Old Bus Photos

Birmingham City – AEC Regent III RT – GOE 631 – 1631

Birmingham Corporation - AEC Regent III RT - GOE 631 - 1631

Birmingham City Transport
1947
AEC Regent III RT
Park Royal H54R

Having sent some bus ticket shots to the ‘Old Bus Tickets’ website I was looking at the ‘Old Bus Photo’ section (again) and thought you might like to add a picture of probably my all time favourite bus of my youth. The Birmingham Corporation Transport Park Royal bodied Regent III (RT type) GOE 631 Fleet number 1631. There were only 15 (GOE 631-645) purchased in 1947 and most of them did sterling work until withdrawal in 1963/4. Sadly none were saved for preservation, this is from an original publicity photo I own, and shows the very attractive lines of this vehicle – at its best just after introduction into service.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Nigel Edwards


Why, I wondered, such an old fashioned body design?
It’s not, except for…. that raked back windscreen, the high-level driver’s door, the narrow lower deck windows and that funny mid-band a foot higher than it should be..then there’s those wobbly-looking front wheels and the lop-sided headlamps: If the "dipped" one is on the left, why is it higher than the right one? No doubt that’s how we always did it…

Joe


It’s not so much an old-fashioned design as the lack of "joined up thinking".
The standard London Transport RT was designed as a whole vehicle but when provincial bodies were fitted, what was standard in the provinces didn’t properly marry with a chassis not generally available outside London and, indeed, designed specifically for London.
For the most part, the Birmingham body would not look out of place on a provincial Regent III – and would have looked more modern than the standard Birmingham body on more usual Crossley, Daimler or Guy chassis which originated pre WW II.

David Oldfield


08/03/11 – 15:22

I have to admit that until now it had not occurred to me that these 15 vehicles looked ‘wrong’. Certainly they looked seriously different to the rest of Birmingham’s post-war fleet but to me they were all the more likeable because of it! One possible reason for the odd looking front-end is that at the time Birmingham were very much into the idea of sloping windscreens to reduce internal reflection (an idea much favoured by Midland Red at the time) – although I don’t quite see the truth of that in a half-cab vehicle with the blinds lowered behind the driver at night.
It is worth noting that when Park Royal supplied a further 50 bodies, this time on Leyland PD2/1 chassis (2181-2230, JOJ 181-230), the raked windscreen was gone and the result was a joy to behold. They looked right!

5055HA


26/08/11 – 07:08

The correct title of the undertaking, was Birmingham City Transport, I remember these buses well, on short workings of route 11 the Outer Circle, between the Fox and Goose at Ward End and the Bull at Stechford on the way to school. These buses I believe were originally ordered for delivery in 1941/2 but received after the war ended.
I disagree with David Oldfield, these buses always looked dated compared to the rest of the post war fleet especially the new look ones. These buses were built to BCT specifications, the other Park Royal bodied buses, Leyland PD2s with flat screens were bought off the shelf to the body builders standard specs! These were magnificent vehicles. One survives fleet number 2222 (JOJ 222) and is currently being restored at the Aston Manor Transport Museum in Birmingham.
The Regents spent virtually all their lives at Acocks Green garage, and were non-standard with air brakes, air gear changes and wind up windows plus other unusual features. I believe 3 of the batch worked out of Barford Street depot early on in their lives on route 8 the Inner Circle.
Like all BCT buses these were kept spotlessly clean and excellently maintained, never a dented panel in sight, shame the operators of today do not value their buses so highly!
This is a great site and I will send some photos of that other great operator from my childhood in Birmingham – Midland Red.

Robert Hayles


26/08/11 – 18:07

It might be the LATE Aston Manor Transport Museum, since it has just closed after an interminable wrangle over high rent for the buildings and an exorbitant price the council have quoted for the purchase of it.
Let’s hope the matter can be resolved. Were the museum to continue with the rental option, it would have to charge £8 a time for entry! If it’s not resolved, they have to be out by end-December.

