London Transport – AEC Reliance – 497 ALH – RW3

497 ALH

London Transport
AEC Reliance 2MU2RA
Willowbrook B42D

497 ALH, AEC Reliance 2MU2RA with Willowbrook B42D body, dates from 1960. She is, of course, better known as seen here in London Transport’s RW3 guise, although she spent some time with other operators – notably Chesterfield with her two sisters. She’s seen at the Alton Rally on 21 July 2013.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

29/03/15 – 17:36

Given the widespread use of this combination within the BET empire, was it just the apparent "not designed in Chiswick" attitude that stopped this type from becoming the successor to the RF in both London Country and Green Line service.

Phil Blinkhorn

29/03/15 – 17:36

This is another example of a manufacturer’s standard type that didn’t last long in London Transport service despite giving good service to many other operators across Britain. Rochdale to name one had some virtually identical vehicles that had full service lives.
Where London Transport’s operating conditions so much different from the rest, particularly in the outposts of the Country area, that they seemed unable to sustain vehicles that ran happily for years with other operators?

Philip Halstead

30/03/15 – 08:04

Phil and Philip,
I suspect you are both right. I’m sure Mr Cox will have something to say on this!!!

Pete Davies

30/03/15 – 08:05

There is already a post of RW1, when in service with Chesterfield Corporation and a very useful post by Roger Cox explaining why it was not popular with London Transport. It’s recorded that the engine/fluid flywheel/gearbox, being mounted in one piece, suffered from overheating problems. Obviously, this was overcome by either LTE or Chesterfield Corp’n, for these vehicles to have had such long subsequent lives. However, removing the unsuitable centre-exit was an expensive option for just three vehicles, hence LTE’s likely disposal, although they could just have been disconnected!

Chris Hebbron

30/03/15 – 08:06

These buses have been discussed on OBP before – see Chesterfield Corporation – AEC Reliance – 495 ALH – 18. The three RW buses joined the London Transport (Country Buses & Coaches) department at the same time as I did – in August 1960. They were LT’s first experience of dual doorway buses, and drivers strongly disliked the feature. On rural routes, where stopping points were often just hard standing cut beck into the hedgerow at the stop post, the central door opened to reveal an impenetrable barrier of vegetation. They were tried out all round the Country area to a universally stony reception, not just from the operating staff but from the engineers as well. At this time London Transport ran a fleet of totally standardised, bespoke vehicles tailored to the rigid Chiswick/Aldenham maintenance system. LT bus garages did not have "engineers" in the sense understood by Company and Municipal operators. LT employed "fitters". If something went wrong with a vehicle at LT, the offending component was removed and sent to Chiswick, and a fully overhauled part fitted in replacement. The RW buses were London Transport’s first experience of the new breed of AEC wet liner engines, and garages just lacked the knowledge and skills required to remedy the faults that arose in daily operation. The traditional ‘send the part to Chiswick’ mentality couldn’t apply. LT simply capitulated to its absurdly inflexible maintenance system and got rid of the three RWs. However, a virtual carbon copy of the whole sorry saga took place again in 1965 with the Reliance RC class of Green Line coaches. Nevertheless, the ponderous maintenance system still persisted, later showing its deficiencies with the DM/DMS Fleetlines, deemed "unreliable" by LT despite being of a type that ran entirely successfully with everyone else in the land. The MB/MBS/MS/SM types suffered similarly. Strangely, the only exception in this sorry tale proved to be the original eight XF Fleetlines operated by the Country area from 1965. These ran until 1981, proving the soundness of the basic design (i.e. free of LT meddling modifications). They outlasted all the other ex LTE types in LCBS service. The scandalous squandering of public money by London Transport was a national disgrace.

Roger Cox

30/03/15 – 08:06

There are some thoughts here:   Overheating is mentioned, together with difficulties with the centre exits in rural locations.

Peter Williamson

30/03/15 – 14:34

I remember these 3 buses coming to Chesterfield for use on one man services however it was common for them to be used as crew buses. I remember this one was no20 I conducted it one day on the Barlow routes.

Ken Wragg

31/03/15 – 06:53

It’s rather surprising they bothered with the centre exit for the country area. Even taking on board all Roger points out, single door vehicles for the country routes, a dual purpose equipped single door version for Green Line and a dual door version for the central area would likely, with any other operator, have been seen as ideal. Instead they spent money and kept the drawing office busy by updating the RFs.

