Doncaster council’s tribute to popular children’s programme Blue Peter as show celebrates turning 60

Legendary children’s television show Blue Peter has celebated its 60th anniversary by teaming up with Doncaster council to name a new gritter.

By Rochelle Barrand
Friday, 8th February 2019, 2:41 pm
Updated Friday, 8th February 2019, 2:45 pm
(L-R) Councillor Joe Blackham and Highways Operations Manager Gary Willmot with the Blue Peter Gritter.
(L-R) Councillor Joe Blackham and Highways Operations Manager Gary Willmot with the Blue Peter Gritter.

The vehicle, called Blue Peter, will begin gritting alongside a number of wittily named colleagues such as ‘David Plowie’ and ‘Usain Salt’ as part of the large scale operation keeping Doncaster’s streets and main routes safe during the winter months.

Councillor Joe Blackham, Cabinet Member for Highways, Street Scene and Trading Services, said: “What a privilege and an honour it is to have one of our gritters named after such an iconic BBC programme renowned up and down the country.

“We were delighted to welcome the TV crew and provide a greater insight in to the work we do keeping more than 300 miles of Doncaster’s roads in use during the winter months.”

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Doncaster’s transport links with Blue Peter are far-reaching.

The locomotive train ‘Blue Peter’ was built in the town in 1948 but was bound for the scrapheap less than two decades later until the intervention of the ‘Blue Peter Locomotive Society’ which formed to save the beleaguered steam train.

It proved to be a success and was relaunched on Doncaster station by then presenters John Noakes, Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves in front of a crowd of 60,000 people.

This time around, presenter Lindsey Russell donned her hard hat and hi-vis vest to help load rock salt on to the back of a gritter and brave the elements to go out on a patrol route with a driver.

Lindsey found out why the vehicle is needed, the important job that it does and learned how the roads are cleared before the grand unveiling of the Blue Peter gritter itself as part of the wider celebrations from the flagship show. 

Blue Peter's Editor, Ewan Vinnicombe, said: “It’s great to know that no matter how icy the roads might be in Doncaster, our very special Blue Peter gritter will be helping keep the roads safe and traffic moving. Keep your eyes peeled and if you see it give it a wave and think of Blue Peter.”

Doncaster Council invested in this super-safe construction vehicle by day – gritter by night – which was the first of its kind from vehicle manufacturer, Dennis Eagle.

Fitted with a demountable tipper body it has a crane for lifting and unloading but it will also go to work on winter nights as a gritter on the borough’s extensive road network.

Charlie Everitt, sales support engineer at Dennis Eagle, said: “When we saw Doncaster Council’s spec we knew they clearly required a robust and well-built vehicle for such a demanding role and we were able to meet these requirements. It was an exciting new project for Dennis Eagle and ensures the ongoing safety of staff out on the highway.”