Old Bus Photos

London Transport – AEC Regent 1 – BXD 474 – STL 806

BXD 474_lr
Copyright Victor Brumby

London Transport
AEC Regent 1
London Transport (Chiswick) H56R

Below is the note I wrote on the back of the above photograph.

BXD 474, this yellow and blue STL (806) was seen in Kettering on March 10th. 1958. Driver Robert Carter advised that his company, Zenith Furniture, had this mobile showroom-converted AEC and two more ex-London STLs converted to pantechnicons.

I still have the 1954-7 tax discs for this bus…..
I also saw a few pantechnicons, running for Albro Furniture, during this period, all ex-STLs.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Victor Brumby

14/12/11 – 18:05

Surplus STL’s certainly got around in their twilight years. Yellow and blue sounds more like ‘happy playbus’ colours for children! Like the cab door.

Chris Hebbron

16/12/11 – 13:03

What exactly went on around that first bay? Looks like a bit of "scrapheap" coachbuilding… was there another access to the cab from the saloon? You may get in that way, but you’ll never get out!


16/12/11 – 13:19

Strangely enough, I think (minus the door) that WAS the size of the cab entrance. As for the scrapheap coachbuilding, that may also be perilously close to the truth. These bodies, or at least some of them, were prone to terminal collapse – body "sag" – in common with many of those built by NCB. The first bay may have been due to repair of such "sagging" bulkhead damage.

David Oldfield

17/12/11 – 07:30

Mention of the improvised cab door brings me to a question. The Metropolitan Police over the years imposed a lot of restrictions on LT and it’s predecessors. As examples I quote their refusal to accept, pneumatic tyres, enclosed staircases, cab windscreens and cab doors then in the RT era 8 feet wide buses in general service. I am not aware of any other British Police Force in any other provincial town or city interfering so much in bus design. Does anyone know why the Met had such extensive powers when this sort of interference didn’t seem to apply to other forces?

Philip Halstead

Good question Philip

17/12/11 – 07:34

Although what I’m saying may be well-known to some, it will not be to all. The Metropolitan Police had a very conservative approach to vehicle design and one aspect of that was not allowing cab doors to be fitted. Hence when in use as a showroom it would need to be a little more secure and I suspect that was why it the door looks so out of place and is obviously home-made.

David Beilby

17/12/11 – 07:38

I’m fascinated with the date of this picture. Monday, March 10th, 1958 was the day that my mother and I flew from London Airport to Montreal, as we were emigrating to Canada. We stayed with some distant relatives in Tooting before flying out, and I spent a large part of that last day watching LT trolleybuses whizz back and forth on the 630, whilst Victor Brumby was apparently chasing this old STL around Kettering with his camera. Trust me, there was a lot more snow on the ground in Montreal than there was in Kettering that day!

Dave Careless

19/12/11 – 06:24

Other aspects of the "progressive thinking" of the Metropolitan Police were the initial refusal to accept four wheel brakes and passenger entrance doors.

Roger Cox

19/12/11 – 11:03

London Transport, when lending its ‘Godstone’ STL’s to Merton Garage to assist the red 127 lowbridge route buses, had to ensure that its sliding doors were left open all the time, even draughtier than the standard front-entrance ‘green’ STL’s which did, to some extent, cater for not having any doors at all. Philip does raise a good question and I must admit I’ve never heard of such a ‘controlling’ police force as the ‘Met’ anywhere else in the UK. After the initial batch, not more fully front-entrance ‘red’ Q’s were built, as it was considered dangerous as passengers boarding/alighting might fall under the front wheels. I always smiled at early rear-entrance single-deckers, which had offside longitudinal seats right to the back and could have projected unwary passengers out of the rear platform when cornering hard! No mention of this was made, but they were mainly converted to front entrance later.

Chris Hebbron

31/12/13 – 07:09

It’s interesting to see that this STL has a Brighton registration BXD

Bix Curtis

31/12/13 – 12:02

Sorry, Bix, but "BXD" is not a Brighton registration, at least not in the era when this bus was first registered. BXD was definitely a London registration of c.1934/35. In that era, Brighton were using CD and UF as their main letters, with the appropriate sequential prefix. ACD and AUF appeared in 1934, and the progress letters were issued at a quite similar pace to London’s before the war – although of course London had many letter sets allocated to them, compared to Brighton’s two! (What I mean is that London buses were receiving say, FXT registrations in 1938/39, and Brighton had FUF. In wartime, many utilities in London had "G" prefix to the various letters used, and Southdown’s Guy utilities had GCD and GUF plates).

