North Western Road Car Co
Leyland Titan PD2/21
Until the arrival of ten of these in the North Western fleet in 1956, previous examples of the Leyland PD2 had featured traditional exposed radiators and bodywork by either Leyland themselves, or by Weymann, who had supplied six lightweight but otherwise classically styled bodies in 1953. This last batch featured the PD2/21 chassis with the concealed front – originally designed for Midland Red’s LD8 class, then adopted as standard by Leyland, even leaving the oddly shaped blank space above the grille slots intended for the BMMO badge. The PD2/21 was the less common air-braked variant of the more common vacuum-braked PD2/20. The bodywork was the lowbridge manifestation of the MCW organisation’s lightweight Orion, regarded by many as being particularly slab-sided and ugly, though personally I always felt that the equal depth windows (compared with the unequal ones of the highbridge version) at least improved the overall proportions.
It seems that they were generally unpopular with crews and most local enthusiasts, being accused of being very hard riding. They were quite a familiar site to me – particularly on Summer Saturdays when the usual ‘blacktop’ Tiger Cubs or Reliances were needed for greater things – as they would often pass through my home town of Halifax working on the X12 between Manchester and Bradford. Although this service passed our house, the limited stop conditions on that section left it out of bounds to us locals, so I never got to ride on one.
Although the other nine were scrapped, Neville Mercer has said that 666 was exported to Canada, so there is a remote chance that it could still exist. Similar looking examples were also bought by East Midland, and the Corporations of Luton and Southend.
Here 666 is seen on the parking ground off Wood Street in Stockport, alongside 258, a Leopard PSU4/4R with Duple Commander III C41F body of 1968.
Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer
29/10/14 – 17:07
When I worked at Sharston (near Northenden) 666 from Manchester depot, took me on the first leg of my journey home to Royton. It was on the 64 service to Piccadilly (from Ringway) almost every day. I hated it. The suspension was indeed very hard. I usually sat on the front nearside seat in the lower deck, which was not too bumpy. The North Western drivers always gave me a fast run into town – they made good time by ignoring one or two intending passengers. As for sound effects, the journey was accompanied by sneezing noises from the air brakes!
At summer weekends it sometimes appeared on X12, Manchester – Halifax – Bradford. I had the misfortune to ride on it one Saturday from Bradford to Oldham. The West Riding road surfaces made for a miserable journey!
Wouldn’t mind a ride on it now though!!
29/10/14 – 17:08
John mentions that these lowbridge PD2’s were familiar to him as they regularly passed through Halifax on the X12. This one actually passed through Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1972, on its way west, it certainly took me by surprise when I caught a glimpse of it. I’m not sure if it still exists or not, or just where it might be.
30/10/14 – 07:18
The problem of harsh riding given by the lightweight Orion and its clones was shared by other makes of chassis, all of which were sprung to carry the typical weight of traditional, decent quality bodywork.
30/10/14 – 07:19
Not only were they hard riding, they were finished to a cheap specification, rattled a lot and the crews hated the rear doors. All in all not the finest NWRCC vehicles.
30/10/14 – 07:20
It’s lovely to see a photo of the registration number KDB 666 as nature intended, adorning a North Western Leyland Titan. In the late 1970’s the registration number could often be seen around Harrogate, attached to a very nice green Rover 3500. The bus connection was maintained however, as the Rover was used by one of NBC/West Yorkshire Road Car’s senior managers.