Classic Buses News & Mail (Page 3)


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

To support this website, please click here to do all your Amazon shopping. Thanks.


Last updated 31 December 2016

Why not share a story or a nice picture here ? To send contributions you can Email me here.

See more archived news items and pictures on Page 1 (latest) or Page 2 (older).


LONGWELL GREEN COACHWORKS

The picture above arrived courtesy of Chris Taylor, who says he took it in the mid 1950s at Longwell Green Coachworks in Bristol, where the buses were apparently being rebuilt. They are two of the three Bristol K6Gs with Massey H56R bodies supplied to Merthyr Tydfil in 1947. On the left is No.9 (HB 6265) and on the right is No.8 (HB 6264). This was an unusual batch, in that the K6G was not common, and nor was a Bristol K with a Massey body.

Alan George has pictures on his website of the bodywork as rebuilt, on his interesting webpage here, and differences include a new maroon & cream livery, a smaller destination box, and new windows. They were withdrawn in 1968 and 1967 respectively. Here is another of Chris's pictures;

Also at Longwell Green's facility is Devon General Guy Arab II GTT 423. A little older than the Merthyr Bristol Ks, this was delivered as fleet number DG323 in November 1945, with a Park Royal body barely distinguishable from a wartime 'utility'. So it's not surprising that the bus was in for a facelift in April 1956 when Chris photographed it; and the work was more than cosmetic apparently, as records show that DG320 to 325 had "Longwell Green" bodies after 1955-56, so perhaps all the Park Royal material was dumped.

Despite the rebuild, the five Guys were put into store during the winter of 1958-59, their duties being taken over by Leyland Atlanteans during the summer of 1959, ending the career of all Guy Arabs in the Devon General fleet. Like several of its compatriots, DG323 was still in store at Torquay in 1960 awaiting a buyer. Was it ever sold? I suspect not, and probably all that effort by Longwell Green ended in the scrapyard after only two summers.

I am most grateful to Chris Taylor for two interesting pictures.

**************************************

NEWBURY REGAL

Regular contributor Chris Stanley kindly sent me the above photo from his collection (photographer unknown). He says "I came across the attached pic recently as I was sorting out old photos, and thought you might like it, given your taste for Regals. I've been advised that DMO 320 was AEC Regal O662.4583 / Duple 45107 B35F, new in 1947 to Newbury & District as No.131. In 1950 it moved on to Thames Valley as No.131. The location is Castle Square, Caernarvon, and the operator is probably Hughes of Rhostryfan (all info courtesy of Peter Relf)."

That's all pretty comprehensive. The only comments I would add are that DMO 320 was originally the first of ten similar buses (131-140, DMO 320-329) delivered to Newbury & District, all of which had the pleasing Duple "D" type body. No.131 remained in service (in Thames Valley livery, but using the original fleet number) until 1960 when the last Regals in the fleet were replaced by MW6G buses, and by which time the Newbury & District name had disappeared completely. A surprising number of these Regals were sold to small Welsh operators.

My thanks to Chris for a fine photo.

**************************************

CROSVILLE K6A STILL AT WORK

John Sumner very kindly sent this picture he took of lowbridge Bristol K6A JFM 90, delivered new to Crosville in 1949 as MB337, becoming DKA337 in the later renumbering process. As soon as it had been delivered, it was whisked off with 29 others to serve with London Transport, in order to fill a shortage of buses in the capital during 1949-50. Allotted initially to West Green garage (working routes 144 Ilford - Turnpike Lane, and 144a Enfield - Muswell Hill), it was later moved to Dalston and operated 'south of the river'. So JFM 90 (probably unknown to its present owners) can genuinely claim to be a "London Bus" !

It returned to Crosville in 1950, but early in 1966 it was withdrawn from service and began another adventure. Along with sister buses DKA319 and DKA 327 (JFM 72 and 80), both of which had also worked in London, JFM 90 was exported to Canada. There have been no reports (as far as I know) of JFM 80 since a sighting in Detroit in 1969. Meanwhile JFM 72 was last seen in a British Columbia scrapyard in 1997. So it's likely that JFM 90 may be the only surviving Crosville K6 in the world (there are none in UK, although there are some KSWs) - unless you know better.....

John came across it in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, where it has a clearly popular function as the "Bus Stop Refreshments" fast food outlet. Thanks very much to John for the interesting photo.

