A perfect send-off for vehicle buff Tom

Tommy Snape
Tommy Snape
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A special procession will pass through Leyland today to commemorate the life of one of the town’s much-loved vehicle museum founders.

Tom Snape, known to friends as Tommy, will be carried on the back of a 1960’s truck followed by a collection of his own vintage vehicles as a special funeral procession passes the Leyland landmarks which have shaped his life.

Tom, who was a founder member of the British Commercial Vehicle Museum and volunteered there almost everyday, was tragically knocked off his bicycle in early November and had spent the last five months in hospital, but sadly died on Easter Sunday, peacefully and surrounded by his loving family.

Now, those who knew him are preparing to do him proud at his funeral today (Wednesday), and more than 200 people from all over the country are expected to attend to pay their respects.

Married to Jean and dad to Jeff, Ken, Susan, Brian, Gordon, Carole and Julie, and with seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, Tom was a family man as much as he was a lover of heritage vehicles.

Susan said: “His coach was his pride and joy, and he would take the family out in it for birthday meals, and took friends on days out as well.”

Jeff added: “The Leyland coach was used mainly in Scotland, so when he bought it, my dad took it back up to Scotland for the day, and drove the schoolchildren around the area.

“It wasn’t even planned, but they actually ended up closing the village so that he could take people round in the old bus.

“He really was a people-person.”

Having lived in Leyland all of his life, Tom’s first job was at Leyland Gas Works when he was 14, but he was sacked after refusing to work on Christmas Day.

He then went on to work at Leyland Motors in the 1940s until the 1960s, when he got a job at BTR (British Tyre and Rubber.)

He married Jean in 1951 and the pair would enjoy going to dances and to the Regents Pictures in Leyland, where they met.

“We were married for 62 years,” Jean said.

“We had a very happy and very busy marriage, raising the family.

“We used to enjoy taking them to the seaside.”

Tom, who was 85, will be carried on the back of a friend’s eight wheeler Leyland Octopus Truck, whilst a steam engine will lead the procession and around 11 other heritage vehicles will follow through the town today.

It starts at 12.30pm at Leyland Motors down Centurion Way, and will go past Tom’s other place of work, BTR, and on to Stanifield Lane.

He and Jean lived together on Stanifield Lane up until he was taken to hospital on November 7, and his local pub was the Rose and Crown, where his friends will line the streets to watch the vehicles go past.

The parade will then pass the home in which Tom was born, on Preston Road, and go down Churchill Way, Hough Lane, Towngate and King Street, to the vehicle museum.

The trucks and buses will be dropped off there, and the guests will then be transported to St Ambrose Church in buses.

The service starts at 1.30pm at the church, and the family will go to St Andrew’s Church for the burial, while the wake takes places back at the vehicle museum.

“He was such a big character, we couldn’t have a normal funeral,” daughter Carole said. “He was good friends with Fred Dibnah and they did something similar for his funeral, which my dad thought was fantastic.

“We know this is something he would love, and it’s a very fitting tribute.”

- For more on this story, see this week’s Leyland Guardian.