Old Bus Photos

Highland Omnibuses – Guy Arab – HGC 147 – E8

Highland Omnibuses - Guy Arab - HGC 147 - E8

Highland Omnibuses Ltd
Guy Arab II
Alexander L27/26RD (1952)

In July 1965 I did a tour of Scotland on a railrover – I think one week though it may have been two – the object of which was to cover as much of the existing passenger rail network as possible, many of the lines being threatened with closure at that time. There was little time to do any bus photography, as arrival in a town at the end of daylight with no booked accommodation meant that finding this was first priority. Then it would be up in the morning for the earliest appropriate departure.
One of the very few occasions where leisure was enforced was near the beginning of the adventure, on my arrival in the far north of Scotland. The railway timetable simply didn’t allow the Thurso and Wick branches to be covered exclusively by rail without an inordinate waste of time. Having arrived at Thurso around 4 pm, it was then a matter of finding a bus to take me to Wick, from where I would catch the early train back to Inverness.
Highland was very much the ‘Second-hand Rose’ of the Scottish Bus Group, particularly as far as double-deck buses were concerned. As far as I can make out, none were bought new between a Guy Arab IV in 1950 and a batch of Fleetlines in 1978.
Having observed (and photographed) a ‘new’ (1963) Lowlander – recently transferred from Central – on the Scrabster service, and a venerable former Scottish Omnibuses Arab II – still with utility body – on the town service to Mount Vernon, I was quite happy to see E8 as seen above turn into the High Street with its destination showing Wick.
HGC 147 began life as London Transport G368, a Guy Arab II with Massey H30/26R utility bodywork. LT’s Guys were always odd-men-out, so had a short life, being withdrawn with the expectation of sale for further use in the early 1950s. The Scottish Bus Group took a number of them, and 19 found their way to Western SMT who in 1952 replaced the utility bodies with smart new Alexander low-bridge bodies in their domed style. HGC 147 took WSMT fleet number 1005. 13 years later, the chassis now fully 20 years old, E8 was still looking smart.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Alan Murray-Rust

20/05/19 – 07:24

These Massey G’s were delivered in the second half of 1945 and probably had the weakest, certainly the most ugly, utility bodies of all LT’s vehicles of this type. ‘Ian’s Bus Stop’ website states that she was acquired for use on Dounray work. She certainly looks smart here and was finally retired in May 1967.

Chris Hebbron

23/05/19 – 06:57

As an afterthought, Alan, I’d hazard a guess that the drivers (and probably conductors) of these venerable vehicles, with austerity bodies or not, would have rued the day that they were ousted by the truly awful Albion Lowlander.

