Classic Buses Profiles


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Last updated 22 February 2018

This page is a profile of the fleet of Leyland Tiger single-decker buses and coaches that Maidstone & District Motor Services operated both before and after the war.

M & D Tiger DKT 16

A classic example of the typical Maidstone & District Leyland Tiger coach is pre-war Tiger TS7 CO558 DKT 16), seen here at the M&D and East Kent Bus Club 60th anniversary event at Kent County Showground, Detling in April 2012. Gloriously restored, it sports its post-war Harrington body, and we are fortunate to have it still around today. Its survival is probably due to it being kept on for boat-carrying duties after its colleagues had been retired, and a view of the same vehicle in this guise can be seen below. Photo by Dick Gilbert.


Maidstone & District Motor Services purchased over 190 Leyland Tigers over three decades. 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. All batches are arranged in order of delivery.

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 of Autocar of Tunbridge Wells. 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, many of which are represented on this page. 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.

1937 Leyland Tiger TS7 CO554 (DKT 12) photographed at Rye on 23 June 1962 - its last year of service - by Martin Coull.

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.

My thanks to all those who helped me assemble the information, in particular to Ralph Adams and other sources of the M & D and East Kent Bus Club, whose data has been invaluable, and to Ian Smith for his help with details of the transfers to Green Line.

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 AEC Regals page.



LEYLAND TIGER TS2  COACHES -  700-704 (Total 5)

Delivered to Redcar 1930

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS2 (6.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol engines).

Body: Beadle C26D.

Notes; These coaches were jointly purchased by Redcar Services, Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone & District in 1930. Complete takeover of Redcar's operations took place in February 1935. However the coaches were quickly transferred to the London Passenger Transport Board in July of the same year, where they became part of the "TR" class.

LEYLAND TIGER TS2  BUSES / COACHES -  601-615 (Total 15)

Delivered 1930

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS2 (6.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol engines).

Body: Original body Harrington B31D half-canopy. All rebodied by Harrington as C32F in 1937, and some original bodies passed to other vehicles, but all then broken up in 1937-38.

Notes; These were known as "Pullman saloons", used largely for express services. Originally designated 'EX' 601-615, for 'Express', survivors renumbered 'CP' in 1950.

LEYLAND TIGER TS2  BUSES / COACHES -  616-635 (Total 20)

Maidstone & District 616

This early 1930s picture of the first of the batch, No.616 (KR 6301), is not only a delight (along with the gentleman in plus-fours on the left), it is also a puzzle. The board on the side of the roof says " ??? (unreadable) - Maidstone - London" so presumably this bus - and the other two behind - are on some express run or excursion up to the city, but where have they stopped ? The substantial building on the right seems to be largely made of corrugated iron, yet it seems to be guarded by a policeman. Can anyone throw some light on it? Photographer unknown.

Delivered 1930

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS2 (6.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol engines).

Body: Originally Harrington B31D buses. Some rebodied by Harrington as C32F in 1937.

Notes: Six of these were transferred to the London Passenger Transport Board on its formation in 1933, and became part of their Leyland Tiger 'TR' class. They were subsequently withdrawn in 1938 and replaced in London by T-class AEC Regals of the '10T10' type.

Coaches still in the M.& D. fleet in July 1950 were redesignated as 'CP', for 'Coach, Petrol'.

LEYLAND TIGER TS2  BUSES / COACHES -  636-650 (Total 15)

Delivered Dec 1930 to Jan 1931

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS2 (6.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol engines).

Body: Harrington B31D bus body. Some rebodied by Harrington as C32F in 1938.

Note; 636-639 probably did not actually enter service until 1931. 640-650 were "Pullman Saloons". Those still in the fleet in July 1950 were redesignated as 'CP', for 'Coach, Petrol'. All gone by end of 1953.

LEYLAND TIGER TS2  BUSES -  651-675 (Total 25)

Delivered May 1931

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS2 (6.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol engines).

Body: Original bodywork by Harrington as B31D half-canopy ("Pullman Saloons"), but rebuilt as B31C in 1937 and downgraded to bus duties. Most were rebodied by Burlingham as utility B34F during 1943-44, later becoming UDP30F with coach seats.

Notes: All gone by end of 1953.

Maidstone & District No.660

Looking gloriously antique, this is No.660 (KR 8380) taking a breather on route 52, Tonbridge - Tunbridge Wells - Heathfield - Hastings. The bodywork appears to be the original Harrington handiwork, so this photo is presumably pre-1944, when 660 was given a Burlingham replacement, and with no wartime signs it must then date from the 1930s. It appears in fine condition, apart from a cock-eyed number plate. Thanks to Andrew Porter of 5 Tregony Road, Orpington for this superb photo (ref: 30287).

LEYLAND TIGER TS1  COACHES -  676-685 (Total 10)

Although this is certainly Maidstone and District Tiger 684 (KJ 2379), the notes on the back of this photo (of unknown origin) provide more details. It says that the body in the photo is not the original, but is ECW Series 1 No.4934 which came from United Counties No.47.

