Old Bus Photos

Maidstone & District – AEC Reliance – TKM 329 – C329

Maidstone & District - AEC Reliance - TKM 329 - C329
Copyright Chris Hough

Maidstone & District Motor Services Ltd
AEC Reliance  MU3RV
Harrington C37C

A recent posting led to a discussion about the relative importance in a PSV of economy, reliability and good looks, and I picked this vehicle as an example that in my opinion embraces all three qualities. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and my personal preferences may not be shared by others, but the lines of these coaches always seemed to me to be well-balanced and elegant in an understated way, if, perhaps, a trifle old-fashioned. The styling of the roofline around the destination indicator was a treatment popular with many coach builders and operators for front-engined vehicles, but by the mid-1950s, the effect had become a bit dated. Very appealing, nevertheless, and the epitome of high quality and pedigree.
Sadly, C329 doesn’t look its best in the photo – absolutely no criticism of Chris’s camera work, but following withdrawal it’s become scruffy and the sun’s angle casts a shadow that exaggerates the front windscreen divisions. Also, the ‘moustache’ beading may seem fussy, but it was almost an M&D trademark. I’d be grateful for other correspondents’ views on C329’s attractiveness or otherwise.
[This link will show C328, in rather smarter condition.]
M&D were substantial Harrington customers for many years and they had almost 50 vehicles of this design in their extensive, (I’d say excessive), coach fleet. By the time I joined, they had been withdrawn from front line express duties, however, and were kept mainly to provide summer capacity. Like every underfloor-engined AEC I ever drove, their road manners were impeccable. Even the prospect of a spell at the wheel was a pleasure to look forward to. They were also both economical and very reliable.
Inside, these coaches were not, perhaps, as light and airy as some of their contemporaries, but there was no sense of claustrophobia. On the contrary, they conveyed an atmosphere of relaxation, reinforced by the wonderfully comfortable seats and by their extraordinary quietness. Their main drawback, (only drawback as far as I’m concerned), was the centre entrance, which made it uneconomic to convert them to other uses.

Photo by Chris Hough. Many thanks for his kind permission to use it.

Copy contributed by Roy Burke

A full list of Reliance codes can be seen here.

17/08/12 – 07:22

6 of this batch were acquired by Yorkshire Woollen where they were nicknamed Gunboats by the crews.TKM 304/26/347/348/9/5O were numbered 435-440. They were purchased to replace a similar number of Commer/Beadles. Another member of the batch was purchased by Hebble Motor Services at Halifax to replace an ex Red Line Reliance that was a fire victim. After YWD they went on to an operator called Davies of Ferryhill County Durham except for 436 that was broken up by YWD after a bad accident.

Philip Carlton

17/08/12 – 07:23

As a northern boy I didn’t get to see the inside. My personal view of the outside is of a fine looking coach. Perhaps one-too-many windows/panels. One less, but slightly longer would have enhanced the appearance, and the roofline over the front is not enhanced by the application of the livery. In my opinion the cream area should have followed the outline of the roof – then- almost perfection. No doubt others will say tosh, but that’s my thought.

Les Dickinson

17/08/12 – 10:26

The box for the fleetname over the destination and service number boxes doesn’t help the outline. Either omit the fleetname or omit the service number box and have the destination and fleetname side by side. Then use another BET operator’s style of livery (Ribble or Southdown) and it would make quite a lot of difference. As we are, it seems a feeble attempt at imitating the Silver Star front dome.

Pete Davies

17/08/12 – 12:32

As a Kentishman I have to say I can’t see anything wrong with the livery or layout of the destination!
Shame to see this looking so scruffy though – I remember these coaches featuring on the cover of M&D’s tours brochures which were captioned "Over the hills and far away".
The Silver Star "headboard" was an abomination on this design and ruined an otherwise graceful look.
All these things are of course subjective…

Andrew Goodwin

17/08/12 – 12:33

Roy is right about the state of the coach and very kind about my photograph! The coach was parked in a back street in Preston and was certainly not in the M&D fleet! Like a number of fifties coaches these seem to be built like the proverbial brick Outhouse!

