Old Bus Photos

Bickers of Coddenham – Guy GS – MXX 356/60

MXX 560_lr
Copyright Roger Cox

Bickers of Coddenham
Guy GS

In 1969 Bickers bought two Guy GS buses, MXX 356 and 360 which were GS56 and GS60 in the London Transport fleet. Here is a picture of them in 1975. The following year they were both sold into preservation, though I believe that neither has been seen about in the last few years. Unless you know different that is, you know how to get in touch.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

21/12/11 – 20:05

Give me a big engined AEC or Leyland any day but these big hearted babies are full of character and deserve their place among the preservation greats. These two look a little mat paint/MOD and well used. Even more testimony to their initially build quality – but they look even better in LT/Country green, gleaming on a running day.
The modern day equivalent is a Mercedes Vario or IVECO Daily. In the words of one of my choir, who spent his professional life working for Tilling subsidiaries, "I know which ones will last longer."

David Oldfield

22/12/11 – 06:24

I drove the Tillingbourne examples of the GS in the Guildford area, and I found them to be delightfully robust, positive little machines, though the clanky sounding Perkins P6 engine didn’t impress me very much. The GS was another of those buses with a "right to left" wrong way round gearbox, and I have always wondered who made it. Was it a Guy box, or something from another maker?
Also, was it yet another manifestation of London Transport’s flat earth outlook that led it to commission Guy to manufacture a specially designed 26 seat model? Dennis had been producing successful buses of this type for years, and the LGOC had purchased a fleet of around forty Darts in the 1930s. The logical move for LT in the 1950s would surely have been to obtain a P6 powered version of the established Falcon. The GS was (indeed still is – there are lots still around) a really good little bus, but I remain perplexed that it was ever ordered in the first place.

Roger Cox

22/12/11 – 06:25

GS’s were certainly a hybrid ‘special. Based on a modified Guy Vixen chassis, it sported a Perkins P6 indirect-injection, 65 bhp engine, with 4-speed crash gearbox. It was a rare example of London Transport buying an ECW body, which it was supposed to buy in preference to other makes. However, off-hand, I can only think of RFW’s as the other example in post-war years. Even so, LTE put their stamp on it, as it bore a remarkable resemblance to the RF body at the rear.

Chris Hebbron

22/12/11 – 06:26

There are some others from the same batch which survived for a fair time but not in a very good way. See them here www.travellerhomes.co.uk/ 
At least they had long and useful lives and as David says, they are rather attractive and purposeful souls.

Richard Leaman

22/12/11 – 08:25

As Roger says LT always had some rather odd ideas – the prewar rear engined Leyland CRs spring to mind with only twenty seats AND a conductor !! I too have always admired the little GS class, surely one of the most handsome small buses ever.

Chris Youhill

23/12/11 – 07:00

The CR’s were designed for OMO, but, post-war, with the huge increase in passengers, those OMO routes in Central Area were either abandoned/absorbed into other, busier routes or served by full-sized buses, rendering these ‘babies’ surplus. However, they were spread about and used, as a last resort, to replace full-sized vehicles which had failed, hence the two-man crews. Ill-suited to intensive work, and under-developed, they often crumpled under the strain. I made one journey, on just one, in such a situation. It coped!

Chris Hebbron

23/12/11 – 09:37

Thanks for that Chris H – that’s something I never knew despite owning much bookware about LT – you’re never too old to learn as they say.

Chris Youhill

23/12/11 – 12:11

A nice coincidence is that Leyland’s light 6-cyl diesel used in the CR had the same bore and stroke (3.5" x 5.0") as the Perkins P6 used by Guy in the GS. Both engines were indirect injection and shared that light tinkling "threepenny bits" combustion note. The only ride I’ve ever had in a CR was at Cobham (held at Chobham) a few years ago, and the engine sound was remarkably Perkins-like. Another thing I learnt that day: the big-diameter rear hub houses not a double-reduction gear but a universal joint, so the CR evidently didn’t have a beam axle.

Ian Thompson

24/12/11 – 06:36

Douglas Corporation ran some Guy Gs style buses with Mulliner bodywork. They were fitted with large upright destination screens front and rear. This gave rise to their nickname of Wolsey’s camels after the then manager. Douglas also bought what I think are the only Leyland Comets in municipal service.

Chris Hough

24/12/11 – 06:40

Chris Hebbron – re LT buying ECW bodies, there was also SLT 59, (CRL4/RMC4), the first Green Line Routemaster.

Bob Gell

24/12/11 – 06:41

One unusual feature of the CR was a De Dion rear axle, with a universal joint at both ends of the half-shafts. I’ve no idea why it was fitted, maybe to produce a more stable ride for the engine at the rear. Here is a photo and diagram of how it worked (These axles were made from the 1890’s into this century without much change. Sports cars had them, but production cars like the Rover 2000 had it, too). See http://www.light-motor-cars.co.uk/

Chris Hebbron

24/12/11 – 09:54

Thx, Bob, for the titbit on SLT 59. ECW must have struggled to meet that order on time! I always thought it looked smart with its framed side lower-deck windows, but had a feeling that the full-width lower rear window looked as if it wasn’t centred properly, or was that my imagination?