Chris Hebbron

09/06/19 – 10:51

The Guy Arab in its well known guise evolved entirely from the advent of the Second World War, and had it not done so, then, as respected author Robin Hannay confirms, the Guy company would probably have disappeared entirely by 1950. The original Arab FD model (the code stood for forward control type ‘D’, as the previous Guy buses had carried the letter ‘˜C’ – the ‘D’ did not, as often stated, stand for ‘diesel’) came on the market in 1933, carrying forward much of the design philosophy from the FC Invincible that preceded it, and, indeed, an FC demonstrator was rebuilt by Guy as an Arab. This early Arab design was conceived within the Leyland TD1 school of thought, with the engine, driving position and front bulkhead set back from the front axle; this enabled the accommodation of the Gardner 6LW engine, though the 5LW was the usual power unit. The neater front end structure of the AEC Regent had already arrived in 1929 and, strangely, the contemporary Guy trolleybuses did have a tidy frontal design. 1933 also heralded the appearance of the Leyland TD3 with a compact front end but the somewhat autocratic Sidney Guy maintained his own strong beliefs on the subject of bus design. The production run run of the original double deck Arab lasted until 1936, during which period about 50 were made, though Burton on Trent Corporation Transport, a confirmed user of the 4LW powered Arab in its single deck guise, took six more in 1940 and a further six in 1941. Between 1936 and the early years of the war Guy produced vehicles for the military, but even this activity trailed off when the orders for searchlight vehicles were cancelled as radar played a greater role in detecting enemy aircraft. With the outbreak of war all new bus production was halted, being slightly relaxed subsequently to permit the assembly of ‘unfrozen’ chassis. It soon became clear that something had to be done to meet the urgent need for new buses, and, in 1941, officialdom turned first to Leyland, but also (to general astonishment, since it had not been a significant double deck manufacturer for five years) to Guy. When Leyland withdrew due to the pressures of other wartime work, operator astonishment turned to apprehension that the industry’s needs were to be met solely by the Guy company. The original Arab design was clearly outdated and Major Chapple of Bristol offered Sidney Guy the drawings for the K5G, but Mr Guy was having none of it. His new bus would be a Guy, but the shape of the redesigned chassis showed very close similarities with that of that of the Leyland TD7 (a wartime version of which was originally expected to be supplied also), though established Guy transmission units were incorporated. The subsequent history of the Arab Utility is well documented, and its rugged dependability became legendary, even though the ‘˜back to front’ selector positions of the original crash gearbox was not a universally popular feature. However, London Transport drivers did not like the Arab, and the members of the G class were disposed of as soon as the new London Transport Executive could get rid of them, even though they were mechanically sound with years of life potentially ahead. In the booming post war public transport period there was a somewhat paranoid attitude by the Labour government about the disposal of nationalised undertakings’ assets to companies within the UK but outside the state fold, and very many of these Arabs were sold abroad instead. Even Edinburgh Corporation had a mighty struggle to get sixty surplus Arabs from LT. However, the Scottish Motor Traction group was nationalised in 1949 and thus became an acceptable recipient for former London machinery which, like HGC 147, then went on to give sterling service for very many years.

Roger Cox

10/06/19 – 07:41

I believe all London Transport’s Guy Utilities had the 5LW engine and this one, despite having the protruding radiator, appears to have had it’s upturned front wings cut back. It also retains the Arab II high bonnet line although I understand a conversion kit was available to achieve the lower bonnet line of the Arab III, perhaps Western thought the extra expense was unjustified – a shame really because it would have made a nice looking bus even better.

Chris Barker


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Highland Omnibuses – AEC Reliance – EWS 115D – BA26

EWS 115D

Highland Omnibuses
AEC Reliance 590 2U3RA
Alexander DP49F

Highland Omnibuses BA26 (EWS 115D) was a AEC Reliance with an Alexander Y-type body. It was new to Eastern Scottish, being transferred to Highland in mid-life. I have always thought that there is a fine line between coach and dual-purpose versions of the Y-type. This example was classed as a coach by Eastern Scottish, but was definitely dual-purpose by the time this photo was taken. It is seen approaching Upper Achintore (with Loch Linnhe in the background) on a Fort William local service.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Don McKeown

29/11/15 – 09:59

Don, I’ve always understood that the way to tell the difference between a Y bus and a Y coach was the number of side widows. The bus had more, smaller, windows while the coach, as illustrated here, had fewer and bigger ones.    . . . and as for the DP designation. I’ve always understood it was a bus body with coach seats, or fewer seats so as to make the longer journey more comfortable. Of course, going the other way, and downgrading a coach, you might cut down the seat backs, and put another row of seats in!

Pete Davies

29/11/15 – 14:45

I thought it was ‘coach’ seats but with ticket equipment fittings and power doors. Allowing the vehicle to be used on bus or coach services as required.

Ian Comley

30/11/15 – 06:47

Northern Scottish reseated some 53 bus seated Leopards to 49 dual purpose seats. The body had small windows!

