Old Bus Photos

Hunter’s – Leyland Tiger TS7 – JR 6600 – 21

Hunter’s - Leyland Tiger TS7 - JR 6600
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

H W Hunter and Sons
Leyland Tiger TS7
Burlingham B35F

Another from H W Hunter and Sons. New to them in 1937, JR 6600 was a B35F Burlingham bodied Leyland TS7.

Hunter’s - Leyland Tiger TS7 - JR 6600
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

In 1954 it was rebodied by Roe as a B39C, so it was around at the same time that they had the two Titans previously featured on this site. I’m 90 per cent sure they had another Leyland single decker but I’ve been unable to trace it. They had a well deserved reputation that you could virtually set your watch by Hunter’s bus and in addition to the service vehicles they had several coaches, all either AEC or Leylands, although they later switched to Volvo’s. They escaped becoming part of NBC and the formation Tyne and Wear PTE didn’t seem to affect them much because their depot and most of their single route were outside the area controlled by the PTE, so they were more or less allowed to continue much as before. However, I think the PTE may have had some influence over the decision to extended the route from North Shields beyond Seaton Delaval to Cramlington. The huge operational area covered by the pre NBC United Automobile Services empire was split up into bite size pieces prior to deregulation, and the area between the Tyne and the Scottish border was taken by the newly formed Northumbria Motor Services, which was in effect a management buyout. I don’t know the circumstances and I wouldn’t want to speculate, but Hunter’s became part of the Group. I think the name lived on for a while, but Northumbria Motor Services were swallowed up by Arriva, and like many other independents the name of W H Hunter is now, just a memory.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

02/01/13 – 07:50

That is a huge seating capacity for a pre-war halfcab chassis. Was it extended when it was rebodied?

Eric Bawden

02/01/13 – 09:06

I wondered the same thing, Eric, and whether it was a road-based prototype for the "economy class" of airline seating!

Pete Davies

02/01/13 – 16:53

A most interesting question and 39 does seem a lot of seats in a vehicle of , presumably, 27’6" length. One would also have thought that a centre doorway, as opposed to the previous front door, might well reduce the available seat space. However, as the two pictures are taken from roughly very nearly the same perspective the vehicle appears to be the same length in both. It was unusual, but not unknown, for normal length prewar buses to have more seats than ideal space wise, but even the lightweight Lions and Cheetahs taken over by Samuel Ledgard in 1943 from the widow of G.F.Tate of Leeds originally seated 39 in their delightfully "old fashioned" Barnaby bodies.

Chris Youhill

02/01/13 – 17:35JR 6600_cu

I’ve given all the information I could dig up and I don’t know if the chassis was extended, but two things look a bit odd to me. On the Burlingham body, if you look at the seat above the letter ‘H’ it gives the impression that the seats over the rear axle appear to be facing each other, also the wheels are fairly flush to the side of the vehicle, whereas on the Roe they look to be slightly inboard, as if the vehicle has been widened but the axle length is still the same, or is it me?

Ronnie Hoye

03/01/13 – 06:42

7ft 6in chassis and original body, but 8ft new body, perhaps? If so, this wouldn’t be the only one, and they do look a bit strange!

Pete Davies

03/01/13 – 06:43

Ronnie, I would agree with you that the Roe body looks to be 8ft on a 7ft 6in chassis. The Roe body also has an extra window bay to the Burlingham.
It may be purely body style but the body overhang behind the rear axle looks to be longer on the Roe than the Burlingham, certainly, there are almost two full window bays behind the wheelarch on the Roe as against one and a half on the Burlingham. Also if you look at the exhaust tailpipe it appears to be in the same position in relation to the back axle in both photos yet the Roe overhang, again seems to be longer.
Don’t know if it has anything to do with this discussion but the front wheels, despite the absence of nutguard rings on the Roe are different to those fitted in the Burlingham picture.
As this body looks to be almost identical to the centre entrance Guys placed in service with Darlington in 1952/3 I wonder if Hunter’s body was tagged on to the end of the Darlington order, a not uncommon occurrence at Crossgates Works, even into the ’70s. I believe Darlington’s Guys were B41C.
Has anyone a nearside view of this bus with its Roe Body?

Eric Bawden

03/01/13 – 06:44

My word Ronnie, I think you’ve hit on two very pertinent features there for sure. As regards the "inset" appearance of the wheels on the newer Roe body I would say that the replacement coachwork is eight feet wide on the unaltered 7’6" TS7 chassis – a practice not unknown in the 1950s especially on single deckers. Your enlargement of the area above the "H" of Hunters reveals an interesting feature. The "A" shaped seat back appears to be a joint support for two seats, one on the left facing backwards and sharing the floor space with a forward facing seat to its rear, and one forward facing one on the right. The four passengers (plus four on the nearside) in the facing seats no doubt had to put their feet on the slightly intruding wheel arches. What a wonderful vehicle in both its forms !!

Chris Youhill

03/01/13 – 06:44

To my eye the newer body looks longer, though not much – the typical Roe high domed roof tends to mask this. 39 seats would mean 10 rows on the offside, 9 on the nearside (both including the rear 5-some). That sounds awfully tight in a length of 27’6" – minus the length of the cab and thickness of the front bulkhead.

Stephen Ford

04/01/13 – 06:45

Eric, I typed JR 6600 into my search engine, and up came the Park Royal vehicles site with what I take to be a pre delivery photo taken outside the Roe works. It differs slightly from the Darlington Guy’s, as when the doors are closed they form part of the side of the bus, whereas the platform steps are exposed on the Darlington vehicles.

Ronnie Hoye

04/01/13 – 17:43

Thanks Ronnie. After initial difficulty I eventually found the photo on the PRV site.

Eric Bawden

08/01/13 – 07:43

Noting some of the concerns about fitting 39 seats into a body on a 27’6" chassis so earlier today I took a tape measure to a 1952 Roe body with 39 seats although in an overall 30′ chassis and with a front entrance.
Putting 5 seats across the rear leaves a further 34 seats to be fitted by means of 9 sets of double seats on the offside and a further 8 sets with a door on the nearside. The length of the 30 footer from the bulkhead to the rear of the final pair of seats at the back was 22’2" with a gap of 29.5/30" between the same points on adjoining seats.
Turning to the shorter 27’6" bus under review and allowing the same distance from the front of the bus to the front bulkhead and similar requirements for the rear seats leaves circa 19’6" for the 9 sets of seats on the offside and would allow a gap of just 25" between the same point each set of adjoining seats. To me that looked a rather tight fit so I measured the seat gaps on some others from that era and all of them were in the range of 28-30"
To reduce the gap between seats by 5" in the 1950’s would, in my opinion, require smaller seat bases or otherwise it would be impossible to fit your legs in.

Andrew Beever

08/01/13 – 10:42

Andrew: Although I agree that the extra seats would be tight, your maths isn’t quite right. With a 39 seater there are 10 rows of seats on the offside, including the back bench seat. On the basis of your 29.5" pitch, the overall length of the 10 rows is 295". Reduce this by 30" and the ten seats now have to fit 265", so the pitch is 26.5". You lose 3" per seat, rather than your 5". I am over 6 ft, with long legs, and can just make a 27" pitch with a thin seat back with my legs straight, so the average person just about fits OK. Birkenhead used to cram 66 seats onto a PD2 without a 3 seater at the back or a television seat. Those seats were definitely tight for me, and probably similar in pitch to 39 on a 27ft 6in half-cab.

Alan Murray-Rust

08/01/13 – 13:43

Alan, I had specifically excluded the rear seat in my calculations since this seat is effectively fitted into the rounded rear corners with very limited foot room under it.

Andrew Beever

15/01/13 – 16:38

Hunter 21 (JR 6600) had Roe body GO3827 when rebodied 3/54.
Hunter 20 (JR 4901) was the other Leyland TS7 10076 rebodied by Roe in 4/53 (GO3680) also squeezing in 39 seats in its centre entrance body.
Hunter did, of course, have another new Roe body. Fleet number 30 was WTY 843J, a Leyland PDR1A/1R, with H43/29D bodywork


16/01/13 – 10:48

Thanks for that, Mike, I’ve been racking my brains, or rather what little is left of them. I knew they had a second Tiger but I’ve been unable to find any records of it, did that also start life with a Burlingham body?

Ronnie Hoye

27/01/13 – 10:30

I’m sure the two single deckers were VTY 360. & TJR 573 this I have to say is from memory many years ago.

