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Last updated 25 February 2013
Why not share a story or a nice picture here ? To send contributions you can Email me here.
Actually this "scrapbook" of contributions has grown so big that I've opened a second page here and a third page here for archived material.
NEWS IN BRIEF
LONDON CUB MAKES PUBLIC DEBUT
John Perthen very kindly sent me the photo above, taken on 1 December 2012 during the Ensignbus special Christmas services, involving classic buses running around Brentwood, Gravesend, Lakeside and nearby points. The surprise of the day was that Ensign revealed their newly-restored London Transport Leyland Cub, C4.
Apparently they have owned this bus for some years, and John says that the restoration - both inside and out - is nothing short of incredible. The Ensign website describes it as "A unique vehicle from a bygone age. Painstakingly restored by us to concourse standard over a four year period, C4 is a truly unique vehicle that is now available to hire. Finished in the condition it would have been delivered in back in the 1930s the vehicle exudes the elegance and slower pace of life in those times".
John apologises for the quality of the photo due to poor lighting conditions, but I reckon he's done very well. Many thanks to him for sending the picture, and the news.
MAGNIFICENT CROSSLEY WAS A SCHOOL PROJECT
A 10-year restoration project has been completed at last by staff and students at a Liverpool college, St Margaret's Church of England High School, using high performance coach enamels provided by HMG Paints of Manchester, No.1 coatings supplier to the UK bus and coach industry. There is a strong Manchester association, since the 60 year old bus was built by Manchester manufacturer Crossley, famed for the 'Mancunian' buses that plied the city's streets from the 1930s.
There is also an interesting Christian association, since St Margaret's upholds all the principles that underpin a Christian school, while the Crossley brothers were themselves committed Christians, who refused to supply their vehicles to breweries and adopted the early Christian symbol of the Coptic cross as their bonnet emblem.
St Margaret's CE High School in Aigburth Road was established in 1879 and is now a dual specialist school, having been awarded both Technology and Language College status. It has run a Transport Society, or 'bus club', since 1971, to give students hands-on experience of structural and mechanical restoration. Its latest project is a Southport Corporation 1951 Crossley SD42/7, although previously it restored a 1949 Leyland Tiger PS1 coach, CMS 201.
The school is registered with the National Association of Road Transport Museums and, over the years, has received technical help from Manchester's Museum of Transport. So Deputy Headmaster John Wilkinson, who runs the bus club, approached the Collyhurst coatings company for support back in 1999. Since then it has supplied more than 100 litres of refinishing products at highly preferential rates, welcoming the opportunity to showcase the important preservation and decorative functions of paint.
John Wilkinson, who has a long-term interest in buses and coaches, found the dilapidated Crossley bus mouldering in a field in Chesterfield and, having first offered it to a county museum, the school decided to undertake the restoration itself, starting in 2002. The fortnightly Transport Society originally worked on old cars and motor cycles, but John found that buses offered far more scope for students to get involved, typically involving a dozen or so each session. He also has the expert help of Senior Caretaker, Campbell Dean, a time-served coach painter, and the school's Design Technician, Peter Pendleton, who reconstructed all the bus' internal woodwork, from templates produced by students.
Having stripped out the seating and interior components down to the composite framework, the bus club produced new aluminium body panels and sourced a genuine replacement bonnet and engine cover from a fellow enthusiast in Oldham. The final paintwork itself took a total of nine months to apply, employing two full coats of undercoat and three of gloss topcoat. In addition to traditional Coach Enamel for detailed work, HMG supplied DG142 Synthetic High Quality Primer/Undercoat and SAH300 Polyurethane Enamel for the larger panels, both of which were originally developed for leading bus operator Stagecoach and together produce an unbeatable, high gloss finish.
These products are especially formulated for brush application, with a long wet edge time and no bristle drag, and according to John Wilkinson enabled an outstanding handpainted finish: "Campbell achieved a superb gloss appearance and if you can see any brush marks, I'll give you a sticky bun," he says. "We've since taken the vehicle to the MOT testing depot, where people are used to seeing modern buses, and they have been amazed by the standard of the paintwork. When he was a professional coach painter, Campbell used to swear by a traditional brushing topcoat that's no longer readily available, but now he insists that the HMG system is even better."