Michael Hampton

01/01/14 – 09:19

Going back to the comments of 2011 on the Met Police, the City of Manchester Police Force was equally as interfering and restrictive, though with far less influence on design than on operation. The operation of buses along Market St Manchester was always a problem and, in their own right prior to the institution of Traffic Commissioners and then, once that august group had been set up in the North West, by using considerable influence on them, the constabulary vastly influenced the pattern of service and the vehicle types used for over half a century. Henry Mattinson’s excellent long distance express bus scheme being at first truncated then almost totally demolished – with a great deal of aiding and abetting from taxi operators and the railway companies, was the first major interference, though there had been minor ones for over a decade before. The inconvenient siting of the long distance service terminal at Lower Mosley St and the restriction of North Western’s medium distance services to this outpost far from shops and offices was down to the police.
Other inconvenient termini were located at Stevenson’s Square and the rather enigmatic Royal Exchange which, apart from the airport coach stop, was not at the Royal Exchange at all. Until the appearance of the Atlantean, the only 30 foot long double deckers approaching the city centre were Mayne’s AECs which were kept away from the centre getting no nearer than Newton St., and the Crossley Dominion trolleybuses which reached Piccadilly but only on rush hour and Saturday service. Bus stop siting in the city centre, again under police influence, precluded use of forward entrance vehicles until Salford’s 27 ft PD2s appeared on the 95/96 and later the 57/77 in the early 1960s.
The Atlanteans were restricted to services away from Market St for years and whilst the major reason for not ordering more and keeping the Fleetlines that followed to Wythenshawe routes was down mainly to conservatism at 55 Piccadilly and the need for crowd movers for Wythenshawe, there is strong evidence that the police made it plain for some years that 30ft rear engined vehicles were not welcome on Market St thus restricting the best use of the vehicles. Like the Met the constabulary eventually had to yield to the pressures and realities of the industry and the time.

Phil Blinkhorn

01/01/14 – 10:05


Mention was made earlier of some STLs being rebodied as pantechnicons. Several of these had their STL bodies removed by Southend Corporation Transport at their depot. A photo exists of one with the body in process of removal. The old bodies went to a Corporation dump at Shoebury, where withdrawn trolleybuses were also sent. Above is a shot of a couple of the discarded bodies.

Brian Pask

01/01/14 – 10:12

Is there any evidence, Phil, that the police in Manchester influenced the design of buses, as I earlier indicated that the Met certainly did?

Chris Hebbron

01/01/14 – 11:12

Hi Chris, Happy New Year. There is no evidence that the design of buses in terms of use or not of doors, tyres etc. for use in Manchester was directly influenced, or should we say interfered with, by the City of Manchester Police in the same way as the Met.
On the other hand, as I have shown, the types of vehicles used in parts of the city centre and restrictions on operations had a very direct influence on the size and types of vehicles purchased not just by MCTD but on a number of operators in the areas surrounding the city and certainly the location of termini had a profound influence on the daily lives of shoppers and workers.

Phil Blinkhorn

01/01/14 – 12:37

I agree that initially as a student anxious to return home to Sheffield, and latterly as a Sale resident wanting to go almost anywhere, LMS was very inconvenient – and Chorton Street not a great deal better. Looking back with a historical perspective it makes some sense – but none as a passenger. [There were similarly strange termini in Sheffield with the small Bridge Street Bus Station and the Castlegate stands – which may have made operational sense but were not in the least bit helpful to passengers needing to cross the city centre to get there.]

David Oldfield

03/01/14 – 08:13

I can’t help thinking that one of the effects of the remoteness of bus termini is to reduce awareness of what services are available. MCTD did very well in including all North Western’s Manchester services in its timetable, but how many people bought timetables? My childhood experience was that most of my parents’ awareness of bus services outside our immediate locality came under the heading of "word gets about". If people see buses showing certain destinations then they may enquire about them, but if they don’t, it may never occur to them that such a service exists.
Chorlton Street was built as an overflow to Piccadilly, and for many years MCTD restricted it to the least-used services in order to inconvenience the minimum number of passengers. But of course that also reinforced its obscurity, meaning that most Mancunian bus users had never even heard of it.
Then there was the problem of Salford. Most services heading west from Manchester didn’t go from Manchester at all, but from Salford.
How many people knew about that, I wonder?

