Classic Buses Profiles

MAIDSTONE & DISTRICT AEC REGALS


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Last updated 8 January 2016

This page is dedicated to the extensive fleet of AEC Regals operated by Maidstone & District Motor Services in Kent and Sussex both before and after the second world war.

AEC Regal HKL 838

A classic example of the typical post-war Maidstone & District single deck bus, a 1947 Regal No.SO28 (HKL 838) with Beadle bodywork. It is operating on Route 35 along the Sussex coast between Bexhill and Hastings, on a sunny but blustery day in the 1950s. Damage is apparent to the building on the right, no doubt from the many coastal 'hit and run' raids that beset south coast towns during the war. Photo: Thanks to Roy Marshall, via the Bristol Vintage Bus Group.


INTRODUCTION AND CREDITS

Maidstone & District operated over 200 AEC Regals over the years, most of the pre-war examples being acquired from the various companies taken over during the 1930s. They appeared as buses and coaches, and in many forms and styles. 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.

Maidstone & District Motor Services started by operating four second-hand buses to Chatham in 1908, and by the outbreak of World War I the fleet had grown to eleven. In 1922 they built what was to be the first bus station in the country, at Palace Avenue, Maidstone, and by the end of the decade the company had opened seven depots throughout the area, from Bexhill to Ashford, and as far afield as Dartford and Sheerness.

A large number of local companies were acquired in the following years, including the absorption in 1933 of Autocar of Tunbridge Wells, some of whose splendid AEC Regals joined the fleet and are described in detail below. In 1935 M & D got into the trolleybus business by gaining control of the Hastings Tramway Company, a service they maintained until 1959.

A very extensive express coach network was established, linking London with towns all over west Kent, the Medway towns and parts of Sussex, as well as providing connections between towns throughout that area. A fine fleet of coaches was acquired for that purpose. During the second world war, their fleet of express coaches had to curtail operations, and many were converted to ambulances for emergency duties.

Services recommenced in 1946, and new vehicles were purchased to replace the ageing, and sometimes war-worn pre-war fleet. During the 1950s smart Maidstone & District coaches and single-deck buses could once again been seen operating regular routes, express services, private hires and excursions, all over the south-east of England and beyond. Some might say that this was their finest hour.

By the mid 1960s the pre-war fleet had all but disappeared, and halfcab buses of all kinds were considered dated. New single-deck equipment was arriving, largely in the form of the AEC Reliance, and the proud fleet of halfcabs had either been scrapped or passed to 'downstream' operators for their twilight years. We are fortunate to have a few survivors in preservation today. Sadly the Maidstone & District name is no more, having been assassinated by Arriva after more than 80 years of fine service to the people of Kent and East Sussex.

Maidstone & District vehicle identification changed over the years. Originally only fleet numbers were used, although certain express coaches seem to have been given the prefix 'EX'. In 1950 coaches were given the prefix 'CP' for 'Coach, Petrol', and 'CO' for 'Coach, Oil' (i.e. diesel engined). Similarly single-deck buses became SP and SO. By 1961, as there were no petrol engined vehicles left in service, it was decided to change 'SO' simply to 'S', and 'CO' to 'C'. Subsequently prefixes were dropped altogether, and the system reverted to the use of fleet numbers only.

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.

All batches are arranged in order of delivery (including those delivered originally to other operators).

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 Maidstone & District buses see the M&D Leyland Tigers page.


FLEET LIST

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AEC REGAL 1  BUS -  121 (Total 1)

Built in 1929, acquired by M.& D. from Timpson's in 1934.

Chassis: AEC Regal 662 (6-cylinder petrol engine).

Body: AEC B32F (sometimes recorded as an LGOC body, and also as C32R)

Notes; Acquired by Maidstone & District from Timpson's (Hastings branch) in March 1934. Previously Timpsons No.190.



AEC REGAL 1  COACHES  -  25-52 (Total 28)

Delivered 1930-1931 to East Surrey. Transferred to Autocar, Tunbridge Wells when that company became an M.& D. subsidiary in July 1933. Absorbed into the M.& D. fleet at various dates.

