Old Bus Photos

London Transport – AEC Regent I – AXM 693 – STL441

London Transport - AEC Regent I - AXM 693 - STL441

London Transport
1934
AEC Regent I
London Transport H26/30R

AXM 693 is an AEC Regent (Regent I in some listings but not in all of them) from 1934, new to London Transport with fleet number STL441. Her LPTB body has H56R seating layout and she now resides at Brooklands, following the relocation of the collection from Cobham. We see her during the gathering at Wisley Airfield on 11 April 2010.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies


10/07/15 – 06:56

Originally this bus would have been marketed simply as the AEC Regent – no one would have bothered to state ‘Regent I’ until after the improved Regent II had appeared. The same thing happens with monarchs – Charles I was never known as Charles I in his lifetime.

David Wragg


10/07/15 – 06:57

This batch of early STLs had Daimler preselective gearboxes from new, but their petrol engines were replaced with 7.7 diesels just before the outbreak of WW2. I lived in the Croydon area up to the age of four in 1946 (and then again from 1952, though by then the STL was a rarer beast). I remember travelling around south London on buses of this type, and didn’t much like them because of the high level of the lower saloon windows that seriously impeded the outward view of a small boy. In my firmly held opinion of that time, the Chiswick designers had got their priorities all wrong, though I conceded that my services wouldn’t have been available as a consultant when they were built in 1934.

Roger Cox


11/07/15 – 07:23

Thank you for your thoughts about the "order of succession" David. I had guessed that to be the case here, and – one has to suppose – with that wonderful range of products from the Dennis Brothers.

Pete Davies


11/07/15 – 07:24

Morden, then in Surrey, was my stomping ground in the 40’s and 50’s, full of utility ‘D’s and pre-war RT’s. STL’s only appeared on the 118 from Clapham (then) to Raynes Park. I did have two aunts who lived in Norbury and my mum and I would trundle round there, which made a pleasant change from the usual bus types. I agree about the lower deck windows, but usually persuaded my mum to go upstairs, despite the ‘fug’!
Many of these early ‘non-rounded front’ STL’s were overhauled and put back into service with full blinds, briefly, when the last tram conversion was brought forward and merged with the penultimate conversion stage, in 1952. And very smart they looked, too! They were the only STL’s to acquire full blinds post-war. I think it was done to provide passengers with the fullest information on the tram-replacement routes, which didn’t usually coincide exactly with the tram ones and had different route numbers, too.

Chris Hebbron


11/07/15 – 07:24

The excellent ‘Ian’s Bus Stop’ website states that STL441 formed one of fifty ‘leaning back’ STL’s which were delivered in 6/34 without engines, then fitted with ‘hand-me-down’ petrol ones from the LT class vehicles, which were being converted to diesel power. AEC’s diesels were, at that time, too big to fit into the STL’s, hence the swap-over. It had a Wilson pre-selector gearbox and was either fitted with a fluid flywheel at that time, or retro-fitted with one in the October. It eventually got its 7.7litre diesel engine in 5/39. Mann Egerton rebuilt its body in 12/47 and it was withdrawn in 9/52. It was sold, in 2/53, for preservation in Holland. It was repatriated from the preservers in 1975 by LBPG and stored at Cobham, being fully restored in 2007. It still bears the wartime ‘scar’ of a two-piece platform rear window, which most LT buses bore, to make the glass, in time of shortage, go further. All-in-all, an interesting life.

Chris Hebbron


11/07/15 – 14:05

I am also a Dennis fan, Pete. A company that deserved greater success but which could also be slow to innovate, which is why it lost the single deck market once underfloor engines became the standard. The Loline was a terrific bus, especially in Aldershot & District livery and specification.
Returning to the point and looking again at the STL, this particular vehicle almost had a provincial (with a small ‘p’) outline.

David Wragg


 

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London Transport – AEC Reliance – 497 ALH – RW3

497 ALH

London Transport
1960
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!
LINK: http://www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/?p=584

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: http://www.countrybus.org/RW/RW.htm   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


01/04/15 – 06:22

Thank you, Mike. So that’s where the Ailsas went! I did wonder. I have a photo of one of them in HB livery in Southampton. If you’d like one, I’ll send it to Peter and ask him to forward it. It, clearly, isn’t suitable for this site!!!! I see the captcha code is MW49, or is that MW4G – a bit under-powered, perhaps!

Pete Davies


02/04/15 – 06:26

Whatever the merits or otherwise of these Reliances, surely the point is that LT didn’t actually need any more single deck buses at this stage, being full up with RFs. Agreed, the RFs were very heavy and thirsty and perhaps a case could have been made for some replacement by lighter and more fuel efficient buses, but even that seems unlikely.
Was this more a case of a manufacturer trying to interest its customer in something than the customer actually having a need for something new? LT didn’t actually buy any more single deck buses (as opposed to Green Line coaches) until the Merlin/Swift era.

Richard Delahoy


02/04/15 – 06:27

I wonder why LT specified quarter-lights. I see that Chesterfield painted over them.

Geoff Kerr


02/04/15 – 16:51

Peter, would love to see the Ailsa. Much appreciated.

Mike Morton


03/04/15 – 05:36

Chesterfield did not paint over the quarter lights.

Ken Wragg


04/04/15 – 06:36

Must be an optical illusion, Ken. Other photos show them still in use.

Geoff Kerr


 

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London Transport – AEC Regal IV – MLL 971 – RF 334

London Transport - AEC Regal IV - MLL 971 - RF 334

London Transport
AEC Regal IV
MCW B41F

Here is another of the Uxbridge allocated RF buses, seen in the summer sun of 1971, the year in which UX garage saw the welcome return of these stalwart performers, having lost them previously in 1962 in favour of RT double deckers. RF 334, MLL 971 stands at Heathrow Central on route 223, in the close company of RT 4182, LYF 241, on route 140. I know not the identity of the bohemian gentleman who seems to be reflecting upon the sanity of someone wishing to photograph a bus. Tillingbourne operated five ex London Country RF buses between 1971 and 1973, RFs 233, 254, 595, 680 and 699, and these I drove at weekends. Acceleration from rest in second gear was rather sedate, and the cab was a bit restricted (the RF was 7ft 6ins wide) but the vehicle felt like a true thoroughbred. The RT and RM families suffered the derating of their engines to 115 bhp, but I believe that the RF retained full engine power, which, in the case of the 9.6 litre horizontal A219, was 120 bhp.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


11/12/14 – 06:39

I was once told by the owner of a preserved RF that, according to the drawings in his possession, they are actually only 7ft 4ins wide.

Peter Williamson


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 29th August 2015