Delivered 1931

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS1

Body: Harrington B31D ("Pullman Saloons").

Notes; Last ones sold at end of 1955.

LEYLAND TIGER TS4  COACHES -  686-698 (Total 13)

Delivered 1932

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS4

Body: Harrington B31C ("Pullman Saloons").

Notes; All requisitioned by the Army in July 1940.

LEYLAND TIGER TS2  BUS -  699 (Total 1)

Delivered to Hucks Bros. June 1932, transferred to M&D in Jan 1933

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS2

Body: Short B31C

Notes; Acquired with the takeover of Hucks Bros., Burham, Rochester 27 Jan 1933. Requisitioned by the Army in July 1940.

LEYLAND TIGER TS7  COACHES -  580-600 (Total 21)

Delivered 1935

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7 (7.6 litre 6-cylinder petrol engines).

Body: Harrington C31F, but rebuilt to C32F probably before entering service. Most were rebuilt by Portsmouth Aviation in 1950.

Notes; Five were damaged beyond repair when Gillingham depot was bombed in Aug 1940. Remainder withdrawn in December 1955.

Maidstone & District Tiger CP583

The unmistakable wrought ironwork on Madeira Drive, Brighton provides a decorative backdrop for No. 583, one of the 1935 Tiger TS7s, with another one behind and maybe more as well. This was some outing ! Since the fleet number above the front mudguard says "CP" 583 (for "Coach, Petrol", a designation introduced in 1950), the picture must have been taken between 1950 and its retirement at the end of 1955, by which time it was a venerable 20 years old. (Photo: Roy Marshall Collection, via East Pennine Transport Group)

LEYLAND TIGER TS7  COACHES -  560-579 (Total 20)

Delivered May/June 1936

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7 (8.6 litre 6-cylinder oil engines).

Body: Original bodies Harrington C32F. Rebodied by Harrington as C32F half-canopy during 1949-50.

Notes: Redesignated as 'CO' 560-579 in 1950.

Maidstone & District CO 578

CO 578 (CKO 981) on the E10 express service between London and Rye (Garth Wyver points out that it is seen here at Victoria Coach Station). Its replacement and typical Harrington body dated from 1950 and looks in a fine condition. This coach soldiered on into the early 1960s, by which time its chassis was around 25 years old. Photo: unknown.

* The same Harrington body number (712) was recorded for both 575 and 578 when rebodied in 3/50. No explanation for this.

LEYLAND TIGER TS7  BUSES -  532-552 (Total 21)

Delivered December 1936

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7 (8.6 litre 6-cylinder oil engines).

Body: Harrington B32R half-canopy.

Leyland Tiger SO554

A typical Harrington-bodied single decker bus of the 1930s, SO544 (DKL 591) served Maidstone & District for more than twenty years. (Photo: Thanks to R.Marshall, via Bristol Vintage Bus Group.)

Notes: Redesignated 'SO' 532-552 in 1950. The running units from three of these buses were used in the creation of Beadle/Leyland rebuilds CO301-303 (see below). All withdrawn by the end of 1955.

LEYLAND TIGER TS7  COACHES -  553-559 (Total 7)

Delivered June 1937

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7 (8.6 litre 6-cylinder oil engines).

Body: Harrington C32F. Some rebodied by Harrington, or rebuilt by Portsmouth Aviation as C32F during 1949-50. Buses Illustrated magazine for March 1965 (page 104) records some controversy about whether Harrington was actually involved with the rebuilding, or indeed whether any of the vehicles was actually rebodied at all.

Leyland Tiger CO 558

Ageing single-deck buses and coaches (and trucks) were commonly used in the early 1960s to transport teams to regattas, using boat racks on their roofs. CO558 was relegated to such work at the end of its service years, and is seen here at Folkestone alongside East Kent Dennis Lancet EFN 593 on the same duty. Curiously DKT 16 should have been familiar with roof cargo, as it spent its first two years of service carrying brass band instruments in the same way. (Photo: R.Marshall, via Bristol Vintage Bus Group.)

Leyland Tiger CO 558

Here is the same vehicle performing the same duty, but this time at Eastbourne in 1963. It was seen at Greencroft car park, Trinity Place (now a multi-storey), chosen because it was near the sea. Photo by Dick Gilbert.

Allan Haynes kindly sent some additional information; "This vehicle has had more owners than I have had hot dinners, and has suffered significantly from the experience. I owned it briefly in 1995 when I bought it from John Parslow. It had been stored at the Routemaster Trust's garage in West London, but then all the vehicles were evicted at a week's notice in order to re-let it to one of the companies involved in the LT privatisation. John rang me in a panic and said "Can you buy it off me please, I've got nowhere to store it, it's in my engineer's garden in Hampton and it's been raining all week." We towed it back to my lair in Norfolk and dried it out, then I had a closer look at it and was more horrified than I expected. It had got very wet in the past but the roof well was now efficiently sealed, but with an awful lot of rotted timber inside, and a frightening crack in the post behind the passenger door. Frank Elliot (Memory Lane Coaches at Wigan) told me of the day the engine seized under him on the way to Brighton - number 6 bearing on these engines tends to run dry... So I reluctantly accepted an offer from the Gibbons boys in Maidstone and let it go.

