Old Bus Photos

Hargreaves of Bolton – Foden PVSC6 – EWH 195

Hargreaves of Bolton - Foden PVSC6 - EWH 195
Copyright Ian Wild

Hargreaves of Bolton
Foden PVSC6
Whitson RC35C

This great shot was taken at the Botanical Gardens Rhyl in August 1963 and at the time the above vehicle was owned by the Foden Sports and Social Club but it was delivered new to Hargreaves of Bolton. Bodywise is it called an Observation Coach or an Half-deck Coach? I can understand why it ended up with a sports a social club I should imagine that the large luggage locker came in handy for carrying all that equipment. Another question regarding this type of body I have is, were they limited to double decker regulations of length and weight for example or were the single decker lengths and weights allowed?
The PVSC6 had the Gardner 6LW 8·4 litre six cylinder diesel engine there was the option of the Gardner 5LW 7·0 litre five cylinder diesel engine in which case it was designated the PVSC5. In 1949 the Foden FE6 4·0 litre two stroke diesel engine was available which was designated the PVFE6 but only 52 PVFE6s were built as the series was superseded by the rear engined PVR in 1950.

Photograph contributed by Ian Wild

I can’t answer any of the technical questions about this coach, but I always remember these because Dinky Toys made one in the late 1950s and I had one; but to this day I’ve never seen an example of the real thing. There’s an example of the Dinky version here.


Yes, KC – I’d forgotten about these. I used to have one. Weren’t they Maudsleys? It would be interesting to know why Dinky should choose such an unusual design of body and comparatively rare chassis for their model, especially when they were soon to become obsolete in style.

Paul Haywood

Didn’t Dinky do one in BOAC livery? I seem to remember the full-sized versions plying between Heathrow and the BOAC city terminal somewhere near Gloucester Road station – in the days before Heathrow Express, or even the extension of the Piccadilly Line beyond Hounslow West.

Stephen Ford

A couple of model makers made versions of airline-related coaches.
Dinky did this.
Matchbox did this.


Its an observation coach, and Whitson built them on Maudslay, Leyland, AEC, and Foden chassis between 1949 and 1952. A half-deck coach is a different beast altogether using the patented "Crellin-Duplex" design where upper and lower deck seating was arranged to cram as many people in as possible using interlocking "railway compartment" style seating. The end result looked more like a two-level horsebox than a PSV! In prewar years Duple built a few observation coaches (I seem to remember one for an operator in South Wales) but in the post-war period Whitson had a virtual monopoly. The only other post-war example which springs to mind is the Mulliner bodied Morris-Commercial built for the Morris Works Band. This is preserved at the Oxford Bus Museum, but sadly none of the magnificent Whitson vehicles has survived.
The most famous Whitson observation coaches were the Fodens used by Salopia, but Dinky Toys chose to use a Maudslay supplied (in real life) to Embankment of Plymouth as the prototype for their scale model.
The airport coaches you mention were (in a sense) observation coaches, and share the same PSV Circle body prefix (RC) but all of those used by BEA in London (bodywork by Park Royal) and by MCTD in Manchester (bodied by Burlingham and Bond) had a continuous roofline rather than the "stepped" arrangement of a true observation coach, Liverpool Corporation converted a few (previously conventional) single-deckers to this "stepped roof" format in the late 1950s for their own airport service. The vehicles which resulted were not an aesthetic triumph!

Neville Mercer

07/02/11 – 06:04

As has already been pointed out, there was a world of difference between the Observation Coach style and that of the Half-Decker. Both were built to the (then) size limits for single deckers, rather than being restricted to the double decker dimensions. This applied regardless of whether they were mounted on front-engined chassis or rear-engined/underfloor-engined chassis. EWH 195 was one of a pair supplied to Hargreaves of Bolton, the other one being EBN 898. Both were supplied as PVSC6 chassis (Gardner 6LW), but after Fodens acquired EWH 195 they fitted a Foden two-stroke engine, effectively converting it to PVFE6 specification. Incidentally, you can tell the difference between front engined Gardner powered and Foden powered PSVs by the position of the starting handle hole. In the case of the Gardner engine the hole is dead centre, whereas it is slightly offset to the offside when a Foden engine was fitted.

Peter Tulloch

14/04/11 – 05:00

I should imagine this was carrying the Foden band who performed all over the country, they had several Fodens over the years, some had a bandmaster mascot on the rad cap, a uniformed conductor (the musical type) waving a baton.

