Old Bus Photos

Aldershot & District – AEC Reliance – VCG 596H -596

VCG 596H

Aldershot & District Traction Co
AEC Reliance 6U3ZR
Duple C49F

Having vacillated for some time before settling upon an underfloor engined saloon chassis, even buying some full fronted Dennis Lancet III coaches in 1953, Aldershot & District finally chose the AEC Reliance as its standard single decker, and stayed with this model for its coach requirements right up to its subjugation to Thames Valley (mis)management from January 1972 under the new guise of Alder Valley. Seen here in The Grove alongside Aldershot Bus Station is No.596, VCG 596H, the first of four 6U3ZR Reliances supplied in 1970 with Duple C49F coachwork sporting the (to my eye) hideous Detroit “inspired” front grille that spoilt many of the later Duple designs. Aldershot & District bought two more Reliances of the 6U3ZR specification in 1971, but these had the aesthetically more pleasing Plaxton C49F coachwork. VCG 596 passed to Alder Valley from 1 January 1972 as No. 49.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

22/12/18 – 06:37

I have to say that I like this coach! Functional, neat without meaningless frippery: where is the Detroit? Burlingham, Whitson, Yeates, other Duple perhaps…this is more Turin!


22/12/18 – 12:11

Joe – the "Detroit"-inspired part is the full-width chromed grille, which does look rather "overpowering" to my eyes. The chromed strip that runs the length of the body and at across the front at headlight level is also an excessive amount of polished metal.
In a monochrome photo, and wearing a livery with various colours, it doesn’t look so bad, but with a different "livery", and in colour, the effect is pretty dire:- https://thetransportlibrary.co.uk/index.php
I see from other photos that Southdown had the sense to specify their RUF-H batch of Leopards with the same body without the chromed strip on the sides, but they were stuck with the grille.
The polished metal soon went out of fashion, but the advent of the Dominant with curved side windows made the Commander look very old-fashioned in just a couple of years.

Nigel Frampton

26/01/19 – 06:48

The 36ft long AEC Reliance with the AH691 engine & the later AH760 power unit was a real drivers coach & the best premium weight coach on the market until the Volvo B58 surpassed it. With a Reliance the only thing to watch is they tended to run a bit hot on sustained motorway journeys. My boss instructed his drivers to keep an eye on the temperature gauge & if it starts to climb, drop a gear & keep it down to 55 to 60 MPH while it drops. Good advice, never had overheating on later Reliances.
Leyland Leopard, very good, but I think the chassis was more suited to a service bus body rather than a premium coach. As a coach, the gear ratios were all wrong on a semi auto Leopard, but in terms of reliability & strength of the chassis they were unsurpassed.

Andrew Spriggs

26/01/19 – 09:59

Not sure about the overheating: if you had a Sunbeam Imp with the usual gasket problem, going faster improved the air cooling effect!


06/03/19 – 07:17

I think the overheating problems associated with the Reliance were mainly confined to the wet lined AH470 engine, later replaced by the more successful, dry lined AH505.
The least said about the Hillman Imp, especially the very early examples, probably the better.

John B

26/09/19 – 05:53

I have always seen what you refer to as the Detroit-style grille (I have to agree with Joe that it is more Turin than Detroit) as a clean and elegant successor to the grimace-like grille applied to later Bella-series Duple bodies, itself a massively disappointing successor to the original Bella grille which to my mind was a natural update to the earlier butterfly design.

John Kemplen


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Kitsons – Crossley SD42 – KTE 444

Kitsons - Crossley SD42 - KTE 444

Kitsons (Gee Cross, Hyde)
Crossley SD42/7
Duple C35F

I photographed this coach near to Stalybridge Station in March 1966, but until recently, the only information I had was what could be seen in the photograph. Searching the web for more information, the first thing I found was that somehow, someone had got hold of a copy of my photo, which didn’t make sense, as I had no recollection of having provided anyone with a copy. The thumbnails in Google Images was at first sight the spit and image of my picture. The coach is clearly in exactly the same spot, taken from exactly the same location, and exactly the same Austin A40 is parked next to it. However, opening up the picture to the same size made it clear that the two images are simply a remarkable coincidence. The other picture was taken several months later, and there are two distinguishing features. Firstly the A40 is facing the other way, and secondly, sadly, someone has made a serious dent in the Crossley’s radiator.
Of interest to me is the chrome radiator, which I am not aware of having seen on any other Crossley. Presumably it was an optional extra on coaches.
Importantly, the picture and the comments with it gave me some information about what the coach was used for. It appears that it was on regular hire to Stockport High School to ferry sports teams around.
Looking at Bus lists on the web, it is clearly one of three similar vehicles delivered in December 1949 to Broughton and Walker of Great Harwood, registered KTE 443/444/446 but more interestingly, KTE 441/442 were similar chassis (and body, although C33F) delivered in October 1949 to Robinson, Great Harwood. Were these perhaps a joint order, or were the two firms linked?