The school's Crossley SD42, one of a range of models built between 1947 and 1952, is finished in the Southport Corporation livery of Ayres Red and Ivory. The 1949 Leyland Tiger single deck coach is painted Azure Blue and Cream, also in HMG paints, and together these classic vehicles present a memory-provoking nostalgic sight.
LONDON BUS MUSEUM LAUNCHES NEW FUNDRAISING PROJECTS
The London Bus Museum at Brooklands (formerly Cobham) has launched two major fund raising appeals. Gold Membership is for individuals to take advantage of additional benefits and privileges at the Museum in exchange for financial support. Details of the benefits available can be found here.
Also Corporate Partnerships are now available for companies who wish to contribute to the financial viability of the Museum, enabling it to carry out its triple objectives of conservation, education and participation. Details of the benefits available from the Corporate Partnership scheme can be found here.
Please lend the Museum your support if you can.
TD89 IS (STILL) MAKING PROGRESS
Progress continues with the restoration of London Transport Leyland Tiger PS1 TD89. Ewen Pring and the team at Timebus acquired TD89 in 2003, and have been beavering away to restore it, with a view to adding it to their classic hire fleet of RM, RLH and RF vehicles.
Ewen says "Most of the wood framework, between ceiling and floor, has had to be carefully replaced. Attached photo, taken about a month ago, shows the situation. Hopefully progress on fitting window pans and panels will proceed more easily and therefore quickly, allowing a 2007 finish."
Since the only TD we see these days is Cobham's TD95, it will be a most welcome addition to the preservation scene. I last saw it working out of Edgware in 1962 (its last year of service), and I sure didn't expect to see it again - let alone after 44 years ! My thanks to Ewen for the picture and the information.
Dave Simmons from Bus & Coach Restoration Services, Tilsworth, sent me an update in February 2012. He says;
"Due to the poor condition of the original timber frame and the subsequent repairs/restorations we where left with no alternative than a complete rebuild, Timebus intend to use TD89 for passenger services so we couldn't leave the body in a dangerous condition. The timber framing work is now finished and we have fitted new plywood flooring and installed a complete new wiring loom. A full set of window pans will need to be fabricated before work continues. I have posted a slideshow video of the work so far on our YouTube channel.
Thank you Dave for the update, and we look forward eagerly to seeing this wonderful machine back on the road.
BRISTOLS IN MACAU
My ever faithful correspondent Vic Brumby has sent some intriguing pictures from his remarkable archive of unusual buses - or buses in unusual places. This time we travel back in time to 1977, and across the world to what was then the Portuguese colony of Macau.
This looks to be an 'off the shelf' ECW-bodied dual-entrance Bristol L5G at first sight. I have what purports to be a list of the entire Bristol L production run, and it doesn't mention anything about Macau. So can someone throw some light of this? The registration number would seem to be M-14-18. And there's more....
M-10-52 would appear to be a Bristol stablemate, but with a very different (and presumably locally-built) body; and finally Vic took a picture of a third example - clearly one that has it's finest days behind it.
M-12-09 seems to have been converted into some kind of service vehicle. Anyway I'm sure it won't be long before someone writes in with details of the Macau Bristols. I look forward to hearing from them, and my thanks to Vic for yet more magnificent photos.
Well it didn't take long for my Irish friend Shane Conway to give us the clues. He said;
"Just seen the Macau pics - I think they are ex UK buses. There was an article in Buses Extra many years ago about Macau's buses. They also had Bristol Ks, some may have been ex Bristol Omnibus. The additional front doorway was a local alteration as far as I recall."
