Old Bus Photos

Crosville – AEC Renown – VDB 964 – DAA501

Crosville - AEC Renown - VDB 964 - DAA501

Crosville Motor Services
AEC Renown 3B3RA
Park Royal H43/32F

Despite acquiring a good number of AEC Reliance single deckers during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, North Western Road Car Co. had opted for the Dennis Loline for its double deck purchases during that period.  It then perhaps came as a surprise when in late 1963 they received eighteen AEC Renowns (964-981, VDB 964-981) with Park Royal H43/32F bodies, followed by a further fifteen (115-129, AJA 115-129B) with H42/30F bodies in 1964.
However in 1972 the NWRCC depots and operations at Stockport, Oldham, Glossop, Altrincham and Urmston passed to the SELNEC PTE, a separate company – the SELNEC Cheshire Bus Company Ltd. – being created to take over these along with an appropriate number of vehicles.  All other depots and operations were taken over by Crosville, except those at Buxton and Matlock which passed to Trent, and the Manchester depot which was retained as a coaching unit only before forming the basis of National Travel (North West) in 1974.
The Renown fleet was divided between Crosville and SELNEC Cheshire, who soon repainted them into their own liveries.  Here we see one of each – Crosville DAA501 (VDB 964) formerly 964 and SELNEC Cheshire 9122 (AJA 122B) formerly 122, posed for an enthusiasts’ visit to Northwich depot.  The Crosville bus displays the recently introduced brighter green livery.
AJA 122B was later withdrawn following a low bridge accident, but sold to Churchbridge Motors of Cannock, Staffordshire, who had it repaired by Lawton Coachworks and ran it in their blue and white livery for a time.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

05/06/17 – 07:00

The change in vehicle policy by certain BET companies that became evident from about 1960 derived from BET central purchasing decisions which saw virtually all manufacturers other than AEC and Leyland being "delisted" as approved suppliers of heavyweight chassis, though Daimler was added later when the merits of the Fleetline in comparison with the early Atlantean became apparent. The last Dennis Lolines for North Western, which were delivered early in 1962, would have been ordered about a year before, and (excluding Aldershot & District) they were the the last company orders for that chassis. The A&D case is rather special in that the shareholding for that firm was split into three roughly equal parts, BET, THC and private ownership, which allowed a degree of independent policy in purchasing matters, hence the arrival of Lolines up to 1965.

Roger Cox

06/06/17 – 06:58

To amplify and expand on Roger’s comments, NWRCC’s purchase of the Renowns was the end of a saga started when, as part of he 1947 Transport Act, North Western found itself in the BET camp on 1/1/1948.
Denied of its beloved Gardner engined Bristols, the last of which arrived in 1950,it worked with Atkinson to build a Bristol/Gardner clone. When the first small batch proved successful it applied to BET for a sanction to buy 100 more. When this was denied and NWRCC found themselves "stuck" with the groups AEC/Leyland purchasing policy, it had already decided to rebody the bulk of its Bristols and Gardner engined Guys. With double deckers forming the minority of the fleet the rebodied Bristols and Guys were added to by small batches of PD2s. By 1958 something more modern was needed and using Aldershot and District’s purchase of Dennis Lolines as a precedent, bought two batches of the Lodekka clone at a time when BET’s low height double decker preference was the Bridgemaster.
Given the poor response to the Bridgemaster, AEC refined its ideas and produced the Renown. By this time many BET companies had bought the low height version of the Atlantean and NWRCC had tried both Atlantean and Fleetline demonstrators. With its low height potential, a straight through upper deck gangway and, more importantly, a Gardner engine, the Fleetline was NWRCC’s choice. For the third time in just over a decade the company found itself at odds with BET’s policy of ordering Leylands and AECs.
Whilst the Atkinson episode ended with NWRCC’s Chief Engineer resigning, 1962 saw the order for Fleetlines agreed. But there was a quid pro quo. BET had discount arrangements with both AEC and Leyland and the take up of Renowns had not been enough to meet agreed targets. The first two Fleetline orders were reduced from the numbers required, the numbers being made up with Renowns and, with NWRCC’s single deck policy from 1962 being wedded to the Leyland Leopard, the company took a large batch of AEC Reliances which were offset for discount purposes against the reluctance of BET companies to purchase the Renown.
As it turned out, the Renowns were very satisfactory. They also looked good in the Crosville livery as shown, the black wheels and mudguards contrasting with the green.

