SPECIAL VINTAGE GALLERY (No.1)
Wray's Motor & Body Co. Ltd. / Motor & Accessories Co. 1928-29 (Vol. One)
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Last updated 17 January 2016
Once in a blue moon a very exceptional set of photographs comes to light, and the Classic Buses Website has pleasure in presenting this Special Vintage Gallery to display just such a collection. As far as is known, these images have never been published as a series before.
John Page acquired these remarkable photos in an album in 2006. Unfortunately the album was in a bad state and had obviously been stored in very damp conditions, so John had great difficulty in prising the pages apart without damaging the photos. Eventually they were dried out and scanned, and the result can be seen below. It soon became apparent that the set seemed to be connected with a specific body manufacturer, and were all taken in the same location - but who, and where?
Research revealed that a London company named Wray's Motor & Body Co. Ltd. ("Motor & Accessories Co.") of 40 Waterford Road, Walham Green, London SW6, were building coachwork for a variety of chassis around 1928-29 and, before delivery, drove each vehicle round to The Boltons - a very posh square in Kensington - to take a photograph. The Boltons is an oval of very expensive Victorian houses set around a fenced garden containing a church (St.Mary The Boltons), just south of the Old Brompton Road in Kensington, London SW10. Recent residents have included Liz Hurley, Mark Thatcher, Rod Stewart and ballerina Darcey Bussell, and the houses are currently worth multi-millions.
Particular thanks must be made to John Bennett for his specialist knowledge in attempting to identify the vehicles concerned. Without his expertise, we would still be wallowing in ignorance. So my thanks to John Bennett for much of the content of the captions, and of course to John Page for sending me the images. I hope you enjoy the result.
Due to the size of this collection, the series has been divided into two parts. For Volume Two of this Gallery, click here.
UW 1205 is a Gilford 166OT with Wray C32D body, new in September 1929 to S.W.Treskow, "Pullman Saloons", Broadstairs.
Another vehicle from the fleet of S.W.Treskow, "Pullman Saloons" of Broadstairs is KR 878, a Daimler CF6 (chassis number 7352S) with Wray C26D body, new in December 1929. It later operated with Mid Wales, Newtown, with whom it ran until 1951.
An unidentified Reo Pullman from around 1928. Any further information would be welcome.
PK 9850 is an Albion PR28 (chassis number 7047A) with Wray C31F bodywork, new in March 1929 to L.Adnams, of London SW19, trading as "Blue Safety Coaches".
John Bennett says he is fairly certain that this is YB 7442, a Lancia 0533 new in September 1926 to F & J.Webb (Motor and Accessories Co.), of Street, Somerset. For another of their vehicles (an Albion PK26), see Page Two of this series.
This is a Daimler CF6 with a Wray B30R body, belonging to H Whatmough ("Pullman Service"), of Gourock, Scotland. The business was later transferred to the LMS Railway and then to SMT. The vehicle itself could be either HS 5247 or HS 5271 or HS 5308 (chassis numbers 7000S, 7002S or 7004S respectively, and dating from September-November 1928), and I doubt that we will ever know which one it is.
The picture above would seem to show the interior of the same Scottish "Pullman Service" Daimler.
We can't be sure about this vehicle. The chassis is certainly a Gilford (probably a 166OT), the inscription on the side says "Bakers Motor Services - Safety Coaches", and it's been snowing! John Bennett suggests four possibilities, so take your pick;
John Bennett says "There were two Dennis G chassis which I believe were supplied to Wray. UV 6002 (c/n 70550) new to Usher, London E3 in July 1929 and UV 9752 (c/n 70535) supplied to Charles, Middleton Cheney, Oxfordshire in September 1929. If I had to choose, I would go for the Charles one, as it is described as a bus, whilst Usher's is given as a coach."
This machine is a glorious Leyland Lioness wearing the inscription of Riley's Garage, Belper (almost certainly seen here in May 1928), and which ended up a prisoner of war. The probable story - courtesy of John Bennett - is that this is RA 5705, Leyland Lioness PLC1 (chassis number 46888), supplied new to Wray as one of two in May 1928, and built as a 26-seater coach. After Riley's went to Richards, Nelson (South Wales), and then to Mascot Motors, St Helier, Jersey as J 8162. Converted to C24 in May 1934, it passed to Pioneer Coaches, St.Helier in May 1937 and was finally commandeered by the occupying German forces in 1943. Its subsequent fate is not recorded.
This wonderful vehicle is a Gilford (probably an LL166) operated by Harrington & Manser, "Scarlet Runners", Kent. An appeal on this website in 2006 revealed the following information.
First from Richard Brinkman of Rainham, Kent, regarding Manser;
"I have recently started researching my family tree and I can inform you that the Manser of 'Harrington and Manser' was my Grandfather, George Manser, on my mother's side of the family. He was born in 1874 and died in 1954. We believe that the Scarlet Runners operated during the 1920s to the 1930s but we have no definite info on this. Unfortunately there does not appear, so far, to be any info in our family records of the bus company. In fact in trawling the web for info I was amazed to see the picture of one of my grandfathers' buses on your website. We believe that they operated two buses. I have no idea why this bus was in SW10. If I unearth any info through local archives then I will contact you again. If you know of anyone who may have some info then please advise me."
