Old Bus Photos

Rotherham Corporation – Bristol L5G – CET 443 – 160

Rotherham Corporation - Bristol L5G - CET 443 - 162
Copyright Robert F. Mack

Rotherham corporation
Bristol L5G 
Bruce B32C

Quite awhile ago we had a posting of a Rotherham Corporation Bristol K6B double decker which was contributed by Ian Wild. The vehicle actually started life in 1949 as a L5B single deck vehicle but after only three years it was rebodied, naturally as comments were made the obvious question came up, what happened to the original saloon bodies?

Thanks to Andrew Charles for sending in the above shot and the following copy:-
The above L5G chassis was built in 1940 and when new carried East Lancs B32C bodywork.
In 1951 the chassis was modernized and rebodied with the two year old body (Bruce on East Lancs frames) from the 1949 L6B which in turn was rebodied as a double decker. An obvious visual indication was that although this chassis was originally built with the high mounted KV radiator – more familiar on JOG type chassis, this vehicle had received on rebuild the later style PV2 radiator with its associated lower bonnet line.
An example of a 1939 L5G still carrying its original radiator can be seen parked behind number 160 and that vehicle had also lost its original East Lancs B32C body. It isn’t possible to identify the specific vehicle shown here but a number of chassis in this batch received new bodies in 1952/3. Built by either Bond (B37R), East Lancs (Bridlington) (B35R) or, in two cases, the Rotherham Corporation Transport bodyshop (B37R) – in all cases they were built on East Lancs frames. In some cases the chassis was lengthened to 29’ prior to receiving the new body.
The vehicle seen to the left of the photo appears to be one of the later L5G of 1950/51, also fitted from new with East Lancs (Bridlington) B32C bodywork.

Rotherham may have got their money out of the 1940 chassis but I am not sure about the 1949 bodies. The withdrawal dates are as follows 159 rebodied again 1956, 162 – 1957, 161 – 1954 and the above vehicle 160 – 1957. At the best the longest surviving body was eight years old when it went for scrap, but the worst is that of 161 at only five years. Another interesting point is that the rest of the batch of L5Gs that kept there original 1940 bodies were withdrawn over the same period 157/8 – 1956, 163/4 – 1957 and 165 – 1954.

Andrew has also put together a Fleet list of Rotherham Corporation Bristol L Types listing all rebodies undertaken. There is a web version here but you will need a wide screen or view at 75%, if you would like an .xls spreadsheet version please contact me in the usual way.

Photograph and Information contributed by Andrew Charles

A full list of Bristol codes can be seen here.