Bryan Yates

05/10/11 – 17:28

I too had the Dinky model but I also remember the actual bus around North Wales when I was a small boy in the late 1950’s-early 1960’s. I lived in Broughton and we always holidayed further up the coast so saw this bus quite regularly. I also liked the cream-liveried Crosville buses which seemed more exotic than the all green or green and cream Chester buses.
Happy days!

Paul Eaton-Jones

25/10/11 – 07:19

I agree with Bryan Yates’ assumption that this coach was carrying the Fodens Brass Band. My father was a Machine Shop Foreman until his death in 1964, and I can remember seeing the bus now and then around the Elworth works – if memory serves me well it was grey and blue, and sounded as though it had the 2-stroke engine. No doubt the extra storage was useful for the band instruments. On another note, I saw a red half-cab Foden coach at Astle Park steam rally in August – still in the Coppenhalls (Sandbach) coach firm’s livery. Lovely memories!

Malcolm Riley

27/07/12 – 14:50

Reference to Malcolm’s comments about the blue and grey coach for the Foden Works Band….
I was sent a photo a couple of days ago from a friend in the UK who saw what is probably this gorgeous looking old lady just last week at a rally in Newbury….If I knew how to load photos on to this site I’d do it, but maybe a quick Google would stir the memory cells into action, and might also provide more information about its current owners’ show schedule and dates….

Stuart C

27/07/12 – 15:51

Ah….An hour later and I would be kicking myself unmercifully if the old limbs could bend that far….
The old lady I was going on about is not only already well known on here…. www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/  
But ever a star, she even has her own page on Wikipedia…. //de.wikipedia.org/  
I’m sure that it’s just an age thing on my part, but what an absolutely wonderful example of what a British coach was meant to look like….

Stuart C

28/07/12 – 08:40

She’s a very attractive vehicle and the colour scheme certainly enhances her looks, too, Stuart.

Chris Hebbron

14/09/12 – 06:57

Beautiful Vehicle, Astons Coaches Marton operated HUJ 997 Foden PVFR Observation Coach Whitson. They also operated a Foden Crellin Duplex mentioned above KWT 976 with a Lincs Trailer Body as well as two other Crellin Duplex with Mann Egerton. Various other Fodens were operated including well known NBH 950 and JWY 999

David Aston

13/05/13 – 15:25

How many Whitson Observation Coaches were made.

David Aston

02/02/15 – 07:14

I’ve just been doing some research on Whitson’s observation coaches and the answer to "how many were built" seems to be 32 or 33. The biggest customer was the US Air Force which took either nine or ten (depending on which source you believe!) on 30 ft long Crossley SD42/9 chassis. These received the USAF serial numbers N967-976 (or N969-977 in one version, hence the discrepancy in total build numbers). They carried pseudo-Foden radiator grilles at the request of the customer and were delivered in 1951 for use on personnel transfers and by assorted USAF military bands. They appear to have been withdrawn in 1959 and at least one of them (N975) was subsequently sold to a civil operator (Peters of Llanarmon) as TCA 309. It was scrapped in 1962. Next came Salopia Saloon Coaches of Whitchurch and Embankment of Plymouth with five each. Salopia’s were all on Foden chassis, one of the shorter version on PVSC6 chassis (GAW 86), a 30ft long PVFE6 (GUJ 243) and three of the 30 ft version on rear-engined PVRF6s (HUJ 996/7 and JAW 334). Embankment took two on Maudslay Marathon IIIs (EJY 123/4), two on AEC Regal IIIs (FDR 52/3) and one on a Foden PVSC6 (GCO 946).
Four operators had two each. Hargreaves of Bolton took EBN 898 and EWH 195 on Foden PVSC6 chassis, HS Knight of Northampton received BNH 301 (Maudslay Marathon III) and BNH 302 (AEC Regal III), AE Marsh T/A Black and White of Harvington (Worcs) had Marathon IIIs HNP 875 and HUY 204), and ET Straw of Leicester bought Regal III GBC 893 and Regal IV HBC 603.
WEMS of Weston-super-Mare received Marathon III DFR 395. This vehicle was apparently the prototype – it had a slightly higher roof-line on the raised section – and had been an exhibit at the Earls Court Show in Batty Holt livery which might account for its Blackpool registration as they had a subsidiary there. However, it never entered service with the Lancashire firm and stayed with WEMS until 1960.
Other one-off customers were Cowell Bros of Sunderland (Regal III AGR 975), Doug Jones Coaches of Newchurch (Hants) who took Royal Tiger JOT 616 – the only Leyland example, Netherfield of Nottingham (Regal IV NAL 393), and Stanton Bros of Horseley Heath (Staffs) with Marathon III RRF 328.
Second-hand operators of observation coaches (apart from the previously mentioned Peters of Llanarmon) included Cooper of Gilesgate (Durham) who took two former Salopia PVRF6s, Elms Coaches of Kenton (London) who bought Embankment’s Foden GCO 946, and Ubique (also in the London area) who bought RRF 328.
Can anyone tell me of any I’ve missed? Past experience would suggest that there might be others lurking where I’ve failed to notice them!
The body came in two basic versions. The shorter variety can be recognised by having two full window bays on the sides of the raised section, while the 30 ft version has three. Both types could be adapted to suit any engine position (front/underfloor/rear).
In closing, can anybody tell me the liveries used by HS Knight of Northampton (taken over by York’s in 1960) or Stanton of Horseley Heath (who disappeared in 1956)? I have black and white shots of these operators’ vehicles and would like to get an idea of what they looked like in technicolour!