Chassis: AEC Regal 662 (6.1 litre, 6-cylinder petrol engines).

Body: Original LGOC-style bodies as follows; 25-29 Hall Lewis B30R, 30-31 Park Royal B30F, 32-43 Hall Lewis C29D, 44-52 were Park Royal C29F. Many were later rebodied by Harrington as C32F at various dates.

Notes; Although originally delivered to East Surrey, these coaches were acquired from the fleet of Autocar, Tunbridge Wells when that company was absorbed by Maidstone & District on 1st July 1933.

Twenty one were allocated LGOC numbers T325-T345 in January 1932, for the Green Line service from Oxford Circus to Tunbridge Wells (Autocar had been part of the LGOC group). However they did not go into service with Green Line as such, operating under East Surrey or Autocar names on contract to Green Line, and most of the vehicles were transferred to Maidstone & District on 1st July 1933. This was in order to rationalise some services on the edge of the Maidstone & District area following the formation of London Transport in 1933.

25-43 were new in 1930 (except 30 and 31 which dated from 1931), and came to Maidstone & District from Autocar in July 1933, while 44-52 were new in 1931, and were acquired by M.& D. in March 1934 in exchange for rebodied 1926/27 Tilling-Stevens vehicles (Nos.400, 404, 407, 411, 419, 421, 422, 427, 442) that had originally been charabancs. Autocar was run as a separate company until May 1935 when the fleet became part of the main M.& D. inventory.

Most were rebodied by Harrington (as coaches) at various dates in 1937, 1938 and 1946, and all those that survived the war were redesignated 'CP' 25-49 in 1950.

AEC Regal CP 48

Glorious ex-Autocar 1931 AEC Regal CP48 (KR 9915), probably resting near Victoria Coach Station around 1950 after an express run up from Kent. It wears the upgraded body fitted by that classic coachbuilder, Harringtons of Hove in 1946. (Photo : Thanks to R.Marshall, via Bristol Vintage Bus Group)


AEC REGAL 1  BUS - 867 (Total 1)

Maidstone & District No.867

One-off AEC Regal No.867 (KJ 77) is seen here wearing its later Harrington bus body, fitted in 1938, so probably the photo was taken in the late 1940s. Photo by kind permission of The Omnibus Society, No.91.1854.

Delivered new in April 1931, acquired by M.& D. in Nov 1933.

Chassis: AEC Regal 662 (6.1 litre 6-cylinder petrol engine).

Body: Original body Strachan & Brown C32R, broken up June 1938. Rebodied as Harrington B31R in July 1938.

Notes: Acquired from Weald of Kent, Tenterden in November 1933 when their operations were taken over.


AEC REGAL 1  COACHES  -  111-120 (Total 10)

Regal No.119 (DY 7336) possibly seen in the dealer's yard of Clark, Paddock Wood in 1953 after withdrawal by Maidstone & District. Photo; unknown.

Built in early 1933, acquired by M.& D. from Timpson's in 1934.

Chassis: AEC Regal 662 (6-cylinder petrol engines).

Body: Original bodies Harrington C32F (111 to 116) or C32R (117 yo 120). Rebodied by Harrington as C32F during Apr-Jun 1939.

Notes; All acquired by Maidstone & District from Timpson's (Hastings branch) in March 1934 (they had been Nos. 328-337 in the Timpsons fleet). A.Timpson & Sons Ltd. could trace their origins to the operation of horse-drawn vehicles in south London in 1896, and acquired their first motor bus in 1912. By the early 1920s they were conducting regular coach operations to the south coast, including three services a day to Hastings. In 1927 they commenced local bus services in the Hastings area as well, and it was this operation that was transferred to East Kent and Maidstone & District in March 1934, with these coaches joining the M.& D. fleet as part of the deal.

Later renumbered as CP 111-120.


AEC REGAL 1  COACH - CP 1 (Total 1)

Built in April 1934 for Rickards.