Chris Hough

17/08/12 – 16:29

I have to disagree with Andrew on this one – I thought that the Silver Star Wayfarer Mark 2s were vastly improved by their headboards, unlike that operator’s all-Leyland Royal Tigers and Burlingham Seagull which really did look atrocious. Preservationists seem to agree with me as both MMR 552 and 553 are still with us, and the owner of "553" once told me that there was a waiting list of people who wanted to buy the coach from him at any reasonable price. If I ever win the jackpot in the lottery I will outbid them all!

Neville Mercer

There is a posting of them both together coming shortly. Watch this space as they say.


18/08/12 – 07:40

In my opinion, which doesn’t count for much…I think that destination information on the front of bus/coaches should always be upright so that reflections are reduced and they become easier for those of us whose sight is not 20/20 to read at a glance. Obviously that would not tie in very well with the design of this coach, but I must admit that the picture of it in the link is very smart and clean…

Norman Long

20/08/12 – 08:05

Funny: until this very moment I’ve looked at photographs of these vehicles and thought "M&D coach, nice": but all of a sudden the affinity with some nasty little Gurney-Nutting(?) bodied Commers(?) has struck me, and now I just find them hideous. Why? The "pinched-in front", the way the front dome just seems to push the already squeezed-in front down, giving a sort of hump-backed appearance to the whole thing – and there are too many windows, which (on their own) I could live with. Ugh. In full M&D rig and in the context of when they were built it might have been a different story . . .

Philip Rushworth

20/08/12 – 09:08

Philip, nice to see there are people who can call "the Emperor’s new clothes" in the face of popular opinion.
M & D vehicles were just magnificently turned out, but I never rated these Harringtons. They got it very right with the Cavalier/Grenadier but the Bedford/Ford versions were hideous and the Legionnaire not much better. Balanced design again – you either have or you don’t.

David Oldfield

20/08/12 – 14:02

I’ve held back until now on commenting about these Harrington bodies, but seeing that Philip Rushworth and David Oldfield have entered less than rhapsodic views about them, I will say that I always thought them to be incredibly ugly vehicles. Just compare the styling with other contemporary designs using curved corner glasses at the front – the classic ECW LS coach, for example. Harrington did very much better with the Cavalier.

Roger Cox

24/08/12 – 08:36

Who’d build coach bodies – it’s a fickle market isn’t it? driven by fashion, rather than by loyalty. Burlingham got it right with the "original" Seagull then missed the "zeitgeist" with subsequent offerings; as did Harrington with the Cavalier/Grenadier; Duple seemed to judge the market right for many years until gradually loosing the plot and fading away in the 80s(?); and Plaxton seems have picked up from the mid-1960s with the introduction of the Panorama. However, history seems to suggest the Plaxton’s days are numbered, and that they are due to misjudge the market and enter decline (look what happened to Leyland et. al.) . . . but there aren’t any more British coach builders to take their place!

Philip Rushworth

24/08/12 – 12:24

You’re so right Philip. Duple lost the plot and went bust at the end of the ’80s – when Plaxton bought their intellectual rights. Duple’s is a very sad story inexorably linked with a certain Mr Ford who had previously fallen out with Plaxton and moved over to Duple – hence the vague similarity between the Panorama Elite and the Dominant.

David Oldfield

24/08/12 – 12:25

Seems I’m in a small minority in liking this design. At the risk of losing whatever tiny credibility I might ever have had in these pages, however, I remain unrepentant.

Roy Burke

24/08/12 – 15:43

You’re still welcome and entirely entitled to your own opinions, Roy. There are times when – in my professional, musical life – I differ from my colleagues. Grown ups accept each other, regardless (and I think most of us are grown up on this forum).