And this is from John Page (ANOTHER John Page !) of Kingston upon Thames, regarding Harrington;
"My father used to tell me about Harrington and Manser's Scarlet Runner that used to run seaside trips in the '30s
but, when WW2 ended, Mr. Harrington revived his little ca.1934 Bedford, still as Scarlet Runner. Mr. Manser was no
longer part of the business (retired or deceased?). I have no information about the fate of that beautiful Gilford,
but it appears not to have survived the war. Mr. Harrington lived near me and was a customer of my father's fish &
chip shop in Pattens Lane, Rochester. He garaged his vehicles in the yard at the rear of Groom's Bakery warehouse, 200
yds along the road, so I had first-hand knowledge of the changes to the Scarlet Runner fleet, but I did not keep
records at the time. From memory,
'Melody' was the name of Mr. Harrington's house and could have been his wife's too."
Allan Haynes adds more to the story;
"Melody Coaches, Chatham. From the Maidstone & District Fleet History 1911-1995 (pub. M&D and East Kent
Bus Club): Acquired Vehicles, Ex R.F.Harrington, Chatham (Melody Coaches) 15/12/61
These vehicles did not receive fleet numbers and were not operated by M&D. Disposals; Fleet Car Sales, Dunchurch (dealer) 2/62."
"So M&D bought the business when Mr. Harrington retired, and closed it down. Mr. Harrington actually lived in Bournville Avenue, Chatham (opposite the football ground) and one of the vehicles was often parked outside the house. We travelled with him from time to time, and my first ever coach tour was on the SB at the age of eight when the vehicle was brand new, to Ramsgate Illuminations. I remember I was very impressed because the destination blind said PRIVATE and made me feel very important. I have operated my own buses in recent years and always put up Private rather than the sick-making 'Sorry I'm not in Service'. I know of a photo of OKE but don't yet have a copy of it in my file."
And the story continues;
Mrs Elizabeth Alice Mary Harrington and Robert George Manser went into partnership as charabanc proprietors in 1919 trading as Scarlet Runners. Mrs Harrington resided at 13 Medway Street ,Chatham and their garage was possibly in Medway Street as well. Mr Manser resided at 3 London Road, Strood.
I have no information on their early vehicles but in March 1925 they took delivery of KL 5226 a new Thornycroft. Then in March 1928 a Gilford goods vehicle, registered KO7834, possibly a pantechnicon was purchased new by an EAM Harrington, removals of Chatham and I assume this to be Mrs Harrington of Harrington & Manser. Perhaps this Gilford was re-bodied with a charabanc body and is the unknown vehicle photographed in Chelsea?
Mr Manser may have left the partnership in 1932 leaving Mrs Harrington to trade alone as Scarlet Runner Coaches. A local Kelly's directory quotes that car repairs and removals were also undertaken, and hire cars were operated. In 1933 a new Bedford WLB Duple 20-seat coach was purchased, AKN 914 and this later passed to JWH Watson (Wilberjim Coaches) of Strood. BKT 387 another new Bedford WLB Duple 20-seater was purchased in 1935, then in November 1946 a new Bedford OB Duple 27-seater registered JKE 392 entered her fleet.
At the end of 1946 the business and two coaches passed to Mrs Harrington's son Reg (R.F. Harrington). BKT 387 remained un-lettered in Scarlet Runner's scarlet livery, but JKE 392 was repainted orange and cream and lettered with Reg's fleet name of "Melody Motor Coaches". The vehicles were parked in the yard of Grooms Bakery, Pattens Lane, Chatham whilst Mr Harrington resided nearby at 6 Bourneville Avenue, Chatham. Many excursion and day tour licences were held and for many years these were much sought after by Maidstone & District but Mr Harrington always refused their offers to sell out.
The pick up points for his tours were:
1. Carvell's Pet Shop, 18 Military Road Chatham
2. Chatham Football Ground, Bourneville Avenue
Charles Carvell was a caged bird dealer whose shop was at 18 Military Road, Chatham and he was also a booking agent for both Scarlet Runner and then Melody Coaches, and his son drove for Reg Harrington.
BKT 387 was sold by Reg (date not known) to Norris Coaches of Wouldham, Kent, who ran it until 1954.
Reg bought a new Bedford OB Duple Vista 29-seater in May 1948 which was registered KKO193 and this was delivered in his orange and cream livery. In September 1951 he purchased a new Bedford SB Duple Vega 33-seater which also had a tip-up courier seat at the front near-side, this was registered OKE940, and was also in the colours of orange and cream.
Does that cover everything? I doubt it.....
For Volume Two of this Gallery, click here.
And for another Special Vintage Gallery, click here.
For many other buses, have a look at all the other profiles on the Classic Buses menu page.