Old Bus Photos

OK Motor Services – AEC Reliance – 129 DPT

OK Motor Services - AEC Reliance - 129 DPT

OK Motor Services
AEC Reliance 2MU3RA
Plaxton C41F

129 DPT is an AEC Reliance, 2MU3RA variety, with Plaxton C41F body. She was new to OK Motor Services in 1959 and is seen in the Alton Bus Rally on 18 July 2010. This event is organised as part of the Mid Hants Railway (Watercress Line) programme and, weather permitting – it has been known to be washed out! – is on the third Sunday in July.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

15/06/14 – 17:54

OK had a very interesting fleet of new, and what are now called ‘Pre owned’ vehicles. They had several routes, mainly in the Bishop Auckland area, and one into Newcastle, but none of them were numbered. The original livery of two shades of red plus cream, all outlined, black wings and gold lettering, must have taken an age to apply, but the result was stunning. Rather than a bog standard one-size fits all approach, the livery was modified from one vehicle type to another, as a result it looked good on most vehicles. It always suited the ex London RTL’s and the Southdown Queen Mary’s. After deregulation, OK set out on an expansion programme, they opened a depot in Peterlee, and the Newcastle depot, which up to then had been purely coach/contract and private hire, also took on some service routes. Presumably, to save time and money, as the fleet grew the livery was simplified and went through several changes. Eventually the company were bought out by the Go Ahead Group ‘Northern General as was’ and the name has gone into suspended animation.

Ronnie Hoye

16/06/14 – 06:35

Thanks for your observations, Ronnie. At least, Go Ahead do allow their local managers some leeway in terms of activity and livery, not like certain other groups most of us would prefer not to mention!

Pete Davies

16/06/14 – 06:36

As most people know, the Panorama was developed at the behest of Sheffield United Tours. There were only six of the original style, based on the Venturer, and delivered to SUT. This is, strictly speaking, the first production model but what is strange is the side embellishment. The ribbed side and the wings were specifically SUT things which have ventured onto the standard model for everyone.

David Oldfield

17/06/14 – 13:42

David, I think that you meant to say that the original Panorama was based on the Consort, not the Venturer, which had already been discontinued two years before the first Panoramas for SUT. Incidentally, the Panorama body went through at least four distinct variations before the so-called (Ogle designed) "Panorama I" as modelled by OOC in 1/76 scale. There was the original Consort-based version, followed by the variant shown in this photograph (with the rather odd little radius in the side window line at the rear end) produced in 1959-60. Then came the 1961-62 model with improved frontal and side treatment but still with that dreadful rear window arrangement (the later 36ft versions of this variant also had a drooping waist-rail at the rear end which didn’t improve things), and then the 1963-64 variant which kept the good bits but eliminated the "droop" and the nasty rear window. Having come up with a truly classic design by a series of evolutionary improvements, Plaxton then decided to throw it away and start again with the Panorama I (and its lightweight chassis equivalent with less brightwork, the "Panorama II". They were very much an acquired taste.Have professional designers ever done a better job at anything than those who really understand the bus industry? I can’t think of a single example!
I see that Oxford Diecast is planning to produce a 1/76 scale model of something it describes as a "Panorama I". The teaser drawing that they are using on their website suggests that it will in fact be of the 1963-64 version. Despite their mistake in naming the model I await it with bated breath. My fear is that they might spoil it by using the wrong colours in the liveries. I waited for years for a model of a Ribble all-Leyland Royal Tiger coach, but when Oxford finally came up with one the colours (particularly the red) were completely wrong. I am now waiting for a National Lottery win so that I can have somebody repaint one for me. If I win the Jackpot I’ll have somebody build a replica of the real thing, but I digress….

Neville Mercer

18/06/14 – 10:59

Correct, as ever, Neville. A senior moment and fixation on the verb to venture. They were, of course, based on the Consort.

To be fair, the Panorama II was a logical development of the 1963/4 version and not a bad design – simple and restrained. I did not object to the Panorama I but see what all its critics mean. Plaxton did not get it back until the Elite II and Elite III – only to throw it all away with the Paramounts. [.....and as for what came next .....]