Phil Blinkhorn

07/06/17 – 05:35

I never realised the unusual financial makeup of A&D, Roger. And London Transport’s is another one. I assume it was in some sort of public ownership, yet it seemed to have shareholders, because Frank Pick resigned from his post in 1940 because he felt the they were not getting a fair deal at that time. If anybody can shed light on this, I’d appreciate it.

Chris Hebbron

07/06/17 – 05:37

A few extra points to Phil’s comprehensive comment. North Western was set up in 1924 when BAT and Tilling, who were then operating together in harmony, reallocated their resources in the area by forming the new company centred on Stockport. In practice, the Tilling philosophy prevailed in operating matters, and this was reflected in vehicle purchasing policies. Tilling-Stevens models were favoured during the late 1920s until 1931, by which time Tilling had ended its financial involvement with the Maidstone maker and acquired the Bristol Tramways & Carriage Company together with its manufacturing arm. Under Tilling’s abrasive new Chairman, J.F. Heaton, Bristol became the preferred chassis supplier for Tilling companies, including North Western, who adopted the make as standard from 1936. In 1942, the fractious association of BAT/BET and Heaton finally disintegrated, and companies were reallocated between the two groups. Rather surprisingly, given the strong Tilling direction of its management policies, North Western was allotted to the BET empire, but apart from some Guy wartime utilities, Bristol continued to be the chosen chassis make until nationalisation led to the withdrawal of that supplier from the open market. As Phil indicates above, North Western sought a "Bristol/Gardner clone" by approaching Atkinson, but BET top brass were having none of it, and the company had to conform with the AEC/Leyland regime of its group masters. Quite how North Western managed to succeed in its choice of the Dennis Loline (I quibble at the description "Lodekka clone" – the Loline III in particular incorporated several design improvements over the Bristol) I know not, but the Loline proved to be a good machine for North Western. More might well have been ordered had BET not enforced its AEC/Leyland diktat. Another factor could have been the decision taken by Dennis in 1962 to withdraw the Loline from the market, but this might well have been a chicken and egg issue influenced by the enforcement of BET central policies, leaving Dennis with only the Municipal and Independent markets at its disposal. Dennis revoked that idea very quickly, and continued to supply the Loline up to 1967. A comparison of the respective merits of the Loline and the Renown inevitably reflects one’s personal preferences, but in only one feature can the Renown claim an advantage – the incorporation of a synchromesh gearbox making life easier for the driver. On the other hand, the Loline was offered with optional four or five speed gearboxes, and North Western had examples of both. The Renown came with four speeds only, and the North Western ones seem to have had quite a high rear axle ratio which might have left rather wide gaps between the gears on the road. Having driven the Loline III in service with A&D, I am well acquainted with the model’s refined qualities. My experiences of Bridgemasters and Renowns are limited to modest trips as a passenger on the City of Oxford examples, and the Renown seemed to give a rather pitchy ride quality. The harsh engine noise, screaming gearbox note and juddery clutch action reminded me of the closely related Regent V type that I did drive around Halifax. The design was inferior also in that, in the somewhat tortuous driveline, the separate location of the gearbox on the offside behind the driver’s cab dictated the intrusive positioning of the staircase into the entrance platform. I remember the slightly sunken lower deck gangway of the Bridgemaster (like the LD Lodekka and Loline I and II) but cannot now recall if this feature was true also of the Renown – the Loline III had a completely flat floor throughout.
(Like much in life, you pays your money and you takes your choice, but I know which I prefer.)

