Old Bus Photos

Crosville – Bristol SC4LK – 803 FFM – CSG 623

Crosville - Bristol SC4LK - 803 FFM - CSG623
Copyright Ian Wild

Bristol SC4LK

Here we have Crosville CSG623 seen outside the small depot in Llanwrst, Conwy, Wales in September 1967. This is one of 24 Bristol SC4LK with Eastern Coachworks DP33F body supplied to Crosville but by the time of this photo it had acquired bus livery and was ending its days as an omo vehicle on rural services. This model in coach form was supplied mainly to Crosville and Lincolnshire Road Car. Unless they had significantly better sound insulation than the bus version, they must have been pretty dreadful vehicles in which to travel any distance.
The other vehicle parked in the depot doorway is another Bristol SC4LK registration 802 FFM fleet number CSG622.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

04/05/11 – 11:47

I used hate driving the type back in the 60′s and early 70′s at Pwllheli’s Crosville depot. Gutless wonders and noisy too boot. Having said that in crawler gear they would easily ,though very slowly, ascend the steepest of hills, reckon one would shin up a telegraph pole too. It was virtually impossible to run early with the type. They were handy when delivering parcels as there was ample stowage room alongside the port side of the 4 cylinder Gardner "power plant" in the cab for bulky items , apart from exhaust pipes from Groom’s Porthmadog. Fare collection was not all that easy either as passengers entered the vehicle behind the driver rather than alongside. Gear changing was fun as they were not selected in the normal H pattern. A case of all over the place and hit and miss operation in the 5 forward box. Now I would give my eye teeth, allbethem false, to have a day behind an SC4 wheel. Never satisfied and ready to grumble, always the driver’s way! Wonder if that’s really true in my case as I passed my PSV back in 1960 and am still engaged driving coaches on a part time basis. If the lottery comes up I’ll buy one. Well we can take that as a never then cant we!

Evan Herbert

07/05/11 – 06:12

Thanks for sharing the experience of driving the SC4LK Evan. My experience of the type is limited to a journey from Llanwrst to Betws y Coed (pretty flat) in genuine SC days and then a trip from Beaumaris to Bangor when Crosville Wales tried them as a bit of a novelty in the 1990s. The route turned right away from the estuary up a fearsome hill, the noise level and vibration in the saloon whilst climbing was excruciating! But the old SC just took it in its stride.

Ian Wild

03/06/11 – 07:27

I remember the service from Beaumris To Penrhyn Castle using SLC12/13 I travelled to the old MOLD depot to pick up one them and then I drove one all day every SATURDAY what fun. I’m Retired now but still watch the Modern Buses go by and I often wonder what these Young drivers that drive along the flat roads of the Fens where I now live would do with the old SLC on a good Welsh Hill

Ieuan Williams

03/06/11 – 17:07

Ieuan, you should meet a friend of mine who is still a driver for First Leeds – he has a wicked mischievous sense of humour !! A few years ago he was involved in the preservation of a Leeds City Transport AEC Regent 1 of 1934, and parked it briefly at a City Centre bus stop. A newly qualified young lady driver was among a few waiting to take buses over, and my mate said to her "Are you waiting for running number **** love ??" "Yes I am" she replied.
"Oh good, this is yours then" said he, and walked away nonchalantly. They reckoned her face was a picture !!

Chris Youhill

08/06/11 – 09:55

Back in the mid 60s as a kid we had family at Llanbedrog who we’d stay with, I’d get out on the local Crosville routes. The R17 Sarn Bach-Abersoch-Pwllheli seemed always to be an SC bus, as were the short workings on the R26 from Pwllheli to Porthmadog.
The SCs seemed to go everywhere. By about 1965 it seemed Pwllheli depot had gone fully OMO with some new MWs for the R26/R27, and now had just 1 seasonal Lodekka on shorts to Butlins.
This was a shame as I was still to experience a ride on a Lodekka. My first ever sight of one, an LD at the tollgate at Boston Lodge had me in awe, it was an R26 heading to Blaenau Ffestiniog, fully blinded with Criccieth, Portmadoc (I think it was referred to at the time) and Maentwrog in the intermediate blind.
I had a few trips on the MWs too, often back to Abersoch as an R19 or R20, with a consequent long walk back along the Warren Beach to Llanbedrog over the cliff.
My last service ride on a Crosville SC was from Wrexham in about 1975, on a short working of the D1 to Acrefair.
I don’t remember much about the noise, but when you put your cash in the tray for the driver it would jingle up and down with the engine vibration. I also remember the occasional crunching gear changes.
In the early 70s the route network around Pwllheli seemed to get cut back and frequencies reduced. I seem to remember there were some of the early Perkins engined Bristol LHs (SLPs) in use there by then? I didn’t ride on them at the time as I had little interest in them, but now wish that I had done!
It was great to read Evan’s first hand experiences of the type, especially so in the context of Pwllheli.

