British Classic Buses in New Zealand - (Page 1)


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Last updated 30 July 2018

I regularly receive material about buses of British origin in New Zealand, so here are some pages to display some of it. Please feel free to send any suitable items and I will be happy to post them. The latest material is posted on this page (Page One).

New Zealand buses Page Two is here and Page Three is here.

There are some New Zealand bus links at the foot of this page.


NORTH SHORE SEDDON HALFCABS

In September 2016 Jodi Lucas said he was selling his housebus and wondered if I could tell him anything about it. It had me stumped, but he then started to find answers for himself. Apparently it claimed to be a 1956 Mk.6/2 Seddon Atkinson, possibly with a railway history. I had no idea that Seddon built any halfcabs.

Jodi came across a chassis number (31672), an engine number (RL25383) and evidence that it was first registered in New Zealand in 1956. An entry at the bottom of this page by the NZ Omnibus Society reveals that North Shore Transport of Takapuna acquired 14 Seddon Mk.6 buses like this between 1951 and 1956 with 34-seat halfcab bodies made in-house by North Shore. This is surely one of those, but the chassis number doesn't match up with any of them. Maybe there was a 15th?

The MOTAT museum in Auckland has another Seddon halfcab - former North Shore Transport No.80, again with a North Shore B34F body. Built in 1955 it is registered EX9630 and in 2008 was stored, unrestored. It looks as though others may have been converted to movans but it's not known if they are still around.

Then in July 2018 Mat Foster sent me a picture of a Seddon in use as a movan (shown below), although he can't put a date or location on the image. It clearly came from the same batch.

There's no doubt about the identity of EX 9642 shown here - it was the registration used by North Shore No.94 when it was in service. According to the Omnibus Society website the registration lapsed in 2003, but who knows... Here's a picture of the same vehicle at Orewa Depot when in service in 1969, with the kind permission of photographer Peter Trevor, and with the assistance of the New Zealand Omnibus Society.

Then Neville Jarvis, who used to drive this bus with North Shore Transport in the 1960s wrote to me in July 2018 to confirm that ALL the pictures above are of the same bus - No.94. But that's not the end of it. Mat Foster also sent the picture below, which shows another NST Seddon, this time bearing the registration FE 935.

At first I thought this was No.86 from the fleet, but Neville Jarvis says that it actually No.79 (formerly EX 9629) and he sent a picture of it taken by him in the North Shore company depot at Takapuna.

Thanks very much to everyone who contributed to this interesting story. Maybe we haven't heard the last of it.


ANOTHER PHOTO COLLECTION FROM MAT

Regular contributor Mat Foster has sent me a new set of pictures from around the campsites of New Zealand. He can't recall where or when they were taken, but it's quite possible that some or all of these vehicles are still around. Maybe readers can supply some info. We start with an AEC Regal with an interesting back end.

The registration appears to be EV 6804. My sketchy records say that similar EV 6806 was a Wellington Regal, EV 6810 was a Wellington OPS2 Leyland Tiger, and EV 6832 and EV 6871 were Wellington Reliances. So I'm guessing that this particular "EV" is a former Wellington Regal - they had at least eight of them. The shape of the destination window on the front also supports this. Can anyone confirm the identity and whether this movan is still around?

Above is another AEC Regal and I've no idea of its origin. I suppose Dunedin is a possibility. And finally we have a Leyland, below;

This is a pre-war Leyland Tiger TS bus with a single front entrance. Dunedin had one (or more?) TS1 bus like this but I don't know of any others in New Zealand. Any thoughts?

It would be nice to think that this Tiger, and some of the others shown above, are still in circulation. Let me know if you have anything to add. Meanwhile thanks sgain to Mat for some intriguing pictures.


OLD AUSTIN HOPES FOR RESTORATION

Diane Stanley in New Zealand has been offered this bus, which she has been told is a 1948 Austin. She loves the look of it and fancies restoring it as a housebus for herself and her daughter. John Wakefield reckons it's an Austin K2 and would be a real challenge to put back on the road. Perhaps it would make a nice static summerhouse!


A VINTAGE MORRIS COMMERCIAL HEADS SOUTH

In April 2018 John Wakefield kindly forwarded me these pictures from Gordon Taylor. The first one (above) shows 1925 Morris Commercial CP 3838 seen here in UK. It had originally been a 1 ton truck, but was rebuilt with a Caseley "toastrack" body from one of the Sidmouth Austin 20 cars (UO 7095). In 2005 it was taken out to Nelson by Englishman Gordon Taylor who planned to use it (and a Bedford OB) for heritage tours.

Unfortunately for Gordon the OB (JAB 867) had to be returned to UK as the NZ authorities would not approve it for fare-paying passengers. However he did manage to run the Morris Commercial (now registered MC1925) on a Nelson Heritage service as seen above, although the project failed in 2011 through lack of patronage.

The Morris was then reported to have been sold to a shipping company owner in Auckland, possibly for his private collection. Does anyone know who has it now? By the way, that's Fifeshire Rock in Tasman Bay behind the bus, and not something stuck on the roof! The rock marks the old entrance to Nelson Harbour.