You are quite right, Chris. The London Passenger Transport Board financial structure was not the same as that of outright nationalisation, which did not occur until the London Transport Executive was set up on 1st January 1948. When the LPTB was formed in 1933, the companies taken over, notably the Underground Group and Tilling’s London operations, were ‘bought’ partially with cash and partially by the issue of interest bearing stock – C stock – authorised by the enabling Act, which meant that those former businesses continued to earn yields from their holdings. However, by 1938, the net financial performance of the Board was so weak (partly because of the truly massive investment in high standard Underground equipment and buildings, bus fleet renewal, and a serious strike in 1937) that the future of the entire LPTB concept was temporarily placed in doubt. In the previous two years the Board paid only 4% instead of the agreed rate of 5.1% on the C stock held by the former transport operators, and suggestions were made that a receiver should be appointed run LPTB matters. In fact, the stockholders had not lost any capital value on their holdings as the purchasing terms in 1933 had been somewhat generous. Evolving international events in the months following, which escalated into WW2, led to attention being directed elsewhere, though clearly Frank Pick was not mollified. In the postwar years, London Transport became a component of the Labour government’s nationalisation programme.

Roger Cox

08/06/17 – 07:57

Roger, when I used to hang around Charles St in the late 1950s/early 1960s, I got to know a good number of people in the garage, workshops and offices. In those days there was a culture of encouraging young enthusiasts and I was told many tales by people who had served with the company from pre-war days. From what I was told, the company fought hard to be moved from BET to the Tilling empire once the ramifications of the 1947 Transport Act became clear and at one time was led to believe that a transfer would take place. The story goes that either Crosville or Cumberland, both major Leyland users, would take NWRCC’s place. Now I have never been able to prove the truth of the story with documentary evidence but given the sources, the enthusiasm of NWRCC for Bristol products and its continuing attempts to thwart BET’s purchasing policies it has a ring of truth.
As far as calling the Loline a Lodekka clone is concerned, I understood all chassis were produced under licence and whilst the MK3 was very much a Dennis vehicle, the arrangement held.
I doubt that NWRCC would have ordered any more Lolines. Its surrounding BET companies were already using Atlanteans and the Fleetline was on the wish list of some of them. Dennis’s temporary withdrawal of the type was probably co-incidental given the Fleetline trials prior to the withdrawal. As I said, and this comes from conversations as late as 1965, the Renowns were a quid pro quo situation and were not a Loline substitute.

Philip Blinkhorn

11/06/17 – 06:08

Chris, I think the last straw for Frank Pick was the compensation enforced by the government for taking control of the railways in wartime. The arrangements for repairs, including war damage, were also harsh. The railways accepted these conditions reluctantly but without protest as fears of an invasion were very much to the fore at the time. Bus services were also slashed with little thought at the outset of the differing conditions of the operators.

David Wragg

09/10/19 – 06:31

Just to add a couple of comments :-
On the split of the Company 964 to 969 and 972 to 981 passed to Crosville, whilst 970 and 971 went to Selnec Cheshire.
The Selnec Renown carried fleet number 1922 and not 9122. I believe the renumbering of the batch took place after the formation of GMT.


10/10/19 – 05:20

When I first started work the morning journey to Manchester on the 31 was always operated by North Western. Either by any of the Lolines, Renown’s or Fleetlines. Without the best and fastest journeys were always those when one the Alexander Bodied Lolines were allocated with Renown operated journeys not far behind on performance

Tim Presley


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Crosville – Bristol SC – 782 EFM – SC 12

Crosville - Bristol SC - 782 EFM - SSG 612

Crosville Motor Services
Bristol SC4LK

Crosville was one of the main users of the Bristol SC4LK model, with a total of seventy nine examples, of which fifty five were buses and twenty four were coaches, although the latter were soon downgraded to bus status, without being greatly modified. The first batch were new in 1957, numbered SC1 – 16. but in May 1958 they were renumbered SSG 601 – 616. These vehicles were a familiar sight in most of the Company’s Welsh areas, with their small size making them ideal for running along single-track roads. The Gardner 4LK engine resulted in extremely good fuel consumption (over 20mpg) but limited their speed capability. It was often said that they could climb any gradient, but might take all day to do it!
After withdrawal, SSG 612 was used as a maintenance vehicle for the Runcorn Busway, numbered G612. This enabled it to be bought for preservation and restored to its present superb condition. In April this year, the bus, now carrying its original number SC12, was used for a Crosville Enthusiasts Club outing, revisiting some of the routes which used to be operated by this type. it is seen here at Cwm Swch, having just left Cwm Penmachno, the terminus of Crosville’s route from Llanrwst and Betws-y-Coed. This route is nowadays covered by Llew Jones using Optare Solos – a very poor comparison, although it can perhaps be said that the Solo is a modern day equivalent of the SC!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Don McKeown