Keith Jackson

14/09/11 – 07:53

Evan you would like to drive an SC again, where abouts in the country do you live?
In the following post to yours Ian discusses his memories of the SC and the trips from Penrhyn to Beaumaris Castles with SC 12 & 13.
SC 13 has been off the road all of this year with engine problems but I have just managed to re-build the engine and it went back on the road last Friday when it journeyed to Lincoln to have it’s MOT.
Hopefully it will be at Meadowhall this weekend.

Gordon Burkinshaw

16/09/11 – 09:31

Hi Gordon. Still live in former SC territory, Pistyll close to Nefyn on the Lleyn Peninsula. Been doing a bit of casual driving for Clynnog and Trefor Motor Co Ltd. Usually NX dupes and privates using B12M’s. Ugh didgie tachos.

Evan Herbert

18/09/11 – 06:14

Hi Evan,
Nice to hear that you still live in a lovely part of the world.
I will try and get SC13 over to Llandudno next year so perhaps you might manage to meet up if I do.
Will keep you informed.

Gordon Burkinshaw

25/09/11 – 20:40

Glad to hear that SC13 is back on the road Gordon. My memories are of SSG677 and CSG637 at Holyhead around 1970-71. They were the only buses from the Holyhead depot that could be used on the N1 service to Amlwch because of the narrow lanes around Llanfairynghornwy.
I’m now re-living my Bristol SC days as I have a Gardner 4LK in our narrow boat!


20/11/11 – 13:41

Not a bus enthusiast as such, but missed seeing the lovely green buses on a nostalgic return to Abersoch. The green livery fits well with the scenery. Websites like this help to relive happy memories of trips around the Lyn peninsula (we didn’t have a car back then).
Thank you for the photos.

Mr Anon

26/04/12 – 12:13

It’s so good to read about the old buses but what about the drivers who drove them, is there any left out there from the North Wales depots i.e Caernarfon, Bangor and The Isle of Anglesey please let us know.

Ieuan Williams

28/04/12 – 08:02

Just found your site as I recall we used to have a couple of these in Oswestry when I was younger. I was really trying to find out what happened to a bus I use to travel on a great deal, Bristol RE fleet number SRG 208. As for the buses in the photo I think ours in Oswestry had very slow sliding door, but I may have that wrong as it is a good few years ago.

Kevin Young

27/08/12 – 11:17

Kevin, I have photos of former Oswestry RE SRG208 which may be of interest to you. They illustrate where she went after disposal by Crosville Wales and how she met her unfortunate end…
www.flickr.com/photos/crisparmour/  1  
www.flickr.com/photos/crisparmour/  2  
I hope they are not too distressing for you!


02/10/12 – 14:59

Why did the David Brown gearbox on the SC4LK have a strange gear pattern from third to fourth coupled with a large difference in gear ratios? I believe high revs were needed in third before engaging fourth.
Was this box primarily designed for use in other applications?

Nigel Richards

18/04/13 – 07:15

The Bristol SUL4A’s operated by Southern Vectis had the same David Brown box with similarly queer gears, I never did quite get the hang of them, but the men who drove them regularly got used to it and could make those buses fly on the level!

Patrick Hall

803 FFM_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

14/08/13 – 06:22

I was the last manager at Llanrwst before it was made into an outstation of Llandudno at the end of summer 1969. Mind you I was only 19 at the time and a trainee as they did not want to appoint another permanent manager.
These buses used to go on all the routes and had great fuel consumption in the hands of some drivers. Over 20 mpg I recall.
There was one journey which was very busy during the summer and that was the 15:00hrs to Betws and Cwm Penmachno. There would sometimes be people hanging out of the door leaving Llanrwst.
Some of them later made their way to Liverpool and the drivers used to refer to them having Welsh gearboxes.

Mike Lambden

15/08/13 – 07:00

Re Patrick Hall’s comment (Hi! Pat haven’t spoken for a while) Many years ago I was totally confused by one driver at Minehead, Western National, who referred to the climbing abilities of the ‘David Browns’ they had – and there are some real hills around here!! To me a David Brown was a tractor and it took me some while to fathom out that he was talking about the SU’s, being a clever clogs teenager it was beneath me to ask – oh how I wish I had asked more questions of the old drivers.

