Old Bus Photos

Maidstone & District – AEC Reliance – TKM 329 – C329

Maidstone & District - AEC Reliance - TKM 329 - C329
Copyright Chris Hough

Maidstone & District Motor Services Ltd
AEC Reliance  MU3RV
Harrington C37C

A recent posting led to a discussion about the relative importance in a PSV of economy, reliability and good looks, and I picked this vehicle as an example that in my opinion embraces all three qualities. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and my personal preferences may not be shared by others, but the lines of these coaches always seemed to me to be well-balanced and elegant in an understated way, if, perhaps, a trifle old-fashioned. The styling of the roofline around the destination indicator was a treatment popular with many coach builders and operators for front-engined vehicles, but by the mid-1950s, the effect had become a bit dated. Very appealing, nevertheless, and the epitome of high quality and pedigree.
Sadly, C329 doesn’t look its best in the photo – absolutely no criticism of Chris’s camera work, but following withdrawal it’s become scruffy and the sun’s angle casts a shadow that exaggerates the front windscreen divisions. Also, the ‘moustache’ beading may seem fussy, but it was almost an M&D trademark. I’d be grateful for other correspondents’ views on C329’s attractiveness or otherwise.
[This link will show C328, in rather smarter condition.]
M&D were substantial Harrington customers for many years and they had almost 50 vehicles of this design in their extensive, (I’d say excessive), coach fleet. By the time I joined, they had been withdrawn from front line express duties, however, and were kept mainly to provide summer capacity. Like every underfloor-engined AEC I ever drove, their road manners were impeccable. Even the prospect of a spell at the wheel was a pleasure to look forward to. They were also both economical and very reliable.
Inside, these coaches were not, perhaps, as light and airy as some of their contemporaries, but there was no sense of claustrophobia. On the contrary, they conveyed an atmosphere of relaxation, reinforced by the wonderfully comfortable seats and by their extraordinary quietness. Their main drawback, (only drawback as far as I’m concerned), was the centre entrance, which made it uneconomic to convert them to other uses.

Photo by Chris Hough. Many thanks for his kind permission to use it.

Copy contributed by Roy Burke

A full list of Reliance codes can be seen here.

17/08/12 – 07:22

6 of this batch were acquired by Yorkshire Woollen where they were nicknamed Gunboats by the crews.TKM 304/26/347/348/9/5O were numbered 435-440. They were purchased to replace a similar number of Commer/Beadles. Another member of the batch was purchased by Hebble Motor Services at Halifax to replace an ex Red Line Reliance that was a fire victim. After YWD they went on to an operator called Davies of Ferryhill County Durham except for 436 that was broken up by YWD after a bad accident.

Philip Carlton

17/08/12 – 07:23

As a northern boy I didn’t get to see the inside. My personal view of the outside is of a fine looking coach. Perhaps one-too-many windows/panels. One less, but slightly longer would have enhanced the appearance, and the roofline over the front is not enhanced by the application of the livery. In my opinion the cream area should have followed the outline of the roof – then- almost perfection. No doubt others will say tosh, but that’s my thought.

Les Dickinson

17/08/12 – 10:26

The box for the fleetname over the destination and service number boxes doesn’t help the outline. Either omit the fleetname or omit the service number box and have the destination and fleetname side by side. Then use another BET operator’s style of livery (Ribble or Southdown) and it would make quite a lot of difference. As we are, it seems a feeble attempt at imitating the Silver Star front dome.

Pete Davies

17/08/12 – 12:32

As a Kentishman I have to say I can’t see anything wrong with the livery or layout of the destination!
Shame to see this looking so scruffy though – I remember these coaches featuring on the cover of M&D’s tours brochures which were captioned "Over the hills and far away".
The Silver Star "headboard" was an abomination on this design and ruined an otherwise graceful look.
All these things are of course subjective…

Andrew Goodwin

17/08/12 – 12:33

Roy is right about the state of the coach and very kind about my photograph! The coach was parked in a back street in Preston and was certainly not in the M&D fleet! Like a number of fifties coaches these seem to be built like the proverbial brick Outhouse!

Chris Hough

17/08/12 – 16:29

I have to disagree with Andrew on this one – I thought that the Silver Star Wayfarer Mark 2s were vastly improved by their headboards, unlike that operator’s all-Leyland Royal Tigers and Burlingham Seagull which really did look atrocious. Preservationists seem to agree with me as both MMR 552 and 553 are still with us, and the owner of "553" once told me that there was a waiting list of people who wanted to buy the coach from him at any reasonable price. If I ever win the jackpot in the lottery I will outbid them all!

Neville Mercer

There is a posting of them both together coming shortly. Watch this space as they say.


18/08/12 – 07:40

In my opinion, which doesn’t count for much…I think that destination information on the front of bus/coaches should always be upright so that reflections are reduced and they become easier for those of us whose sight is not 20/20 to read at a glance. Obviously that would not tie in very well with the design of this coach, but I must admit that the picture of it in the link is very smart and clean…

Norman Long

20/08/12 – 08:05

Funny: until this very moment I’ve looked at photographs of these vehicles and thought "M&D coach, nice": but all of a sudden the affinity with some nasty little Gurney-Nutting(?) bodied Commers(?) has struck me, and now I just find them hideous. Why? The "pinched-in front", the way the front dome just seems to push the already squeezed-in front down, giving a sort of hump-backed appearance to the whole thing – and there are too many windows, which (on their own) I could live with. Ugh. In full M&D rig and in the context of when they were built it might have been a different story . . .

Philip Rushworth

20/08/12 – 09:08

Philip, nice to see there are people who can call "the Emperor’s new clothes" in the face of popular opinion.
M & D vehicles were just magnificently turned out, but I never rated these Harringtons. They got it very right with the Cavalier/Grenadier but the Bedford/Ford versions were hideous and the Legionnaire not much better. Balanced design again – you either have or you don’t.

David Oldfield

20/08/12 – 14:02

I’ve held back until now on commenting about these Harrington bodies, but seeing that Philip Rushworth and David Oldfield have entered less than rhapsodic views about them, I will say that I always thought them to be incredibly ugly vehicles. Just compare the styling with other contemporary designs using curved corner glasses at the front – the classic ECW LS coach, for example. Harrington did very much better with the Cavalier.

Roger Cox

24/08/12 – 08:36

Who’d build coach bodies – it’s a fickle market isn’t it? driven by fashion, rather than by loyalty. Burlingham got it right with the "original" Seagull then missed the "zeitgeist" with subsequent offerings; as did Harrington with the Cavalier/Grenadier; Duple seemed to judge the market right for many years until gradually loosing the plot and fading away in the 80s(?); and Plaxton seems have picked up from the mid-1960s with the introduction of the Panorama. However, history seems to suggest the Plaxton’s days are numbered, and that they are due to misjudge the market and enter decline (look what happened to Leyland et. al.) . . . but there aren’t any more British coach builders to take their place!

Philip Rushworth

24/08/12 – 12:24

You’re so right Philip. Duple lost the plot and went bust at the end of the ’80s – when Plaxton bought their intellectual rights. Duple’s is a very sad story inexorably linked with a certain Mr Ford who had previously fallen out with Plaxton and moved over to Duple – hence the vague similarity between the Panorama Elite and the Dominant.

David Oldfield

24/08/12 – 12:25

Seems I’m in a small minority in liking this design. At the risk of losing whatever tiny credibility I might ever have had in these pages, however, I remain unrepentant.

Roy Burke

24/08/12 – 15:43

You’re still welcome and entirely entitled to your own opinions, Roy. There are times when – in my professional, musical life – I differ from my colleagues. Grown ups accept each other, regardless (and I think most of us are grown up on this forum).

David Oldfield

11/02/13 – 13:27

You’re not alone Roy, I like the Wayfarer 2 style as well. I don’t think it was as nice as the later Wayfarer 4 but for an early 1950s body, I think it was quite stylish. It did make an attempt to get away from just being a box, which is so easy on an underfloor flat front single decker. I think Harrington bodies were all of real quality and generally well styled (with as always the obligatory exception). They were certainly better looking than many of the competitors’ efforts.

Gordon Mackley

14/06/13 – 07:31

The Reliance Harrington C37C don’t remember them even though grew up with M & D but can say I was on one just last week don’t remember batch but sure worked all over the M & D patch ended its days think in Bexhill can say a very impressive coach so as they say watch this space soon be out of hiding.


TKM 329_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

08/06/15 – 16:08

Maidstone and District’s Wayfarer 2 bodies came on three different types of chassis and they were each very different. The most numerous (in terms of both vehicles and photos) were the AEC Reliances. The Leyland Royal Tiger versions had central entrances like the AECs and might have been expected to be the same but in fact had vertical rather than sloping window pillars. The Commer Contender versions were of a completely different configuration, having front entrances. Interestingly the centre entrance coaches had front offside emergency exits and the front entrance Contenders centre ones!

Gordon Mackley


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Pennine Motor Services – Leyland Leopard – 5895 YG

Pennine Motor Services - Leyland Leopard - 5895 YG
Copyright Pete Davies

Pennine Motor Services
Leyland Leopard
Duple DP41F

Here is a photo of 5895 YG, Leyland Leopard with Duple body, in the fleet of Pennine Motor Services, then in Gargrave. I took the photo in Morecambe in June 1970. Note the SALOPIA vehicle alongside.
This vehicle was the last of four of this style, the other three being on Tiger Cubs UWX 277, 6108 WU and 9712 WX, so close inspection shows subtle changes over the years. The next new addition was 240 CWY, which Roger Cox posted elsewhere on the site a while ago.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

15/08/12 – 08:06

Herewith the conundrum as to what constitutes a C or a DP. Yelloway thought they were too bus like and only bought one batch but most things, including the entrance door, make this look more like a C than a DP. The same thing befell the Sheffield Transport Leopard/Burlinghams which were DP because they were based on a modified bus design rather than the Seagull – but they were really just as much coaches as their Weymann Fanfare and ECW contemporaries.

David Oldfield

15/08/12 – 11:34

Interesting point, David. From an operational point of view, the issue of whether a vehicle was a C or a DP generally depended on three factors: use, seating and livery. As OMO became more prevalent, provincial operators realised that front entrances enabled relatively easy and cheaper downgrading, especially if the eventual fate of new vehicles was considered when they were bought.
As for external appearance, a sensitive compromise was needed: too bus like, and passengers might feel they were being offered second best if they expected a coach; too coach like could mean problems displaying stage carriage destinations later in life.

Roy Burke

15/08/12 – 11:55

I’m not sure if it was still known as the ‘Donnington’ by this time but it definitely improved with age (like we do!) When it was first introduced, it had too many shallow side windows, perhaps a throwback to the old ‘Roadmaster’ design. This one, with just five deeper side windows is a great improvement and looks very nice. Yelloways were of the original design which would explain why they didn’t like them!

Chris Barker

15/08/12 – 14:47

The screen and front dome of the Donnington were shared with contemporary Willowbrook Viscount (cf Devon General). [Interesting how Duple recycled two Willowbrook names – Viceroy and Viscount.]

David Oldfield

15/08/12 – 14:48

The five bay version was known as the Donington 2 and was used by, among others, MacBraynes. I produced a resin kit of it in fact!
The design was built by the Duple Midland operation and was effectively superseded by the Britannia, which was very popular and shared the same front grille mouldings.

Andrew Goodwin

16/08/12 – 07:33

The correct spelling is Donington with one "n" – the body was named after the Donington Park motor-racing circuit close to the Duple Midland works in Loughborough. Donnington with "two ns" is in Shropshire.
As you say this version of the Donington (actually its third incarnation since the first prototype was built in 1956 – the first version was built from 1957-58 and lacked the "chain" motif in the front panel) is by far the most attractive due to the deeper windows.
I’m left a bit confused by the comment that "the Donington was replaced by the Britannia". The Britannia design was first introduced in 1956 and the last were produced in 1962, the same year in which the Donington was deleted from the Duple catalogue. Both models were replaced for the 1963 season by a choice of either the (Hendon built) Commodore or (Blackpool built) Commander. Dual purpose options then became the preserve of the Willowbrook subsidiary and were built to "BET standard" design.

Neville Mercer

16/08/12 – 14:24

Yes Neville, I assumed that the draughtsmen who wrote "Donington" on the drawings knew what they were doing!
I didn’t actually say it was replaced by the Britannia but my choice of words was perhaps unfortunate. What I meant to convey was the relative popularity of the Britannia as against the Donington leaving the latter with fewer sales.
As you will no doubt tell us there were at least three versions of the Britannia as well!
Reference the comment above about Willowbrook model names being recycled, Park Royal also did this with the name Royalist though the second version was anything but successful, not helped by being initially built on a second-string chassis rather than a front line player.

Andrew Goodwin

17/08/12 – 07:07

You’re quite right, Andrew, there were several versions of the Britannia. The original version, brought to market in 1956 to replace the Elizabethan, had a curved waist-rail and introduced the "chain motif" to the Duple range. All of this first version had front entrances, but were offered alongside the Britannic which had a central entrance and retained more of the styling of the Elizabethan. The Britannic was quietly dropped from the catalogue in 1957 and few were sold.
The second version of the Britannia formed part of a new range of designs exhibited at the 1958 CMS at Earls Court and shared many components with the new version of the Super Vega built on Bedford SB chassis. Basically similar bodies (but at that stage nameless) were also offered on Ford and Commer chassis. As far as I can tell from my own records the Mk II Britannia was only available with a front entrance at first, but from 1960 onwards a new central entrance design with a much more curved profile at the front end was also offered. The most famous of these were probably the examples operated by Samuelsons in London and St Helens Corporation.
There were minor detail changes to both front and central entrance versions in 1961, but you really have to look hard to see the difference – a tiny destination blind incorporated into the front bumper is the most visible clue.
By 1962 orders for both Britannias and for the Donington had reduced to a trickle due to competitive pressure from the much more stylish offerings from Plaxton and Harrington. Duple realised that it was losing its share of the heavyweight coach market, dumped the Britannia, Donington, Willowbrook Viking and Viscount, and the entire sadly bastardised Burlingham range from the catalogue, and replaced the lot with the Commander (with vertical window pillars) and the short-lived Commodore (with a "Bella" style raked back pillar towards the rear).
Sorry to go on, but as you might have noticed I have a thing about pre-1965 coach designs!

Neville Mercer

17/08/12 – 07:08

David and Roy have a valid point. Shortly after I joined Armstrong Galley ‘the coaching division of T&W PTE’ we took delivery of 15 Leyland Leopards GBB 985/999N fleet numbers 85/99 – 86/95 were 53 seaters with DP doors, but still had the comfort and overall look of a coach, and 96/99 were 45 seaters with coach doors, However, 85 was a totally different animal, it was in actual fact the first Alexander ‘T’ type ‘rumour has it that one or two of the Scottish bus group companies weren’t too pleased about it going to T&W’ but back to the plot, the vehicle itself was first class, but with the best will in the world it was a bus with coach seats. A/G did quite a lot of hire work for National Travel,and a fair amount of contract work, so 85 was always first choice for that, it was later transferred to the stage carriage fleet, and I think it was sold on after that

Ronnie Hoye

Sorry, should have said that the 14 coaches were Duple bodied

17/08/12 – 07:11

Externally all forms of the Donington look like buses to me, except when dolled up with Britannia/Vega trim, as here http://sct61.org.uk/  It’s amazing what a few bits of metal and an association of ideas can do!

Peter Williamson

21/08/12 – 07:41

Castle Donington (one n in the middle!). The village has long suffered having people mis-spell its name, just as many folk think it is in Derbyshire because of the postal address, but it is in Leicestershire.
The Duple Donington body. Duple purchased the business of Nudd Brothers and Lockyer in 1952, renaming it Duple (Midland) Motor Bodies. Nudd’s premises were a hanger on the former Castle Donington airfield, now East Midlands Airport. Nudd had experience of metal framed bodywork, hence the Duple interest and the name of the design of the Duple metal framed body. The technology of the time may have resulted in the rather angular design and the small windows used at first.

