The Classic Irish Buses website

Northern Ireland Road Transport Board

1940 to 1948

Page last updated on 17th April 2016

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Northern Ireland menu:

Belfast Corporation   H M S Catherwood Ltd.   Citybus   Lough Swilly   NIRTB 1935 - 39   NIRTB 1940 - 48   UTA 1948 - 56   UTA 1957 - 61   UTA 1962 - 66  

U'bus 1967 - 72   U'bus 1973 - 76   U'bus 1977 - 82   U'bus 1983 - 88   U'bus 1989 - 2012

By the end of the 1930s, the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board had completed the takeover of all eligible bus and truck operators in the province, and had built a total of 195 new buses as well, with the last batch of these being bodied in the Board's new coachworks at Duncrue Street in Belfast. This programme of renewal was continued in 1940 with the building of a further 35 Leyland Tigers, after which the second world war ceased the supply of new vehicles and the materials to body them. For 1941, a fleet of 83 buses were hired in on a short term basis from six operators, including the Great Southern and Great Northern Railways in the then Irish Free State, and from West Yorkshire, Yorkshire Traction, Wakefields Motors and United Automobile Services in Great Britain.

1942 saw conditions improve slightly, as alongside the eleven late 1920s/early 1930s acquisitions, a further 20 Dennis Lancets arrived on hire from West Yorkshire, as well as six Leylands from Lough Swilly. An Albion which had previously been taken over from the GNR in 1935, was also hired back from the Military Authorities. Fourteen double deckers (comprising ten Leylands, and a pair each of Guy Arabs and Bristol K5Gs) entered service along with two Dennis Lancets and one Leyland Tiger. 1942 also saw the arrival of the first of an eventual fleet of 175 Bedford OWBs, delivery of these continuing until 1945. One of the West Yorkshire buses was involved in an incident in May 1942 when it got caught up in a US troop convoy, with the tragic shooting dead of its driver. It's unclear as to whether the soldiers thought it was an ambush, or that the bus was slow, Dennis Lancets not being noted for speeding. A third theory could be the same reason that similar buses in Dublin in the 1930s were banned from routes passing the Government buildings on Kildare Street, i.e. their tendency to backfire, which could sound like a gunshot.

To bolster the fleet further, the Royal Army Service Corps supplied a fleet of secondhand ex U.K. Leyland, AEC, Daimler and Dennis single deckers in 1942 and 1943, which came from a variety of sources and had a number of different body builders involved in their construction. Many of them were subsequently rebodied, some as double deckers, and all except one received Belfast "GZ" registrations. Body swapping was also carried out between buses as well, helping the company to maintain services as best as it could manage during the difficult years of the early 1940s.

A further serious change in the fleet came in October 1943, when most of the buses were renumbered between 1 and 999. With a couple of exceptions, the trend was to group buses in alphabetical order of manufacturer's names. This system was to continue into the Ulster Transport Authority era after October 1948, and probably still has some influence on the present day fleets of Ulsterbus/Citybus. As the war ended, and normal supplies could be resumed, the first new buses in 1946 were 20 AEC Regals, followed by 51 Leyland Tigers and five Titans. 1947 saw further new Leylands, and to allow for fleet expansion, a new number range was used, starting at 8490. Leyland PS1 B8729 of 1948 was the final NIRTB bodied bus to enter service with the operator, and in October 1948 the 894 strong bus fleet was merged with the entire rail network in Ulster to form the Ulster Transport Authority. By 1950 the entire fleet of Bedford OWBs had been withdrawn, with most finding new homes with U.K. operators. One of these survived as a PSV in Staffordshire well into the 21st century, while Ulsterbus bought back another and restored it to original style bodywork in 1984/85.




1942 and 1943

Vehicles acquired from the Royal Army Service Corps.


Summary of fleet after renumbering in October 1943






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