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Website launched in August 1996, and this page was last updated on 12 July 2018.


My regular supporter Ken Jones has sent me this picture of Colin Billington's superb Western National (Royal Blue) Bristol LL6B LTA 729 taking part in this year's Royal Blue & Associated Motorways Run from Victoria Coach Station to Exeter, Tiverton and Taunton. The coach is seen here passing under the railway bridge at Romsey, Hants, having just left Winchester on the morning of 16 June, Day Two of the run. Thanks very much to Ken for the photo.

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Here's our latest Mystery Picture sent in by Kate Davis. Her great-grandfather went on a tour from London to Dieppe and on to the South of France in 1949 and this picture was taken during the trip. Underneath was written "A pleasant halt en route. Coffee on our way to the South of France, June 1949"

The trail seemed to have gone cold until November 2017 when Martin Ingle sent me this picture from a 1951 Blue Cars brochure;

Martin wrote "No idea what the coach was but the picture is very familiar! The colouring of Kate's picture looks like a tinted B&W postcard so perhaps it's not an actual photograph but a Blue Cars souvenir handout. The two images seem to be barely minutes apart judging by the posters on the tree, that square table and some of the blurry faces. Anyway the location was St Raphael and Kate's great-grandfather got there on a Blue Cars tour."

"In 1949 Blue Cars had no vehicles of their own and used contracted coaches in Blue Cars livery on the Continent. The London / Channel leg was either by rail or a hired-in British coach." A copy of the whole page from Martin's brochure can be seen here.

Many thanks to Martin for sending that; it proves that the vehicle did exist, and is not just the figment of some artist's imagination. So it's probably a French coach on hire to Blue Cars. Kate Davis (who started all this!) said "That's so interesting; I'm sure Martin is right and the picture is a marketing photo. I suspect John Davies didn't have a camera of his own, although he and his son, Jack, are pictured in some group shots. Great to see the actual brochure page, and the diary reminded me of entries in John's own account. You may be interested in his comments about the bus: 'These coaches were not ordinary coaches. They were designed for touring the continent. They seated 41 persons, but no more than 25 made up our party, so there was plenty of room. Everyone had a comfortable chair to himself, complete with head and foot rests, where you could relax to your heart's content.'

Of the journey through the Maritime Alps, he says: 'I was glad when we left the Jura Mountains behind. The scenery was most beautiful but I did not relish looking down from a peak, down to the bottom of a gorge, or to the valley below, hundreds of feet. If anything would happen and go wrong, I am certain that I would not be here tonight. One thing that satisfied me was, we had a most careful and expert coach driver. The most thrilling sight on these mountains was, when we passed the Gorge of Verdun, which was the deepest one yet.' The party of 25 was quite international: '5 from London, 4 from Australia, 4 from Scotland, 2 from Yorkshire, 2 from Wales, 2 from Liverpool, 4 from Manchester and 2 Belgians' and they had two guides, including 'Mr Boris' who was a former League of Nations translator, so they were well looked after! Many thanks for the expert help and suggestions in finding out more about my great-grandfather's fascinating journey. By the way, his first language was Welsh but, as you can see, his English was pretty good too!"

I'm going to leave this picture up on the site for now to see if we can get more clues. If you think you can identify this coach please let me know.

Ian Elby wonders if it might be a Renault, and drew my attention to this picture of a 1948 Renault Panorama bus in support of the idea. The radiator grille is certainly similar.

Martin Fisher suggested that it might be a coach bodied by French manufacturer Besset. Looking at this picture by Traveller Dave and this one from the Internet Movie Cars Database, he could be onto something.


The ticket was an emergency Alpha Code Bell Punch ticket in case the London Transport Gibson machine broke down.

Welcome to the home of classic buses and coaches on the net - I'm Dick Gilbert. This site is all about nostalgia for British passenger transport vehicles from the 1920s to the 1960s, with an unashamed bias towards 'halfcabs'.

Each page has a different colour scheme which is supposed to be reminiscent of some bus or coach company from the era, and this one is meant to represent Western / Southern National. As a result of this arrangement, some of the pages are hard to read, and some will scramble your brain. I'm sure you'll manage.

My interest in British buses began in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the buses and coaches that were around then are all 'classics' now. It was an interesting period, when there were still pre-war and wartime 'utility' machines about (although mostly on the point of retirement), and a large number of halfcab vehicles that had been built immediately after the war. At the same time, new products like the Leyland Atlantean, AEC Regent V, and a host of 'modern' coach designs (Plaxton Panorama, Harrington Cavalier, Weymann Fanfare etc.) were appearing. It was a transitional period when vehicles from the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s could all be seen in use at the same time.

Having been born in south London, London Transport was the first operator that I lived with, then we moved to Sussex and I grew up with Southdown, Maidstone & District, East Kent, and the municipal fleets of Eastbourne and Brighton, as well as the large number of excursion coaches that used to visit the south coast every summer.

In the early 1960s I used to make trips to London to visit Victoria Coach Station, or see the last of the London Transport trolleybuses, or the last halfcab single deckers (TDs). Unfortunately, although I saw what I went to see, most of the photographs I took are not particularly brilliant, or have been lost. However I do have some black & white pictures taken at Victoria Coach Station, London, and in Sussex between 1960 and 1962 which are barely reasonable, and some of them appear around this site. Here's one;

Lincolnshire Leyland Cub

This was taken at 'The Crumbles', Eastbourne, in the summer of 1962, where Claude Lane was running the narrow gauge Eastbourne Tramway (now moved to Seaton, Devon). He had used this ex Lincolnshire Road Car Leyland KPZ01 Cub as a lorry in the past, and it was left to rot outside his depot. New in May 1937 it was FW 8855, originally fleet number LC502, one of thirty delivered that year with Brush B20F bodies. I guess someone might rescue it these days.

I attend a few rallies around the country, and like to see the old machines that people have restored. Reviews and/or pictures of some of the shows I attend appear on the pages here, although it can take a while before I get round to it. The whole idea of the site is to entertain the sad souls (like me !) who have a soft spot for old PSVs, and also be a sorting office for information on the subject.

It's all for fun, so relax and have a wistful rummage through the scrapbook. If you weren't around in the 1960s (and they say that, if you were, you won't remember it) then these pages might provide an insight into the variety of glamorous machines that could be seen on British streets at the time.

Incidentally, this site has no connection whatsoever with Classic Bus magazine, but I thoroughly, absolutely, unreservedly and totally recommend it to anyone with an interest in the subject. It is published 6 times a year, and regular readers all wish it was 12 times a year. Folk in the UK should be able to order it through their newsagents. Those offshore should contact Classic Bus Publishing Ltd., 18 Brunstane Road, Edinburgh, EH15 2QJ, Scotland. When it falls on your doorstep it's like when the delivery guy has brought you a really good pizza.

Please keep in touch, as changes are taking place here all the time, and let me know if you spot a mistake somewhere - I do try to keep things pretty accurate. I know that there are some real boffins out there, and I need you to tell me when something is inaccurate. So welcome to the site, browse around and make yourself at home.






SOME QUICK LINKS WITHIN THIS WEBSITE;  Email   Links   THE COMPLETE WEBSITE MENU   Events Diary   Halfcab list   Small-Ads   Classic Irish Buses