David Oldfield

11/02/13 – 13:27

You’re not alone Roy, I like the Wayfarer 2 style as well. I don’t think it was as nice as the later Wayfarer 4 but for an early 1950s body, I think it was quite stylish. It did make an attempt to get away from just being a box, which is so easy on an underfloor flat front single decker. I think Harrington bodies were all of real quality and generally well styled (with as always the obligatory exception). They were certainly better looking than many of the competitors’ efforts.

Gordon Mackley

14/06/13 – 07:31

The Reliance Harrington C37C don’t remember them even though grew up with M & D but can say I was on one just last week don’t remember batch but sure worked all over the M & D patch ended its days think in Bexhill can say a very impressive coach so as they say watch this space soon be out of hiding.


TKM 329_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

08/06/15 – 16:08

Maidstone and District’s Wayfarer 2 bodies came on three different types of chassis and they were each very different. The most numerous (in terms of both vehicles and photos) were the AEC Reliances. The Leyland Royal Tiger versions had central entrances like the AECs and might have been expected to be the same but in fact had vertical rather than sloping window pillars. The Commer Contender versions were of a completely different configuration, having front entrances. Interestingly the centre entrance coaches had front offside emergency exits and the front entrance Contenders centre ones!

Gordon Mackley


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West Riding – AEC Reliance – JHL 717 – 817

West Riding - AEC Reliance - JHL 717 - 817
Copyright Chris Hough

West Riding Automobile
AEC Reliance
Roe B44F

In the nineteen fifties West Riding bought very few batches of saloons They were used on a selection of routes. Seen in Leeds bus station is a Roe bodied AEC Reliance fleet number 817 registration JHL 717 which dates from 1956. It is on the "back roads route" from Leeds to Castleford via Swillington and Fryston. West Riding did not always bother with route numbers as is evident from this shot The bus certainly shows the effect of road grime on paintwork as it stands in Leeds bus station in 1967.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Hough

01/08/12 – 07:19

Odd design- front not very Roe? It may well have picked that spray up that day on that back roads route- could be off the fields or clay slurry from mining. Note the single mini-wiper and the gloop around its perimeter, the state of the wheels/tyres and (possibly) the wet muck behind the rear wheels. It got better when the windows were covered too- that’s where the idea for the all-over adverts came from.
Nearly on thread: West Riding’s successors, Arriva, have just managed to provide a new batch of deckers with facing fore and aft seats over the rear wheels. Now where do the local yobbery put their muddy feet/boots? Arriva are now providing notices to try to stop people dirtying their clothes on muddy seats. Come back practical designers… conductors… inspectors!!


01/08/12 – 08:53

Actually, very Roe, Joe. For a time in the early fifties, this droopy windscreen was a feature of Roe saloons – and distinguished them from their Park Royal cousins built on the same frames. I like your theory about the origins of contra-vision adverts, though!

David Oldfield

01/08/12 – 11:59

As we Geordies would say "wor bairns hacky mucky" rough translation "the baby is in need of a wash"

Ronnie Hoye

01/08/12 – 12:01

What a dismal scene! Obviously a grotty day, when some photographers would leave the camera at home because of a) the weather and b) the resulting dirty appearance of the vehicle. There are some photographers of buses who capture only "pristine" views but there is a real world out there and it often happens that the cleaners can’t keep pace with the weather. It may just happen that the photographer is on holiday and wants to record the local transport. I know that doesn’t apply in this case, but what’s the photographer supposed to do, come back next year and hope the same bus is still in service?
Very atmospheric, and the black and white print enhances that. Thanks for sharing.
Interesting comment from Joe regarding back to back seating over the rear wheels. I first noticed this with Bolton Corporation, but the idea still persists. The original idea was to have greater seating capacity. The inward facing arrangement seems to me to be far better. Clearly, a candidate for the "nice idea, but . . ." file!

