Thanks to an initiative by DAHG, the National Trust at Croome is now the
proud possessor of ‘Bertha’, a fully restored genuine 1941 YMCA ‘Tea
Car’. Bertha is fully functional, immaculately preserved and equipped to
serve food and drink to visitors.
The vehicle was built for the same purpose as the more familiar NAAFI van,
but this is one which was provided and operated by YMCA for the benefit of
the Services. During the War, catering vans provided by organisations such
as NAAFI, YMCA, Salvation Army, the WI and so on – were familiar sights on
airfields, trundling around the perimeter track to provide sustenance to
ground staff working at ‘dispersals’. There was certainly at least one
such van at RAF Defford.
In response to a challenge from the National Trust’s need for an
additional outlet to serve food and drink to visitors outdoors on the ‘RAF
Site’, especially at peak days and in the holiday season, DAHG launched a
search for such a van at a reasonable price.
Thanks to the expert help of Ali Adlkish, Avonside Motors, Evesham, it was finally possible to source an authentic, restored 1941 Austin K2 YMCA ‘Tea Van’, for sale in Holland. Following a sea journey to England, Bertha was thoroughly overhauled at Ali’s workshop, and has now been delivered to Croome.
Bertha will blend in well with the restored RAF buildings and be a star
attraction at Croome from spring 2014, both as a beautifully restored and
preserved WW2 exhibit, and for the food and drink she will serve. She
will earn her keep, assisted by the Croome Catering Staff – watch out for
them in 1940s dress!
She will make her debut to the public on the weekend of March 29th / 30th (Mothering Sunday) at Croome.