Chris Hebbron


03/12/11 – 07:05

1631-1645 were very different from the standard Birmingham bus and were reputably bought as replacements for AEC Regents that were going to be ordered, but never were for delivery in 1941. RT 19 was demonstrated to BCT between 7/6/41 and 7/7/41 and these RTs were the result. They spent their lives at Acocks Green garage, although the last four were allocated to Barford Street in 1948 for a rather unsuccessful stint on the busy Inner Circle route. The bodies were more or less the standard four-bay Park Royal thin pillared body of the time but were heavily modified with BCT fixtures and fittings. The RT chassis had air-brakes which BCT engineers did not like and the braking standards on the batch were always dubious. This resulted in the buses having a wide range of brake modifications including being fitted with disc brakes. They were lovely to ride-in but a lot of Acocks Green drivers did not like them because of their poor stopping performance. By the time they were taken out of service, no two of the fifteen buses were the same with experiments with exhauster brakes, sealed radiators, Monocontrol gearboxes and straight through exhaust pipes. They were used on the 44 and 31 and 32 routes, but were only used on short workings on the Outer Circle 11 route as i, they had none-standard staircases which were not considered safe for passengers not already used to them and ii, if drivers had to be relieved by one from another garage which worked on the 11 route, the chances were that they were not passed to drive the RTs! Curiously enough the last one to be withdrawn, 1641, was the only postwar bus to be withdrawn by BCT on Leap Year Day, in this case in 1964.

David Harvey


03/12/11 – 14:31

Thx, David, for that fascinating background information. The braking shortcomings are intriguing, since London traffic conditions was equally as challenging as Birmingham’s, if not more. I wonder if the bodies were heavier than London Transport’s 7.5 tons. Although the 8′ wide RTW’s were heavier, I am not aware that their brakes were beefed up! A mystery indeed.

Chris Hebbron


03/12/11 – 16:40

Strange – I am sure I read somewhere that contemporary Daimlers, of which Birmingham had many, were notoriously weak in the braking department. On the other hand, AEC Regent IIIs (whether RT or the provincial type) seemed to find very wide acceptance throughout the land. Many municipal operators went back again and again for repeat orders. To a mere user, they always seemed utterly competent.

Stephen Ford


04/12/11 – 07:42

Birmingham’s Guys were the ones which suffered from brake fade especially on the Bristol Road routes operated by Selly Oak. It was for this reason that eventually all new look front buses had their front wings shortened. The buses with the best brakes were Crossleys, but these could have very heavy steering if it wasn’t greased properly. The braking on Daimler CVG6 et al were considered to be good, though the exposed radiator ones always seemed to be sharper on the brakes that the new look front ones. We thought at the time that it was just a more sophisticated system!
The AEC Regent 0961 RTs weighed 7 tons 16 cwt but brakes were always a problem.

David Harvey


30/03/12 – 07:11

Re Birmingham RTs – A friend who drove them says that the brakes were fine. Early on they had a problem with RP automatic adjusters causing the brakes to stick on but the problem was solved with a slight adjustment to brake shoe clearances. A similar problem cropped up with the Halifax examples but apparently St Helens reported no problems.

Alan Bond


13/06/12 – 17:02

When I worked in Birmingham from 1961 to 1963, I lodged at Hall Green. These were my favourite buses at the time, especially when 1632, or 1643 with its lovely roaring sound, were on the last 32 departure from town in the evening. They were very comfortable, and had an excellent turn of speed on the uphill stretches. Such a pity that none survive, or that a model is not available. The model of 1632 which has been produced is a travesty!

Harold Blythe


05/07/12 – 17:49

They were always my favourites too, and I often travelled on them on the No 1 route. When I was little, I especially liked the front downstairs passenger window, because it was lower than on all the other buses, so I could see out straight ahead over the bonnet.

Richard


28/01/13 – 13:31

As a schoolboy in 1957 I remember asking why these ungainly, gaunt, older looking buses were only on the (short) 1A route to Acocks Green and I was told that they had small fuel tanks. Maybe just a jarn to shut me up.

David Grove


29/01/13 – 15:22

David, These ‘RT’ types were "confined" to Acocks Green Garage because only their drivers were ‘passed-out’ to drive them. They were occasionally to be seen on the Outer Circle 11 route but usually only on ‘Service Extra’ at busy times and short turns that did not require driver changeovers from other garages.