Bob Mandale

28/01/13 – 08:40

Bob, MikeB came up with the answer I was looking for. The two single deck buses you refer to were the replacements for JR 4901 and 6600. They were AEC 2MU3RV’s with Plaxton Highwayman B45F bodies. TJR 573 was delivered in 1961 followed by VTY 360 in 1962 (VTY 360 is coming as a separate posting soon). By that time the chassis on 6600 was nigh on 25 years old and from the registration I would estimate 4901 to be a couple of years older. Apart from WTY 843J mentioned by MikeB, I believe the two AEC’s were the last new service buses bought by Hunter’s as all subsequent vehicles were either coaches or D/P’s

Ronnie Hoye

03/04/15 – 05:31

Further to the discussion on the length of JR4901 and JR6600, can I mention that these two vehicles had a rear-facing seat for five across the front bulkhead, and an inward facing single seat on the nearside just ahead of the centre entrance. I also think that the entrance may have been slightly wider than usual for a single decker of that era. I don’t recall the seat spacing as being especially tight, so I would think that the bodies must have been slightly longer than the original ones. Incidentally, the original body above is described as B34F, but it looks to me to be a coach body.

John Gibson

01/06/15 – 07:20

There was a heck of a lot of rebodying of half cab single deckers from 1950 as 38 or 39 seaters once the 27′ 6" maximum length had been increased to 30 feet.
However, all is not what it seems. Buses for Trent, North Western and Potteries and the Hunter’s Tiger were lengthened without any alteration to the wheelbase of 17′ 6" because the C&U Regs until 1961 allowed the rear overhang to be up to 50% of the wheelbase. With a front overhang of about 2′ 3" on, say, Gardner 5LW or AEC 7.7 engined chassis – and a rear overhang of 8′ 9" it was legal from 1950 to go to a maximum length of 28′ 6" without altering the wheelbase. This was sufficient for another row of seats to be fitted without any alteration of the chassis.
Indeed, I think it was only Yorkshire Woollen District which actually lengthened the wheelbase of its Willowbrook bodied PS2s to 18′ 9" when they lengthened them to 30 feet.
Many of the Leyland PS’s taken over by Potteries in the early fifties were already 28′ 6" long and may have inspired PMT to rebuild its Weymann single deck 17′ 6" wheelbase OPD2s by substituting a 2′ 7" long bay for a possible rear door with a 3′ 7" long standard window bay, increasing the seating capacity in the process.

Alan Johnson


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Liverpool City Transport – AEC Regent III – NKD 540 – A40

NKD 540_01_lr
Copyright Alan Murray-Rust

Liverpool City Transport
AEC Regent III 9613S
Saunders-Roe H32/26R

Liverpool City Transport’s A40 can reasonably be stated to be a unique bus. As far as I can make out, it was one of just two double-deck buses for the UK market with bodies built as a Saunders-Roe product (the other being its twin, A39), and to make it unique it carries one of the small number of unpainted bodies ordered by Liverpool with the intention of using them on limited stop services. 40 were originally envisaged, but the idea was dropped and in the end only 18 appeared as such. These bodies are not painted silver, but the panels have a textured natural aluminium finish. It’s not clear whether this in practice reduced maintenance or repaint costs, but all of them retained the unpainted finish to the end of LCT days at least. Because of the texture to the finish, it would not have been possible simply to paint over the original panels, so to change livery would have required a complete repanelling. Despite the tin front, this is indeed a Regent III, one of the large batch of 100 delivered between 1953 and 1955 during the tram replacement programme. Apart from the two from Saunders-Roe, the remainder were either built by Crossley or finished by Liverpool on Crossley frames.
Horne and Maund’s epic treatise on Liverpool’s Transport doesn’t give any reason for the two bodies being ordered from Saunders Roe. Doing some investigation into Saunders-Roe, I did discover that following the takeover of Crossley by AEC, a number of design staff transferred to Saro. In view of Liverpool’s close relationship with Crossley, I wonder whether there was some sort of insider dealing going on. Interestingly, the Saro bodies, being of all-aluminium construction were about one ton lighter than the Crossley ones, and additionally had 2 extra top deck seats, both of which might have been considered significant advantages. The reduced weight should have led to fuel economies, but the main factor could have been first cost of the aluminium structure.
In the course of my investigations I also put to rest a misapprehension about Saunders (of RT fame) and Saro (of the Tiger Cubs). I had always been led to understand that the two were separate organisations. In practice Saunders, Saunders Engineering and Shipbuilding (SEAS) and Saunders-Roe (Saro) were simply successive marketing names for the bus building operations of the Saunders-Roe group at Beaumaris.
What was A40 doing in Manchester’s Hyde Road Garage? The answer is that the Liverpool University Public Transport Society (LUPTS) had organised a trolleybus tour of the Manchester and Ashton system on 12 June 1966, and this was the vehicle selected to ferry the Liverpool contingent to and from Manchester. The bus was certainly made to show what it could do along the open spaces of the East Lancs Road.

NKD 540_02_lr
Copyright Alan Murray-Rust

This second view is a fuller shot of the bus showing better detail of the Saro body, waiting to start from the University Students’ Union in Liverpool. As can been seen, it was normal British summer weather, but remarkably the rain had ceased by the time we arrived in Manchester (!) for the main tour, and at one point the sun even tried to come out.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Alan Murray-Rust

30/12/12 – 08:54

Well, A40 certainly stands out against the red and cream residents!
I, too, have often wondered where Saunders, Saunders Roe and Saro fitted together. I presume there is no connection with the rather more popular Roe of Crossgates, Leeds!

Pete Davies

30/12/12 – 08:55

Alan. Even allowing for your self-correction in paragraph two, there were many deckers from Beaumaris. The 250 RTs were preceded by OKM 317 which was operated by Dodd’s of Troon and used as a test bed for the said RTs. Devon General, like many others, had a programme of rebuilding after the war. DR705 (ETT 995) used the chassis of a 1937 AEC Regent with parts from a 1938 Regal with a new (1953) Saunders-Roe body. Don’t know how many, if any, more Saunders-Roe bodies emerged in this programme. It was certainly a extensive one but most of the new bodies were by Weymann and extended to 1954. They were known locally as "Light sixes". Were there any more? Over to you out there…..

David Oldfield

South Wales Transport had a number of Regent Vs which were unpainted. I well remember them in their first year in service when on a visit to South Wales though my main memory from that trip is a ride on the Swansea and Mumbles Railway or Tramway – both terms were used – with two double decker trams coupled together, something I hadn’t seen in Blackpool.
I seem to remember the Regents were repainted so presumably their panels were to a different finish.
I was never a fan of the Liverpool Crossley or Saro bodies to this design, I thought, and still do, that they are visually utilitarian.
Regarding the South Wales Regents, the following is reproduced from Commercial Motor:
"Since 1958 our company has been experimenting with non-painted buses to ascertain whether there was any advantage in operating buses of this type.
Altogether, we had 13 such vehicles, six were acquired in 1958 and a further seven in 1959. It would seem, however, from the records that while the unpainted vehicles offered certain advantages there were disadvantages which in relation to costs of maintenance, showed that over the experimental period there was very little to choose between the painted and unpainted vehicles.
For instance, the unpainted vehicles have received considerably more than normal cleaning to maintain an acceptable appearance. The cost of which almost cancelled out the saving made in the non-painting of the exterior.
The unpainted vehicles, when requiring body repairs after accidents, did offer certain advantages, severe damage, which necessitated the complete replacement of a panel was facilitated when no painting was required. However, there were disadvantages in this respect too, minor dents and scratches which could be filled and painted on an orthodox finish, invariably necessitated the changing of the panel, as the effect of even the most highly skilled panel beating was still visible.
There being little to choose on actual cost, the final decision evolved over the appearance of the vehicles and it was felt that the painted bus was considerably more attractive, so it’s back to the redskins for us."

Phil Blinkhorn

30/12/12 – 09:49

No, Pete. They had no connection with Charles H Roe of Leeds. They were, however, connected with Avro (however it was spelt – I’m sure Phil Blinkhorn will correct me) who were aircraft builders, hence the aluminium construction. [Slightly off piste: London Transport and Park Royal were involved in war time aircraft production. This led to their aluminium expertise when designing and building the Routemaster.]