**************************************

SOME SALISBURY SUNSHINE

Wilts & Dorset MW 6291

I've moved this across from the ** STAR PICTURE ** spot on the homepage, because I liked it so much. Never before published, and copyrighted as part of the Nick Webster collection, here seen in Salisbury in June 1952 is Wilts & Dorset MW 6291, a 1930 Leyland (Lion LT2?) which originally carried a Harrington body, but was rebodied C30R by Eastern Coachworks in 1943. Nick mentions a fleet number of W130 but it appears to be wearing the number 83. Can anyone provide more details of this bus?

By the way, the vehicle alongside would appear to be Wilts & Dorset lowbridge Bristol K5G No.267 (DMR 839), from a batch of five bought in 1946.

Many thanks to Nick Webster for sending me the fine picture.

Dave Mant kindly wrote "I've just spotted the excellent 'Star Picture' on the Classic Buses website. I just happen to have a copy of the PSV Circle / Omnibus Society history of W&D published in 1963. This quotes MW 6291 as fleet No.83, Leyland LT2 with Harrington bodywork - REBUILT by ECW in 5/43. It was sold to a company in Southampton (scrap?) in 1/53. Its Company Body Number was 130."

"I'm afraid I'm not quite old enough to remember these vehicles, being born in 1947. However, I well remember the Bristol K type from my time spent in the bus station in Salisbury from the late '50s onwards!" Thanks Dave. That answers all the questions, I think.

Chris Taylor adds "Your photograph (a very nice picture, I might add) of 83 MW 6291, was one of four Leyland LT2s with Harrington C32R bodies (81-84, MW 6289-92), complete with Walman sliding heads, all entering service in May 1930. Nick Webster's reference to W130 for 83 refers to the body number, and may have been W&D's body number.

A few years after delivery the original Leyland 4-cyl 5.1 litre petrol engines (28.9 hp) were exchanged with the Leyland 6-cyl 6.8 litre petrol units (38.4 hp) from Leyland TD1s 74, 75, 87 and 95. All four carried Salisbury Police Plate numbers 9-12 (81-84) in sequence. All four were rebuilt by ECW as C30R in 1943. The original Walman sliding heads were removed and the apertures panelled over. Folding doors replaced the original outward-opening type. 'Cov-Rad' conversion radiators were fitted several years later but, unlike certain other coach rebuilds, maroon flashes were not added.

81-83 were sold to Whitehouse Metal Ltd. (metal merchants), Northam, Southampton 1/53 and then to A.E. Gash & Co. Ltd. (haulage contractor), Millbrook Road, Southampton. 84 went to B. Hanslip, Redbridge, Southampton 3/52; Sparshatts Ltd., Redbridge, Southampton 4/52; a showman by 7/52. Information is from PSVC P.H.2 - Wilts & Dorset, March 1963."

Meanwhile Pete Renaut wrote in February 2012 regarding the K5G (DMR 839) parked alongside. He said;

"This bus was sold to Eastern National in 1963 together with 5 others 264, 266, 268-70. (Registrations DMR 836/8/840 and EAM 612/613. I well remember them being repainted from red to green, which stood out in Prittlewell works in 1963 when making a special visit on the way home from school. They did not last long in Southend, being withdrawn later in 1964 and sold to Twell's, dealer. There are photos of EAM 612 & 613 in service in Southend on David Lang's SCT61 website."

Thank you Pete.

**************************************

HANTS & DORSET LION IN USE AS MOBILE SHOP

Peter Caunt, from faraway New South Wales, Australia kindly sent me this picture. RU 8678 is an all-Leyland Lion PLSC3 that started out as Hants & Dorset No.268 in January 1929. It was more than 40 years later that Peter photographed it.

Peter writes "I attach a photograph of it when owned by The Complete Automobilist, who sold vintage car spares and used it as a mobile shop. It was taken at a VSCC (Vintage Sports Car Club) meeting at a Cheshire pub in early 1970. The firm was based in Baston, Lincolnshire."

The bus has survived - almost. Now heading for 80 years old, the body has proved to be beyond saving, but the chassis has been acquired by Dougie and Ross Scoular, who are in the process of attaching a "spare" ex-Ribble Leyland body to it at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum. We hope to see it out and about again in the next few years. Many thanks to Peter for the picture.

**************************************

DAIMLER ON LONG VACATION

Another picture from Malta kindly sent by Peter Skerry shows JVV 266G hiding away in storage. Ex Northampton No.266 (now open-top), this Daimler CVG6 dates from 1968, and Peter explains why it's in Malta;

"I thought you would like the attached which has been here in store for nearly 14 years through lack of operating approval. There are 5 other open tops here, all Leyland Fleetline 1977/8 vintage. Three will be employed soon by the operator who has a contract from the ADT (Public Transport Authority) and I am aware that he is purchasing 3 more and a spare from the UK to meet this new requirement."

