Lancashire United Transport
AEC Swift MP2R
LUT’s single deckers were often a little different from the norm. This AEC Swift was one of three (291-293) delivered in either late 1968 or early 1969 (sources differ) along with some similarly bodied Bristol RESL’s. Their Alexander bodies were based on the W-type, but featuring short window bays, flat glass, V-shaped windscreens, and a plain front roof dome, rather than the more common version with long bays, curved screen and peaked dome. Interestingly they appear to have retained the curved rear screen though.
The Swifts did not find favour and were ‘swiftly’ withdrawn in 1973 and sold to neighbouring St. Helens Corporation, with whom they retained the same fleet numbers.
Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer
19/05/13 – 11:31
The Bristols, delivered at the same time, had a three part rear window arrangement including a full depth emergency exit door in the centre. Short window bays also appeared on the Plaxton bodied Seddon RUs and Bristol REs, delivered up to and including 1974.
I always thought the Alexander bodies, with their deeper window line, were better looking than the Plaxton bodied Seddon RUs and Bristol REs. and decidedly superior to the, at best, unattractive Northern Counties LH6Ls delivered in 1969.
The Swift’s short service duration with the company has always been a matter of conjecture. Was it the reputation the type was rapidly gaining in London or, much more likely, the fact that the power plant wasn’t a Gardner or, at a push, a Leyland.
19/05/13 – 12:08
As we saw with the DM(S) Fleetlines, failure in London was not necessarily a reflection on the vehicle – more on the rigid London "system". As an AEC man, I would accept that the Swift (& Merlin) wasn’t their finest hour – but wasn’t as bad a the Panther and certainly not the disaster that was the Roadliner. It just wasn’t the RE! St Helens, Morecambe and Leeds – not to mention in a smaller way, Sheffield – gave them full service lives. [OK. I haven't forgotten East Kent.]
I think Phil’s final paragraph has it in a nut-shell. Non-standard – and not Gardner.
20/05/13 – 07:33
Did Alexander classify these bodies as W-type? I think the more anonymous front front panels, and dome – OK the whole front! – has stood the test of time better than the "classic" W-front (and would probably be cheaper to repair in the case of any lower front panel damage). I think the three-window/smooth dome of the REs probably sat better with this frontal design than the "classic" curved-screen/peaked dome. For me though, the biggest single improvement over the usual W-type body has to be the straight window-line fore and aft. RE/RU/Swift/LH/Plaxton (bus bodywork)/Northern Counties/Alexander/LUT/LT/St Helens – I’d forgive them all shallow window-lines, inflexible practices, less-than reliable offerings etc, just to have them still around . . . I can’t see myself offering opinions on some First/Arriva etc Wright etc thingy 40+ years down the line. Its 44 years – this photograph is closer to 1926 than today!
20/05/13 – 07:34
Four of the Sheffield two-door Swifts were sold to Hardwicks at Scarborough when they were just over three years old, and supposedly even one of those they acquired by default. Story has it that one of the buses they’d agreed to buy couldn’t be persuaded to start when they came to collect it, so they ended up taking a different one instead!
Two of the quartet, TWE 21F/22F got themselves sold on to Stokes of Carstairs a few years later, and when asked about the pair during a depot visit on one occasion, Mr Stokes himself suggested that the only good thing about the two of them was that they kept a fitter in full time employment!
20/05/13 – 09:08
That quip made my morning, Dave C – don’t you just love black humour!
20/05/13 – 09:09
And a Ribble Lowlander in view: from the (almost) sublime to the ridiculous – please refer to the Ugly Bus Page . . .
20/05/13 – 11:36
As far as I know, Dave’s story is correct. You need a bit of black humour on a grey and gloomy Monday morning…..
20/05/13 – 16:56
Glad you enjoyed that one, Chris and David! Again, it’s not only the vehicles, it’s the people involved with them that make this hobby of ours so fascinating and, at times, wonderfully entertaining.
And you’re not alone with respect to the Monday morning weather, it’s equally as dark as the humour here in Nova Scotia also!
20/05/13 – 16:58
This style of body was also bought by Cardiff also on Swift chassis. Although LUT had bought Marshall bodies with a wrap round windscreen. They reverted to an almost fifties appearance for their Plaxton bodywork on Seddons and Bristols one wonders if this was a cost saving measure as a small two piece windscreen would be much cheaper to replace. The NCME ones were the standard product which was a strange mixture of styles that didn’t gell The next LUT saloons with wrap round windscreens would be a batch of Leopards with Plaxton bodywork which were LUTs swan song as an independent operator.
Despite their outer appearance I always had a soft spot for Ribbles Lowlanders they were certainly an improvement on a "lowbridge" Atlantean
21/05/13 – 07:37
You’re right about the Lowlander Vs Lowbridge Atlantean, Chris! I have experienced the preserved Silver Star example of the latter style on a number of occasions. It doesn’t look right, somehow!
21/05/13 – 07:38
Like St Helens, Blackpool also had a fairly large fleet of AEC Swifts which seemed to have full service lives.