Classic Buses Profiles

EAST KENT DENNIS LANCETS


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Last updated 21 April 2016

This page is a profile of the extensive fleet of Dennis Lancet single-decker buses and coaches that East Kent operated both before and after the war.

East Kent Lancet CFN 154

A typical example of the post-war Park Royal-bodied Dennis Lancet bus as used by East Kent. Basic and functional, the design remained essentially unchanged from its pre-war ancestors, and buses like this could be seen all over Kent for nearly 25 years. CFN 154 has been beautifully preserved, and is seen here attending the Maidstone & District and East Kent Bus Club 60th Anniversary Rally at Detling in April 2012. Photo by Dick Gilbert.


INTRODUCTION AND CREDITS

East Kent Road Car Company Ltd. purchased more than 160 Dennis Lancets over two decades. Although they appeared as buses and coaches, the largest number - and the most instantly recogniseable - were the single deck buses with bodies built by Park Royal. What follows is an attempt to create a brief history of the type, in the form of records and images designed to give even the casual reader some impression of the development and styling of this extensive fleet.

The East Kent Road Car Company was born in 1916, as a merger between five smaller companies who were struggling to recover from the difficulties of operating in the wake of the first world war. As well as regular bus services, coach excursions were being operated by the end of the decade.

The struggle against many small operators in the area was resolved in the 1930s, during which a large number of local firms were absorbed into the company. By the late 1930s a substantial fleet of Leyland Tiger and Dennis Lancet buses and coaches had been acquired, and an extensive network of operations took these distinctive bright red vehicles all over Kent, and on express services outside the area and to London.

During World War II coach operations came to an abrupt halt, with some vehicles being required for military service, and twenty four Leyland Tiger coaches being converted to ambulances. However, express coach services to London were reintroduced in 1946, and newer post-war examples of the Lancet and the Tiger were acquired to operate these (and other) services, and to substitute for vehicles from the 1930s that needed replacement, or for those that had not survived the hostilities.

The 1950s were a busy time for these machines, but by 1960 the halfcab PSV was considered a thing of the past. Few pre-war vehicles were still operating and the post-war acquisitions were sold off to other operators around the country, although some coaches were 'demoted' to bus work and continued in service for a few years, sometimes involving considerable modification.

The rear-entrance Lancet with its separate cab was not suitable for One-Man-Operated services, and twenty four of them from the 'CFN' batch were modified in 1959. The cabin floor was lowered by nearly 12 inches to enable the driver to enter the saloon, the radiator block was shortened by 6 inches to permit the lower edge of the windscreen to be deepened, and the drivers' pedals and steering column were all moved to accommodate the new arrangement. Chassis strengthening was also required at the front to support the new structure, and a complete new front end was built on to the body. The result would have given a decidedly 'modern' appearance at the time, not least because it got away from the traditional halfcab design that had hardly changed for more than twenty five years.

By the end of the 1960s all the classic Lancets had gone (the last one being CFN 117, withdrawn in the summer of 1969), and bus and coach services were being severely hit by the popularity of the family car. New equipment had been placed into service to replace the halfcab fleet, mostly based on the popular AEC Reliance chassis. We are fortunate to have a few Lancet survivors today. The stunning scarlet East Kent coaches are now only seen in preservation, and the company name has been inexplicably discontinued by Stagecoach.

All batches are arranged in order of delivery, but I have not included the later Dennis Lancet UF underfloor-engined models.

Owners of pictures, when known, are credited, and their use is much appreciated. However the photographers of some pictures are not shown on the original, and therefore are not known to me. Whoever they were I thank them, and if they contact me with their names they will of course be credited. If a rightful owner wishes me to remove any image, it will be done forthwith. However I hope that photographers (or copyright holders) will permit the use of these fine pictures in their proper context.

As with my other lists, there are bound to be mistakes, and some relevant information may be missing so, in order to make it as accurate a reference as possible, I would of course welcome any additions or corrections.

For more East Kent buses see the East Kent Leyland Tigers page.


FLEET LIST

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DENNIS LANCET BUSES   -   JG 6800-6824 (Total 25)

Delivered: 1936

Chassis: Dennis Lancet (JG 6823 and 6824 were Lancet II with Gardner 5-cylinder oil engines and the updated design of Lancet radiator grille). Dennis D3 petrol engines, changed to Dennis 4-cylinder 'O' Type oil engines in 1937/38.

Body: Dennis B35R. Ten were rebodied with older (1934) Park Royal B34R half-canopy bodies in 1947-49.

