British Classic Buses in Australia - (Page 1)
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Last updated 8 May 2013
These pages form a scrapbook of material about British buses in Australia.
The other pages are Australian Buses Page 2, Australian Buses Page 3 and a page about Melbourne (MTT) OPS4/1 Tigers.
Please feel free to send any suitable items and I will be happy to post them.
There are some Australian bus links at the foot of this page.
IT'S RAINING REGALS IN PERTH
Nicholas Pusenjak kindly sent me some more great images in connection with recent arrivals at the Bus Preservation Society of Western Australia. Above is a Regal III that started life as Fremantle Tramways No.22, one of a batch of five delivered in 1952 with Boltons metal-framed bodies (see the image below of similar 25 in service).
After being acquired by MTT in 1960 the body was almost entirely rebuilt, and the bus was based mostly at Redcliffe. Finally withdrawn in 1976 it passed to Cliffs Robe River Mining for use at their facilities in the Pilbara area. It then became a mobile home and toured around Australia before coming to rest in a back yard in Victoria Park, where it lay for many years.
Arriving at BPSWA's premises at Whiteman Park in September 2012, the current expectation is that it will be used as a source of spares for the Association's other Regals - and that list has just grown again. Nicholas says "We have just been donated ex WA Government Railways A14. It was originally built with a timber-framed halfcab body and was rebodied as a full-front with fibreglass mouldings." Some previous pictures sent by Nicholas of WAGR Regals with the original and replacement bodies are on my Australian Page 3 here; and here is a picture of A14 when it arrived at Whiteman Park in November.
Nicholas says "I am hoping A14 may be kept intact as a static exhibit and coupled to a four wheel trailer of which we have secured the body part. It is a WAGR trailer that was hauled by three of their Regal IIIs to convey parcels and goods on several country routes. It will make a nice little static display. BPSWA has so many projects and so few people and little money that we can't restore them all to perfect operating examples but the mechanical parts from A14 and 228 should assist us to keep the other two Regal IIIs running in perpetuity."
Thanks Nicholas for the pictures and the news.
ANOTHER SYDNEY LEYLAND
These ex Sydney double deckers keep turning up. Although photographer Michael Haug would be the first to admit that this image (taken from an old phone camera in April 2011) isn't great, it does show that yet another Sydney bus is still around. Michael says it is on a property north west of Moree, NSW, and had been converted to a site office.
The number 1771 is visible on the offside rear, which tells us that it is the ninth (and last) of the very first batch of Leyland OPD1 Titans acquired by Sydney. Delivered in 1946 with a Clyde body, it may therefore be the oldest post-war Sydney Leyland in existence - unless you know better!
This excellent list records that it was sold in 1968 to Kingswood Wreckers then resold, and later noted as a stationary caravan at Walgett NSW. Well now we know more. Many thanks to Michael for sending the photo.
MORE SYDNEY DOUBLE DECKERS RESURFACE
Mark Clayton, Arts Faculty Manager at the University of Southern Queensland, sent me these fine photos in September 2012;
This is ex Sydney 2674, a 1952 Leyland Titan OPD2 with a Clyde body. It was sold in 1975 to the Department of Performing Arts, Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education, Toowoomba. By 1992 it was noted in use as a toolshed at nearby Dalby.
Mark now tells me that the Institute (since renamed the University of Southern Queensland) has reacquired the OPD2 it used to own and operate. The Southern Queensland Intitute of Technology has offered to restore this vehicle on behalf of the University. The pictures show it being relocated for restoration.
Mark also send me this picture of what appears to be an ex Sydney AEC Regent, privately owned at Roma in western Queensland. It was clearly at one time used by a radio station as the inscription on the side reads "Triple M, FM Stereo". That station still exists, and has regional bases in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Does anybody recognise the bus or can provide an identity?
Many thanks to Mark for the pictures.
RARE GUY VICTORY BUSES ARE RESCUED
Nicholas Pusenjak has kindly sent me the following photos and information;
"The Bus Preservation Society of Western Australia has successfully repatriated two former Western Australian Government Railways Guy Victory 'Scenicruiser' buses to Perth for restoration of the better of the two. The buses are G58 named 'Pride of the West' and G60 'Wheatlander'.