David Oldfield

30/12/12 – 12:07

Avro (AV Roe & Co), the Manchester- based aircraft manufacturer, was founded by Alliot Verdon Roe. Later ejected from his own company by bankers, he took an interest in Saunders of Cowes in the Isle of Wight – a flying boat builder – which then became Saunders-Roe.
On the subject of double-decker buses, have we all forgotten the Leyland PDR Lowloader? One of the two prototypes had Saunders-Roe bodywork. Then there were the vehicles built under contract from MCW in the 1960s.

Neville Mercer

30/12/12 – 13:42

Well yes, to my shame, Neville, I had forgotten the Atlantean/Lowloader but tell me, I’m intrigued, about the MCW sub-contracts.

David Oldfield

While Charles Roe s had no connection with A V Roe.
Leeds was home to a shadow factory in world war 2 that produced over 700 examples of the world famous Lancaster bomber. The factory was next to what is now Leeds-Bradford Airport and was heavily camouflaged to the extent it had the roof grassed over and live sheep on top!
One other operator who tried unpainted aluminium for the fleet was Edinburgh who had a small batch of MCW bodied Leyland Titans these were soon painted and no more were purchased in this format

Chris Hough

30/12/12 – 13:45

Thank you, David O. I didn’t think there was a connection, but one never knows!

Pete Davies

30/12/12 – 17:29

Been travelling all day so missed much of the above until now. I’ve never got to the bottom of just why Leyland went to Saunders Roe for the body for the Lowloader. In 1953 they were still building bodies though the thought may have been that they wanted continuity and the writing was on the wall for their own plant.
Given that, why didn’t they go to MCW or, closer to home, Northern Counties?
Perhaps they wanted to keep things as quiet as possible for a while and chose SARO for its remote location, relatively few customer visitors and in the knowledge that the order would receive detailed and deep attention from a company at the time looking to increase its business.

Phil Blinkhorn

31/12/12 – 07:14

Can’t help noticing the body on A40 has a very strong resemblance to the Northern Counties 4-bay bodies on tin-front PD2’s operated by Lytham St Annes and Oldham.

Philip Halstead

31/12/12 – 07:16

Some musings on Phil’s comment on the Crossley bodies of the same batch of Regents. Personally, I always felt that the 8ft wide bodies on the first batch of Regents (A757-806) were not unattractive. The body was not enhanced by the addition of the first Liverpool-style tin front. The final version of the Crossley body, and particularly the final version of the tin front, were distinctly retrograde.
What is undeniable is that the final livery of overall green with just the central window surrounds in cream was a recipe for making any manufacturer’s body look utilitarian. Even the early two-band livery didn’t do a great deal, so that even the Leyland bodies – one of my favourites – was made to look pedestrian in comparison with some other operators (e.g. the one across the water). My view on this earlier livery may well be influenced by the fact that the relatively few vehicles still carrying it when I became familiar with the fleet would already be some years out of paint shop, and that version of the green was notorious in not meeting old age gracefully. The very last vehicle to retain that style, the evaluation Atlantean E2, was reckoned to have no two panels of exactly the same shade of green towards the end. It was a real patchwork.

Alan Murray-Rust

31/12/12 – 11:29

Now the A. V. Roe part of the equation has been settled, what about the Saunders part? There was a Saunders Eng & Shipbuilding at Cowes Isle of Wight which merged in 1948, with Avro, but Cowes is a long way from Beaumaris. The 300 Saunders RTs were delivered from 11/48 until 2/51. M&D had a batch of Saunders-bodied K6As (DH204-243, JKM 901-940 delivered in 1948 which had a Weymann-look about them. Where were these built?
Then there was a 1942 K5G (DH445 GKR 741) which had a Saunders body built in June 1950. This was definitely based on the RT body behind the bulkhead, even to the interior trim and top rear emergency exit. Was this body tucked into the RT production run or an experimental body using Rivaloy construction?
Also, the AA AEC Regent III (OKM 317) built in 1951 as a prototype for future production, though apparently registered to M&D in 1951 but not used by them but as a demonstrator, but was it for AEC or Saro?
Further, M&D also had a Saro semi-chassiless bus in 1953 (SO68 RKE 540) with Gardner engine, but I don’t know who supplied the gearbox and other running units. It appears to have been still-born because I can’t find any similar vehicles ever being built. All the vehicles mentioned (and all the Tiger Cubs for Ribble, etc) seemed to have full service lives, so it seems odd that this manufacturer had a relatively short flirtation with buses.
Over to you gentlemen to explain this lot!!

Ray Stringer (no relation to John)

31/12/12 – 12:51

There is a book in existence "Saunders Roe Ltd, Builders of the World’s Lightest Buses" by Gerald Truran published by Bryngold Books (Wales). Not sure if it is still in print as it isn’t listed on their current web page. This was written by a former employee.
All Saunders Roe buses were, as far as I’m aware, built on Anglesey.
The company itself started as S E Saunders boat builders. The Wikipedia page is reasonably accurate and worth a read as a starter – http://en.wikipedia.org/ 

Phil Blinkhorn

31/12/12 – 12:52

We all ought to go away and look at Wikepedia about Avro and Saunders Roe. It otherwise needs a complete article. These companies- and others- seemed to survive by doing a bit of this and a bit of that- often innovative- and occasionally a Helicopter or a bus would come good. They merged and unmerged and reorganised like primitive life forms. AV Roe himself seems to be a consistent element. The thing that doesn’t seem to have appeared here and put me right if I’m wrong is that one factory was built next door to Crossleys and when AEC took over Crossley, a number jumped ship and so bus expertise was acquired: so was the Lowloader related to the Crossley chassisless bus? And then the riveted aluminium buses for export…. you can get an idea of our manufacturing problems-these were flexible companies with eggs in many baskets…. like Tatra?


31/12/12 – 17:22

Joe, Crossley’s factory was at Errwood Rd Stockport, Cheshire. SARO’s was at Beaumaris on Anglesey so those who moved to SARO had to move house.
I’m not aware of any linkage between the chassis/engine/drive train used by the Lowloader and anything Crossley. As far as I know, only the body was SARO and the assumed linkage on the Wikipedia page could well be speculative.
I’m not aware that anything other than bodies were produced by SARO

Phil Blinkhorn

31/12/12 – 17:23

There is a connection between Crossley Motors and AVRO. From 1920 to 1928 A V Roe and Company Limited was owned by Crossley Motors and it was at the end of this period that A V Roe left the firm he had founded. He sold his minority share holding in AVRO to J D Siddeley, of Armstrong – Siddeley, the company Crossley had sold its majority share holding to. Armstrong – Siddeley’s aircraft interests became Hawker-Siddeley (of Hurricane fame) and AVRO was a separate subsidiary of this organisation. A V Roe used the proceeds from the sale of his AVRO shares to buy a controlling interest in Saunders Aircraft of Cowes, which was renamed Saunders-Roe. Saunders-Roe had a factory at Beaumaris, which became the base for their bus body building activities using at various times Saunders Engineering and Shipyard (SEAS) and SARO.

Michael Elliott

31/12/12 – 17:28

Copyright Saunders

Here’s a photo of Saunders Ship. & Eng. yard at Beaumaris, in 1949, with bus bodying in full swing!. The chassis without platform extension are those of RT’s. The four chassis with extensions, in the centre of photo, are those AEC Regal III’s."

Chris Hebbron

01/01/13 – 07:19

Yes I misspoke Phil… I was confusing Crossley taking over the Avro works in 1920. But Wikipedia does say that after AEC the design staff from Crossley went to Saro, hence the Lowloader had Crossley connections! That could make sense?


01/01/13 – 07:20

Phil: I’ve looked at the Bryngold website and the Saro book is listed about two thirds of the way down the list of titles on the right of the page; this opens a separate page relating to the book, and there is no suggestion that it is unavailable. Knowing Gerald Truran’s voluminous knowledge of all things Welsh in the bus world, he may well clarify the reason for Saro working on the Lowloader project. My own guess would be that Leyland were looking to build on the experience Saro had with chassisless aluminium construction with the Tiger Cubs, which were definitely not failures.
Incidentally, the Bryngold page has a picture of the bodyshop with an undeniable Bristol half-cab (without much body structure) which set me wondering until I saw Ray Stringer’s comment above referring to the M&D batch, which I had been unaware of.

Alan Murray-Rust

01/01/13 – 09:53

Joe, That could be but it’s a bit tenuous as Crossley’s staff who moved and worked on the Lowloader would have had little, if anything, to do with the Bridgemaster development as work on the Lowloader design at SARO commenced in 1951 and Crossley’s involvement with the Bridgemaster was from 1953/4.
Alan, Thanks for the info. When I went into their site yesterday the page obviously didn’t load properly as the sidebar was missing. Could you expand on your comment re chassisless construction and Tiger Cubs as the Cub had a chassis?