Photograph and Copy contributed by Alan Murray-Rust

07/01/18 – 10:19

More peculiar than the chrome radiator, a lot of later Crossleys had them, so it was probably a customer option. More peculiar is the autovac, something I have never seen before on a Crossley. Given the dubious reputation of the Crossley HOE7 engine, has it been changed for something else?

John Anderson

08/01/18 – 07:13

Broughton & Walker was part of the Holdsworth Group which owned Robinson’s of Great Harwood. They were to all intents and purposes part of Robinson’s, in the same way that Walton & Helliwell of Mytholmroyd was directly run by O.& C. Holdsworth of Halifax. Looking at chassis and body lists it will often be seen that the Holdsworth Group bought batches of a type with consecutive numbers and allocated them to their various subsidiaries.

John Stringer

08/01/18 – 07:14

Oldham Corporation had both single and double deck Crossley buses with the chrome radiator with vertical centre strip.

Philip Halstead

08/01/18 – 07:15

The picture appears to be more complicated. We had an ex-Darwen Crossley that had been cut down for use as a gritter and that had an Autovac – I remember how it gurgled to itself when we shut the bus down. However, I look at photos and see there’s no Autovac on the bulkhead which means it was under the bonnet. As a consequence it’s difficult to tell which Crossleys have one and which don’t. That also doesn’t explain why the one in the photo has one visible on the front bulkhead.
Knowing what I do about the operator, I think it’s highly unlikely there was anything but a standard power unit under the bonnet.
I note also that this one has had its front wings trimmed back slightly.

David Beilby

08/01/18 – 07:16

The chromium plated radiator shell became an option from 1949. It was usually applied to single deck coaches, but an alternative version without the central dividing strip was offered mainly for double deckers. Older chassis were sometimes retro fitted.

Roger Cox

08/01/18 – 07:16

Could that be an Autovac in 1949… or?
Would still be grateful if anyone can tell me what a Potts Patent air Exchanger is, as found on Tony Peart’s 122?


08/01/18 – 15:49

Surely the car is an A35 as the A40 had a larger back window.

David Wragg

08/01/18 – 16:28

No David, I think its definitely an A40 Somerset. The A35 had, pro rata, a larger rear screen than the A40 Somerset.

John Darwent

08/01/18 – 16:30

And on my A30 and A35 the boot had hinges at the top not the bottom.


09/01/18 – 06:22

Potts was the MD at Doncaster at the time number 122 was being built. The Patent Air Exchanger is an early form of air conditioning. It consists of a large fan unit that effectively blew fresh air collected at the front of the bus and forced between the upper deck floor and the lower deck ceiling, before venting out of the rear platform. Next time you get to see the bus have a look at the perforations in the ceiling panels where the air comes out. I don’t know if it worked upstairs as well) Tony told me it was a battery flattener (engine off) but was happy to demonstrate it working many years ago.


09/01/18 – 06:23

This is an interesting photo: the ‘twin’ photo which initially fooled Alan is to be found here: www.flickr.com/photos/ The Austin A40 has travelled far from its original stomping ground, PJ being registered in Guildford, Surrey. And the poster is also interesting in that it has two accurate ‘possessive case’ plurals, the first apostrophe being after the first ‘s’, but the apostrophe being before the second ‘s’, because children/men/women are rare plurals without an ‘s’ on the end! BTW – the society still exists. But I see I’m boring you!

Christopher Hebbron

09/01/18 – 08:16

In the ‘Flickr’ version, the engine cover has either not been closed properly or the vehicle is in a state of distress . . .

Pete Davies

17/01/18 – 05:40

Yes, in the ‘Flickr’ version, it looks like there has been an impact to the front. The registration plate is bent, and possibly the radiator itself has moved back a bit at that point. The result is that neither the bonnet top or side can now be fastened down, hence the "state of distress" so aptly described by Pete! So what happened in the months between the two pictures being taken? We’ll probably never know! Hopefully the coach was carefully repaired.

Michael Hampton

17/01/18 – 05:41

I would guess that Alan’s photo showing the Crossley in reasonable condition is the earlier of the two. The Flikr pic shows the bonnet structure on the point of disintegration and the number plate has been re-profiled by accidental damage. This location must have been the regular parking place for the coach and the Austin. And well spotted, Chris, about the correct application of the apostrophes, something decidedly rare these days.

Roger Cox

17/01/18 – 05:41

Pete- it is either because of the bump mentioned here (look at the lower part of the radiator) or an advanced cooling system- not sure if Crossley needed it but Daimler engines seemed to.