Then he quickly added;
"Just had a trawl through Gerry Tormey's site:
M-12-09 = CVF 846 (Eastern Counties LL46, to Lincolnshire 2069, to Macau in 1957)
M-10-52 = JHT 863 (Bristol Tramways C2728, to Macau in 1960)
M-14-18 = MHW 999 (Bristol Tramways C2766, to Macau in 1966)
They had 30 in total, all ex U.K. buses."
Well done Shane (and Gerry too!). Problem solved.
Terry Partridge sent me the definitive information in July 2012, based on records published in Mike Davis's book "Far East Buses - Volume 1, Macau, The British Bus Years". This lists all 30 of the Bristol L5G imports, the earliest being two 1939 examples from West Yorkshire (imported in 1956), and the latest were two from United Auto dating from 1950 (imported in 1966).
Other sources of these buses included Southern and Western National, Bristol Tramways, Eastern Counties, and "Eastern Counties via Lincolnshire Road Car". Thanks very much to Terry for that interesting list.
'MOLLIE ON TOUR' IN 1954
Graeme Fernie from Sydney, Australia has very kindly sent me these delightful pictures of coaches on tour. They were taken in 1954 by Mollie Thomas (1908-2008) during a trip she made to the UK and Europe that year.
Mollie gave the above image the caption "Oban, West Scotland". Maybe it was taken on her way north up the west coast. The "Royal Hotel" in Oban is still there. The coach is Scottish Omnibuses (SMT) C201 (JSF 826), which is a 1952 Bedford SB with a Burlingham 'Seagull' body.
The second picture is titled "Morning tea stop on way to York", so clearly Mollie is about to bid Scotland farewell and head south in another Scottish Omnibuses coach (this time one of a 1953 batch of AEC Regal IVs with Alexander bodies, numbered B463-479, KSC 540-556), but not before apparently taking a cuppa at the Wedding Inn, Gretna Green....or is she?
In fact the Gretna Green Wedding Inn is nowhere near Gretna Green! Now just called the "Gretna Green", it is near Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.
Next we head way down to the south west of England, where a Southdown coach has brought Mollie to Padstow.
The Metropole Hotel in Padstow is also still there today. Meanwhile, hiding on the right is Southdown No.830 (MUF 430), one of a pair of Leyland Royal Tigers with Harrington 'Wayfarer' bodywork delivered in 1953. This was a luxurious 26-seat tourer with lots of legroom and a sliding sun-roof, so Mollie was travelling in style. The destination blind says "Devon & Cornwall".
But Mollie had hardly started; the next stage of her tour was to take her across the Channel.
Here we see an East Kent underfloor-engined Dennis Lancet being loaded onto the cross-Channel ferry at Dover. All vehicles were traditionally loaded by crane there until 1953 (no 'Roll-on Roll-off' ferries in those days!) when loading bridges were first introduced for cars. Presumably that luxury was not yet available for heavy vehicles in 1954.
Mollie seems to have travelled on this coach through France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Monaco and Switzerland. The photo below is simply labelled "Verona".
Now we can see that the coach is HJG 8, the sixth of a batch of 30 Dennis Lancets still being delivered brand new to East Kent when Mollie boarded it in 1954. Those first six Duple Ambassador bodies seated a spacious 32 passengers, while the rest of the delivery seated 41. Mollie was still travelling in great comfort!
I assume that's the East Kent driver in his smart summer uniform. As for "Kangaroo Tours", well maybe someone can tell us more about them. It's certainly got nothing to do with the Australia / England rugby tours of the same name - there wasn't one in 1954.
Allan Haynes adds more to this; "The nose-on picture of HJG 8 in Verona - that is very definitely not the EK driver standing in front of it ! They did not issue white suits, even for tours to warmer parts. And his 3" wide webbing belt... He is an official of some sort, possibly a Carbiniero, and seems to have taken command of the parking of the Dennis. The actual driver is the bloke inside in rolled-up shirt sleeves aiming for the back of the coach. East Kent summer uniform I think I remember involved the same navy serge trousers as the rest of the year, and a grey dust jacket with red trimings. I did have two uncles who drove for EK, but it was a long time ago...."
Thanks to Allan for that, and many thanks to Graeme for passing on these interesting photographs.