"The Daimler and the other two Fleetlines belong to an operator who failed to get the contract. However, it now seems highly unlikely that the bid winner will be buying the open tops from the bid loser. There has been some speculation that someone in the UK may buy the Daimler for preservation, or in part exchange for a later coach."

Tony Griffin has a picture of this bus in service on this page; http://tony3972.mysnaps.org.uk/p15750848.html. Meanwhile, sister bus No.267 is in UK, preserved in original condition by the 154 Preservation Society in Northampton.

My thanks to Peter for sending the photo and the information.

**************************************

RAF COMMER COMMANDO TAKES OFF

A superb example of a 1947 Commer Commando Crew Bus used by the Royal Air Force on Yorkshire airfields has been secured from The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby, as the latest addition to the Yorkshire Air Museum's historic vehicle collection. It is the oldest surviving RAF Commer Commando one and a half decker bus and, in 1999, was one of only 5 remaining examples - there are probably fewer now. Under the care of the Panton brothers in Lincolnshire the bus raised substantial funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund after repaying the investment made by the General Engineering Flight at RAF Cottesmore, who undertook the complete restoration of the vehicle.

XAT 368 was delivered to the RAF in April 1947 and served at various Yorkshire airfields, before being sold at Ruddington in October 1957. New owners Hull Cricket Club found it slow, causing the team to frequently arrive late for matches, although it was good for holding kit! However, a new gearbox cured this problem, but after two years, it was sold on to Newall Engineering, as a staff bus. It then passed to two commercial operators, Primrose Valley Garage & Coaches and W & H Lamb. Possibly due to the fact that it only had 21 seats, it proved uneconomical as a coach and was only in such service for seven months. It seems to have been mothballed before being sold to the British Auto Racing Club in June 1962 for use as a race control vehicle. This saw the removal of many of the seats and reconfiguration as a mobile office, with desks and tables. Sadly the bus fell into disrepair and was last driven at Silverstone in 1972, laying in decay until being bought by David Hardcastle in 1978. Despite David's intentions to restore the vehicle, it remained in this state until he donated it to the RAFBF and the team at RAF Cottesmore in October 1993.

It is now fully running, with the engine described as being 'as sweet as a nut'. Some cosmetic work and electricals need attention on the dashboard but, apart from that, it is pristine, having been totally stripped, reskinned, repainted, re-upholstered to original specification and brought back to serviceability. Since it arrived, the Commando has generated a lot of excitement and enthusiasm amongst staff and visitors. It is sure to become a major attraction in its own right.

Dave Walton from Crewe sent me the following additional information in Jan 2009;

"I was a founder member of North Kent Vehicle Preservation Group to whom David Hardcastle belonged when he acquired this vehicle, and we used my ex Cornwall County Fire Services Austin fire appliance to effect the recovery from Yorkshire. If anyone knows David's whereabouts I would very much like to get in touch with him again."

"The recovery is still very fresh in my mind even after 30 years and was done with the aid of two other friends from Gravesend, namely Jim Price & Tony Rich. David took the fire engine to Yorkshire during the week, leaving his Mazda 323 for me to drive to Leeds with Jim & Tony on Friday evening after we had all finished work for the week. On Saturday morning we all drove to the hill climb site where the bus had been used as a commentry box, hitched up and started trundling down the M1. A panic moment ensued upon being followed into a service area by a police patrol car with deliberate intent, whose occupants merely wanted to know whether we knew of anyone who may want a Zephyr Zodiac that one of them had for sale!! We spent the night at David's home at Markyate, continuing down to Kent via Central London on the Sunday."

"It is really lovely to know that our small efforts over that far distant weekend have helped a rare vehicle to survive & eventually be restored to her former glory and that David's purchase and generosity have also borne fruit - I really must try to see her. Also, a big thank you to all those involved at Cottesmore - she looks a credit to you all."

**************************************

WEMS OBSERVATION COACH

WEMS Maudslay DFR 395

Keith Scudamore kindly sent me this photograph of a Maudslay Marathon III operated by WEMS Coaches of Weston-super-Mare. His father, Percy Scudamore, was the first driver, and it attracted much attention. As a boy, Keith often went on trips if there was spare seat. It is parked at The Marine Parade, Weston-super-Mare outside the WEMS Garage, formerly Burnells. Keith thinks the livery was a soft grey with maroon stripe, and looked great !

