Land Rover Defender Blog


Delving Into The Past Of Our Land Rover

Ex-Utility Land Rovers make a sensible buy. Here's our old National Grid Defender

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

December 9, 2010

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year


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We contacted the National Grid recently about our Defender 90. When it was purchased, we were told that this had been a National Grid vehicle, complete with marks from the board's graphics and other such modifications. We were interested in finding out more about how the Land Rover was used at the Grid and so sent off an email to their press department. A very helpful lady passed our query onto John, who drove and used Winton for several years. Here's what we found out, complete with photos.

Purchase by the National Grid

Our Defender was originally purchased from Farnell Land Rover in Leeds. John was only assigned the Landy when it had approximately 10k on the clock. It's role was to lug around a £50,000 thermal camera, designed to check for leaks around power stations. This explained the Webasto sun-roof that had been fitted by the dealer, it was used to move the camera from it's specially made bracket in the load area up onto the roof, where it was then mounted to a similar roof bracket. The driver would then set-off around the substation stopping in strategic locations, whilst a camera operator stood in the back, with their upper half out of the sunroof operating the camera. The idea was to locate 'hot joints' on the lines, which would indicate faults developing.

Staythorpe Power Station in Nottinghamshire

It was interesting to find this information out, but John went on further. After this role, it was then put into service as a spare off-road vehicle for the overhead lines team at Staythorpe Power Station in Nottinghamshire. One of it's uses was for off-road driver training at 2 dales in Derbyshire. The 90 was picked for this role partly as it had road orientated tyres that made the course more meaningful, but undoubtedly harder. Drivers would have had to rely on their skill and training to get through it, as it would often be well up to it's bonnet in water negotiating hazards. This perhaps is not something you'd like to hear your own vehicle was been used regularly for.

Winton, in his National Grid guise. Here it has no Grid livery, though it has had some stickers at some point. Perhaps they were removed when the new branding was introduced, as seen on the transit front left. The photo was taken beside the M62 at Gale common near Eggborough Power Station

Fortunately, the National Grid really cared and looked after this little Landy, it was (and still is) kept clean, tidy and maintained regardless of cost. It even sat in a lovely, heated garage so as to be ready for action at a moments notice. If you have an ex-utility Land Rover, or any service for that matter, go ahead and look into it's history since leaving Solihull. Thanks to the design of Land Rovers, they are often used for diverse and very interesting jobs. You may be surprised to learn how your vehicle was put to use in the days before your ownership. We look forward to starting a new chapter for this humble ex-utlity Defender. It now serves as our own test vehicle for reviewing products and green lanes. We have a lot of plans for Winton, but we'll be sympathetic to it's past and try to retain the standard, utilitarian appearance as much as possible. Here's to many more years of happy service.

A big thanks must go to John at the National Grid, as well as the press department who were instrumental into helping us with this post. If you have an interesting Land Rover, do feel free to email some pictures and information to and we'll share your Landy with the community.

1 Comment

  1. Dan says:

    Hi, very interesting page and lucky you are on getting so much information out of NG. I have an ex Southern Electric Landrover and apart from knowing where it was registered I know nothing about what it did or who drove it. You can see more at


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