20/02/11 – 18:42

The postings regarding the Rotherham Bristol conversions from single to double-deck make for most interesting reading. I left Rotherham for Canada many years ago, but have retained a considerable interest in the Corporation fleet of that era, and have collected many photographs over the years over which to reminisce about the "good old days" of Rotherham Corporation buses.
The nine L6B’s that were rebodied as double deckers had been originally bodied by East Lancs (112-4) and Bruce Coachworks (179-184). The three East Lancs bodies were distinguishable from the Bruce examples by having a sliding cab door, whereas the Bruce bodies had a hinged example.
I did some considerable research years ago into the rebodying exercise that went on with respect to these buses, and came to the conclusion that the PSV Circle information is not quite correct as to exactly which L5G’s that originally had Cravens bodies were the recipients of the newer East Lancs/Bruce coachwork. The PSV Circle quotes fleet nos. 137/40/2/3 and 159/60-2/5 as being the nine pre-war and wartime buses that were rebodied. In my collection of Rotherham photographs, I have clear evidence that nos 163 (CET 446) and 168 (CET 564) both received new post-war bodywork in the 1950’s, and am of the opinion that of the buses that the PSV Circle quotes as being rebodied, both 137 and 142 (BET 513/518) actually weren’t rebodied at all, but retained their Cravens structures until withdrawal in 1955, which was considerably earlier than the other seven rebodies. Also, it is worth noting that when 137/42 were eventually withdrawn and sold, the only trace of the pair is of 137 ending up as a showman’s lorry in Montrose, Scotland. 142 disappeared, presumably for scrap, whereas the other seven rebodies, as one would expect, all found further work after being pensioned off by Rotherham, except for 161 (CET 444) which was scrapped prematurely in 11/54 after sustaining accident damage.
Incidentally, of note are 143 and 159, which were two of the rebodied examples. These two actually collided with each other in Rotherham, and both ended up being rebuilt and lengthened and fitted with rear entrance sliding doors, their seating capacity subsequently increased to 37. Remarkably, they both ended up being sold to T.D. Alexander (Greyhound) and ran side by side on contractor’s services in Sheffield, until both ending up in the same Worksop scrapyard together in 1964.
With respect to the reason for the rebodying, one can only assume that when it was decided to operate double-deckers on all routes where practical, apart from rural services to small outlying villages or those routes on which double deck operation was impossible, these nine having six-cylinder engines would have been perfect candidates for rebodying as double deckers, the still relatively new single deck bodies able to be fitted on to older five-cylinder L type chassis that still had several years life left in them but whose original bodies were well past their ‘best by’ date.
I note the comment posted with respect to Rotherham’s only female driver of the era. That would have been Miss Winifred Hallam, whom I believe was the only woman in the country at the time who was licensed to drive trams, trolleybuses and motor buses!! She could indeed handle those Crossleys, and I have a very strong childhood recollection of seeing Miss Hallam being forced to back her Bristol down an icy Doncaster Gate in the town one snowy afternoon, as she was unable to climb the hill due to the severe wintry conditions; seeing the head of curls sticking out of the open cab door as she gingerly inched her way back down on to the flat terrain has been, and likely always will be, an abiding memory!! I hope these comments have been of interest.

Dave Careless


20/02/11 – 20:19

Thanks to Dave for such a comprehensive and interesting feedback.
I would be interested to know if during his research he could clarify a further area regarding the BET xxx chassis that were rebodied with B–R bodies.
The PSV Circle records that I used for the fleet list show specific vehicles of those that were rebodied as having lengthened chassis. Was it genuinely the case that the vehicles included in this exercise were rebuilt with bodies to two different lengths or is the data simply lacking detail in respect of some entries and in fact all were lengthened?



21/02/11 – 06:31

What an evocative photograph! Taken at Rotherham’s Rawmarsh Road Depot, the buses are so typically Rotherham. I don’t recall these CET registered buses but remember the very similar post war FET registered ones quite well which must have been amongst the last Bristols supplied to Rotherham. The local independent, Greyhound, mentioned by Dave Careless had a most interesting fleet split between Sheffield and Arbroath, just imagine driving a 5LW engined bus between the two locations! Vehicles were often exchanged between them.