Percy Scudamore worked for Flossie Burnell who owned Burnells Coaches of Weston-super-Mare from 1945 to 1950. Keith remembers that in those days all the coaches lined the prom with the drivers touting for customers to take them on afternoon trips, the highlight often being an afternoon mystery tour taking in Cheddar, Axbridge, and often Mrs.Tilley's for afternoon tea (2 boiled eggs for the driver!). When Flossie died, the company was taken over by WEMS.

This observation coach body style was built by James Whitson & Co., of West Drayton, from the late 1940s onwards. The WEMS example (DFR 395) was one of the first, and was used by the company until 1960. Some, such as this one, were built for front-engined coaches, and a later version was made for underfloor-engined chassis such as the Regal IV, the Leyland Royal Tiger and - most commonly - Fodens. I believe the total built was only about 25, of which the largest customer was, surprisingly, the United States Air Force who bought ten for use in the UK to move crews and officers about. Sadly no examples of the design survive today. Incidentally, perhaps Whitson's greatest claim to fame was that they built the bodywork on the famous Green Goddess fire engines.

WEMS Coaches were eventually taken over by Bakers Coaches of Weston-super-Mare in 1981. They subsequently acquired Dolphin Travel and became "Bakers Dolphin", still operating today.

My thanks to Keith for a fine photograph and the interesting background information.

In February 2008 Philip Kirkman-Page wrote; "As a small boy in Weston-super-Mare in the 1950s / 60s, one of the things I did in the summer was to collect the names of coach companies bringing tourists to the seaside - don't ask me why I did this, I have no idea. WEMS were my "favourite" company, unlike the bigger (blue & grey) Bakers company, and I can assure you that WEMS were grey with green striping and detailing, not maroon, as all my Dinky Toy coaches were very carefully repainted. I recall this actual coach and had a Dinky model in the same configuration."

Steve White emailed in Sept 2009 to say "The legal entity of WEMS was Burnell Motorways (1947) Ltd, trading as WEMS, and this legal lettering was on the coaches right up until the merger/sale to/with Bakers in 1981. I'm not exactly certain whether it was a takeover or merger, as reports in the local papers weren't very clear at the time. WEMS also had a garage at Clevedon up until the late 1970s which had been Dorothy's Coaches, owned by Binding & Payne. They later took over a number of companies including Cutler's of Nailsea, Gratton's of Burnham on Sea, and Burnell's of Weston super Mare, and formed WEMS Western Engineering and Motor Services."

Neil Gratton added "I was very interested to read the pieces on WEMS and pleased to see the name given in full as Western Engineering and Motor Services (actually with a Ltd on the end). Steve White is not quite correct, as Gratton Bros were not taken over, as I understand it, but were involved in the big merger. This strangely included an engineering company in Clevedon which eventually became Cam Gears. My grandfather Tom Gratton was the founding managing director. Sadly we do not have much information from that time so if anyone does know more I would love to hear from them."

**************************************

HANTS & DORSET K6B TURNS UP

Hants & Dorset K6B

Timothy McAbee in Birmingham, Alabama, USA has recently purchased a 1949 lowbridge Bristol K6B, chassis number 76067, delivered new to Hants and Dorset as fleet No.1230 (JEL 249). It was one of a batch of 32 delivered during 1949-50, numbered 1225 to 1256 (JEL 244 to JEL 275). They were a mixed bunch with Bristol AVW, AEC and Gardner engines, but this particular example had an AVW. Timothy wrote "Unfortunately, sometime after the bus was imported to the States, the original engine and transmission was removed and replaced with an American made V-8 gasoline engine and automatic transmission: the drive shaft was modified and air brakes were installed."

Since Timothy wants to return it to its original condition he was seeking a replacement Bristol AVW engine, which is not an easy thing to find. But he has been successful in locating one ! He says "The exterior bodywork is in great shape for the most part. A few years back the previous owner had the exterior skin removed, wood framing repaired, the skin reinstalled and the bus painted. The interior was spruced up at the same time and is in relatively good condition. The chassis appears to be in good condition over all. There are only a few spots of rust in the front fenders, which can be easily repaired."

"My true passion has been restoring English automobiles, primarily sportscars. I have a collection of vintage vehicles, including nine Jaguars produced between 1951 and 1967, six Triumphs produced between 1949 and 1979, and a 1960 Austin Healey 3000. I am a stickler about my restoration work. All my restorations involve complete teardowns and rebuilds of all components. I try my best to restore the vehicles to the way they looked and operated when they rolled out of the factory. My goal is to restore the Bristol to as close to original as I can get it."

