BRITISH BUSES IN SPLIT, CROATIA


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Last updated 4 November 2017

This Leyland PD1 Titan had formerly been London Transport STD 127 (HLW 56) new in 1946. It is shown here as Promet No.52 (ST-25-19) at the north end of the Riva at Split, about to operate on the five mile route 22 between Split and Stobrec. The picture was probably taken on or around 27 May 1963 by John Meredith.

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In July 2016 Norman (who is lucky enough to live in Hvar, Croatia) kindly sent me some photographs of buses drawn from a huge collection of railway images belonging to his friend and fellow train enthusiast Željko Halambek. These former British buses are seen in use by local company Promet operating from Split, Croatia (part of the former Yugoslavia).

Norman says "Željko does not think that any still exist. At that time Yugoslavia was under Communist rule, so things like conservation movements did not really exist. But at least there are some photos. He did tell me that they were popular in a number of Balkan cities - Zagreb, Pula, Sarajevo, Mostar and others all bought ex British buses. Apparently they loaded and unloaded from the middle of the road - people queued there. There was much less traffic in those days."

Several hundred British buses were exported to Yugoslavia in the 1950s, of which probably the largest individual batch was all 65 of the 1946 London Transport STD class Leyland PD1 Titans (STD 112-176) and some came to Split. They were joined by a selection of other British buses and coaches including some pre-war London T-class AEC Regals, double deckers from Wallasey, Northern General, Crosville and Bury, some Standerwick 1948 Leyland PS1 Tigers with Burlingham coach bodies which may have arived around 1958, and a batch of pre-war Ribble Tiger TS8 coaches.

Registration numbers in Croatia (and Dalmatia, the coastal region of Croatia) began with the letter "H" in the 1950s, but this changed to "ST" for Split in 1961. In May 2017 I was lucky enough to visit Split and see at first hand the exact locations where these historic photos were taken. So I have added my own images to accompany some of the originals, to show what the glorious city of Split (and Trogir) looks like today, some 60 years later.

Marin Pažanin in Split kindly sent me a great deal of useful information. For one thing he pointed out that all the images on this page can be found on the autobusi.org website, of which he is a moderator. Marin's comments and advice have been vitally important to the captions of the photographs and the details of the various sections. My thanks to him.

Marin says "This is the link to a forum topic where I've compiled info about every fleet number Promet used which are known to us. The British buses are in the third post, whose title translates to "Buses of the first numeration" as Promet restarted its numbering after 1990. The British buses are at the beginning as they were bought during Promet's first 15 years (of course, some Yugoslav buses are mixed in there as they were also present in the 1950s). Every info, photo, etc. I get is available on the forum."

Here are the details of the buses as far we know, arranged in the order they arrived in Split. Information is incomplete and it's a "work in progress", so I would welcome any additional details that you can supply. Please email me here.

Here's a quick index with links to the various sections;

1953; AEC Regals "10T10" from London Transport
1955; AEC Regals "14T12" from London Transport
1955; Leyland "STD" Titans from London Transport
1957; AEC Regents from Northern General
1958; Leyland PS1 Tigers from Standerwick
1959; Leyland TS8 Tigers from Ribble
1959; Leyland PD1 Titans from Wallasey
1959; Leyland PD1 Titans from Bury
1960; Leyland PD1 Titans from Crosville


1953; AEC REGAL 10T10 from LONDON TRANSPORT

A local newspaper article confirms that ten ex London Transport / Green Line 1938 T-class AEC Regals (10T10) were acquired by Promet in Split in 1953 and this is probably one of them. The batch included T459 (ELP 183), T473 (ELP 197), T481 (ELP 205), T497 (ELP 221), T532 (ELP 256), T543 (ELP 267, which became Promet No.30), T545 (ELP 269), T547 (ELP 271), T584 (EYK 219) and one other. It's likely that the Promet fleet numbers for these buses were in the range 23 to 35. Certainly T543 became No.30, one of them became Promet No.31 (Regn. H-5940) and another was No.32 (H-5929), but we don't yet know which was which.