Neville Mercer

03/05/16 – 07:03

Whitson Observation Coaches
Having more or less concluded the History of Astons Coaches now delving deeply into the history of some of the vehicles they ran Have started on
Leyland Panda
Rutland Clipper
Crellin Duplex
Today I start on Whitson Observation Coaches so any points of reference or articles on these much appreciated Astons had HUJ 997 Foden

David Aston

04/05/16 – 14:56

GAW 86 One of the Salopia Fodens was converted to a Lorry are there any photos around?
HUY 204 It is well documented that the Foden won Concourse prizes, but why did HUY 204 Maudslay Marathon have a similar Concourse Badge on it this is at the Wythan Bus Museum

David Aston

19/05/16 – 06:15

I understand that there was possibly another one but records are unclear OFR 922 any one know anything about this one.
USAF Crossley I am led to believe N974 was registered as 8065 KD went to a Liverpool School. N976 was registered as 464 GBM went to Creed,Sandy

David Aston

EWH 195 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

14/05/20 – 06:48

Black and White of Tipton (Stanton Bros?) also had at lest one.

Bill Parker

19/05/20 – 06:20

BLOTW reveals that Stanton had in fact two. RRF 328, a Maudslay Marathon III, has already been mentioned by Neville Mercer above, but there was also ORF 922, a Tilling Stevens K6LA7, no less. This is probably the ‘OFR 922’ that David Aston was enquiring about.
And I think Bill’s question probably answers Neville’s earlier question about Stantons’ livery!

Peter Williamson

20/05/20 – 07:16

Although it is correct that BLOTW lists ORF 922 as having an observation body, photographic evidence puts this in doubt. This photograph includes what is suggested as being that Tilling Stevens, which has a standard half cab body. Either the coach in the photograph is not ORF 922, or it was subsequently rebodied, which seems unlikely – https://flic.kr/p/or9CVv 

David Williamson


Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page



Beehive Services – Foden PVRF6 – KWU 24

Beehive Services - Foden PVRF6 - KWU 24

Beehive Services - Foden PVRF6 - KWU 24 - Rear View

Beehive Services
Foden PVRF6 
Whitson C39C

The top photograph first appeared on the ‘Do You Know’ page of this website and the following information was forthcoming.
The shot was taken in a scrap yard when this particular vehicle was presumably at the end of its days. It states that it was owned by Bodill Builders Contractors who were probably the last owners and used it as a staff vehicle. Originally it was owned by Beehive Services who were based at Adwick-le-Street (near Doncaster) and founded by Ernest Arthur Hart after he retired from being a centre-half footballer for Leeds-United and England in the 1930s. Beehive Services was eventually taken over or amalgamated with Wilfreda from Bawtry to form Wilfreda Beehive of Adwick-le-Street. Wilfreda Beehive still operate as a bus and coach operator in the South Yorkshire area and one thing I spotted on their website is that they have Routemaster for private hire.
If anyone is interested in engine shots let me know it may be possible with a bit of tweaking to bring out more detail which I would then post here.