Phil Blinkhorn

01/01/13 – 11:21

Phil: My comment on the Saro Tiger Cubs was something that was sitting in the back of my mind rather than based on something definitive. I’ve done some checking up in my limited library, and two things have become clear. Firstly, the Saro Tiger Cubs were clearly conventional chassis, and secondly that the chronology does not support my guess, as the development work on the Lowloader (source: The Leyland Bus) predated the Cubs. Moral: engage brain before opening mouth! It’s interesting to see that one of the demonstrator Cubs – part of the Ribble order – had a Saro body. The Leyland Bus doesn’t comment on the choice of Saro, but both Tiger Cub and Lowloader were small engine vehicles, so the weight saving of an aluminium body would be a key factor. One wonders why they were not more widespread – was it higher first cost, operator conservatism or capacity at the Anglesey plant?

Alan Murray-Rust

01/01/13 – 11:43

Returning to Liverpool’s A40, it’s interesting that Liverpool specified a textured unpainted aluminium. This seems to have, whatever it looked like, a durability the South Wales Regents never attained.
In Gavin Booth’s Buses By Design there’s a picture of an ex-works South Wales Regent taken at Addlestone and the panels are very obviously smooth. He comments that the finish swiftly tarnished and the buses were all painted.

Phil Blinkhorn

02/01/13 – 07:23

Like Alan, I have always assumed that the reason for the choice of Saunders-Roe to body the first Lowloader prototype was weight-saving, given that the bus was to be used for demonstration and needed to impress with its performance. By the time the second Lowloader was built, MCW’s lightweight construction had been developed. Guy also used Saro for its Gardner 5HLW-powered Arab LUF demonstrator, perhaps for the same reason.
I have read that Saunders-Roe’s early departure from the bus body market was due to a policy decision by the company rather than any lack of customer interest.

Peter Williamson

02/01/13 – 09:00

I have always been given to believe that all operators of Saro buses spoke highly of their quality. They were an "off-shoot" of an existing business and presumably not core to it.

David Oldfield

03/01/13 – 06:38

Being involved with Liverpool A40 in the early part of its restoration, it certainly had (as was stated earlier) a good power to weight ratio being over a ton lighter than similar Crossley bodied Regents. Bodywork wise too it was much more solid than its Crossley steel framed counterparts. The only body restoration that has taken place in preservation on A40 has been a platform bearer! Notable when its parked next to a London RT is the RT style emergency window!


27/12/13 – 15:27

Great to see the old LCPT AEC A40 – these were known to school kids as "ghost buses". My cousin was a big bus fan, and used to be keep me clued up on fleet developments. A40 was well known – used to operate sometimes on our local route, service 61, Aigburth Vale to Seaforth. This would be around 1958-60?

Tony Howard

28/12/13 – 08:08

Correction to my comment 02/01/13 – 07:23. The Saro-bodied Guy Arab LUF demonstrator still exists and apparently has always had a 6HLW engine, much to my surprise.

Peter Williamson

28/12/13 – 08:37

Going back, again, to Peter’s post nearly a year ago, it was a policy decision to withdraw from the passenger market but there was a post-script. Saunders-Roe eventually became a Cammell-Laird possession – and therefore in common ownership with MCW. MCW, not for the first time since closing Weymann down, found itself short of capacity. It solved this by putting orders for Atlanteans for Devon General to Saunders-Roe.

David Oldfield

10/04/14 – 17:55

Picking up on the later MCW/Saunders-Roe connection, Brighton’s 1968 PD3s were also built at Beaumaris – there’s a picture of a couple under construction in a 1971 Brighton Corporation Transport fleet history published by a body called E.L.P.G Enterprises (Eastbourne Lion Preservation Group?) It also states that only 21 other bus bodies, apart from these, were built during the short-lived return to bus body building on Anglesey – "ten for the home market" I assume the DG Atlanteans David refers to "and eleven for overseas" – no idea what those were.

Michael Keeley

13/04/14 – 07:20

I’ve now unearthed my copy of the Bryngold book on Saro referred to above; answers to some of the above queries from that book are as follows:
a) 1968 Beaumaris home market production was 5 PD3s for Brighton and 10 Atlanteans for Devon General, as stated above. The other 11 vehicles were bodied under licence from the Superior Coach Company of America, on Bedford VAM chassis. The first was in the Demonstration Park at the 1968 Commercial Motor Show,no other details given; the other 10 were assembled on left hand drive VAMs and sent to the Middle East for use by an oil company. The final passenger carrying body produced at Beaumaris was a Superior body, on a Ford D series truck chassis, owner unknown.
b) Apparently Leyland approached Saro to build an all aluminium lightweight body for what became STF 90. No reason is given for Leyland approaching Saro. ULW is given as 6-17-3.
c) The first double deck bodies built at Beaumaris were rebodied TD3/4/5s for Southdown – AUF 660/1, BUF215/7/28/35, EUF 183/6/99, with features specified by Southdown.
d) Maidstone and Dist JKM 901-40 were built at Beaumaris in 1948, the last vehicles to the pre-war Short Bros design.
e) Maidstone GKR 741 was the first double deck Rivaloy body, resembling the RT body.
f) OKM 317 – is given as used by M&D as DH500, later to CB Law of Prestwick, and Dodds of Troon.
g) RKE540 Saro body and underframe – given as Gardner 5HLW engine,David Brown 5 speed gearbox, ULW 5-17-3.
h) Devon General ETT 995 was the only Saro Light Six – it is in preservation in the West Country.
I can thoroughly recommend the book, a fitting tribute to Saro, and to Gerald Truran, who researched it, but sadly passed away before it could be published.

Bob Gell

13/04/14 – 18:24

The Bedford VAM with the licences built body that appeared at the 1968 show was a right hand drive facsimile of an American school bus . MCW hoped to interest local authority education departments and independent operators but both markets were disinterested as it was cheaper to use non dedicated vehicles. Also, by any UK standard, the vehicle was spartan.

Phil Blinkhorn

15/04/14 – 10:59

Maidstone & District Bristol K5G DH445 (GKR 741) from 1942, with a 1950 Saunders H56R 'Rivaloy' body (ex Chatham & District). Photographed November 1959 at Barrier Road, Chatham). No PV rad fitted at re-bodying

Photographed November 1959 at Barrier Road, Chatham

Here’s a frontal view of Maidstone & District Bristol K5G DH445 (GKR 741) from 1942, with a 1950 Saunders H56R ‘Rivaloy’ body (ex Chatham & District). Ray Stringer mentions that body was based on the RT body from behind the front bulkhead, even to the interior trim and top rear emergency exit and wondered if the body had ben tucked into the RT production run, or was an experimental body using Rivaloy construction? Bob Gell quoted that Maidstone GKR 741 was the first Rivaloy body, resembling the RT body.
Unfortunately, the view does not show the body behind the front bulkhead, but certainly does not reveal any RT resemblance at the front. What a shame they skimped on putting a PV radiator on it at re-bodying. Definitely a case of spoiling the ship for a ha-p’orth of tar!

Chris Hebbron

17/04/15 – 09:37

Liverpool’s A40 always had a mystique about it, more so than its companion A39, because it was unpainted. A40’s interior had a much more luxurious feel than the other 98 Regent IIIs in the batch and even A39, perhaps partly due to its moquette seats, something highly unusual for the Liverpool fleet. Good to know that the vehicle is preserved.

Mr Anon (lpl)

NKD 540_01_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

10/02/17 – 16:59

As a young lad who couldn’t wait to work for YTC (Yorkshire Traction) I well remember the company taking delivery of two dozen Saro Cubs GHE 2 to GHE 25 1002/1025 and were put into service immediately in Battleship Grey but with fleet numbers and Yorkshire Traction emblasened on the side. Evidently the paint shop workers at Saro were on strike and YTC were in the process of disposing of an old fleet of PS1’s so they went into service in grey but were later called in and painted in reverse livery where the main colour was Yorkshire Cream then later to Traction Red.

