Old Bus Photos

Midland General – Bristol Lodekka – 972 ARA – 453

972 ARA

Midland General Omnibus Company
Bristol Lodekka LD6G
ECW H33/25RD

Photographed in Nottingham in August 1961 is Midland General 453, 972 ARA, a Bristol LD6G Lodekka with ECW H33/25RD bodywork, delivered to the operator in October 1956. This vehicle, together with other buses from across the NBC, went to West Riding in April 1970 to expedite the withdrawal of the troublesome Guy Wulfrunian fleet. Sadly, 453 didn’t last very long in the care of West Riding as it went to the scrapyard in December 1971 having, rather pointlessly, been renumbered No. 408 just one month earlier.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

09/04/18 – 07:39

Such a pity the BTC had such a rigid livery policy with most Loddekkas being in wall to wall red or green. We were denied the opportunity to see such attractive vehicles in attractive liveries such as this one on a wider scale. The Midland General livery seemed to slip through the livery police net somehow but the loophole was soon spotted by the dreaded NBC and the even more dreaded poppy red was soon inflicted.

Philip Halstead

10/04/18 – 05:39

I agree – the only other attractive exception was BH&D, who had cream roofs and a much deeper band of crew around the lower deck windows – oh, and I think that either Notts & Derby or Mansfield District did something similar with Tilling Green and cream. Pity as the ECW body was beautifully proportioned, although too Spartan inside for my taste.

David Wragg

10/04/18 – 05:40

Some Midland General vehicles were initially painted dark blue with a white band and the fleetname in NBC style.

Stephen Bloomfield

10/04/18 – 05:41

Midland General never was a Tilling company but throughout it’s existence as a BTC and THC operator, it’s vehicles were always immaculately turned out, regardless of age and always sported comprehensive, fully working blind displays with via points shown, right until the later FLFs and VRs which had provision for ultimate destination and service number only. It was strict company policy that they must be correctly set too, the word ‘SERVICE’ would never have been allowed, in fact it wasn’t even on the blinds as an option.

Chris Barker

11/04/18 – 06:00

What is often overlooked regarding the BTC’s standard red and cream/green and cream ‘Tilling’ liveries is that when they were first introduced, the Tilling Group was in private hands. For many years the Group had operated a policy of centralised control and one of its aims, post-World War II, was to standardise on its ‘in house’ Bristol-ECW products – namely the K type double-decker in highbridge or lowbridge form, and the L type single-decker in bus or express form. Standard liveries for its bus fleets were also being pursued. When the Tilling Group was nationalised in 1948, outwardly it would probably have looked like ‘business as usual’ to the general public, as the old Tilling liveries remained. Interestingly, when the Balfour Beatty Group came under state control, Midland General, Notts & Derby Traction and Mansfield District retained their original liveries. Later, when the Red & White Group was acquired, Cheltenham District continued with its dark red and cream livery, applied in its distinctive fashion. The BTC did not seem to be as obsessed with rigid standardisation as perhaps the privately owned Tilling Group had been.
Although many of the coaches in the BTC fleets donned cream with either green or red/maroon relief, some distinctive and well respected coach liveries continued – those of United, Royal Blue, South Midland, Bristol-Greyhound, and Crosville spring to mind. Presumably prestige and local good will still counted for something, even under state control.
When the THC and BET Group were combined to form the state owned NBC in 1969, with the well-intentioned objective of halting the decline in bus use, for the first few years it appeared once again to be ‘business as usual’ regarding liveries. Ironically, it was someone from the private sector – one Freddie Wood – at the behest of the Heath government, who was responsible for the corporate liveries inflicted on the constituent companies in 1972. The standardised poppy red and white, or leaf green and white liveries for buses and ‘local coaches’ and the allover white National coach livery were not a patch on the liveries they replaced. In fairness, the introduction of the ‘National white coach network’ did improve public awareness of express travel and business did increase as a result, but why such an impractical colour was chosen for such hard working vehicles operating over long distances in all weathers remains a mystery.