It seems that all of them had a new "offside" passenger door added behind the cab. This bus does look rather battle-scarred. In the background is the pier of Split's "Gat Svetog Duje" where international ferries now depart. Marin says that the author of this picture is Marijan Žuvic and it was taken in 1957.

The same location today.

This splendid picture of eight of the Ts was probably taken between 1953 and 1955. It came from "Povijest pisana svjetlom", a book by Goran Borcic.
We're not sure what the bus in the middle is - any suggestions?


1955; AEC REGAL 14T12 from LONDON TRANSPORT

It looks as though two 1946 Weymann-bodied T-class Regals also joined the Promet fleet from London Transport in 1955. This picture shows two Regals, apparently having arrived in Split by train, with HGF 826 (T736) in the foreground. It is reproduced by kind permission of www.autobusi.org and was posted to their forum by the son of Promet's driver on the left of the photo.

Here is evidence that one of the 1946 Regals was registered H-5968 by Promet. One was numbered 47 in the fleet and probably the other one No.48, but we don't know the original identity of them. This photo is an enlargement from a photo supplied by Maurice Bateman to the autobusi.org forum, who kindly agreed to let me use it here.


1955; LEYLAND TITAN PD1 "STD" from LONDON TRANSPORT

This former-London Transport STD is parked on Split seafront promenade (known as the Riva) overlooking the bay. It is working for Promet on their 5-mile route north east to Solin. Marin Pažanin says that the picture was taken in 1958 and was featured in Slobodna Dalmacija, Split's daily paper.

There is evidence of at least five STDs coming to Split in 1955, they would seem to be;
STD??? (HLW ??), Promet No.42?, regn. ST-24-62. A photo is shown further down this page.
STD??? (HLW ??), Promet No.44. Photo exists of an "offside" door being fitted.
STD140 (HLW 69), Promet No.51, regn. H5999. I believe the picture above shows this bus.
STD127 (HLW 56), Promet No.52, regn. H6000? and later ST-25-19. Pictured at the top of this page.
STD??? (HLW ??), Promet No.??, regn. H7579 according to PSV Circle Buses in Yugoslavia. No further evidence.

The same location today.

When they were retired by London Transport in 1955, all 65 of the 1946 STD class Leyland PD1 Titans (STD 112-176, registered HGF 990-999 and HLW 51-105) went to various Yugoslavian cities, including some to Split where they were used by Promet.

Another unidentified ex-London Transport Leyland STD at the western end of Split promenade. The buildings in the background are virtually unchanged today - the one on the left is now the Hotel Bellevue. This picture was taken in 1962 according to a book by Split automotive history enthusiasts.

The same location today.

Looking west along the sea front at Split, this is a pair of ex London Transport STD Leyland PD1 Titans. The one in the foreground has had new doors fitted by Promet behind the driver's cab and wears the registration ST.24.62 with a fleet number on the side ending with "2" - maybe No.42. The bus stop sign says that it will go to Omis and the photo was taken in June 1963.

Another unidentified former London Transport STD at the east end of Split harbour promenade (the Riva) in front of a tower forming one corner of Diocletian's Palace.

The same location today. Even the palm tree looks to be the same!

This is London Transport Leyland STD140 which became Promet No.51 (H 5999). It is seen here working the 17 mile route from Split to Trogir, along the coast to the west, and is pictured in front of what is now a cocktail bar alongside the North Town Gate in Trogir. I believe that this photo was taken by D W K Jones in August 1959. If that's correct, my thanks to Mr Jones.

The same location today.

These days Promet buses (now very yellow) still operate to Trogir but now they stop at a bus station on the far side of the bridge to the island, although some still cross to the city like the STD shown above. Here we see Iveco Daily No.280 and (on the right) Mercedes-Benz O345 Conecto No.201.