ELJ Tracky Lad


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Bolton Corporation – Crossley SD 42/7 – DBN 978 – 8

Bolton Corporation - Crossley SD 42/7 - DBN 978 - 8
Copyright Ken Jones

Bolton Corporation
Crossley SD42/7
Crossley B32R

DBN 978 is listed as one of only eighteen Crossley single deck half cabs that survive. It is a SD42/7 with Crossley B32R body dating from 1949 and preserved in original condition as Bolton Transport number 8. It was transferred to Bolton Corporation Welfare Department, and is now privately preserved c/o The Tameside Transport Collection 2005. A picture of it prior to preservation taken in 1966 can be found at this link. The above picture was taken in September 2010 when it was present at the Rigby Road depot Open Day in Blackpool.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ken Jones

28/12/12 – 06:47

I wonder why Crossley bothered with the step up in the window line on this model. The strengthening Manchester wanted for the suspended platform on its post war standard required the step up in the upper deck window line only, the lower deck step up was purely cosmetic – so why follow the idea through on a single decker?
This is a lovely example which I well remember seeing in service.

Phil Blinkhorn

28/12/12 – 06:48

An excellent view of a lovely machine! I’ve seen her on several occasions, including on her native territory in my "black and white print" days of the early 1960’s. The odd thing is that, apart from rally appearances, views I’ve seen of her in Bolton are all round the depot area behind the office at 147 Bradshawgate. Did she not move much?
A bought slide, from the Omnicolour collection suggests – incorrectly, I think – that she was a SELNEC vehicle when that photo was taken and comments she would have looked rather odd in orange. Of course, if she was with the Welfare Department, she wouldn’t have passed to SELNEC – or would she???

Pete Davies

28/12/12 – 09:52

Bolton withdrew the bus in 1962 and it passed to the Welfare Department. As with other Councils, the Transport Department looked after the vehicle mechanically and provided garaging (some even provided drivers) but the asset was owned by the Council’s Welfare Department and was not included in the stock passed to SELNEC though they may well have looked after and housed the vehicle under contract.

Phil Blinkhorn

28/12/12 – 11:03

Thanks, Phil. Another incorrect caption to join the list!

Pete Davies

28/12/12 – 11:52

DBN 978 was bought by the Crossley Omnibus Society in the summer of 1969. We had a frantic two weeks repainting it and then took it for its first trip out to the Grand Transport Extravaganza that year. Whilst in preservation it was kept at first in Carlton Street, alongside the Bolton (and later SELNEC) garage in Shiffnal Street, in almost exactly the same place it had been parked as a welfare bus.
I think this is where some of the confusion has come from. It was no longer owned by Bolton or SELNEC, just parked there. It moved up to the society accommodation in Greenfield on 19th September 1971 under tow due to an engine problem which after removing the engine turned out to require a replacement core plug at a cost of about 2p!
It was bought by the current owner in 1974 and restored to rear-entrance the following year (from memory). It is unusual in having air brakes.

David Beilby

28/12/12 – 13:43

Thank you, David, for giving the assorted dates. The slide I have is dated May 1970, so it is well into the preservation era. I’ll let the operator of Omnicolour know for future reference.

Pete Davies

29/12/12 – 07:01

Thanks for the fascinating information, gentlemen.
When was it converted to front entrance? Was it for its Welfare Department service or was it an early o-m-o conversion? Good to see it back in original condition.
Frankly, considering the comparatively small number of single-deck Crossleys put into service, I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that no fewer than eighteen still survive.
I’ve always had a soft spot for them, and I’d love to see an all-Crossley Rally somewhere someday (or have I already missed them?)!

Paul Haywood

29/12/12 – 09:08

Peter Gould’s fleet lists show that 6 and 7 of the same batch were converted in 1954 and 1955 respectively yet omit a date for 5 and 8. Can’t confirm if this is an oversight or if the conversion was done after withdrawal in 1962 but the conversion looks identical to 6 and 7 rather than one done specifically for the needs of the Welfare Department.

Phil Blinkhorn

29/12/12 – 14:05

I used to see these buses around 1961 as Pete Davies says always parked behind the Bradshawgate offices and I am pretty sure they were front entrance omo by then. Bolton’s need for single deckers was quite small and the few routes they operated were infrequent services to the north of the town so I suppose these buses spent long periods on layover. I don’t ever recall seeing one on the move.

Philip Halstead

30/12/12 – 07:17

I used to think that all had been converted to front-entrance but this was not so. 5 remained rear-entrance and I have a photograph of it in Cowley’s yard in Salford, still with rear entrance.
6 and 7 were full one-man conversions and featured an angled cab side window for the driver to collect fares.
8 was converted later and no doubt used a lot of the principles adopted for 6 and 7. However, there was no fare collection on a Welfare Bus so the angled window wasn’t needed. In fact it would have caused a problem on this bus as it was fitted with a heater in this role (I don’t believe they had them before) and the pipes went up in a box enclosure in the corner where the angled window would have been. The heater was above the bulkhead window – pre-dating the Leyland National physics-defying arrangement by some years!
Another difference was the blind display. Instead of a destination plus three-track number blind, there was just a single destination. This had a blind which if I recall correctly had just a single display "Welfare". Inside of course the bus was completely different, with longitudinal seating and a tail lift at the rear.

David Beilby

30/12/12 – 08:51

Thanks for that info David. Interesting that they didn’t need a ramp or chair lift as many Welfare Departments specified when converting buses from the Transport Department

Phil Blinkhorn

30/12/12 – 09:45

The tail lift was a chair lift – sorry if I gave the wrong impression.

David Beilby

30/12/12 – 17:27

Ah, my error in interpretation.

Phil Blinkhorn

23/01/2013 06:54:16

I travelled on this bus on what was billed as its first day of service boarding it at the top of Halliwell Road and travelling up to Smithills Dean CE School It was my favourite ‘though No 6 was reputed to be faster!

James Wood

29/01/13 – 15:28

I have owned DBN 978 partly from 1971 as a Crossley Omnibus Society member and wholly in August 1974 onwards. The bus is presently taxed and insured. Just waiting to refit the overhauled starter motor.
The bus has been operated more or less trouble free since 1997 when the engine was rebuilt. The only major event was a broken offside leafspring in 1997. Due to personal circumstances it has been laid up for the past 2 years until now. The starter was found to have become coated with rust in this period hence the overhaul. Next rally will be in April to Dukinfield.

Ralph Oakes-Garnett

Almost forgot! The bus can be viewed at Tameside Transport Collection at Roaches, Mossley where it is kept. Just off the A635 if you come from Manchester a road off to the right just before the Saddleworth/Yorkshire border. If you pass the sign you missed it! The bus has been a regular rally attender for years including European destinations of Noordwijk aan Zee and Amsterdam.

11/08/13 – 19:53

Here it is in its latest guise. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps Ralph will explain in due course. http://sct61.org.uk/bn8c

Peter Williamson

12/08/13 – 07:23

That’s most odd. Why paint a post war vehicle in a wartime livery of an operator it never ran for and, assuming the scheme is meant to represent Manchester, use the wrong shade for the relief colour which was far nearer the white used for the 1960s Mancunians than the near cream used. Sorry if anyone gets upset but, unless this has been painted for TV or a film – and we all know just how accurate producers insist vehicles must be (!) – this is a waste of paint.

Phil Blinkhorn

12/08/13 – 19:21

I think, Phil, that for somebody who has run the vehicle for everyone’s benefit in Bolton livery for forty years, rebuilt it from front-entrance at his own expense and even taken it abroad, it’s really only for Ralph (the owner) to decide whether it’s a waste of paint.
What other vehicle could represent the wartime Manchester single-deck streamlined livery? I’ve never seen a vehicle in that livery!
(Incidentally I always understood that the streamlined livery used a shade more like white than cream.)

David Beilby

13/08/13 – 06:26

David, of course the owner can do as he wishes – but: the body design is nothing like anything Manchester ever operated; the chassis and engine are totally different to the pre-war Mancunian and we agree the relief colour is wrong so, therefore, I’m at a loss to understand the point.
I know from my interest in aviation just how misleading incorrect representations can be. Years down the line arguments ensue over the validity of markings and the actual provenance of a a type painted as something else. Just how long will it be before a photo appears in the press where it will be stated that the bus IS what it isn’t? In years to come how many times will those trying to research, from a standpoint of little knowledge be misled? At least the registration is a dead giveaway.
Heritage schemes are one thing but, in my book, this is "passing off" to what purpose?

Phil Blinkhorn

13/08/13 – 06:28

It sounds like a dramatic role for this bus to me. I can see the turbans on the Ladies’ heads, the pinnies, the caps and the suits and trilbies….