17/01/18 – 05:42

Mike B- thanks for the info re POTTS PATENT. I’m yet to see 122 at close quarters: it did have a few later close cousins at Leicester Ave I think (but presumably only 7ft 6in wide!) but not seen "Potts" before. It is interesting that a municipality which couldn’t cope with enclosed radiators, automatic changes or 8ft bodies for many years had previously bought a bus with so many "revolutionary" features for that time. What became of Mr Potts and when, because that’s probably the answer?
The real need was surely upstairs where the fag fug made breathing difficult!


17/01/18 – 05:45

It is a pity that the reputation of the HOE7 continues to be unjustifiably traduced. It is certainly true that the earlier versions of the HOE7 were not that successful, but the later downdraught version was a good engine. AEC engineering designers certainly played a large part in that. Birmingham for example managed to get between 18 and 19 years out of their downdraught DD42/6s. According to Messrs Eyre, Heaps and Townsin (Crossley OPC 2002) Birmingham rated their HOE7s rather better than their Daimler engined CVDs. I drove a few thousand miles in HOE7 powered Crossley in the late 60s/ early 70s, and considered their hill-climbing abilities more than acceptable.

John Grigg

17/01/18 – 05:46

The vehicle was certainly in a state of distress when the Flickr photo was taken, with the radiator substantially stove in. Also, that picture has the A40 the other way round, confirming the model.
Thank you to those who have sorted the matter of the chrome radiator.

Alan Murray-Rust

17/01/18 – 11:59

I’ve read of Crossley’s HOE7 in different places. Why does it always conjure an impression of one of Birmingham’s Crossleys?

Pete Davies

23/01/18 – 06:28

No, the reputation of the HOE7 has not been unjustifiably traduced. The initial design incorporated the principles of Saurer’s four valve cylinder head, and was outstandingly successful. On the strength of demonstrations by the prototype DD42/1 orders flooded in and Crossley fully anticipated capturing the bulk of Manchester’s future bus requirements. However, when Saurer requested a licence fee for the use of its cylinder head design, Crossley Motors MD Arthur Hubble refused to pay and a hurried two valve redesign was instigated. This crippled the breathing, caused serious crankcase back pressure and led to very high oil consumption, resulting in an unreliable unit that was deficient in power output. Customers who had been impressed by the prototype found that the beast they were receiving was something of a curate’s egg, good in parts (the chassis was excellent apart from heavy steering) but seriously abysmal in the engine department. Many early recipients, notably Manchester, didn’t trust Crossley ever again and never went back for more, though the less demanding nature of coach operation did not tax the engine so severely. When AEC took over Crossley in 1948, it did not have an engine of around 8.5 litres of its own, so it instructed its new subsidiary to rectify urgently the deficiencies of the HOE7, and also offer the DD/SD42 with Gardner engines as options. Hubble, ever resistant to AEC “interference”, soon (and probably deliberately) crossed the equally autocratic Hugh Gardner, who adamantly refused to supply Crossley with any LW engines. AEC then ran out of patience with Crossley and itself produced the design for the greatly improved “downdraught” HOE7/5 in 1949. This differed quite significantly from earlier versions of the HOE7, and conversion of old engines to the downdraught head was an extensive and costly exercise, so most remained unaltered. Incredibly, despite at last having a competitive power unit, Crossley still continued to supply some outstanding customers with the earlier version of the engine, presumably to use up stocks of old components. The downdraught HOE7/5 certainly did remedy the basic faults of the Crossley engine, but by late 1949, when this engine was fully available, the heyday of bus orders was over, and, largely because of its earlier failings, the Crossley Motors undertaking was in terminal decline. Had the original four valve engine been offered as the standard power plant from first production, then the impact of Crossley upon early post war bus deliveries would undoubtedly have been much more significant.

Roger Cox

24/01/18 – 06:02

"My personal honour is more important than the future wellbeing of the company and its workforce…!" A sadly common disease in industry of all descriptions.

Stephen Ford

24/01/18 – 06:03

A few years on, some operators – mostly municipal ones – re-engined their Crossleys with other types presumably removed from older withdrawn vehicles. I’m sure I’ve heard of Gardner 5LW, AEC 7.7 and Leyland 8.6 engines being substituted. If the main deficiency in Crossleys was related to their HOE7 engine and it was otherwise an excellently engineered bus (and especially if it had a well built Crossley body), then this should surely have then made them into good buses. Yet we never seem to hear of how these re-engined Crossleys performed – I’d be very interested to learn, though I don’t suppose there will be many former engineers or drivers with experience of them around these days. I did once drive the former Rotherham Crossley – HET 513 – whilst it was in the care of Geoffrey Hilditch at Halifax. Presumably, being the last DD42 built, it would have had the later redesigned engine, but other than having heavyish steering (though probably no more so than a CVG6) and maybe its performance on hills was not exactly sparkling, I found it a fairly pleasant bus to drive, with the easiest of gearchanges, good visibilty due to the low bonnet line, and possibly the best suspension of any halfcab I’ve ever driven. It got so near to being a really good bus.