Nigel Edwards


31/01/13 – 06:07

I think I have only ever seen one of these in service so I can’t comments on their ride ect but I do find it odd that they had brake problems since they were air braked. At this time BCT and BMMO for that matter had a fixation with reflections in wind screens and both operators had sloping windows fitted which in the case of BCT tended to make their buses look older than they were, the exception being the "tin fronts" which had a sloping screen but inset into the body and having vertical screen pillars. Whilst on the subject of Daimler CV brakes I am currently involved with the restoration of GEA 174, an ex West Bromwich Daimler based at and owned by the Black Country Living Museum, some of our group members have made several references to West Bromwich having problems with the brakes on these when they were new yet another contributor rightly points out that BCT had problems with their Guys in the braking department but not with their Daimlers, odd don’t you think?

William Parker


GOE 631_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


21/07/13 – 14:55

I worked out of Acocks Green Garage as a bus driver from 1959 till 1978 and drove these Buses many times. They were quicker BUT with Air brakes were much harder to stop. I remember driving down Olton Boulevard West and Trying to stop before turning into Gospel Lane but finished up by Warwick Road 100 Yards further on. I was young and impulsive in those days.

Maurice (MOSS) Leather


 

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PMT – AEC Regent III – REH 524 – H524

PMT - AEC Regent III - REH 524 - H524
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Potteries Motor Traction
1952
AEC Regent III 9613A 
Northern Counties H32/26R

This is a rather nice looking Northern Counties bodied Regent III the front of the upper deck looks a bit Massey’ish but the flared skirt just adds that little extra touch. PMT had a very varied fleet one reason for this was that when they took over a rival operator they absorbed their vehicles into their own fleet. In 1951 PMT took over five companies and 150 vehicles I do not think that REH 500 fleet number H500 was one of them. REH 500 was a Daimler CLG5 I have not come across many of those in my researching, mind you, they only had the one, the L by the way stood for lightweight. With regards Daimler and PMT they were the largest operator of the Roadliner having almost seventy of them, but that is another sad story which should really be told with a photo of a PMT Roadliner above it, unfortunately I do not have one.

A full list of Regent III codes can be seen here and there is also a list of Daimler codes here.

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For Daimler CLG5 see my comment under the heading of Manchester Daimler NNB 231. PMT’s REH 500 was one of the two prototypes. It also carried the prototype MCW Orion body and appeared at the 1952 Commercial Motor Show.

Peter Williamson

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I also seem to recollect that PMT had the first 30′ Orion on a PD3 – which was unique in having six short bays (of same size as on 27′ models) rather than the standard five longer bays.

David Oldfield

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These were a splendid vehicle they gave a nice comfortable ride and were quite quick I have driven this vehicle and also been a conductor on this vehicle.

Michael Crofts

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This vehicle was one of a batch of twelve, ordered in 1951 jointly by two independents, Stoke Motors and Thomas Tilstone with a view to a merger of the two businesses. It is written that this prospect alarmed PMT so much that they made a more than generous offer to the proprietors, hence a batch of Regents delivered to a fleet not known hitherto for AEC purchases, although they became common later with Reliances.

Chris Barker

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Also worthy of note the AEC Regents above had the air cleaner from the engine attached by pipe work to the upper saloon which is why the front window pillar is so thick and this kept the air in the saloon clear of cigarette smoke, the ceiling looked like a crib board.