16/06/16 – 05:52

Arguably, United must have covered the largest geographical area of any Tilling/BTH group company. I don’t know how many vehicles or depots they had, but numbers at each varied from a handful up to a hundred or more. Many operating areas were similar to those of Crosville, but so far as I am aware, United avoided this particular Bristol/ECW offering like the plague

Ronnie Hoye

16/06/16 – 05:52

Nice view, Don, and not just of the bus! Thanks for posting. Here’s a silly question. It’s clearly a full-fronted vehicle which, in most circumstances, would be recorded as ‘FB’ or ‘FC’, so what was it about the SC series that it was felt B or C alone would suffice?

Pete Davies

16/06/16 – 09:41

349 MFM

By way of comparison, I attach an image from a slide of a standard Bristol MW6G bus SMG 373 taken in the early 1970s on service M3 seen returning to Llanrwst – the driver kindly stopped to permit the photo. At the time the SC and MW types were the regular vehicles on the Llanrwst country routes – those were the days.

Keith Newton

16/06/16 – 10:18

The Bristol SC series was designed and always built as a full front vehicles, never as a half-cab. Therefore the decision makers in the PSVC decided that a plain B or C would suffice. The same rule is applied to Bedford SB, Ford 570E and Commer Avenger coaches. I don’t think I have ever travelled on an SC4LK. From the descriptions here and elsewhere, I’m glad I didn’t do so in their hey-day, but curiosity today might just make me try one at a running day!

Michael Hampton

16/06/16 – 12:37

643 LFM

The attached photo was taken from the bridge looking to the terminus at Cwm Penmachno again in the early 1970s and again the driver had kindly stopped. The running times in those days were very generous even for an SC and the Llanrwst drivers were always very friendly towards a young English enthusiast riding into deepest Wales. With grateful thanks to them.

Keith Newton

16/06/16 – 13:22

Thank you Michael.

Pete Davies

17/06/16 – 15:55

In answer to Ronnie’s query my 1967 Crosville Company Fleet List shows there were 1,173 buses + coaches plus 15 service vehicles in the fleet in an ’empire’ stretching from Newcastle-under-Lyme in the east to Aberaeron in the west. That’s throughout England and Wales of course, and 32 Depots plus 3 sub-depots (outstations) ranging from 1 vehicle at Barmouth to 123 vehicles at Wrexham.
Referring to the Bristol SC4LK I agree with all the comments about them, but nevertheless have a soft spot for them, I suppose because they were such a nostalgic part of my summer holiday bus riding in North Wales. The cacophony of the engine noise and the vibration on a long uphill gradient such as ascending the Crimea Pass could likely induce a nosebleed in those susceptible, and combined with the competing din of twenty-odd housewives chattering in Welsh on a returning market day service from Llanrwst to Blaenau Ffestiniog would ensure your ears not just popping but actually ringing for ages after you hurriedly made your exit in Duffwys Square! That was the R34 service from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llanrwst taking all of 1 hour and 10 minutes. I think the reason why the smaller vehicle was chosen in preference to an MW was that between Betws-y-Coed and Llanrwst, unlike any of the other services linking those towns, it operated down the western side of the Conway Valley, i.e. via Cwmlanerch and then had a tight turn onto the river bridge at Llanrwst.
It operated two return journeys from Blaenau Ffestiniog throughout the year, although I should think that it was occasionally suspended in winter when snow afflicted the Crimea Pass!
Those two journeys were denoted in the timetable by L, indicating Llanrwst Market and Fair Day.
It then helpfully mentioned that Lanrwst M.D. was Tuesda , but would not operate in the week of Fair Day (Wednesday following the first Tuesday of the month) when it would operate on the Wednesday instead! Such operational trivia used to be common in rural area timetables all over Britain. In North Wales other Market Day/Fair Day footnotes were necessary for Denbigh and Ruthin. To digress a little I used to live near Lancaster and the Ribble timetable for service 79/80 between Lancaster and Knott End on Sea had amongst the various codes the footnote: ‘On the occasions when the tide renders the direct route between Conder Green and Glasson Dock impassable, the route will be diverted via Upper Thurnham’. Today, a ‘dyke’ has been constructed making such interesting diversions away from the cold muddy River Lune estuary well and truly a thing of the past.
Back to the SC’s.
The subject of Dan’s article SSG 612 was perhaps in Dan’s photo of the late 50’s, allocated to Llanrwst. In 1967 it had migrated to Pwllheli, or Porthmadoc outstation, maybe for the Borth-y-Gest /Morfa Bychan service.
The other allocations, including the downgraded 33 seater ‘coach-seated versions (CSG’s) were:
AN Aberaeron                        1
AYH Aberystwyth                  4
AMH Amlwch                         2
BR Bangor                             8
BF Blaenau Ffestiniog            2
CFN Caernarfon                     9
CR Chester                           3
CWN Corwen                        3
DH Denbigh                          6
DU Dolgellau                         2
HD Holyhead                         2
JT Johnstown                        5
LL/T Llandudno Town            4
LJN Llandudno Junction         5
LT Llanrwst                           6
MYH Machynlleth                   3
OY Oswestry                         2
PI Pwllheli                             5
Incl. Porthmadog O/S)
RL                                        5
WXM                                    2                  (Total = 79)