Ian Wild


22/02/11 – 06:22

Thanks for your appreciative comments about the posting, Andrew. With respect to the rebodying of the 1938 L5G’s, 147-55 (BET901-9), and the lengthening exercise that went with it, that all seems a bit vague at best. Apparently the contract for the rebodying of these nine vehicles was awarded to East Lancs at Bridlington, with the bodies being built on steel frames supplied from Blackburn. While the work was in hand, and with four vehicles completed, the decision was taken sometime in 1952 to wind up the Bridlington operation, and according to an article I have in my files, “ …… the vehicle bodies in hand were built in skeleton form and transferred to S.H. Bond of Wythenshawe, Manchester for completion. Wouldn’t they have been a sight to see, being driven from Bridlington to Manchester!!
With respect to the lengthening, I have ‘official’ views of an East Lancs bodied example just completed at Bridlington and a Bond bodied one that looks to be about to set out for Rotherham, and after comparing them carefully, can’t see any noticeable differences, the overhang at the rear looks to be the same in both cases. The only slight difference could possibly be at the front end, where the sloping cab front looks to be slightly more upright on the Bond bodied one, but even that might be a trick of the camera, it’s hard to say.
In yet another article entitled ‘Out of Bond’, published in Transport World for April 1953, there is a write-up on the delivery to Rotherham on February 26th of that year of the first of the five rebodies, in which, and I quote: “The new bodies, which represent the completion of five single-deckers from an order of nine originally placed with East Lancashire Coachbuilders (Bridlington) Ltd., have been mounted on rebuilt 1939 Bristol chassis which originally seated 32 passengers. The chassis rebuilding and modernizing was carried out in the Corporation works and the body design was then modified to take advantage of the new length regulations, so that the vehicles can now seat 35 passengers.”
The PSV Circle Fleet History on Rotherham Corporation lists the five dealt with by Bond as being increased in length and fitted out as B37R, with the four dealt with at Bridlington not being mentioned as lengthened and listed as B35R. It’s hard to imagine that East Lancs would have received an order from Rotherham to rebody nine chassis, but with instructions to only lengthen five of them, these five seating 37 and the four unlengthened ones seating just two less, that would seem pointless. Considering that they both appear to look the same, and with the reference in the ‘Out of Bond’ article referring to the rebodied buses they completed as being 35 seaters, if I were a betting man I’d say that all nine were lengthened, and their revised seating capacity was 35, despite what it says in the PSV Circle Fleet History. I recall reading somewhere that the sliding rear doors on these rebodies proved troublesome, the severe overhang of the body caused some slight distortion and some of the conducting staff found the doors quite difficult to open and close. Hopefully there might be somebody out there who can confirm beyond reasonable doubt the seating capacity of all nine of these rebodied machines.
For the record, these lengthened saloons were quite often to be found on the Sheffield – Rotherham – Doncaster service, route 77, until the route was revised to clear a low bridge at the Sheffield end in 1956, and became the preserve of a batch of seven Weymann bodied Daimler CVG6’s that lasted on there for years. The BET-saloons ended their days on school journeys and colliery extras, and six of them were withdrawn in late 1957 following the delivery of an equal number of AEC Reliances, Rotherham’s first underfloor engined single-deckers. Hope this is of interest.

Dave Careless


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Luton Corporation – Daimler COG5 – CNM 43 – 68

CNM 43_lr             Copyright John Barringer

Luton Corporation Transport
Daimler COG5
Willowbrook L26/26R

Probably the only surviving picture of fleet number 68 registration CNM 43 chassis number 10337 taken just after withdrawal in 1952. Luton Corporation Transport purchased a fleet of Daimlers in the early 1930’s to replace the tramway system that had served the town for a number of years. I suppose the thinking was that ex tram drivers would be able to come to terms much easier with semi automatic pre-selector gearboxes and fluid flywheels than the crash gearboxes offered by other manufacturers. These were mated to Gardner 5LW engines which on the face of it seemed rather small to haul these machines up the steep inclines each side of Luton town. Many of these old Daimlers soldiered on into the 1950’s despite sketchy wartime servicing and the Luton bus garage receiving a direct hit from a Nazi bomb.
The low bridge Willowbrook coachwork had much character with the unusual feature of an upstairs with one gangway each side of a raised dais giving each bench seat only three places instead of the usual four. This meant that whichever side you sat downstairs you would still risk banging your head.
The drivers cabs were also a bit claustrophobic and had a small box section let into the roof to accommodate tall drivers.
For some reason the Gardner 5LW engines were much quieter in these compared to the Eastern National Bristol’s that also ran into Luton. Perhaps the fluid flywheel had a cushioning effect or maybe they had flexible engine mounts. In any case one characteristic of the Bristol’s was that each window would vibrate in turn as the engine revs gathered pace.
One notorious hill that tested these Daimlers to their limit was Crawley Green Hill to the east of Luton. I worked for Vauxhall Motors in the 1950’s and would sometimes wait at the top of this hill to catch a bus to Stopsley. The water supply in Luton contains a high proportion of chalk and no doubt this was used to top up their radiators. This resulted in a well laden bus boiling at about halfway up this hill and the driver having to switch on his wipers to clear the screen of condensed water. You will notice that number 68 has the engine side panel leaning against the wing in the time honoured way to give an extra cooling effect. Despite this the drivers cab would be writhed in steam at the top and a short wait would be required to cool them down.
At tick over and in neutral they would emit a ‘wind in the willows’ whine that would stop abruptly as first gear was engaged. As the driver put his foot down the bus would shake slightly as the fluid drive began to bite and to the sound of creaking coachwork the bus would slowly move forward like a dowager duchess perambulating at a garden party.
Happy days!