Notes: Glynn Thomas kindly advised me as follows; "Orders and correspondence in the Dennis Specialist Vehicle archives, held by the Surrey History Centre, show that JG 7808 was fitted with the very first of the newly-designed Dennis O4 diesel engines (engine number 100 001 001) so never had a petrol engine. It is also apparent from the correspondence in these archives that the orders for JG 6823 and JG 6824 were amended by East Kent to have Gardner 5LW engines fitted (so having to be Lancet IIs) in order to trial these engines against the new Dennis diesel engine in JG 7808. The 25 vehicle order for what became JG 8702 to JG 8725 (initially ordered in 1935) was put on hold while these engines were evaluated, hence JG 8702 to JG 8725 were not built until 1937, and JG 7808 was effectively the first of that 1935 order of 25."

Dennis Lancet JG 6816

JG 6816 on route 12. Photo: M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club.


DENNIS LANCET II BUS   -   JG 7808 (Total 1)

Delivered 1936

Chassis: Dennis Lancet II.

Body: Dennis B35R.

Notes: Glynn Thomas kindly advised me as follows; "Orders and correspondence in the Dennis Specialist Vehicle archives, held by the Surrey History Centre, show that JG 7808 was fitted with the very first of the newly-designed Dennis O4 diesel engines (engine number 100 001 001) so never had a petrol engine. It is also apparent from the correspondence in these archives that the orders for JG 6823 and JG 6824 were amended by East Kent to have Gardner 5LW engines fitted (so having to be Lancet IIs) in order to trial these engines against the new Dennis diesel engine in JG 7808. The 25 vehicle order for what became JG 8702 to JG 8725 (initially ordered in 1935) was put on hold while these engines were evaluated, hence JG 8702 to JG 8725 were not built until 1937, and JG 7808 was effectively the first of that 1935 order of 25."


DENNIS LANCET II BUSES -   JG 8702-8725 (Total 24)

Delivered 1937

Chassis: Dennis Lancet II, 4-cylinder engines.

Body: Dennis B35R. Various modifications and repairs were made as a result of war damage, and the twelve best vehicles were rebodied by Park Royal as B35R in 1949.

JG 8720 at Detling 2012

A very welcome survivor of this pre-war batch of East Kent buses is JG 8720 sporting its post-war Park Royal body, and seen here at the Detling rally in April 2012. (Photo: Dick Gilbert)

Notes: All withdrawn by 1961.

Notes: Glynn Thomas kindly advised me as follows; "Orders and correspondence in the Dennis Specialist Vehicle archives, held by the Surrey History Centre, show that JG 7808 was fitted with the very first of the newly-designed Dennis O4 diesel engines (engine number 100 001 001) so never had a petrol engine. It is also apparent from the correspondence in these archives that the orders for JG 6823 and JG 6824 were amended by East Kent to have Gardner 5LW engines fitted (so having to be Lancet IIs) in order to trial these engines against the new Dennis diesel engine in JG 7808. The 25 vehicle order for what became JG 8702 to JG 8725 (initially ordered in 1935) was put on hold while these engines were evaluated, hence JG 8702 to JG 8725 were not built until 1937, and JG 7808 was effectively the first of that 1935 order of 25."


DENNIS LANCET II BUS -   JG 9906 (Total 1)

The one-off Lancet JG 9906 with its replacement Park Royal body, looking very smart in the 1950s on route 125 to Kingsnorth. Garth Wyver says that that bus is standing in Marsh Street (now part of Station Street), Ashford, with St John's Baptist Church behind. Photo: unknown.

Martin Coull kindly sent me this picture. He said "JG 9906 was used by a Grocer (Bruce's) in Weeds Wood, Chatham for a few years until the shops were built in 1960. He had a regular round and was seen fully-loaded trevelling at a pace that a push bike could overtake. This photo was taken on the day it was picked up by him. The seats were pulled out by sundown! A note on the negative bag said 'June 59, Brownie 127, Ilford Selochrome ID11'." Photo: Martin Coull.

Delivered 1937

Chassis: Dennis Lancet II, 4-cylinder engine.

Body: Park Royal B35R. Received new Park Royal B35R body in 1949.

Notes: Exhibited at Earl's Court Show when new.


DENNIS LANCET II BUSES - AJG 41-45 (Total 5)

Delivered 1939.

Chassis: Dennis Lancet II.

Body: Park Royal B35R. Had full-length roof boxes to carry band instruments.

East Kent AJG 44

This photo of AJG 44 shows the strange appearance of the Lancets fitted with roof panniers. This bus eventually retired happily into the sunshine, being sold to Cyprus in 1956. Photo: M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club.


DENNIS LANCET II BUSES - AJG 46-59 (Total 14)

Delivered 1939

Chassis: Dennis Lancet II.

Body: Dennis B35R half-canopy.

East Kent AJG 51

Sadly this picture has not reproduced well, but the original shows the route for this Lancet as No.37 to Herne Bay. The vehicles behind look to be Maidstone & District, probably a Weymann-bodied Titan TD and a pre-war Leyland Tiger / Harrington coach. The double decker appears to be on M&D Route 3, which ran from Maidstone to Faversham. Garth Wyver says "Lancet AJG51 is at Court Street, Faversham next to the East Kent office. Nearby was a cafe where the bus crews had their tea breaks. M&D buses waited as seen in the photo alongside the Fremlins brewery wall - Maidstone No3 & Gravesend No26 also I think EK double decker No3 to Canterbury". Photo: M.&D. and East Kent Bus Club.


