Old Bus Photos

Blue Bus Services – Daimler COG5-40 – GNU 750

 Blue Bus Services – Daimler COG5-40 – GNU 750
Copyright Ken Jones

Blue Bus Services
Daimler COG5-40
Willowbrook C35F

GNU 750 is a Daimler COG5-40 (8485) with Willowbrook (3208) C35F body, and dates from 1939. It is preserved in the livery of Blue Bus Services (Tailby & George) who were based at Willington in Derbyshire. You’ll find more history on this company at Stephen Howarths website.

The above site includes this paragraph
Since the untimely deaths of their spouses in 1955 & 1958 respectively, the company had been run by Mr. Tailby & Mrs. George. Percy Tailby died in 1956 leaving Katherine George as sole proprietor until her death in 1965. Tailby & George Ltd. then passed to Douglas & Bunty Marshall, the latter being the daughter of the Tailbys. By the 1970’s public transport was in a state of serious decline. The railways had been decimated by Beeching and the majority of the bus industry was either nationalised (i.e. Trent) or in the hands of the local council, as in Derby and Burton. Small independent companies like Tailby & George faced fierce competition from the bigger companies. On 1st December 1973, the then proprietors of the company,
Mr. & Mrs. Marshall made the decision to retire. After much speculation the operation of the Blue Bus Service passed from Tailby & George Ltd to the Derby Corporation.
GNU 750_cu

This vehicle was part of The Quantock Motors collection but Stephen Morris is down sizing and selling many of his vehicles. This one was for sale in June 2011 for £25,000. It has been sold to Lithuania. You can see pictures of it in Lithuania here http://fotobus.msk.ru/ It appears that the coach will operate from central Kaunas to Urmas, which is a massive out of town shopping complex.
The above picture was taking in April 2010 when the vehicle was in service on the Quantock Motors gala weekend. It is seen at Bishop’s Lydeard entering the Quantock Motors site. Note the Blue Bus Services badge on the radiator.

Photograph Ken Jones, Copy Ken Jones & Stephen Howarth

25/01/13 – 06:59

What a gem. For English on the link, press the little union flag top right.


25/01/13 – 09:48

What a beautiful coach. Strange, though, that it only had the 5-cylinder Gardner engine. I wish it well in Lithuania, but admit to some qualms about such loving care being lavished on it. Fingers crossed!

Chris Hebbron

25/01/13 – 12:36

The CVD6 was the most common post-war coach, and then the CVG6. How common was the COG6 before the war, though? Until the Regent III/PD2 era, the 7 litre 5LW was thought adequate for single deckers. Only Tilling parsimony allowed the 5LW to flourish after the war.

David Oldfield

25/01/13 – 14:58

It seems a shame that this gem as Joe calls it is no longer in the country where I presume it spent the last sixty odd years, another loss to the UK.
Very nice shot by the way, never seen that done with a bus before.

Trevor Knowles

25/01/13 – 17:27

A couple of other shots of this coach may be found in the 1968 Halifax Parade gallery, when the livery was slightly different. The 8.6 litre Daimler CD6 engine proved to be less than dependable for double deck work, and became instead the standard option for CV saloons up to the early 1950s. Post WW2, the 5LW engine was certainly not restricted to Bristol buses. Daimler offered a CVG5 variant which was taken by several operators. The 5LW was specified for many Guy Arab III machines, single and double deck, and it appeared in Dennis and Tilling Stevens buses also. In addition, this engine was offered in several makes of goods chassis, and for marine and industrial purposes. The 5LW did not depend upon Bristol for its post war survival. In its final form as the 5LW/20 it developed 100bhp at 1700 rpm, though, by that time, it was no longer offered in bus chassis.

Roger Cox

26/01/13 – 06:44

Bullocks of Featherstone (B&S Motor Services) – taken over by West Riding in 1950 – had five of this identical model Daimler (COG5/40), but managed to squeeze 39 seats into their Willowbrook bodies. The first, BWW 475 (202) was in fact a 1936/37 Commercial Show model. They were fine vehicles spoilt by the somewhat excessive engine vibration which necessitated body rebuilds after the war.