This particular bus had not been reported for about 30 years, so it was a surprise when it turned up in Alabama. Only two from that batch still exist, one in UK (No.1238, JEL 257, which is a K5G) and this one. There was another one in Ontario, Canada (1228, JEL 247, a K6A) but it was scrapped in 1995. The one in the UK was found in a wood by a collector in 1999 and, although it has been rescued for future restoration, I believe work has not yet commenced.

Many thanks to Timothy for the details and the picture. We wish him good luck with the restoration.

**************************************

SOME LONDON RELICS (AND SURVIVORS) AND A MYSTERY

STL2692

Chris Stanley has been kind enough to send me some fascinating photos taken by his cousin, Peter Esposito, in the late 1960s. To start with, the picture above was taken in Crystal Palace railway yard on 13 October 1968. It shows STL2692 (HGC 225) which was to become the only survivor of the 1946 Weymann-bodied green STLs. When retired in the mid-1950s, some went to Dundee (see my Dundee page here for details), some went to Widnes, and this was one of six bought by Grimsby. Having served in Grimsby for more years than it did with London Transport, STL2692 was finally withdrawn in 1968 and bought for preservation, and it was at this point that Peter took the picture at Crystal Palace. It has now been restored to its former glory and can be seen periodically at rallies in the south east.

Now, before we move on, a little distraction. In June 2011 Chris Youhill from Leeds sent me the following email;

"I am amazed to see that ex London vehicle fitted with a destination blind from Samuel Ledgard of Leeds, for whom I worked as a conductor and driver for many years. Picture attached of an ex Ribble all-Leyland PD1A (BCK 421) in Otley Bus Station displaying such a destination blind."

Now I'd never noticed that STL2692 was wearing a blind reading "OTLEY BUS STATION", but it is a little odd for a bus that had supposedly been working in Grimsby.

Chris added "I've just realised something which may give a small clue or pointer. The STL picture was taken in 1968 - and Samuel Ledgard was taken over by West Yorkshire Road Car Co. Ltd. on 14th October 1967. Almost ninety vehicles from the SL fleet were immediately withdrawn for disposal and the destination blinds could be purchased from various WY depots for 2/6d each - needless to say I bought a good few."

Perhaps someone can reveal the story behind that. Anyway thanks to Chris for bringing it to my attention.

Meanwhile let's return to the photos sent by Chris Stanley. Below is another picture taken by Peter on the same day, and in the same yard.

Utility Guy Arab G351 (HGC 130), destined to be another survivor, entered service with London Transport at the beginning of 1946, being based mostly at Upton Park depot, where it was common practice to paint the fleet number on the rear roof dome (visible in the photo), so that the staff in the offices above could identify each bus. The Guy served in the east of London as a red Central Area bus for even fewer years than the STL shown above, passing to Burton-on-Trent in 1953 as their No.70.

It was thankfully acquired for preservation on retirement in 1967 by Rev.John Lines, who rallied it occasionally, but passed it to the London Bus Preservation Trust in 1970. However a total rebuild eventually became necessary, and this was finally completed in 2005, when the bus emerged as the only complete survivor of the breed. Rumours of perhaps another four examples in various conditions have never been substantiated.

John Lines was most interested to see these pictures, and told me "the single decker (on the left) was ex Devon General HTT 487 if I remember correctly. It was swapped by Devon General with Leicester Corporation for a double decker, if my memory also serves me right! It is now fully restored with a member of the Devon General Society". That would be Ron Greet's fine 1946 AEC Regal, now based near Torbay. My thanks to John for the information.

Finally we have another Peter Esposito photograph of a vehicle with a varied history.

Eagle-eyed enthusiasts will immediately recognise the rear roof box, and possibly also the sloping lower line of the cab window, indicating a "pre-war" RT. This was RT106 (FXT 281), new in 1940, although it didn't enter service until the following year. Retired from Central Area work in 1955, it became an LT service vehicle, one of only two 'pre-war' RTs to do so (the other being RT19, whose chassis was used for instruction purposes, and the body mated with RT1420 to become 1037J, a mobile instruction unit). And so RT106 became 1036TV, a unique machine used to demonstrate techniques for righting overturned buses.

It was based at Stonebridge Park for this duty, and that's where Peter photographed it on 11 February 1968, when it was clearly coming to the end of its useful life. Not surprisingly, when the London Bus Preservation Trust eventually bought it in 1971, it was only as a supply of spare parts.

