Old Bus Photos

Halifax Corporation – AEC Reliance MU3RV – NRK 350 – 261

Halifax Corporation - AEC Reliance MU3RV - NRK 350 - 261
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Halifax Corporation Transport and Joint Omnibus Committee
AEC Reliance MU3RV
Park Royal C41C

Here is a rather nice looking coach which Halifax Corporation acquired in 1966. According to one source of information Halifax acquired it from Timpson of London but according to another source it was originally delivered to Bourne & Balmer of Croydon. Was this coach 2nd or 3rd hand at Halifax if you know please leave a comment. I did actually go on this coach to somewhere but I can’t remember where, but I seem to think that the two front roof windows were tinted a very dark orange.

09/09/11 – 07:08

A little detective work reveals that Bourne & Balmer ceased trading independently on 1st Jan 1960, and either then or later became part of the Timpson operation. So it seems that both sources are correct.
In 1967 261 was renumbered 257 and then almost immediately 258. It was rebodied by Plaxton in 1968, and in that form passed to Calderdale JOC in 1971 and to West Yorkshire PTE in 1974.

Peter Williamson

11/09/11 – 07:40

Timpsons acquired Bourne & Balmer in 1960, which probably explains the confusion.
NRK 350 was new to Bourne & Balmer in April 1955, passed to Timpsons, and was sold to Halifax JOC in February 1966. Fitted with a new Plaxton body in 1968, passed to West Yorkshire PTE, sold May 1975.

Michael Wadman

03/10/11 – 07:22

Timpson’s acquired the business of Bourne and Balmer (Croydon) Ltd on 17 November 1953, but retained it as a subsidiary until April 1960, when it was closed down and the fleet absorbed into the main Timpson’s fleet. During those years, new coaches were added to the Bourne and Balmer fleet from time to time, NRK 350 being one such vehicle. Even after 1960, Timpson’s continued to paint some of their coaches in Bourne and Balmer livery, with Bourne and Balmer fleetnames, until around 1970. Thus, NRK 350 was new to Bourne and Balmer when it was a Timpson’s subsidiary, and passed into Timpson’s ownership upon the closure of Bourne and Balmer in 1960. It retained Bourne and Balmer livery until the end of 1964.

Dave Williamson

03/10/11 – 11:47

Along with other similar Reliances this bus was given a new Plaxton Panorama body, in his book Steel Wheels and Rubber Tyres Geof Hilditch says that MBY 347 an AEC Reliance bought as an accident victim for £275 Halifax rebuilt it and it was rebodied for £3000 truly a bargain.

Chris Hough

03/01/14 – 08:10

NRK 350 languished after withdrawal in the quarry scrapyard of Bingley Autospares for around nine years from withdrawal in 1975 to 1984 when it was finally broken up. It was surrounded in the yard by other Halifax Titans and Leopard saloons plus Leeds Regent Vs and PD3s.



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Rochdale Corporation – AEC Swift – MDK 735G – 35

Rochdale Corporation AEC Swift

Rochdale Corporation
AEC Swift MP2R
Seddon B46F

My Thanks to Ian Beswick for contributing the above excellent shot of this Rochdale Corporation AEC Swift with its Seddon body who also supplied bus bodies under the name of Pennine.
The Swift was AECs move into the rear engined single decker market. It first appeared at the 1964 commercial motor show and there were two versions a low frame for bus work and a high frame for coach operations. Operators also had the choice of either the 16ft 6in wheelbase for a vehicle length of 33ft or 18ft 6in for a 36ft vehicle. The high frame version allowed for luggage to be stored in underfloor side lockers due to the fact that the rear of the vehicle housed the horizontal six cylinder diesel engine. Yet again there was a choice of two engines the AH505 ?? litre or the AH691 11·3 litre. London transport acquired several 36 ft 11·3 litre Swifts which they called Merlings (MB) for some reason best known to them, but the manoeuvrability was poor so the shorter version (SM) were acquired but due to the shorter length they had to have the AH508 8·2 litre engine which rendered them well under powered.