David Allen

26/01/13 – 06:45

Bodywork was generally lighter before the war than after, and the COG5 was Daimler’s most popular model for both single and double deck vehicles. Manchester’s COG5 double deckers were very successful, and so unsurprisingly their first postwar Daimlers were CVG5s. But with an unladen weight of around 8 tons these were less satisfactory, so CVG6s were then purchased until lighter bodywork became available in the mid-fifties (together with some lightweight chassis features arising from the development of the CLG5). CVG5s were then tried again, but were beaten by changed traffic conditions, so MCTD reverted to six-cylinder engines for the final batches.

Peter Williamson

Michael Elliott

GNU 750 as an example of the COG5-40 had a more compact engine compartment and cab that the standard COG5. The 40 in the designation denoted the ability to accommodate 40 passengers. GNU also had a five speed gearbox. I drove this bus on several occasions during the early 1970s when it was in the ownership of John Horrocks.

Michael Elliott

26/01/13 – 13:57

This is a very interesting view, Ken – thanks for posting. It reminds me of the "selective" tinting of school photographs in my primary school days. They were taken in black and white but could be enhanced on payment of a supplement.
I’ve heard of – but don’t use – Photoshop. Is that program how you achieved this?

Pete Davies

26/01/13 – 15:47

There are several programs that will do this sort of task, Pete. Photoshop is the top of the range product for professional artshops and advertising agencies, and is extremely expensive – around £600. Cheaper alternatives are available, including Photoshop Elements and a free program called GIMP. I have an old Photoshop version and also the latest Serif Photoplus X6, which will do most of the things that most of us will need.

Roger Cox

27/01/13 – 08:06

Thanks for that, Roger. The program I use came with the slide scanner I bought a few years ago when converting my slides to digital. It’s called Photoimpression 6. I still use it for editing the digital photos: no point in buying one when I have one in hand!

Pete Davies

27/01/13 – 08:07

Or you could download the free program Photofiltre or use online photo editor Sumopaint, Pete.

Chris Hebbron

04/02/13 – 11:52

I was present on the 1st of May for this running day at Bishops Lydeard and was delighted to see GNU 750 being started up and brought into the ‘bus station’. The run went to Hestercombe House and Gardens but most of the gentlemen aboard (some eight or so of us) preferred to stand around the coach rather than visit the house and gardens.

GNU 750_2

There was some playing around with the destination indicator and, as my photograph shows, some details of the coach were displayed. Would it have been usual practice – by Daimler, if no-one else – to include such information at the beginning or end of their destination rolls? Much as I enjoyed the run, a ride on the ex-Royal Blue Bristol L coach HOD 30 a little later proved to be a more luxurious affair.

Berwyn Prys Jones

05/02/13 – 07:05

The Daimler message on the destination blind will almost certainly have been added during preservation. In any case, the destination blind would not have been provided by Daimler, who only built the chassis.
Mention of "GNU 750 being started up" takes me back to Battersea Park May 1969, prior to the start of the HCVC London to Brighton run. GNU’s chief supporters were up bright and early, sprucing and polishing. I was tasked with taking the ‘tender vehicle’, ex Samuel Ledgard 2-stroke Foden ONW 2, across the bridge to pick up the rest of the party from their hotel. The only problem was that ONW’s exhaust pipe was pointing straight at the now gleaming GNU, and a cold start in that position would have resulted in a large deposit of soot! So GNU had to be started up and moved out of the way first. Funny how things stick in the mind.

Peter Williamson

05/02/13 – 17:42

A couple of shots of Foden ONW 2 may be seen on the ‘Halifax Parade 1968’ gallery. Sadly, this interesting vehicle has since fallen victim to the breaker’s torch.

Roger Cox

07/02/13 – 17:03

Thanks, Peter, I half-suspected as much, but hadn’t seen anything like it on the other preserved buses in the Stephen Morris collection. One wonders why it was put there and only there.

 GNU 750_3
You mentioned starting up. I happened to be inside the depot when another of the Stephen Morris collection was being fired up (almost literally). Just out of sight, a driver had started the engine of the lovely ex-East Kent Leyland Tiger. The whole of the southern half of the shed was gradually enveloped in a fog of white dust (photo attached). As there was no wind, the dust hung round the place creating a rather eerie atmosphere with only the noise of the Tiger’s engine to remind me that I hadn’t been transported to an unhealthy underworld somewhere …

Berwyn Prys Jones

08/02/13 – 06:45

This picture reminds me of Percy Main depot on winter mornings. The garage staff had a cold start technique that required two men and a diesel soaked rag tightly wrapped around a stout piece of wood. The rag would be set alight, one of the staff would then turn over the engine while the other would hold the lighted rag at the end of the canister like air filter. Gardener engines are notoriously smoky when cold, and when you have several of them ticking over at once, the exhaust fumes would be billowing out of the open garage doors giving many a passer by the impression that the place was on fire.