Michael Crofts


 

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Samuel Ledgard – AEC Regent III – GDK 401

Samuel Ledgard AEC Regent III GDK 401

Samuel Ledgard
1948
AEC Regent III
East Lancs H33/26R 

Here is a happy picture of yours truly enjoying my work immensely with Samuel Ledgard at Otley Depot. I am returning from the Estate on one of the local town services and have just crossed the River Wharfe bridge. Before I am reprimanded for "incorrect destination" I must explain that the display was officially shown in both directions as "Weston Estate" to avoid passenger confusion with the other town service which shared the river crossing – a little local quirk which suited everyone.
GDK 401 was one of a batch of five (GDK 401 – 5) which came from Rochdale in February 1962 and had most handsome and functional East Lancashire bodywork. Notable features were the superior quality blue leather seats and the spacious very safe platform and "easy" staircase. The entire batch retained gold Rochdale fleet numbers (201 – 205) in both saloons – a nice little touch I thought.
The vehicles were also the first that we had with air operated brakes and gearboxes.
A nice little anecdote, and a true one, goes with 401. When the batch was acquired this vehicle alone was sent to Otley depot for complete and prompt overhaul for early entry into service with the others at Armley Head depot. However its appeal and charms were instantly apparent to all, and in a very uncharacteristic "Luddite" operation the normally highly efficient overhaul process was delayed by a myriad of "difficulties" for a very considerable time. When the bus was eventually ready for certification the powers that be at mighty Armley, normally unbending in any way, for some reason capitulated and lovely 401 remained with us at Otley till the end of the Company. The initial very basic plans for the West Yorkshire Road Car Co takeover contained the allocation of WYRCC numbers for the whole Ledgard fleet – this scheme as we know was completely revised before the day, and so our Rochdale friend never became "DAW 1" (Double, AEC engine, Wide) after all.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Youhill

Bus tickets issued by this operator can be viewed here.

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Such a shame that Samuel Ledgard sold out.
It would be interesting to see what vehicles they would be running today.

Terry Malloy

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Yes, it is a shame, Terry – the buses look fantastic in full livery – but fifty years down the line, is it not possible that we would be looking at them in Barbie colours? Lots of mistakes made in the industry, but death and other things have always enforced change!

David Oldfield

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Quote: (Double, AEC engine, Wide)

I assume that the Wide means that it had an 8′ wide body. It certainly appears to have one, in a surprisingly obvious way, just like LT’s RTW class.

Nice to see a Ledgard vehicle in colour; it’s my first time of seeing one of them in all its glory!

By the way what is an ‘easy’ staircase?

Chris Hebbron

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I’m sure Chris Youhill will fill us in about the easy staircase. Is it like the Roe safety staircase and the Birmingham staircase – straight, or with 90% bends, with no "dangerous" curves during its length?

David Oldfield

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Yes Chris, the "W" in the West Yorkshire fleet numbering system did indeed mean 8 feet wide – just as an interesting point, they had some vehicles with 8 feet wide bodies on 7’6" chassis – as did a good few Bristol/ECW customers.

Chris and David, the word "easy" was just my own way of describing these vehicles – the stairs were of the 90 degree pattern and were wider than usual and were situated safely well away from the edge of a generous sized platform – somewhat difficult to explain, but splendidly designed.

Chris Youhill

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A query for Chris: my hazy recollection of "Exors of Samuel Ledgard" buses- as it legally proclaimed- was that the were a dark navy blue- not this jaunty colour: 1. am I wrong? 2. does the camera lie? 3. is it anything to do with its former existence in Rochdale?

Joe

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Well this is indeed an interesting point, and memory does play tricks as we all know. However I have to say that the answer lies somewhere between the shades of blue in the picture of GDK 401 and that in the link for RT MXX 148.  The only fair comment I can make is that, as Peter says, the colour in the picture of GDK 401 is a bit light and bright due to the sun etc. Certainly though the shade shown in the view of the RT is far darker than the actual, and I can confidently say that the Otley picture is much nearer to being spot on than the Bradford one. The Rochdale livery is not relevant at all, as every acquired bus was thoroughly rubbed down, primed and undercoated to remove any trace whatsoever of previous ownership.
The attached view of newly acquired BCK 427 from Ribble in the paintshop at Armley Head Depot is as good a sample as we could wish for – despite the different light aspects the lower saloon panels are exactly as the livery was. Hope this helps clear the mists of time for those interested.

Chris Youhill

Ex Ribble BCK 427 in the Samuel Ledgard paint shop

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…..and there is also the splendid RLH (forget which number) which was rallying last year in full Ledgard colours. Quite a bright blue – neither royal nor navy.