Peter Williamson

03/01/14 – 12:13

Peter, the Salford situation is interesting. Under Henry Mattinson’s Express Service scheme, Salford buses ran through the Manchester city centre to Stalybridge, Hyde, Guide Bridge and Stockport. Once the scheme was decimated, and with Deansgate being added to Market St as another thoroughfare of "concern" to the constabulary, most of those routes Salford served retreated to that city’s side of the Irwell to join the remainder of the services showing Manchester on their blinds. Due to an earlier tramway dispute Salford buses did not cross Deansgate on anything other than those on the scheme. Victoria became the major terminus (though the bus station was nearer Exchange station) and was shown on blinds for services wholly within Salford, Manchester being shown on services from elsewhere. King St West was also a terminus, handy for those shopping at Kendal Milnes but not much good for most passengers need ing to get into the city centre and the patrons of the Docks service which terminated there would hardly have been KM’s customers until well into the second half of the 20th century. (For non Mancunians, Kendal Milnes was the Manchester equivalent of Harrods and for many years had the same owners).
The exceptions by the outbreak of World War 2 were the 15 from Worsley which ran through to Guide Bridge and the 35 from Bury, both of which were truncations of express services, the 35 logically should have run through to Piccadilly but was cut off at Cannon St. After the war there was a dispute about the termination of tram services where Salford used Manchester rails on Deansgate which exacerbated the much earlier dispute about the use of rails on Blackfriars Bridge and led to a great deal of bitterness between 55 Piccadilly and Frederick Rd. The 15 was cut back to run only from Worsley to Manchester but did reach Piccadilly and, until the new bus station was finished, terminated in view of Albert Neal’s office. Salford made sure its vehicles on the route were the most up to date and, when it needed no new vehicles for almost a decade, always turned out its smartest Daimlers to sit within Albert’s view. It was one of the first routes for Salford’s Atlanteans but by that time the terminus was within the new bus station.
Some peace was restored in January 1951 when Salford’s services from Swinton and Pendlebury were joined to Manchester’s services from Reddish Thornley Park and Bulls Head to form the 57/77 services. This became possible as no trams now ran on Market St and congestion had eased. The experiment was a success and was followed in November 1955 by the joining of the East Didsbury to Piccadilly service to the Whitefield to Victoria service to form the 95/96 services. With a common terminus at either end, these routes differed in both Salford and South Manchester but shared the same route through the city centre.
What is odd in all of this is that many long distance coaches both privately and group owned operating from outside the area to Blackpool, Southport and Morecambe ran along Market St., which formed part of the A6, without any intervention by the authorities and on summer Saturdays added to the chaos. for road users and pedestrians alike.

Phil Blinkhorn

06/06/16 – 06:45

Reference the police "interference" in London, what seems to be forgotten in the ensuing years is that the Police were also "the Commissioners for the Metropolis" thereby giving them direct control which the other cities did not have. this is why we were instantly harangued by constables for inventing short cuts on service! the famous one was forgetting to turn right at Marks and Spencer (?) at Marylebone Road on the "Z"!
Next one! has anyone remembered "The Excursion Route" insisted on by North western Traffic Commissioners which involved a lengthy circumnavigation of Central Manchester?

Pete Bradshaw

06/06/16 – 10:53

Presumably the Excursion Route was meant to avoid coaches from particularly the East Midlands and Staffordshire en route to Blackpool clogging Market St on summer Saturdays. My recollection is that in the 1960s it was regularly ignored.