Mr Anon

01/08/14 – 16:29

I found the comment on ‘DP’ v ‘C’ interesting, as I’ve never been quite sure where the difference lay, and there are clearly several ‘grey areas’. One of my main questions is how the Ribble PDR1 ‘White Lady’ Atlanteans justify the designation ‘coach’, at least among enthusiasts. The roughly contemporary Leopards with BET-style bodies by Marshall and MCW are always referred to as ‘DP’, though in terms of comfort, style or usage there was little to distinguish them from the Altlanteans; if anything the Leopards were marginally more coach-like internally and ventured further afield. But both types were effectively buses fitted with headrest seats and luggage racks, and consequently had the claustrophobic feel of being packed with a lot of stuff that they were not really designed for. Both were mainly used on relatively short inter-urban express services, at least one of which (the X43 Manchester-Skipton) was actually a stage carriage route at its country end. Doses it really just boil down to the double-deckers’ almost all-ivory livery, compared with rather more red on the saloons? But then in NBC days the Atlanteans (by then well past their unimpressive best) were given service bus livery, while the Leopards got the DP treatment! Was it just that the Atlanteans hijacked the justified ‘C’ designation of their upmarket cousins, the ‘Gay Hostesses’? And as for the earlier generation of Titan ‘White Ladies’ — though admittedly I’m too young to remember very much about them — how could anything lowbridge ever really be called a coach, however much chrome you put on the outside?



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Hants & Dorset – Bristol Lodekka – GRU 978D – 1547

Hants & Dorset - Bristol Lodekka - GRU 978D - 1547
Copyright Pete Davies

Hants & Dorset Motor Services 
Bristol Lodekka FLF6B
ECW H38/32F

In case readers were thinking the bulk of my photographs are of operators in the Midlands and North of England, here is something to balance matters. GRU978D was a Bristol FLF6B in the Hants & Dorset fleet. She is seen on the sunny morning of 29 May 1970, and is at Hamble Square, ready to return to Woolston on the 81.
I believe she went to the USA when withdrawn.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

A full list of Bristol codes can be seen here.

14/08/12 – 06:51

As a young enthusiast on the south coast, Hants and Dorset was my nearest Tilling operator, often seen at Fareham, and Southampton. In those days, I sometimes felt that Tilling companies (BTC, then THC) were all "much the same". That was before the impact of NBC – then we really knew what "all the same" meant! Here in the south, I reflect that it was possible to distinguish between the green Tilling companies (Hants and Dorset, Southern/Western National, Bristol Omnibus) or red ones (Wilts and Dorset, Thames Valley) by little idiosyncrasies as fleet number application (plates or transfers), the obvious registration letters used, and even destination indicator styles. Although the screen layout was an evolving national policy, somehow the style of the text differed between these operators – or was it just my imagination!? Several of these fleets also contained a number of vehicles unique to themselves. At Hants and Dorset, there were all-Leyland PD2s (highbridge), some NCME-bodied Regents (diverted from Western SMT), and H&D’s own open-top rebuilds with full-fronts. I think these bodies started on some pre-war Bristol Ks, and were transferred successively over a few years to some war-time Ks, and finally to some post-war Ks. These bodies, I believe, were rebuilt by H&D’s works from the original Brush bodies supplied pre-war (as ordinary half-cab double-deckers). So the FLF in the picture would have been "standard viewing" at the time, but brings great pleasure now. Incidentally, the name Hants and Dorset has disappeared, but the company became owned by Wilts and Dorset after privatisation (a reversal of the NBC era, when H&D controlled W&D!). But under modern W&D control, the H&D subsidiary is now called "Damory Coaches". While in Weymouth last week, I photographed two Olympians – but they weren’t sailing – just waiting near the King’s Statue on the seafront for their return journey on their Olympic charter. Much too modern for this site, but they did look proud in the sunshine.

Michael Hampton

14/08/12 – 11:37

Have no history whatsoever with Hants & Dorset, but always preferred the Bristol engine. H & D had some of the rare (late) Leyland engined FLFs. I only learned recently that this option was put on the list after the Bristol engine was removed from it.
Looking at this picture though, it shows the perfect proportions of the FLF body. Balance and symmetry are always the basis of a good design.

David Oldfield

14/08/12 – 11:39

Rob Sly has an excellent website listing preserved Bristol Lodekka buses, VR, LH and RE. This bus did go to USA and was red in 2011 which is the last update – full details at http://bcv.robsly.com/

Ken Jones

15/08/12 – 07:55

As far as I’m aware, one of the main reasons Northern bought Routemasters was United’s introduction of this type of Loddeka onto the routes they operated jointly. Northerns RD Park Royal PD2’s were getting a bit long in the tooth, and although the PDR1 Atlantean had been in service with Northern for a couple of years it was decided to go for the Routemaster instead. Being a BET company, Northern never had any of these, but that all changed with the formation of NBC, when for reasons best known to the powers that be, long established fleets were shuffled around like decks of cards. I cant remember the exact number, but at Percy Main we had some Daimler Fleetlines transferred to United in exchange for Loddeka’s, but they only stayed a matter of a few weeks and were replaced by the AEC Renowns that came from East Yorkshire, the Bristol’s going on to other depots. I remember one or two drivers being caught out by the gearbox, where it wasn’t possible to go into neutral from fifth without going through forth. Digressing back to fleet reshuffles, some depots got buses from as far afield East Kent and Maidstone and District, make sense of that if you can.