David Oldfield

19/06/14 – 07:53

Sheffield United – so that’s where I’d seen this detailing before! Thanks for reminding me!

Pete Davies

21/06/14 – 06:27

In the past I have found to my cost that the owner of this particular vehicle objects to the idea that the Panorama was "based on" anything. Leaving aside questions of chickens and eggs, SUT’s original pre-production Panoramas had the same front and rear ends as the Consort II with a completely different body shell in between. Similarly this version has the same front and rear as the Consort IV with a different shell in between. It’s the difference in height between the Panorama’s waistrail and the bottom of the Consort IV rear window that necessitated the "kick-up" at the rear. (The SUT-derived side detailing was an optional extra.) However, the 1961-2 version really did share a body shell with its poor relation, the Embassy, which is why the kick-up was no longer necessary.
The Ogle version which we think of as Panorama I was simply called Panorama for the first two years of its life, while the future Panorama II was styled as either Embassy IV, Val or Vam depending on chassis type. I never really liked the Panorama I except on the Bedford VAL chassis, where the extra bling under the first side window lined up perfectly with the twin steering axles. To me the most pleasing Plaxton body of that generation was the 32-foot Vam/Panorama II.

Peter Williamson

21/06/14 – 08:53

No, Peter, the body is exactly the same – it is only the size and pitch of the windows in between that differs, along with the provision of forced air ventilation. I would tend to agree with you about the 32′ Vam/Panorama II.

David Oldfield

129 DPT Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

15/08/14 – 09:23

As the owner of 129 DPT may I add some thoughts to the thread? Peter Williamson and I certainly exchanged some views several years ago on whether the vehicle was properly a Panorama (or just a reworked Consort) and I pointed out that Plaxton obviously thought it was a Panorama because they invited it to their centenary celebration as the oldest surviving example. I’m unclear what Peter ‘found to his cost’. We just saw things differently and there is nothing wrong in that – anyway it was a long time ago now. So far as lineage goes it is true that the prototype was little more than a Consort with long windows but by the time production had started the design had evolved considerably. The Consorts of the late 50s/early 60s adopted many of the design features introduced on the early Panoramas including wraparound windscreens and dished grills so were they really Panoramas with short windows? To pick up on other comments, the original SUT six were really pre-production models, being built individually rather than on a production line. Correspondence I have from Plaxton at the time of their centenary makes this clear. The SUT side mouldings were offered as an option on all orders and even appeared on later Consort-bodied SBs.

John Boston


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Southampton Corporation – AEC Swift – MTR 420F – 2

Southampton Corporation - AEC Swift - MTR420F - 2

Southampton Corporation
AEC Swift MP2R
Strachan B47D

I thought a southern flavour was in order with another Southampton photo this one in service in early 1968 when the bus was quite new I am not sure of the exact location in the city.
No 2 MTR 420F was an AEC Swift MP2R with a Strachans B47D body delivered in February 1968 one of a batch of five which were some 9-10 months after No 1 JOW 499E with an identical body, the ways to tell them apart was that No 1 had a red roof and a cream skirt rather than that shown on No 2 it also had a route number box above the first near/side window. These were followed by four more Swifts in 1970 this time with East Lancs who by this time were confirmed as Southampton’s body builder of choice.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

05/06/14 – 07:38

It’s on the junction of Portsmouth Road and Victoria Road in Woolston, Dave. She’s come from Weston Estate and is going to City Centre via Bitterne and Northam.
The 8 and the 16 ran in opposite directions and the bus is turning right here because ahead of her is the bridge carrying the Southampton to Portsmouth railway line. Occasionally, drivers tried taking double deckers under the bridge, and failed to do anything other than cause the vehicle’s immediate withdrawal, hence the introduction of the compulsory right turn here. The road was lowered when the Itchen Bridge was built to replace the Floating Bridge in 1977.
Several "Corporation" services ended at either side of the Itchen, and Hants & Dorset had a couple which terminated in Woolston, along with a small depot.

