Classic Buses Profiles


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Last updated 5 October 2018

This page is dedicated to the glorious fleet of Leyland Tiger coaches that East Kent operated both before and after the war.

Tiger TS8 JG 9938

A classic example of the typical pre-war East Kent coach, this is a 1937 Leyland Tiger TS8 (JG 9938), still with its original Park Royal coachwork. The only one to survive, it has recently been repainted into its authentic livery, and is seen here at Winchester Broadway while participating in the Friends of King Alfred Buses Running Day on 1 January 2001. (Thanks to Martin Smith for the photo, via John Newton of FoKAB, who died in October 2007 and is sadly missed).

Throughout the 1960s this same vehicle was used by East Kent as a mobile booking office, and below is a photo of it in use in this way - Robin Quinn confirms that is taken at Folkestone Harbour. The sign on the roof says "Booking Office, Trans-Channel Day Tours in France, and East Kent Excursions". A day in France (with "boat fare, coach drive, excellent lunch and courier service") cost £3.12.6d. (Photo: unknown)

JG 9938 as a mobile booking office


The East Kent Road Car Company Ltd. acquired 170 Leyland Tiger coaches over two decades. 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 classic styling of this extensive fleet. All batches are arranged in order of delivery.

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 were absorbed into the company. By the late 1930s a large 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 the end of the decade 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 Dennis Lancet coaches were 'demoted' to bus work and continued in service for a few years, sometimes involving considerable modification.

So, during the early 1960s the Tigers finally disappeared (CFN 108 being the last to be withdrawn from revenue service in 1962, although venerable JG 9938 continued to be used as a mobile office until 1977!), 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. However we are fortunate to have a handful of survivors today. The stunning scarlet East Kent coaches are now only seen in preservation, and the company name has been inexplicably discontinued by Stagecoach.

This page is mostly concerned with the single-decker coaches, but ten open-top double deckers on Tiger TS1 chassis were Delivered: in three batches between 1928 and 1930. These are also listed below so that the story of the East Kent Tigers is complete.

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 photograph, 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.

My thanks also to those who have helped me put this together, particularly the M&D and East Kent Bus Club, and to Shane Conway for Irish data.

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 Dennis Lancets page.



LEYLAND TIGER TS1 - FN 9093 - 9096 (Total 4)

Delivered: 1928

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS1 (6.8 litre petrol), 27' 6" long.

Body: Short Bros. O30/26R open-top double deck bodies

LEYLAND TIGER TS1 - FN 9544 (Total 1)

East Kent FN 9544

FN 9544 at Minster in the 1930s. Photo by kind permission of John Watler.

Delivered: 1929

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS1 (6.8 litre petrol), 27' 6" long.

Body: Short Bros. O30/26R open-top double deck body.

LEYLAND TIGER TS1 - JG 651 - 655 (Total 5)

Delivered: 1930

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS1 (6.8 litre petrol), 27' 6" long.

Body: Short Bros. O30/26R open-top double deck bodies, but all were rebodied during World War II.

LEYLAND TIGER TS1 - UF 7856 - 7860 (Total 5)

Delivered: 1931

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS1 (6.8 litre petrol), 27' 6" long.

Body: Hoyal C30R

Notes: Transferred to East Kent from Southdown in March 1932 as part of an arrangement to rationalise the South Coast Express service. They were previously Southdown Nos.1056-1060.

LEYLAND TIGER TS7 - JG 5420-5448 (Total 29)

Delivered: 1935

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7, 8.6 litre petrol engines.

Body: Park Royal C32R.

East Kent JG 5431

JG 5431 had a prominent roof pannier, used for carrying band instruments. As a result of damage by enemy action in on 30 Sept 1940, the body was rebuilt by Park Royal in Nov/Dec 1941, incorporatiing a large hollow in the raised roof for the carriage of the instruments. Later this was used for carrying boats to regattas. I suspect this picture shows the vehicle turning into Victoria Coach Station from Buckingham Palace Road in the 1950s. The Green Line RF behind is on route 718 to Windsor, which would have taken it past the coach station entrance on its way. Photo: unknown.

Ambulances at Ashford

Here we see five (and maybe more) of the 1935 TS7s at Ashford garage around 1940, having been freshly converted into ambulance configuration. They are (from left to right) JG 5443, 5440, 5435, 5442 and 5445. Each has masks over their headlamps, and newly-painted front wings with white stripes to aid their visibility during the blackout. This splendid picture is shown by kind permission of the M&D and East Kent Bus Club.

JG 5427

Tiger TS7 JG 5427 lives out its final days as a showman's caravan, seen here at a fairground in Birmingham, 1961. Photo: Roger Hardy.

Notes: A total of 65 such coaches were Delivered: in 1935, incorporating this, and the next batch shown below.

LEYLAND TIGER TS7 - JG 6501-6536 (Total 36)

East Kent JG 6501

JG 6501 was the first of this second batch of Park Royal-bodied Tiger TS7s supplied to East Kent in 1935. Photo courtesy of M&D and East Kent Bus Club. Garth Wyver thinks this photo was probably taken in Pencester Road, Dover, a favourite East Kent parking spot.

