Guy Arab III 6LW
Park Royal H30/26R
LOW217 is a Guy Arab III with Park Royal H56R body, new in 1954. It is still owned by Southampton City Council and we see it turning from Portswood Road – this section being known locally as Portswood Broadway – into (Old) St Denys Road. It is 30 May 2010 and there is a running day to mark the official (but not actual) closure of Portswood Depot. The actual closure was delayed by about three months because the new depot at Empress Road wasn’t ready.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies
21/08/16 – 11:09
These buses looked rather old fashioned for 1954. By then rubber window mounts and ‘new-look’ fronts were well established. Perhaps Southampton valued standardisation more than up to the minute styling as these were the last of a very large batch of early post-war Guys.
21/08/16 – 16:17
Yes, Philip, I think you’re right. The next batch to arrive was the PD2 with Midland Red front, then the PD2A and Regent V before the Atlantean. Bill Lewis managed to modernise the livery on the Atlanteans to something like the Manchester style, and I’m not sure why he didn’t deal with the older vehicles as well. Perhaps Nigel Frampton can advise!
Bill had other difficulties with his Committee – they were adamant that they would not follow the trend to overall adverts – the best he could achieve for many years was the ‘wrap around’ style and, although other Councils, including our neighbours Bournemouth and Portsmouth had coaches or dual purpose vehicles for private hire work, Bill was not allowed to have them. I have a strong suspicion that the presence of a local coach proprietor on the Committee had more than some influence there! What about a declaration of conflicting interests?
21/08/16 – 17:08
Arab III/Park Royal might look a bit old fashioned, but elegant at the same time, especially in the standard livery. I think you might agree that neither the PD2 or PD2A could be described as pretty, particularly in the "red look" livery. Wasn’t the livery on the Regent V/East Lancs/Neepsend pretty much the same as the Guys, except for no silver roof? As far as private hire was concerned, I think you are most likely correct & add in a number of rate paying coach operators in the district & there’s no contest!
22/08/16 – 05:45
Had this Guy Arab for my wedding on September 2011 taking us all from Fareham to Portsmouth and return. Great for me as provincial (my favourite operator) had many of this type. A proper bus, brilliant.
22/08/16 – 05:46
Wasn’t the Arab IV well established by 1954?
22/08/16 – 09:23
I don’t recall Portsmouth Corporation having any vehicles for private hire work, be they coaches or DP type. It was a rigmarole for bus enthusiasts to get one of their buses for private hire outside the Portmsouth area, little more the Portsea Island, plus Leigh Park, a Portsmouth Council housing estate, where dispensation had been given after it was built. However, some arrangement enabled the open-topped TD4’s to go to the Epsom Derby.
22/08/16 – 10:44
Portsmouth Corporation did operate some dual purpose vehicles in it’s final years. These were the three Leyland National 2s, nos 98-100 (CPO98-100W) with DP40F bodies, and a zig-zag red on white livery. These were delivered in 1980. In 1982, the Corporation added three Dennis Lancets (95-97), two were buses (B35F), and one (95, GTP95X) was DP33F. All three were bodied by Wadham Stringer. Finally, the Corporation bought a "proper" coach, secondhand from a dealer. This was a Leyland Leopard / Duple C57F, numbered 101 (AUS644S). Then, in the new era of Portsmouth City Transport "arm’s length" company from October 1986, they added two more second hand coaches. These were also Leyland Leopards with Plaxton C51F bodies, and came from Bournemouth. They were nos 104-105 (FEL 104-105L). Apparently PCT Ltd also hired two Shamrock & Rambler Leopard/Plaxton coaches in the summer of 1987. Several of these came under Southampton ownership when Southampton Citybus took over Portsmouth Citybus in July 1988. However it seems to be a quite complex arrangement as to who owned or borrowed which ones in this era. Then along came Stagecoach, then Harry Blundred, then First Group . . . all change! Sorry, this is a long way from the Guy Arab III in the original image. As a teenager, I often visited Southampton when these were the main components of the fleet, so the image brings back good memories. Also, as was mentioned above, some ended up with Provincial at Gosport and Fareham, joining that company’s very similar buses. Those purchases seemed a perfect fit, as even the destination screen arrangements were virtually identical – just the alignment in the front panel being the clue if you know what to look for.
22/08/16 – 14:01
I much preferred the Guy Arabs that Provincial acquired new, which had a less spartan interior finish than the Southampton vehicles, while the 5LW gave a better looking profile, but, of course, Southampton needed the 6LW for the long steep hills while Gosport and Fareham had few hills and nothing of any note.
23/08/16 – 06:08
Sorry Pete, I’m afraid I don’t know the reason why the Atlantean livery was not extended to the front engined types. I suppose one could speculate that it was a form of "OPO" livery, in a similar manner to the Bristol Omnibus Company in the few years just prior to the introduction of NBC standard liveries in 1972 – but it would be purely speculation.
I would also add that there was something of a tradition of specific classes of buses retaining different liveries in SCT. One commentator referred to the silver roofs of the Guy Arabs (double and single deck), the Park Royal bodied Leyland Titans and AEC Regent Vs, and the Nimbuses. As far as I know that feature was included at repaint. Then there were the Swifts and Seddon RUs – Swift number 1 always had a different layout of colours (and, I think, a different shade of cream). I also think that the Seddons had another, richer shade of cream.
