This image shows two formidable looking ladies crossing Hastings town centre. A typicalÂ urban scene, apart fromÂ the military vehicles they are passing. This is Hastings during the early period of the second World War. A town subject to aerial attacks and the threat of invasion.
The strange looking car is a Standard Beaverette, named after Lord Beaverbrook, minister of aircraft production between 1940 and 1941. He recognised the need for a mobile armoured car to defend airbases. As money was tight they used leftoverÂ chassis of a Standard produced car, when the factory that made them switched to aircraft production.Â Four versions of the Beaverette were made, the one in the photo appears to be Mark III, fitted with twin Vickers machine guns. There is oneÂ on display at Duxford, photos of which can be seen here.
By all accounts the vehicle was underpowered and overweight making driving the thing extremely dangerous. More info about the Beaverette and a great description by someone that had to drive it can be read here. They weren’t very good but at that time, given that we’d lost the majority of our armoured vehicles at Dunkirk,Â theyÂ were all we had.
The original image of Hastings town centre I found amongst the library archives, and is shown with a photo taken of the same scene recently below.