Old Bus Photos

United Automobile – Bristol RELH6G – NHN 143E – 4343

United Automobile - Bristol RELH6G - NHN 143E - 4343

United Automobile Services
Bristol RELH6G

United had a small Garage at Pickering where the forecourt doubled up as a Bus Station.
Here 4343 (originally RE43) is loading for a trip along the A170 seventeen miles to Scarborough.
I expect this vehicle retained its manual gearbox which I would think could be tricky on a Stage Service. It is a good looking bus/coach – shame about the livery!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

12/05/20 – 06:48

Are you sure it had the manual gearbox? Crosville’s E registered RELH6Gs had semi automatic boxes. Even in bus livery, these coaches looked beautiful!

Don McKeown

13/05/20 – 07:03

Probably was semi automatic. West Yorkshire’s E registered RELH were as well. As regards manual boxes I remember some West Yorkshire drivers struggling with earlier B, C, and D registered RELL buses.

Stephen Clough

14/05/20 – 06:52

According to United Automobile Services Part Two by messrs. Townsin, Groves and Banks (Venture Publications), this batch RE41-65 were the first coaches to be delivered with semi-automatic gearboxes.

John Gibson

16/05/20 – 06:33

It might be 17 miles from Pickering to Scarborough, but three times a day (twice on Sundays) the route began in Ripon, via Thirsk, Ampleforth and Helmsley to Pickering and Scarborough, distance of some 60+ miles, some of it on minor roads. In 1976 this took around three and a half hour end to end. The route number groups with other Ripon services, but how it was crewed is a mystery to me. I guess Ripon crews were relieved for a break at Pickering, as two of the through journeys had only five minutes turn round at Scarborough. I would be very interested to know more about the operation of the 128.

Andy Buckland

17/05/20 – 06:37

Andy’s comment reminded me that in the James Herriot book "Vets might fly" James bunked off from his RAF training in Scarborough one Sunday afternoon and travelled by bus to "Darrowby" (which we now know to be Thirsk) to see his pregnant wife, Helen. He had less than an hour before he had to catch the return bus – and as I recall it, his absence without leave was never detected! I assume that this escapade, like many others, was founded in real life.

Stephen Ford

18/05/20 – 06:34

Stephen, by 1976, the date of my timetable, this would not be possible on a Sunday, with just two through journeys each way. You had to leave Scarborough at 10:45 to reach Thirsk by 13:35, returning at 18:10. Now, if in earlier years there had been a third return, as during the week, then 12:45 from Scarborough, arrive Thirsk 15:40, return at 18:27 was possible. Add a bit of poetic licence and we perhaps have the basis for the story.

Andy Buckland

20/05/20 – 07:18

I have been looking at the summer timetable for 1957, and it shows that from 7th July to 14th September, there were three journeys each way between Scarborough and Ripon on Sundays. If he left Scarborough at 10.45, he would reach Thirsk at 1.40 p.m. He could then leave Thirsk at 3.50 p.m. arriving back at Scarborough at 6.40 p.m. So yes, this journey would have been feasible as long as it was made at the height of the summer.

John Gibson

20/05/20 – 07:19

I travelled on service 128 from Helmsley to Ripon in 1976 (MWs all the way from Middlesbrough to Harrogate!!). If memory isn’t playing tricks, we had to change buses at Sproxton, west of Helmsley, and the respective buses then returned home. I can’t remember if the change was advertised in the timetable. A trip form Ross-on-Wye to Abergavenny by Red and White in 1970 (MWs again) certainly involved a change at Broad Oak even though the timetable showed the buses working through.

Phil Drake

21/05/20 – 06:56

And there we have the answer, Phil!
Certainly there is no reference to a change of vehicle at Sproxton, indeed it does not even merit entry in the timetable, but if you look at the times for Helmsley and Ampleforth, then buses would cross roughly where Sproxton is. What makes it strange is that Sproxton is only a few minutes west of Helmsley, where some journeys stood time and interchange facilities are much better. Was there perhaps some unwritten rule that Helmsley to Scarborough was dedicated to Pickering/Scarborough drivers and Ripon was “another company”

Andy Buckland

21/05/20 – 06:56

Definitely semi-auto, we had 4344 at Darlington for a while, not the fastest, comfortable for both driver and passengers it did what it was supposed to do. I used to call it the old mans bus.