Chris Hebbron

24/12/11 – 13:12

There are pictures of SLT 59 on the web including www.londonbuspage.com/ which has this and KGJ 603D which is obligingly pictured from the rear with what also appears to be an off-centre rear window: is this to stiffen the corner by the rear door?
Does anyone know anything about the ECW (presumably) system on the VR which sucked all the cig ends and packets out of the upper deck through a port at the back? Now that’s innovation….


10/11/12 – 06:51

In the 1980s I owned GS 36 it was a joy to drive once you got used to the gearbox, double de clutch comes to mind, sorry I sold it.


04/01/13 – 08:51


On 2/5/10 I took the above picture although I cannot remember where I took it. As I had retired to Cornwall in 2008 and was visiting all the shows I can only assume that it was in Cornwall. I used your site to try and identify the model and any other details available and when I selected the Guy GS model found a photo of 2 buses under the heading of Bickers of Coddenham and comments that the picture was from 1975 and with registration numbers MXX 356 and MXX 360. It further stated that the buses had been sold into preservation but not seen in the last few years. As the photo I took has MXX on its plate unfortunately the numbers are hidden. I just thought that it may possibly be one the buses in a new livery so I forwarded it for any information possible.

Warren Farrer

04/01/13 – 13:03

This bus is in the distinctive livery of West Bromwich Corporation, and you can just make out the fleet number 252. The registration would be MXX 340. It was acquired from London Transport in 1961.

Alan Murray-Rust

11/02/15 – 14:03

MXX 364

This is all new to me. I am enjoying the various photos and comments. On the Home page there are photos of the Guy Specials. Although the original contributions were some 3 years ago, the attached may be of interest showing the only GS painted into Tillingbourne blue seen at Rusper on the service to Horsham on 1. 7. 1972. The driver may well be your contributor Roger Cox. Thanks to the driver for the ride.

Keith Newton

12/02/15 – 06:35

Welcome, Keith and thx for your photo. It certainly looks very odd out of LT colours!

Chris Hebbron

12/02/15 – 06:35

No, it’s not me, Keith. MXX 364, ex GS64, was the only GS painted in the then new blue Tillingbourne livery shown in your picture. It was out stationed for a time at Horsham (on a rotational basis with one of the SUs) for the Horsham-Rusper circular route. Although I did drive the SU4LAs on this service, I didn’t take GS64 in its new livery. This was the last GS bought by Tillingbourne  (in April 1971) and the last to be operated, being withdrawn in October 1972.

Roger Cox

MXX 560_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

19/02/15 – 07:35

MXX 382

Here is another Tillingbourne GS, MXX 382, ex GS82, seen in Horsham Carfax when ‘On Hire’ to North Downs Rural Transport in 1971. It is in the revised livery initially adopted by Trevor Brown in September 1970 when he took over Tillingbourne Valley from the Trice family who had run the business since 1924. Later, the blue livery shown above in Keith’s picture replaced the maroon, though MXX 382 was never so repainted, being withdrawn in March 1972. North Downs itself, after struggling with low revenues and maintenance issues, finally expired on 17 April 1972, whereupon the Horsham services became part of the Tillingbourne network.

Roger Cox

19/02/15 – 10:34

The history of all the London Transport GS Class can be found at the excellent "Ian’s Bus Stop" website at this link: www.countrybus.org/GS/GSa

Chris Hebbron

24/02/15 – 14:13

David Call is right. Stage was the highest category and the most demanding. Express was in the middle and the lowest category was contract. I worked in the Metropolitan Traffic Area’s PSV licensing team in 1963 and 1964, and I handled very few contract PSV licences.
One oddity about the Metropolitan Traffic Area was that it did not handle licensing of drivers or conductors, which was handled by the Public Carriage Office of the Metropolitan Police. Another was that London Transport not only trained their own drivers, but tested them as well!

David Wragg

24/02/15 – 16:12

My original PSV was passed in London in 1967. In 1972 I moved back to Manchester and when my licence came up for renewal I had to surrender my ‘N’ badge for a ‘CC’ one. The new one was a bit slow coming so I went along to the office in Manchester to enquire why.
It turned out that the Civil Service Union was on a work-to-rule and they would not issue the new one until they received the 2/6d. deposit on my old one from London. When I protested that I could not work (the law stated that it had to be worn) because they did not trust the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to return my 2/6d the supervisor was called. After some argument, the supervisor’s supervisor was called and nobody could think of a rule that stopped my paying again. They kindly allowed me to do this and promised they would refund me when they received the original deposit. Still waiting… (Maybe I should write to the Prime Minister and Sir Bernard whatsit-Howe about why the south is so much richer than the north!)