This is a former mystery picture from the homepage.
Nigel Lemon said "One summer evening in 1970, probably July, I saw this vehicle on tow behind a lorry passing westbound along the A41, little more than a mile before the centre of Chester: this was in the days before the Chester By-Pass, and I would liked to have seen how this convoy negotiated the centre of the city! Anyway, a few days later I made a point of visiting Tom Hollis's yard at Queensferry (always an interesting place) to see if this had been its destination."
"My hunch proved correct: but although I had a few brief words with TH, I feel sure that I didn't discover what the origin of the Dennis was. Forty years on leaves me wondering whether someone somewhere else might know more, both as to the origin of the bus and also its fate."
The destination box on this pre-war Dennis Lancet reads "Colchester Division Conservative Association, Annual Outing 1935, Hunstanton". Is that genuine? And what was the history of this bus?
As usual, there was no shortage of responses.
Owen Phillips thought it was likely to be an Eastern National bus from the mid-1930s with an Eastern Counties body, and I was inclined to agree. The 1934 "AVW"-registered batch looked just like this (apart from the absence of a rear roof luggage pannier). But it doesn't explain the trip to Hunstanton in 1935.
But then John Wakefield got involved, and he contacted Geoff Mills who revealed the following;
The bus is Eastern National Dennis Lancet 1 / ECOC-bodied BTW 482, new in June 1935 as No.3543 (chassis number 170797). It became a caravan in August 1951 at Wormingford, Essex occupied by a Mrs. Munson. When she died it was acquired by John Jackson (co-owner today of a Sunderland Crossley), and it was probably John who put the 'Hunstanton' notice on the front - he being a staunch Conservative.
On 26 April 1970 it was towed to Tom Hollis's yard at Queensferry, and that must have been when Nigel spotted it. From there it went to Plumtree, Notts, where a group of enthusiasts intended to restore and exhibit it. Unfortunately the project failed and the bus was subsequently scrapped.
So that's the story. Many thanks to John and Geoff for the information.
ANOTHER DERELICT DENNIS
This is another former Mystery Picture from the homepage. Derek Wilkinson purchased the image in 2011 at a transport museum, but couldn't identify it. No registration number is visible. John Bennett initially said he thought it was a Dennis EV, of which not very many were built. The EV was basically a 1929 facelift of the Dennis E.
John later added this further comment; "I am advised that this is one of the West Bromwich Dennis EVs with a body by WJ Smith. They were EA 4371 to 4373 and 4727/8."
Another mystery solved, by the sound of it. If anyone has more information about it, do let me know.
NEWLY RESTORED RAMBLER BEDFORD
Terry Blackman kindly sent this picture. He explains that the glorious coach is "Rambler of Hastings 1935 Bedford WLB with Duple body, making its first appearance since restoration at the Hastings Trolleybus Restoration Group's 19th annual classic vehicle rally at the Oval, Hastings on 15 May 2011. It has gradually been restored since acquisition in late 2008".
CMG 30 was delivered new to Garner's Coaches of Ealing. After military service during the war, it passed to a Devon owner, and has been in preservation for many years. In fact, after a previous restoration process by a Surrey owner, it won 2nd prize in its concours class at the HCVC London-Brighton run in May 1967, and the Ian Allan trophy the following year. So it's no stranger to the rally business, but a wonderful sight nonetheless. Many thanks to Terry for the photo.
John Wakefield kindly added the following details about the vehicle; Chassis No 110051, Body No 5401 6/35 new to Garner, Ealing 6/43 Edward Saunders, Winkleigh (re-reg JTA 608) by -/64 Burt & Mitchell, Exeter (preservation) 4/66 E.J.Baker Motors Ltd., Bordon 10/66 Eric Taylor Tintinhull (reg. reverted to CMG 30 5/67) -/91 Steven Taylor, Tintinhull on death of Eric Taylor in 1991 11/08 Colin Rowland (Rambler Coaches) Hastings
"ON HIRE TO ROYAL BLUE"
This was a ** Star Picture ** on the homepage at the beginning of 2011, but it deserves to be preserved permanently, so here it is. Ken Jones went to Winchester on 2nd January 2011 for the King Alfred Running Day, and took this fine picture of KLJ 749, apparently "On Hire to Royal Blue". Hants & Dorset 779, a 1950 Bristol LL6G with a Portsmouth Aviation body, is seen negotiating the roundabout at the end of the Broadway in Winchester, and is currently preserved by owners in Bristol. Many thanks to Ken for the photo.