John Wake

31/08/20 – 06:27

Regarding the operation of the Ripon to Scarborough service, I lived in Ripon in the late 1960s, and at that time the buses definitely worked through on the whole route, but the drivers did not. When opposing vehicles met, usually in the middle of nowhere, they stopped and the drivers changed over, returning whence they had come from. I presume that with three services each way on weekdays, a Scarborough based vehicle would spend alternate nights at Ripon garage, and vice versa. Obvious the drivers would get back home at the end of their shifts.

Chris Appleby

03/09/20 – 06:18

Where the garage was may be seen here: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/
It would appear that the property was modified to become the carpet showroom it is in the photograph.
I have a snapshot photograph I took on Sunday 23 July 1972 which has four single deckers parked within. //www.ipernity.com/

David Slater


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Potteries Motor Traction – Bristol FS6G – DPM67C – T2


Potteries Motor Traction
Bristol FS6G
ECW H33/27RD

New to Brighton Hove and District as fleet number 67 this was one of a pair of these Lodekkas acquired by PMT in NBC days as Driver Training vehicles. The yellow NBC style livery is rather attractive. Seems a strange vehicle type to transfer to an ex BET fleet with no previous experience of this model.
Photo taken at Woodhouse Street, Stoke outside the main works in July 1978

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

22/04/20 – 06:46

These two buses were added to the PMT fleet at the end of 1976 and if my memory serves me right one was received in NBC green whilst the other had traditional Southdown livery. These buses were newer than all of the Leyland Atlanteans and most of the Daimler Fleetlines still in operation at that time, but these were not suitable for Driver Traning duties by virtue of having semi-automatic transmission. At that time to obtain a licence to drive all type of PSV a driver had to have undertaken at least part of the PSV training on a bus with fully transmission.


23/04/20 – 06:40

Thanks for the comment. In 1976 PMT would still have Ford coaches with manual transmission (and maybe Reliances 986-991 and 1041 -1043, possibly some Reliance service buses still with manual transmission). Most BET fleets had gone over to forward entrances for their later half cab deliveries and rear entrance buses were easier (and cheaper) to adapt for driver training. An interesting interlude and interesting comment about liveries as received.

Ian Wild

23/04/20 – 08:27

I agree that the livery is quite attractive, probably aided by how impeccable the bus looks.
Is it still or no longer the case that PSV drivers must have some experience of manual transmission? The Stagecoach learner buses I see around locally (all single deckers, although the fleet has double deckers, too) are so old as to suggest that they have manual gearboxes. They are of the high-floored variety coach type with steep steps into the vehicles.

Chris Hebbron

24/04/20 – 06:08

In 1976 PMT still had a large number of Leyland Leopards and AEC Reliances from the batches delivered between 1962 and 1965 – 921 to 950, 976 to 985 and 1036 to 1040. One of 1963 Leopards (927) was converted to a Driver Trainer in 1977 and carried the same livery as the two Bristol FS6G. Unfortunately all of the heavy weight(some might say decent) coaches had been withdrawn by PMT in 1973 to be replaced by twenty Ford coaches with Duple Dominant Express bodywork. I have often wondered if the coaches were withdrawn prematurely to take advantage of the bus grant scheme or in order to improve the profile of the coach fleet. A further link between PMT and Southdown also took place in 1976 when six 1965 Leyland Leopards coaches were purchased and carried PMT fleet numbers 10 to 15.


24/04/20 – 06:09

Chris-so far as I am aware the use of high floor coaches is more to do with a requirement that buses used for PCV licence testing (and hence training) are fitted with ABS brakes. Modern coaches are so fitted (again by law) hence meet the required standard.

Ian Wild

25/04/20 – 06:29

Ian; When this came into force my local operator, First Eastern Counties, had to use the newest Volvo coaches (R reg) for driver training and the N&P reg ones for revenue earning services.
Shortly before the ABS requirement I had passed my class D driving test in a 26 year old Bedford YMT which obviously did not have ABS.