David Grimmett

15/08/13 – 11:56

On the subject of David Brown gearboxes, the six speed type used on lorries caught out many a driver until they got used to them. It was a normal left to right ‘H’ layout 1/4, but 5/6 were the other way round, so you went round the gate from 4 to 5, then forward for 6
        1 3 6
    R 2 4 5

Ronnie Hoye


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Samuel Ledgard – Daimler CWA6 – HGF 948

HGF 948_lr
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Samuel Ledgard
Daimler CWA6
Brush C36C

Life for an enthusiast working for Samuel Ledgard was always full of intriguing surprises and developments, some of which are enigmas to this very day and will almost certainly now remain so. The saga of HGF 948 is a fascinating one indeed which involves two Daimler CWA6 chassis, a prewar Maudslay SF40 coach chassis, a Park Royal "relaxed utility" double deck body, and a prewar (1935) Brush luxury coach body. The starting point of the scheme involved the first major overhaul for Ledgard’s own Daimler CWA6/Duple utility JUB 649, this routine procedure being completed in 1963 but alas, most uncharacteristically, the bodywork condition was not to the Ministry Man’s satisfaction and the vehicle was held in abeyance for later consideration. However, also in 1963, the Sutton Depot "HGF"s were being acquired and many arrived with worthwhile current Certificates of Fitness – HGF 948 was one such and the mysterious decision was taken to mount its sound body on the satisfactorily overhauled and certified chassis of JUB 649, producing a unique vehicle which could be put into service almost immediately after minor body attention and repainting. The Duple body of JUB 647, the only Ledgard utility of that make to deteriorate prematurely, was scrapped, as was the Maudslay SF40 chassis. We were now left with a Daimler CWA6 chassis with Certificate of Fitness and a prewar Brush centre entrance full front luxury coach body – "virtually impossible to match the two" you might reasonably say, but never underestimate the quiet modest expertise of those immortal Armley workshops – in no time at all the mongrel subject of this little exercise was ready to start several years of valuable service on all classes of coach duties, and was not too proud to cover the occasional conductor operated service journey when asked. Earlier I used the term "enigma" and here is one if ever there was one. Why, we wonder still, wasn’t HGF 948 left in one piece like its twenty one siblings which joined our fleet?? – and why wasn’t the Brush coach body simply mounted on Ledgard’s own Daimler JUB 649?? Here is a picture of the "new" HGF 948 at Elland Road Football Ground on a supporters’ pilgrimage – the vehicle bears a pensive expression, as if there must surely be more prestigious assignments even on a Winter Saturday !!
I’m very happy to have been able to show Chris Hebron, as requested, another of the many fascinating sides of the Ledgard operation.

JUB 649_lr

This other view is of JUB 649, newly in service with the London body from HGF 948, in Otley Road, Headingley – proudly sporting its own pair of small headlamps incorporated into the original large frames from HGF 948 – only just now, while uploading this picture, have I noticed this "one off" anomaly.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Youhill

A full list of Daimler codes can be seen here.


17/04/11 – 05:00

A fascinating story, Chris, all the more so because of the seeming illogicality of it all! And the headlamp modification is bizarre, the small one inside the large one. In fact, the standard LT Daimlers also had the tiny headlamps, until some of the last went for overhaul, when they were fitted with larger ones, However, HGF 948 was not one of the few overhauled in 1952, being so treated in 1949, maybe why the body was not considered entirely sound. Incidentally, I never saw an overhauled Merton one with large headlamps. Samuel Ledgard were clearly worthy successors in maintaining LT’s high standards of painting and maintenance. And it looks the ‘bees knees’ in blue, with silver-painted radiator and minus adverts! Did they all keep their LT three-piece blind displays throughout their tenure with SL? When was it finally withdrawn?

Chris Hebbron


17/04/11 – 05:10

JUB 649 brings back many fond memories as I rode on this bus on many occasions and always thought it ran smoother than its HGF London cousins. Regarding the reason for this body transfer, I wonder whether the issue was "brass." The Executors of Samuel Ledgard were struggling to keep solvent in late 1953 and having spent a lot of "brass" on the overhaul of the chassis of JUB 649, they wanted to get this bus back in service, so a quick fix would be to transfer an ex London Park Royal body with some Certificate of Fitness and HGF 948 fitted the bill. The time to sort the Brush coach body transfer on to a Daimler CWA6 chassis would take a longer time to do. Many thanks Chris for a wonderful posting.

Richard Fieldhouse


20/04/11 – 07:49

Many thanks Chris H for even more fascinating local London information about the fabulous "HGF"s. You may be amazed to hear that not one of these valiant motors retained the three piece London displays throughout their time with us. Its true to say that every single bus had the front arrangements altered many times to various differing styles – in fact if one’s memory would allow it a sizeable booklet could be written on this aspect alone – and its possible that a study of the vast number of photographs available would allow an accurate and detailed account to be assembled. Most entered service initially with the London displays masked in a variety of individual ways and often with the tiny "mean" destination blinds from prewar Titan TDs and the like. Four, however, were comprehensively overhauled from the start and were fitted with very professional platform doors and a freshly designed single front aperture, with new large size roll, and the Company name in an illuminated glass above. By contrast every one of the twenty two buses had the platform destination window fitted with paper advertisements, with a variety of advertisements for the Company’s activities. Likewise all the rear London displays were removed and impeccably panelled over. JUB 649 gave stirling front line service on extremely arduous and busy routes until withdrawal on 31st March 1960.
Richard, you are quite right in that "brass" was critically short for a couple of years after Sammy passed away – in fact its nothing short of a miracle that the Firm survived that spell to recover and eventually become smarter and finer than ever before the end loomed. We are still baffled, however, as to why HGF 948 wasn’t left alone – and the chassis of JUB 649 mated with the coach body of CUB 1 – we shall never know now shall we ??