Ronnie Hoye

08/02/13 – 09:07

I recall, in the early ’60’s, going on a fortnight’s course in Brum and staying in digs next to Harborne Depot. Come 4.45am, every morning, there would be the cacophony of bus engines being started, ticking over, then driving out. It’s a wonder I ever succeeded at the course with lack of sleep! I lived near a trolleybus depot for some years – what bliss!

Chris Hebbron

08/02/13 – 16:23

GNU 750_4

At the risk of going severely ‘off piste’, this photo of an ex-Crosville L parked just to the right of the vehicles in my previous photo may evoke the atmosphere at the depot even more vividly.

Berwyn Prys Jones

10/02/13 – 07:45

Berwyn, GNU 750 has been in preservation for a long time under several owners. Here it is in 1979 with the same blind. www.flickr.com/photos

Peter Williamson


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Worthing Tramocar – Shelvoke & Drewry – PO 1748 – 7

Worthing Tramocar - Shelvoke & Drewry - PO 1748 - 7

Worthing Tramocar
Shelvoke & Drewry "Freighter"
Harrington B20R

Here is a picture (a small Box Brownie holiday snap dated 1935 from my collection), showing two Worthing Tramocars’ on the Seafront of that West Sussex town.
The rear of the two vehicles is a Shelvoke & Drewry "Freighter" chassis (No. 03:1059), with a Harrington B20R body. It was put into service in April 1930, given Fleet No.7, and had Registration Number PO 1748. It was issued Worthing Licence Plate 213.
The front one of the two is not identifiable but is one of a later delivery, again with Harrington body, this time of B26R configuration. PO 1748 was numbered B82 in the Southdown Motor Services fleet, when the company was sold to that concern for £15,750 on 1st April 1938. Southdown withdrew it in April 1941 and it passed to H. Lane & Co (dealer) of Chelsea, London SW3, it finally ending its life with Clymping Caravans, near Littlehampton Sussex, date unknown.
The Worthing Tramocar company was formed in 1924 by Walter Rowland Gates (41), a Londoner who returned to England from New Zealand, where he had operated a mineral water business. Residing at 141 Brighton Road he observed that elderly passengers were finding it difficult to board the high step platforms of the local Southdown buses, and, that no buses ran along the Sea Front. His answer was to apply for licences to run a service using vehicles designed with ‘low floors’ (nothing new in this world), and Mr Gates registered the name "Tramocar".
The new design of vehicle to operate the service was a dustcart chassis manufactured by Shelvoke & Drewry Limited of Letchworth, Hertfordshire, and know as the Freighter. A particular feature of the S&D Freighter was that its control was by a handle similar to a Tramcar control handle, hence the name ‘Tramocar’. This was situated to the left of the driver, and was used, to change speed, reverse, transmission, brake, and throttle. The handle to the right of the driver was the geared steering tiller. There was also an emergency foot brake operating on the front wheels only. The PSV Construction and Use Regulations of 1933, made this form of control illegal, and a steering wheel replaced the tiller. The first two vehicles (Register BP 9822 and PX 262 – Worthing Licence Plates 109 and 138) had specially designed bodies constructed by the Hickman Body Building Company, 8 Grove Road, Balham, London, SW12. These bodies had seating for 18 passengers in 6 rows of transverse seats. The service started running on Whit Monday 9th June 1924, and operated between 10am and 8pm, with a Single fare of 2d. There is a postcard image of a Worthing Tramocar – PX 1592, on flickr, it can be seen at www.flickr.com/ 
For readers of this website who wish to learn more of this remarkable concern I would recommend ‘An Anthology of The Worthing Tramocar’, published by The Southdown Enthusiasts’ Club in July 2002.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Stephen Howarth

22/01/13 – 14:14

Oh what a fantastic period shot – and remarkably clear at that. History coming alive.