Nick Dasey

26/04/20 – 06:10

Even when delivered in 1966, the FS did not appear to be the bus for the future of the industry! Several of the last batch went to Tilling companies that already used FLF forward entrance deckers. So why revert? I recall United Counties had several of this last batch, with the reliable 6LW Gardner engine and without CBC radiators and thus engineering-wise were very reliable vehicles. But not much use when one man operation of double deckers came to the industry within two years of the delivery. United Counties carried out careful conversions of four of their last FS6G into Driver Trainers and, in at least one case, combined with tree lopping duties, complete with trailer for carrying the cuttings. They were out-shopped from Northampton similarly to the PMT version in an immaculate yellow version of the NBC livery. I think samples are still running and there are photos on Flickr. PS: I remember collecting Eastern Counties last FS5G from Lowestoft in 1966!

Geoff Pullin

26/04/20 – 06:12

Nick, I really admire your gall to go public on this site to say that you passed your test in a Bedford!
Perhaps our illustrious ‘blogmaster’ could start a separate topic heading, so that we might be able to regale tales of what we passed our PSV test with?
just an idea? (Tin hat time from our beloved Bedford fans, I fear )

Mike Norris

27/04/20 – 07:25

Mike, you think that admitting to passing a test in a Bedford is bad, it get’s worse. I also passed my class 3 & 1 HGV tests in Bedfords and worst of all, I still own the coach.

Nick Dasey

27/04/20 – 07:25

Well, I learned and passed my test in a magnificent (6 speed) 6U3ZR. Of course, purists might (justifiably?) say that learning and passing on a constant mesh decker is something of which to be more proud.

David Oldfield

27/04/20 – 07:27

I passed my PSV test on either DPM66C or DPM67C I don’t recall which one, having trained on both of these buses whilst at PMT in 1978. My assessment was undertaken on the aforementioned Leyland Leopard 927 (927 UVT).


28/04/20 – 06:27

I did my initial PSV training at PMT on dual control (and Metalastik toggle link suspension fitted) AEC Reliance 470 5596. I progressed to PD2 L466 (which suited me as it had a sliding cab door) and finally PD2 L337 which I wasn’t keen on. The Instructors were Gerry, Sam And George Clews who was the Examiner. He somewhat reluctantly advised me that I had passed my test. Something about being an Engineer, I wouldn’t have to drive a bus in anger!!! Happy days

Ian Wild

29/04/20 – 06:24

I recall that the primary use of T5596 was to train Conductors in order to obtain a Car licence.
George Clews took me on an assessment to drive a Company car but my PSV test was undertaken by a Ministry Examiner. The man in charge of the PMT car pool was an affable man, Bill Corden who I remember was also the Chauffeur to the General Manager. His initial greeting when encountering him was ‘haven’t we got good jobs’. Indeed happy days.
There is a link on the SCT’61 site regarding T5596.


30/04/20 – 05:54

I remember Bill Corden, great bloke in charge of the private car garage. Bill was very helpful and encouraging to me. His usual greeting to me was ‘How’s the fleet!"

Ian Wild


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Eastern Counties – Bristol RESL – KVF 660E – RS660

Eastern Counties - Bristol RESL - KVF 660E - RS660

Eastern Counties Omnibus Co Ltd
Bristol RESL 6HLX

There are several non-ECW bodied RE buses featured on this site but few if any of the first Tilling Group RESL standard bus. This is RS660 (KVF 660E), the last of a batch of 14, which I believe was supplied to meet an outstanding order for MWs. The fact that they had 46 seats, compared to the maximum of 45 to date, didn’t prevent them being accepted immediately for one man operation, several based at the many outstations for which the company was famous. Alongside are FLF359 (ONG 359F) and SB664 (NAH 664F). A large number of recent deliveries, which the advert fixers had yet to purloin, were assembled in the forecourt of Thorpe Station, Norwich on Sunday, May 12, 1968 to meet an excursion train hauled by the Flying Scotsman. There were several tour options for passengers around the city and county before the return journey.

This period saw Eastern Counties explode from its long 4 and 5 cylinder era into that of the 6LX and 6HLX! The FLF found its way to Western SMT a couple of years later in the great FLF for VRT swop between National Bus Company and the Scottish Bus Group. The Bedford with ECW bus body was one of a batch of four, two with Bedford engines and this and SB663 (already shown on the same day in a Bedford VAM string in OBP) had Leyland engines.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Geoff Pullin

23/12/19 – 06:45

I believe that Eastern Counties’ next batch of RE buses were RELLs, and these were supplied with 6HLW engines, which were quickly swapped with the 6HLX engines from the RESLs.