Ronnie Hoye

15/08/12 – 07:56

On the fringes (in two respects) to what Michael H said about name changes, I notice that neighbour Wilts & Dorset are re-naming their Bournemouth and Poole operation ‘MORE’! Bizarre!

Chris Hebbron

15/08/12 – 07:57

Can’t help but agree with you David, on the ‘just right’ proportions of the FLF. Handsome machines from any angle. Hants & Dorset did indeed have some FLFs with Leyland (0.600) engines, as did Wilts & Dorset. Interestingly, both fleets also specified semi-auto gearboxes to mate up with them. I could never understand however, why H&D had to change it’s livery from green to red under NBC ownership. Surely it can’t have been to differentiate between the H&D and Provincial (green) fleets. A similar fate befell West Riding Auto up here in the ‘Olympic Medal County’ of Yorkshire, where WR’s green fleet went red under NBC. Strangely, this meant that its fleet livery was then the same as associate company Yorkshire Woollen District, which retained its red. Maybe someone could explain?!

Brendan Smith

15/08/12 – 11:30

Chris H, there are rumblings that the name SALISBURY REDS is being extended from just the company’s activities in that City to Romsey and other routes as well, while MORE is being extended from Bournemouth and Poole to include Lymington. It’s being said that the W&D name will vanish (again) from bus sides, though I understand that it will remain as the legal lettering.

Brendan, going on from that, the history of Wilts & Dorset to 1972 includes a reference to the green to red transition of Hants & Dorset. It has nothing to do with trying to distinguish from Provincial. When the joint management of H&D/W&D were told that the W&D name was to be dropped, they were so disgusted by the dropping of such a highly respected name they decided "We’re going red".

Pete Davies

15/08/12 – 11:31

No logic in the halls of NBC Brendan. Maroon East Midland became leaf green.

David Oldfield

15/08/12 – 14:55

Wasn’t NBC policy a poor attempt at LT/Greenline… Country services to be green, urban services red? If I recall, a lot of the "used" Wulfrunian replacements at WR had arrived in green… and I think stayed that way…?? Anyway, privatised WR went back to green, if not the same one…. Of course, WR had once been part red anyway!


19/08/12 – 07:52

This must be the smartest design of all ECW double decker Bristols

Jim Hepburn

19/08/12 – 07:54

David, I seem to remember that East Midland (maroon) absorbed Mansfield District (green), is that when East Midland went green?

Vernon Ford

19/08/12 – 08:30

That’s very true, Vernon – but it’s no excuse! [I read recently a theory that NBC went green for rural and red for urban – but that doesn’t explain Hants & Dorset going from green to red!] …..and of course the blues (East Yorkshire and Midland General) had to go red.
None of this would have been half so bad if Tilling Red, Green and Cream had been retained. Visually – and on quality – they were better than Leaf Green and Poppy Red which faded within the year.

David Oldfield

19/08/12 – 12:00

I seem to recall reading somewhere that certain bus companies which had their origins in tramways, and which had not set up a separate company later to operate buses, were therefore statutory companies (i.e. set up by Acts of Parliament). The Acts specified in very minute detail the activities of the operator and in some cases this could even specify the livery that would be used (though obviously not in the majority of cases as many tramway operators changed their liveries). I believe Mansfield District was such a case, and the green livery on the bus fleet could only be changed by another Act of Parliament, which would have been too much hassle, so when East Midland took them over it was easier to adopt a green livery for the entire fleet. Has anyone else heard of this?

John Stringer

19/08/12 – 15:05

This may be right- I think, John S, that tramways regulations were why West Riding ran a red fleet on the old tram routes, and there might be some obscure connection with the centre entrances?


20/08/12 – 07:59

John, regarding your comments on statutory companies and Acts Of Parliament, I seem to recall reading something similar about Provincial surviving as a fleet in its own right for a similar reason, after acquisition by NBC. Even though Provincial came under Hants & Dorset administrative control, the fleetname and green livery were retained, whereas Wilts & Dorset, a larger NBC subsidiary, was swept away altogether under NBC ‘rationalisation’. If the above is correct, was another Act of Parliament actually passed when NBC was privatised? If it wasn’t, on a mischievous note, wouldn’t it be nice to inform First Group that Provincial’s fleetname and livery must be reinstated….?

Brendan Smith

20/08/12 – 08:00

Joe, am I right in thinking that West Riding trams were red and buses green? (why the difference? – a subsidiary company operated the buses to start with?? [time to consult bookshelf!]) and this difference perpetuated on the Wakefield-Leeds tram-replacement buses because those services operated "jointly" with the Rothwell-Leeds services of LCT. Red WR buses could carry local passengers, green buses could not. I think the distinction was ended after LCT bought out Wallace Arnold’s Kippax & District (also Farsley Omnibus Co) operations: a coordination agreement (see V4 of John Soper’s/LTHS’s excellent history of LCT et al) was subsequently entered into in respect of the Leeds-Garforth corridor, which allowed (green) WR buses to carry local passengers – so the retention of red buses on the "track" was pointless, although as there were still WR services that couldn’t pick up in Leeds I suppose WR could have painted Leeds-Garforth buses in red as well. Whatever, with all these (in many cases poorly advertised) restricted carrying arrangements – which varied from town to town – in force is it any wonder that passengers deserted the bus?

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that this red "urban"/green "rural" NBC livery theory is a load of tosh – Alder Valley (a new company) went red – and it’s territory can hardly be described as urban – as did East Yorkshire (ditto, country-wise) when it changed colour. Cumberland, Ribble, West Yorkshire, Eastern Counties, East Kent (and the previously-mentioned Hants & Dorset) – all with large rural areas stayed/went red. I remember reading, many years ago when the privatisation BA livery was introduced, that even office furniture down to desk tidies was changed: the logic being that corporate means the same throughout, down to the last item. I’ve read that NBC (and their design consultants!) wanted to go "poppy red all over" but that that the managers of green fleets put forward a strong-enough case for that colour to be retained. The blue fleets weren’t so lucky, in the long run: no standard blue was decided on and the choice of colour was left down to the Regional Chairman: Stratford Blue had gone by this time; Midland General was told to go red, after a period in which it painted it’s buses in NBC-style "Balfour Beatty" blue; EYMS and Sunderland District were allowed to stay (their own) blue by the Regional Chairman ([sic] I think, as NBC seemed to have a habit of changing Regional boundaries around this time), but Sunderland District was then absorbed by Northern – and that just left EYMS with a non-standard indigo livery, which then succumbed . . . except for plucky little Jones. Now I’ve heard that when the directors of Jones sold out to NBC they insisted that the the Jones identity AND blue be preserved for ten years – would that fit in with when the Jones identity disappeared under MAP? Wholly-urban Provincial and (OK, this is pushing it) Bristol Joint Services and "Bath Services" stayed green, and indeed, Cheltenham District went green. Red "urban". green "rural"? – seems like a London-centric fixation.

Philip Rushworth

20/08/12 – 09:06

Nah, Philip. My body’s down south but my heart’s still in the north.

David Oldfield

20/08/12 – 11:40

Nay Philip, I haven’t a clue. West Riding buses were green except the red ones on the old tram routes- Leeds and, I think, Ossett. These had centre entrances and, I think, double staircases (like trams?!) An early example of route branding, but can anyone confirm the fundamental reason? Was it passenger co-ordination, or tramway legislation? After all, Yorks Woollen latterly ran into Leeds in red….
I still think that deep in the NBC head office was the belief that buses were born either green or red, and green ones ran in leafy suburbs. The fact that this didn’t work across the country was only realised later….