After withdrawal by the Western Australian Government Railways they were stripped of mechanical components and sold to a farmer in the Wheatbelt region for use as workers' accommodation. There they sat in a dry environment for 41 years until this May when they were brought to the Society's facility at Whiteman Park, a suburb of Perth. Sister bus G63 (the yellow one) had been acquired the previous year and will yield the mechanical parts needed. It had been used by an aerial crop sprayer and the phosphates used in the fertilisers have corroded the body to the point of no return.
The Guy Victory was a rare chassis and only seven are known to have come to Australasia, - all to the Western Australian Government Railways. We have three and the whereabouts of another is known. We don't know if any were sold to other right-hand drive export markets or the home market. Some may have been sold in left-hand drive form for use on the Continent - Belgium, Holland or Greece perhaps?
The Guy Victory Airride is not to be confused with later simple and rugged front vertical-engine chassis that sold to Africa. Our buses have independent front suspension and disc brakes, and were powered by an underfloor-mounted Leyland O680 engine.
The photo above was taken at Whiteman Park shortly after the buses had been transported to Perth, and below is a page from the Guy sales brochure." Many thanks to Nicholas for that.
YET ANOTHER OLD SYDNEY LEYLAND TITAN
John Townsend sent me an email in October 2010 to say that he had spotted an old Leyland double decker in NSW, and here it is;
John says "I was in Newcastle NSW in January/February this year, and was having a run out in the car on our way to Port Stephens, when we came across an old Leyland double decker in the middle of a field in the Anna Bay area. You can see it on Google Earth (I had a look, but couldn't find it). I have had no luck trying to find out its details and wondered if you have any ideas. She is sitting in a field just off the highway to Port Stephens. On talking to my son (who lives in Newcastle NSW) he seems to think the highway is called Nelson Road, Anna Bay."
I think I'm safe in saying that it's an old Sydney Leyland Titan OPD1 or OPD2, but does anyone know which one? I can't see any signs of identity on it. Let me know if you can help, and meanwhile thanks to John for sending me the info.
TWO MELBOURNE REGALS SPOTTED IN VICTORIA
Murray Ellwood emailed me in August 2010 to say that he recalled seeing a couple of old buses by the Hinnomunjie bridge in the vicinity of Omeo, Victoria, just east from where the Omeo Valley Road crosses the Mitta Mitta River. These appeared to be ex M&MTB buses converted to mobile homes, and Murray thought I might be interested to check it out.
A call to Jeff Cooper of the Omeo Historical Society resulted in a really helpful response. Jeff said; "The two buses you mention are two of 22 that were bought from the Melbourne Tramway Dept in about 1975 by Ian Stapleton when he was setting up Mittagundi, which is a camp for kids to get back to nature; www.mittagundi.org.au."
"I believe one of the buses still resides there. When Ian got them, they had the engines and gearboxes removed, so he had to tow them the 500kms to Omeo. He told me that he had to sell four of them en-route to pay for the transport fines he got. There are still a few around; I had one myself until it was destroyed in the 2003 Bush Fires, as were a number of others. In Ian's book "Something Small the story of Mittagundi" there are photos of the buses being towed through the snow."
"They were all AECs and, as per your website, some ended up in Western Australia. The two in question are used by Fishermen in the Trout season."
Jeff then proceeded to get a friend to photograph them, and you see the results here. Thanks very much to everyone who helped in this research, and if anyone can actually identify the exact vehicles, that would be the cherry on the cake!
FANCY RESTORING A 1927 LEYLAND LION?
Jonathan at the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society drew my attention to great discovery. It's a 1927 Leyland PLSC1 Lion.
TY 3673 (chassis number 46035) was new in September 1927 to Amos Proud of Choppington, Northumberland, with a Leyland B31F body. It was acquired by United Automobile in 1928 as No.B282, and then to Lincolnshire Road Car in 1931, for whom it worked out of Boston, Lincs as No.132.
Exported in the 1950s it became a caravan, and (and here's the snag for any UK-based potential preservationists) it is now in Tasmania! But if anyone wants to restore it, it's looking for a good home. Thanks to Jonathan and the LVVS for the info, and see here for more information.
SOME ROUTEMASTERS JUST KEEP ON GOING....