Phil Blinkhorn


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Bickers of Coddenham – AEC Regal 1 – GK 3172

GK 3172_1_lr

GK 3172_2_lr
Copyright Victor Brumby

Bickers of Coddenham
AEC Regal I
Duple C32F

Here is a pair of poor photos taken in Great Yarmouth in August 1958. As a London Transport spotter predominantly, I was excited to note the registration GK 3172 on a cream and green AEC coach under the Bickers title – it had to be an ex-London bus! I guessed it could be an ST, STL or T. Inspecting the dumb-irons was the easy way for those in the know, and there was indeed the brass plate on the right hand iron but the left hand one which would have given me the fleet number had been removed.
Later I found that it was formerly T 300 which had been delivered in 1931 and withdrawn in 1938, bought by Arlington Motors, Vauxhall Bridge Road, The driver told me his boss had picked the vehicle up from a scrapyard, with that non-London Transport body already fitted – he thought, perhaps, off a Leyland.
A letter to London Transport gave me the stock number and some of these details. How kind companies used to be to little perishers who pestered them with daft enquiries!

Sometimes I gathered redundant discs from such ‘finds’ and nowadays some folk collect them – so below are those from T300, in case any of you chaps are interested.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Victor Brumby

Tax Discs_lr
    Copyright Victor Brumby

24/11/11 – 06:46

Gut instinct. Shape of destination indicators and circular insert. Looks a bit Plaxton to me. Would have been an early one – even off a Leyland. Would also have been rare to see a Plaxton in or from the London area.

David Oldfield

24/11/11 – 06:47

How useful those little brass plates on the dumb-irons could be – I found them indispensable when finding old LT buses as showmen’s vehicles at funfairs!
Looking at the indicator area above the cab, the body looks as if it could well be a Duple.

Chris Hebbron

24/11/11 – 06:48

Bearing in mind cheap labour in those far-off days, organisations as big as London Transport might well have employed a special "Clerical Officer, D.E.L.P." (Daft Enquiries from Little Perishers) to answer such esoteric questions!

Stephen Ford

24/11/11 – 06:49

Most fascinating to notice from the two PSV licences that this fine vehicle had been demoted in April 1955 from "Express" to "Stage" – so often the fate of luxury coaches whose charms had begun to wane, but to the advantage of the service bus passengers who benefitted !!

Chris Youhill

24/11/11 – 07:46

As an addendum, the excellent website, Ian’s Bus Stop, shows that the vehicle was sold to Arlington Motors in August 1938, then bought by Osborne of Tollesbury, who had it re-bodied it by Duple as C32F. It was in service with Bickers in 1954 and withdrawn in March 1959. T300’s body was transferred to T369, which suggests that only the chassis was sold by LPTB.

Chris Hebbron

25/11/11 – 06:46

Well, it was a pleasant surprise to find this operator appearing on the web site as I am sending this note from a computer less than four miles from the Suffolk village of Coddenham. Indeed a work colleague was brought up in Coddenham and knows various members of the Bickers family. She has recalled that in her childhood Bickers vehicles always seemed to be older (i.e. more interesting to us) than those of other operators.
Alfred C. Bickers (father of the Geoffrey Charles Bickers shown on the licence) had begun running into Ipswich from Coddenham by 1925. In April 1927 he bought a new 14 seat Ford Model T bus RT 2975 which no doubt became obsolete by the 1930s and was discarded. Many and various buses, (nearly always second hand) were bought until 1988 when that part of the business was divided between Eastern Counties and Ipswich Buses. Imagine everybodys surprise when about ten years ago there appeared on the Ipswich – Felixstowe Vintage Vehicle Run a Ford Model T RT 2975 bus complete with original log book, entered and restored by David A. Bickers of Coddenham, grandson of the original owner. In the 1960s Dave Bickers was a well known motor cycle scramble rider and later he and his son Paul started to do stunt engineering work for films including a number of James Bond movies, see www.bickers.co.uk Clearly the restoration of a bus would have posed little problem to such a family of engineers.
The PSV Circle states that GK 3172 was scrapped after withdrawal by Bickers but then that was what they said about RT 2975!

Nigel Turner

30/11/11 – 15:04

AEC RT2634 0905 JoBurg 3_resize

AEC RT2634 0905 JoBurg r_resize

Chris Hebbron alludes to the brass dumb-iron plates to be found on all the period London buses. Above is the plate of the RT which languishes in the Johannesburg Museum of Transport, which I was amused to photograph on 2005.