13/08/13 – 17:55

DBN 978_2

This is the ex Bolton Crossley which was repainted for a wartime event in Saddleworth recently. Photograph taken at Carriage House Inn Marsden Yorks. 10.08.13.

I painted this bus for the wartime event and also to give those who have never seen the Streamline Livery which was last seen 63 years ago including me to experience it. For those that remember it they must be around 70 and over. If I wait for the owner of the one existing bus which carried the Streamline Livery then they will be mostly dead! I do not see this other bus which incidentally is also a Crossley being finished in the next 10 years. I like the livery and obviously it was modified to depict the wartime version. In respect of the shade of the relief colour it was white BUT when varnish was applied became creamy. I would also point out that as a one parent family of a 9 year old it was a marathon task getting the bus finished in time for the event and therefore large parts are in primer. As for the body this is basically the post war version of the Streamline design and Manchester were contemplating ordering some Crossley single deckers post war but as the requirement changed was not proceeded with and then of course Mr Neale took over.
I new it would be controversial but it would be nice to see the positive side to this. As my old friend David points out I have done and spent a lot of time and money on this bus and having been through great personal trauma in the past three years I felt it was time for something different. To me it shows just how vibrant the Manchester colours were compared to some of the drab municipal schemes around at the time.
I also need to point out that post war buses were painted in the Streamline scheme i.e. 2890 to around 2850. Finally I do intend to repaint back to Bolton colours in a couple of years before that I intend to give the bus the non wartime version. Owning preserved buses should be fun and sometimes give a glimpse of the might have beens!

DBN 978_3

Here is another shot of the ex Bolton Crossley in its original livery taken by myself at Remise Lekstraat Amsterdam on 4th May 2004.

Ralph Oakes-Garnett

14/08/13 – 10:21

Well said. Owners must be allowed to determine how they want to present their vehicle. I too strongly favour historical accuracy thus I inwardly squirm when, for instance, I see what ‘Wheels’ have done to the ex-Stockport Corporation PD2 fleet #40 but it’s their bus, it’s their right and the good thing is that it remains preserved. It can be returned to it’s true colours another time if someone has the inclination, time and money.

Orla Nutting

14/08/13 – 10:23

Ralph, thank you for all the background on this great bus, especially concerning its present livery. It looks good; obviously you’ve put in lots of hard work and TLC over the years.
I am only sorry that you do not see the point, Phil.

Peter Stobart

14/08/13 – 11:13

Peter, as I said previously, owners can do as they wish. I fully get the point that a vehicle still in existence is better than none at all. I can understand – to a point – painting a vehicle from one fleet in the colours of another for which it never operated if the vehicle it represents was as near as possible identical, especially if there is some solid historical reason and its is made plain that it is not the original.
I’ve read Ralph’s explanation but still can’t get my head round how something a good way removed from reality has obviously had such care and effort put into it by an obviously dedicated owner. The "what if" idea presupposes either an extension of WW2 with Crossley able to lavish materials on a far from utility vehicle or that Crossley had fully designed and had for sale the SD42 and body pre-war.
I remember the furore some years ago when one of the model bus companies put a 30ft Tiger Cub with standard BET bodywork on the market in Midland red black and red colours. It never happened so why bother?

Phil Blinkhorn

14/08/13 – 13:19

One of the basic rules about the preservation of old buildings, especially "listed" ones is that any alterations for modern use should be capable of being reversed- for example an old Georgian chapel may have a building within a building constructed to provide offices, housing etc and ensure the building is used, but be capable of reverting to the original- and be seen as such. Seems to me that this could apply to historic vehicles, too.


14/08/13 – 18:49

This is really a tale of 2 Crossleys Bolton 8 and Manchester 129. I have painted the bus in a wartime version for the Saddleworth event and later the 1938 version of Streamline livery.
If you want to see the Streamline livery for real the choice is a) do as I have done. b) Wait until Manchester 129 is fully restored in around 10 years.
I was not prepared to wait that long and in another 10 years most people that remembered the livery sadly will not be around to see it. I have a copy in my possession of a Manchester Corporation official engineering drawing of the proposed post war single deck Crossley dated October 1946. I am not sure how well it will copy onto this site but I will try. Richard Finch the owner of 129 the Streamline Crossley Mancunian has the original and it was he and my son that helped in the painting of number 8.
Also out of interest over the years I have modified my bus to make it run better i.e. the intake and air filter(s) as it now has 3 not original but I am only doing what other Crossley owners did to try and get the optimum performance out of the engine. I must say that correct timing of these buses is paramount as a little fraction out is the difference between running very smoothly and loss of power with smoke! Interesting to relate over the years this bus has acquired a number of parts from pre-war Mancunians particularly the fan assembly. It is often said that every Crossley is different which is largely true I can say. So we presently have a lively bus that runs cool if anything and delivers 14 mpg and even 20mpg on long relatively flat runs as per trip to the Potteries Rally in May. A bus that climbs the 1 in 5 out of my village in 2nd gear and does not boil.
If I had stuck to the original specification then there were a number of inherent problems with running hot not least the air intake being treated to a diet of hot air from the sump. So what you have is not exactly original but a good bus, a heavy bus!
I intend to run the bus in Manchester colours for around 2 years. Not a waste of paint it looks stunning and I often think it is the Manchester bus it always wanted to be! There are many Manchester parts that I incorporated into the rebuild between 1974 and 1976 when the bulkhead was restored and the door put back to the rear. Also at this time the the back doors were removed and built across and the remains of the rear chairlift removed. Manchester PD1 post war Streamliner at Bingly Autospares provided 3 window pans as they were the same pattern.
Out of interest my father was originally an upholsterer before the war but after became a guard and then driver at Hyde Road Depot at a time when apart from 70 the Leyland Tiger every other bus was a Crossley some 300 on site. The trips around the depot in the fifties left a lasting impression. Both sides of my family at some time or other worked ay Crossley Motors at Gorton or Crossley Brothers. I was born in Ancoats in Crossley House owned by Crossley’s. So yes I like Crossley buses but Manchester’s the most. I never wanted more than one bus but if 2150 is ever for sale I would snap it up straight away. I was a few years ago part owner of 2558 a Streamline double decker but sadly it was too far gone to restore. For those visiting our depot at Mossley the bulkhead survives as does the engine at GMTS Museum.

Ralph Oakes-Garnett

15/08/13 – 07:09

Ralph has taken the trouble to explain at length, more than once, his thinking as regards the livery in which he is currently presenting his bus and his future plans for it. I fail to see, Phil, why you seem unable to accept this.
Many organisations – I’m thinking, for example, of the North Yorks Moors Railway in this part of the world – organise an annual ‘Wartime Weekend’. At these events people are encouraged to dress up in wartime garb, uniforms etc. The people who do so are often too young to remember the Vietnam War, never mind World War II, but they enter into the spirit of the occasion. Try to think of what Ralph’s done in a similar light. There are photos on this site, and elsewhere on the internet, of his bus in Bolton livery, and very fine it looks, so I think everyone can be confident that Ralph will continue to lavish every care upon it in the future. It seems to me that, if he was prepared to spend time and money painting it in a livery which, although not perhaps historically accurate for that bus, ‘looked the part’ for a special event, then he deserves nothing but praise rather than opprobrium.
With luck, any youngsters visiting the Saddleworth event will have acquired an interest, not only in the war and the sacrifices made by our parents’ generation, but also in Ralph’s bus and any others which may have been present. They are unlikely to have been bothered about historical accuracy but might just have been inspired to take an interest in bus preservation when we’re all long gone.

Alan Hall

15/08/13 – 12:03

Alan, I’ve also explained my position. There’s a massive difference between people dressing up for a day in WW2 uniforms and painting a vehicle in a non-accurate way.
The Crossley may well inspire someone to take an interest in PSVs but it’s the lack of interest in historical accuracy that bothers me.
In 1963, at the start of our A level course, an inspirational history teacher made a statement which, with the amount of disinformation on the internet, is truer than ever 50 years later, it went something like this:
"Lads, you’ll find this course will throw up contradictions and different views of what actually happened. The victors write history, the others have a different view. Your job when it comes to the A level paper is to put down what you have learnt. If you don’t know, don’t make it up. There are no marks for you writing your own version of history".
Get the point?
Decades of trying to research airline and bus operator histories, of working in aviation archives and in helping establish a major UK aviation museum, have opened many contradictions some which remain unresolved after decades.
Ralph’s beautiful but inaccurate representation can only help muddy waters in the future. I know it’s considered anal to insist on detailed accuracy and we all make errors from poor knowledge or bad memory but this colour scheme on this vehicle makes no sense to me. I’ve said my piece and I’ll leave it there.