Phil Blinkhorn

31/03/15 – 10:12

Thank you, gents, for your further thoughts on this shambles. As Roger says, it has been discussed at length in the past. It was not just LT who didn’t like the DM/DMS Fleetlines, however. Readers may recall that a fair number came down to Wilts & Dorset and Hampshire Bus. Stagecoach bought Hampshire Bus and decided that the Southampton area was not profitable enough, so they sold it on to Solent Blue Line, along with the allocation of vehicles.
Among that allocation were Fleetlines. The then manager of SBL decided he didn’t want them, and arranged an exchange with the former Ribble "high" Bristol VR fleet at Carlisle. One of my friends was among the SBL drivers on the exchange visit. He told me at the time it was the fastest the Fleetlines had ever moved, so eager were the local drivers to do the exchange.
Following on from that, we had VRs with Cumberland and Ribble fleet names trundling around Southampton for several months, for the legalities to be sorted out. I was told that not a single one of the Fleetlines moved away from Keswick Bus Station until a scrapper removed them, but the appearance of an EFE model in the ‘deregulation’ Hampshire Bus livery but with Carlisle fleet names suggests otherwise.

Pete Davies

31/03/15 – 15:55

10 DMs and 8 RMs went to Cumberland in part exchange for the highbridge VRs in 1987. The DMs retained their Hampshire Bus numbers 1917-1926 and as far as I am aware most if not all received the attractive CMS Cumberland livery of ayers red and oatmeal. They were placed in service in Carlisle and survived until October 1988 when Stagecoach replaced them with new Olympians. There were also 4 ex SYPTE Ailsas involved in the deal which were not popular and only lasted a couple of months or so. I have never seen a picture of one of the Ailsas in service so perhaps these were the buses that languished at Keswick Pete?

Update on those liveries after trawling the web. It seems the DMs entered service in Carlisle in a mix of poppy red(?), Hampshire Bus blue, white and red, and in CMS ayers red. Its a pity EFE didn’t choose the latter! There are also a couple of pics of the Ailsas working so that doesn’t explain the Keswick conundrum either!

Mike Morton


Hutchison – Ford R192 – FVA 462D

Hutchison - Ford R192 - FVA 462D

Hutchison of Overtown
Ford R192
Duple C45F

FVA 462D a Ford R192 with Duple C45F body, it was new to Hutchison of Overtown in 1966. She’s seen at the Wisley Rally on 5 April 2009, but I’ve never (knowingly) seen a vehicle in Hutchison livery. Is this the original livery of Hutchisons?

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies.

25/03/15 – 08:49

Hutchison’s livery was a rather striking two-tone blue (without any cream/white relief). Could the "Uckfield" destination blind give a clue to a later operator? I can remember this vehicle being advertised for sale in B&CP about ten years ago, wearing the same livery as in this photo’, so it’s been painted like this for quite a while.

Neville Mercer

25/03/15 – 16:22

Thank you, Neville. I had an idea it wasn’t Hutchison’s livery. I’ll continue to list the operator as "Unknown" in my database unless or until someone can identify the livery . . .

Pete Davies

28/03/15 – 09:44

I’ve been trawling through old copies of B&CP, and the ad appeared in several issues in 2010 (so not ten years ago!). At that time the vehicle was owned by Bob Hunt of Halesowen in the West Midlands.

Neville Mercer

28/03/15 – 14:38

Thanks for these latest thoughts, Neville. She appears to reside in the vicinity of Sheffield Park (not Sheffield as the PSVC 2012 listing has her!) the home of the National Trust gardens and the Bluebell Railway.
The vehicle is totally anonymous in respect of fleet name and legal lettering, though I have found a reference to Hutchison amid the notes on Wishaw, which says the firm, with its blue and cream buses, sold out to FIRST some years ago. It suggests, then, that this might in fact be the original livery.
Any more suggestions, anyone?

Pete Davies

29/03/15 – 17:26

To clarify my comments on Hutchison’s livery, at the time that this vehicle was delivered their coach colour scheme was two-tone blue. Some vehicles did have cream window surrounds, but the dark and pale blue were the predominant colours. The plainer pale blue/cream livery came in after the time of this particular machine unless they kept it for much longer than was their usual practice. Does anybody have a shot of it when in service with Hutchison?

Neville Mercer

29/03/15 – 18:48

FVA 462D is owned by Nick White of Sheffield (the Yorkshire town NOT Sheffield Park) as a preserved vehicle. There are numerous pics of it on Flickr including some recent ones of it with White’s fleet names, a personal livery applied by Mr White.

John Wakefield

30/03/15 – 07:59

How very interesting, John! So, what’s the UCKFIELD connection?

Pete Davies

30/03/15 – 09:29

A previous preservation owner Terry Smith lived at Uckfield, he sold it back to Bob Hunt 9/09 & it passed on again to White 8/10.

John Wakefield

30/03/15 – 12:38

Thanks, John

Pete Davies


Maidstone & District – Bristol K6A – HKE 860 – DH 152

Maidstone & District - Bristol K6A - HKE 860 - DH 152

Maidstone & District Motor Services Ltd
Bristol K6A
Weymann H30/26R

In the years before the BAT-Tilling rift in 1942, the Maidstone & District company developed quite a liking for the Bristol double deck chassis. Initially, the GO5G type was tried, 12 going to the main fleet and 4 to the Chatham & District subsidiary in 1936. They did not impress. The bodies were removed in 1938 and the chassis were sold on to Bristol Tramways. Despite this inauspicious start, Chatham & District then took 41 with highbridge bodies and Maidstone & District 12 with lowbridge bodies of the new K5G type from the end of 1938 up to the outbreak of war in September 1939. When Tilling and BET split, Tilling group fleets retained the policy of standardising on Bristol/ECW machinery, whilst the BET companies sourced their vehicles from various manufacturers. However, the exigencies of wartime production did not grant the indulgence of much choice in such matters and operators largely had to take what they were given, though the Tilling companies preferred to minimise their intake of non Bristol double deck machinery. Nevertheless, Chatham and District managed to obtain 5 and Maidstone & District 7 examples of the total of 85 unfrozen K5G buses produced in 1942. Towards the end of the war, matters were relaxed to a certain degree, and, within the limitations on offer, operators were able to express a preference for the model that best fitted into the fleet profile, though this was not always heeded by the authorities. During and immediately after the war, the Bristol concern produced a limited number of utility K type buses in three sanctions, but these lost the 5LW engine in favour of the 6 cylinder AEC A202, a version of the 7.7 (actually of 7.58 litres) specifically designed to fit in place of the Gardner. The W1 sanction consisted of 150 chassis, the W2 of 100, and W3 of 200. The W1 and W2 sanctions were equipped with the earlier style of high mounted radiator, but the W3 buses had the new lower mounted PV2 bonnet and radiator. Maidstone and District became an enthusiastic operator, accepting 30 of W1, 19 of W2 and 5 of W3. After the war, Maidstone and District continued to take deliveries of the K6A until the sale of the Bristol company to the government led to the withdrawal of that make from the open market. In recognition of the qualities of the Bristol chassis, Maidstone & District embarked upon a rebodying programme for the unfrozen K5G and utility K6A fleet, but the pre war examples were sold out of service in the mid 1950s. The rebodied K5Gs retained their high mounted radiators, but the rebodied W1 and W2 sanctions of K6As were fitted with the low mounted PV2 radiator. In most cases, new H30/26R bodywork of very attractive design was supplied by Weymann, but the later rebuilds received the decidedly less appealing Orion type. Curiously, many of the later buses of 1946/7/8, which retained their original bodywork to the end, were sold out of service earlier than the rebodied wartime machines. The photograph above shows chassis number W2.038, DH 152, HKE 860 of 1945 with a PV2 radiator and Weymann H30/26R body that replaced the original high radiator and Duple H30/26R in May 1953. It is seen in Tonbridge in 1960 on its way to the village of East Peckham, once a major centre of the hop growing industry. This bus stayed in the Maidstone and District fleet until 1966.

MD Car

Sadly the limitations of the Comet S camera lens prevent me from identifying the splendid car following the bus.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

16/03/15 – 06:50

What a fantastic shot. The long since built over Tonbridge Garage had several examples of these old Bristols which seemed to have been used to cover just about anything (at Tunbridge Wells they had distinct allocations).
Route 88 was allocated OMO Reliances and provided a useful connection to the nearest major hospital at Pembery, and connected with route 33 at the East Peckham end of the route.
On the offside is the road taken by Tonbridges regular Bristol allocation, Route 100, a 20 minute frequency town service with LL6A single deckers.

Patrick Armstrong

17/03/15 – 16:51

Wonderful-looking decker, and I bet the reality was just as good as the appearance. I was momentarily fooled by the "East Peckham" destination and imagined that the bus was on hire to London Transport, but somehow the landscape seemed not to bear that out, so I googled E. Peckham and found it just to the west of the Paddock Wood–Maidstone railway line—the very line I hope to use to get to the SE Bus Festival on the 28th of March.
Has any of our members been to this event, and if so how d’you rate it? The list of vehicles expected to attend looks very impressive. Last time I went to Maidstone was to see the trolleybuses before they disappeared, so I’m a bit out of date.

Ian T

18/03/15 – 07:01

Lovely photo and attractive bus. It was a very sensible conversion job by M&D. However, it always looks odd to me to see Bristol K’s without ECW bodies!

Chris Hebbron

18/03/15 – 07:02

There can’t have been a world of difference between the Bristol K6A and the AEC Regent II. Presumably the Bristol gearbox and transmission produced a somewhat different sound but surely the performance would have been similar? Is there anyone who has experience of driving both?