Fascinating how there is a blur between unconnected coachbuilders. I know Whitson and Duple were north London neighbours, but that’s a Duple rear end!
Three or four years before Duple’s takeover, Burlingham put a Duple rear end on the Seagull (from 1957/8) and of course there was the famous and ubiquitous Alexander R type clone by East Lancs on various rear engined decker chassis.
These were companies independent of each other and it doesn’t take account of the fifties period when the same style could bear Crossley, Park Royal or Roe plates depending on which factory built them.
Come to think of it, though, Southdown had about 10 Beadle/PD2s built on Park Royal frames. They were virtually indistinguishable from the real thing – but no formal link between the companies. They were also Beadles last deckers, and possibly their last bodies, before concentrating on the car sales side of their business.

David Oldfield

I have little to go on apart from hunch & haze, but were Harts really Beehive’s competitor Kildare Coaches (note Irish link) and Beehive the Co-op (A Beehive is a symbol the Co-op used)? Or is that wrong?


It isn’t just the rear view that reminds you of Duple, from that front three quarter view don’t you think the sides of the vehicle look a bit like a Duple Roadmaster?.
On the subject of lookalike bodies can I throw into the conversation the similarities between the Northern Counties bodies fitted to Yorkshire Traction Atlantean and Fleetlines, Roe bodies of that era (West Riding / Rotherham Corporation for example) and some Alexander (AL?) bodywork.


Andrew. There is quite a history of putting Alexander screens and front ends on unrelated companies bodies. In addition to those you have mentioned, there were Atlanteans for Newcastle Corporation and Fleetlines for Bradford with MCW bodies.
You are absolutely right. Apart from the immediate windscreen area, it does look just like a Roadmaster. Wonder whether they were Duple frames (in the same manner as the Southdown PD2s mentioned above with Park Royal frames)?

David Oldfield

I can confirm that Whitson, the coachbuilder, had no direct connections with Duple and were actually West London based, firstly at Sipson, then at Yiewsley. Their managing director, Alf Whittit, was a fiercely independent and somewhat flamboyant salesman with a liking for the stylish designs for which Whitson became well known. Initially their draughtsman was Charles Pilbin, whose style tended to be functional rather than beautiful. This changed with the arrival, from Duple, of Cyril Austin. It may be that Cyril Austin was aware of, perhaps even responsible for, some of the Duple styling that people can see in the Whitson body. I can also confirm that E A Hart Limited (fleet name Beehive Services) were the company that bought the Fodens – there were actually four of them KWU 24 to 27. Control had passed to Doncaster Co-op in July 1947 and E A Hart left to set up another company – Kildare Coaches of Knottingley. KWU 24 itself survived the yard in which it was photographed. I have a photograph showing it in the service of Carlien’o Brothers Circus, but still carrying Bodill names on the front.

Peter Tulloch

Thanks Peter, my mystery above is solved- Kildare, Beehive and Hart’s, although Beehive was a "logo" of the Co-op. I thought that Kildare, though (also) had a garage in neighbouring Carcroft, and then in Adwick itself, where they seemed to compete with Beehive.


17/10/11 – 07:52

Unity Coaches at Clay Cliffe Road Baraugh Green Barnsley also ran rear engined Fodens. They were owned by the Barnsley British co-operative Ltd. and were in a rather strange brown and tan livery if I’m not mistaken. They were bought out by Cawthorne’s in the late ’50’s.


18/10/11 – 05:31

Unity/Beehive- good Co-op words. Sounds like a Co-op-Foden connection: like the Co-op branch buildings, they were meant to last!


18/10/11 – 05:31

I seem to recall that Kildare Coaches were taken over by Shearings so they could get a depot in the Doncaster area,

Philip Carlton

16/11/11 – 07:32

Kildare were bought out by Smiths-Happiways in 1983 mainly for the premises which became a Depot and Tour Interchange

Tim Presley

24/01/12 – 11:10

KWU 24 spent the rest of it’s PSV life with R.E. Everson Everson’s Coaches of Wix Nr. Manningtree in Essex, where it was joined by JOT 106 A Foden PRFG with Associated Coachbuilders C41C Body. KWU was C39C.
It was painted in red and cream and gave magnificent trouble free service for three years – a wonderful vehicle. I would love to see a closer view of the engine compartment.