Phil Blinkhorn

15/08/13 – 14:58

I have not been reading the OBP pages so much recently because of other interests so I have been catching up on recent threads and this one concerns me. I’m not able to quote historical accuracy in the finest detail but I do like old buses and coaches. I also like those who are enthusiasts and I respect their knowledge. Everyone has different ideas on how to do things but one simple goal of most owners of old vehicles is to look after them.
As I see it, Mr. Oakes-Garnett has owned and cared for this bus for forty years or so…a significant proportion of most of our lifetimes. Clearly he has a great affinity to it and that means for it to be still here, he must have lavished care, skill, time and vast sums of money to keep it on the road. Above he has set out clearly and in very generous detail why he wanted to change the colour scheme, his reasons and his personal thoughts about why he did it. He also indicates that he intends to put it back to just how it was before..in the way that HE did many decades ago. Then it will be back in splendid originality and "historical accuracy" will be maintained.
Meanwhile, just as if he had once sold it to "XYZ TOURS of SPUDBURY on SEA", it has been repainted. He could have chosen to do it like "XYZ" and painted it pink with yellow spots but he decided to do something that embraces history and adds to the story of DBN 978. He has done it well, with care and respect..and because his son likes it….and that brings me to why I post this contribution, always remember that preserving something involves the item whether it is a bus or a 1958 washing machine but most of all includes the ideas, thoughts, skills and feelings of those doing it. Historical accuracy has an important place..but kindness, friendship and understanding are even more important so Ralph..I say Good Work! DBN could not and never will be in better hands!

Richard Leaman

15/08/13 – 17:35

Richard I congratulate you on your posting and would give you 12 out of 10.
Ralph is to be commended in all he has done!

Peter Stobart

16/08/13 – 06:24

Thanks for that Richard. I just wonder how many critics on theses sites actually own or support a preserved bus? As I have said before the hobby should be fun and the latest incarnation of the bus has attracted a lot of interest locally about the second world war and also the different colours of buses in the Manchester area. My son has also learned a lot during this exercise including helping to make a headlamp mask and all the reasons why wartime markings were applied and the difficulties involved in moving around in the blackout. Most of his schoolmates in Diggle were at the wartime weekend and were frantically waving at us as we passed by.
Finally I have said it twice and I will say it again.
You would have to be around 70 years old to remember the Streamline livery as it finished in 1950. There is only one genuine prewar Manchester bus still around that wore the livery. That bus is DNF 204 Manchester 129 a Crossley Mancunian. This bus is kept at Roaches Mossley along with my bus. The owner Richard Finch is doing an excellent job in restoring it but is very much a perfectionist and progress is happening but not at a fast rate. Richard is often distracted by work on other buses including mine. I also have to say 129 was in a disgusting state when it was found around 1965 abandoned in a hedge. Today it has been reframed throughout and the cab totally rebuilt. There is still a long way to go with the limited means available. I can not see it restored fully for many years yet and Richard agrees. So if I had not taken the time to put a bus in this livery who else would? And is it fair to make everybody wait when already 63 years have passed since 1950. Richard thinks not because he helped me paint it. Now on the shade of white. The bus is still largely in primer due to limited time but I can tell you that it will be right. I was recently part owner of a doubledeck Streamline Crossley Mancunian CVR 760 Manchester 2558 and it was quite clear under the peeling paintwork what the shade of white was. The white becomes creamy when varnish is applied. Sadly by 1989 the bus was too far gone to restore at that time. Maybe these days we could have managed to restore it but unfortunately it had to be moved and disintegrated. The remains of said bus were sent to a number of locations we still have the bulkhead. This was another reason why I wished to paint my bus in Streamline livery.
I may at some time in the future have another paint scheme but for most part it will be in Bolton livery.
Finally I remember in 1977 at Brighton my dad and I had slogged away for months to get the bus ready to go on the London Brighton Commercial Run. There were many trials and tribulations at this time and both of us were very green and ignorant but as they say ignorance is bliss. On leaving Brighton a pedantist came up to us and said this bus is in the wrong shade of maroon. I said well if you are offering to paint it you are welcome!

Ralph Oakes-Garnett

16/08/13 – 09:36

Well said, Ralph! Did that nitpicker at Brighton 36 years ago ever take up your offer to allow him the honour of painting it in the maroon of his choice? I bet not.
All this livery business aside, I find these postwar all-Crossleys the handsomest of all single-deckers of their era. Everything looks no-nonsense and purposeful. From your comments on DBN 978’s performance it must be in pretty good mechanical shape too. What is the UW? Would it be about six-and-half tons? Do any 5-speed Crossley coaches survive? I’ve read that the very high overdrive ratio (I seem to remember 0.656:1) was chosen to achieve the best possible improvement in fuel consumption.

Ian Thompson

17/08/13 – 06:27

Thanks for that Ian.
As far as I am aware non survive but I have in my possession a five speed Crossley box. They were crash boxes and unfortunately for myself they were fixed amidships attached to a banjo piece. I had looked at fitting it but not practical. It is a large gearbox same size as my synchro box. I do however have the benefit of my bus having a coach diff from new. It is 5.2:1 whereas the standard was 6.6. Presumably this was fitted because the bus worked Pennine area routes to Darwen, Blackburn and Affeteside for most of it’s life.


21/08/13 – 06:59

Well over 40 years ago a Manchester ‘Streamliner’ single deck Crossley was parked up at in the yard at Plumtree railway station near Nottingham. At that time Plumtree station was home to several preserved buses and trolleybuses. The bus in question was in a parlous state; it was devoid of windows and internal fittings, the radiator top tank was full of concrete and the steering wheel had lost its rim with just the hub and spokes remaining. The identity of the bus wasn’t known and after a while it was towed away for preservation in the Manchester area, we were told. I wonder if this bus was Manchester 129, which you have mentioned in your recent posting?

Michael Elliott

01/09/13 – 13:59

Yes the said bus is 129 and has had a lot of work done on it. However it is rarely seen by the public at large. It is kept at our depot Tameside Transport Collection in Mossley. We are there most weekends including this one but Saturday only as we are taking 3 buses to Heaton Park on the Sunday.

Ralph Oakes-Garnett

19/08/14 – 14:09

I am not a contributor to this site, just a casual visitor, so a bit ignorant. Hence my question. How were they able to use a half cab vehicle for one man operation?

Martin Robinson

20/08/14 – 18:11

Just to clarify the above question. Using a half cab for one man operation must have meant that the driver was constantly twisting around to tend the customers, surely? Did he end up with serious back problems or did he have a special swivelling seat? Wasn’t there money constantly being dropped? It appears an impossible process. Can someone explain?

Martin Robinson

21/08/14 – 06:20

The adaptation of half cab buses for OMO (no PC complications back then) was adopted in several fleets, Brighton Corporation being the first to try it with double deckers. I don’t know if swivelling seats were ever fitted, but bearing in mind that the driver would sit with his legs on each side of the steering column, and then considering the space constraints in a half cab, especially with a conventional gear lever to the left of the seat, any rotational movement would have been so limited as to be almost useless. The Brighton PD2s had the nearside bulkhead window angled forward to give passenger access to the driver over rear part of the the engine bonnet, and this form of modification seems to have been pretty much the standard elsewhere. According to a correspondent on the following site, half cab OMO conversions were also tried in Darwen, Southport, Southend, Aberdeen, East Kent, City of Oxford and Eastern National. I don’t know how accurate this list is, no doubt our OBP experts will clarify (and some of our OBP regulars have posted comments on this SCT page so, hopefully, more information may be forthcoming), but he omits Bolton, and also Doncaster. www.sct61.org.uk/bg26
The reference to East Kent also puzzles me. In 1956/7 this operator rebuilt 26 of its 1947 Dennis Lancet III rear entrance saloons with new full fronts, revised cab layouts and forward entrances for OMO work, and they ran successfully in this form for another ten years, being twenty years old when finally withdrawn. However, these were very different from simple half cab conversions. I am not aware of any other East Kent examples.