Thanks very much to Peter Esposito for taking the photos and allowing me to use them, and to Chris Stanley for passing them on.

**************************************

DISGUISED GEMS IN MALTA

Peter Skerry was fortunate enough to live on the delightful island of Malta, and had been doing some research into the famous buses there. He kindly sent me several fine pictures of hidden treasure, still to be found in service in 2006. DBY 346, for example, is not quite what it seems;

Maltese AEC Regal DBY346

Ignore the word "LEYLAND" above the windscreen of this bus, because beneath the typically Maltese exterior, is hidden the chassis of a 1948 AEC Regal III registered as HYP 309 with chassis number O962147. Probably new to Rickards, London, the vehicle subsequently transferring to Best, then Catt & Swinn, and finally Vine, all three companies being based in Great Bromley, Essex. The original Plaxton coach body was replaced when the vehicle was exported to Malta. Meanwhile, below is a vehicle with much older origins;

Maltese Leyland Tiger TS4 DBY401

The chassis of this beast is a 1932 Leyland Tiger TS4 (chassis number 182), new to Scottish General Transport as AG 8284 and passing to Western SMT as their number 328. Later joining the fleet of Greenock Motor Services, it came to Malta around 1952, and is now wearing its fourth body (at least!), having been fitted with a Pickering B30F when new, receiving a Burtenshaw coach body in 1936, a second-hand Leyland bus body around 1948 (from a 1937 Tiger TS7), and then the present Debono B40F body. It is now registered DBY 401, and is still very active today after 74 years ! The next one is a bit of a mystery;

Malta Leyland Tiger FBY716

According to the PSV Circle information, FBY 716 incorporates "Leyland TS" chassis number 292672 from 1939, but they don't know the original operator. This would seem to be a chassis number for a Tiger TS8, but maybe some sleuth out there can tell us more.

Malta AEC Regal EBY 484

It's hard to believe, but this started out as Rhondda No.64 (GNY 764), a 1948 AEC Regal III. Originally with a Longwell Green B34F body, it passed to Thomas Bros., Port Talbot in 1958 and eventually wound up in Malta. Until recently it was registered DBY 312, but has now become EBY 484.

Malta Leyland TS7 Tiger DBY 340

Finally we have DBY 340 (on the right). Starting out as Lincolnshire Road Car LT472, a 1937 Brush-bodied Leyland Tiger TS7, it was exported to Malta around 1960, rebodied and re-registered as DBY 340. The bus was withdrawn in 2003 and its registration re-used on a Chinese King Long bus in the November. Operators in Malta can get a subsidy for a new bus if they hand in an old one to the ADT (Malta Transport Authority), and DBY 340 is a case in point. Here we see it , amongst about eight others, in June 2006 in a government compound at Valletta harbour. Though derelict, it does at least still exist. Peter tells me it was not easy to achieve that photo !

My sincere thanks to Peter for his photos and updates from sunny Malta.

**************************************

TROLLEYBUS MEMORIES

Several trolleybus photos have been sent to me over the last few years, so the recent demise of the Routemaster (intended as a trolleybus replacement) seemed a good moment to look back at days past. First of all, here is a picture of Walthamstow trolleybus depot;

Walthamstow trolleybus depot

The photo was kindly sent by Dave Humphries, and shows the depot around the mid 1950s. It was probably taken either by his Uncle Les (Leslie E.Davis), who was a driver there, or by his Nan (Elsie Koolman) who was a clippie. I believe that all the buildings on the left have now gone, and only the one on the right (the original tram depot?) still stands. Perhaps someone can confirm this. Anyway my thanks to Dave for sending the picture.

Kevin Stephens tells me "I can confirm that the Tramway offices are the only surviving buildings, albeit now used as residential flats after the garage was closed and demolished in 1991. The rest is now also residential, entered by a road aptly called Omnibus Way." Thanks for that info, and to prove it, here is a picture kindly sent by David Fisher taken in August 2006 from about the same position.

The site of Walthamstow depot in 2006.

Next we have a picture of trolleybuses in action, N1 1569 and N2 1659 at Hammersmith Broadway on route 666 to Edgware on 27 July 1961.

Trolleybus 1569 at Hammersmith

This is one of many fine photographs sent by Alan Kenny, who now lives in South Africa. As Alan observed, the South African connection is further enhanced by the adverts for Outspan oranges on the front of 1569 ! Many thanks to Alan for his varied contributions in recent years.

