OK Motor Services
AEC Reliance 2MU3RA
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.
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!
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.
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….
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 .....]
19/06/14 – 07:53
Sheffield United – so that’s where I’d seen this detailing before! Thanks for reminding me!
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.
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.
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.