Pete Davies

05/06/14 – 07:39

By the time I saw this bus it was in a rather sorry state – parked at the back of the Blackpool Corporation depot in April 1980 being used as a source of spares for their own fleet of Swifts.

Mike Morton

05/06/14 – 17:41

It’s nice to see this style of bodywork in a decent colour scheme. London Transport and Wolverhampton’s versions were both dreadful!

Neville Mercer

05/06/14 – 17:41

I recall seeing these vehicles on my occasional forays from Portsmouth to So’ton. They had attractive bodies, in my opinion, aided by the livery. I moved from the area in 1976, the same year that saw the demise of Strachan. Your comment, Mike, confirms my thoughts that they did not have long lives, like many Swifts. No idea of bodywork quality: do you DD?

Chris Hebbron

06/06/14 – 07:39

The six Strachans bodied Swifts lasted a maximum of eleven years in Southampton, but a couple of them went after a mere six years. The subsequent four Swifts with East Lancs bodies also stayed in the fleet for just eleven years, so I suspect that the modest lives of these buses was due more to the shortcomings of the Swift chassis than to inadequacies with the bodywork. In fact, the Strachans body on rear engined two door single deck chassis gained quite a reasonable reputation owing to the employment of underframing that reduced the flexing movement. The Strachans examples were rather less prone to roof structure failure in the region of the centre doorway than the efforts of some other manufacturers, as London Transport, for example, discovered to its cost.

Roger Cox

06/06/14 – 08:46

One peculiarity of the Swifts in Southampton – it may have applied to the Arab UF and Nimbus fleet as well but I never got to travel on any of them, and I suspect not – was a red stripe across the roof, to match the location of the step behind the centre door. Smoking downstairs had been prohibited for several years, but was still allowed upstairs. On the Swifts, the step and stripe designated where the ‘upstairs’ was!

Pete Davies

07/06/14 – 08:17

Roof? No, sorry! I meant ceiling!

Pete Davies

07/06/14 – 08:17

I had always wondered how cigarette smoke determined where to stop blowing. It was commonplace for Smokers to be requested to occupy the rear of the vehicle on single deck buses. But how to keep the smoke from wafting into the forward section?
Southampton clearly had the answer – paint a read line across the ceiling, the smoke won’t dare go beyond there. Obvious, or what !!


07/06/14 – 08:18

Thx, Roger, your thoughts about the chassis rather than the body being the problem matches mine.

Chris Hebbron

07/06/14 – 10:00

Slightly off topic but there used to be an airline that had smokers on one side of the aircraft, non smokers on the other and this was on narrow bodied aircraft. The joke was that this must be Aer Lingus. The truth was it was Lufthansa. Just how German efficiency prevented the smoke crossing the aisle on a B737 for instance has never been revealed.

Phil Blinkhorn


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St Helens Corporation – AEC Regent III RT – BDJ 67 – 67

St Helens Corporation - AEC Regent III RT - BDJ 67 - 67

St Helens Corporation
Park Royal H30/26R

BDJ 67 is one of the few Regent RT buses built for an operator other than London Transport. We see her here in full St Helens livery while taking part at the gathering at Brooklands on 13 April 2014. She has Park Royal H56R bodywork. St Helens had forty of these RTs taken in two batches, this actual vehicle and seventeen others were sold to Hull corporation in 1962. No, folks, it isn’t just a figment of Ken Dodd’s imagination – there really is a place called KNOTTY ASH!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

02/06/14 – 07:19

Not many of the RT’s who ‘escaped’ working for LTE had the traditional RT body. The St. Helen’s ones looked very smart in this livery, which was, of course, a much lighter colour on the top half.

Chris Hebbron

02/06/14 – 09:35

St Helens RTs even had a London Transport bullseye on the fuse box covers The eccentric way the blinds were used with a large number and squashed via points was interesting Incidentally St Helens also ran to Clock Face!

