New ‘leash’ of life for vintage vehicle

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A pet food manufacturer near Boston is taking its mission to ‘bake the nation dog happy’ on the road through a restored 1951 vintage van.

Laughing Dog unveiled TED, as it is known, last Thursday at this year’s Crufts dog show.

Named after Laughing Dog’s founder, Ted Grant, the 1951 Morris J-Type van has been lovingly restored by Ted’s grandson, William Grant, at the bakery’s site in Old Leake.

As the 18th oldest vehicle of the original 44,000 made, TED is one of the few lucky survivors left today.

TED will now be touring the country to help the business - one of the few pet food manufacturers in the UK to bake its entire range of dog food - to promote its mission to ‘bake the nation dog happy’.

The vehicle took more than 1,500 man hours to complete, with each of the 60 different sections of its make-up demanding traditional metal working techniques - many of which have been used for over a century.

“Sheet metal can behave in the most peculiar of ways,” said William. “It has certainly been a steep learning curve for me and a very great privilege to work on such a rare piece.

“The majority of the parts produced were shaped using the English wheel, mechanical hammers or simply beaten over formers which took the shape of the piece I was replicating.

“Once I had brought the van back to its original state by keeping all of the original features to ensure for authenticity - apart from the addition of a later engine capable of better performance and speeds - it was sign written by hand by Mervin Dove, a skilled craftsman, also based in Lincolnshire, who has over 50 years of experience and is one of only a handful capable of such work in the UK.

“Mervin was able to create the authentic imagery, script and feel which would have been existent on the original articles.”

Laughing Dog is part of Fold Hill Foods Ltd and for three generations has been baking its dog food.