Lees Motorways – Austin K8 – LVO 530

Lees Motorways/Symes ? - Austin K8 - LVO 530

Lees Motorways (Worksop)
Austin K8
Kenex C12F

We start with a conflict. The PSVC entry for 2012 says LVO 530 was new to Lees, Worksop, while Jenkinson’s book of 1978 say it was new to Symes, Devonshire Hill. While the sources agree that t is an Austin K8 with Kenex body, PSVC says it is of the C12F layout, but Jenkinson says it is of C14F layout. Jenkinson says it was new in 1950, while PSVC says it was new in May 1951. Regardless, we see her at Duxford on 24 September 1995.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

28/08/16 – 09:44

It was new to Lees, Worksop. The entry for Symes in Jenkinson Preserved Buses 1978 is the last known owner at time of publication. The notes on page 6 of the book state the column 7 listing as the ‘Original or Last Known owner’.
As for seating it would have been a C12F originally but was presumably up seated at later date, certainly by the time it reached Kenzie.

The history I have on LVO 530 is as follows:-
Chassis No 14844
New to Lees, Worksop 5/51
Bisby, Sheffield ?/??
Kenzie, Shepreth 12/54 (C14F)
Sworder, Walkern 9/55
Symes, Devonshire Hill, London N17 ?/??
Surbey, Clifton, Beds by -/97 (preservation)
Almond, Kettering 10/03 (preservation)
Bernard Staniforth, Aylesbury -/08 (preservation)
Leach, Telford 11/09 (preservation)

John Wakefield

28/08/16 – 10:56

Thank you, John!

Pete Davies


Gem Luxury Coaches – Bedford OB – ETL 221

ETL 221

Gem Luxury Coaches
Bedford OB
Plaxton C29F

A rare sight today is this Bedford OB. Rare because it carries a Plaxton body rather than than the ubiquitous Duple Vista which survives in greater numbers. Chassis number 134198, body number 579 was new to C W Blankley (Gem Luxury Coaches) Colsterworth in June 1950. It is now owned by Mr Ken Edwards of Llanon in Cardiganshire and who shows it with pride at many events near and far every year. This view sees it in August 2016 at an event organised in honour of the memory of Stan & Wyndham Rees, formerly of Midway Motors, Crymych. Appropriately this well-attended event was held in fields directly opposite Midway’s depot in Pembrokeshire.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson

25/08/16 – 06:12

Now this is a real beauty and an interesting one because the door is positioned further forward than on the contemporary Duple Vista. Judging by the small window ahead of the door, it would appear that this coach didn’t have a front seat beside the driver. I may be in a minority but I’d say this Plaxton body beats the Duple version on looks and style but without that much coveted front seat, I’m afraid several points must be deducted!

Chris Barker

26/08/16 – 05:11

I’m sure someone will know the actual dimensions but when seen alongside the Duple version, Plaxton’s offering was noticeably taller than the other. My personal opinion of the design is that the ‘fin’ shaped moulding towards the front spoils what is otherwise a decent design.

Les Dickinson

26/08/16 – 05:13

Sorry, Chris B – rare as it is, I am glad the Duple version was the most common. Somehow the Plaxton version just seems wrong. The deep windscreens give it a goggle-eyed appearance and the heavy streamlining makes the rear end look to be sagging. No doubt to save money, Plaxton seemed to have used a full-front, forward-control body design and adapted it to a normal control chassis. Duple, on the other hand, designed the Vista from scratch, with all the right proportions. Mind you, if this turned up to offer me a ride, I’d jump on board!

Paul Haywood

26/08/16 – 14:15

I agree with Paul, the Plaxton design was not as attractive as the more popular Duple Vista, and did not have the front seat beside the driver. I am not sure how many Plaxton bonneted ones were built and they went over to the even more ugly full front version which retained the original radiator grille & headlamps, none of these according to my records have survived.

EAJ 679

Only one other bonneted one EAJ 679 preserved with Lockett of Henfield ironically in almost same colour scheme to ETL 221 above owned by Ken Edwards of Llanon

John Wakefield

27/08/16 – 05:35

Despite being a huge fan of older Duple body designs, including the Vista, I have to help balance this thread by saying that I think the Plaxton K3 body looked really well on the OB, even preferring it (only just) to the Vista – a bit less dumpy and with neater windows, though the Vista may have looked slightly better from the back (not appreciable on these photos). It’s of course all in the eye of the beholder, as they say.