John Hodkinson

25/02/15 – 06:02

David Wragg says it was ”an oddity for London Transport to test their own Drivers”
Not so, Designated Examiners were common practice in the larger Companies, and Municipal Undertakings, and still are.
There was a specified number of Drivers who had to be employed, I think 300, to qualify for one, and the Examiner was not to be the same person as the one who undertook the Training.
This was to alleviate the pressure off the Ministry of Transport.
In the past there were no separate Department of Transport Driving Examiners, PSV Tests were carried out by the Area Certifying Officer (The Ministry Man).
He would re-certify a few vehicles in the morning, and then carry out a few PSV Driving Tests in the afternoon, or visa versa. At Oldham Corporation I seem to recall it was a Tuesday.
Also you did not get a pass or fail off him, and no pass certificate. He just said he would make his recommendation to The Traffic Commissioner and you would hear in due course.
You did not know if you had passed until your Licence and Badge arrived.

Stephen Howarth


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Blue Bus Services – Daimler Freeline – 120 JRB – Dr 18

Blue Bus Services - Daimler Freeline - 120 JRB - Dr 18

Blue Bus Services
Daimler Freeline CD650H
Burlingham Seagull C37F

The above photograph was given to me by the ex Blue Bus Inspector the late Ken Baker, when I worked for Derby Borough Transport, and was in charge of the Blue Bus operation at Willington, before the fire.
He had no idea where it was taken, but he thought it was in the Derbyshire Peak District somewhere, where as I thought it was in Yorkshire. Perhaps somebody will be able to identify the location?
120 JRB was unusual for a 30ft – long coach in that it was only fitted with 37 seats, the usual maximum being 41. Contemporary reports state that it was fitted with translucent panelling which could be lifted for ventilation. It was also fitted with an air operated pre-selector gearbox, and it was reported that it could travel at 55mph.

Blue Bus Service Fleetname Wings

This coach was the first vehicle to carry the “Wings” emblem in place of the “Blue Bus Services” fleet name. If anybody is interested I have a Blue Bus Services page on my website, which can be found at this link.

I hope someone comes up with the location of 120 JRB.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Stephen Howarth

19/12/11 – 11:06

Good picture, possibly taken in Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

Roger Broughton

19/12/11 – 14:21

You have set us a teaser as to where this is! The pale grey stone suggests that it is in the southern part of the Peak District- but where is/was there a Natwest Bank? Wirksworth doesn’t look right on Google Earth- goldish stone & brick- & has a big Natwest: this is/was a part time branch. I wondered about Youlgreave…..


19/12/11 – 17:19

Joe, Youlgeave (Pommy) hasn’t had a Natwest Bank, the stone is similar to both in fact all of the Peak District.

Roger Broughton

20/12/11 – 06:50

Well the few bits that I can add having worked for National Provincial and later National Westminster Bank are that the picture was taken after February 1971 and the size of the Branch would suggest that it was an "Agency" open one/two days per week. These were attached to and run by much larger Branches so that would seem to indicate that it is not too far from a large town or city. Oh that I had my old Sorting Code book because with a bit of work you could eliminate possibilities using Google Earth! Sadly, we always had to destroy them.
I’ve just researched Pateley Bridge because the road layout at the top of the hill is similar but the Bank is Barclays and too far around the bend. So not much help but any old Yorkshire/Derbyshire Bankers out there might get closer.

Richard Leaman

20/12/11 – 06:51

A flash of inspiration suggested Bonsall. Have a look at Google maps. I think the picture was taken from an upstairs window of the Kings Head, looking down Yeoman Street. The end of the cottage in the distance is fairly distinctive.

Stephen Ford

20/12/11 – 09:29

Well done Stephen- it is indeed: Yeoman St Bonsall. The shops have been prettified into houses and the bank is no more but looks much the same. The pub car park, probably once some cottages, has been improved: in fact the whole place looks smarter. It is possible that the pic was taken from the memorial plinth, but it was probably higher.
I’ll stick to my guns, though, Roger, on the stone: it was always noticeable that the stone changed going south from squarish often goldish stones to this pale grey rubbley stuff, often found around those tiny sheep fields/pens. Compare say Baslow with here.


20/12/11 – 10:21

I wonder were the coach is heading as the road out of Bonsal towards Brightgate is very narrow.

Roger Broughton

20/12/11 – 11:24

My guess would be that it was either a trip to view the well-dressings (July) or a pub visit at the end of an organised sightseeing tour. Roger is right, Bonsall was the end of the line for buses (and still is). At the time it was North Western territory with a fairly regular service from Matlock, nowadays G & J Holmes and an hourly service during the day on weekdays.

Stephen Ford

20/12/11 – 12:27

An amazing flash of inspiration, Stephen; I can’t fault it. Think of the chances that, from such a small group as us, someone would triumph! You shall have a gold star!