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Barringer

A full list of Daimler codes can be seen here.

Bus tickets issued by this operator can be viewed here.

17/02/11 – 08:59

I love John’s wonderful literary description of the characteristics of these most interesting vehicles – a batch which, incidentally, I’ve never encountered before. While three window upper saloon windscreens were fairly common before WW2, this particular arrangement is most unusual and has the suggestion of the bay windows in many houses. The phenomenon of "each window vibrating in turn" was also frequently evident in the Leyland TS and TD diesel models, particularly when setting off in second gear. Sadly there are few, if any, such controlled acoustic delights in today’s "sophisticated" offerings.

Chris Youhill

17/02/11 – 09:49

Come on, Chris. Yorkshire folk tell it as it is.
…..in today’s characterless sewing machines!

David Oldfield

18/02/11 – 07:27

John Barringer Great to see these old photos surfacing even when not my ‘location’ I must explore more of the website.
Thanks for this one.

Ian Gibbs

18/02/11 – 07:29

A very evocative description that takes me back, too! Luton dabbled with Willowbrook bodywork for much of the 1930’s, but these were the last of the breed. They all went between 1950 and 1954. The double gangway certainly restricted the seating capacity, the full code being L26/26R!
I’d say that these buses were about the last of the bay-windowed breed, too, although Dublin were still ordering such fronted buses in the late 1940’s, if not a little later. Personally, I rather liked this style of front.
The Bovril adverts are ones I’ve never seen before, and don’t make outrageous claims, either!

Chris Hebbron

18/02/11 – 07:30

I’m very pleased to see this as I was about to post a question regarding pre-war Willowbrook bodies with the upper deck arrangement which John describes. In an article about Mansfield Independents in Buses Extra in 1985, Roy Marshall recalls that Ebor had some of these, with a continuous sunken gangway which allowed the conductor to work round the top deck in a circle. Now, try as I might, I just cannot imagine how this was configured, how would it have been continued under the front canopy or over the rear platform? Do any plans or diagrams or even photos exist? In the same article, Mr Marshall mentions that Trumans of Shirebrook bought a Guy Arab in 1946 and fitted it with a 1931 Park Royal lowbridge body on which the sunken gangway had been built up to normal height forward of the front bulkhead to meet postwar certification regulations, an accompanying photo clearly shows the area above the cab and canopy screened off by a series of handrails. My point is that on every lowbridge vehicle I’ve ever been on, the sunken gangway stops at the front bulkhead (i.e. back of the cab). Even if pre-war construction and use regulations allowed different, how would the driver get into the cab and surely driving would have been well nigh impossible! Did any other coachbuilders have a go at this layout or was it unique to Willowbrook?