Chassis: AEC Regal 662 (6.1 litre 6-cylinder petrol engine).

Body: Strachans C32F (later to C33F?).

Notes: New to Rickards,Brentford in 1934. Acquired from T.W.Smith, Edenbridge on 16 Aug 1950 when their operations were taken over.


AEC REGAL 1  BUSES  -  53-60, later SO524-531 (Total 8)

Delivered June 1937

Chassis: AEC Regal 662 (6 cylinder oil engines).

Body: Harrington B36F.

Notes: The only pre-war AEC Regals bought new by Maidstone & District.

Regal 58 after renumbering as SO529

1937 AEC Regal bus 58 (DKT 23) soldiering on into the 1950s, after being renumbered SO529, on Maidstone & District route 91 from Tunbridge Wells to East Grinstead. (Photo: Thanks to R.Marshall, via Bristol Vintage Bus Group)

Regal 55 after conversion to a recovery vehicle

The chassis of No.55 (later SO 526) was converted to a recovery vehicle in 1956 using body parts from 1931 Titan TD1 No.862, whose fleet number it initially adopted (as seen here), later becoming 917 and then P32. It was photographed at Maidstone depot on 18 Feb 1968, and still survives in this form. (Photo by kind permission of Peter Esposito, via Chris Stanley.)

Here is the same vehicle as above (previously DKT 20) at an unknown date and location (Hellingly Festival of Transport maybe?) wearing its present registration number YKT 959B. Photo by kind permission of Michael Clarke, via Chris Stanley.


AEC REGAL BUSES  -  SO4 to SO35 (Total 32)

Delivered Aug 1946 to May 1947

Chassis: AEC Regal O662/20 (6 cylinder oil engines).

Body: Beadle B36F.

Notes: All were still operating in 1956, but had all gone by the end of 1958, except SO9, 16 and 26. These three were converted to open top (OB35F) in 1957 for seafront services at Hastings and elsewhere, and were renamed OR1, 2 and 3. All three survive today.

AEC Regal SO 13

Another AEC Regal bus on route 91 from Tunbridge Wells to East Grinstead (probably seen here in Tunbridge Wells) is post-war SO13 (HKL 823), showing the more modern styling of its Beadle bodywork. (Photo: Roy Marshall collection, via Bristol Vintage Bus Group)

HKL 819

HKL 819 in its rebuilt guise as open-top 8001. Photo taken at Hastings depot by Cliff Essex, summer 1968.


AEC REGAL 1  COACHES -  CO1 to 31 (Total 31)

Delivered April 1947 to March 1948

Chassis: AEC Regal I (7.7 litre 6-cylinder oil engines).

Body: Harrington C32F.

Notes: All were still operating in 1957, but all had gone by the end of 1959.

Maidstone & District AEC Regal CO1

The first vehicle in the fleet to receive a "CO" (Coach, Oil engine) prefix was CO1 (JKM 401). There are at least six saloons visible in this picture, including examples from Southdown and East Kent. Most show "London" as their destination, so maybe this was a big event. (Photo: Roy Marshall Collection via East Pennine Transport Group, Huddersfield)

Here is CO16 (JKM 416) after its retirement from M&D service, on the Isle of Sheppey sometime around 1960, apparently in use to carry construction workers for McAlpine, and presumably on hire from Contract Bus Services. Picture by kind permission of Trevor Edwards.


AEC REGAL  COACHES -  CO32 to 61 (Total 30)

Delivered March 1948 to January 1949

Chassis: AEC Regal (6 cylinder oil engines).

Body: Beadle C32F.

Maidstone & District CO56 and CO49

The style of coachwork on CO 56 (JKM 456) borrows much from pre-war designs and could be mistaken for a Harrington product of the previous decade. However the two panoramic windows down each side are distinctive. CO49 from the same batch is parked behind, in this 1950s view. (Photo: M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club).

Notes: All still operating in 1958, but all had gone by the end of the 1961 season (CO58 and 59 were the last to be withdrawn).