SOME PICTURES FROM 2016

Charles Loughlin kindly sent me these pictures in April 2018, which were snapped during a holiday he spent in New Zealand during 2015 and 2016. This first one was taken in New Brighton, Christchurch on 18 February 2016. It shows former Midland General No.677 (SRB 75F), a Bristol FLF6G Lodekka which has had a busy life. After Midland General withdrew it in 1979 it worked for Trent, West Yorkshire (briefly) and a jazz band! It came to New Zealand in 1993 and is seen here wearing an advert for the Carlton Bar & Restaurant in Christchurch.

The next one shows a bizarre conversion of a Leyland Comet bus advertising "Gadgets & Gizmos", an "Organic mechanic" and announcing that "The Lost Gypsy Gallery is Open"! A clue to the Comet's history is the arrangement of pale blue stripes down the side, which is a distinctive design used by New Zealand Railways Road Services in the late 1950s / early 1960s. So I think that's where it came from. Charles can't recall exactly where he saw it.

Finally this conversion hiding behind the pampas grass was spotted at Franz Josef Glacier, South Island. It's a Bedford SB and may well be another bus from the fleet of New Zealand Railways Road Services, who had loads of them. Thanks for Charles for the interesting photos.


WELLINGTON TIGER TURNS UP

Mat Foster found yet another classic piece of history when he spotted this for sale on the trademe.co.nz website in March 2018. It is former Wellington City Transport No.50 (later renumbered 250), a Leyland Tiger OPS2/1 (chassis number 473112) with a NZ Motor Bodies B37D bus body. Probably it's the only complete example of a Wellington Tiger.

Built in 1948 and registered EV 6810, it appears to have been owned by P.Beech of Waikawa Bay, Picton, for over 40 years, used as "sleep out and storage".The seller was offering a 'buy now' price of $10,000, describing it as a runner but with no seats. Thanks again to Mat for letting me know about this. Photos from trademe.co.nz.


ANOTHER MYSTERY AEC REGAL

Mat Foster (bless him!) has kindly alerted me to another vintage gem for sale on the www.trademe.co.nz website (Feb 2018). It claims to be a 1937 "Leyland" Regal but is in fact an AEC. The advert says "Needs total restoration or wrecking. Hasn't run for 20 years."

Everything looks right for a late 1930s example which makes it an interesting machine. At the time of writing this, the bids stood at over NZD500 and apparently the reserve had been met, so it was about to be sold from its present location at Waimate, just south of Timaru.

My guess is that this bus came from Dunedin (see the Regal on the back of a truck further down this page), but maybe you know better. As far as I can tell (and assuming the seller's date of 1937 is correct), the AEC Regal imports to New Zealand were 1936; Christchurch x 6 and Wellington x 2, 1937; Wellington x 3, 1938; Dunedin x 1 and Wellington x 1. Anyway all suggestions are welcome, and meanwhile I hope it gets a good home. Thanks again to Mat for letting me know about it.


DUNEDIN "GERTIE" BECAME A LIBRARY

Allan Steel contacted me in August 2017 and explained that he manages a Facebook page in Dunedin attempting to find pictures of all the trams that operated in the city from the 1880s to 1950s, and they have managed to obtain photos of all but one of them. The page is here.

They have now extended the scope of the page to include motor buses and trolleybuses that operated in the Dunedin area from 1925 onwards and are searching for any photos, both Dunedin City Corporation and private companies. Have a look at the collection of images already on the page, and maybe you can add something new. Meanwhile Allan kindly sent me this picture.

The photo (from the Dunedin City Council archives) shows Dunedin number 17 in use as a mobile library. In the 1930s DCT purchased the chassis of five Leyland SKPZ2 Cubs (numbers 16 to 20) upon which they built their own B27F bodies. Number 17 was bought from the city council in 1950 for £175 and refitted to carry about 1000 books. Affectionately known as "Gertie" it started its rounds on 17 April 1950. The first such service in New Zealand, it was intended "primarily for the use of housewives and there is also a selection of books which mothers can read to children" according to a city council report at the time.

Allan says that it was retired and replaced in 1968. After life as a mobile library, Gertie later became a pie cart and, later still, graced the front of a coffee outlet in Lower Stuart Street for a number of years. The photo above was taken in the 1960s, and thanks very much to Allan for sending it.


MORE VIEWS FROM MAT'S TRAVELS

It's always a pleasure to hear from Mat Foster who sends me great pictures from around New Zealand as he travels about. This time we start with a very intriguing AEC Regal, as shown below. It's registered PI 3926.

This isn't a Regal I've come across before and Mat tells me it has been rescued for rebuild "down in Christchurch" so I hope someone can call in and give us more info about that. Could it be from Dunedin? I'm looking for clues, if you can help.

Mat also sent me this image of a Leyland Comet motorhome that he took last time they were in South Island. It belongs to a friend of theirs.