Nigel Frampton

23/12/19 – 06:47

We had two Bristol RS’s at Cambridge. One of them was almost permanently on route 428 Cambridge station to Bedford. It was a long duty….two journeys….and was the only week on the rota that had two rest days for that reason. I worked it for a week when the regular driver was on holiday and enjoyed it immensely. The RS’s were super to drive…fast and powerful, and although they were rear engined, they had a very precise manual gear change, and a long gear lever. I also recall that they had a high pitched whine at speed from the transmission.
The other RS was usually on the 113 Cambridge to Haverhill and Kedington services, so they could inter change for maintenance and repairs. The RS’s were a vast improvement on the ordinary Bristol MW’s.

Norman Long

24/12/19 – 07:37

Nigel, I don’t think this is true. The first RELLs were in service in June 1968 (the month after the above photo) and I’m sure they had 6HLX engines as well. Although the company was adept at physically changing types of engine after years of downsizing double decks to 5 cylinders and much later installing a Gardner into a Leyland National, the change to 6HLX from 5HLW for buses was the policy introduced by the new General Manager who had arrived from Eastern National. In the 1960s, it was company policy to ‘fairly’ share new vehicles across the whole vast area, so, unlike today, sadly the advantages of better vehicles and performance didn’t reflect into timetables!

Geoff Pullin

24/12/19 – 10:05

The FLF would have had a 6LX engine also, although retaining a manual gearbox. All EC’s previous batches of FLFs having 6LWs.The former BCV test vehicle which they acquired in 1967 may have had a Bristol BVW initially.

Brian Crowther

25/12/19 – 05:52

Geoff, I must admit that I cannot remember exactly where I read about the engine swap – I think that it was in "Buses" magazine. However, the page on Rob Sly’s website for KVF 658E (the preserved survivor from this batch of RESLs) says that the engine was swapped during 1969.
Other online sources say that it now has a 6HLX, so presumably it was changed again (or never changed at all!)

Nigel Frampton

25/12/19 – 05:53

Think the RESL at Carlton Colville has a 6HLW.

Roger Burdett

26/12/19 – 06:15

Nigel is correct, the 14 RESL’s 647 to 660 were delivered with 6HLX engines which were later replaced with 6HLW’s from RELL’s but without checking back I can’t confirm which RELL’s were delivered with 6HLW’s. I thought they may have been replaced with a later batch but as the first 14 RELL’s RL665 to 678 all had PPW registrations it’s possible that they were the donors.

Mark Ellis

28/12/19 – 06:18

Is the Bedford missing it’s front grille? It seems we are looking directly at the radiator without anything covering it.

Chris Barker

28/12/19 – 09:20

Looking at various photos of the four Bedfords in the batch SB661-664 (NAH 661-664F), the grille format appears the same on them all even after sale to other operators.
As Chris B says it does look very much like the grille is missing. Looking at photographs of the examples operated by West Yorkshire (4) and Western National (12), also new in 1967, all those seem to have more obvious grilles.

David Slater

28/12/19 – 15:10

NAH 663F

This photo, taken on the same occasion, shows SB663 is fitted with a manually adjusted radiator blind in the traditional Bristol on-radiator fashion.

NAH 663F_2

I don’t remember if this was ECW standard or an ECOC special.

Geoff Pullin

22/01/20 – 06:45

Not ECW norm-see www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/?p=30561

Stuart Emmett

23/01/20 – 08:56

In the close-up shot it would appear that the grille on the VAM has been set back from the front panel to allow for the fitting of a radiator blind. Whether this was fitted ‘in build’ by ECW at Lowestoft, or done by Eastern Counties themselves I’ll leave it to the ECOC experts.

Brendan Smith

18/02/20 – 07:30

The RELLs with 6HLW units were RL703-7 and 710-8 from the 1969 order, the engines being exchanged at ECOC before the chassis headed to ECW for bodying. KVF 658E regained a 6HLX after entering preservation.
To tidy up, test rig FLF LAH 448E was ECOC’s only Bristol-engined example and was converted to 6LW in 1971. I’ve long wondered why the six FLs delivered in 1962/63 had BVWs while the double-deck fleet was entirely Gardner by then. Apart from one which was withdrawn early in 1976, the others again all received 6LWs.

Nigel Utting


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