Photograph contributed by Ian Beswick

When AEC first announced its rear-engined single deckers, there were to be two models, the medium-weight Swift with the AH505 engine (33ft or 36ft), and the heavy-duty Merlin with the AH691 (36ft only). London Transport ordered their Merlins at that stage.
By the time the two models went into production, they had been harmonised to such a degree that AEC renamed them Swift 505 and Swift 691. But LT always persisted with the original names.

Peter Williamson

Can someone give technical information on the Swift Chassis, like its length, weight, width and other information?


The Swift was the first joint production with Leyland after the 1962 "merger".
The main chassis frame, and other components, were common to the Swift and the Panther. The engines and axles were unique to each respective model.
There was a 32’6" (AH505) model (Leyland was the Panther Cub with 0.400 engine). There was a 36’0" long (AH505 or AH691) model (Leyland was the 0.600 Panther).
All were 8’2½" wide. There was the most common bus version with a lower front frame and the high frame model intended for coach work. In the event, no AEC Swifts were built with high frames but there were a number of high frame Panthers, some with 0.680 engines.

David Oldfield

Does anybody by chance know the weight of the AEC SWIFT AH505 Chassis?


13/02/12 – 07:18

I once worked with a former London Transport engineer, who told me how Merlins were constantly being reported for defective engine stops. Quite often the true explanation turned out to be that the awful engine had worn its cylinder bores oval, so the bus was actually burning its own sump oil which was leaking past the piston rings! No good cutting off the diesel if that isn’t what’s burning…!
And, I once attended a Traffic Commissioner’s hearing in Southampton where Bill Lewis, then General Manager, responded to a question about the Southampton Swifts by saying: "If only someone would make me an offer for them!". Not one of AEC’s best efforts!

David Jones

21/04/12 – 11:38

I had a couple of holidays in South Australia in the mid 90s where I saw many ex Adelaide Swifts in various guises. Their were some in a yard at Port Adelaide being converted for further use. In Port Pirie the local bus company had about 6 in use. There was one on town service in Port Lincoln. One at Port Kenny as a caravan which had a Hino engine a popular conversion with mobile home conversions. A further mobile home in North Adelaide. Another in Woolaston near Gawler. In a Marina at Port Adelaide I found one in use as a support vehicle for a film company who had four more in stock for the same purpose all still with their AEC engines, one of which had just returned from filming a documentary in the out back doing many miles off road. I read a couple of years ago the some Swifts had been refurbished and sold to a mining company on an island in Indonesia for staff transport. All this info suggests that the poor reputation of the Swifts might be unjustified.

Ron Stringer

21/07/12 – 12:19

As an enthusiastic operator of AEC’s Swift. I find it difficult to imagine how a few operators apparently had so much trouble with them. From working for an independent who acquired nine of them second hand … and with more to put into service had he not passed away, to running four of my own, I found them excellent, reliable and economical work-horses. Any mechanical maladies were easily attended to as everything was practically laid out in typical AEC fashion. There are few more challenging bus operating areas than North Staffordshire with it’s mix of dense urban environment and steep hills. All ours were 505 powered which generally allowed 10mpg on service and any feeling of being underpowered was usually attributable to a stretched accelerator cable in my experience. Were I still operating today, I’d have no hesitation in having one around as a spare bus … indeed I share a preserved one. (ps. The 505 was generally regarded as being just under 8.2 litres swept volume and had power outputs up to about 160bhp)

Martyn Hearson

20/03/14 – 17:37

Happened on this site purely by accident. In no way consider myself a bus enthusiast. Rootes Classic cars are my scene.
But many of the photos on this site have stirred up some vivid childhood memories from growing up in Alkrington, Middleton on the 17 Manchester / Rochdale route.
Like – how immaculate the Rochdale buses on this route always were. Loved the blue/cream livery and the deep blue seats. AND on this route were Lady Conductors! Unheard of in Manchester. As a 10 yo I developed a hopeless crush on one particularly pretty chatty girl and it was a thrill when she came along to issue the ticket.
I’m pretty sure that this route 17 and the 24 to Rochdale via Broadway/Royton are two of very few to have retained their original route numbers to the present day since WW2 and maybe before. The 17 was certainly the tram route number way back when (not that I remember that far back!)