Chris Barker

18/02/11 – 10:42

Interesting that 1937 Thames Valley Leyland double deckers had a 3-panel "bay window" upstairs at the front, but were bodied by Brush, years before any business connection with Willowbrook. The small outer windows of the Brush version were less angled than those on the Luton deckers. The TV buses had a conventional single sunken gangway, but I’m fascinated to see that Willowbrook used a double gangway as late as ’37!
Chris Barker’s question exactly echoes one that’s been niggling me for years: how did you get from one gangway to the other??? A cross-gangway immediately behind the front bulkhead (front passengers downstairs Mind Your Heads!) would make sense, though it would entail a long circular tour for anyone nearside rear, but the view of seat-tops in the few surviving photos of double-gangway double deckers suggests otherwise. Another possibility might be to drop the last eighteen inches of the downstairs gangway, just aft of the axle, to platform level, so as to afford headroom for a cross-gangway upstairs over the platform, immediately forward of the stairs. This way everyone not sitting would get their allotted 5’10 1/2" of headroom, though tall folk would need to be careful as they boarded the platform. But here again the pictures don’t point to that solution. John Cupis, a friend who spent his childhood at Staines, Middlesex, tells me that on the London lowbridge STs there was a gap in front of the rearmost seat upstairs to allow you to cross between gangways, but that "you had to stoop" as you crossed.
The Luton top decks look to be built as far forward over the cab as possible, presumably to accommodate the 9 rows of seats necessary to get 26 upper-deck seats.
Thanks for the photo and detailed account of this very unusual and characterful batch. Luton Corporation always seemed to go for something different!

Ian Thompson

18/02/11 – 11:35

A rare commodity indeed was the BET "Federation" style double decker. Single deckers were common, but there were few double deckers, the 3 window front top deck being a feature.
Common with East Yorkshire, built by Brush and ECW. Also Thames Valley?
YWD had a few. Who else?
The Willowbrook body here has more of a bay window effect, as Chris points out, but perhaps was influenced by the BET ideas, although by no means a regular Willowbrook feature.

John Whitaker

19/02/11 – 06:47

That front upper-deck window seems particularly appropriate to the symmetrical double-gangway layout. Front seat passengers must indeed have felt as if they were sitting on a sofa looking through a bay window!
The Daimler COG was years ahead of its time in terms of refinement. They did indeed have flexible engine mountings, and John’s description (apart from the creaking bodywork) could equally well apply to a Daimler CVG built many years later. Manchester bought COGs and CVGs from 1940 to 1963, and there was hardly any difference in the riding experience at all.

Peter Williamson

20/02/11 – 08:21

I’m grateful to John Cupis for sending me photos, taken 60-odd years ago by the late John C. Gilham, of London Transport lowbridge STs, both outside and INSIDE! To read the rest of my comment and see the great shots click here.

Ian Thompson

25/05/11 – 06:33

I suspect that this vehicle was already being used for spares as it has already lost one headlight. Did these buses ever have the engine side panel closed. I can imaging some of the drivers cursing the 5LW engine on Crawley Green as not only is it very steep, it is also lengthy and had a bus stop at the foot. A dead start on a Saturday lunch time outbound with a full load of seated passengers and probably another half dozen standing would mean 5 minutes climbing in first gear with speed probably in single figures.

David Manning

25/05/11 – 16:58

The pre-selector boxes made a wonderful, tuneful sound with variation of pitch, especially on overrun: and when stationary, they would have a distinctive "hunt" as a reminder to get a move on!


26/05/11 – 07:29

Joe, unless I’m mistaken (I’m no engineer) I believe that the delightful symphony while standing, and it WAS delightful – in neutral – emanated from the fluid flywheel rather than from the preselctor gearbox.

Chris Youhill

27/05/11 – 08:40

I’m sure you are right Chris- I should have said "transmission"!


05/08/13 – 17:48

My father worked as a conductor for many years with Luton Corporation buses he received a gold watch for 25yr service but died shortly after receiving it.

Walter Gunning


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Hastings Tramways – Guy BTX – DY 4965 – 3 – ‘Happy Harold’

Hastings Tramways – Guy BTX – DY 4965 – 3 – ‘Happy Harold’
Copyright Keith Harwood

Hastings Tramways
Dodson O30/27R

Recent correspondence about Dodson bodies and John Whitaker’s comment that Hastings Tramways were users of them brought this picture to mind. It is a 1928 Guy BT with 56-seat Dodson body. Thanks to Keith Harwood for his kind permission to use it, and to Chris Youhill for the information that the bus was known as ‘Happy Harold’ and for reminding me that it was fitted in 1960 with a Commer TS3 diesel engine.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roy Burke


15/02/11 – 15:19

These Guy trolleys were the only open top trolleybuses as opposed to later conversions built. They were part of Hastings initial fleet which contained both double and single deck trolleys You Tube has a clip from a Guy Motors film about the opening of the Hastings system available to watch.