AEC REGAL III COACHES -  CO62 to 116 (Total 45)

CO 94

Seen at Littlehampton on an excursion in its final year of operation (1961) is 1948 Regal coach CO94 (KKK 837). Sadly, none of them survive. (Photo: Dick Gilbert)

Delivered 1948-49

Chassis: CO 62-72 were AEC Regal III O682, while CO 73-116 were AEC Regal III 6821A. Actually there was no difference between these models, AEC had merely dropped the "O" prefix (for Oil engine) during 1948. All had 7.7 litre 6-cylinder oil engines.

Body: CO62-84 were fitted with 1936 Harrington C31F bodies transferred in 1948/49 (after overhaul by Portsmouth Aviation) from 1929 AEC Reliances, originally with Timpsons, Hastings and numbered between 151-176 (DY 5681-5723).

The remainder (CO85-116) had Harrington C32F bodies from new, except that CO97 and CO113-116 had Harrington FC32F full-fronted bodies.

The running gear from CO62-84 were used in the construction of Beadle Rebuilds CO354-376 in 1955-56 (see below).

KKK 852

KKK 852 (CO 113) was one of five delivered with full-fronted bodywork by Harrington. This photo, by kind permission of Ray Deacon, was taken in Stone Street, Maidstone in 1961.

KKK 852

KKK 852 again, seen here towards the end of 1969 in a yard beside a pub in Wivelsfield Green, Sussex while in use by the TOC-H organisation. Photo by kind permission of Ray Deacon.

KKK 852

Here is KKK 852 again, this time seen in May 1972 in Hythe, Kent, still in use by TOC-H. Photo thanks to Cliff Essex.


AEC REGAL COACHES -  CO117 to 122 (Total 6)

Built 1946-52

Chassis: Various AEC Regal models - see list.

Body: Various bodies - see list.

Notes: All acquired from the fleet of Skinner's Coaches, St.Leonards-on-Sea on 15 Aug 1953, painted blue and retaining the "Skinners" fleetname.

Skinners CDY 869

CDY 869 was bought by Skinners in 1947, joining the Maidstone & District fleet in 1953 as CO 118, while keeping its Skinners livery. It is seen here at Hastings Coach Station. Photo: M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club.

Regal IV CO122

An unusual one-off in the mixed Skinners fleet was this 1952 Regal IV with Gurney-Nutting body, CO122 (FDY 246) - later renumbered C122. It was to become Maidstone & District's only underfloor AEC Regal but, like the rest of the Skinners vehicles, retained its original blue livery and titles. The picture shows the coach outside the old Battle garage, which was used as a store, on an M&D and East Kent Bus Club tour in early summer 1964 or 1965. Thanks to Cliff Essex for the photo.


BEADLE-AEC REBUILD COACHES -  CO354 to 376 (Total 23)

Running gear originally delivered 1948-49 as CO 62-84 (see above), and rebuilt in 1955-56.

Chassis: Beadle-AEC rebuilds, using running gear from Regal III O682 or 6821A (7.7 litre 6-cylinder oil engines).

Body: The original vehicles had been fitted with second-hand 1936 Harrington bodies (from ex-Timpsons 1929 AEC Reliances), but were rebuilt in 1955-56 as a semi-chassisless structure using the original running gear but new full-fronted Beadle C37C bodies, having a somewhat harsh, upright front styling.

Notes: During the 1955-56 rebuild, the vehicles lost their original registrations (KKK 801-823) and were re-registered as WKM 354 to 376. All were withdrawn 1964-66 and sold via Transport (Passenger Equipments) Ltd., Macclesfield, the majority then finding further employment as workers' transports for Tarmac, contractors.

CO360 at Victoria Coach Station

A fine picture of CO360 at Victoria Coach Station, about to depart on a service to Gillingham. Thanks to Keith Harwood for the photo.


TOTAL 216  ( with 4 survivors - 55, SO9, SO16 and SO26 )

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For more Maidstone & District buses see the M&D 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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