Chris Hebbron

20/12/11 – 14:24

O come on, Chris. There’s some shared brain power among us – and we’re probably all getting on a little bit now!
Coming from the Peak District end of Sheffield, the whole PD is my (favoured) stomping ground. Now exiled in the south, Bonsall was a regular part of run out in the car I did when visiting aged (now dead) parents. I only ever went UP hill from Cromford and never had the perspective of this photo – looking down.

David Oldfield

21/12/11 – 07:21

While it’s true that there are some widely-travelled folk amongst us, it still surprises me how many questions thrown at the website are answered. I’ll compromise by awarding Stephen only a silver star, then – okay?

Chris Hebbron

21/12/11 – 07:22

I’ve played around on Streetview, and if you paste this link into your browser, you can see the scene as it is today when map loades drag and drop the little orange man to the Kings head at this Google maps link.


21/12/11 – 08:56

Hy Hulley, now there’s a name from the Peak District, nearly had the variety of vehicles of Barton, some out of COF vehicles would be parked on open land opposite the garage in Baslow, now luxury flats are parked there ! The business is still operating as Hulley under the Woolicrofts ownership ex Silver Service of Darley Dale. In the 1978 Busus annual there is a good article on Peak District operators from the 30’s.

Roger Broughton

21/12/11 – 08:57

Scrooge! I didn’t mean that Stephen didn’t deserve the Gold Star – I’ll reinstate it and take this opportunity to say Happy Christmas to ALL friends on this wonderful site.

David Oldfield

21/12/11 – 11:41

………and I’ll second that, a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all.

Chris Hebbron

21/12/11 – 12:03

That must have been one of the last Freelines built – also one of the last Daimler 10.6 litre engines. Wonder if Blue Bus managed to acquire a stock chassis at a knock down price for being a loyal Daimler customer? The steering wheel position in the Freeline always looks too high although presumably the drivers seat was similarly raised to achieve the required min 6"/max 10" clearance between the top of the seat cushion and the underside of the steering wheel rim required by the Conditions of Fitness Regulations.

Ian Wild

21/12/11 – 13:50

When I said inspiration, I didn’t mean the miraculous sort (or sticking a pin in a map at random either)! I was just thinking of places I have visited that might fit, then checking them in Google. Roger mentioned Brightgate just to the north of Bonsall, and we have in fact camped in a very old static caravan at Brightgate farm a few times. Even in the prettified state that Joe referred to, Bonsall is a grey village and can look a bit dreary in anything less than brilliant sunshine. I think my inspiration was along the lines of "it looks grey enough to be Bonsall!"

Stephen Ford

21/12/11 – 14:55

Stephen, The Barley Mow on the Slaley Rd out of Bonsall is a very good watering hole which has recently changed hands, good beer and food.

Roger Broughton

22/12/11 – 06:32

It certainly wasn’t one of the last Freelines, I’m not sure when production officially ceased but Great Yarmouth took some in 1964 with ‘B’ registrations. It would have been, however, one of the very last Burlingham Seagull’s to the original design. By no means a unique combination and yes, all of them appeared to have very high steering wheel positions, what is not immediately apparent is that this one had three long panoramic windows on each side and one piece windscreens, not the horizontally divided opening type. I think Yelloway had some to this diagram also. Delivered in June 1959 only just in time for that years summer, I think that was the last season of this particular shape. If Blue Bus had waited till the following year, they could have had the Seagull 70 body, now that would have been a unique combination!

Chris Barker

22/12/11 – 06:33

With Streetview you can actually get a link for the exact view you want rather than the map. Here it is: http://g.co/maps/gysy4
Hulleys are indeed still operating, but I’ll have to look up their history. I think the link with Wooliscroft/Silver Service was short-lived and they had to be rescued by someone else.

Peter Williamson

22/12/11 – 07:46

If what Chris says is true, then that would indeed make it the Seagull VII and 1959 was about as late as you could get.
I know Hulley’s became independent of Wooliscroft but have no idea of the eventual (current) ownership. Some hazy reflection puts them back into the Hulley family but I could never swear to this.

David Oldfield

23/12/11 – 06:52

There is a history of Hulleys on their website http://www.hulleys-of-baslow.co.uk/  which explains everything. The fleet now looks very smart in a dignified blue and cream livery which was originally inspired by second hand purchases from South Notts.

Peter Williamson

23/12/11 – 06:53

I am pretty sure the Great Yarmouth Freelines were the last, certainly for the home market. They were bought while Geoffrey Hilditch was the General Manager, a man who had very firm ideas on bus purchasing and as an engineer tended to go for high specification designs on the grounds they gave better pay-back in the long term. He took these principles to Halifax and then Leicester where he subsequently held the GM posts.
It always seemed strange to me that while Daimler were very successful with their double deck designs, eg the CVG and the Fleetline, they were never as successful with single deckers. The Freeline was a well engineered chassis but on the heavy and expensive side at a time when the industry was moving to lighter weight and lower cost. The subsequent Roadliner seemed to be a disaster from the start.

