chassis.

People were beginning to leave mid afternoon depending on distance to go. Steve Carr whose article and photographs also cover the event had a bum aching 93 miles to do in his Flying Control Jeep with black and white chequered canvas, but at least it was well protected from the weather. I had an uneventful run home between 35 and 40 mph now the new engine is run in.


As the article says the Yorkshire Area Crank Up us taken place in the centre of York for over fifteen years now. It all started when Chris Smyth the current organiser and originator of the event thought that it might be good for a few MV’s to meet outside the Castle Museum in York. The Museum liked the idea too and put Chris in touch with York Council who owned the oval of grass outside the museum known as the Eye of York. The Council agreed to YMVT using the Eye of York and the event has been held there ever since.

In the early years only a handful of vehicles attended. At one memorable event in 2001 just after the Yorks MVT had parked up on the site bands could be heard playing in the distance. The music became louder and a large procession of Scouts, Guides, Sea Scouts and Cadets came into view. It soon became obvious that their St Georges Day parade was going to end up at the Eye of York too. As they rounded the corner and realised there were MV’s parked up where the parade was due to finish the lead Scout Master quickly turned incandescent with rage “what the hell are you lot doing parked here” he demanded. After Chris calmly showed him the booking confirmation from the Council asking if he had one too ( which he hadn’t) he soon changed his tone. A compromise was reached with our vehicles, much fewer in numbers then, moving to one side of the grass and the Scouts forming up on the other, of course the Scouts loved our vehicles being there.

The Yorks MVT crank up is unusual as it is held on an extremely historic site right in the heart of a city where the vehicles are tightly packed in meaning that members are all in the same place and can easily socialise with one another. Since those early days the Yorks MVT crank up has steadily grown to the record numbers seen this year. It is a simple example of if ‘it isn’t broken don’t mend it’ and dates are already booked in up to 2018.

The photo is my Quad surrounded by scouts and their families at the 2001 crank up. ( before the days of digital )

Chris Smyth.