Chris Barker

19/03/15 – 07:18

Ian T:
IMO, the South East Bus Festival is definitely worth attending. The site is huge and features a perimeter road used by some of the vehicles to give rides to the public.
The vehicles are not jammed in lines and there are good photographic opportunities.
There is spacious covered accommodation for sales stalls and displays such as models, slide shows and there are talks by professional busmen – Roger Davies of Classic Bus fame has appeared, for example.
Plenty of other vehicles such as lorries, tractors and classic cars are also on display.
You can find a list of bus entries on the Arriva website and will see sister vehicle HKE 867 has been entered. It usually is on the free rides circuit so you should be able to sample it!
One last bit of advice – wear warm clothing and bring your own refreshments! The site is on the top of the North Downs and can be breezy.

Malcolm Boyland

21/03/15 – 07:03

I would also agree that the South East Bus Festival is worth attending. Where else can you have a ride on a pre-war Leyland Titan and the latest hybrid?

Nigel Turner

21/03/15 – 15:44

Malcolm and Nigel: many thanks for you info and advice.
The event sounds too good to miss.
Chris B: I’ve never driven a K6A but I’ve been lucky enough to ride the very lively Thames Valley 446 (DBL 154). Bus engineer pal Graham Green of Reading reckons that the AEC 7.7 goes better in other makers’ vehicles than it does in AEC’s own. I’m sure the 5-speed gearbox in the Thames Valley K6A reinforces that impression. How does the Daimler CWA6 compare with the CWD6? My guess is that the Daimler engine’s 13% greater capacity gives little advantage in performance.

Ian T

22/03/15 – 06:43

There is a (very) short video of the sound of a restored Lincolnshire K6A at this site (scroll to the bottom):-  
The engine was rigidly mounted in both the K6A and the Regent II, but the mellow sounding Bristol constant mesh gearbox contrasted with the scream of the AEC straight cut gear D124 crash gearbox. Both types employed the triple servo braking system, and both, again, were noted for relatively light steering characteristics.
The Daimler CD6 had a capacity of 8.6 litres and a nominal output of 100bhp at 1750 rpm, but the quality varied greatly between individual examples. Like the contemporary and even more problematical Crossley HOE7 engine of identical bore and stroke (copied from the pre war Leyland unit), it performed best in single deck chassis. However, OBP does have an expert who can give an informed opinion of the Daimler engine from personal experience. Please step forward Chris Youhill.

Roger Cox

22/03/15 – 06:43

Very interesting piece particularly as I once owned an ex Hants & Dorset 1945 K6A open topper fitted with an AEC engine (see my description under ‘Hants & Dorset 1945 Bristol K6A‘).
By the way, the touring car following the bus is almost certainly a Riley Nine from the early to mid 1930’s.

John Barringer

22/03/15 – 09:20

I am sure that you are right about the Riley, John. On the first Sunday in October each year I travel down from East Anglia to the old Croydon Airport building for an ATC reunion. A fellow "old cadet" brings his splendid open tourer Riley Nine in British Racing Green. I plan to get one when I win the Lottery – not this week, sadly (can you believe that the same thing happened last week as well?!).

Roger Cox

22/03/15 – 14:25

Well done, John B, for identifying the car as a Riley Nine – my frustrations are over! There was always something special (and quirky) about Rileys, before the advent of ‘badge engineering’!
Roger C – I’ve said before that I grew up in the Morden that was LTE’s Daimlerland post-war. I recall that on the front inside of the driver’s cab above the windscreen of D140 was the chalk message, "D140, the fastest D of them all". It was one of the dozen CWD’s in the 281-strong fleet. You could always tell the CWD’s from the CWA’s, because the inspection holes in the bonnet-sides of each type were in a different place. So there might have been some extra performance with them.
Of course, any advantage disappeared when the engines were replaced by more driver/maintenance-friendly ex-STL AEC engines, around 1950!

Chris Hebbron

23/03/15 – 07:08

Doncaster had some K6A’s and CVD6’s of similar post-war -1948- vintage. The Bristols seemed confined to the straight up and down former tram Highfields route whilst the Daimlers went further and served the more varied and longer Skellow routes. I am prompted to note this because Roger reminded me of the agonised sound of the AEC gearbox and the impression of great revs in a short time on starting off, without any great forward progress. The Daimlers on the other hand seemed much more refined and even speedy: unfortunately their smell of hot diesel at rest, especially with the special cooling device (engine side panel resting on mudguard) in use cannot be replicated on this site- roll on smellerama…


25/03/15 – 16:25

Just a note about the car identified above. It is a 1929/30 Riley Model 9 Tourer as you have recalled. It is an early car and is a desirable "Eligible" car for Vintage Sports Car Club membership events. In good condition they are a delight to drive as was/is my 1937 12/4 Falcon version!

Richard Leaman


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Tuesday 31st March 2015