Wally Francis

KWU 24 engine

10/11/12 – 09:15

For the attention of Wally Francis whose details I collected here. In 1955 a Commer TS3 with a Beadle body was supplied by my old boss, Ernie Harris of Fishponds Motor Co. Ltd. Bristol and I had been a young lad who had kept it, and the Garage showroom up together while I was employed. I would love to hear how long this vehicle lasted and exactly what had happened to it. The business had been done to Eversons Coaches of Wix, and I have 2 pictures – one somewhere close to town and the other parked in a stream of traffic outside of the Company premises. I do hope that this meets up with some conversation and I would love to hear further.

John Sealey

19/01/13 – 16:53

UHT 573 Beadle-Commer C35C. Fascinated to hear about the dear Commer. It joined the fleet in 1955 and replaced/traded in for 79 BPU a unique Page bodied Morris commercial [which itself has an interesting story behind it.]
UHT was a wonderful coach and made it in the fleet into the new livery of Red/white and grey – lasting ten years in the fleet – traded in to Moseleys and sold by them as a non- psv and turned into a mobile home spent time in the Clacton area funnily enough. Would love to see your photographs!!!

Wally Francis

12/07/13 – 07:58

Where were Page bodies built and what was the full name of the firm? Any photos of their products including 79 BPU mentioned.? Would like to know more as I have not heard of this bodybuilder before.

Mike Holloway

14/07/13 – 07:47

I think that the builder of the "Page" body referred to by Mike Holloway was Page or Page & Scott of Colchester who were principally car dealers. I ought to remember more as my late great uncle worked for them and I think at one point lived over the premises. Ultimately Page & Scott were acquired by George Ewer & Co who were not exactly unknown in the coach industry.

Nigel Turner

25/01/14 – 16:56

It was great to hear about the two Fodens and Commer TS3 belonging to Everson’s coaches. I went to school on all these. On one occasion the fan on KWU came off, and being a rear engined coach, it crashed through the rear doors and fell onto the road behind. Lots of other memories of those journeys and of working for Everson’s as a Saturday job.
If Wally Francis, who I worked with for three years, wishes to make contact I’d be delighted!

John Hull

28/10/14 – 06:55

I well remember this coach belonging to Beehive and taking our local Brass Band to Cardiff and later to Plymouth during the mid fifties. It was in dark green and cream.

Unrelated subject;
I was an apprentice to YTC in the sixties and remember looking round ‘Askins’ scrap yard during the dinner hour at a very tired Foden coach being scrapped, it had of course a Foden 2 stroke engine and an angle drive transmission. It begs the question why did Leylands struggle for so long perfecting the PDR 1 when the technology was already there? It took an overheard apprentice’s comment to get them to find an oil which would do both jobs of lubricating the diff and the angle drive and the gearbox after so many failed seals and g/b brake bands.
After a long and frustrating struggle to change the throttle pins on the Atlants. an apprentice was again heard to shout out in frustration, ‘Why don’t Leylands fit a hydraulic throttle to these camels? The next batch duly came fitted with Hydraulic throttles.


KWU 24_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

06/11/14 – 14:44

I now live in Australia, formerly of Fern Bank, Adwick le Street. My Uncle, Les Pickles, drove for Beehive coaches in the late 40’s early 50’s, I seem to recall that the depot was at the rear of the Adwick Post office. To my memory the early coaches had a Beehive and Bees on the side. Can any one forward any info and or photographs of these coaches please.

Vic Young

07/11/14 – 08:12

Thanks Vic- this is getting nearer to my hazy memories. I’m not certain that we have the story right yet!
The Co-op used a Beehive (with bees) as a logo in various places just like the one on the coaches. Do you know if they originally owned Beehive? Do you remember Kildare Coaches? I think they had a depot in Carcroft which became an NCB transport depot, and then moved to a site between Adwick & Carcroft. Were they Hart’s? The Beehive depot was in old Adwick village as you say… did Beehive and Kildare then amalgamate? to be continued…



Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page



Foden Works – Foden PVRF6 – OLG 855

Foden Works - Foden PVRF6 - OLG 855

Foden Works - Foden PVRF6 - OLG 855 - Full Front

Foden Works
Foden PVRF6
Plaxton C??C

These excellent shots were contributed by Andrew Charles who took them in 2005 the vehicle was restored by its present owner Nick Helliker. This particular vehicle was built for the Foden Works Brass Band who used it to travel to all their concerts until 1979 when it was replaced by another Foden vehicle. It was then laid up at the Foden factory until it was bought by an enthusiast who stored it under cover until the present owner bought it and did a full restoration to the standard you see above.
Fodens rear engine layout was way ahead of its time in 1951 as most other manufactories had just nicely switched over to underfloor engines and would stay that way for quite awhile to come. In fact Andrews comment that accompanied the shots read:-

“With it’s rear mounted two stroke engine this configuration when viewed now from sixty years on has become the norm – indeed Volvo have just delivered the last underfloor engined coach – a B12B – to Pulhams of Bourton on the Water, all future production will be rear engined.” (09/10)

The engine fitted to the above was Fodens own 4·0 litre two stroke diesel engine although there was the option to have a 8·4 litre Gardner 6LW in which case the model code would be PVRG6. I think there would have been a noticeable difference in performance as the Gardner is twice the size of the Foden engine, unless being a two stroke made a difference in which case why did it never catch on with other engine manufactories. The body for the above was built in Scarborough by Plaxton and was based around their Venturer model. I am rather curious to know what the circular grill in the roof above  ‘Foden Coach’ is, a large air horn perhaps.
Oh does anyone know what the seating capacity is?

Photograph contributed by Andrew Charles

Lovely pictures of a fine vehicle. Direct comparison of the engine capacities (4.1-litre Foden versus 8.4-litre Gardner) is, as Andrew suggests, complicated by the fact that in the two-stroke engine each cylinder delivers power at every revolution—not every other revolution as in the four-stroke—and so should develop double the torque. You would therefore reasonably expect that with air delivered to the cylinders at atmospheric pressure a 4.1-litre 2-stroke would develop torque equivalent to that of an 8.2-litre 4-stroke, but in practice inlet air pressure has to be well above atmospheric in order to scavenge the exhaust AND fill the cylinder with a clean charge of new air all in one go, so a blower has to be provided. Whether this blower is seen as a mere scavenger or as a supercharger depends on the amount of excess air it provides.
On p98 of the 1953 edition of Commercial Motor’s "The British Commercial Vehicle Industry" the Gardner 6LW as fitted to Foden passenger vehicles is shown as developing 358 lb/ft torque at 1,300 rpm and the Foden 2-stroke engine as giving 350 lb/ft at 1,500rpm.
Gardner maximum power is 112 bhp at 1,700rpm against the Foden’s 126 bhp at 2,000 rpm. Not much difference in on-paper torque, then, but in real life you had to keep the Foden engine spinning, as low-speed torque fell off alarmingly. Hence the need for the 12-speed gearboxes used for example in those wonderful howling Hoveringham gravel lorries. I’ve never driven a Foden of any kind, but I had a day in a 3-cylinder 2-stroke Commer coach belonging to Spiers of Henley-on-Thames which really NEEDED its 2-speed axle to allow you to keep the engine whirring within it optimum range. My guess is that the Foden 2-stroke didn’t catch on with PSV operators because of a) exhaust noise, b) reasonable but not wonderful fuel consumption, c) maintenance costs and d) inability to lug at low revs.
Incidentally, Foden later added a turbocharger and planned a 7-cylinder version. Does anyone know what became of it?

Ian Thompson

Memories, memories: this site is therapy. Do I remember that the Foden engine sounded like one of those old dumpers? Presumably the idea was to keep the weight down at the back.
I’d say that the grille at the front was a vent- there don’t seem to be many others: it probably pushed the tubas ciggie smoke along a bit….
Lovely looking coach for its time, though.


My late father had the opportunity to drive a wide selection of vehicles during his war service with the army and always maintained that the very best lorries were the Fodens. They certainly seemed to uphold this reputation right up to the end – including the small foray into buses – producing vehicles of a very high quality. Surprising then that they did not make bigger inroads into buses than they did – but their niche market of specialist trucks was probably more profitable and time consuming.
The Plaxton Centenary book simply describes the grille as an air intake. For engine, passenger or tuba player it does not say.