Chris Youhill


21/04/11 – 06:08

I would imagine that transferring the coach body to the Daimler would not have been without difficulties.
I believe the Maudslay SF40 was an underfloor engine chassis with a set back front axle and would have had a straight floorline throughout and as it was centre entrance, would have had two seats beside the driver. Presumably, a hole would have been cut for engine intrusion and a bonnet would have been required to cover it and then a bulkhead added where there hadn’t been one previously.
I guess the wheelbase of the two vehicles would have differed also.
Certainly one of the most fascinating creations I’ve ever seen!

Chris Barker


21/04/11 – 11:45

A bit of confusion here Chris B I’m afraid. The Maudslay SF40 was a front engined chassis, with prominent and ugly starting handle to prove it. The transfer of the body to a Daimler CWA6 chassis was indeed a difficult – outlandish even – performance, but this was achieved by Rhodes of Bingley (a coachbuilder and repairer) who made the necessary modifications to the Brush coach body. The procedure could have been carried out in exactly the same manner though if JUB 649 had been chosen (having a chassis identical to HGF 948) and so the mystery of why the Londoner was interfered with in this interesting saga remains unanswered and I fear always will. The upside of the strange affair is a bonus though, as enthusiasts were treated to two literally unique vehicles.

Chris Youhill


21/04/11 – 11:56

Look at the relationship between the steering position/wheel and the front: we are surely looking at quite a space in front of the where the front should be: was the driver barbequed, or was the coach like one of today’s "luxury" service bus rattlecans where the driver does not seem to know how to regulate the heating?



22/04/11 – 06:44

Chris Y, yes of course the SF40 had a front engine, the number of times I’ve looked at pictures and seen the starting handle as you say, and the large grille but its one of those rarities which gives a false sort of impression, I think its because the entrance was (usually) ahead of the front wheel!
With regard to Joe’s comment, I hadn’t noticed the steering wheel does seem quite a way back from the windscreen, would the conversion have involved alteration of the driving position?

Chris Barker


22/04/11 – 11:44

Joe and Chris B have raised an amazing issue which I had never noticed before – shame on me as one of the most avid of Ledgard devotees !! Firstly, I’m quite confident that no alteration whatever was made to the Daimler chassis of HGF 948. This being the case, comparison of the Brush body in Maudslay and Daimler days reveals some far more dramatic coachwork alterations than I’d ever noticed.
On the Maudslay the front axle occupied the first two bays ahead of the centre exit, but not the front section – on the Daimler the bay ahead of the exit has become uninterrupted while the CWA6 front axle occupies most of the front section. Whether or not the length of the front/windscreen section has been slightly increased is debatable – possibly it has a little, and this would account for the quite unusually large distance between the driver and the windscreens. It seems likely that the Daimler chassis members have been lengthened slightly, possibly to allow the radiator to be mounted immediately behind the front panels, explaining why the driver is so far back. One thing I’m sure about – if Sir Edward Elgar had been around he would certainly have written an extra "Enigma variation" in honour of this fascinating vehicle, and I wonder what the Sutton commuters would have thought if they could have seen the unique career which awaited their motive power in its later years !!

Chris Youhill


23/04/11 – 08:13

It seems to me that the front end of the chassis was left unaltered and I would expect to find the original Daimler fluted radiator under there, with all that was used of the SF40 chassis front end being the grille. What has happened is that the body overhangs the front of the chassis after modification, giving the effect that the steering wheel has been set back. To change the geometry of the steering would be a very complex job and easy to get wrong.
I need to swot up on my maximum legal vehicle lengths. Although the chassis proportions have been altered, there is no issue with overall length as single-deckers had a longer maximum permitted length than double-deckers and by the time this had been modified thirty foot long single-deckers were legal.

David Beilby


23/04/11 – 08:14

As you’ve already alluded to, what a lot of effort to go to, especially as the body alterations were out-sourced! I’d love to have ridden on this mongrel, or maybe hybrid would be a better word!

Chris Hebbron


23/04/11 – 08:15

The camera angle can be deceptive, but if you look at JUB you can see the difference: the driver is no longer sitting "on" the front axle. This is not, I think, unusual in a coach of that vintage. My idea was that you had a hot Daimler engine, reeking of diesel cooped up in the passenger "saloon" but of course it’s not, it’s an AEC! Yes- it looks as if the radiator could have been brought forward to the front of the (extended) chassis.
Who, by the way, installed that "Bentley" radiator grille on JUB?!