John Stringer

27/08/16 – 15:31

A photo of the rear of EAJ679 can be found at this link: http://tinyurl.com/zc5fcmn  
Although it could be argued that the Vista rear with twin windows and other aspects like fake bumper is a little more fussy, I prefer it to the Plaxton, which is rather bland, some might argue plain. However, liveries can make a real difference to a PSV’s looks, as we all know.

Chris Hebbron

27/08/16 – 15:32

HGE 219

ETL 221_2

Photos of Duple Vista & Plaxton rears for comparison

John Wakefield

28/08/16 – 06:21

Yes, the rear view has clinched it for me. Duple wins with the pleasing windows, the more attractive mouldings and the colour break at the waist level, rather than, awkwardly, reaching to the floor with the roof colour.


28/08/16 – 06:22

MYB 33

Here’s another comparison for the discussion. MYB 33 and ETL 221 are seen – front ends only – at Weymouth on 1 July 1979.

Pete Davies

28/08/16 – 10:41

I have to agree on one major point with Petras409. While I am a great admirer of both the Duple and the Plaxton designs – and their quality construction – I’m the first to acknowledge that the strange "archway" effect at the rear of the Plaxton is very distinctly "prewar" – and the same applies even on the full size versions. A real case of "spoiling the ship for a ha’porth of tar."

Chris Youhill

28/08/16 – 16:25

I see that most here prefer the Duple rather than the Plaxton design for the OBs illustrated. I do tend to agree, but I do wonder whether it is because the Duple was so widespread, whereas the Plaxton was less common? I wonder what we would be saying if the quantities produced were reversed, and we would measure everything else by the Plaxton design? Would we be saying the Duple was too fussy? Just food for thought. . .

Michael Hampton

28/08/16 – 16:26

The frontal design of the Duple blends the bodywork neatly into the taper of the bonnet in a way that gives the design a classic, unified appearance. On the Plaxton, the bulkhead behind the engine forms a flat projection beyond the bonnet sides in a manner adopted by some other coachbuilders on bonneted chassis, Strachans, for example. Those were the days when Duple bodies were in the forefront of styling and construction. From the later 1960s they were the amongst the ugliest things on the road.

Roger Cox


Southampton Corporation – Guy Arab – LOW 217 – 71

LOW 217

Southampton Corporation
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.

Philip Halstead

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?

Pete Davies

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!

David Field

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.

Arthur Syson

22/08/16 – 05:46

Wasn’t the Arab IV well established by 1954?

Chris Barker

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.

Chris Hebbron

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.

Michael Hampton

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.

David Wragg

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!

Nigel Frampton

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.

Chris Hebbron

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"!

Chris Hebbron

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.

Roger Cox

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.

Peter Elliott

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.

David Field

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!

Pete Davies

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!

Chris Hebbron

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.

David Wragg

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!

Chris Hebbron

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.

Roger Cox

24/08/16 – 10:17

It’s all right, David W; I was amused, not upset!

Chris Hebbron

25/08/16 – 15:25

Chris Hebbron writes of difficulties in finding photos of Portsmouth Corporation’s coaches and duple purpose vehicles.

Try and locate the following books:-
Portsmouth Citybus and its Predecessors PSV Circle 1997.
Fares Please Eric Watts 1987 Milestone Publications.
Portsmouth Corporation Transport Bob Rowe 2012 Venture Publications.

Andy Hemming

26/08/16 – 05:07

Had I lived in Southampton at the time, I should have been mortified to see the trams replaced by mere buses, but SCT couldn’t have chosen a worthier vehicle for replacement. I’ve read the postings with particular interest. I agree with both Roger Cox and David Wragg that both the Southampton Arab IIIs and the Southdown Arab IVs were very handsome vehicles.
Bearing in mind the wonderful reliability of the IIIs, can anyone shed light on SCT’s odd decision to move away from Guys? The Arab IV would have been the ideal vehicle for the next order after the III finally went out of production.
What a pity none of the Thornycrofts ever turned up languishing in a barn somewhere. Few enough single-deck Thornycrofts survive, let alone a decker.