David Oldfield

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The purpose of the photo may well have been to clarify SL’s livery, but this is a nice photo in itself and shows off this attractive vehicle’s bodylines very well, aided by the total lack of adverts. Good to see a rear’ish view for a change.
It may be a trick of the light, but has the rear lower body panel been well punched by a very cross 10 year old?

Chris Hebbron

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BCK 427 hole

I see what you mean – the panel seems well and truly "waffled", but I think it is in fact just a mirror image of activity nearby in the garage what lloks like the floor can be seen, and possibly a mechanic’s overall legs.  It is a strange optical effect, but please do rest assured that the panel will have been perfect before painting.

Chris Youhill

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Hi David – the magnificent vehicle to which you refer is RLH 32 – MXX 232.  It is part of the heritage fleet of Time Bus Travel of St. Albans and the proprietors, the Pring Family, did the Samuel Ledgard Society an immeasurable and generous kindness by having the bus professionally and immaculately painted in Samuel Ledgard colours for our 40th Anniversary Re-enactment running day on Sunday 14th October 2007.  I was humbled and highly honoured to conduct it almost all the time it ran on Samuel Ledgard routes giving free rides to delighted and nostalgic passengers – I wore my original Samuel Ledgard uniform and used my Otley Depot Setright ticket machine – SL 40.

chris_lr

Chris Youhill

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Re Chris Youhill’s latest comment about RLH 32 under the heading of AEC Regent III GDK 401, here’s a photo of the bus in question on the day in question.

Samuel Ledgard AEC Regent MXX 232

Peter Williamson

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Thank you Peter W for that lovely view, which captures the atmosphere of that wonderful day perfectly. Judging by the load, the RLH is about to leave for Guiseley and the driver is Mr. Ewan Pring who handles the vehicle magnificently and sympathetically, as you would expect from the owner of such a cherished gem. While you took the photo I will have been on the platform, about to issue the authentic souvenir tickets to the passengers. I can’t begin to explain my feelings on that day which was fifty years exactly since I eagerly started work for the Company – a day on which the RLH will still, of course, have been hard at work in London !!

Chris Youhill

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I’ve always been fascinated by the myriad variations on the theme of how to get passengers upstairs, so Chris Youhill’s reference to the East Lancs "easy staircase" tickled my curiosity. I imagine that, as on post-war ECW highbridge bodies until about 1957, the top step will have caused a 9"x9" protrusion into the lower saloon, above the offside transverse seat. The loss of headroom would be no more than that entailed by a lowbridge side gangway: a very small price to pay for the virtue of having the bottom step 9" farther in from the platform edge. Until the mid-1920s it seems that body designers tried to get the bottom step as NEAR as possible to the platform edge, presumably so that passengers could leap straight up top from the street, leaving the platform free for those timid souls who preferred to travel inside. I’ve never understood why this hazardous arrangement persisted so long with some makers. Lowbridge bodies needed only 7 steps (6 treads), yet Leyland and MCW, for example, never took advantage of that, preferring their top step to stop about 9" back from the bulkhead or (Leyland) to give the top two steps 13.5" treads instead of 9".
Was standardisation of parts between lowbridge and highbridge a factor?
I love the Roe Safety Staircase: by intruding into the lower saloon you can bring the bottom step well inboard and therefore have a seat for three right at the back upstairs with no risk of bumping your head on the underside of that seat. Perfectly logical: you lose a seat downstairs and gain one on top. Much rarer was the pattern found on Burnley, Colne and Nelson deckers: the 9"x9" box was moved 4" forward and the step below it protruded downstairs just enough to fill the space above your shoulder but not enough to compromise headroom. With a bit of angling of the bottom few steps the stairs still touched ground far enough from the platform edge to allow a 3-seater at the back upstairs. Do any of these survive? I fancy I came across a similar arrangement on a bus in Yorkshire (Rotherham) but my wires may be crossed. Then there was the West Bridgford arrangement, and Alan Townsin’s mention of "semi-straight"and "side" staircases in his book on Park Royal, but I’d better not get carried away…

Ian Thompson

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Why not get carried away, Ian. It’s fascinating. It’s what real enthusiasm is – not just "bus spotting"! I can bore for Britain over Roe – my favourite builder – but it is interesting to discover that they weren’t the only builder doing a variation on safety staircases.