23/04/11 – 08:16

Clearly Ledgards could have selected a doner vehicle for the coach which would have made for a much simpler conversion – and a newer one too, the decision to rehabilitate a seventeen year old coach body was astonishing to say the least but perhaps the Maudslay was chosen because they wanted the end product to have a full front.
As for HGF 948, if as you say Chris Y, the body was sound and it had a current Certificate of Fitness, this is pure speculation but is it possible the CofF would have expired in a relatively short time and the need for serviceable deckers was desperate? The coach appears to have been fitted with a half bulkhead behind the driver, just up to waist level, is there a photo of the Maudslay before the conversion?
It occurred to me how wonderful it is that Ledgards unwittingly provided two creations which are a source of interest and fascination to us nearly sixty years later, something which will never happen in future!

Chris Barker


23/04/11 – 16:39

I’m surprised at how much interest this matter has aroused, and so many theories also. So here is a photo of the Maudslay CUB 1 when new (source unknown but presumably Brush Works). Also the original posting shot is with it for comparison.

Chris Youhill

CUB 1_lr

HGF 948_lr


24/04/11 – 07:21

Thought for the day. Why did AEC buy Maudsley and Crossley in 1948? They were both lame ducks and financial disasters. [Yes, I know, they were also innovative engineers but they never followed through with practical or commercial successes.] What was in it for AEC? They derived far more benefit from Park Royal – Roe a year later in 1949.

David Oldfield


24/04/11 – 07:25

Thx for the ‘before’ photo, Chris Y. I have to say that the original product looked better and surprisingly modern for 1935. It would have passed muster as new in 1948, IMHO. The starting handle slightly mars the sleek effect, though! Interesting that the quarter bumpers survived the rebuild!

Chris Hebbron


25/04/11 – 06:52

Yes thanks indeed, even more interest! The rebuild appears to be even more substantial than I imagined.
Just like those ‘spot the difference’ competitions, I notice that the outward flare of the skirt panels was removed, BOTH wheelarches were re-positioned and altered, the nearside front window appears to be the same length but droops more at the corner and the front dome seems to be different also, all this and the considerable alteration to mouldings, amazing!

Chris Barker


25/04/11 – 13:18

As you say Chris B, this saga gets ever more fascinating. While I was aware that the outward flare of the skirt had disappeared I hadn’t noticed until you pointed it out that the Daimler rear axle caused the rear half of the body to be "adjusted forward" by about one bay width. Without detracting from the many fascinating operations embarked upon by my grand old Firm it has to be said that the scope of this particular scheme becomes ever more astonishing, and no doubt expensive ?? – for a result which went directly against the "modern look" craze which was all the rage at the time.

Chris Youhill


25/04/11 – 17:57

I can guess at the Maudslay/Crossley takeover- AEC wanted more capacity for anticipated post war orders which could not be provided in austerity Britain- so buy it in and use the best of the resources you have acquired, plus factory capacity.
As for the "new" coach, do you think the coachbuilders wanted some practice, again with a view to post war expansion & had no chassis to work on? It’s the sort of job you set the apprentices on!



27/04/11 – 07:41

One further comment then I’ll cease! The original vehicle (the Maudslay) was a very handsome coach of which Ledgards were no doubt justifiably proud. It achieved a very creditable sixteen or seventeen years service (including a world war!) and as Chris H says, it would have stood up well against many an early underfloor engined coach of the early fifties.
I hadn’t realised that there is a photo of it in the ‘Prestige’ volume, which tells us that it was fitted with a Leyland 8.6 litre diesel unit in 1948. Presumably, by 1952, the Maudslay chassis was beyond redemption mechanically, especially as that company had sold out by then. It made me wonder if it would have been a cheaper option to transfer the Daimler running units into the Maudslay chassis but I know little about such matters.
Perhaps Ledgards went into the venture thinking that the fine looks of the original would be retained but as we see, the rebuild, whilst being something to marvel at, rather lost the gracefulness of CUB 1.

Chris Barker


28/04/11 – 06:34

Please Chris B , no need to cease commenting at all!! I had completely forgotten about CUB 1 having its Maudslay engine replaced by an 8.6 litre Leyland unit and, while there’s a year or so discrepancy in various accounts, I imagine that it would be the engine removed from 1936 TS7 Tiger/English Electric CUG 844 which was prematurely and very surprisingly withdrawn with a cracked chassis.

Chris Youhill


29/04/11 – 06:55

Well ok! No doubt the Maudslay engine was life-expired by 1948 but could it have been that after fitting the Leyland 8.6 unit, problems arose with massive engine overhanging the front axle? (does that remind you of anything?) There was something I just couldn’t put my finger on when looking at the two pictures, then I realised. Erase the grille and starting handle from CUB 1 for a moment and like I said, it could easily be taken for an underfloor engined coach of the early fifties. In its second incarnation, it was very obviously a front engined vehicle with full front.

Chris Barker


30/04/11 – 06:53

Bearing in mind that this was a bus built as a decker, as a coach, it must have had quite a lively performance.