Derek & Jenny Jones sent the above picture in January 2010. They say "This is a picture taken in Queensland, Australia, just before we (pictured) took the bus to Brisbane to carry 60 students to a Formal. This bus is based in New South Wales".
Ex London Transport and London United RML2353 (now named "Betty") came to Australia in 2006 and is based at Billinudgel, New South Wales. Operator Andrew Mudie and his team say on their website http://www.londonbus.com.au that they think it's the only London bus in Australia. Well, that's not the case, but it's a good one nonetheless.
Most remarkable is that the owners intend to bring the bus BACK TO UK for the 2012 Olympics! Read all about it on the website. Many thanks to Derek & Jenny for the photo.
RARE COMMER COMMANDO TURNS UP
Darren Symonds emailed to say "Look what we have in Australia. We have been getting the bus ready for its normal once a year outing. We take the bus to the Bathurst 1000 (a 1000 km car race around public roads up and down a mountain every year); its first trip to Bathurst was in 1988. A lot has changed with the old girl in that time. It is over 700km from home for us, and takes us just over 8 hours to get there from our home town of Seymour, Victoria."
So what is it? Well this is a rare survivor of about 300 Commer Commandos, built in 1946/47 with Park Royal "one and a half decker" 20-seat coach bodies. They were often referred to as "observation coaches", but in fact the design had nothing to do with the view, but was intended to provide a large rear luggage compartment under the raised seating at the back. This was because the vehicles were built to carry air passengers or crews to and from aircraft or passenger terminals, and they needed a lot of baggage space. They were made to a British government order, and supplied to four customers, the Royal Air Force (RAF), British European Airways (BEA), British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), and the Ministry of Supply (MoS) who issued them to a variety of industrial facilities such as aircraft manufacturers and government facilities. Only about 6 survive - this one, another one in Canada, and four in UK.
Darren says that when his mate Peter Sanderson bought it, it was in a paddock in a bad condition, as seen below, so they've done a great job! It now has a dual-fuel Chrysler V8 engine and an auto box, instead of the original Commer 4-cylinder petrol original, and the BP paint scheme was added in 1992.
Darren says that he understands the bus was used by Australian National Airways (ANA), who were later bought by Ansett, and then the bus passed to the St John's Ambulance in Seymour in the 1970s. So we guess that it might have been brought to Australia by BOAC, and acquired by ANA when BOAC retired it (20 seats would soon have become a bit too small for international flights). Anyway Darren and his mate Peter have so far been unable to find a chassis or body number, so it's not possible to identify exactly which bus this is, but it's great to see it up and running, and my thanks to Darren for telling me all about it.
And then, in May 2011, Mike Cornwall sent the picture above. He took it in Bathurst in 1988 - the first year that bus was there. Many thanks for that Mike, another piece of the story. All we need now is a picture of it when serving with BOAC or ANA !
PRESERVED MELBOURNE REGAL
This fine M&MTB AEC Regal III belongs to John Phillips, and is seen at the Sandown Rally, Sandown Park, near Melbourne in 2007. Melbourne acquired a huge number of Regals in the early 1950s. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I reckon they had 18 with ComEng bodies in 1951-52 (No.435 is believed to survive from this batch), 18 more with ComEng bodies in 1952 (352 survives at the Sydney Bus Museum), 29 with ComEng bodies in 1952-53 (513 survives as a mobile home), one with an Ansair body in 1953, and 69 with Martin & King bodies delivered in 1953-54. Of that last lot, 537 survives at the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria, and this one (No.592) makes two. Many thanks to Pete Kane for letting me use this photo. Pete says "the AEC virtually still looks the same as when it came out of service, the owner John Phillips takes pretty good care of it."
Mike Tamkin, now with Alpha Bus Co., has sent this photo from the late seventies / early eighties when he was a Bus Operator with the MTT at Causeway Depot, Perth. It shows No.539, one of a batch of 20 Leyland Royal Tiger "Worldmasters" delivered in 1963. Mike says "We had about 40 like this at Causeway depot as late as 1980". Thanks Mike.
BRISBANE REGAL SWAPPED FOR A COW
Doug Whale, from Queensland says "We have an AEC Regal III from 1948 with 9.6 ltr diesel and 4 speed preselect gearbox. Body was built by Commonwealth Body Builders In Sydney. This bus is one of only three surviving in Australia. The other two are owned by members of QOCS. We are still in restoration stage. May take quite some time as we are trying to find parts to get it running again."