Brendan Smith

11/04/18 – 06:04

Midland General, together with Notts & Derby and Mansfield District, were Balfour Beatty companies. Balfour Beatty initially concentrated upon tramway operation in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, whence it then broadened its activities into electricity generation and supply in those counties. When the electricity supply industry was nationalised in 1948, that aspect of the Balfour Beatty operation was taken over by the government, but the three public transport components of the business, by then using trolleybuses and motor buses, did not automatically follow suit. The disposal of Midland General, Mansfield District and Notts & Derby was a decision taken by Balfour Beatty in the light of the then Labour government’s aspirations for public ownership of the bus industry. Tilling sold out at about the same time, but the BET resisted. I agree with Chris that the standards of Midland General were very high, endorsed by the splendid livery.

Roger Cox

19/04/18 – 06:35

The reason that the Midland General fleet could be so smart was that the services operated were extremely profitable compared with other operators such as Trent.

Nigel Turner

20/04/18 – 06:40

Indeed so Nigel, Midland General had some very lucrative routes and on weekdays they operated many works and colliery services which operated throughout the day to meet changing shift patterns. On Saturdays, when vehicles which had been used on such duties might otherwise have stood idle, many of their principal services were so busy with shoppers, they were doubled in frequency, so the fleet was fully utilised. A blue livery and a blue chip company!

Chris Barker


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London General – Dennis 4 ton – XX 9591 – D 142

London General - Dennis 4 ton - XX 9591 - D 142

London General Omnibus Company
Dennis 4 ton
Dodson O26/22RO

Pictured at South Croydon on the May 1972 HCVC London – Brighton rally is Dennis 4 ton XX 9591, D142 of 1925 with the  almost inevitable Dodson O26/22RO bodywork. This bus has a complicated history that is detailed on the London Bus Museum website

Although a service was run by Charles Waymann in the Waltham Abbey area from 1920 to 1926, initially using a single decker and a double decker, both of the B type, and a Straker Squire double decker, the first “Pirate” bus in central London is generally credited as being the Leyland operated by Arthur George Partridge, which took to the road on 5 August 1922 under the trading name “Chocolate Express” (though only "Express" appeared on the body sides). The vehicle was a Leyland LB1 (i.e London Bus), a straight chassis vehicle developed from the heavier standard G7 model specifically to meet the stringent Metropolitan Police design requirements. There followed a flurry of activity in 1922 as other opportunist entrepreneurs entered the fray using a great variety of vehicle makes, but the Independents’ choice of double decker manufacture soon generally settled down to that between the Leyland LB (developed as the LB2, then LB4 and finally LB5) and the equally sturdy Dennis 4 tonner. The Dennis was a straight framed haulage chassis derived from the wartime “Subvention” or “Subsidy” type, of which over 7000 were produced in various wheelbases and weights between 1914 and 1918. A few single deck Dennis buses appeared on the London scene in 1922, but, to gain proper access to the lucrative London market, Dennis sought the acceptance of the 4 tonner by the Metropolitan Police as a passenger carrying double decker. Accordingly, the bus variant of the 4 ton model was modified for London in 1923 and emerged with the following specifications:-
Wheelbase extended from 15ft 6ins to 15ft 10ins
Larger front wheels from 720mm to 850mm
Cone clutch, four speed sliding mesh gearbox, overhead worm rear axle (contemporary LGOC buses had 3 speed chain gearboxes – it would seem that, even way back then, AEC spur gearboxes were noisy and unacceptable to the Met).
Body O26/22RO
CAV lighting set
The first 4 tonner for London operation was reported in Commercial Motor in August 1923 as being destined for Messrs W.H. Collins and Co. trading as A1 and painted chocolate brown. The engine, described below, was supplied by the White and Poppe factory in Coventry, set up in 1899 by Alfred White and Peter Poppe (pronounced ‘Popper’ – he was a Norwegian). This company became the main supplier of engines to Dennis who went on to purchase the Coventry firm in the post war recession of 1919.
‘T’ head side valve, 4 cylinder
115mm x 150mm = 6.232 litre, 40 -50 bhp
This engine, stated in the 1923 report as being the power plant of the 4 ton bus, was a widely used and successful unit, 4591 examples being made up to the Dennis takeover in 1919, and it then continued in volume production until the late 1920s. This was certainly the standard engine of the 4 ton double decker. A modified version uprated to 70 bhp was fitted to Dennis’s first bespoke bus chassis, the E type of 1925.