Pete Davies

01/08/12 – 15:38

While "facing seats" are not by any means ideal the abuse of them on both buses and trains is absolutely abominable. Its almost certain that, as you walk past any stationary bus, if you look inside you will see passengers with their filthy footwear planted on the opposite seat – and not just placed there either – there will be plenty of "scrubbing" in every direction just to plant more filth and to cause as much wear to the material as possible. It might be thought that those responsible would just be the yobs of Society, but not a bit of it – the culprits are just as likely to be smartly dressed businessmen or secretarial young ladies. It is a despicable and costly habit, of which the perpetrators are fully aware and, apart from the burden placed on transport operators, the ruination of decent peoples hard earned nice clothing is scandalous. In summary the phrase "Blow you Jack I’m alright" springs to mind, and in reality there can be no cure for it – its sadly just another sign of "Today."

Chris Youhill

01/08/12 – 17:37

You’re dead right, Joe and Chris. However, it seems to be a universal problem. I remember once risking my life by photographing a couple of youths on a German train with their feet on the seat directly under a large and unambiguous"Halten Sie Füße weg von den Sitzen"(or similar) sign and graphic image. Needless to say, they just laughed at me, but (who knows) maybe the memory of the occasion may just hit home to one of them in years to come? Staff, particularly on railways, rarely bother to challenge the offenders as they prefer a quiet life, and who can blame them? However, one can sometimes come unstuck by making big assumptions – like the time I worked myself into a Victor Meldrew Harumph on seeing a lady with outstretched legs onto the opposite seat in a first class carriage. I was on the brink of saying something when I thankfully noticed that she had removed her shoes and placed a newspaper on the seat to rest her stockinged feet! Phew! Nearly an "I’ll get my coat……." moment!

Paul Haywood

02/08/12 – 07:12

Would, the would be perpetrators on arriving home put their muddy /dirty shoes on their own furniture thus defiling their property, I think not.

David Henighan

02/08/12 – 07:13

Sometimes a bit of sarcasm works wonders, when I was at Armstrong Galley one of our drivers had a notice in his coach ‘if the floor is full please don’t hesitate to use the litter bin’ strangely enough it seemed to work

Ronnie Hoye

02/08/12 – 07:13

I acknowledge your knowledge, David. I was thinking of exclusive Roe users like Doncaster, but at that time they were still on half cabs! Underfloor came much later.


02/08/12 – 07:14

I thoroughly agree with Joe regarding back to back seating over rear wheel arches, they seem to be obligatory with modern day low floor buses. I witnessed one of Stagecoach leather coach seated Scania/ALX 400’s when only days old being so treated despite various notices asking that it not be done.
When I was a driver I would wherever possible make a point of loudly asking for all feet to be taken off all seats it seemed popular with most passengers except the thoughtless culprits, as Chris says another sign of "today" I’m glad that I retired 9 years ago.

Diesel Dave

02/08/12 – 07:15

I wholeheartedly agree about the comments made about yobs (and non yobs) putting their feet on the back to back seats, who knows what they could have stood in? A few years ago I went for a lengthy trip on the Yorkshire Coastliner service between Leeds and Scarborough and felt the need to contact the company about some matter or other, I honestly can’t remember what it was now. Anyway, I took the opportunity to mention that this seating arrangement was not ideal for such a long journey and that people sat on the back seat tended to use the facing seat as a footrest. Coastliner’s suggestion was that I should have had a word with the perpetrators!

Dave Towers

02/08/12 – 11:18

Dave Towers received a somewhat pathetic and "resigned" reply from Coastliner – did they also include a list of A & E departments along the route where Dave could receive attention to his injuries after the quite likely "smack in t’ mouth" which could result from "having a word."
I share Diesel Dave’s sentiments and I am glad that I retired eleven years ago – the level of appalling conduct by too many passengers is now beyond a joke – and I loved the career to a passion – so I can well understand how most drivers who are doing the job "just for a living" must feel.

Chris Youhill

02/08/12 – 11:20

Joe. This comes down to personal experience – if you had never come across the droopy screens then you would assume they did not exist, or were an aberration. I happen to be a Roe fan/"expert" – but presumably, with Doncaster connections, so are you. I’ve been caught out in the past myself.