Philip Halstead

23/12/11 – 06:55

Premier Travel and Valliant of Ealing were also customers for the Seagull Mk VII, amongst others. The first Mk VII, on Leyland Tiger Cub chassis, appeared at the 1958 Commercial Motor Show in Seagull Coaches of Blackpool livery, just like the original Seagull at the 1950 show. Several of the Valliant examples plus all four Yelloway examples ended up with Premier Travel, joining the one they bought new, which made Premier Travel the largest operator of the type. Burlingham’s offering for underfloor engined coaches in 1960 remained the Seagull Mk VII, the Seagull 70 only appearing for the 1961 season, ie a year later than the similarly styled Seagull 60 for forward engined chassis appeared.

Dave Williamson

23/12/11 – 12:15

I made several journeys in the Gt. Yarmouth Freelines in the early seventies when they were on hire to Eastern Counties and they were very pleasant vehicles to ride in – a sort of up market Bristol MW. I believe Yarmouth had a good line in hiring them to coach operators whose vehicles had broken down in the area.

Nigel Turner

24/12/11 – 06:46

The only time I ever saw the Great Yarmouth Freelines was at Huntingdon St Bus Station, Nottingham in the mid sixties. One would sometimes appear as a summer Saturday extra on Trent’s Great Yarmouth service. At this time, Trent often hired in Norfolk Motor Services coaches as required – presumably the Freeline was part of this arrangement?

Bob Gell

11/08/12 – 07:32

Belated update on 120 JRB (have only just discovered your site) – am most impressed by how quickly the location of this shot was nailed down, incidentally! Lovely image of what was – arguably – the final Daimler-engined Freeline (Burwell & District had the other such chassis that could make the same claim to fame). The lack of window-pillars made quite a visual difference, certainly in the flesh.
Stephen asks if anyone knows the whereabouts of Dr 18: am guessing we know of her early years in preservation and subsequent re-emergence in a Barnsley scrapyard (what DID happen, though?) – since then, Dr 18 has covered quite a few miles, changing hands along the way several times, until (last I heard) she was in a barn near Uttoxeter with several other vehicles (so, not far from her Willington home) awaiting her turn for restoration. Somewhere, I have two or three colour shots of her in this location. If and when I find them, I’ll scan and submit.
Would LOVE to meet up with Dr 18 again though, so if anyone has more recent info (I’m going back at least half-a-dozen years, via a contact)…


120 JRB_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

13/10/15 – 06:20

Some 3 years on since the "turn" comment (11/08/12), vehicle is still in same shed in same condition. Would feel that restoration really quite unlikely now.

Roger Burdett


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Southern National – Bristol Lodekka – AUO 523B – 2053

Southern National - Bristol Lodekka - AUD 523D - 2053
Copyright Roger Cox

Southern National
Bristol Lodekka FLF6B
ECW H38/32F

Stephen Ford asked, "Was Westward Ho! (Southern National) the only one that included an exclamation mark?"

I don’t know the answer to that, but here is a picture of a Bristol Lodekka displaying that very destination.

Westward Ho

The bus is an FLF6B with ECW H38/32F body delivered to Southern National as their number 2053 in December 1964. It is seen here in the summer of 1970 carrying the Western National identity following the NBC decision to phase out the Southern National company name.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

A full list of Bristol codes can be seen here.

11/12/11 – 11:14

Would a D registration make it 1966? … and when did the NBC come into being….?


Thanks for that Joe pressed the wrong key there I think

11/12/11 – 20:05

Joe, the National Bus Company was formed in November 1968, but did not actually come into being until 1st January 1969, when the assets of the state-owned Transport Holding Company (THC) were transferred to it. On 1st March 1968, the British Electric Traction (BET) group’s British bus subsidiaries became wholly owned by the THC, thus becoming fully state-controlled at this point. It’s interesting to note that the THC’s forerunner, the British Transport Commission (BTC) also took over the railway shareholdings of BET’s bus operating subsidiaries in 1948, following nationalisation of the railways. Although BET remained in overall control and in the private sector, some of the BET shares held later by the BTC/THC were quite large. For example it held 50% ordinary share capital in Midland Red, City of Oxford , East Midlands, Hebble, Western Welsh and Yorkshire Woollen District, and nearly as much in East Yorkshire, North Western and Yorkshire Traction. All fascinating stuff as to who owns what, and doubtless no less complex today!
Regarding the age of the FLF Joe, if it had been a ‘D-Reg’ model, it would most likely have had only one cream band to its livery, as ECW omitted the upper deck one from 1966. What a handsome beast it is though, and that Westward Ho! destination surely demands to be shouted out loud!