Paul Blackwell

21/03/14 – 17:58

Yes, the 17 has a very long history and as a bus service it has the longest possible history of using the same number in Manchester, as it dates from the introduction of route numbering in 1930 although at that point it was an express service from Bacup to Flixton. It took its current form in 1932.
Whilst there are several routes that have remained essentially the same for many years, the 17 has avoided being renumbered in all that time. The 24, by contrast, is a comparative youngster, as it dates from the acquisition of the Yelloway service from Manchester to Rochdale at that time.

David Beilby

22/03/14 – 08:20

Another route 17 (and 18) is that of Portsmouth Corporation (and successors’) tennis racquet-shaped route from Dockyard-Eastney-Dockyard. It lasted, unchanged, for about 82 years, until a major re-arrangement of services brought its demise last year.
Here is a trolleybus on the route- www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/

Chris Hebbron


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Provincial – AEC Regent I – DAU 462 – 62

Provincial - AEC Regent I – DAU 462 – 62
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Provincial (Gosport & Fareham Omnibus Co)
AEC Regent I
Craven H56R

Here is another of the four ex Nottingham Regents that Provincial acquired in 1954 it was fleet number 220 in the Nottingham fleet. According to Stephen Didymus this vehicle was partially rebuilt during the late 1950s and ended up with a front destination layout to Provincial’s standard design of the time. Craven bodybuilders were located at Sheffield their main business appeared to be railway carriages but they also made tram and bus bodies. During the war they apparently made the wings for the "Horsa" troop carrying gliders, and components for the Lancaster bombers. They also built 120 AEC RT type vehicles for London Transport but they were not built to the same specification as the rest having five bay bodies instead of four is one example. Not being to the same specification also meant that their bodies would not be interchangeable with others RTs built by other bodybuilders so they did not last long with London Transport and were soon sold off.

Bus tickets issued by this operator can be viewed here.


Sheffield Transport’s 15 1948 Regent IIIs and the RTs were probably Cravens’ swansong before they concentrated on production of trams and then railway rolling stock – especially DMUs.
What isn’t widely known is that Cravens bought East Lancs in the early sixties, after a chance meeting of the chairmen of both companies. At the same time, they tried to expand by opening Neepsend Coachworks in that same district of Sheffield. Although Neepsend closed after only four years, both it and East Lancs were subsidiaries of Cravens – Neepsend was never owned by East Lancs. Cravens soon sold out to the bigger John Brown Group – a steel manufacturer in Sheffield – who eventually sold East Lancs on to Dawson Williams and Drawlane (which became British Bus and, eventually, Arriva).

David Oldfield


Nostalgic picture. I can recall the pre-war Regents working in Nottingham in the early 50s. 50 of this Cravens bodied version were supplied about 1938 (DAU451-500, running numbers 72-76 and 214-258). Metro-Cammell supplied a total of 93 (I think) during 1936-37, and Northern Counties 35 in 1935. From the sound, I would judge that they were all pre-selectors. I think that all varieties were originally built with narrow upstairs front windows flanking a central route number box, but most were subsequently rebuilt in the style shown on the photo. The Cravens had a slightly glowering appearance, and the Northern Counties had a more rounded dome and less steeply raked front. Internally, the three series were similar. Lighting was by naked bulbs in oval "volcano" fittings – except for the Northern Counties which had big circular "volcanos". The Cravens and MCs had plunger bells instead of "push once" buttons. Nearly all were displaced from front line service by the 1953-55 deliveries of Park Royal Regent IIIs (OTV127-198 with running numbers matching the registration). It was this that released various of them for sale to Provincial around 1954. Click here to see one in Nottingham about 1948.

Stephen Ford


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 29th November 2014