1957; AEC REGENT II from NORTHERN GENERAL

This 1950s photo (from Promet's monography) taken on Split's Riva promenade appears to show three identical AEC Regents. These are probably 1946 ex-Northern General Regent II buses with Northern Coachbuilders bodies. The Northern General batch of 10 buses was numbered 1167-1176 (ACN 167-176), of which six came to Split around 1957 via a dealer. Historian John Bennett tells me that they were 1169, 1170, 1173, 1174, 1175 and 1176.

Marin has seen a better version of the picture above in which the fleet numbers are visible; the one at the front is No.63 and the one behind is No.66. All the Regents seem to have been given fleet numbers in the mid 60s range by Promet and they included No.63 (regn. H-5960 - seen above), No.64 (H-11691), No.65 (ST-24-74), No.66 (seen above) and another one was registered H-11703.


1958; LEYLAND TIGER PS1 from STANDERWICK

It was reported that in 1958 a number (possibly as many as 13) of 1948 former Standerwick PS1 Tiger / Burlingham C31F coaches arrived in Split, from the batch registered between ARN 205 and ARN 220. However Marin suspects that these buses may not have been used in Split at all (or at least not all of them), but were in transit to other places - perhaps Dubrovnik or somewhere in Montenegro.

He says "The reason I believe they were never used in Split is that there is simply not enough room between Promet's known garage numbers to fit them. #65 was an AEC Regent imported in 1957, while #76 was a FAP Grand Turizmo built in Autokaroserija Split in 1959. These numbers were evidenced on old photos so are not a guess, although I can't confirm any of those in between."


1959; LEYLAND TIGER TS8 from RIBBLE

It is thought that around six Ribble Tiger TS8s were acquired by Promet in 1959. They probably came from the 1938 batch with Ribble fleet numbers in the 700 series and registered RN 83xx. In this great panoramic view of Split harbour we can see two of them (at the front and back of the line) with a London Regal 14T12 second in the queue. Marin tells me that the third bus in the queue is an AEC Regal 10T10 rebodied by Autokaroserija Split around 1956, possibly No.32. He says "By the backround it seems the Tigers were caught just on arriving at Split in 1959!" Here is an enlarged view;


1959; LEYLAND TITAN PD1 from WALLASEY

Apologies for the reflections on this picture (it may have been behind glass) but the content is interesting. I'm pretty sure that this is one of 24 Leyland PD1 Titans supplied to Wallasey Corporation in 1946. They were numbered 78 to 101 (HF 9574-9620), had MCCW bodies and were withdrawn from 1957 onwards. John Bennett tells me that Wallasey Nos.87 (HF 9592), 92 (HF 9602), 93 (HF 9604), 98 (HF 9614) and 99 (HF 9616) were sold via a couple of dealers to Sarajevo in March 1960. Based on the Promet fleet number of 89 (regn. ST-24-79) this bus seems to have arrived in Split somewhat earlier, almost certainly 1959. It's also not known if Promet acquired any more buses from Wallasey apart from this one. It seems to be parked on the Obala Kneza Domagoja alongside Split's main commercial docks.

Norman tells me that the inscription on the left at the bottom of the photo says "Promet driver Mimica Vicko around 1959". In fact the format of the licence plate suggests 1961 or later. About half way down this Autobusi.org page you can see two more pictures of driver Mimica Vicko - one with a single decker and one with an ex-London STL. Meanwhile Allan Haynes says he thinks the inscription at lower right says "This was released from London" in Serbo-Croat. In fact the bus didn't come from London, but I guess nobody would have known the difference.

Marin says "Allan is close, but not exactly right. "Ca je pusta Londra kontra Splitu gradu" is a very old saying which says something along the lines of "What do you need London for, when you have everything in Split?" or more closely, "What does London have better than Split?". It is, according to legend, a response to George Bernard Shaw's claim that he lives in a replica of Split's palace in London."