David Oldfield

22/01/13 – 15:14

Thanks for posting this remarkable view. I have looked at the flickr reference mentioned in the posting and adjacent in the "index" is a view of Amberley Museum’s example.

BP 9822

I attach a further view of this device, during a rally in September 2009. It shows BP 9822 but the PSVC listing shows it to have started life as CV 784. The body it now carries was built in the Museum’s own workshops. I understand that the chassis was built for a dustcart.

Pete Davies

22/01/13 – 15:30

A wonderful period photo, full of action and people. How the sepia suits it and gives it the glow of a sunny day, which it appears to be, anyway. With all the flags and bunting out, what was being celebrated, I wonder.
I love the jaunty angle of the motorbike’s exhaust! It was taken some time after August 1932, when the Ford Model Y (third car along) went into production.
One thing I notice about the subject of the photo is that it has pneumatic tyres. Other photos I’ve seen always showed solid ones.
I wonder if this part of Worthing seafront is still identifiable today?

Chris Hebbron

With the aid of Google Maps, I’ve been able to pin this photo down to Marine Parade, with the side turning (where the lone lower height building by the first bus is) being West Street. The buildings and view are the same, even to there still being a shrubbery on the right! The pier’s only a few hundred yards further along.

Chris Hebbron

22/01/13 – 17:08

As it’s 1935, the flags are probably for King George V’s silver jubilee.
And in answer to the question, the buildings on Marine Parade/West Street have not changed much, (it would appear that the link to Google street view below only works for so long, if you manage to get a view please let me have a link) please be patient it takes quite a while to load the street view page – http://goo.gl/maps/EIEPr


22/01/13 – 17:09

What a gem! Those really were "the days", especially for bus enthusiasts, as there was so much variety in both chassis and body supply, which created vast permutations of possibility. Our home resorts were thriving, and this photo captures the atmosphere of the time to perfection.
Blackpool and Bournemouth Corporations also operated the S&D "Freighter", as did White Rose, at Rhyll, later Crosville, so it was a bit of a "seaside special", and they were very popular in their more common role as Dustbin carts! Tiny little wheels, solid tyred, I think, at least with the earlier models, and a tramway type "Tiller" control! Delightful is the word!

John Whitaker

23/01/13 – 07:18

My fathers uncle drove one of these S&D "Freighter" as a dustcart for Dewsbury Corporation.I remember my father telling me that they were steered by rods.I have a vague memory of riding on a Lincolnshire Road Car one at Skegness .I think that they had a Bedford front grill.I would have only been about 5 years old but I remember them being replaced by Bedford OBs with the nearside cut away.I think that one is in preservation.

Philip Carlton

23/01/13 – 07:19

Although off-piste, it’s worth recording that S&D were almost wholly devoted to mundane war work for the duration of WWII. However, despite having no previous experience, they successfully developed and built 37ft miniature submarines, called the Wellfreighter. It was built for use by the Special Operations Executive, for the clandestine insertion and re-supply of agents behind enemy lines and suchlike! Amazing!

Chris Hebbron

23/01/13 – 09:15

Amazing what people and companies turned there hand to during the war – with a good deal of success, and probably not a single degree in sight!!!

David Oldfield

23/01/13 – 10:03

………..but a great deal of accumulated knowledge and common-sense, David!

Chris Hebbron

23/01/13 – 10:04

That looks like some close parking by the c1928/30 Ford Model A Tourer squashed between the 1932 Austin 7 saloon and that Ford 8. As has been said, Worthing has not changed a great deal over the ensuing years.
The name of Shelvoke and Drewry always reminds me of an old friend who worked as a motor mechanic for our local Council for a while and that included the hated job of working on S&D dustcarts. Any job was always such a nightmare of dirt and old rubbish so they were always referred to as working on "S— and Dust"! I’m sorry it’s so blunt but it takes me back to a smile from around thirty years ago!

Richard Leaman

23/01/13 – 11:21

Am I dreaming, or did we have Seddon chassis with S & D equipment on Sheffield dust-carts at one time in the ’60s?

David Oldfield

23/01/13 – 13:19

Since we seem to be wandering off into the realms of dustcarts, now may be an appropriate time to comment on one we had in Lancaster in the late 1950’s. From what I can remember of it, it must have had an underfloor engine, because the dustbins were emptied into an area next to the driver (poor fellow!) and unloading was at the back end. It didn’t seem to last very long, and I can only assume that loading was too slow: one bin at a time rather than two at a time when loading at the back. Was it on a bus chassis, I wonder? There is certainly no mention in the Lancaster City Transport fleetlists of any single decker being rebodied after service as a dustcart, and I don’t recall any lorries of the period having underfloor engines!

Pete Davies

24/01/13 – 11:15

Crosville also ran some of these engaging vehicles in Rhyl.
After the war S&D continued to produce dust carts and later fire engines. In the eighties an American firm Dempster Briothers took over the company, they were a major player in the US dustcart market and S&D built some front loading wagons using their Dumpster system they also built rear loading ones called Routechief. In the eighties Dempster pulled out and the remains of the company were bought by arch rivals Dennis.
Many second hand S&D dust carts ended up in Malta (sounds familiar!) Some of the fire appliances survive at various airports in the UK
One fire engine found fame in the TV series London’s Burning

Chris Hough

24/01/13 – 14:56

As a point of interest, the original Tramocar garage is still extant in Thorn Road (just along the seafront from this shot). It is now used as a Tyre fitters. The original S & D Freighters were later replaced, after the Southdown takeover, by Dennis Falcons with special low height Harrington bodies. I believe one of these (FUF 181?) still exists and is awaiting restoration.

Roy Nicholson

25/01/13 – 06:53

I seem to remember that S&D once built an airport bus that was used airside at Heathrow.Can anybody remember this?

Philip Carlton

25/01/13 – 12:29

Why low-height bodies, Roy?

Chris Hebbron

25/01/13 – 17:16

There’s a photo of the airport bus here: www.flickr.com/photos/

Michael Wadman

26/01/13 – 06:18

Hi Chris………..Should have said low floor rather than low height! This was to enable better access for Worthing’s elderly population. I have also made a faux pas with the garage in Thorn Road, as it now appears to have been converted into a private residence.

Roy Nicholson

26/01/13 – 06:19

The vehicles Philip Carlton remembers at Skegness were Vulcan VSDs dating from the 1920s. There were four of them – NR 6648, NR 7266, FU 5946 and FU 7549, which passed from Skegness Motor Services to Lincolnshire Roadcar in 1934. LRCC fitted the four buses concerned with Bedford petrol engines and radiators after the War and replaced them with Bedford OBs with converted Duple ‘Vista’ bodies during the late 1950s. There were four OBs concerned – HUO 692/LTA 752 ex Western National and ONO 88/89 ex Eastern National.

Michael Elliott

27/01/13 – 07:40

re Lincolnshire OB’s – LTA 752 is the survivor, now with Lodge’s Coaches in Essex – see www.lodgecoaches.co.uk/ it sold to them for a fairly high price at auction a few years ago, it had been in private preservation in Lincolnshire until about 10 years ago, then moved to the south coast (again in preservation.)
Lodges seem to have fitted a hinged door – this may have been a requirement to get PSV licensed again. In Lincolnshire service they ran without a door (and therefore presumably crew operated)



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Aldershot & District – Dennis Dominant – HOU 900 – 174

Aldershot & District - Dennis Dominant - HOU 900 - 174
Copyright Roger Cox

Aldershot & District
Dennis Dominant
Strachans B41C

The Dominant represented the initial attempt by Dennis to offer an underfloor engined single deck chassis. Like the contemporary Regal IV, Royal Tiger, Freeline and Arab UF models, the Dominant was a heavy beast, but, unlike those competitors, it never achieved quantity production. The engine was a horizontal version of the advanced 24 valve wet liner O6 diesel of 7.58 litres coupled to the Hobbs semi automatic gearbox, which used disc clutches instead of annular brake bands to engage the gears. A two speed axle was also specified. The middle section of the chassis was ‘humped’ slightly to clear the engine and gearbox, which made the design rather more difficult to body than its competitors. Only three Dominants were made, and all were shown at the 1950 Commercial Motor Show. One was displayed in left hand drive chassis form, but it is believed never to have run under its own power. The other two received Strachans bus bodies of very different character. The bus in the demonstration park had a supercharged (not turbocharged) engine, raising power from 100bhp to 130 bhp, and full air braking, and had a front entrance bus body, probably with 41 seats, of conventional appearance. The other, vacuum braked Dominant became very well known as Aldershot & District No.174, HOU 900, and its B41C body was an example of the uncertain approach to styling adopted by a number of coach builders in the early years of the underfloor engined chassis. The initial strange wing pattern was subsequently simplified to a more usual style by A&D as seen in the picture above.
The Hobbs transmission revealed early weaknesses, and it was replaced in both running Dominants by standard Dennis two plate clutches and five speed gearboxes. The demonstrator was sold to Trimdon Motor Services who registered it MUP 297 and ran it, now without the supercharger, for seven years, before selling it on to become a mobile shop. The other Dominant remained in the Aldershot & District fleet from 1951 for fourteen years, spending much of that time ploughing its way on the Aldershot – Cove group of services. It is seen here in 1961 leaving Aldershot Bus Station with Weymann L25/26R rebodied Guy Arab I of 1943 No.873, EHO 695 alongside. This Arab was one of a number of such chassis originally destined for, but ultimately not wanted by London Transport. It was initially fitted for A&D service with a Strachans L22/26R body, rebodied in 1950, and finally withdrawn in 1962.

More information about the Dominant may be found on this site:-
www.dennissociety.org.uk and a picture of the Trimdon example may be found here:- http://trimdon.com/galleries/

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

20/01/13 – 13:38

Thank you for posting this view. It has settled a problem I’ve had for some years, in respect of my "bought" slides. Not all photographs come with an indication of where (and/or when) they were taken. I have several where this building features in the background. Clearly, it was in A&D or AV territory, but the precise location was a mystery until now!

Pete Davies

20/01/13 – 14:11

Thanks for the links Roger. The original wing embellishments were rather odd – those sort of things did not really belong on coaches of the new underfloor-engined era, but the front one being the ‘wrong way round’ was plain silly. Many coachbuilders and operators of the time must have been really confused as to what to do with this new layout of vehicle. However once A&D had modified it in the fashion depicted on this photo I think it looked rather nice, with its gently curved lower windscreen line just taking the edge of any tendency to boxiness. The A&D livery of the period was just superb and enhanced any vehicle.
The Arab looks really fine too. Weymann bodies looked great on any type of chassis. Many operators who rebodied their utilities after the war also converted them to the low-bonnetted Arab III layout, but I always felt – purely from an enthusiast/aesthetic perspective – that the Arab II’s original tall bonnet looked far more balanced, and in keeping with its rugged, no-nonsense nature.

John Stringer

20/01/13 – 14:51

The bus station at Aldershot was opened in August 1933, and I believe that it was the only company owned bus station within the BET group. Sadly, it has now gone. The site is now occupied by residential development, and the replacement bus station is an austere affair near the railway station entrance.

Roger Cox

20/01/13 – 15:31

Omnibus Stations Ltd, a company jointly owned by North Western and Ribble owned Lower Mosley St Bus Station Manchester, also long gone.

Phil Blinkhorn

20/01/13 – 16:26

The Wilts and Dorset bus station in Endless Street, Salisbury is up for sale. When it is gone all the services using it will be decanted onto the surrounding streets to join the local services in an already congested City centre. Is this progress? No,it’s called asset stripping. Sorry to go off topic. I’m a great Dennis fan and on a sunny summer afternoon I sometimes cut my grass with my 1960’s Dennis lawnmower.


20/01/13 – 17:56

I know it’s off topic, unless the lawnmowers were scale model prototypes for buses, dustcarts or fire appliances, but I’d no idea they were still being made as recently as the 60’s. I saw one at Amberley on one occasion, several years ago.
To be fair, Paragon, I visit Salisbury every couple of months or so, to exercise my "dodders’ pass". Salisbury Bus Station is in dire need of fairly extensive refurbishment, at least. Is it purely asset stripping, or is it another of those odd instances where the site is sold and then leased back? Is the aim to clog Blue Boar Row, Endless Street and New Canal even more than they are already as a permanent feature, so even more shoppers will be discouraged from visiting, and go out of town or use mail order/internet shopping instead? You’re right. It is NOT progress!

Pete Davies

21/01/13 – 06:12

………with supercharger, no doubt, Paragon!

Chris Hebbron

21/01/13 – 06:13

Paragon, Is it a petrol mower?