Finally, it's yet another picture of Routemasters in the night - we've had plenty of those in the last year or so. But this one is a little different, as it show RM1069 (with RM1076 behind) emerging from Fulwell garage, to be the first Routemaster to operate from that depot.

RM1069 on first RM service from Fulwell

It was taken in the very early morning after the last night of trolleybus operations, 9 May 1962. Note the trolleybus wires overhead, and the tram lines still in the cobblestones below. Fulwell was a living history lesson.

RM1069 is still around, and currently in the fleet of Sullivan Buses of Potters Bar. Kathy from Sullivan tells me "We are indeed the keepers of RM1069. I showed the pic to the MD and he tells me that the bus was used to carry dignitaries around the route for a while prior to the official run-out, but he has never seen a picture of this. The bus has recently been repainted (original livery of course) and is awaiting its gold lettering. Perhaps we should put some Guinness adverts on it !"

My thanks to Les Fenn for sending the interesting picture, and to Sullivan Buses for the additional info. It just goes to show that, over 40 years ago, some folk were willing to stay up very late to see a Routemaster. Nothing changes, does it ?

**************************************

TRENT SOS IN OXFORD

I've posted this picture just because I think it looks good. Steve Ley very kindly sent me this image that he acquired recently, showing passengers apparently embarking on a charabanc outside the Clarendon Hotel in Oxford. The vehicle itself turns out to be Trent No.603 (CH 6259), a glorious BMMO SOS QC built in 1927 with a Carlyle 30-seat body. It was one of a batch of five identical examples made for Trent that year, numbered 600-604 (CH 6256 to CH 6260). Midland Red also bought some of the same model during 1927-28. A great picture - Thanks Steve.

However - John Bennett thinks that photo was taken outside the Clarendon Hotel, Midland Road, Derby, across the road from the railway station. Many thanks for that John.

**************************************

DEEBLES

Rog Ingle very kindly sent me a bunch of photographs he took with a good old Kodak Instamatic. E.J .Deeble of Darleyford, near Liskeard in East Cornwall ran services from Upton Cross in the late 1970s and early 1980s, notably the 182/3. They later took over Pearce's Motors, Polperro who ran the Looe-Polperro service. Rog acknowledges that the pictures are not the greatest, but they are nonetheless interesting. Here is a selection;

Bedford LTA 748  Royal Tiger NCV 500

On the left is a 1950 Bedford OB (LTA 749), originally No.1410 with Western National. Colin Billington (who owns sister LTA 748) kindly informs me that it is reported to have been with Deebles from June 1963 to October 1975. On the right is Royal Tiger NCV 500, with a glorious Harrington "fin" body. It was new in 1950 to Pearce's, and transferred to Deebles with the takeover. (Pearce's is sometimes spelled "Pearse's", but Mike Grant tells me "...the Western National timetable for Winter 71/2 gives the operator as 'Pearce's Motors Ltd., Central Garage, Polperro'". Thanks for that - we'll assume it's correct.)

Albion Nimbus 315 LKK   Karrier 2105 PT

315 LKK is easily identified as ex-Maidstone & District SO315, a 1960 Albion Nimbus / Harrington B30F. This still exists, and is now preserved in St.Leonards. 2105 PT on the right is a Karrier / Plaxton coach, which Rog later saw (around 1985) in a pub garden near Pensilva in a rotten condition.

Tiger Cub 4425 HA   Royal Tiger HDR 408

Leyland Tiger Cub / Harrington Cavalier 4425 HA had been new to Gliderways, Smethwick in 1962. Somewhat older, HDR 408, ignominiously dumped at Pensilva, was one of a pair of Leyland Royal Tigers with Longwell Green coach bodies delivered new to Plymouth Co-op in 1953.

Leyland Comet MRL 910  Bedford VRL 918

Leyland Comet MRL 910 is also seen dumped at Pensilva, circa 1983. Finally VRL 918 is a Bedford SB, seen at Polperro, and another of the vehicles taken over from Pearce's. Thanks very much to Rog for the photos.

**************************************

DAIMLERS IN DISGUISE

Here's another interesting little photographic tale by Vic Brumby. The location is the coach parking area at Wicksteed Park, near Kettering, Northants in the mid 1950s, and up the drive comes a strange piece of coachwork, operated by Spiers Tours of Birmingham, attached to a chassis with the registration number FOF 251.