20/08/12 – 13:56

Just a small point arising from Philip Rushworth’s comment on Alder Valley. When Aldershot and District was, in effect, taken over by Thames Valley – one of the best BET companies being swallowed up by one of the worst BTC ones – to form Alder Valley in January 1972, the livery initially adopted was maroon, on the rather tenuous pretext that this was the colour formed by mixing TV red and A&D green. London Country Bus Services next door already used a green livery, so that, when the dead hand of Freddy Wood’s standardisation came to be applied, the maroon became red.

Roger Cox

20/08/12 – 13:58

Brendan, When the Barbie livery was introduced, along with the dropping of the local fleetnames, I wrote to the local branch of First to suggest the very same thing in respect of Provincial. The then MD wrote back to say they had considered this, but weren’t worried. From that, I guess the disposal of certain fleetnames may have been written into the 1985 Act, but I must admit I’ve never read it.

Pete Davies

21/08/12 – 07:34

As well as Bristol staying green so did Crosville who were a very urban operator in the north of their territory.

Chris Hough

21/08/12 – 08:32

Yes Chris, but outside Bristol and Liverpool/Wirral they were both very rural.

David Oldfield

21/08/12 – 20:29

We can surely add Eastern National and United Counties to the list of the NBC "Greens" with much urban mileage.

Roger Cox

24/08/12 – 08:26

The fundamental reason, was I think, that red buses on "the track" (Leeds-Wakefield) were joint/coordinated with LCT buses on Leeds-Rothwell (both having been jointly-worked/coordinated tram services) and could pick-up within the LCT area. The significance of this distinction ended when green WR buses on the Leeds-Garforth corridor were also allowed to pick-up within the LCT boundary following a co-ordination agreement with LCT on that corridor.

Philip Rushworth

04/02/13 – 06:59

Further to the query regarding the survival of Gosport & Fareham under NBC, I well remember Peter Hunt, then General Manager at H&D/G&F telling me that, as G&F was a Statutory Company, an Act of Parliament would be necessary to extinguish it. At that time (around 1977) the estimated legal costs of such an Act was £30,000, which was not considered justified. In any case, Peter Hunt said in a public meeting at which I was present "I think small is beautiful" he thought the efficiency benefits of small-unit cohesion far outweighed any possible advantage from scrapping it. Would that the current crop of industry managers had his wisdom!

David Jones

04/02/13 – 09:58

It’s statutory status probably stemmed from its creation as a tram company. I would have thought, though, that the name could merely have been discontinued and/or the company made moribund. It looks as if the small is beautiful, and a certain affection for this quirky organisation by Peter Hunt and well-loved by locals and enthusiasts alike, won the day! And hooray for that! Shame it never happened to equally loved and respected Samuel Ledgard.

Chris Hebbron

25/06/13 – 07:40

Here’s one for Lodekka enthusiasts… I once boarded a Hants & Dorset FS which featured something I’ve never ever seen on any other Lodekka – it had an opening top vent in the nearside rear lower bulkhead window. I know this to be true, but can anyone shed any light on this particular vehicle?

Colin Plucknett

25/06/13 – 11:45

Coincidence can be a funny thing. I’m travelling at present but have a number of models with me to show to/sell to a friend. One is a Corgi Lodekka FS being Hants and Dorset 1512, CEL 860C. This is modelled with a top opening light in the nearside front bulkhead window so I presume that all that batch, at least, had them.

Phil Blinkhorn

25/06/13 – 11:47

Colin both West Yorkshire and Crosville also had an opening window on the front lowerdeck window on their FS Lodekkas.

Chris Hough

28/06/13 – 07:22

Thanks very much Phil and Chris for your interesting replies – however, the window I am thinking of is one of the pair in the rear downstairs. I have since turned up one half-shot from a book and you can just see what I mean. It really is a rare thing – and at least it proves I’m not going mad!!! Any further ideas chaps?

Colin Plucknett

13/12/13 – 16:55

In case anyone is curious, the last H&D FLF 1577, LLJ  443F, is preserved and appears annually at the King Alfred Running day in Winchester, on 1st January. Free rides all day on part of the 47 road, all welcome.

Alex Geisler

GRU 978D Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

13/02/14 – 17:01

When Hants and Dorset was split up into smaller units Wilts and Dorset was one of the resulting companies.
To rename buses from Hants and Dorset to Wilts and Dorset the simple expedient of printing some stickers that read "WIL" and placing them over the "HAN" of Hants and Dorset was used.

David R


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