IF a picture paints 1,000 words, the look on Barbara Evans’s face must have been worth a million when she heard the Blue Danube chimes of her beloved ice cream van for the first time in 30 years.
It changed from total surprise to complete disbelief before she finally realised what had happened and dissolved into tears of delight.
Babs had gone to Portland Basin Museum, Ashton, believing she was going to talk to the curator about Tameside’s old ice cream sellers, only to find the 1978 ‘Batman’ Bedford HA ice-cream van conversion fully restored.
The renovation, which was the idea of her son Roland, was done by the National Geographic programme ‘Car SOS’. In what was the most expensive and time-consuming project in the show’s history, they took a vehicle they described as being in a dreadful state and brought it back to life.
It was no mean feat as presenters Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend said Bedford HA vans were not built to last. They were mechanically unreliable and with a propensity to rust like the clappers.
Babs’s late husband Ron was the son of Roland Evans who started making ice-cream on Oldham Road, Waterloo, just after the war. Originally, Roland used a horse and trap to sell cornets and wafers. For many years the company had a very popular stall on Ashton Market.
Roland jnr said: “That van means everything to mum. She and dad spent years selling ice cream from it. She loved it because she’s only small and could easily stand up in it.”
Production staff said Babs’s reaction was one of the best they had ever had.
- Car SOS is a British automotive entertainment television series that airs on National Geographic Channel as well as being repeated on Channel 4 and More4. The series began in 2013 and is presented by Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend.