B.O.A.C. – Leyland Atlantean – LYF 304D

B.O.A.C. - Leyland Atlantean - LYF 304D

British Overseas Airways Corporation
1966
Leyland Atlantean PDR1/1
MCW CH38/16F

In 1940, with Britain at war and civilian air traffic barely existent, Croydon based Imperial Airways formally subsumed the privately owned (though nationally subsidised) British Airways at Heston and became BOAC, though this had been the de facto situation since September 1939. At the end of the war, with Heathrow becoming the major UK airport, the European air passenger traffic business was separated from BOAC in 1946 and named BEA. (British South American Airways, a short lived separate company formed at the same time for the South American air services, was reabsorbed into BOAC in 1949 after the disappearance of two Avro Tudor aircraft over the Atlantic.) To fulfil the road transport requirements between London and the developing Heathrow Airport, the Ministry of Supply allocated BEA and BOAC a number of Commer Q4 Commando 1½ deck observation coaches with Park Royal 20 seat bodywork that had 180 cubic ft of luggage space under the raised rear section. BOAC, operating from the former Imperial Airways building at Victoria, stayed with Commer for its replacement passenger road fleet and took Harrington bodied examples of the early petrol engined Avenger model between 1949 and 1952, though a solitary Harrington C37C bodied Leyland Royal Tiger PSU1/13 came in 1950. The TS3 two stroke powered Harrington Contender then became the favoured choice, and BOAC became the Contender’s best customer taking a total of 28, of which 19 were employed in overseas locations. (Strangely, the Harrington Contender does not appear at all on BLOTW.) The last BOAC Contenders (the figure varies between one and three) reputedly had the Rolls Royce petrol engine (again, sources vary as to whether this was the straight eight B80 or the six cylinder B60) married to a torque converter, a power train concept surely inspired by a variant of the Dennis fire engine. One wonders, however, how this layout could have been accommodated like the flat TS3 engine under the floor of the Contender.

As air travel became more popular, both BEA and BOAC turned to the double decker for the airport links. BEA, whose road operations were overseen by London Transport, took the Routemaster, but BOAC preferred the Leyland Atlantean PDR1/1, purchasing fifteen in 1966, LYF 304D to LYF 318D inclusive, with “Alexander clone” MCW bodies that seated 38 passengers upstairs and 16 downstairs; the vacated space was used for luggage. Later, in 1971, these were supplemented by six PDR2/1, GML 846J to GML 851J inclusive, with Roe CH41/24F bodies. It is thought that all these Atlanteans were operated on behalf of BOAC by Halls Bros. at Hounslow. The picture shows examples of each type at the Victoria terminal building. PDR1/1 LYF 304D was delivered in October 1966, and PDR2/1 GML 847J arrived in July 1971. The BEA and BOAC London – Heathrow road services were taken over by the new British Airways from 1974 and had ceased by 1980, by which time air passengers had become accustomed to booking in directly at Heathrow, and the central London passenger facilities had become superfluous. One of the MCW bodied vehicles, LYF 307D, has been preserved.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


21/01/19 – 07:18

I remember riding in these Atlanteans out from Victoria to Heathrow. The BOAC departure point was the ground floor of their headquarters, which faces Victoria coach station across the road, although given the clientele of both BOAC and long distance coach at the time probably very few transferred between the two.
There have been many memories posted on the web about the buses out to Heathrow, a significant number of which seem to mix up BEA, BOAC and British Airways, the separate London departure points (BEA moved round several time over the years), and the vehicles, inevitably sometimes calling this BOAC fleet "Routemasters". After the merger of the two airlines, although the two bus fleets were painted in a common livery, separate operations were retained, from the different London points to the different Heathrow terminals the two halves of the airline continued to use.
Did Halls actually run the BOAC fleet ? A poster elsewhere on the web says they were employed by BOAC and drove them as part of their other airport driving duties. The vehicle base was in airport property on the north side of Heathrow, where the car parks are now. I saw the preserved Atlantean had been used in a nice British Airways TV ad with a historic theme a few hears ago.
Halls did own another Atlantean fleet, Roe bodied, for US airline TWA, likewise in their colours, used from their Piccadilly terminal, and also for other independent hires, they could be seen at various points around London. Pan Am also had their own road connections, with coaches, from a point in Kensington.

Bill


21/01/19 – 07:19

That was the last type of d/d bus I rode in at the start of my journey in May 1971 to Australia where I still reside.

David Revis


22/01/19 – 07:29

The operation of a bus fleet necessitates facilities for cleaning, washing, fuelling and maintenance. It is possible, perhaps, that the driving staff were BOAC employees, but did the airline really cover all the other essential requirements itself? It is surely more likely that a specialist contractor like Halls would have been used.

Roger Cox


23/01/19 – 06:36

An airline at its main base typically has a very large fleet of motor vehicles of all types, specialist and standard, and a Motor Transport maintenance department to suit. These would operate both airside and on the road. I would imagine the BOAC motor fleet of all types required at Heathrow would dwarf the Hall fleet, the numbers possibly into the hundreds, all of which would require the services described. Further buses were commonly owned for passenger transfer across the apron.
BOAC used to have some substantial articulated passenger trailers at Heathrow pulled by HGV tractor units which shuttled between the terminal and the aircraft. They lasted well into British Airways days. These were an interesting niche about which there is little information.

Bill


23/01/19 – 06:37

I don’t see why BOAC who had a large fleet of lorries and other vehicles as well as buses, would need a coach hire company to maintain their buses at Heathrow when they were perfectly capable of looking after their own buses at Prestwick.

Stephen Allcroft


25/01/19 – 06:55

These services must have had a road service licence, probably the old Express Licence, as they just charged fares, sold at a terminal counter, and anyone could go on them, not just air passengers. 7 shillings and 6 pence (7/6) seems to ring a bell. I don’t recall there being a published timetable (otherwise I would have taken one) but they were fairly turn up and go.
Both BOAC and successor British Airways also ran substantial fleets of regular coaches at Heathrow, Leopards and others, run both airside and landside, for trips such as shuttles to hotels, and I recall these coaches sometimes turned up on the BOAC Central London run as well. I presume the two fleets were kept separate so those used only within the airport could run on red diesel.

Bill


28/01/19 – 07:29

These were certainly operated by BOAC as I worked in the PSV section of the Metropolitan Traffic Area and, unusually, rather than use the post, on occasion a smartly uniformed BOAC employee would turn up with a batch of renewal forms. I seem to recall that the vehicle licences would have been stage, but I don’t doubt that the road service licences would have been express.
I wonder if airside lorries and coaches would have run on red diesel within the airport boundaries as ‘red diesel’ wasn’t available until later, and in any case, there was a lot of domestic air traffic.’Red diesel’ is for agricultural use.

David Wragg


31/01/19 – 06:03

Red diesel is for use by anything that does not run on a public road. Boats, trains, off-road industrial and construction vehicles and plant are allowed to use red diesel as well as agricultural use.

Philip Halstead


31/01/19 – 11:49

Linking in with Philip’s comments, West Yorkshire used red Diesel when running in overhauled engines on the two Heenan & Froude dynamometers in the engine test house at Central Works. A small brick building behind the test house housed a largish fuel tank marked ‘gas oil’ specifically for the red Diesel. The units would probably have been classed as stationary engines whilst on test.

Brendan Smith

 

Aldershot & District – AEC Reliance – VCG 596H

VCG 596H

Aldershot & District Traction Co
1970
AEC Reliance 6U3ZR
Duple C49F

Having vacillated for some time before settling upon an underfloor engined saloon chassis, even buying some full fronted Dennis Lancet III coaches in 1953, Aldershot & District finally chose the AEC Reliance as its standard single decker, and stayed with this model for its coach requirements right up to its subjugation to Thames Valley (mis)management from January 1972 under the new guise of Alder Valley. Seen here in The Grove alongside Aldershot Bus Station is No.596, VCG 596H, the first of four 6U3ZR Reliances supplied in 1970 with Duple C49F coachwork sporting the (to my eye) hideous Detroit “inspired” front grille that spoilt many of the later Duple designs. Aldershot & District bought two more Reliances of the 6U3ZR specification in 1971, but these had the aesthetically more pleasing Plaxton C49F coachwork. VCG 596 passed to Alder Valley from 1 January 1972 as No. 49.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


22/12/18 – 06:37

I have to say that I like this coach! Functional, neat without meaningless frippery: where is the Detroit? Burlingham, Whitson, Yeates, other Duple perhaps…this is more Turin!

Joe


22/12/18 – 12:11

Joe – the "Detroit"-inspired part is the full-width chromed grille, which does look rather "overpowering" to my eyes. The chromed strip that runs the length of the body and at across the front at headlight level is also an excessive amount of polished metal.
In a monochrome photo, and wearing a livery with various colours, it doesn’t look so bad, but with a different "livery", and in colour, the effect is pretty dire:- https://thetransportlibrary.co.uk/index.php
I see from other photos that Southdown had the sense to specify their RUF-H batch of Leopards with the same body without the chromed strip on the sides, but they were stuck with the grille.
The polished metal soon went out of fashion, but the advent of the Dominant with curved side windows made the Commander look very old-fashioned in just a couple of years.

Nigel Frampton


26/01/19 – 06:48

The 36ft long AEC Reliance with the AH691 engine & the later AH760 power unit was a real drivers coach & the best premium weight coach on the market until the Volvo B58 surpassed it. With a Reliance the only thing to watch is they tended to run a bit hot on sustained motorway journeys. My boss instructed his drivers to keep an eye on the temperature gauge & if it starts to climb, drop a gear & keep it down to 55 to 60 MPH while it drops. Good advice, never had overheating on later Reliances.
Leyland Leopard, very good, but I think the chassis was more suited to a service bus body rather than a premium coach. As a coach, the gear ratios were all wrong on a semi auto Leopard, but in terms of reliability & strength of the chassis they were unsurpassed.

Andrew Spriggs


26/01/19 – 09:59

Not sure about the overheating: if you had a Sunbeam Imp with the usual gasket problem, going faster improved the air cooling effect!

Joe

 

Leeds City Transport – AEC Reliance – KUA 46 – 46

Leeds City Transport - AEC Reliance - KUA 46 - 46

Leeds City Transport
1964
AEC Reliance 2MU2RA
Roe B41D

Seen in April 1970 is Leeds City Transport No. 46, 46 KUA, an AEC Reliance 2MU2RA with Roe B41D bodywork, one of four, Nos. 44 – 47, 44 – 47 KUA delivered in 1964. These followed an earlier order for six similar vehicles in 1962, Nos 39 – 43, 839 – 843 CUM. I understand that all these Reliances had quite a short life of around 8 years or so with Leeds.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


03/12/18 – 07:13

I can’t comment on the others, but 45 and 47 went to Aberdeen. I have a view of each from the late Arnold Richardson’s collection.

Pete Davies


04/12/18 – 06:33

All four were new in August 1964 and withdrawn in December 1970.
44 and 45 went to Aberdeen on 30th June 1971, being followed on 7th July by 46 and 47, retaining the same fleet numbers.

John Kaye


05/12/18 – 07:46

Oh dear, that destination box doesn’t look comfortable, balanced up there.

Petras409


11/12/18 – 07:43

These Reliance’s really came too late. They were in effect an update of the standee single deckers 29-38, to the same 30ft. length when 36 ft. had become available. Getting 41seats into the shorter length, with dual doors meant they had poor access/exit and tight seat spacing. As with many AECs of that design they were not comfortable, or liked by passengers or drivers. Just two years later, the first 36 ft. Swifts with wider doors, easier steps and 48 better spaced seats arrived. They may not have been great, but they were better. In a year or so there were 50 Swifts in operation and 39 to 46 were consigned to relief work and then sale.

Andy Buckland


13/12/18 – 05:53

Several of these also ended up in Scotland with Greyhound of Arbroath.

Chris Hough


07/01/19 – 07:12

I’ve sometimes wondered what was so wrong with the AEC Swift and the Leyland Panther that caused many operators to not get on with them, prematurely retire them (especially London’s AECs) and overall have bad experiences, while the conceptually similar Bristol RE seems to have commonly led a full life with its original operators.
It’s not as if they did not incorporate standard components in use elsewhere.

Bill


12/01/19 – 08:23

In the absence of a more comprehensive reply from someone who knows more, I will say that one of the differences between Bristol’s approach and the Panther/Swift approach was the position of the driveline and its effect on weight distribution. In the Panther and Swift the engine and gearbox were at the extreme rear of the overhang, whereas the RE had the engine further forward, with the gearbox in front of the rear axle.

Peter Williamson


16/01/19 – 07:27

The Panther also had a much weaker frame causing bending and breaking. Even in preservation I can think of a couple where following you can see the curve.

Roger Burdett


17/01/19 – 07:09

The radiator for the Swift was not at the front, as in the Panther or the RE, but tucked away behind a panel in the bodywork behind the offside back wheels.
Although this arrangement probably insured against air locks in the cooling system, it restricted the flow of cooling air over the surface of the radiator and could result in the engine overheating.

John B


18/01/19 – 06:30

My Foden which has the Rad in the same position still airlocks so concur John B comment.

Roger Burdett


18/01/19 – 06:32

In the Bristol RE the drive went forward from the engine to the gearbox located in front of the rear axle, and then back again to the differential. This gave a prop shaft of decent length to accommodate the suspension travel of the rear axle, something that competitive designs (the worst being the Seddon RU) lacked. Contrary to popular belief, the RE did not pioneer this layout. The Rutland Clipper of 1954 used a similar arrangement.

Roger Cox

 

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