Delivered: 1935-36.

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7, 8.6 litre petrol engines.

Body: Park Royal C32R half-canopy.

Notes: Many were later supplied to the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board (via the Royal Army Service Corps) in 1943, passing to the Ulster Transport Authority in October 1948.

LEYLAND TIGER TS7 - JG 6593-6600 (Total 8)

East Kent JG 6599

JG 6599 was unique amongst the 1936 delivery of Tiger TS7s, in that it received a new Park Royal coach body when it was only two years old. This was in a 24-seat luxury touring configuration, and was put on to one of this batch because of their smoother, quieter petrol engines. Its original body was transferred directly to a brand new 1938 Tiger TS8, JG 9944. The photograph shows JG 6599 at Canterbury Bus Station in the late 1950s. Picture by kind permission of the M&D and East Kent Bus Club.

Delivered: 1936

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7, 8.6 litre petrol engine.

Body: Park Royal C32R

LEYLAND TIGER TS8 - JG 8979 (Total 1)

Delivered: 1937

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS8, 8.6 litre engine.

Body: Park Royal C32R

Notes: Acquired to replace JG 5436, which had been damaged beyond repair.

LEYLAND TIGER TS7 - CYL 243-5, DXV 740-1 (Total 5)

Delivered to East Kent in 1937

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7, 8.6 litre petrol engine.

Body: Duple C33F

Notes: Acquired from M.T.Company of New Cross when East Kent bought their London-Thanet express service on 19 May 1937. The two 1937 coaches (DXV 740 & 741) were never actually operated by M.T.Co. Their New Cross coach station remained in use into National Express days.

East Kent CYL 244

Clearly not a traditional East Kent coach design, having been acquired with the takeover of the London-Thanet route from M.T. Company of New Cross, CYL 244's purposeful Duple body made for a most attrractive vehicle nonetheless, and adopted the East Kent livery well. (Garth Wyver thinks this photo may have been taken at the Longport Coach Park, Canterbury). Photo: M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club.

LEYLAND TIGER TS8 - JG 9932-9966 (Total 35)

Delivered: 1937-38

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS8. 8.6 litre engines with chrome-plated radiators.

Body: Park Royal C32R half-canopy (except JG 9444 which received older C24R body).

Tiger TS8 JG 9955

Leyland Tiger TS8 JG 9955 looking somewhat sorry for itself, and no doubt awaiting disposal at the end of its career. It sits alongside a couple of retired utility Guy Arabs clearly in the same situation. This is probably at Herne Bay garage, where East Kent traditionally stored vehicles prior to sale. (Garth Wyver says "Leyland Tiger JG9955 has got to be in the "sad" yard at Herne Bay bus garage, next to my favourite BJG304 with the plywood rear number plate."). Close examination of the waistline trim seems to reveal a certain amount of 'sag' in the middle, one of the tyres is completely bald, and a headlamp is missing altogether. However it was reported to be still in use by East Kent in 1962 as a mobile office in Seasalter. Whether this picture was taken before or after its office duties I cannot say. (Photographer unknown, via Bristol Vintage Bus Group)

LEYLAND TIGER TS8 - BFN 797 (Total 1)

Delivered: April 1940 (the only vehicle delivered that year)

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS8, 8.6 litre engine.

Body: Park Royal C32R half-canopy.

Notes: The only one delivered from what was to have been a larger order, but which was curtailed by restrictions during World War II.

East Kent BFN 797

A rare photo of BFN 797 in the early 1950s, courtesy of the M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club. After much discussion with Garth Wyver and others, we think it is near the castle at Rochester. That tower in the background is on top of what it now the town's visitor centre. The body styling is unlike any others in the fleet, particularly around the front saloon windows and the destination box.

LEYLAND TIGER PS1 - CFN 60-109 (Total 50)

Delivered: 1946-48

Chassis: Leyland Tiger PS1/1 (7.4 litre engine).

Body: Park Royal C32R half-canopy.

With much more stylish Park Royal bodywork than its contemporary Dennis bus compatriots, this is an example of the post-war batch of Leyland PS1 Tigers supplied to East Kent for their express services, and were the final halfcab single deckers acquired by the company. CFN 104 was one of the last to be delivered, and is seen here at the Cobham bus rally in 2010. (Photo: Dick Gilbert)

After more than 20 years of service, CFN 84 is starting to look a little tired when photographed on 11 Sept 1969 in Butlins Holiday Camp at Pwlhelli. Photo by kind permission of David Christie, via Chris Stanley.

East Kent CFN 108

CFN 108 while on hire to Butlins Hotels, Cliftonville, near Margate, around 1960, in their blue and cream livery. It is seen outside the St.George's, one of five adjacent hotels in the town, acquired by Butlins in 1955-56 and which they collectively called "The Cliftonville Hotels". Photo: M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club.

Notes: The last of these (CFN 95 and 108) were withdrawn at the end of 1962, thereby ending East Kent's service operation of the Leyland Tiger family.

TOTAL 180 ( with 5 survivors - JG 5424, JG 9938, CFN 73, CFN 104 and CFN 109)


For more East Kent buses see the East Kent Dennis Lancets page.

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

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