SSG 612 and sister SSG 613 were eventually preserved,even appearing on Crosville Wales heritage services in the mid 90’s. Perhaps someone else will be able to continue that story.

David J. Smith

25/06/16 – 06:32

Thanks David for the garage allocation. My sister lived in Wales for much of the 1960s, in various locations between Barmouth and Harlech and I had a vague memory of seeing a Bristol SC in Barmouth. The allocation list shows a couple at Dolgellau, so no doubt I will have seen them –and ridden on them – on the S34 service between the two towns.
I reckon all enthusiasts will have some regret about disposing of items many years ago which they wish they had kept. Mine would have to be a complete set of Crosville timetables, five volumes I think, from the late 1960s. I would give my right arm to still have them. There must be dozens and dozens of small Welsh villages which no longer have a bus service and it would be fascinating to read them.

Dave Towers

27/06/16 – 06:40

782 EFM_2

782 EFM_3

To conclude the small gallery of Crosville Bristol SC buses I am attaching two more photos of SC12. This was used in the 1990s along with SC13 on various vintage services by Crosville. It is seen on the service based at Bangor which linked the town with both Beaumaris on Anglesey and Penrhyn Castle which is owned/managed by the National Trust. As far as I am aware this was the first time a bus service had entered the grounds of the castle.

Keith Newton

02/10/16 – 06:00

SC12 was renovated at Crosville Motor Services Sealand road central repairs in Chester in the early 80s. I was an apprentice who along with others worked on the bus.
As it was being completed Enigmas Film Productions hired the bus for a Chanel Four film directed by David Putnam. The film was called “Experience Preferred but not Essential” (look it up on you tube and you will see the film).
My dad Eric Manley was a driving instructor at the time at Crosville and was the driver in the film.
The film was based in Phylleli North Wales in the 60s however it was filmed in Douglass Isle of Mann as in the 80s Phylleli was not as it was in the 60s.

Kevin Manley


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Crosville – Bristol Lodekka – RFM 413 – DLB 668

Crosville - Bristol Lodekka - RFM 413 - DLB 668

Crosville Motor Services
Bristol Lodekka LD6B
ECW H33/25R

This bus is from the first production sanction of Lodekkas and delivered to Crosville in March 1954. It is seen here in August 1963 at the remote terminus of the service from Holyhead to South Stack Lighthouse. I can’t imagine there has been a bus route there for many years but the bus has a few top deck passengers. I thought the original deep front grille made the Lodekka a very purposeful looking vehicle. The 58 seat layout and lack of entrance doors seemed fairly common amongst early Lodekkas, soon 60 seats and doors were standard. This was one of my earliest bus photos, taken with a Brownie 127 camera and has stood the test of time well.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

28/01/16 – 07:12

Yes, I can remember going to South Stack on a Lodekka in 1961. It was a useful link for folk staying on holiday at Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno etc. and who then bought railway Holiday Runabout Tickets. As I recall, the bus was pretty full in both directions. In those days, before lighthouses were automated, you could have a guided tour – very popular.