David Oldfield

I think the reason Foden didn’t make greater inroads into the bus market was the same as for the ill-fated Daimler CD650 – Fodens were rather complicated and probably rather expensive. Most transport managers of those days were pragmatic and conservative, preferring something familiar that was known to be good enough rather than something unknown that might just possibly be better.
As for the two-stroke engine, Ian has explained it perfectly. The reason that torque fell off alarmingly at low revs was that the blower couldn’t keep up, and so alternate firing strokes would become weakened as the engine tended towards a four-stroke cycle. I owned the ex Samuel Ledgard two-stroke Foden coach ONW 2 (front-engined) for a short while. My impression was that it was smooth, powerful and effective as a coach, but would have been hopeless for bus work. It also tended to stall when manoeuvring, as the torque would suddenly be halved by the four-stroke effect if the revs got too low. More recently I have travelled in the back of Roger Burdett’s rear-engined two-stroke, and noticed a distinct chugging sensation as it pulled out of roundabouts for the same reason, since with a wide-ratio gearbox it isn’t easy to keep the revs up.

Peter Williamson

Peter I never drove ONW 2 as I was at Otley and Ilkley Depots, but I have the most vivid memories of the stretch of the A64 dual carriageway at Whitwell. The road has a high summit and a deep trough at both ends, and many’s the time ONW 2 could be seen in the offside lane overtaking virtually everything in sight. Once in full flight that fine machine could really swallow up the miles but, as I’m of limited technical knowledge, I’ve found your explanations of the two stroke limitations most fascinating.

Chris Youhill

The above Foden was purchased by Ken Batsford from Fodens and was kept safe until purchased by present owner. I have driven many Foden trucks and with regards the Gardner vs the stroker scenario, leaving Millwall with 21 ton of timber on board me in a s36/Gardner my mate in a s36mk7 stroker on Archway Rd climbing north towards Mill Hill/M1 he would be 2 gears lower than me but pulling away from me. Once on the M1 he would leave me for dead his top speed about 65/70 mine about 50/55. When I drove a 2 stroke you had to wind it up in every gear and note the speed you shifted gears at because that’s the speed you changed down at to keep the thing pulling hard, lose the revs and you were knackered. Driving the 12 speed you started off in 2 low range up to 4 low, up to 2 direct and then 2 overdrive 3 direct and so on. Fodens were cold and noisy or hot and noisy depending on the weather but good trucks, 2 strokes suffered with cooling problems and often scrapped cylinder heads (separate head per cylinder)


Ah the 2 stroke Foden. My short stint as a driver for Transglobe (B’ham) brings back the memory of one of my nosier ‘steeds’ – and having to take it to the Foden works (Sandbach) for diesel pump adjustments. I think it had a Duple body.

Nigel Edwards

Engine aside, perhaps a major reason the Foden PVR was unsuccessful was that it was fitted with Lockheed continuous flow hydraulic servo braking. Other manufacturers also tried this (Daimler, Dennis) and would be buyers stayed away in droves. It was not that brakes were particularly poor (though in the case of the earlier Fodens, if the engine stalls than braking is reduced to practically nil) but sheer complication of the system and potential maintenance problems were enough to keep people away. The only bus that really saw success with a system like this was the Routemaster which took the might of London Transport’s engineering development to take the bugs out of the design.
I am, incidentally, the current owner of another Foden PVR coach, VRF 372, currently in restoration.

Nick Webster

Chris Youhill’s comments about ONW 2 overtaking nearly everything in sight reminded me of a report from a Commercial Motor correspondent, Alfred Woolf, who hitched a ride on Salopia’s HUJ 996, one of their rear engined Observation coaches, on its way to the Nice Coach Rally. Covering 800 miles in three days on roads of dubious quality, the coach ‘left most other public service vehicles behind, even those with more powerful motors’ and ‘provided that the engine speed is kept up, few vehicles can climb as well as the Foden’. On some stretches of prime Belgian pave, flat in nature, speeds of 60 m.p.h. were seen – and maintained for many a mile. The coach took the Grand Prix du Confort et de l’Elegance award – Whitson’s fifth such award! Another rear-engined Foden, OLG 968, was taken by Fodens on an Alpine Tour to test its suitability for Continental touring. Admittedly driven hard, to assess its capabilities, the coach averaged 30.2 m.p.h. and 10.8 m.p.g. over a total distance of 2,850 miles. This included scaling no fewer than five high Alpine passes, most of which were loose surface roads! I have heard an apocryphal tale that the coach was clocked by one German driver in excess of 80 m.p.h. – downhill and out of gear! Average speeds on the German autobahns were over 50 m.p.h. and even the long run from Strasbourg to Paris (302 miles) on standard main roads was completed at an average speed of 36.4 m.p.h. Yes, the two-stroke engined coaches were fliers, but you had to keep the revs up to get the best out of them.