It would not, of course, comply with modern thinking on corporate images, but I don’t ever recall thinking that the services were operated by anything other than one single operator! On the other hand, one could argue that the various livery layouts had been adapted to suit the respective vehicles. Now that’s something that today’s livery designers could learn!
23/08/16 – 06:13
Well, thank you so much, Michael H, for clarifying the situation on Portsmouth Corporation’s DP buses and coaches. I left Portsmouth in 1976 and was not able to watch the twists and turns of Portsmouth Corporation in its later years and its death throes. I’ve looked on the web and can find no photos of any of the vehicles you mention.
23/08/16 – 06:13
You didn’t mean it this way, David W, but your comment that "Fareham had ‘nothing of any note’ reminds me of an old tourist guide I read many years ago which described Fareham as being "devoid of interest"!
23/08/16 – 06:13
Between 1949 and 1952 (when aged 7 to 10 years) I lived at Alverstoke, where the standard type allocated to the Gosport – Haslar route 11 was the 5LW Guy Arab III with Guy built bodywork on Park Royal frames. In appearance, they were essentially identical to the 6LW Southampton examples, which, to the delight of a visiting small boy, seemed to be operated in huge numbers in that city. Several of these would subsequently become part of the Provincial fleet. Much later, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I would travel to the city for Institute of Transport meetings at Southampton University, and contrived to catch a Guy for the local part of the journey whenever possible. The Arab III/Park Royal combination is my favourite bus of all time, and I believe that its standard of ride, dependability and operating economics have never been equalled. Geoffrey Hilditch stated that a Guy Arab fleet could regularly offer a 98% standard of reliability, a figure that included engineering spares and buses on overhaul. Nothing else surely could match that. The 1951 Arab IV evolved from the 1950 specification issued by Birmingham City for their new Guys, and, in addition to the repositioned front bulkhead to eliminate the radiator ‘snout’, the updated chassis included features better to meet the requirements for 8ft wide bodywork. The Arab III was offered alongside the Arab IV until late in 1953, and Southampton’s Nos.67-73 batch must have been among the very last deliveries of the type. A picture of No.71 in service may be found on the OBP Southampton gallery. In 1961 Southampton plummeted from the sublime to the ridiculous with its PD2s, the execrable appearance of which led the Corporation to abandon Park Royal after a loyalty of some 33 years.
23/08/16 – 06:16
Living in Southampton in the post war Guy Arab era, I have to declare a fond predilection for these vehicles.
Although the 64-73 batch were Mk III Arabs, they did have a different exhaust system layout to the earlier vehicles. This batch had a larger diameter system with the pipe located behind the offside wheels; all the other Arabs in the fleet had a smaller diameter system with the exhaust outlet in front of the offside wheels. In 1961, Mr Jenkins, the deputy GM always attributed their superior performance on the road to this difference.
This batch certainly had more oomph! than their predecessors and coped effortlessly on the hillier routes 4 and 6. Of the ten I always thought No 68 (LOW 214) was the pick of a very good bunch.
23/08/16 – 06:44
Slightly off subject, but I was told a story that the original So’ton livery was blue/white as per the Regent V BOW 507C in the photo (but without the P&O sponsorship!). This was changed to red/cream when So’ton gained a Labour council sometime between the wars, and there was no way they were going to have blue buses. Can anyone confirm this?
Also the first batch of Regent V’s might well qualify in the Ugly Bus page see photo of 318 AOW attached.
I think the Arab’s that went to Provincial were mainly from the earlier batches, which indeed had things like exposed bulbs for the interior lights, & a sliding window between the lower saloon and the cab, which allowed the conductor and driver to chat . Did you know that the good old "Jelly Mould" interior lights fitted to later models is still in production today . Sorry about the poor picture quality. The photos were taken at So’ton Centenary in 1979.
23/08/16 – 10:17
David F, I can’t comment on the reason for changing from blue to red livery, but the blue is certainly the pre-war livery. The Regent painted thus for the Centenary is one of the views in our editor’s file for consideration, along with a note on the reason for the P&O adverts.
Roger, you describe the Park Royal bodies on the PD2 as ‘excrable’. I’m sorry, but I didn’t think they were as pretty as that!
23/08/16 – 14:01
Here’s a coloured photo of an early 1930’s Thornycorft Daring in Southampton Blue with blue roof. At some period, the blue roof was dropped.
The corporation favoured this local bus builder for a period and, guess what, they had Park Royal bodies!
24/08/16 – 05:54
Sorry, Chris. Didn’t mean to offend Fareham. I was really writing about the lack of steep hills. My favourite Guy Arabs were the Southdown Mk.IVs of around 1956, with Park Royal bodies.
24/08/16 – 05:56
If your story is true, Davis F, it just shows how petty politicians can be. I recall that, when Big Ben was thoroughly renovated some years ago, it was found the the clock faces were originally blue and it was suggested that, in the interest of historical accuracy, the faces regain their original colour. Labour objected vehemently and it was not to be. How childish!
24/08/16 – 05:57
Taking up the point made by Peter E about the livelier performance of the later Guy Arabs, Gardner introduced the ‘K’ type LW range of engines in 1950, which, for the 6LW, raised the output from 102 to 112 bhp. That should have made a difference, but I would have expected all the Arabs from No.184 onwards to have exhibited this improved performance. Perhaps that revised exhaust system did provide a magic ingredient.
24/08/16 – 10:17
It’s all right, David W; I was amused, not upset!