Chris Hough


16/02/11 – 06:11

Must be (have been?) fun up there when it dewired….?



05/04/11 – 05:32

Yes, I agree about de-wiring. I have been upstairs on that vehicle and all the mechanism is within easy reach. It looks very easy to bang your head on when it’s not in use. I tried to imagine being an upstairs passenger during any operation. Also, sitting upstairs on Hastings seafront must have been bracing. Not only that, by the sides upstairs are very low and I think having small children up there could be interesting!!

Richard J. Porter


21/04/11 – 06:13

The Commer TS3 engine is a story in itself. Although it might be assumed that the TS stood for two-stroke, which the engine undoubtedly was, it actually stood for Tilling-Stevens. It was an opposed-piston engine. The bore ran right through the engine and the pistons heads met in the centre, with a crankshaft at each side, which joined at one end to form a single drive shaft. Its post-war development was hindered through lack of finance and, towards the end, most of the parts were being made by hand by TS engineers. I believe it had three cylinders, the rough equivalent of a six cylinder four-stroke engine. At Rootes Group takeover, the engine obviously showed enough promise for development to continue, with the engines eventually being used widely in Commer and Karrier commercial vehicles right through to the 1960’s. The sporty roar from these vehicles was always very distinctive. How sporty the performance actually was, I am unaware, the same with the fuel consumption. I assume the vehicles measured up to rivals well enough, as did the engine, or it would not have continued in production.

Chris Hebbron


21/04/11 – 11:55

Is it my imagination from the mists of time or was it actually the case that the Commer two stroke engine could, on occasion, start up and run backwards ?? I seem to remember that this could occur if the engine had previously stopped at a certain point in the combustion process. This seems a far fetched theory but I seem to recall that it was in fact true.

Chris Youhill


28/04/11 – 06:38

The Commer two stroke was (in) famous for decoking itself when working hard uphill, sending large showers of sparks out of the exhaust. I remember several drivers of Commer two-stroke wagons telling me tales of car drivers flagging them down, when night trunking, to tell them their wagon was ‘on fire’ when it was actually decoking itself. The Perkins R6 engine as fitted to some 1950’s Dodge wagons (of Hell Drivers film fame) were renowned for running backwards and when this happened the rack fell off the governor and the engine raced away and couldn’t be stopped! This engine was not as successful as the P6 version which was a popular choice to convert many petrol engined coaches and lorries of the ’40s and ’50s before chassis manufacturers offered diesel options in their lighter chassis.
Perhaps Chris is thinking about the R6 in his posting above.



06/05/11 – 07:11

Interesting comments from Chris and Eric about engines running backwards. When I worked for West Yorkshire Road Car, Johnnie Berry, a fitter with more than a passing interest in buses, told of a similar experience. He had taken a spare bus up to Harrogate bus station from the depot, as a driver had reported his bus (a Bristol K5G) would not restart at the terminus, due to a flat battery. The driver had however, managed to bump start the bus in order to get back to the bus station. As the affected vehicle pulled in to the ‘layover’ area at the top of the bus station, Johnnie was waiting to take it back for attention. However, the driver – probably out of habit – then proceeded stop the engine. Johnnie shouted at him to leave it running, and the engine, just on the point of stopping, fortunately fired back into life. It was only when Johnnie came to move off that he noticed something was amiss, as the bus attempted to go backwards! Undaunted he tried again with the same result. Putting it in reverse allowed the gentle beast to move forwards, and then Johnnie realised that the Gardner 5LW was running backwards! He said the driver must just have caught the engine ‘on the rock’ as it was about to stop. Johnnie felt that the well-balanced nature of Gardner engines may have ‘helped’ with the ‘rock’ encountered, and was no doubt relieved that his strange experience wasn’t the result of someone putting something in his tea!

