FOR nearly 40 years they have criss-crossed Yorkshire’s icy roads, ploughing through snow, sleet and arctic winds.
The gritters manufactured by Yorkshire firm Econ - which was founded in Ripon in 1969 and has grown to be the leading supplier of the vehicles in Britain - have been a constant sight on the country’s routes over dozens of bitter winters.
Now the world’s first museum of gritters has been opened at the Ripon factory, providing a permanent showroom for fully restored vintage road maintenance vehicles, gritters, spreaders and snowploughs.
To mark the launch of the museum, which was opened by Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith yesterday, a fully restored ex-army 1972 Bedford gritter was also unveiled alongside the collection boasting full red white and blue Jubilee livery that has been carefully brought back to mint condition by engineers and apprentices at the firm.
Econ director Andrew Lupton said: “We have been manufacturing commercial vehicles here on this site for two generations, and we take great pride in our craftsmanship and engineering heritage.
“Our staff are our finest asset and we’re extremely proud to count over 30 employees, among our workforce of almost 200, who have been a part of the company for more than 20 years.”
He added: “We use vehicle restoration projects as an important part of our training for the 20 or so apprentices we train at any time.
“It will be great to be able to showcase some of the vehicles in a permanent facility.”
Econ, which employs more than 190 staff manufacturing 12 new road mending and clearing vehicles every week, operates the country’s largest hire fleet of gritters and snowploughs, as well as selling hundreds of vehicles to councils and contractors every year.
The new museum will also be used as a showroom for the firm’s newest state of the art vehicles.