Victor Brumby

16/08/13 – 12:14

Chris Youhill comments (above) about the apparent demotion of this vehicle from Express duties to Stage.
My own memory is becoming a little hazy now, but my recollection is that, when it came to vehicles’ PSV licences, ‘Stage’ was a higher category than ‘Express’, i.e. with a vehicle licensed as a ‘Stage Carriage’ you could do everything you could have done with one licensed as an ‘Express Carriage’ – and more. The requirements for a ‘Stage’ licence were stricter – e.g. a passenger/driver communication system (i.e. bell or buzzer) had to be provided. Most vehicles were licensed as ‘Stage’, irrespective of the sort of work they were likely to be called upon to do.
Am I remembering correctly?

David Call

18/06/15 – 10:43

I missed David Call’s comment of a couple of years ago. The classifications ‘Stage’ and ‘Express’ Carriage referred to Road Service Licences, the licences granted to operators by the Traffic Commissioners to run passenger services between specified points to a published timetable via a detailed route stopping at particular points at stated fares. The maximum size of machine for each route was also dictated. The vehicles were all licensed as psvs, and had to pass Certificate of Fitness tests at fixed intervals according to age. Thus coaches could be used legally on bus services and buses on coach services (the latter sometimes to the discomfort of passenger posteriors, no doubt). All this has changed, of course. Buses and coaches, like all vehicles of three years of age or more, now have to pass an annual MoT test, and the number of vehicles that a commercial operator can run is limited by the Operator’s Licence. The actual passenger services/routes are no longer licensed at all outside London. Bus companies today can run what they like when they like, and charge what they like for the (often dubious) privilege, subject to 42 days notice being given to the local Traffic Commissioner for applications for new or changed services.

Roger Cox

GK 3172_1_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

04/06/16 – 06:39

This is a late comment but the difference between stage and express was merely that of the minimum fare charged.Express services had a minimum fare of one shilling and "excursions and tours" was merely a special variety of express carriage.
I think that vehicles used purely for private hire were licensed as "contract Carriage" but I am not sure about that – it is a long time since I did my Institute of Transport course and by the time I got my CPC (Operators licence) it was all irrelevant anyway.

Malcolm Hirst


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London Transport – AEC Regent 1 – DGX 212 – STL 1684

London Transport - AEC Regent 1 - DGX 212 - STL 1684
Copyright Victor Brumby

London Transport
AEC Regent I
London Transport (Chiswick) H56R

A London furniture maker adopted an ex-London Regent for a mobile showroom. Going about its business on August 24th. 1957, DGX 212 – STL 1684 was brought to a halt by the overhanging awning of the Odeon cinema in Gold Street, Kettering, which broke its nearside rear window and the timber frame thereof. The black on yellow livery was that of W. Lusty and Son of Bromley-by-Bow, who doubtless had some choice invective awaiting the return of their luckless driver to their dockside domain. Personally, I’d have left the bus there and emigrated.
My conveyance of the period, leaning casually alongside, was my hub-braked Triumph pride and joy. It would be two more years before my omnibological pursuit became mobilised by the acquisition of Austin Seven NV 834.
Having said that, I think that a fleeing STL would have the drop on a 1931 Seven, even round bends.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Victor Brumby

18/11/11 – 17:18

Nice Photo, Victor, of my favourite style (roofbox) of STL.
Considering the vehicle was bought by Lusty’s in October 1954, and went into service as their showroom in 1955, it already looks sad. I notice from website Ian’s Bus Stop that it survived until 1961, when forcibly scrapped after its argument with the Odeon awning!
I agree with your Austin Seven comparison. I had a friend whose father owned an Austin Swallow, the sporty version with an aluminium body. Sporting it was not! An STL would have beaten it any day!

Chris Hebbron

19/11/11 – 14:52

The bodies on the batch of STLs that followed the Chiswick built version, of which STL 1684 above was an example, were produced by Park Royal in 1937. They were constructed on metal frames which quickly reacted with the internal finishing adhesives to give serious corrosion problems after less than five years service. One of these, STL 2093, which was fitted with a replacement body from STL 2570 in 1949, was bought in 1958 by Denis Cowing, a chemistry master at my secondary school in Selhurst, Croydon, and he rallied it for a few years before the deterioration became too much for him. It now resides at the Cobham bus museum, where it is undergoing complete restoration.

Roger Cox

19/04/13 – 07:15

DGX 212

This bus got about as this image was taken in Rochdale in 1958.



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