Manufacturer showcases 60 years of history
16:35 (GMT+2), Wed , 24 September 2014
Members of the Zululand History Society with representatives of Bell Equipment outside the original Bell workshop
Mia Moorcroft

FROM the original tools used by the late Irvine Bell, founder of Bell Equipment, to the very first articulated dump trucks (ADTs) manufactured by the homegrown company, were recently displayed to members of the Zululand History Society.

As Bell celebrates its 60th anniversary, company managers welcomed the group of history buffs to the Bell ‘farm’.

Bell Product Marketing Manager Tim Beningfield said the old Bell workshop is being transformed into a company museum and contains some of founder Irvine Bell’s original tools and equipment found on the property.

‘The workshop is also home to one of the first Bell articulated dump trucks as well as one of the first Bell Tri-Wheelers – arguably one of Irvine Bell’s finest innovations,’ said Beningfield.

‘Not only did the Tri-Wheeler revolutionise the loading of sugarcane, but it also changed the course of the company from an agricultural engineering and repair workshop to a fully-fledged manufacturer.’

Beningfield started the old Bell Tri-Wheeler and gave it a short run for the society members after discussing the design principles and how the oil and fuel tanks were housed inside the tubular frame.

Both Bell employees and society members enjoyed reminiscing and sharing fond memories.

Farmers Casper Badenhorst recalled visiting the Bell workshop 55 years ago when the roof sheeting had not yet been fully completed, while Graeme Davidson spoke about how he had fenced the workshop for Irvine Bell after he had purchased the property.

‘I’ve never known anyone as humble or willing to help anyone as much as Irvine,’ said Bill Davidson.

‘We had a lot of time for him and we’re glad that his company has done so well, because he was a lovely human being.’

Bell Equipment is putting together a comprehensive history of the company for posterity and welcomes anecdotes and information anyone has about the company’s history, which can be sent to history@bell.co.za.

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