CITY COACH MEMORIES
Dennis Coote contacted me in November 2010 to chat about the City Coach Company which operated in south Essex. He spent his schooldays travelling on their buses, a fleet which incorporated a very wide variety of interesting vehicles, ranging from 1939 Leyland Gnus, and 3-axle Tigers to post-war Titans, including LEV 917 which is preserved in UK (a history of that bus can be found here).
Formed in 1923 as a 'pirate' operator, the firm is best remembered for its Wood Green to Southend service. City Coach sold out to the British Transport Commission in 1952, and Westcliff-on-Sea Motor Services acquired all their vehicles. Eastern National then took over Westcliff later that year.
Dennis took some photos of their buses around 1947, and has kindly sent them to me. Even he would admit that the quality is not great, but the content is rare and fascinating, so here they are.
Dennis recalls his "... school days travelling from Laindon to Brentwood on these wonderful buses (my mother always referred to the buses as 'Old Toms', no idea why). My favourite was a Leyland Tiger DUC 912, fleet number LT12. One of my fellow passengers was Joan Sims, the Carry-On star, whose father was the stationmaster at Laindon Station." On the right in the above picture is that very bus - DUC 912, a fabulous 3-axle Tiger TS7T from 1937. The body, I think, is by Beadle. Next to it is LT10 (CUL 804), another six-wheel Tiger TS7T, new in 1936 and wearing a Heaver body fitted in 1947. Then we see what looks like one of the Bedford OB / Mulliner buses delivered in 1946 and, on the left, another pre-war Tiger.
Photographed by Dennis in Brentwood around 1947 is number LT 17 (CXW 442), a full-fronted pre-war Leyland Tiger.
Finally here is Bedford number B14 (JVX 943).
Apart from LEV 917, the only other known City Coach survivor (unless you know better!) is Leyland Titan NVX 311, which is rumoured to exist in the USA. It was reportedly last seen in North Carolina in 2007. There's a picture on this page http://www.historicbeaufort.com/ which apparently shows the bus, and dates from 2000 or earlier, but that particular tour has now been taken over by an open top Routemaster.
Many thanks to Dennis for these unusual photos, and the oppportunity to remember a charismatic operator from the past. If anyone can add more detail to these images I would be delighted to hear from them.
Robert Lanham contacted me in May 2010 to say that he and a group of colleagues interested in British bus exports had arranged a trip around Lisbon, Portugal in the Carris Museum's beautifully restored AEC Regent No.217 - apparently a very rare occurrence. Here is a picture of Carris 217 taken by Robert in Lisbon in 1981 (it is currently displayed in an earlier livery and configuration).
Robert also sent a picture of its stablemate No.255, now registered KSV 102 here in the UK and seen below next to Ipswich Regent No.1 on the promenade at Felixstowe during a road run on 2 May 2010. 'Mirror image' halfcabs take some getting used to - the drivers are shaking hands through the cab windows!
As far as is known, only these two Carris Regent IIIs survive (217 from 1952, and 255 from 1954, both with Weymann bodies) and two Regent Vs (301 from 1957, and 426 from 1961). Four Carris single deck Regal IIIs from 1948 are also preserved - three of them in the UK. Carris has been the major public transport facility in Lisbon for over a century, and their Museum has a website here.
Many thanks to Robert for sending the interesting photos.