At some point in the past one of the "preservationist" owners had seen fit to remove the lovely AEC style wings that Harringtons had fitted at the rebuild in 1950 and replaced them with pre-war Leyland ones, and moved the Autovac back onto the bulkhead when Harringtons had hidden it nicely under the bonnet, then paint the whole vehicle in the pre-war style of green with the cream relief. But not the correct pre-war shade of green. The result, sadly, is a total dog's breakfast. I said earlier "rebuild", not rebodying - as I am fairly convinced that it was only rebuilt in 1950. The story I heard many years ago was that the rebuilds were so expensive that they were shown in the accounts as rebodying. There are two possible ways of proving this but they are a bit extreme - one way would be to remove the panelling where the original position of the emergency door was - in front of the rear wheel - to see if the marks from the hinges and the latch are still there. The other would involve tree-ring dating of the timber frames !"

Maidstone & District CO 554

Some of the batch were given half canopy bodies by Harrington in 1950, and CO 554 is an example. This picture probably dates from the early 1960s, as the condition of the old girl (and the others around it) looks a bit battle-weary, and it may be nearing the end of its days. Photo: M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club.

Notes: Redesignated as 'CO' 553-559 in 1950.

LEYLAND TIGER TS8  BUSES -  SO 700-708 (Total 9)

Delivered May-June 1938

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS8 (8.6 litre 6-cylinder oil engines).

Body: Harrington B34F half-canopy. Some modified to B36F in 1941, probably with perimeter seating for use as ambulances during WWII, but all converted back to B34F in the early 1950s.

Notes; Renumbered SO 700-708 in 1950.

Maidstone & District SO 700

SO 700 on relief bus duties on the 1950s. Photo: M. & D. and East Kent Bus Club. Richard Bourne tells me it is seen in Globe Lane, Chatham, a well-used haven for buses between duties for many years.

SO 702

SO 702 seen at Lindfield, West Sussex in August 1962 when serving with showmen after its retirement. Photograph kindly supplied by Nigel Lemon.

LEYLAND TIGER TS8  BUSES -  SO 709-742 (Total 34)

Delivered March-April 1939

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS8 (8.6 litre 6-cylinder oil engines).

Body: Eastern Coach Works B34R half-canopy.

Notes; Renumbered SO 709-742 in 1950. All gone by 1956.

Maidstone & District SO 727

SO 727 (FKO 69) in the 1950s with "Tunbridge Wells" on its blind. Ross Maxwell says it looks as though the picture was taken at the Woodbury Park Road side entrance to the Tunbridge Wells garage. However Eddy Gutteridge thinks it was taken at Gillingham Depot, Nelson Road. This batch were the only M&D Tigers with Eastern Coach Works bodies, although the style was virtually indistinguishable from contemporary products acquired from other coachbuilders. Photo: M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club.

Garth Wyver says "I too feel that the location of this photo is Tunbridge Wells. I visited this garage in the late 50s from Gravesend. I can see a likeness to Gillingham Nelson Road but looking at a photo by Keith Harwood of DH519, GL depot has a brick gable end. Also SO727 is a Gravesend garaged bus. Who knows? It's all good fun!" John Humphrey is convinced it's at Tunbridge Wells and not Gillingham. He says "I paid a visit recently to the position on the other side of the road where the photographer would have been standing. The Tiger had probably deputised for a double decker on the 122 route on a diagram that finished at Tunbridge Wells, or had run as a relief as far as Tunbridge Wells on a busy day."

Perhaps (hopefully!) the last word on this goes to Garth Wyver again, who says "I have visited Royal Tunbridge Wells via Google Earth. I can confirm that the photo of M&D SO727 is standing in the driveway at the rear of M&D TW garage (now Arriva). The house in the picture is 6 Woodbury Park Road, Tunbridge Wells." So that's settled! Thanks to all for their comments.


Mexborough & Swinton bought just one of this batch in 1955, when SO 739 (FKO 81) became their No.90. After four years in revenue service, it was retired in 1959 and converted to recovery vehicle B90, as shown above. Both pictures by John Fozard, Keighley, W.Yorks, via M.& D. and East Kent Bus Club.

TIGER TS7 / BEADLE  COACHES - CO301 to 303 (Total 3)

Scout Motor Co. CO302

Here is Scout Motor Co. CO302 (SKE 998), basking in the sunshine in its cream and red livery, sometime in the late 1950s and possibly at Hastings. It retired to Ireland in the 1960s. Photographer unknown.

Built Feb/Mar 1954.

Chassis: Leyland Tiger TS7 8.6 litre 6-cylinder oil engine running units from SO532-552 (see batch details above) incorporated into a Beadle semi-chassisless structure.

Body: Beadle-Leyland C26F integral body.

Notes: 301 and 302 wore the fleet name "Scout" and were painted red and cream.

TOTAL 202  ( with 3 survivors - 665, 553 and 558 )


For more Maidstone & District buses see the M&D AEC Regals page.

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

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