Stephen Ford

28/01/16 – 09:38

A lovely picture Ian of a very fine vehicle – and the picture conveys the fascinating "desolate cliff top" atmosphere of the location – you can almost smell the sea air!! The earliest Lodekkas (we had two such at the Ilkley depot of West Yorkshire) seated only 58 because of the large intrusive castings in the gangway intended to accommodate the twin diffs and prop shafts of the original height saving concept. By the time production commenced this had been amended to one prop shaft and diff only, and therefore the normal longitudinal seats for three could be fitted over the wheel arches, hence the capacity rising to 60. Personally I always preferred the original full depth radiator – the subsequent and later standard shorter one gave the impression that minor accident damage had been neatly repaired by shortening the bottom of the grille !!

Chris Youhill

29/01/16 – 07:12

Now Stephen, what a coincidence! We were on holiday at Llandudno – armed with a weekly rail runabout ticket for the North Wales Coast hence a visit to Holyhead and the trip to South Stack and the bus photo.

Ian Wild

29/01/16 – 12:58

Ian, I suspect Crosville’s South Stack route, and Trearddur Bay for that matter, did rather well out of the holiday runabout tickets. Holyhead was about the longest trip you could take, so everyone did it – but once you got to Holyhead it took about 3 minutes to conclude that the town was a dump! So where can we go from here?

Stephen Ford

29/01/16 – 17:37

Nice to see the photo of the Lodekka at South Stack. As can be seen , the terminus was a piece of waste ground and it was some distance from the lighthouse ,at least a quarter mile walk. Apparently the route was first introduced by the Holyhead Motor Company trading as Mona Maroon and passed to Crosville when said Company was acquired by the LMS Railway in November 1929. The 1932 Crosville timetable showed 5 weekday journeys worked as a loop – with the short double run to the terminus then referred to as Hill Top – via either Llaingoch [ which later became the N17 ] or Porthdarfarch [ which became the N19 ] , the latter involving a narrow twisting lane. By 1958 just 3 winter weekday journeys [ the morning one just twice a week ] but enhanced in the high summer so that in 1964 there was a choice of 9 journeys for July and August including a Saturday evening return at 9:25pm [21:25 hrs] and a limited Sunday service. However by 1972 there were just 4 weekday journeys which ran only in the high summer and I believe the service ceased entirely soon after , probably from early September 1973.

Bristol SC4LK

The attached shows the terminus in 1971 when a downgraded Bristol SC4LK coach – CSG class – was more than sufficient for the loadings. It was a nice ride but as I say a little inconvenient for visiting the lighthouse.
Lovely 1963 photo. Lovely weather too.

Keith Newton

02/02/16 – 06:58

Holyhead still is a dump. Have to regularly pass through using the ferries with only the South Stack area worth visiting. The lack of Crosville hasn’t helped.

Phil Blinkhorn

03/02/16 – 13:50

What a very sad and non transport related coincidence in the news. I’m sure that I’m one of many folks who’d never heard of South Stack until this interesting topic appeared here but now the remote location is the centre of an awful murder inquiry following a distressing discovery in a house at Allerton Bywater near Castleford West Yorkshire of a mother and two children in their home – it seems fairly certain that the suspected perpetrator has himself been found dead at South Stack, perhaps the best part of a hundred miles away – very very sad.

Chris Youhill

28/09/16 – 06:33

The CSG photographed at South Stack is very likely to be CSG 637 (198 KFM) which was allocated to Holyhead depot. Holyhead also had SSG 677 (250 SFM). Holyhead needed two Bristol SCs because of the N1 route to Amlwch which was too narrow north of Rhydwyn for anything bigger.

Tim Mills

19/03/17 – 07:02

Arriva Cymru were still running form Holyhead to South Stack in April 2006 – I had a trip there in an East Lancs-bodied Dennis Dart.
What a lovely photograph of the Lodekka. Interesting that it still had its 3-part blind in place.

Tony Moyes


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