KENYAN GUY ARAB
Here's another fascinating image from the archive of my faithful correspondent, Vic Brumby;
It's Kenya Bus Services No.152, seen in a Kenyan field in 1973. Vic says "it's probably down to the diff by now." No.152 was a Guy Arab IV with a Park Royal 70-seat body, delivered to Nairobi in December 1956 with local registration number KFJ 176. About 20 were bought during 1955-57 for service in Mombasa and Nairobi, and Uganda had similar examples too. The speed limitation was reputedly 25 mph.
Not a sight you see every day, and I just love the picture. Many thanks Vic.
CHELTENHAM DISTRICT TRACTION PICTURES
Deryck Hudleston kindly sent me these pictures from a book he recently acquired about the buses of Cheltenham District Traction Co (Deryck's old home town), a company not often mentioned. The book concerned was Cheltenham's Trams & Buses by John B Appleby, and was published several decades ago. Sadly the author is no longer with us, but Deryck obtained permission from John Senior of MDS Book Sales to reproduce these images. Because they are copied from a book, the quality isn't outstanding, but the rarity of the pictures convinced me to publish them here.
The first picture above shows 1930s AEC Regent I No.9 with a well-proportioned Weymann body.
Next we have Albion CX19G Venturer No.29 (EAD 729). This was the first of five delivered in 1940 (29-33, EAD 729-733) with very traditional Weymann provincial bodywork. The CX19 'G' version had a Gardner 6LW engine instead of an Albion unit. These buses were Cheltenham's first Albions, but not their last, as we can see below.
Two more Albions from the post-war examples are shown above, led by No.69. The town's second, and last, Albion delivery came in 1949 when it took six more CX19 Venturers, 68-73 (HDG 444-448 & FCY 763) with Metro-Cammell bodies. One of these - No.72 - survives (see below).
Finally here is a utility lowbridge Guy Arab. I'm not sure which one it is, but it seems the company acquired Arab Mk.1 Nos.40-48 (EDG 968-976) in 1943, variously bodied by Strachans, Northern Counties or Duple, Arab Mk.II Nos.49-52 (FAD 250-253) bodied by Park Royal in 1944, and Nos.55-59 (FAD 831-835) with Strachans bodies in 1944, so I guess it's one of all those.
There are some survivors from this fleet, including 1949 Albion Venturer No.72 (HDG 448) which is fully restored at the Transport Museum, Wythall, and 1961 Bristol FSF6G Lodekka 802 MHW. The company, formed in 1929 and acquired by Red & White in 1939, lives on as part of the Stagecoach group. Many thanks to Deryck for sending me these images, and thanks also to MDS Book Sales for permitting their reproduction.
1947 TIGER STILL EARNING A LIVING
Greenway Ferry & Pleasure Cruises were pleased to announce for the 2010 season the arrival of a 1947 vintage Leyland PS1/1 Barnaby C33F bus to the English Riviera running a regular service to Greenway on the 'Agatha Christie Tour'. This fabulous piece of recently restored British history joins the Greenway Ferry Company adding to the rapidly growing historical fleet and complimenting perfectly the existing services to Greenway that are already provided by taking passengers from Torquay, Brixham Dartmouth, Dittisham and Totnes to Greenway House and Gardens. Helen Meacock Operations Manager said 'This special little bus provides a nostalgic and authentic jiggle, jerk and creaky ride along part of the Agatha Christie Mile before arriving at the wonderful home of Agatha Christie now giving a new option other than ferry adding to the era of real travel'.
"The vintage bus coupled with Heritage Ship Fairmile creates a fantastic heritage link, promoting green transport which is both the National Trust and our companies' common goal in a fun and historical way. In addition to the new service from Torquay and Brixham Park and Ride to Greenway, our company for the first time will add a unique Heritage link between the National Trust Properties of Greenway and Coleton Fishacre which will be available to visitors."
"Greenway Ferry & Pleasure Cruises is the English Rivera's largest passenger boat operator with 10 passenger vessels operating 19 different cruises and excursions in Torbay and the River Dart carrying in excess of 300,000 passengers per year."
This is Page One of the "scrapbook" of contributions - Page Two is here and Page Three is here.
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