Ian Thompson

26/08/16 – 05:08

Thank you Andy for reference to the publications with images of the Portsmouth vehicles I mentioned. There is also a model of the Leyland National 2 in the stripey livery available, their ref 14702. An internet search for this will bring up an image of this, and it is a good representation of the actual thing.

Michael Hampton

26/08/16 – 14:12

To answer Ian’s question, I seem to recall that in the 1959/60 period Guy virtually withdrew the Arab from the market as it was putting all its thrust on the Wulfrunian. I know committed Arab user Lancashire United bought Leyland PD3’s and Daimler CSG’s in this period and perhaps Southampton moved to Leyland for the same reason. The Wulfrunian as we now all know did not quite work out (I am being diplomatic – more like an unmitigated disaster) and Guy went back to offering the Arab around 1962. By that time Guy were in financial difficulties which may have deterred further sales.

Philip Halstead

28/08/16 – 06:29

Sorry, Chris H, but that Big Ben clock face story is an urban myth. It is thought that Pugin’s original colour was green for the dials with royal blue for numbers and hands, but research continues. The Southampton livery changed from blue/white to red/cream after WW2 when the entire tram and bus fleet was in a parlous state at the end of hostilities. The official reason for the livery change was the alleged instability of the blue paint – it was a piece of received wisdom in the bus industry that blue was a “difficult” colour, though a number of operators successfully serving the country north of Watford clearly took a different view. Southampton’s choice of the Daring chassis in the 1930s arose from a natural desire to support local industry. The Thornycroft shipyard was at Woolston, having relocated from Chiswick in 1904, but all the road going vehicles were manufactured at Basingstoke where the company had opened a purpose built factory in 1898. Southampton did take some open top double deck and some single deck examples of the J type in 1919-1921 , but then favoured AEC, Leyland and Guy. The most successful Thornycroft passenger model from the later 1920s was the BC Forward which could also be supplied as a double decker. Southampton took four double deck examples of the two axle BC and became the only significant customer for the HC six wheeler, though these designs were outdated in comparison with the three AEC Regents bought by the Corporation at about the same time. The first Thornycroft passenger model of recognisably modern concept was the XC double decker of 1931, five of which were supplied to Eastern National, though two demonstrators were also made. From this was derived the single deck Cygnet and double deck Daring, distinguished by a new style of radiator shell with a central dividing strip. Southampton took four Daring DD chassis with Park Royal H28/26R bodies in 1933, and these were powered by the 7.76 litre AC6 ohv petrol engine. In the following year another Daring arrived in the fleet, making a total of just five, but this had the first production example of Thornycroft’s 7.88 litre DC6 diesel engine, an indirect injection design yielding 98 bhp at 2100 rpm. A Park Royal H26/24R body was fitted, the different seating from the earlier Darings possibly arising from a repositioned bulkhead to accommodate the diesel engine. (The 6LW powered Darings of SHMD had similar modest seating capacities.) Peter Gould’s list shows this bus as having the AC6 petrol engine, and it may well have been initially so fitted, but the bus ran in service with the diesel. The success of this unit may be gauged by the fact that Southampton’s next bus orders went to Guy and Gardner. All Southampton’s five Darings were subsequently re-engined with 5LWs. OBP has an post on these buses (Southampton Corporation – Thornycroft Daring – OW 3434 – 9), and the picture submitted above by Chris H is a “hand coloured” version of a pre delivery photo of the same bus:- www.bobmockford.co.uk/museum/  
Meanwhile, in the trying trading conditions of the mid 1930s – serious losses were incurred between 1932 and 1936 – differences in opinion arose at the Thornycroft board level. Tom Thornycroft, an advocate of the company’s involvement in the bus and coach market, resigned from the firm. The limited sales of Darings and Cygnets convinced the board that there was no future for the company in the passenger chassis market, and the company withdrew all bespoke bus/coach models from 1936. In post war Southampton, the change in supplier from Guy to Leyland and AEC followed the retirement of Manager Percival Baker in 1954. As so often occurred elsewhere in municipal bus management, his successor clearly took a different view on bus procurement matters. The next double deck orders were not placed until 1960/61, by which time Guy was again offering the Arab. (The above information on Thornycroft bus chassis has been derived from several sources, but particularly from Alan Townsin’s book on the manufacturer.)

Roger Cox


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