Chris Hebbron


30/04/11 – 06:55

Yes Chris B, I daresay the Leyland engine was much heavier and, although I never heard of any difficulty arising from that, its quite feasible that it was a problem. I chuckled when you asked if that reminded me of anything – only a few weeks ago I was privileged to be allowed to sit in the cab of the preserved West Riding Guy Wulfrunian, and even though it was safely in a depot shed with the engine off, I almost reached for the travel sickness tablets on remembering that four way swaying and hissing of air valves from all those years ago !! As is widely known the excess weight on the front was ultimately partly relieved by removing eight upper saloon seats – that’s the end of this diversion from the topic.

Chris Youhill


30/04/11 – 15:27

Amazing, Chris Y. I suggest that someone posts a photo of a Guy Wulfrunian, which would probably generate a record number of posts! I believe it would just qualify on age grounds!

Chris Hebbron

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S H M D – Atkinson PD746 – UMA 370 – 70

S.H.M.D. - Atkinson Mk II - UMA 370 - 70
Copyright David Beilby

Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield
Atkinson Mk II (6LW)
Northern Counties H35/25CD

Following on from Roger Broughton’s comments on the S.H.M.D. Daimler CVD6 posting I thought it might be appropriate to post this view of the preserved S.H.M.D. Atkinson double-decker in Stalybridge bus station on 30th April 1978. The location still contains many props used for the filming of ‘Yanks’ and the less kind may have commented that Stalybridge had to be modernised to bring it up to the 1940s setting for the film!
I encountered some of the filming here by chance. I arrived at Stalybridge on the late train from Leeds (the one-time York – Aberystwyth mail train) and saw a pool of light coming from the town centre. Going over to investigate I found in the bus station the two Keighley-West Yorkshire veterans (JUB 29 and CWX 671) given those Stalybridge and District fleet names and dirtied in a very effective manner. Also on standby was a Grey Cars Regal III which was even less historically accurate. I don’t recall much of this footage escaping the cutting room floor.

Photograph and Copy contributed by David Beilby

14/04/11 – 05:00

Not sure about the Atkinson Mk II heading – surely this was a PD746 or possibly a PD746S, I’ve seen both versions used. And if it was a "Mark II" then what was a "Mark I"? Whatever its official designation it remains a lovely machine and thank heavens that it was preserved for posterity.

Neville Mercer

27/04/11 – 07:28

One-off designs tend to have a short and unsuccessful life due to lack of proof testing that volume production brings but the Atkinson double decker seemed to have a full and active service life with SHMD. This is perhaps because it was built from well proven major component parts, ie a Gardner 6LW engine and I believe a Self-changing Gears semi-automatic gearbox. It is a great pity Atkinson did not produce more double-deckers as they obviously got the package right.
Their sortie into single-deck production was largely at the behest of some North West operators who wanted a robust Gardner engined vehicle on the lines of the Bristol MW which was not available to non-BTC companies in the 1950′s. Atkinson supplied the Alpha saloon to LUT, North Western and SHMD at this time.
LUT was fairly well wedded to Guy Arabs for its double deck purchases and North Western, requiring low-height vehicles chose the Dennis Loline so apart from the solitary SHMD vehicle there were no other double-deck deliveries from Atkinson.
I have ridden on no.70 at Boyle Street and I agree it is a splendid machine. The centre-entrance makes it a doubly unusual vehicle. I understand this came about as the general manager at the time came from Blackpool and was influenced by those splendid Burlingham PD2′s.

Philip Halstead

27/04/11 – 13:19

Thank you David for the extra info regarding other buses readied for the film

Roger Broughton

14/11/11 – 17:43

Arthur Brearley, the HPTD driving instructor during the 1960s, told me that the Atkinson PD746 was seriously considered by Halifax in the 1950s. In the event, further Daimlers arrived.

Roger Cox

29/11/11 – 17:03

When 70 bus Atkinson DD was delivered new it was fitted with a David Brown gearbox not a lot of people know that

Old Bus Driver

01/12/11 – 07:43

I haven’t watched the excellent film "Yanks" for a good while now, but much of it was filmed in Keighley and I think the bus concerned was Keith Jenkinson’s Keighley-West Yorkshire Titan JUB 29 wasn’t it ??

Chris Youhill

01/12/11 – 07:44

Yes it was Keith Jenkinson’s JUB 29 Chris. I remember it spending a short time in West Yorkshire’s Body Shop for a general sprucing up after filming had finished. It was tucked snugly in the back left-hand corner (viewed from Westmoreland Street) and achieved almost ‘local celebrity’ status with some of the older staff during its brief stay. Like you, I’ve never seen the film, but know that quite a lot of the scenes were shot around Keighley and its railway station. That would tie in very nicely with the Keighley-West Yorkshire vehicle, not to mention the splendid engines of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.