David Oldfield

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wow… talk about nostalgia. 
When going to Leeds I would often take "Sammy’s" route through Pudsey rather than the Leeds/Bradford joint route (72) through Stanningley Bottoms. I used the route the day after the closure. It just wasn’t the same with green municipal buses and a route number (78).
Do you have any images of my favourite Ledgard Regents, 1949/50 U before they assumed their West Yorkshire identities, DGW 11-12?
Charles

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Hello Charles – fear not, there are literally dozens of pictures around showing your two favourite vehicles at all ages – by the way with respect they became DAW 5/6. DGW 11/12 were the two Daimlers XUG 141 and SDU 711.

Chris Youhill

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Thanks for putting me right on the WY fleet numbers for 1949/50-U. I lost interest in these vehicles once they donned Tilling red but I still think Roe/AEC combos were vehicles made in heaven.
I marked my 57th year as a bus enthusiast when I hit the big 67 recently. Over the last 40 years I have observed the British scene from Australia so I am pleased that a young(er) member of the fraternity can take time out to refresh the ageing grey cells

Charles

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Ian,  I can only echo David’s wise words and there is no harm at all in being "carried away" by mature detailed discussion on any public transport topic. I have to admit that you have completely "baffled me with science" about the upper reaches of many staircases and, in all honesty I cannot remember what happened "up aloft" on GDK 401 – 405. However I am pretty certain that the top flight ended exactly at the bulkhead and that you then made use of the space behind the rear offside seat to proceed into the upper saloon – this was definitely the norm with Leyland bodies and also with the Park Royal relaxed utilities on the ex London D class Daimlers. I think the particular success of the East Lancashire formula arose from the fact that each tread seemed very generous and safe in depth and in lateral dimensions, hence my term "easy."

Chris Youhill

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I am trying to match the blue and cream colours of the Ledgard busses for somebody. Does anybody know the exact colour code? I’ve crossed checked RAl and British standard colours of the day but unfortunately cannot get it exactly right.

Kevin Harvey

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Rochdale withdrew AEC Regent III’s 201-205 out of sequence as the older Weymann bodied 7ft 6in Regent III’s 31-48 were kept for several more years. It was reported that the East Lancs 4 bay body design had inherent weakness and this could have been the reason. I remember riding on one of the batch shortly before they disappeared to Yorkshire and there was evidence of severe corrosion of the window pans inside the vehicle.
East Lancs standardised on 5 bay designs afterwards and this reputedly solved any problems. Rochdale’s final five Regent III’s had 5 bay bodies by East Lancs and these had full service lives. One is preserved.

Philip Halstead

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You are absolutely right about the window pans Philip and in fact Samuel Ledgard had them all replaced with newly manufactured ones – my picture at the top of this feature shows GDK 401 so fitted.

Chris Youhill

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25/04/11 – 17:57

Blue colour paints – you have to bear in mind that until the advent of purely chemical paints, blue was particularly prone to change of colour in its life, becoming darker and acquiring a purple sheen – this may explain the different views of the colour tone. I’m sure an expert in paint could explain this far more accurately.

Anon

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26/04/11 – 07:10

Further thoughts and hazy remembrance of silk screen printing… blue is a "translucent" colour and therefore the final colour may also depend on what is underneath. The darker the primer….

Joe

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27/04/11 – 07:20

It’s not only dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts that wax lyrical over Samuel Ledgard. On Easter Day I met a Leeds man who was down here visiting his family, and when I was introduced as a bus fanatic he immediately began to reminisce about his prewar schoolboy trips on Ledgard buses. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to go into detail, but then there never is…

Ian Thompson

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04/10/11 – 14:18

Just had to thank Chris Youhill for his comments regarding the book, Beer and Blue Buses, of which I have managed to track down a signed copy. Thanks again Chris, I look forward to reading it.

Roger Broughton

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