He also sent me another picture of our old friend Bedford VAL "Chubby Cheeks", and you can find that at the top of Page 3, as well as a photo of a Sydney AEC Regent which now appears on my Australian pages. Thanks Mat, as ever, for your interesting contributions.


LONDON RTL

Joe Goodin from New Plymouth called me in 2005 to ask for repair information for his wonderful ex London Transport 1948 Leyland Titan RTL68 (JXN 391). I'm not the man for technical stuff, but I knew someone who could help. He was also looking for an authentic London Transport driver's uniform !

This is almost certainly the only RTL ever to come to New Zealand and, by my reckoning, the fourth oldest surviving RTL in the world - only RTLs 43, 47 and 48 (all in UK) pre-date it. Whether it was actually built at the very end of 1948 or January 1949 is not clear, but it's a pleasure to see it in use. Thanks Joe.

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In 2013 Alan Bond contacted me with the following additional information;
"I remember RTL 68 when it was owned by the late Ted Brakell and I drove it many times. I was very disappointed when he sold it to the chap in NZ, as roof box RTLs are as rare as hen's teeth. Ted also had RTL 247 for a while and sold that to Sentosa Island, Singapore where it finished up being driven over a cliff into the sea to create a marine wildife conservation area. The entire Sentosa fleet of 8 RTs & RTLs was disposed of in this way and included RT 3420 which was a Windsor bus that was decapitated under a low bridge at Kingston while on Green Line relief duties. Quite by coincidence it was the same bridge that decapitated RT 1420 whose body was then removed and replaced by the prototype RT body (18246) and the bus is now known as RT 1 and resides in the London Bus Museum at Brooklands."

"I can provide a full history of both chassis and body of RTL68. Brief details are:-
Chassis unit no 8317 - New as RTL 1319 (body 6527) 6/52 until 1/56 at Hackney. Overhauled 1/56 as RTL 1324 (body 6527 again) and to Middle Row, Clay Hall & Tottenham respectively until 1/60. Overhauled again 1/60 as RTL 1333 (body 6527 again) and to Dalston until 1/64. Final overhaul 1/64 as RTL 68 (body 2038) and to Bow and Poplar."

"Body 2038 - New as RT 759 6/48 until 2/56 at Mortlake and Plumstead. Overhauled 2/56 as RT 2929 to Enfield until 9/59. Overhauled 10/59 as RT 3476 to Enfield again until 1/64 when the body went on to chassis 8317 above as RTL 68."

"RTL 68 was withdrawn from service at Poplar wef from 1st April 1967 and sold White City Coaches, Bryony Road, London, W12 wef from 4th July 1968. It passed to Ted Brakell in the early '70s who sold it to its present owner."

Many thanks Alan.

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I received a further update from Charles Loughlin in June 2017. He told me "I have seen and taken photos of the 1948 Leyland Titan bus RTL 68. It was parked in a layby near Governor's Bay, South Island on 14 February 2016. I think the bus had been parked in the layby for quite a while as the warrant of fitness had expired on 23 April 2015. She was covered in cobwebs around the bonnet and grille but the tyres hadn't deflated much. Sad to see her in that state."

Thanks Charles. Let's hope a fairy godmother turns up soon.


OLD LEYLANDS STILL AT WORK

Philip Murf sent me this picture of his 1966 Worldmaster (former Dunedin 136, on the right) alongside a 1981 New Zealand Motor Bodies Leyland Leopard (Dunedin City Transport 194, the city's last Leyland) belonging to the Otago Heritage Bus Society. They were ferrying people attending the FRONZ convention in Dunedin early in June 2017. (For the full story on the Worldmaster, see the item further down this page.)

Philip also sent me this photo of 1976 Dunedin 170, a Leyland Leopard with an Emslie body. After retirement by Dunedin it became a school bus, then a motor caravan and finally wound up on a farm. Rescued in 2012 it is now a valued working member of the Otago Heritage collection.

Here's another picture of Leopard 170 in the background with similar 174 on the right. Acquired by the Otago Heritage Bus Society in 2014 No.174 wears the later livery as used by Citibus. Thanks very much to Philip for the pictures.


MEMORIES OF OLD BEDFORDS

In January 2017 Jeffery Leeden kindly sent me these two pictures. He says that the Bedford OB above, "Old Bedy", was his second bus and that he converted the vehicle below to a mobile home and always regretted selling it. It apparently had a Bedford chassis and a Perkins 6354 6-cylinder diesel engine.

At first I thought it could have come from New Zealand Railways, but Jeffery said is was a sister to "Chubby Cheeks" (see the Bedford VAL on Page 2) but not a twin-steer. "Chubby Cheeks" was apparently one of 28 that came to New Zealand in 1964 and has a very similar body built by Modern Motor Bodies in Christchurch. The VAL was initially a Bedford promo bus, so perhaps this one was too. Thanks to Jeffery for the photos.


New Zealand buses Page Two is here and Page Three is here.

Some New Zealand bus links;


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


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