David Oldfield

02/08/12 – 17:12

Tough attitude of passengers both young and old can be yobbish but to a degree the companies are also at fault. In Leeds the interior of vehicles are often filthy with old newspapers, tickets etc on buses just out of the depot. Minor vandalism such as graffiti is left in situ so Joe Public see an unloved uncared for bus that they think hmm the company don’t care why should I. I am old enough to remember buses smelling of disinfectant on leaving the depot not last nights takeaway!

Chris Hough

02/08/12 – 17:13

I seem to remember being told that the reason for the demise of inward facing seats over wheelarches, in favour of back to back ones, was an ‘elfen safety’ issue. It was reckoned that passengers could fall off these seats too easily when the bus cornered (yes, they did actually sometimes!).
I agree entirely with all the above sentiments regarding inconsiderate, yobbish behaviour on buses these days, and as someone who still has to drive buses for a living (albeit part-time now, after nearly 40 years full-time) for a major operator, it is heartening to know that at least a few of you sympathise with the hopeless situation we find ourselves in.
All too often, present day bus drivers are criticised for being uncaring and disinterested, and held totally to blame for the state of the industry today. Physically we may have it easier with our automatic gearboxes, power-steering and computerised ticket machines – no more grappling with crash boxes, heavy steering or snipping away at piles of Willebrew tickets etc. – but the job is much more stressful, frustrating and demoralising in a host of different ways that the PSV drivers and conductors of yesteryear could never envisage.
Passengers often complain that the "bus driver should have done something" when there has been yobbish, unsocial behaviour taking place but, as Chris rightly implies, one is certainly putting oneself at risk of abuse – at the very least of the foul verbal kind, and quite possibly of the violent physical kind – if one intervenes. It’s just not worth it.
The companies pay lip service to their official intolerance of this kind of behaviour, but otherwise just ignore the issue – probably for fear of appearing too authoritarian. Even yobs are fare-paying passengers so we must not upset them too much.

John Stringer

03/08/12 – 07:55

I remember these buses coming through Dewsbury on the joint West Riding/Yorkshire Woollen service 3 to Cullingworth. I believe one is being prepared at the Dewsbury Bus Museum.

Philip Carlton

09/08/12 – 09:30

If I may climb back over the seats to the subject of Roe Underfloor Designs of the 50’s…. checking with Peter Gould’s list, I see that Doncaster actually bought a single centre entrance Regal IV in 1951…it must have been a sort of Festival of Britain experimental fling, because they also bought the two 8ft double deckers- Regent III and CVD6- which they sold on as two wide (for the streets or the washer- the jury is out) and then the two all-Leyland PD2’s which were the last non-Roe deckers ever bought and, trolley-bodied, lasted nearly 20 years: the next year, I see they bought nothing! Anyway… the party was clearly over and they reverted to half cab Regal IIIs in 1953, which were more typical of this traditional fleet. But… my point is that I have found a pic of 21 and it doesn’t have droopy windscreens… angled two piece, it seems…… so the droopy screens came later…


11/08/12 – 07:27

Pontypridd U.D.C. had three 1957 Guy Arab LUF’s with Roe rear-entrance bodies and ‘droopy’ windscreens – try this link:- www.sct61.org.uk/  Lancashire United Transport had some Atkinson PM746H’s with Roe bodies with similar fronts also, see:- www.flickr.com/photos/

John Stringer

11/08/12 – 09:20

I’ll throw another one at you Joe. You mentioned square screens on Regal IVs – just like Sheffield’s 12 – 14. The droopies were only on Reliances (and contemporary underfloors) which would make them 1953 onwards – but still from "the early fifties".

David Oldfield

12/08/12 – 07:21

As Manuel said… I learn… I learn. Curious that the "square" underfloor body designs look better or more modern…like that Pennine Royal Tiger.