Chris Hough

02/06/14 – 10:45

The adjacent vehicle is NXP 997, RT4712, in Queen’s Golden Jubilee livery. She’s part of the LT collection and was on a day out from the Museum.

Pete Davies

03/06/14 – 07:43

This thread and Peter Williamson’s comments regarding Southport in the A Matter of Opinion thread have really stirred some memories. In 1954 my Dad bought a Standard 9 and on certain summer Sundays we would proceed in a stately fashion to either Southport or Blackpool. We would rarely make either as my mother preferred the "more refined" areas of Ainsdale and Lytham St Anne’s!
The St Helens RTs were a sight to behold as they crossed the East Lancs Rd or proceeded on the service to Southport. The colour scheme, like Southport’s (and for that matter Stockport’s) always was cleanly presented and looked a cut above most other towns and cities in the North West.
The large surround to the coat of arms was also "different" though why the Department used the blind layout it did is a mystery to me. It sort of spoiled the overall effect and, with a substantial fleet of these vehicles surely using the indicator spaces as intended would not have been a significant extra cost.
Cross referencing again to Peter on the other thread, I well remember the DUKWs -and the Bedfords that eventually ran on the sands. Southport probably had the smartest all Leyland PD2s of all and, operating alongside the St Helens RTs the enthusiast, myself included had the unique experience of seeing, in my opinion, THE pinnacle of UK bus design of the era running side by side every day.

Phil Blinkhorn

On the surface of it these were strange purchases for a Lancashire municipality. However it is easier to understand when one learns that the GM at St Helens at the time was R Edgeley Cox who had a hand in the design and development of the RT when he was in a previous post with LTE. Despite being ‘high quality’ vehicles they had relatively short lives at St Helens as they apparently fell foul of a subsequent GM’s views on operating costs after Mr Cox had moved on to Walsall. The preselector transmission gave lower MPG than manual gearbox buses and as a result the RT’s were sold on in the early 1960’s.

Philip Halstead

03/06/14 – 11:14

Thanks for your various comments, gents. The pinnacle of UK bus design, Mr Blinkhorn – the QL and the DUKW? You’re jesting, of course!

Pete Davies

One wonders if the purchase price was favourable, bearing in mind that they were purchased as part of a large on going LTE order. This might have helped to defray subsequent running costs somewhat.

Chris Hebbron

04/06/14 – 08:07

Pete, is anno domini getting to you? The PD2 and RT is what I said but, come to think of it, the DUKW and the QL could be the pinnacle of municipal transport oddity. Are there other contenders? Llandudno may be a good starting point.

Phil Blinkhorn

04/06/14 – 08:07

The book ‘Local Transport in St Helens’ by Maund & Ashton states that the RT had a lower overall height than conventional highbridge buses and that this was another reason for their purchase as St Helens had some height restricted routes. I was never aware of this feature of the RT but would welcome any comments from those with greater London knowledge.
I agree with Phil that the rather obscure use of the standard London destination display did spoil the appearance and detract from the very attractive livery. When several of them were sold on to Hull they were fitted with that operator’s standard blind display and were given another very attractive livery, the streamlined blue and white/cream.

Philip Halstead

04/06/14 – 08:08

This is a far more interesting story than at first appears, probably because the name R Edgeley Cox comes into it. The appearance of these buses- emphasised by the livery- belies their date, even though other (relatives?) such as CH Roe were producing some smart looking bodies oop north by the early fifties. The odd thing is the destination boxes- you would think it would not be a big issue to alter them to suit the purchaser- or were they really an off the peg or cancelled-order deal? And if these buses were available to buy (unlike Bristol/ECW) why didn’t more municipalities buy them? This was surely the age of the preselector- and hundreds of Daimler CVD’s of that era survived a full innings. So what did St Helens buy instead after 10 years? Atlanteans?


04/06/14 – 09:13

Joe, St Helens never operated Atlanteans operating a mixed fleet of Regent Vs and PD2s.

Phil Blinkhorn

04/06/14 – 15:17

I knew exactly what you meant, Phil. I was just being suitably provocative to match my Welsh background!