Brendan Smith


13/05/11 – 06:40

Eric, comments of the Perkins R6 running backwards reminded me. my Father had dodge trucks in the 1960!s which would run backwards you had to be quick to stop it, one way that did work for him was to put a load of rag up the exhaust pipe to starve it of air. I am now a retired auto engineer. Just looked at my niece’s Renault 1.9 turbo diesel wrecked engine, speed went to max no way could it be stopped. Mechanic said the turbo goes and it runs off the oil in the sump. I can understand that they say it is a common fault. I just wonder if like the Perkins the engines happen to run backwards. Mechanics may not now remember Perkins engines. Just a thought.

Clifford Warren (bunny)


14/05/11 – 07:32

Can be a couple of reasons why engines of the era of Happy Harold’s run away or run backwards.
Firstly most engines of that era had oil bath air cleaners, if that was overfilled with oil the engine could draw the oil in with it’s charge of air and burn it as fuel. Or you cleaned the wire gauze in the filter with paraffin or petrol and forgot to substitute oil before you fired up the engine.
I believe that the fuel pumps fitted to very early TS3’s had an inline fuel pump that had symmetrical lobes on its camshaft, the cam profile meant that the injector timing was the same in both directions so if the engine got to the point of stall it was feasible to ‘catch’ and run the other way. It is to be hope your inlet manifold melted with the exhaust gases before you reversed your tipper truck over the quarry edge isn’t it!.



18/05/11 – 06:38

I remember riding on the top deck of "Happy Harold" when it was running off the overhead as a child in the late fifties and feeling somewhat nervous about the close proximity of everything above. It was nevertheless a memorable experience, and I also rode on it when in summer service soon after the TS2 engine was fitted, chosen because of its relatively quiet performance I recall so as not to detract too much from the experience of riding on a trolleybus. Although I felt a little safer upstairs with the poles no longer doing the job for which they were intended and the rasp of that engine made it clear it was no longer a trolleybus. However, it is still a joy to see it from time to time, and those who work on it to keep it operational are to be congratulated on their efforts. Interestingly I believe the vehicle is owned by Hastings Council which virtually takes its ownership status back to its pre M&D days.



18/05/11 – 10:17

Its most interesting to hear, Doug, that Happy Harold is owned by the Municipal Authority. It takes me back to my childhood and teenage holiday years, when there was a magical anomaly to the sleek and luxuriously appointed modern trolleybuses having the fleetname "Hastings Tramways Company." Another delightful feature of the system was the modest humble description, on the destination blinds, of the majestic promenade of Hastings and St.Leonards as "FRONT."

Chris Youhill


18/05/11 – 11:12

Indeed Chris. I was trying to think of some witty comment regarding the destination "Front" carried on the "front" of the bus. The only one I could come up with was Mitchell’s of Stornoway, some of whose dark blue Bedford SBs would show the destination "Back" (on the front!) – Back being a fairly large village, and terminus for one or two short workings on the route to North Tolsta.

Stephen Ford


08/06/11 – 09:45

I had experience of riding on vehicles with the Two Stroke engines both buses in the form of Maidstone and District’s ‘Contenders’ which were Harrington integral vehicles with Commer two stroke engines and on Northfleet U.D.C. Karrier refuse vehicles (of which two had such engines).
The notable thing about the buses apart from the screaming noise already mentioned, was the vibration of the engine on tick over. Every seat in the Contenders used to vibrate when the vehicle was standing still with the engine running (incidentally Paragon Kits of Northampton do a nice 1/76 Resin kit of an M. & D. Contender.
Despite the sounds and the vibration, the engines were very powerful and the Contenders had a good acceleration and hill climbing ability (from my recollection superior to the AEC Reliances which they worked alongside on M. & D. routes). The same was true of the refuse vehicles whose performance was far superior to the newer and smaller Perkins engined model.