16/11/12 – 09:04

John mentions (02/08/12) the yobbish attitude of passengers sadly this attitude to other peoples property is prevalent in all walks of life. I work in the NHS and we have a constant problem with mindless vandalism to furniture in particular. I once asked a culprit if he would do the same to his own property and was met with a torrent of four letter words and told I pay your effin wages so shut it.

Chris Hough

Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

04/07/14 – 07:41

You get a fine from Merseyrail Electrics if you put your feet on their seats. There are signs up warning about it and they seem to work. Not that I use their trains very often.

Geoff Kerr


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Hanson – AEC/Hanson Regent – TVH 497 – 361

Hanson - AEC/Hanson Regent - TVH 497 - 361                     Copyright Eric Bawden

AEC/Hanson Regent
Roe H37/28F

Here we have a picture I took at Sandtoft around 1972/3.
This bus started life in 1950 with Hanson of Huddersfield as an AEC Regal III 9621E with a Duple C33F body, registration EVH 805 fleet number 295. To ‘modernise it’ in 1954 Hanson had Plaxton remove the front bulkhead and build a Venturer style full front on it. It was then renumbered 326.

Hanson - AEC/Hanson Regent - TVH 497 - 361

In 1961 Hansons’ rebuilt the chassis and had a new Roe H37/28F body fitted, re-registered it as TVH 497 and gave it fleet number of 361. Numerically it was the seventh rebuild in the series, the fourth double decker and the first front entrance decker. It passed to Huddersfield Corporation with the stage carriage operations of Hansons’ on 1st October 1969.
Thornes of Bubwith acquired it in October 1970 as their no. 57. Although listed as being withdrawn and scrapped in Thornes own lists in May 1972, it was eventually acquired for preservation.
It is seen in the above colour shot in as acquired condition and what appears to be ex Aachen 22, a 1956 Henschell trolleybus with Ludewig body along side it. As this trolleybus is kept at the Sandtoft Transport Centre one must assume 361’s destination blind is telling the truth! I’m afraid I didn’t keep records of the pictures I took in those days so have to rely on detective work to place and date them.
Sadly 361’s career as a preserved bus didn’t last very long, I believe it suffered a catastrophic engine failure and was sold for scrap.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Eric Bawden

13/07/12 – 09:08

Thanks for posting. I have in my "bought" collection a view of VVH 348 which, by that time, had migrated to the Porthcawl Omnibus Company.

Pete Davies

13/07/12 – 17:12

Pete, That would be 368 when with Hanson, rebuilt in 1962 from 1949 Roe H31/25R bodied Regent III 285, ECX 414.

Eric Bawden

14/07/12 – 07:39

Unfortunately I don’t believe 361 suffered any catastrophic failure at all, but was just sold. It was kept here where I live in Greenfield, less than five minutes walk from where I now live, along with various other vehicles including my own. It just disappeared one day and I was annoyed about it at the time and even more so now, as it is a genuine Saddleworth bus which would have appeared frequently on the Oldham service which ran past Greenfield station.
The shame is that, had it survived at Thorne’s, even out of use, a bit longer it might have joined their fleet of splendidly-restored vehicles.

David Beilby

14/07/12 – 11:23

I was always under the impression that a conrod came through the engine block and that is why it was scrapped. It did get repainted in an approximation of Hanson livery but the shade of red was far too dark, almost maroon. There are some photos about of it in these colours. The correct shade was a Dulux colour called Wexham Red.
I did know the owner at one time but it is many, many years since I lost contact with him.

Eric Bawden

18/06/17 – 07:02

I bought 361 from Thornes and moved it initially to Sandtoft. It was then subsequently moved to Huddersfield goods yard where it was repainted into Wexham Red. The bus subsequently moved to a mill yard in Greenfield where it received the engine from Morecambe 57.
361 attended some rallies in the mid seventies and visited Shildon for the anniversary in 1975 (?).
The bus was sold in serviceable condition when I got married in 1976.

Bill Roberts


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