Stephen Bloomfield

30/11/15 – 12:25

I was amused to see the three comments on the ‘DP question’ raised above because, on another forum site I visit, there has been a debate on this same subject in the past year that reached what must be a record number of postings! www.sct61.org.uk/zzvmp10ga

David Slater

01/12/15 – 06:07

The SCT61 site does indeed have a good number of comments, as David says, and almost as many points of view. The PSV used to be classed as HACKNEY on the tax disc, then it was BUS – I’m sure Mr & Mrs Smith would have been horrified to read that on their extended tour coach they were actually going by bus!
Some years ago, Southampton Citybus had a pair of what in a single decker might be regarded as DPs, but these were double deck buses, available for private hire. (Nigel Frampton may remember the E…HRV vehicles) On one occasion, I overheard comments about what a pity it was that, going along the M1, we couldn’t match the speed of "all these other coaches". Of course not, we were on a bus, then limited to 50mph while a coach was allowed 60. One morning, one of my travelling companions commented "Oh, good! A comfy bus this morning!" as one of these approached.

Pete Davies

01/12/15 – 09:58

Pete, there are no speed limit distinctions between ‘buses’ and ‘coaches’. Both were passenger service vehicles, now called passenger carrying vehicles. Buses intended for normal stop/start duties would have been geared accordingly, and this would have been reflected in the top speed. Some manufacturers, notably Dennis and Bristol, were early users of five speed gearboxes which gave their products a livelier performance on the road.

Roger Cox

01/12/15 – 11:41

Thank you for that nugget, Roger. I thought I had read somewhere that there WAS (even if there isn’t now) a distinction on speed limits. Perhaps it’s another example of the fugiting Mr Tempus!

Pete Davies

03/12/15 – 10:59

Speaking, buses and coaches were classified as PSV – public service vehicles, not passenger service vehicles. I know – I used to handle the PSV licensing in London. It was a strange description, more suited to dustbin lorries.

David Wragg

03/12/15 – 10:59

I understand that a bus or coach under 12 metres long, capable of travelling at more than 60 mph and built before 1988 does not require to be fitted with a speed limiter and thus, if capable, can travel at more than 60 mph on a motorway.

Stephen Bloomfield

03/12/15 – 11:00

Pete – I certainly do remember the Southampton Olympian DPs. I think the E-HRVs stayed at Southampton for a full working life, and I believe that one (at least) still exists. There were a couple of earlier ones as well, but they were sold to Bullock of Cheadle after only a few years, along with 4 Dominator buses (the C-BBP registered vehicles).
Although I contributed to that discussion on SCT’61 about the DP classification, I’m not sure I would recommend it to anyone as light reading! I think the point to remember is that the DP classification is a convenience for the benefit of enthusiasts, and dates from an era when documentation was virtually all on printed paper and photos were much less widely available. It was intended to distinguish vehicles which had physical features of both buses and coaches, rather than those which were purely buses or purely coaches. For example, bus shell bodies with coach seats, or coaches with bus seats. It has nothing to do with the actual use to which the vehicle is put; it needs to be capable of being determined based on simple observation; and it needs to be consistent for all vehicles regardless of operator. Operators tend to have their own codes, which suit their purposes, but differ, such that largely identical vehicles are classified differently by different operators.
Of course, once you have a reasonably clear photograph of the vehicle (or you can see it in the metal), then the code becomes academic – you can see what shape of bodywork it has, and generally get a good idea of the type of seats. Given the almost infinite variety of combinations that have been built over the years, it is inevitable that there will be one or two anomalies when using a simple coding system of that nature, but that does not invalidate the code itself.

Nigel Frampton

03/12/15 – 11:01

Enthusiasts generally use the PSV Circle definition of DP, which is a bus shell with coach seats, or, very occasionally, a coach shell with bus seats. Operators often had their own definitions, which sometimes had more to do with what they wanted to do with the vehicle than its physical properties. It isn’t unusual to find a vehicle where the PSV Circle code is different from the operator’s.
I’m surprised that Don says Eastern Scottish classed this vehicle as a coach, because it was new as ZB115, and in the SCT61 discussion it was stated that Z meant dual-purpose.

Peter Williamson

04/12/15 – 06:06

In Eastern Scottish fleet numbers shown on single deck vehicles were prefixed by a letter or letters. A vehicle with only one letter before the fleet number denoted the vehicle type and also that is classified it as a bus. However the additional letters were as follows:
C Citylink coach
X Toilet fitted coach.Used on vehicles that operated on the services between Edinburgh and London.
Y non toilet fitted coach, often without any bulkhead behind the driver. Also not capable of being OPO operated. In many instances had the same type of seat fitted as those vehicles classed as a coach.
Z Dual purpose vehicle.
In other SBG companies a 49 seat Y type with high backed seats would be classed as a coach.

