There was such a demand for the industrial tractors, that David Brown’s had converted from the Air Ministry tractors, that the firm decided to adapt the VAK1C (or Cropmaster as it had become known) into its own purpose-designed industrial tractor. It was a much simpler job than the Air Ministry conversions, and they ran this industrial version of the Cropmaster under the name Taskmaster until 1953. Its primary application was as an industrial towing tractor, and as such it featured heavy duty steering, wide mudguards and towing hitch; many were also provided with heavy duty winches.
The company used several around their own works at Penistone, Lockwood and of course Meltham Mills. One of these tractors was regularly paired with a purpose-built servicing unit which incorporated a fuel tank and delivery system, battery charger/electric starter and an air-compressor. It was used to start up tractors that were awaiting despatch and which had stood in store alongside the football and cricket fields at the bottom of Meltham Mills Road.
It was also used for recovering or restarting tractors which had failed whilst being taken up Meltham Mills Road and the Knowle on their primary road tests. As such this tractor often spent long periods of time parked just outside our house, and on more than one occasion I had the chance to drive the tractor on one of its ‘rescue’ jobs.
Other well-known industrial users of the Taskmaster included Rolls Royce, Swan-Hunter, Commer Motors, and a large number of local authorities, including Halifax Borough Council who had placed an order for twelve cab-versioned models. Appearing as the VIGAR for the petrol engine version and VIDAR as the diesel, some 500 Taskmasters were made in the period up to 1953. It is jumping ahead of the rest of the story somewhat to discuss the engine changes which came about later in the David Brown story, but as these innovations came about, the Taskmaster was progressively fitted with 30, 900 and 950 engine units and corresponding tin-work on the bonnet/engine covers.
Even so the same low styling, with heavy duty mudguards and bench seat was retained, and the family traits of the Taskmaster were continued through a succession of new tractors. In all some 2,752 Taskmasters were produced, with many and varied adaptations being made to suit industrial requirements all around the world. One of the most unusual variants was a fork-lift truck built for the Australian market, which had a back-to-front driving position with the engine unit behind the driver and the fork-lift to the front of this and situated between the small rear wheels.