Daimler FOF 251

The body is by Burlingham, a design from around 1950 known as the "Sunseeker" (you can see a similar Alexander (Northern) Leyland Tiger PS1 here, photographed by George Bett). But what of the chassis? That registration number will probably ring a bell with Birmingham fans, as it was used by the many Daimler COG5 / MCCW and BRCW H54R double deckers delivered in 1939. The last 30 of those were numbered 1240-1269 (FOF 240-269), and this chassis has obviously been transplanted from No.1251 on its retirement from Birmingham service in 1949.

Meanwhile, nearby in the Wicksteed coach park is a double decker wearing the number FOF 269 and - Lo and behold ! - it's the last one from the same batch. Retired by Birmingham in 1954, it is seen here in service with Courts of Nuneaton. The body is not original. No.1269 was built in 1939 with a BRCW H54R body, but it was replaced in 1949 by an English Electric H54R body which came from 1935 Daimler COG No.765 (AOP 765). But that wasn't the original body for No.765 either. It had been built and fitted to 765 in 1943, replacing the original 1935 BRCW body, which had perhaps suffered from war damage.

Anyway the wartime English Electric body on 1269 seems in reasonable order, apart from the dubious operating condition of the upper deck half-drop windows. So here we have two "FOF" Birmingham Daimlers (neither with their original bodies), and these days you won't even find one. That doesn't apply to the bus on the right, however. Lowbridge Barton Titan PD1A / Duple L55F No.507 (JVO 230) from 1948 is thankfully still with us in fine condition, and can be found at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre.

Some of the other vehicles in that picture are intriguing too. Is that an RF on the right ? (Shane Conway thinks it's a BMMO vehicle, and he could be right. Maybe it's an S14, or somesuch). And what about the Daimler saloon in the middle ? Oh for a time machine! Anyway many thanks to Vic for more snippets from the past.

------

Returning to the top picture, in February 2007 I received this interesting email from Ray Spiers regarding FOF 251

"Our family business, AG & KM Spiers Ltd. of Queen Street, Henley on Thames, bought this vehicle from SS Motorways of Birmingham in 1952. It was a Daimler COG5 ex Birmingham Corporation Transport double-deck, having been rebodied by Burlingham in 1951. The chassis had been extended prior to being rebodied, to cope with 30 ft., 37 seat bodywork."

"The vehicle was a pleasure to own, drove beautifully, and outwardly showed no sign of being anything other than new. Our customers were very impressed ..... especially with all the continental destinations on the louvres! It was driven exclusively by Albert Jones until 1954 (who took over and drove a freshly purchased 1952 Sentinel Plaxton, MYR500) and then by Philip Compton. Both these top-drawer drivers kept the coach immaculate. Albert drove the vehicle on private hire European trips, quite a feat!"

"I am 90% certain that the driver in the photo is Phil Compton, who unfortunately died last year. I attended his funeral. During the War he served in the Army as a tank driver, being at Monte Casino of all places, and was wounded in action. He worked for Bury's Transport of Nettlebed after us. He then moved to Gloucester and worked for Red and White, becoming an Inspector at Victoria Coach Station, travelling every day from Gloucester to London and back! On his retirement he was featured in the Gloucester newspaper - well deserved too."

"Unfortunately due to the shrouded radiator on this style of Burlingham body, plus having no cooling fan, the vehicle overheated. It was also underpowered, weighing in at 7 tons 7 cwt. so a cure was attempted by purchasing a life-expired Manchester Corporation Daimler CWA6 and replacing the Gardner 5LW with the CWA6 AEC 7.7 unit. Although we did some of the initial work ourselves, completion was by Caversham Motors. The downside to this was that the 7.7 was solidly mounted in the frame with resulting vibration at certain speeds. Skill was needed by the driver to try to steer clear of this."

"This coach was very heavy on front tyre wear, and Michelin Metalics (the fore-runner to Michelin X) were fitted which partially helped. The Michelin X was a revolutionary and far superior tyre."

"A little talked about subject is the flexing nature of the Daimler chassis, which caused 'creep' in the coachwork .... particularly the roof. This is due to the curved low slung style of the chassis which Daimler seemed to love, with (in my opinion) the bending taking place on the curved parts. This manifested itself on the Roadliner too."

"We kept the coach until approx 1960, when we did an exchange with Lambert of Guildford for a 1954 Commer Avenger TS3 fitted with Duple 41 seat coachwork (KRP 688), as by that time we had several other Avengers, and on which we became more or less standardised until the AEC Reliance became our sole make. It is rumoured that KRP 688 still exists! Hope this is of some interest."

It certainly is. Thank you very much, Ray.

**************************************

See more archived news and pictures on Page 1 (latest) or Page 2 (later).


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


SB