DENNIS LANCET III BUSES - CFN 110-169 (Total 60)

Delivered 1947-49

Chassis: Dennis Lancet III J3, with Dennis 6-cylinder diesel engine.

Body: Park Royal B35R half-canopy, 27' 6" long. Twenty four were rebuilt in 1959 to a full-fronted design with front entrance to enable one-man operation.

East Kent Lancet CFN 121

One of three survivors from this batch of post-war Dennis Lancets is CFN 121, seen here at the Aldershot & District Running Day on 1 May 2000. Typical of East Kent is the unpretentious Park Royal bodywork. This example still retains its original body, not having been modified for One-Man-Operated bus work. (Photo: Martin Smith)

East Kent Lancet CFN 139

Dennis Lancet CFN 139 is seen in Rye in July 1960. Photo by kind permission of William Armstrong via Chris Stanley

East Kent Dennis Lancet CFN 115

CFN 115 was one of the 24 from this batch modified to a full-front configuration in 1959. Here we see it at Herne Bay garage on 4 June 1968 after it became one of the last to be withdrawn from service, and awaiting disposal, probably for scrap. Photo by kind permission of Peter Esposito, via Chris Stanley.

Notes: The rear-entrance Lancet with its separate cab was not suitable for One-Man-Operated services, and 24 of them from the 'CFN' batch were modified in 1959. The cabin floor was lowered by nearly 12 inches to enable the driver to enter the saloon, the radiator block was shortened by 6 inches to permit the lower edge of the windscreen to be deepened, and the drivers' pedals and steering column were all moved to accommodate the new arrangement. Chassis strengthening was also required at the front to support the new structure, and a complete new front end was built on to the body. The result would have given a decidedly 'modern' appearance at the time, not least because it got away from the traditional halfcab design that had hardly changed for more than twenty five years.

CFN 110 was a 'one-off', delivered as a coach, some two years before the others.


DENNIS LANCET III BUSES - CJG 988-999 (Total 12)

Delivered 1948

Chassis: Dennis Lancet III J3, with Dennis 6-cylinder diesel engine.

Body: Park Royal B35R half-canopy, 27' 6" long. Two were rebuilt to a full-fronted design with front entrance to enable one-man operation.

Lancet CJG 998

Popular around 1960 was the use of single deck buses and coaches in their 'twilight years' to carry rowing teams to regattas. Boat racks were mounted on the roof, and such vehicles could be seen at many coastal resorts in the summer. Here 1948 Dennis Lancet CJG 998 is nearing the end of its career and has turned up at Eastbourne (Greencroft car park near the sea front - now a multi-story) on a sunny weekend in 1962, alongside one of the variety of other vehicles on similar duties. The style of the Park Royal bodywork might be considered somewhat 'basic', but was typically East Kent. (Photo: Dick Gilbert)

East Kent CJG 989

Cliff Essex kindly sent this fine picture of CJG 989 after its conversion to a full-fronted design, one of only two in the batch to be modified in this way. Cliff thinks the picture was taken in Canterbury around 1968, which would have been the very end of its working life.


DENNIS LANCET III COACHES - EFN 571-595 (Total 25)

Delivered April-June 1950

Chassis: Dennis Lancet III J3, with Dennis 6-cylinder diesel engine.

Body: Park Royal C32F halfcab, 27' 6" long. By 1961 EFN 583-595 were being used as buses / dual-purpose (DP32F).

East Kent Dennis Lancet EFN 584

EFN 584 fresh from complete restoration, seen at the Detling rally in April 2012. Photo: Dick Gilbert.

East Kent EFN 571

First of the 1950 batch of coaches was EFN 571, photographed here by Cliff Essex.

EFN 587 in use as a snowplough in 1969

This could be EFN 587 or 588 at Herne Bay on 2 January 1969, in use as a snowplough. Photo by Peter Esposito via Chris Stanley. (Garth Wyver emailed to say that he thinks the location is actually the Central Works at Kirby Lane / North Lane, Canterbury.)
Richard Wallace emailed in 2013 "Re the picture of the East Kent Lancet snowplough I can confirm that it is EFN 587 and the location is Canterbury Central Works. I worked for East Kent in those days and its sister snowplough EFN 588 was based at Deal."

Notes: The entire batch were withdrawn from service in 1964.


TOTAL 167

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With 10 Survivors (or partial survivors), JG 8720, CFN 121, CFN 136, CFN 154, CJG 990, EFN 584, EFN 585, EFN 591, EFN 592 and EFN 595.


For more East Kent buses see the East Kent Leyland Tigers page.

For many other buses, have a look at all the other profiles on the Classic Buses menu page.


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


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