Brendan Smith

12/12/11 – 06:40

And for the first two or three years, it was, to a large extent, pretty much ‘business as usual’ but then the corporate image brigade were brought in and, well you know the rest! However, enough of that, this post reminds me of a journey I once made on a similar vehicle of my local operator Midland General, but with a Gardner engine. I was bound for Nottingham but the FLF failed at Kimberley (a VERY unusual occurrence for MGO!) Because the frequency was good at this point, we only had to wait five minutes or so for the next bus to come along which was another FLF but with a Bristol engine. I could recognise the sound but I knew nothing about the performance or merits of the different engines and I always remember how much faster the Bristol engined one was. A driver told me later that the Bristol was a faster revving engine and although I’d always been a Gardner fan, I had to concede that the Bristol was the livelier performer!

Chris Barker

12/12/11 – 06:41

Prior to the Lodekka/FLF era, the services in the North Devon area were operated by fairly elderly K’s. Many of these had one-piece blinds combining the three digit route number and the "via" display. Towards the end of their lives, the route numbers were changed from the 100 to the 300 series. Rather than buying new (non-standard) blinds, SN simply pasted a permanent 3 inside the glass where it would obscure the 1.

Stephen Ford

13/12/11 – 08:52

The resort of Westward Ho! was named after the book of the same name by Charles Kingsley who also wrote the Water Babies
The action of the book took place in the same area of Devon and a group of speculators decided to cash in on the name

Chris Hough

13/12/11 – 08:53

After having some of the clearest and most informative destination displays in the early 1950’s, the BTC/THC companies generally fell from grace in later years and the above photo is a good example. The taped over aperture with minute lettering for ‘Westward Ho!’ is typical of where things ended up. It made the destination very difficult to read at any distance. Crosville was particularly bad with not only a very small ‘slot’ for the destination but they used a very light font as well. The ‘T’ shaped format which some of the group companies used seemed to give a clearer display.

Philip Halstead

13/12/11 – 08:54

Many of us thought it a shame that the various BET and THC liveries vanished in the early seventies. As Chris says, it appeared to be ‘business as usual’ for a while – new owners of businesses generally seem to leave things outwardly unchanged for about two years, before making what is now termed ‘a bold statement’. Some of the simplified liveries and fleet names applied to NBC coaches in the formative years were quite attractive – those adopted by Northern, Ribble and Greenslades spring to mind. When I heard that West Yorkshire Road Car had placed an order for Plaxton-bodied Bristol RELH coaches in the early 1970’s, I visualised them arriving in rich cream, with a deep waistband of maroon and large fleet names a la Ribble. Alas, this was not to be. They were delivered in the new corporate all over white livery with large NATIONAL red and blue lettering, and a very discreet (ie: tiny) West Yorkshire fleet name over each front wheel arch. To many of us this signalled that the era of quality and refinement had been replaced by the age of circus wagon-style ‘impact’. Relating to the FLF photo, Western and Southern National lost more than most with the whitewashing of it’s fine Royal Blue fleet.

Brendan Smith

13/12/11 – 11:19

But it wasn’t just the liveries that were third class, it was the quality of the paint itself. The rich, shiny finish of Tilling Green or Red would have been far superior to NBC Leaf Green and Poppy Red (which rapidly faded). [Typed Poopy Red. I think that was a Freudian slip!] The less said about National White the better!!!

David Oldfield

13/12/11 – 12:54

One of the worst companies for poor blind information was Eastern Counties who often showed a route number and the word service which did nothing to help the intending passenger Thec SBG companies were notorious for the extensive use of paper stickers a practice that still exists in the First Edinburgh fleet

Chris Hough

13/12/11 – 12:55

The green wasn’t too bad, but Poppy Red was a pathetic colour, even before it faded! Fortunately, in Gloucester, anyway, it only appeared on the few Cymru Genedlaethol/National Welsh buses from the Forest of Dean/Monmouthshire direction. And they couldn’t even get the Welsh right, either, since the above means National Wales! Being quirky, I quite liked having buses with Welsh on one side, but, my, it caused a stir among the local populace! Never, mind, the two colours didn’t last long and the ill-fated company not that much longer, into bankruptcy.

Chris Hebbron

17/12/11 – 07:41

I agree the NBC corporate colours were a terrible choice. The colours all looked ‘washed out’ and insipid when newly applied and none of them wore well, fading to a matt hue, particularly the poppy red. I thought the light grey wheels looked tacky and the grey/silver fleet numbers were virtually illegible.
The National white was passable on the modern coaches of the time such as the Plaxton Panorama or Duple Dominant but looked awful on the more shapely older designs. Not one of the best periods for the industry.

Philip Halstead

17/12/11 – 08:29

Thinking about those NBC colours, it is odd how such a dreadful set was chosen so was the choice down to one individual or group because I remember everybody hating them from the day they appeared? Surely the marketing men must have had some comments from the public which might have had some impact? Why did they stay in use so long?
Similarly, the current First Bus white, pink and purple is something that only looks passable on brand new vehicles but soon gets to look shabby and on the remaining old Dennis Darts, now rather battered and careworn, it looks dreadful.
Where and why have all of the interesting, vibrant and carefully chosen liveries gone…it cannot be cost just a lack of corporate interest or understanding that image is a very important part of building a successful Company.