Brendan Smith

01/12/11 – 07:45

David Brown was a prolific supplier of gearboxes to lorry builders such as the likes of Atkinson, Foden and ERF in the 40′s 50′s and 60′s, usually mated to Gardner engines, so I wouldn’t be surprised that the only Atkinson double decker was so supplied. What I do not know is was David Brown gearboxes as popular with the bus chassis builders of the period?


01/12/11 – 15:21

About D Brown gearboxes SHMD had 2 Daimler dds with DB gearboxes and they were nice to drive unlike the Atkinson dd which was orible, very slow change and very heavy steering.

Old Bus Driver

04/12/11 – 07:55

Bus manufacturers had a stronger preference for making their own gearboxes than lorry builders, but the users of David Brown gearboxes in PSVs I know of were BMMO (all postwar manual transmission models I think), Tilling-Stevens, Atkinson (Alpha), Bristol (SC4LK) and Daimler (CSG). The Daimler CSG was overtaken by events, soon being replaced by the CCG with Guy transmission when Daimler and Guy came under common control.

Peter Williamson

05/12/11 – 06:40

Thank you for that info. Peter.
Interesting to note that of the five chassis makes/models you list three of them would have been fitted with Gardner engines. What would be the normal engine choice for the Tilling-Stevens?


05/12/11 – 16:46

The immediate post-war Tilling-Stevens Express models certainly had David Brown gearboxes and those I know of had Gardner 5LW or 6LW engines. The majority of post-war Expresses went to Hong Kong. They were sound chassis and these engines/gearboxes gave them great reliability. (One, I believe, has survived). Were that other chassis builders of the time – Crossley in particular, had done the same.

Chris Hebbron

06/12/11 – 06:39

The Bristol SU chassis also utilised a David Brown (5-speed) gearbox, but for some reason Bristol turned to Turner (no pun intended!) for gearboxes on the LH. Funny how to many of us, David Brown gearboxes seem more associated with lorries than buses, as Eric says. It’s interesting to learn that BMMO and Tilling-Stevens also used them. As an aside, when David Brown purchased Aston Martin many years ago, the letters DB were used on consecutive new models over the years, to denote the ownership.

Brendan Smith

08/12/11 – 06:38

The alternative to Gardner engines in postwar Tilling-Stevens models was Meadows. The survivor, GOU 732 from memory, originally had a Meadows engine but now has a Gardner 6LW.

Peter Williamson

08/12/11 – 15:35

Following on from my post above, for what it’s worth, here’s a link to the Hong Kong Tilling-Stevens Express survivor: http://cmchk.no-ip.org/
If memory serves me, I believe that Hong Kong had the largest fleet, well over 100, of post-war Tilling-Stevens in the world and they lasted over 20 years in service.

Chris Hebbron

16/04/12 – 07:38

So pleased to read about the Atkinson 70. Took me into Manchester(Schooldays) daily when on the splendid fast 125 Glossop Hyde Manchester limited stop service in the fifties!. I remember drivers struggling with the gear box when it first came into service. A lovely vehicle to ride on but never up to the speed of the CVD6 vehicles 23-24-25 that worked the 125 so regularly. Great days – SHMD was transport at its best – and yes – we always called it "the Joint Board"

Roger Chadwick

07/10/12 – 08:32

I came across the ‘S.H.M.D. No.70′ correspondence purely by chance. I travelled on the Atkinson bus in the mid-60s and remember its sluggish performance compared to that of the six, similarly-bodied, Daimlers bought by S.H.M.D. whose last two, open-platform, Daimler doubler-deckers-dating from 1959-seem to have been unpopular with drivers because of their ‘awkward’ (David Brown) gearboxes: one of them was heard to say that you could ‘have a meal’ in the time that it took to make a gear change. Given the hilly nature of the S.H.M.D.’s operating area, one wonders how such apparent ‘lemons’ came to be bought at a time when the Joint Board was taking its first Leyland PD2s that seemed to take very steep routes in their stride (unlike those PD2s operated by Manchester on shared routes). Lancashire United bought a 1959 Guy Arab (now preserved) which also had a David Brown gearbox: enthusiasts who test-drove this bus on a ‘flat’ circuit found the ‘box ‘tricky’ when selecting gears but were otherwise quite satisfied with it.

