The little black corrugated van parked outside The Bedford Arms, Chenies has its own fan following. Hotel owner Peter Ratcliffe bought the vintage Citroen H last year and it is much loved by staff, customers and passers by.
But the H wasn’t Peter’s first choice of vehicle
‘’We needed overflow bar space and thought of buying a Bedford classic Ice cream van for the garden, partly because of its apt name but mainly as the hatch lends itself to serving drinks.”
Peter and wife Alisa set off on a mission to track one down
“ The Bedford vans we found didn’t fit the bill so we started looking for alternatives” adds Alisa. “We found a gentleman in Kent who buys Citreon H vans from France and does them up so went straight down, bought one then travelled up North to get it fitted out.”
Citroën started making H Vans after the Second World War as a simple front-wheel-drive delivery van. 473,289 were produced in 34 years in factories in France and Belgium. They are popular for their capacity and ease of access, from a side sliding door and wide rear opening, so make ideal conversions for catering or mobile living.
“The van is perfect on a summer’s day when the inside bar gets clogged up.” says Alisa, “ We use it for private functions and weddings and can park it inside a marquee. It becomes a champagne bar on Ascot Ladies? Day this month. We have just bought some wine barrels and tractor seats so guests can sit around it.”
There’s only one downside.. the van is so popular that the hotel team have to take it in turns to man it.. and barman Tom at 6ft 6in?? is at a disadvantage, but he manages
“I just stoop!”
The Bedford Arms, Chenies (and H Van bar) can be hired for functions. Full details opposite
Photo: By Purpix Photography shows Hotel Manager Michael Ratcliffe with chefs Adam, Dave and Charlie