Now comes the conundrum. The power unit of D142 is stated on sundry preservation pages to be an example of the Type D, with a capacity of 5.8 litres yielding 36 bhp. However, the Type D engine (derived from its precursor, the Type C manufactured from 1913) is listed in Dennis drawings as:-
‘L’ head side valve, 4 cylinder
110mm x 150 mm = 5.702 litre, 44 bhp
Thus the alleged engine type of D142 is not consistent with the claimed capacity. The nearest White and Poppe engine of 5.8 litres was this 4 cylinder side valve, very unusual in a time of long stroke engines in being almost "square", and thus probably intended for private car applications:-
120mm x 130mm = 5.881 litre, 40-50 bhp, but only 209 of this engine version were made before the Dennis takeover in 1919, and it does not appear in the Dennis list of engine drawings from that date, which indicates that it was not produced later. Unless the preserved vehicle has improbably received a very rare earlier type of White and Poppe engine, which is emphatically not the alleged Type D anyway, the 5.8 litre engine description must be considered doubtful. I believe the engine in D142 to be the standard 6.232 litre unit approved by the Metropolitan Police, but comments would be welcome.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


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Ribble – Leyland Atlantean – RRN 414 – 1814

RRN 414

Ribble Motor Services
Leyland Atlantean PDR1/1
Weymann L39/33F

Seen in August 1969 in less than pristine condition leaving Manchester’s Lower Mosley Street Bus Station (often confusing us slow witted southerners by appearing on bus destination blinds as “Manchester LMS”) is Ribble 1814, the last of a batch of fourteen Weymann bodied lowbridge Atlanteans on the original PDR1/1 chassis. This was fitted with a straight rear axle which required the lower deck to incorporate a step to gain access to the uplifted rear part of the saloon. The corresponding rear section of the upper saloon also had to be raised, so that a side gangway of the traditional lowbridge variety was employed in that area, though this was located on the nearside of the vehicle (front engined lowbridge double deckers had the gangway on the offside to avoid fouling the passenger entrance). The 1801 -1814 lowbridge Atlanteans were the last examples of the PDR1/1 chassis to be bought by Ribble.
Another OBP page showing one of these Atlanteans may be found here:- At this link
and a comprehensive article by Neville Mercer on Lower Mosley Street is here:- Lower Mosley Street – Article

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

13/03/18 – 06:06

I think by 1962, the bodywork on these lowbridge Atlanteans had improved somewhat on the original examples which came out in 1959. The single skinned fibreglass domes (which tended to crack) had been replaced by double skinned ones, the interior face being a sort of brilliant white plastic which seemed to resist yellowing very well. Other small improvements to the interior trim and panelling made the general ambience feel noticeably better and I quite liked to travel on the later ones. I believe both Ribble and PMT got very long service lives out of them in spite of the problems they were supposed to have had.

Chris Barker

17/03/18 – 07:15

Looks like someone tried to prize off the Ribble fleet nameplate on the front panel.
Perhaps her less than pristine condition is down to her being due her seven year Check/Overhaul.

Cyril Aston

18/03/18 – 06:47

Ribble got very good service from these some lasting into the eighties

Chris Hough

18/03/18 – 06:47

Quite a sad photo, I can’t remember which particular bus it was, but had a trip on one of this batch when brand new on the X23 from LMS. I suppose I haven’t worn any better than the bus! Personally I enjoyed riding on the lowbridge Atlanteans. PMT used them on the Stoke-Stafford service which like the Ribble services gave them a good chance to open up. Travelling in the rear upstairs was quite smooth, I suppose the lower height lowered the centre of gravity, resulting in a better ride.

Andrew Gosling


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Sunday 22nd April 2018