"As a sidenote, these buses are collectively referred to as "Londonci" here, meaning Londoners. Nobody here really did know the difference, and the distinctions have long been lost to history." Marin adds "The bus with registration plates ST-24-79 is the same bus as the one on the photo below it. This escaped my attention as well at first. The first one was taken behind glass and unfortunately I can't get in contact with the person who uploaded it to the forum. Also the driver's name was in fact Vicko Mimica - it is written in the reverse order on the pic."

This is the same bus as shown in the picture above, i.e. an ex-Wallasey Leyand PD1 Titan, Promet No.89 (ST-24-79). The registration number dates the picture to 1961 or later. The double decker in the background may be a 1948 ECW-bodied Leyland PD1A Titan, one of a pair of lowbridge buses acquired from Crosville in 1960. They were Crosville No.M543 (HFM 65) which became Promet No.99 (ST-24-83), and another which became No.103? (ST-25-??). The location is on the Poljana Kneza Trpimira in central Split, looking north up Zagrebacka Ul. taken from an upper window in the headquarters of the Split-Makarska Nadbisupija Roman Catholic Archdiocese.


1959; LEYLAND TITAN PD1 from BURY

This looks like hard work. You would have thought that the passengers would at least have the decency to get off the bus. In the background is the Church of St Francis at the west end of the Riva promenade in Split.

David Beilby kindly emailed in October 2016 to explain "This will be one of three Titans new to Bury Corporation as their 110/111/116 (EN 8544/45/50). They were 1946 PD1s with Roe H31/25R bodies, withdrawn by Bury in 1959 and sold through North's in Leeds to Split, the last three of the batch to stay in service with Bury, the rest of the batch having being sold the previous year." The one in the picture above is Promet No.90.

The same location today.


1960; LEYLAND TITAN PD1 from CROSVILLE

Some PD1 Titans with ECW lowbridge bodies were bought from Crosville in 1960. Certainly 1947 Titan M543 (HFM 65) came to Split and was numbered 99 by Promet with registration ST-24-83. Another example may have been numbered 103, which might suggest that maybe five of these buses came to Split in 1960 (Nos.99-103). Here's an enlargement from the picture of the Wallasey PD1, seen further up this page.

And here's another one down by the harbour. Thanks to Marin for the picture.


Thanks very much to Norman, Željko and Marin for giving me access to this interesting collection of images, and especially to Marin for all his help with the research.
Finally (with no apologies!) I'm going to add a few pictures from my visit to the area in 2017.

I did like these cute little TAM trucks, which reminded me of the Russian UAZ 452s, known as the "Pill" (ambulance), "Loaf" (van) or "Tadpole" (pick-up). TAM stands for Tovarna Avtomobilov Maribor (Maribor Automobile Factory), a commercial vehicle producer based in the city of Maribor. Created in 1946 from a wartime aircraft parts factory, it became Yugoslavia's largest truck manufacturer but eventually closed down in 1996.

Seen in the village of Dol on Brac island, this model is the 80T35. "80" refers to the horse power, "T" means Truck and "35" represents 3.5 tons capacity. Marin tells me that the truck is known locally as the Tamić ("little TAM") and that this example was built in 1986.

The same truck seen in Dol a bit later and, as you can see, it is a tough machine for its size and is quite capable of carrying a digger up a hill.

Here's another one, in this case an 80T50 (5-tonner) seen in Supetar on the island of Brac. It was built in 1989.

These classic bikes were always parked outside a quayside cafe at Supetar harbour on Brac island. The big one in the foreground is an ancient German DKW probably from the 1950s, and the moped behind it is a ROG Pony Express with a 50cc Puch engine, manufactured by the ROG bicycle factory in Slovenia from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Finally a mystery picture. A trailer with a seat on the front? I really wished I could have seen this in action...

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