Richard Leaman

17/12/11 – 16:24

Well I’ve heard it said that when you are a public company which is quoted on the London Stock Exchange, then the market expects a ‘corporate image’ to be applied, although the Go Ahead group seems to disprove this. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of cost reduction and expediency with good measures of misguidance and indifference also!
Regarding the NBC colours, I remember that when the first white coaches appeared, the ones which had glass panels at the rear incorporating the registration and fleet name had these altered to display N A T I O N A L in alternate red and blue letters. Apparently, this had to be quickly altered because it raised objections from the Police as only they are allowed to display illuminated blue signage on the rear of vehicles in darkness.

Chris Barker

17/12/11 – 16:25

When it was first set up, NBC tended to allow companies to follow their traditional paths. Then, in 1972, Freddie Wood was appointed Chairman, and from that point began the fixation with grandiose self importance as befitted "The Biggest Bus Company In The World". Thereafter, uniformity, standardisation and direction from the centre became the established order. Not only did the liveries descend to a nadir of mediocrity, but the standard font adopted for the group was unparalleled in its clumsy ugliness.
Now, with the dominant groups of today, we are back to much the same thing, with over tight constraints on budgets (particularly in the matter of maintenance) and minimal delegation of initiative to the local management. And as for some of the liveries……….

Roger Cox

18/12/11 – 07:59

…..and it’s all the swooping lines up, down and across the bodywork which look so out of place on what is essentially an oblong box with straight lines. Full marks to those few independents who have liveries which, although of varied hue, still have the dignity of style of the above vehicle and eschew purples and pinks!

Chris Hebbron

19/12/11 – 06:15

…..Epsom Coaches, the other Richmond, the Delaine – to name but three.

David Oldfield

27/01/12 – 06:25

I wholehearted agree with the adverse comments regarding the NBC liveries which replaced so many attractive colour schemes developed over many years which were instantly recognised by passengers and enthusiasts alike, it seemed to me to be corporate vandalism. I once asked a junior NBC manager why they chose to paint the coaches white he replied that it was a colour no one else was using at the time, when I asked had it not occurred to anyone that there was a good reason for that, maybe it was because other people realised that it showed dirt very badly and faded to a dull grey all to quickly, to which I didn’t get a proper answer.

Diesel Dave

25/02/12 – 07:18

Enjoying the various posts on the subject of NBC liveries. Perhaps the most ignominious change was in the North East, where the glorious rich ruby red of Northern General was repainted in awful pale, fading poppy pink! What was the name of the NGT red paint, anyone able to tell me? It really seemed redder to me when I was a kid!
Even worse, now – I’m surrounded by FirstBarbie!


25/03/12 – 09:03

I heartily agree with the adverse comments about the poppy red and the peculiar green colour but my understanding is that they were a response to a Ministry circular of 10/71 which basically said that there were too many accidents at night caused by people running into buses painted in dark colours so buses should be painted in lighter colours. I recall that this was based on research in Scandinavia which showed that lighter coloured vehicles had less accidents and the Ministry also encouraged UK car owners to buy lighter coloured vehicles at much the same time.

Peter Cook

23/02/13 – 13:30

Whilst I agree with the posts that the NBC corporate colours could have been better it is noticeable that at bus rallies there is a growing number of vehicles appearing in NBC livery – including some that pre-date the formation of the NBC and could carry earlier company liveries. I cant help thinking that this shows that NBC corporate livery is actually liked by many – it was certainly better by far than the disgusting liveries of some of todays group, particularly First and Stagecoach. In answer to the writer who asked about the old Northern colour – this was officially know as BET Dark Red and was one of several colours specified by the BET Group for use within the BET companies – although of course many BET group companies used their own livery that did not incorporate a group standard colour. BET Dark Red was common to Northern General, East Midland, South Wales, City of Oxford and several smaller companies. It should be noted that although being a standard colour within BET the shade did vary slightly between companies due to different paint manufacturers.
In the early 1970’s I was involved in collecting many samples from all around the country and its very interesting to see just what a colour looked like even where a supposed ‘standard’ existed – I have in my possession several different shades of Tilling Green for example.
For a real mystery how about the so called ‘Ribble Red’ used for a few months by the new Alder Valley company prior to NBC Poppy Red – the colour is NOTHING like true Ribble Motor Services red !!. I’ve recently resprayed an EFE Bristol FLF in this colour which was matched from the original sample in my possession – it does look good.


23/02/13 – 18:04

Can we see a photo of it, then, please, Dorsetbus?