Stephen Bloomfield

04/12/15 – 06:07

Yes, David, you’re right. Public Service Vehicles. A slip of the mind and fingers. I acted as advocate for LCBS in the Traffic Courts for more than ten years, so senility is clearly upon me.

Roger Cox

04/12/15 – 06:08

Thank you, gents, for your further thoughts on what is or is not a DP . . .

Pete Davies

11/12/15 – 06:57

Highland tended to put all the OPO-capable coaches it got second-hand (like this one) into the Poppy Red and Peacock Blue bus livery; even toilet-fitted Bristol RELHs.

Stephen Allcroft

04/06/16 – 06:36

It might be correct that a coach earlier than a certain date, and with certain specification may not need to be fitted with a speed limiter but it is certainly not correct that it can travel at more than 60 mph. The legislation regarding speed limits and speed limiters is completely separate although the latter may have been introduced to facilitate the former. The 60mph rule was introduced before speed limiters became necessary.

Malcolm Hirst

05/06/16 – 07:14

A bus or coach under 12m long is theoretically allowed 70mph on motorways (but only 60 on dual carriageways and 50 on single carriageways) irrespective of when it was built. The government web-page does point out that the (compulsory) speed limiter may prevent a vehicle from reaching the permissible speed limit. See https://www.gov.uk/speed-limits

Stephen Ford

07/08/20 – 06:51

EWS 115D was one of two vehicles from this batch allocated to Berwick depot for use on the long Edinburgh – Berwick – Newcastle 505/506 services. The other was EWS 114D which depot staff at Berwick always viewed as the more reliable of the two. Nontheless these two vehicles gave sterling service in their Eastern Scottish days. It was only when United, with whom the 505/6 were jointly operated, started using downgraded Bristol RE coaches displaced from their London service that United operated anything comparable!

Peter Martin


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Highland Omnibuses Ltd – Guy Arab UF – KWO 37 – K47

Highland Omnibuses Ltd - Guy Arab UF - KWO 37 - K47

Highland Omnibuses Ltd
Guy Arab UF
Duple C37F

Back in the days of half-cabs, most coaches were distinguishable from single-deck buses by their window line. On buses this was straight and level, but on coaches it usually formed a gentle curve from the focal point of bonnet and cab down towards the rear. Later, when the engine of heavyweight coaches disappeared under the floor, there was no longer such a strong focal point, and at first the coach building industry was undecided as to whether to continue in the old tradition or to produce something as straight and symmetrical as the new chassis. Duple hedged its bets and did both, offering a choice between the curvy Ambassador and the straight-laced Roadmaster.
Nicknamed the Iron Duke by those who built it, the Roadmaster was famously much more successful as a Dinky Toy model than it was in the real world, but it did have one big fan in the Red & White group, which purchased 21 spacious 37-seaters on Guy Arab UF chassis as well as a lone Leyland Royal Tiger. After withdrawal, some of the Arab UFs were sold to Highland Omnibuses, an avid Guy user, for bus work, where they formed an unusually sumptuous form of local transport! This one was photographed in Inverness Bus Station in June 1968.

To view a shot of the Ambassador body style click here.

Photograph and copy contributed by Peter Williamson

23/06/12 – 05:54

I find it surprising that some of the really obscure "real" vehicles seem to have been incredibly popular when converted to toy or model form. The Roadmaster is a classis example, along with the Dinky Commer/Harrington in BOAC livery.
I suppose it must have depended on the original operators’ preferences, but these Roadmasters look considerably different from those which Standerwick had, and on which the Dinky seems to be based.

Pete Davies

KWO 37 is a Duple WORLDMASTER not a Roadmaster. Ex Red and White. Similarities with the ‘Roadmaster’ are obvious.



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