Peter Tulloch

13/05/11 – 06:36

I think that must be a pic of the great Fodens bus that my father talked a lot about. He has fond memories of his days at Fodens Works at Sandbach. He was there for six years in the sixties then came home to run the family business of eight wheel Fodens. I have heard many a funny story involving that machine. Does Billy Harrison ring a bell to anyone?

Lee Harrison

21/01/16 – 15:33

I think that as well as a higher purchase price and the complication of the braking system, another problem with Foden PSVs particularly in the coach application is that of resale value, here the two stroke was particularly likely to depreciate heavily, at least you could take a 6LW out and use it in about 60% of other heavyweight buses and coaches of the same era.

Stephen Allcroft

30/08/19 – 10:01

I have really enjoyed being educated again at the age of 66, on the principles of two stoke engines. In 1961 when at school I can vividly remember the heavy bulk sugar lorries of Tate and Lyle in dark blue livery heaving and struggling to re-start from traffic lights on the old A11 London to Cambridge road. The exhaust note was unbelievable and with high revs and just poured out hot shimmering heat onto my bare legs, as I only wore shorts then for school. It always surprised me that the hot exhaust gases were even directed by design towards pedestrians on the nearside pavements! – such memories

Paul Tanner

01/09/19 – 06:09

Always interesting to comment on Fodens. I have travelled around 1500 miles in mine this year so it was great to look back over the comments and think how it had performed. Mine will do 60mph (twice the 1951 speed limit for coaches) but is really comfortable bowling along at around 50mph. Fuel consumption has been between 10 and 11 mpg as compared to 14mpg for my Gardners. The brakes whilst competent do not have accumulators so engine stopping means no brakes at all-can be scary. It is a pig to drive with the gearbox being transverse behind the rear axle meaning timing is really critical to clean changes. Anyone who has ridden with me this year will have seen one trip all clean next trip hit and miss. PW back in the dialogue talks about chugging coming out of roundabouts and he is totally correct. First being a crawler is not much use and wide gaps mean I have been caught out in the wrong gear more than once. Ironically it is better to be slower in roundabouts and use second rather than third. My style tends to be I clatter through roundabouts so it does require me to alter driving style. Switching from Gardner to Foden 2 stroke say a week apart means a totally different driving style. I understand the 12 speed box is essentially the same as mine just with a 3 way splitter.Having said that I love it but need a couple of extra hours sleep afterwards. It is running at Delaine Running Day Sept 28 and then resting until 2021.

Roger Burdett

13/10/21 – 03:30

OLG 855_3

While having an hour of browsing reminiscence, I came across this photo of the Foden Works Band’s coach. I took it on a damp day at Blackpool on August 22, 1976. The livery has been reversed in the top photo of 2005 and the fog lights changed. The GB sticker and row of city stickers along the bottom of the windscreen look like trophies of a continental concert tour.

Geoff Pullin

13/06/22 – 06:25

The Mark 7 Six cylinder engine was the last model built. It had higher pressure fuel injectors compared to the earlier Mark 6 with blue caps instead of black in order to distinguish them. I worked at Foden’s in Elworth in the late ‘Sixties and spent some time building the engines. At that time, Gardner LW’s and LX’s were being rebuilt there. The crankshaft bearings on the LW’s had to be scraped in and, as an apprentice, you only touched the face of the bearings once with your fingers. A blow at the side of the head from the fitter put paid to further attempts. Apprentices learnt quickly in those days. In the experimental department, one test run they used was up Shap Fell, the apprentice logging the figures from the multitude of analogue gauges which, as I recall, were built into a board. Regarding Billy Harrison (Lee Harrison) I don’t recall Billy but I do remember a Paul Harrison. He would have been in his late teens in 1969.

Daniel Preston

14/06/22 – 06:12

OLG 855_4

Thought you might like to see a recent photo including this coach when it appeared at the Didcot Transport Rally.

John Lomas


Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page



All rights to the design and layout of this website are reserved     Old Bus Photos does not set or use Cookies but Google Analytics will set four see this

Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Wednesday 17th August 2022