Roger Cox

21/08/14 – 06:21

With most of these OMO conversions the front nearside bulkhead (that is the bit to the left as you enter the bus that faces onto the bonnet), and the rear half of the driver’s nearside cab window were usually cut back and a new angled window put in to create a bigger ‘hole’ for the driver and passengers to communicate through, and to provide room for a ledge to which the ticket and change machines could be awkwardly mounted.
I believe some did have a swivelling seat, but most didn’t, and yes it must have been ergonomically diabolical – especially if the driver was already suffering from middle aged aches and pains.
My local operator Halifax Joint Omnibus Committee had a number of AEC Regal III single deckers converted in this way back in the early 1950’s. To add insult to injury the doors were manually operated by means of a substantial pivoting metal rod that was attached to the top edge of its leading section, and then passed across the top of the entrance and into the space in the canopy above the bonnet and under the roof space. The end of it then emerged in the cab high up above the driver’s head. At every stop the poor driver, already aching from the constantly twisting around, then had to raise his left arm right up above his head and nearly pull his shoulder out as he heaved away to operate the doors. The arrangement was not popular, and wouldn’t be allowed today.
Yet it wasn’t just confined to single deckers back in the 1950’s. A small number of operators experimented with a similar arrangement on halfcab double deckers when DD.OMO was first permitted in the late 1960’s. Brighton Corporation comes to mind for one.

John Stringer

21/08/14 – 10:54

Roger, the list of 8 fleets which I provided related specifically to double deck OPO. I did quite a bit of research, but never came across Bolton or Doncaster, so I would be interested to know more about this myself. I also believe that Accrington and Stockport gave serious consideration to adapting their newest Titans to the appropriate configuration, but took the idea no further. Stockport’s few front entrance vehicles represented just a tiny percentage of the fleet. As regards East Kent, there was an article in ‘Classic Bus’ some time ago which showed a Regent V operating on, I think, service 10, and being used as a single-manned vehicle. Overall, my understanding is that it was only Brighton who pursued the idea of double deck half cab OPO for any substantial length of time. The situation with single deckers would have, I’m sure, been quite different. John Stringer mentions Halifax’s Regals; my home town fleet in Lancaster also converted some Regals and I would imagine that overall numerous companies would have used half cab single deckers one-manned. Crosville actually rebuilt a good number of its Bristol Ls with front entrances for this purpose. Just consider also the Bristol SC, often used for more lightly trafficked routes. Whilst not a half cab, the door was positioned behind the driver, who would therefore be subjected to similar ergonomics!

Dave Towers

21/08/14 – 12:41

I seem to remember that Burnley, Colne, and Nelson had OMO single deck half cabs.

Stephen Howarth

21/08/14 – 17:47

Stockport had intended to run its front entrance PD3s as OMO vehicles on certain routes and they were delivered with both angled bulkhead windows and stair gates so that they could operate as single deckers, well after double deck OMO was allowed – another facet of Stockport being traditional! Union opposition and then the advent of SELNEC ended all thoughts of front engined OMO.

Phil Blinkhorn

22/08/14 – 06:39

Stockport had intended to run its front entrance PD3s as OMO vehicles on certain routes and they were delivered with both angled bulkhead windows and stair gates so that they could operate as single deckers, well after double deck OMO was allowed – another facet of Stockport being traditional! Union opposition and then the advent of SELNEC ended all thoughts of front engined OMO.

Phil Blinkhorn

22/08/14 – 18:08

Blackburn Transport were still operating Darwen PD2s OMO on Darwen depot local services as late as 1979-1980 – whilst crew-operating early Atlanteans from Blackburn depot! Some of the Darwen local services used narrow back streets, which may have been unsuitable for Atlanteans,although the Bristol REs managed to get round them. As I have mentioned before, after something of a moratorium on OMO conversions from about 1976 to 1979 by many public sector operators, there was some sort of national agreement in 1979 and OMO conversions started again in earnest, resulting in several operators having to return older types of vehicle to OMO, which had earlier been consigned back to crew work.

Michael Keeley

23/08/14 – 06:22

Just another thought about Bolton being a possible addition to the list of operators using half cab double deckers as OPO buses. This would seem less likely given that by the time double deck OPO was permitted by law in 1966, Bolton had some 70 Atlanteans in their fleet.

Dave Towers

23/08/14 – 16:25

Dave, I’m pretty sure Bolton never used half-cab DDs OMO. Most of their later front-engined buses were full fronted PD3s anyway but I don’t think these were either. (On that note though, I suppose in theory a full front, front engined bus would be marginally more easy to operate OMO than a half cab).

Michael Keeley

24/08/14 – 06:48

Northern General converted a Leyland Titan PD3 for use on ‘One Man Operated’ duties by moving the cab back behind the front axle – in effect making the PD3 normal control. With the cab then directly opposite the front entrance/exit doors, it was suitable for ‘pay as you enter’ operation. If memory serves correctly, Northern also updated the braking system, and a Routemaster fluid flywheel and semi-automatic gearbox replaced the Titan’s manual transmission. Other Routemaster parts used included the radiator, adapted front wings and a widened version of the Routemaster bonnet. Although this experimental vehicle (known as The Tynesider) may have looked a little odd, to me it had a certain charm. No doubt it would have been more reliable, simpler to maintain and cheaper to operate than the rear-engined ‘deckers on offer at the time, which was presumably the purpose of the exercise. I personally felt it a shame such an ingeniously simple design could not have been approved for ‘new bus grant’. If it had, maybe we would have seen the Leyland Titan PD4 as a viable option to the Atlantean. Presumably pleased with The Tynesider, Northern followed it up by converting one of its Routemasters to similar layout (The Wearsider), and full marks must surely be given to the Company for their bold attempt at designing such a practical, straightforward ‘PAYE’ double-decker.

Brendan Smith

24/08/14 – 18:41

Brendan, I don’t know if you saw it, but I had a posting of ‘Tynesider’ featured on the Ugly bus page on this site. As far as I’m aware, its still around somewhere in the Liverpool area.

Ronnie Hoye

25/08/14 – 07:28

Thanks for the link to the photo Ronnie. I had looked under the Northern General and Tyneside headings to see if The Tynesider was included, but never thought to look under the ugly bus page – probably because I didn’t think it looked too bad for a prototype! I’m pleased to hear that this unique vehicle is still around after all this time, and I’m sure we all wish it well.

Brendan Smith

DBN 978_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

26/08/14 – 06:51

Brendan, more news about Tynesider. I’ve just come back from the Seaburn vintage and historic vehicle rally, apparently, about four years ago the person in Liverpool who owned Tynesider became short of funds, so it was sold to a dealer for scrap. However, as luck would have it, he realised what he had bought and he contacted a group of enthusiasts here in the North East. He offered them the vehicle for the price he paid for it, and agreed to keep it until the money was found and arrangements could be made to bring it back home. It is now back in this part of the world and restoration work is well under way, and it is hoped to have it on the rally cercuit some time next year. As for Wearsider, it looks as if it has been scrapped.

Ronnie Hoye

27/08/14 – 05:48

Thanks for the info Ronnie. While it is sad to hear that The Wearsider Routemaster may well have bitten the dust, it’s lovely to know that at least The Tynesider is now in preservation. I’m sure many people would not see this vehicle as the prettiest or most handsome thing on wheels, but at least it has a distinctive character, a trait that is sadly lacking in most of today’s sterile "me too" designs. I’m no fan of Boris Johnson’s NTFL (New Toy For London), but at least you know what it is from a distance!

Brendan Smith

27/08/14 – 07:13

I agree wholeheartedly with your last sentence there Brendan, and dare I venture the further comment that the same can be said of the NTFL perpetrator ??

Chris Youhill

29/08/14 – 14:00

The vexed question of accurate liveries continues to divide the enthusiast fraternity.
I don’t own a vehicle but respect and admire those who do.
If a slightly non standard hue is used there may be many reasons for this and it should not detract from the joy of having the vehicle survive. Three examples spring to mind one is the ex London RLH beautifully painted in Ledgard livery now they did run this type of bus but not this particular example, but it serves as a powerful reminder of a very popular company. Again Yorkshire Heritage services who use vintage buses as wedding transport paint many of their buses in a black and cream livery since this is what the punters want and they are a commercial enterprise. Again I would rather see them in this guise than in a scrap yard. Finally the Wensleydale Bus Company run a service in the Dale which was West Yorkshire and United territory with a Lincs Road Car MW in green again not accurate but I would sooner have a ride in it than pass up the opportunity due to the "wrong" colour scheme.

Chris Hough


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