Gordon Mackley


30/09/11 – 18:37

Stephen, reference your comments about destinations, the trolleybuses of Maidstone showed "LOOSE", for such a wire bound vehicle it was indeed not the case! I credit the recollection of this to a book I cannot accurately recall, perhaps Trolleybus Trails by J. Joyce. Incidentally Happy Harold is still going strong thanks to the efforts of a small group and attends regularly events around the Hastings area.

Paul Baker


01/10/11 – 06:41

Referring to the Commer two stroke engine problems reminds me that in May 1963, our local coalman took deliver of a brand new Commer lorry (66 SHY) fitted with a TS2 engine. It was his first new purchase having relied on pre War Ford V8 petrol engined lorries which were by then falling apart with rust. The Commer looked splendid in bright red, black and gold but, misery began from almost the first day as it proved a real misery to start in the morning. Every day he ran the battery flat before resorting to the trusty old Ford being brought out to tow the Commer up and down the road until it eventually fired up after which in frustration he revved the poor thing to death!
He sold it after only a year for a Thames Trader which ran "like a watch"!

Richard Leaman


26/02/12 – 16:02

It is not commonly known that the Rootes Group were developing a 4-cylinder version of the TS3, the TS4. It was scrapped when Chrysler took over, because it conflicted with a prior agreement with Cummins/Perkins. The TS4 engine, it is said, was far superior in most respects. A few examples survive, despite attempts to have them all destroyed, along with all other evidence. This story is to be found at this link: http://www.commer.org.nz/ Another sad story, with an ending similar to that of the BAC’s TSR2 plane.

Chris Hebbron


27/02/12 – 13:47

If, like me, you are fascinated by Dodson bodies of this period, have a look at the same era for Wolverhampton Corporation. I only have books, so cannot submit photos, but they had variants of the Hastings open top Guys, with top covers, and with/without open/enclosed stairs, and also Guy CX motorbus versions with normal bonnets.
An absolutely fascinating array of vintage shapes and sizes which were a "bit different", even at the time!

John Whitaker


01/03/12 – 07:51

I remember Southdown’s Commer Avengers in the late 60’s and early 70’s I drove one of the Harrington bodied examples on a Sunday evening relief to London from Eastbourne in really heavy traffic a journey that took almost 4 hours to cover the 60 odd miles. After suitable refreshment the return journey, running empty at about 22.30, took about 1 3/4 hours with the engine thoroughly decoking itself at full throttle on the Caterham by-pass with what looked like a blowlamp for an exhaust with an impressive soundtrack.

Diesel Dave


01/03/12 – 09:17

I’ve never seen W’hampton Dodson’s, John and there are no photos of them on the web, but it is useful to know that they were somewhat similar to ‘Happy Harold’. The later Brighton ones were similar to the Tilling ST’s in London. Their finest hour was still the one produced for the Sunbeam Sikh and I know that you’re aware of that post. I wonder how Phil Dodson got on with his investigations? He’s not been back yet.

Another evocative, post, Dave, which brings to mind the expression, ‘Went like a rocket! Clearly the local constabulary wouldn’t have stood a chance of catching you up! Two-strokes usually had the repuation of being all noise and no go, but these wonderful engines were not in that league. I had one ride in a Commer lorry when hitch-hiking when in the RAF and was impressed.

Chris Hebbron


01/03/12 – 15:29

Chris, if you type "Guy Motors" into Google, a site comes up with the company history, and there are 2 or 3 photos of the 6 wheel era in Wolverhampton.

John Whitaker


09/04/12 – 06:56

Reverting to the stories of engines running backwards above, it is certainly not unknown for Gardners to do this. During my time at Crosville I recall we had a Scottish Bus Group coach which managed to do this on the quayside at Holyhead. As the governor doesn’t work in reverse, and apparently nobody could figure how to turn the fuel off in time, it literally "ran away" until it blew itself to bits -very expensive!

David Jones


DY 4965_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


02/01/13 – 15:41



Here are two views of Happy Harold operating on Hastings seafront in October 2012 during ‘Hastings Week’, an event to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings with many events taking place.

Terry Blackman


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