Pete Davies

04/06/14 – 15:17

Malcolm Keeley’s Buses in Camera ‘Mercian and Welsh’ has a good colour shot showing two of the Bedford QL’S on Ainsdale beach.

Roger Broughton

04/06/14 – 18:15

Pete, I have a Welsh friend who lives just down the road. You have just explained a great deal!!

Phil Blinkhorn

05/06/14 – 07:32

Phil, I could tell you about the "Honorary Welshman" contests we had a College on St David’s Day, but it isn’t fit for ‘family viewing’!

Pete Davies

05/06/14 – 07:33

Phil- the Atlantean reference was a bit of irony… but can’t see the logic of presumably losing money on the early sale of these RT assets: perhaps Hull made them an offer they couldn’t refuse…


07/06/14 – 08:22

I believe the RT was only 14’3" high, although how that was achieved I have no idea. It makes sense for this to have been part of the attraction, because St Helens also had its own unique version of the Leyland PD2 – the PD2/9 – on which bodywork of reduced height could be built.
Regarding the early disposal, Joe may have hit on something. There was a lot of networking between municipal managers in those days. I can just imagine the St Helens guy grumbling about a daft legacy left by his predecessor, and I can imagine the Hull guy saying there had never been a better bus than the preselective Regent III, next best thing to a trolleybus, wish they were still available etc etc. Next thing you know, a deal is done and everyone’s happy.

Peter Williamson

08/06/14 – 07:20

BDJ 818

A more suitable destination indicator set on an ex-St Helens RT as produced in Hull. No. 135 was photographed by me on 11 April 1967.

Malcolm J Wells

08/06/14 – 07:21

The destination "Knotty Ash" on a St Helens Corporation blind threw me, as it seemed to be an unusual short working for a bus on the 317 to Liverpool.
So I read page 40 of "Local Transport In St Helens" (Venture Transport) and all became obvious.
Greyhound racing was a popular pastime in St Helens, and additional buses were put on to Knotty Ash Stadium on race nights.
Then in 1950, Liverpool Stanley RLFC relocated to Knotty Ash Stadium as Liverpool City RLFC.
I doubt that St Helens RLFC played many matches at Knotty Ash, due to the teams being in different divisions, but there is a photo in the book showing 10 St Helens RTs parked on East Prescot Road (opposite Dovecote Baths) for an event.
As an aside, my dad lived in Knotty Ash in the 1920s in 9th Avenue, on an estate of prefabricated "cabins" built as a rest camp for the U.S. Cavalry on their way to/from the Western Front.
This site was adjacent to Knotty Ash Station (well worth a read on the Disused Stations website) www.disused-stations.org.uk/k/knotty_ash/  as are all the stations of the Cheshire Lines Committee.

Dave Farrier

08/06/14 – 09:51

Reading further in the Maund and Ashton book, the reason why the RT was not more popular with provincial operators may have been its cost – almost £500 per bus, compared to a standard Regent III, a considerable amount at that time. Also, I don’t think it was just the PD2/9s which were of reduced height – further on in the chapter it is mentioned that all the 1956/1957 deliveries had the "now standard configuration…of reduced height", and I think this can be discerned looking at photos of St. Helens DDs. And regarding the short life of the RTs, at the time St Helens did keep their vehicles for a relatively short time compared to other north-west municipals; in 1967, whilst still buying new rear-entrance DDs, they were already selling the 1956/57 PD2s which would have probably been considered profligate at Stockport, for instance!

Michael Keeley

11/06/14 – 08:12

BDJ 807

Some of the St Helens RTs were bought by Harper Brothers of Heath Hayes, neighbours to Walsall Corporation and R. Edgeley Cox. Both operators shared a 14’3" bridge in Cannock.
Walsall also had 5 ex LT RTLs, but they were limited to the routes they could be used on because of their height.

Tony Martin

11/06/14 – 11:28

Didn’t I also read that the suspension and profile of the tyres on RTs contributed to their "low height" characteristics?

David Oldfield


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Thursday 2nd October 2014