Chris Hebbron

26/02/13 – 12:32

I wonder if the preservation of buses in non-authentic NBC liveries indicates the age of the preservationists concerned? I suspect that nostalgia grips us all in connection with a particular period of our lives. For me, the bus scene was from about age 3 (1952) to 15 (1964) and from there on it was downhill all the way! (Now I am a grumpy old man who can remember how much better it was then). But in 40-50 years those who are now in the 3-15 age range may well remember purple and pink Barbie Lockheads, or blue red and orange Souter Stagecoaches [or even, perish the thought, washed-out green and white Arriva Departures] with an equally warm and wistful glow.

Stephen Ford

26/02/13 – 13:32

Just as an aside to the colour scheme debate, does anyone agree that the Stagecoach hybrid double decker green scheme is probably the strongest and most appealing of the corporate identities around at the moment?

Phil Blinkhorn

26/02/13 – 13:33

As a grumpy old man born in 1952, I agree with you Stephen. My golden age is 1947 (Regent III/PD2) to 1969 (end of RegentV/PD3/FLF). There have been bright spots (both Leyland – the AN68 version of the Atlantean and the Olympian are worthy classics) in later times, but not many. As a coach man, the heavy Reliances, REs and later Leopards, as well as modern Tigers as well. The old liveries were aesthetically far better than modern and I prefer original to later. Even Sheffield had two alternative liveries and the Roes moved from to another with repaints under different General Managers. Authentic liveries to the vehicle are therefore correct – if not acceptable. [I think RTs and RMs in National Leaf Green are HORRIBLE!

David Oldfield

26/02/13 – 15:27

I know that there are still many on this forum who buy into the bad press of Stagecoach – most of which was press fabrication or exaggeration. [If you don’t believe me, consult OFFICIAL history, and I don’t mean just Stagecoach archives.] Their new corporate livery is fairly restrained but things like Gold and the "Green" liveries are lessons in restraint. Mind you, I think I would still put Go-Ahead ahead!

David Oldfield

26/02/13 – 17:25

I want to respond to two points in this thread. Firstly not everyone born in 1952 is grumpy, I’m actually quite nice [at times]. Secondly choice and memories of colour depends where you grew up. In Taunton it was green WN/SN buses and green/two tone greens of various WR diesel hydraulic locomotives plus green DMUs and a reminder "to eat your greens" which ultimately leads to that famous bus photographer’s quote – the other side is always greener.

Ken Jones

27/02/13 – 05:48

Well Ken. Somebody has to be nice, so it might as well be you. Congratulations. You have the job!

David Oldfield

27/02/13 – 05:49

Colour Schemes, Stephen: the other day I saw an Arriva repaint in cream, with the dark blue skirt but a turquoise (instead of cream) curl behind the door. Are we returning to normality?


04/04/13 – 06:19

Thank you to the person who asked about seeing a picture of my respray in Alder Valley Dark Red on an EFE FLF. Yes I’ll be only too happy to put a picture up once its finished – I’m now also doing a Bristol RE in the same livery having got the required info together so I’ll add a photo of this as well. Please give me a while though as I’m re-organising my workshop and with two upcoming model railway shows to attend with my layouts it may be later in the summer before I can finish the buses. Then its on to several other repaints such as a City of Gloucester (blue) VRT / Leyland National and RE in NBC style and then the first of the next steps – scratch built West Riding Guy Wulfrunians – more on that project later if anyone is interested.


AUD 523D_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

17/07/13 – 07:09

Just picked up on this thread with regards to NBC livery. When I first took an interest in buses in the 70s our school buses were Cumberland FLFs which were gradually being turned out in poppy red. At the time they seemed fresh and modern and the old livery seemed dark and past its sell by date. Not sure I would still agree though! Towards the end of the decade I went on a tour of the Leyland National factory. Apart from a pair of buses for McGill at Barrhead it seemed to be a sea of poppy red and leaf green. However, the shades of these so-called standard colours varied significantly from operator to operator. When I asked about this I was advised that each operator specified a different mix. The other NBC shade that I was very familiar with at that time was the yellow used by Northern on vehicles in the Tyne and Wear area. This was a shade of cadmium yellow as used by TWPTE (the British Standard was called Goldcup) and it worked much better than poppy red in an urban environment. What I don’t understand is why EFE keep churning out models in this livery but of a shade that is considerably paler and therefore very insipid. It is too light to even be excused as colour scaling!

Mike Morton

17/07/13 – 09:09

In response to Phil Blinkhorn’s ‘aside’ on this subject I agree the Stagecoach hybrid green livery is by far the best I have seen on a double decker for many years and is closely matched by the current Newport Buses livery on their single deck Scanias now operating the Park and Ride service in Cardiff (no doubt much to the ire of that City’s transport dept).
As a further aside, even the temptation of free Wi-Fi on Stagecoach hybrid operated route 50 in Manchester wasn’t sufficient to prevent me from route testing the new Metroline trams from East Didsbury to the Media City.

Orla Nutting

18/07/13 – 07:26

By coincidence, for the first time in around 10 years i was in the Newport and Cardiff areas 3 weeks ago and totally agree with Orla’s comments.

Phil Blinkhorn


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