G-AGRU

Viking G-AGRU

Vickers 498 Viking 1A – c/n 112

With EAFS/Channel from Jan 1959 to Jan 1964

This old timer was the very last of the original 498 Vikings and was delivered to Channel from British International Airlines on the 19th January 1959. Prior to joining Channel, this Viking had been held in long term storage and thus required a degree of attention before she could enter service with her new owner. During the year she would be overhauled, painted and readied for service before making a short test flight on Christmas Eve 1959. The winter was however quiet, although being tasked with maintaining the winter schedule she would make several trips across the Channel, particularly to Rotterdam. In fact, she would more increasingly visit this destination during April and May of 1960 as the weather began to warm up and more passengers attempted to make their way across to the bulb fields of Holland. The summer would quite naturally see most of the Vikings including Romeo Uniform, regularly servicing the old favourites of Ostend and the Channel Islands during the week and Ostend and Rotterdam at weekends.

Needless to say, the Vikings would on occasion be called upon to lift freight too and in mid-June 1960, RU would undertake a two week contract to move newspapers between Manchester and Belfast along with several other Vikings while on July 12th 1960, she would again be called upon to haul more papers to the same destination although this time, accompanied by Bristol 170 G-AIFO. Passenger charters took up a good deal of her time too with a trip to Marseilles on June 18th hauling 30 pax while airline B.K.S. would also request her services on July 27th when she flew a party to Lille on their behalf. August would bring with it more freighting work and she would make her way down to Treviso with 500kg of hair curling equipment. Otherwise, the season would continue as per usual for G-AGRU until she was finally withdrawn for the winter of 1960/61, although she would still be pulled from her slumber every now and then, operating for example, a winter charter to Marseilles on January 5th 1961.

The 1961 season began yet again with the seasonal bulb charters in April and May, although these would more increasingly be flown from other airports too with Romeo Uniform flying between Exeter and Rotterdam during late April. Otherwise, it was back to business as usual on the cross-Channel flights and by the end of October 1961, all of Channel’s aircraft had been withdrawn with the exception of G-AGRU and Dove G-ANVU, both of which were kept in service to maintain the off-peak winter schedule. Nineteen sixty two would see a repeat of the previous year although on May 13th, Romeo Uniform would inaugurate a new I.T route between Southend and Perpignan. Regular crossings to Ostend and the Channel Islands during the week and the increased frequency of Ostend and Rotterdam flights at the weekends would also serve to keep G-AGRU busy through to the 28th of September 1963, when she flew her final service from Ostend to Southend before being stored for the winter.

However, unlike most of the other Channel Vikings, G-AGRU would go on to ‘serve’ in a rather unusual capacity with a new owner, namely John H. Bouvy in Holland who had acquired her for a unique restaurant complex called ‘Avia-Resto’ which would eventually be comprised of three Vickers Vikings. On January 9th 1964, she was flown to Soesterburg Airbase from where she would be transported by road to her new home on the E8 between Soesterberg to Amersfoort. In fact, Sqd. Ldr. ‘Jack’ Jones had actually given this aircraft away under the condition that it would remain in its Channel livery and would as such provide him with some free, Continental advertising. Indeed, the success of this venture was quite evident with people coming from far and wide to eat, drink, buy souvenirs and be given free cockpit tours and in the event, the project outlived Channel and only came to an end with Mr Bouvy’s own demise at the very end of the 1970s which also sadly resulted in the closure of the complex.

With the death of their owner, the future of these aircraft seemed uncertain although RAF Cosford finally managed to procure all three for its museum. However, G-AGRU would be only two of the three aircraft to survive and the only one of the three to make her way back to home shores. By 1980, she had been moved to Cosford where as part of the British Airways collection she was put on display replete in a somewhat curious interpretation of the former B.E.A. titling applied to the airframe. This remained until the early ’90s when after more than 30 years, G-ARGU was offered to the Brooklands Museum on a long-term loan and as such, was moved there during June 1991 after which a full but slow restoration would be undertaken; this finally being completed some time during 2014. As of 2017, she remains at Brooklands where she has entered preservation and is on display bearing a more accurate representation of the original B.E.A titling.

Click on the link below the screenshot to see a video of G-AGRU…

Moving G-AGRU from Cosford to Brooklands

 

History of G-AGRU

5/46 to 7/46

Ministry of Supply

7/46 to 8/46

B.O.A.C

8/46 to 2/48

B.E.A

2/48 to 6/48

British South American Airways

6/48 to 12/54

British West India Airways as VP-TAX

12/54 to 1/59

British International Airlines Ltd as G-AGRU

1/59 to 1/64

EAFS/Channel Airways

1/64 to 3/80

John H. Bouvy

(Used as a restaurant/exhibit)

3/80 to ?/05

RAF Museum Cosford/British Airways

(On loan to Brooklands until 2005)

?/05 to Present

Brooklands Museum

(Donated by British Airways/Cosford)

 

Preserved at Brooklands as of 2017

 

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Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.