21/01/13 – 06:14

Pete, the Dennis lawnmower business was sold off by Hestair, which also disposed of the Mercury truck business. However, Dennis lawnmowers are still made, albeit by the Derby firm of Howardson. See http://www.dennisuk.com/history/

Roger Cox

21/01/13 – 06:16

With reference to Roger’s comment (20/01) about BET-owned bus stations . . . how about: Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Batley – YWD (or corporation?; Newcastle Worswick Street, Northern; Scarborough Westwood, and Bridlington, EYMS; Skelhorne Street (Liverpool) and Carlisle, Ribble; Ammanford, James; Haverfordwest, Western Welsh; and this is now getting too far south for clear recollection – didn’t Southdown own a bus station at either Lewes or Uckfield? (one of the few instances of Southdown using their own premises – on the grounds that they’d already paid road tax to use the public roads, so why pay again to provide their own terminal facilities off-road). And then again what is a bus station – didn’t BMMO use its Stourbridge garage as a "bus station" of sorts?

Philip Rushworth

Oops, I forgot! Didn’t M&D own two bus stations in Maidstone until the early ’70s?

21/01/13 – 06:18

As has been mentioned, body builders weren’t quite sure what to do with the new-fangled underfloor-engined chassis. A few builders seem to have noticed that, unlike half cabs where the front and rear were very different, it was possible here to build in features which emphasised the symmetry of the new shape. A flat side view of this Dominant in its original form would show this symmetry in the ‘wings’, and perhaps something similar was attempted in the mouldings above, but they didn’t quite have the nerve to carry it through. The whole idea was, of course, a big mistake, because a bus/coach is not a static object but something that moves FORWARD!

Peter Williamson

21/01/13 – 14:25

The BET Group North Western Road Car Co also owned many of its bus stations – Macclesfield, Oldham, Altrincham, and Northwich for sure. This was fairly common practice among area agreement companies of any size. More interesting perhaps (to me at least!) are the independent operators who had their own bus stations – Birch Brothers’ Rushden facility springs to mind along with Blair & Palmer’s East Tower Street premises in Carlisle.

Neville Mercer

21/01/13 – 14:26

Yes it is a petrol mower. The engine was made by another great British engineering company now long gone, Villiers of Wolverhampton. I use a modern Dennis on our bowling green, superb quality but unfortunately powered by a trouble-free Japanese engine, just like my car. Where did we go wrong? No. Don’t lets get started on that.


22/01/13 – 06:52

Villiers was a long established company in small engines for motor-cycles and lawnmowers. In the early 1980s, they produced a 2-stroke engine for lawnmowers with Mountfields. Unfortunately, this was a disaster and led to the demise of the company.

Jim Hepburn

22/01/13 – 11:07

Mention of Villiers reminds me of a Fanny Barnett motorbike I had, briefly, in the 1950’s. It was a distress purchase from a friend, when my trusty Ariel broke down, and was soon sold on. A similar distress purchase was a Wartburg, also briefly owned. I was not a lover of two-strokes, although, of course, I exclude the Commer TS3 engine!

Chris Hebbron

22/01/13 – 12:26

Chris, my dad and I drove a 1967 Wartburg Knight from Stockport to Rome and back in the summer of 1967 with my mum and two sisters.
Fuelling was a two stage process which we thought might cause problems once we left French and German speaking countries. The first fuel stop in Italy at Aosta we were approached by a typically dressed Italian widow, all in black. I handed her a note in Italian stating what we needed. Her reply was "Awight Duck, nah problem I’ll get ma son ta fill y’ap all cushty".
Turns out that, though she was Italian, she’d lived in London from 1920 to 1965.
The Wartburg was faultless, its 998cc engine tackling Alpine passes with 5 adults on board as brilliantly as it managed the autobahns and the Autostrada del Sole.

Phil Blinkhorn

22/01/13 – 14:11

I know others who share the positive view of the old Wartburg. I also know people who swore by – not at – their Comecon Skodas. As a dyed in the wool VW person (from Beetle onward) I am a very happy modern Skoda (VW in sheeps clothing) owner – despite recent comments by Phil. Just bought a new one at the weekend – so haven’t worn it out yet!

David Oldfield

22/01/13 – 17:04

Wife had a fourth hand Comecon Skoda in the late 1970s. Rubbish body ended up 50 shades of mustard but the engine and transmission were fantastic as, I’m told, were their PSVs which I have ridden on from time to time over the last 40 odd years.
BTW my latest Skoda troubles with the bonnet lock follow on from a leaking water pump and damaged timing belt at 38,000 miles. Have had partial compensation from Skoda but they are hardly my favourite people at present.

