Southend Duty Crew

Has Operated from c.1982 to Present

Founder/Director – Airport Owner

With the winding up of the Southend Municipal Corporation and the closure of its section of the shed at SEN, airport refuelling, maintenance and emergency services were eventually moved to a permanent base on the southern perimeter of the airport and as such, the airport’s duty crew now came directly under the management of the airport operator. While the mass scrapping of numerous service vehicles had taken place during the 1970s and 1980s, a small number of bowsers and emergency units were passed on to this entity with the fuel bowsers now being painted white, while the fire and crash tenders would revert to the colour that is usually associated with such vehicles, namely red.


Fuel/Water Bowsers

Leyland Beaver Refuelling Bowser

c.1982 to Early ’90s

The AEC Mercury first appeared during the 1930s, although this name fell out of use only for it to be restored again during the 1950s and it was the Leyland version of the later Mercury model that was used at SEN with both units subsequently being passed on to the new SEN duty crew. These two vehicles were used as Jet A-1 bowsers and were amongst the first to appear at SEN adorned in white rather than the standard ‘Corporation Blue’. These vehicles would normally have been fitted with 11.1 litre, straight 6, Leyland 680 diesel engines which produced a nominal 150hp or 240hp if turbocharged.

Leyland Comet Fuel Bowser

c.1982 to Early ’90s

Another ‘hand-me-down’ from the Municipal Corporation fleet was this Leyland bowser, which along with the Beavers above, was one of the first vehicles to be refinished in white. The engine would have been either a 6.1 or 6.6 litre, Leyland 375 straight 6, producing 110 or 125hp respectively.

Bedford TK Fuel Bowser

1990s to Early 2000s

Having a relatively small tank perched on the back half of this lorry, this particular vehicle would find itself being employed as SEN’s Avgas bowser which primarily serviced both Southend’s and visiting G.A. aircraft. One such vehicle was used at the airport. The size of the power plant used in this lorry is unknown although most TKs were fitted with either 3.6 litre, 4 cylinder or 4.9 litre, 6 cylinder diesels which produced 87 and 103hp respectively.

ERF E-Series Articulated Fuel Bowser


The only known articulated refueller to operate at SEN between 1982 and the airport’s take over by Stobart. These tractor units were fitted with either Cummins, Gardner or Perkins straight 6 diesel units with the E-badge denoting the engine capacity which ran from E-9 (9 litres) up to E-14 (14 litres). If anyone has any further information on this bowser or indeed a picture that you would like to share, then please contact us on the email address below.


Emergency Vehicles

Thornycroft Nubian Sun Crash Tender

c.1982 to Late ’80s

VXN 861 was essentially a relic that had been passed over to the SEN duty crew after the folding up of the Southend Municipal Corporation. While operational it was numbered ‘4’ (Fire 4) this later being transferred to the Gloster Saro Javelin crash tender. This appliance came equipped with a 1,500 gallon tank for foam. The engine of choice for these vehicles was usually a 6.5 litre, straight 8, waterproofed Rolls Royce B81 which produced around 185hp.

Thornycroft Nubian Major Crash Tender

Unk to c.1991

It would seem that much like the Thornycroft Nubian Sun above, Nubian Major EGW 203J was passed on to the SEN duty crew by the SMC. It was powered by a huge, 14.8 litre V8 Cummings diesel and also came equipped with a 1,500 gallon foam tank. This tender was temporarily numbered ‘1’ (Fire-1) until being replaced by the Unipower vehicle below.

CrT CFE 4×4 Fire Tender

c.1982 to Mid ’90s

Not much is known about appliances XHK 177X & XHK 178X except that they were seemingly the first two fire tenders to be purchased by the airport after the winding up of the SMC. These vehicles were numbered ‘2’ and ‘3’ (Fire-2 & Fire-3) respectively. Their subsequent fate is unknown.

Gloster Saro Javelin Crash Tender

c.1988 to 2011

E694 KFH came equipped with a 14 litre, 550hp, V12 GM Detroit Turbo engine which could propel this tender up to 65mph. Two tanks were fitted, one for water (2,200 gallons) and one for foam (260 gallons) while the tender itself had a pumping capacity of 1,000 gallons per minute and a total throw of almost 200ft at 45 degrees. This tender was numbered ‘4’ (Fire-4) while at SEN and was taken over by Stobart who later dispatched it to Carlisle Airport during 2011.

Unipower RE6P Jetranger 6×6 Crash Tender

c.1991 to c.2009

H772 NPU was powered by a 12 litre, 550hp, Allison HT-700 engine giving a maximum speed of 70mph. Again, two tanks were provided, one for water (1,540 gallons) and one for foam (305 gallons) while this tender could also carry 100kg of Halon. Pumping output was around 1,320 gallons per minute. Numbered ‘1’ (Fire-1) while at SEN. This tender was later sold to Biggin Hill Airport.

Jeep CJ-7

c.1982 to Late ’80s

CEV 53T was numbered ‘1’ (Fire-1) and was used primarily as an airport service vehicle for such duties as checking the runway for debris, escorting other vehicles and if required as a ‘rapid’ response vehicle. Again, little is known about this Jeep’s former history and it is possible that it was used by the SMC for a short period before being passed on to SEN’s duty crew.

With many thanks to Jamie Briggs, Peter Brown and Robin J. Pinnock for help with this page.


Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about the history of SEN’s duty crew or indeed any pictures that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.