"These buses were owned and operated by Brisbane City Council, from 1949-50 until 1971 when this particular bus, No:78 was decommissioned and eventually sold in 1973 to a chap that lived in Brisbane and actually drove this same bus for the council during those years. He was going to transform it into a motorhome but never got that far, having passed away and left it to his son, who at the time was driving taxis for the same council. The bus sat in their backyard, ( or rather "paddock" ) for nearly 16 years, never being moved or started, until the son moved to Gympie and set up house here in 1989."
"He also thought about building it into a motorhome for the next 12 years and gave up on the idea after moving back to Newcastle, (just north of Sydney) to take up driving coaches up the Hunter Valley. The bus was then given to a mutual friend of ours as a storage shed for his computer gear, and sat in his yard for another 4 years until I saw it and purchased it for the price of a Jersey milking cow ( I swapped him a cow for it ) on 5 Oct 2006."
"Since 1973 it has not been started but has been turned over, apparently burning out the starter motor, (they tried to start it on 12 volts). It still has 26 gallons of diesel in the fuel tank from 1973. I am still looking for a starter motor for it, so I can get it running...ANY HELP would be appreciated !!
"The bodies for these buses were made by Commonwealth Engineering in Granville, Sydney, and Athol Hedges in Brisbane (ours is a ComEng) between 1948-1953. I don't know exactly how many were made, but from research I have done, I think there were only 12 or 13 Regal III 's with full fronts, others around the country I have seen are all half fronts."
Doug's bus is number 78 (chassis number O962261) but, as he says, No.77 is preserved by the Heritage Bus Association, and No.80 is with QOCS. Good luck with the restoration !
LEYLAND COMET SURVIVOR
Al Curran called to ask if I could identify this "1962 Leyland 33 foot bus". He said that the owner was turning it into a motorhome and Al was making his thermal curtains. He had asked Al if he could identify the model, and he had looked for hours through bus websites without success;
I was still struggling with that when Al got a response from elsewhere solving the problem.
Ian Lynas wrote "It is almost certainly a Leyland Comet with a Cycle Components Manufacturing Co body (CCMC) (pre Customs days), and I would hazard a guess it is ex-Delwood Bus Co., or one of the Rowe group of companies, Campbelltown Transit or Parramatta-Villawood. It should have a chassis number on the offside about mid way along the chassis or same place on the nearside. Difference is some were original Comets rebodied or they were chassis intended for export to places like India or South Africa and they got diverted to Australia. It should also have a body number on the CCMC plate around the middle of the plate starting with the year suffix 58/??? through to the mid 1960s."
Ian attached an old photo of a similar looking bus at Campbelltown, to prove his point. Interesting find !
LONDON RT ENJOYS THE SUNSHINE
Paul Harrington from Morphett Vale, South Australia, wrote; "Allow me first to say what a superb website you've put together on the subject of classic buses. Simply brilliant. I've enjoyed surfing through it many times. The main reason I've put finger to keyboard is to inform you of an immaculate RT series currently being used in South Australia."
"I drive RT 1787( KYY 625) only once a year on South Australian roads for the annual Christmas pageant. Unfortunately I'm not the owner, as it's owned by South Australian Major Events Commission. But sometime in the future...who knows."
Thanks Paul. I love the loudspeakers on the front, which I think were not standard when in London service ! The activity in the background is also interesting - not just the other RT behind with red wheels and scalloped sidewalls, but what on earth is happening on the right of the picture?
Well, Scott Mitchell emailed to provide the answer. He says; "The happenings behind the RT are the setting up of the Christmas Pageant floats. A long tradition in Adelaide was to go see the Christmas pageant with the family. There are many floats all based on children's stories. As for the RTs, I have a few pics of them in the pageant and I even got to ride 1787 one year after the pageant to get some photos."
Thanks Scott. That explains it.
Some Australian bus links;
See also Australian Buses Page 1,   Australian Buses Page 2 and a page about Melbourne (MTT) OPS4/1 Tigers.
SOME QUICK LINKS WITHIN THIS WEBSITE;  Home Email THE CLASSIC BUSES WEBSITE SHOP Events Diary Halfcab list Links Small-Ads Classic Irish Buses
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