Phil Blinkhorn

23/01/13 – 15:49

There was a lot of snobbery about Comecon products fostered by the likes of Clarkson and Co. who rarely have to pay for their motoring. Saab won the Monte Carlo Rally using a 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine just like the Wartburg. My daughter had a Comecon Skoda for a couple of years. I had to replace the water pump but other than that it was totally reliable. She then wanted a more fashionable Seat-disaster. For nearly 40 years I have ridden East German MZ motorcycles, I’m on my second one now. Practical, easy to maintain – just like we used to make in this country.


HOU 900_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

06/03/13 – 06:57

A slightly late comment on Roger’s excellent article and the mention of the "hump" in the chassis rails – which was actually on the nearside only, over the engine and certainly no higher than the raised sections over front and rear axle. The contemporary press were most unforgiving and scathing with their comments about the uneven surface. Strangely, other manufacturers with even worse "humps" escaped such criticism. I have always thought that quite possibly the press were encouraged by the likes of AEC and Leyland who were marketing their chassis (Regal IV, Royal Tiger) with the expectation that the provided outriggers would be used as pick up points for the vertical body frames and floor. The truth was of course that many body builders simply ignored the top level of the chassis and used substantial cross bearers as a foundation for floor and body where required. Certainly though, this issue pointed the way to the later dead flat chassis on Reliance, Tiger Cub and Lancet UF, to name but three.

Nick Webster

06/03/13 – 16:44

Thanks for your very informative comment, Nick. I am sure that you are right in your suspicions that the ‘big two’ massaged the publicity machine of the commercial press to wound the sales of the Dominant. During WW2, notwithstanding the supreme peril of the nation, Rolls Royce, with its eye on post war dominance, tried every trick to get the Napier Sabre aero engine cancelled, and much of the unbalanced criticism of that engine that still holds sway today derives from that campaign. Dennis engineering was of a high order, but the trouble with the Dominant (and the later Lancet UF) was the dependence upon the old ‘O’ type gearbox once the Hobbs transmission had proved to be unreliable. That gearbox, with its sliding mesh engagement for indirect gears, and the preselective overdrive that required familiarity for successful operation, together with the wrong way round ‘right to left’ gate, required some skill in use when located halfway along the length of an underfloor engined chassis. If Dennis had equipped the Lancet UF from the outset with a straightforward constant mesh five speed gearbox as it did with the Loline, then the sales might well have been more of a challenge to AEC and Leyland.

Roger Cox

06/03/13 – 18:13

Roger, without wanting to drift too far off topic, there may well be truth in what you say about Rolls Royce but there is no doubt that the 24 cylinder H block Sabre suffered from complexity and poor quality control from the start which, had it emerged through a time of peace would have been solved.
In time of war where reliability was all,it was too unreliable compared to the less powerful Merlin and probably too complex for the Erks to deal with as the war moved swiftly forward through Europe with minimal facilities at the forward bases where the Typhoons and Tempests found themselves in the ground attack role, the Sabre, for all its power being uncompetitive in dog fights above 21,000 feet. Post war there was little for the Sabre to power as air forces turned to jet and turboprop power.

Phil Blinkhorn

08/03/13 – 07:30

Phil, the legend of the Sabre’s ‘unreliability’ dies hard. The most convincing and clearly documented assessment of this engine may be found in the book "The Power to Fly" by the extraordinary author LJK Setright. This site, as you rightly point out, is not the forum for aero engine debates, but the facts about this remarkable engine show the traditional, Derby briefed view to be highly jaundiced. To quote Setright: "..when properly maintained instead of being criminally bodged (a reference to the widespread practice of tampering with the automatic boost control by mechanics at several airfields to achieve even higher outputs and thus airspeeds) it was exemplary in its reliability". Production of Typhoons totalled 3300, and that of Tempest V/VIs reached 942. Engine production would have well exceeded the 4242 airframe total. Those figures could not have been achieved by an untrustworthy piece of engineering. It’s high time that the Derby manipulated Sabre legend was despatched once and for all. Meanwhile, back at OBP…..

Roger Cox


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