John Hardman

07/10/12 – 11:29

Philip Halstead said that the Atkinson single decker was designed and built at the behest of "some" North West operators.
It was more specific than that. North Western Road Car was, to say the least, miffed to find itself remaining under the BET banner after the 1947 Transport Act which nationalised the Tilling companies in whose company NW, a dedicated Bristol user, felt at home.
With the Act due to become law in 1948, and aware of long delivery times, NW ordered 122 Bristol single deckers before the terms of the Act restricted Bristol purchases to the nationalised Tilling Group.
The last of these were delivered in 1950. Double deckers were in the minority in the fleet and NW was seemingly happy with its PD1 and PD2 purchases in the late 1940s and plans to re-body its 1938/9 K5Gs and austerity Guy Arabs with Northern Coach Builders bodies, chosen because a senior NCB manager was ex-Eastern Coach Works. A spanner was thrown in the works when NCB suddenly closed on the death of its owner and the re-bodying contract passed to Willowbrook.
Much of the double decker territory was relatively flat around Stockport, Manchester and out on the Cheshire Plain. The singles however had to tackle parts of the Pennines and the Peak District and the Gardner powerplant was deemed necessary.
The problem was the favoured Gardner engine was only available powering products from Coventry, Wolverhampton Sandbach and Guildford – none of which suited. A massive rebodying programme of the pre war Bristol singles was implemented and what were effectively "new" Bristols continued to appear until 1952 after which further complex body swapping went on well into the late 1950s.
In 1949 Atkinsons were approached by NW Chief Engineer H Stuart Driver and they agreed to build a single decker to NW’s "proxy Bristol" requirements.
The first two with Weymann bodies arrived in 1951 and were compared to two Leyland/Weymann Olympics. Whilst they had rear entrances, compared to the Leylands’ front entrance, everything else was vastly in their favour.
A further 14 followed in 1953, the last two were bodied by Willowbrook as "lightweight" vehicles with single rear wheels, the last had a 4 cylinder Gardner engine in place of the 5LW but was found to be unsatisfactory.
An order for 100 5LW powered lightweights was placed but this was countermanded by the BET main board. Stuart Driver made a presentation to the BET main board showing the benefits of the Atkinson against the BET now preferred Leyland Royal Tiger. His presentation was rejected.
He caught the first train back to Stockport, cleared his desk and walked out. NW, for better or worse got Royal Tigers and later Tiger Cubs. The Atkinsons gave around 13/14 years service and, had they been front entrance, would have lasted longer in OMO service.
I rode on these to school many times and they were quick, though the rear entrance with steep steps didn’t help loading and unloading.
Meanwhile LUT had been watching developments between NW and Atkinsons and ordered vehicles which were to be delivered in 1952 with front entrance bodies on 6 and centre entrance bodies on 4. Between 1952 and 1955 LUT amassed no less than 40 of the type.
SHMD was a dedicated Thorneycroft user. When production of Thorneycroft buses ceased, their allegiance changed to Daimler. They bought a Freeline single decker in 1952 fitted with a centre entrance standee 60 passenger capacity body. The body was deemed a success, the chassis wasn’t, so follow on orders for the body were placed on Atkinson chassis. The deliveries between 1953 and 1956 were centre entrance, the last in 1959 were front entrance but were arranged with 34 seats and a standee area for 26.
A total of 7 single deckers and the double decker were purchased by SHMD, the double decker being an attempt to find an alternative to the Daimler chassis then dominating the double decker fleet.
When Frank Brimelow took over as SHMD General manager in 1956 he took two batches of PD2s. These had fully rated 0.600 engines – the reason they outperformed their Manchester counterparts which, under Albert Neal’s parsimonious pursuit of economies, de-rated his engines to 100bhp.
Had NW got its way, had the double decker been built for a more substantial operator, had the prototype not been with an oddball body layout, had the Bamber Bridge facility been larger, had ifs and ands been pots and pans……………you know what I mean.

Phil Blinkhorn

07/10/12 – 13:35

During the brief period when I was a Schedules Clerk at SELNEC in the early 70′s, I worked with a chap called Peter Caunt who had worked at North Western, both in the offices and as a driver.
In his inimitably enthusiastic manner he recalled driving the Atkinsons, which he referred to as the ‘fastest coal lorries in the north’. He said they were very quick – even more so than the Reliances – but that they had very heavy steering and gearchanges making them hard work for a full shift unless you were built like Goliath. The accelerator pedal was of the organ type, which at only low revs had already reached a horizontal aspect. Pressing down any further caused the pedal to point downwards towards its front end causing great discomfort to one’s ankle – especially on a long hill climb. Drivers resorted to attaching wooden wedges to the pedal to alleviate the problem.
I remember him telling me how one of them had suffered a gearbox failure and an ‘engineering team’ was despatched by the manufacturer to replace it. When they turned up they were mistaken for gypsies and almost thrown off the premises. ‘A right pair of toe-rags’, Peter quoted, they were not allowed into the works, so the bus was shunted into the yard and they did the entire job under the crudest of conditions using just brute strength and with the meagerest of tools.
Years later (1984) he went on to write his bus driving memoirs in ‘North Western – A Driver’s Reminiscences’, to which I have referred to jog my memory. It still turns up regularly on bookstalls at rallies.

John Stringer

LMA 370_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

09/04/13 – 17:47

I was a fitter at North Western at Stockport for 10 years. The Atkinson Alfa’s had 5HLW Gardners and we had some with 6HLW Gardners these all had Atkinsons own gearboxes (copy of D Brown), not very good. We had two light weight Alfas with single rear wheels these had 5HLW Gardners and genuine David Brown gearboxes.

Geoff Burgess


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