John Stringer

24/01/18 – 09:34

The Portsmouth Crossleys were delivered with turbo transmitters, which I understand would have limited performance even more! Those with Crossley bodies (25 of them, new in 1949) were re-engined c.1957-59 with Leyland engines from withdrawn TD4s. In this guise they were switched from cross-town routes such as G/H and O/P to trolleybus conversion routes such as 19/20, this demanding route being extended. Many of the batch also had seating increased from 52 to 58. I think that this amply bears out evidence of the effect in the improved performance from the change in engine for these buses. There were six with Reading bodies which retained original engines and transmission, and were retained on cross-town routes and school specials, etc. I was a schoolboy at the time, so unfortunately driving experience is nil!

Michael Hampton

27/01/18 – 06:23

Roger, thank you for a fascinating insight into the sorry saga of the Crossley HOE7 engine. I don’t know a great deal about Crossley, but am aware through reading various bus articles over the years that there was a problem with at least one of its engine types. It is a real shame that the apparent foolhardiness/stubbornness of Arthur Hubble’s "spoiling the ship for a ha’porth o’ tar" in effect brought the Company down, especially as you say that the prototype proved popular and orders started to flow in. I seem to recall that Dennis had success with its ‘four valves per cylinder’ engines, designed with Saurer involvement. Would I be right in thinking that Dennis simply paid Saurer the licencing fee for the right to build a superior product? Just as Arthur Hubble, with hindsight, should have done?

Brendan Smith

27/01/18 – 06:25

There is no doubt as Roger Cox says, that the post war saga of "what might have been but never was" as far as Crossley is concerned, is a valedictory lesson, but then there have always been personalities in the bus industry with more ego than common sense.
I can only speak as I found almost 50 years ago that the FINAL version of the Crossley engine was a fine bit of engineering. Now as to who takes the credit for that whether it be Crossley, AEC, Saurer, or any individual, I know not; and I still believe that particular engine has been unjustifiably maligned because of the wider problems of and within the company.

John Grigg

29/01/18 – 06:35

I often travelled on the Portsmouth Crossleys, both with Crossley engines/Brockhouse Turbo-transmitters and Leyland engines. It is difficult to compare performance of both types, because the original setup required no delays through gear-changing, compared with the Leyland engines/gearboxes. Portsmouth routes being flat would not challenge their hill-climbing abilities.My view is that the conversions took place in order to save fuel, since these engines were running up to the governor whilst accelerating, although they did freewheel along briefly until the next reason to slow or stop. Without the ability to use engine braking, I imagine that brake shoe wear was greater than otherwise, too.

Chris Hebbron

28/10/18 – 08:13

Joe asked in an earlier posting "what became of Mr. Potts and when?" Tom Potts was the first Transport Manager of Doncaster Corporation, apparently took office in 1920 and claimed the chair until he retired in 1953, to be replaced by Tom Bamford. For further info., see the 3-part article on Doncaster Corporation in ‘Buses Illustrated nos. 60-62, for the months March – May 1960!

Dave Careless

04/11/18 – 07:07

My 1967 ‘Little Red Book’ lists A. Kitson & Son at 222 Mottram Road, Stalybridge.
Proprietor: J Kitson
Rolling stock: 3 coaches
Chassis: 2 Crossley, 1 Leyland
Bodies: 2 Duple, 1 Burlingham
Fleet livery: Green/Ivory

Roger Taylor


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Carmel Coaches – Albion Victor – LOD 495

Carmel Coaches - Albion Victor - LOD 495

Carmel Coaches
Albion Victor
Duple C??F

As there appears to be no picture of this lovely coach on OBP , I am attaching one. It has been in preservation for many years with Carmel Coaches of Northlew in Devon and can still be seen at local events in the West Country. It was for a while used on Dartmoor Summer Sunday services connecting with trains – and other bus services – at the then newly restored Southern Region station at Okehampton. Initially the route was the 174 to Moretonhampstead where it met the cross Dartmoor 82 between Exeter and Plymouth. For a couple of glorious summers, the 174 was extended onto Widecombe in the Moor using some very narrow lanes. The Albion coped well with the lanes and the hills including the very steep one into Widecombe. One difficulty was with other traffic as visitors and indeed locals seemed to be unable/unwilling to reverse their vehicles in these lanes. This became a major problem when the Pony Club had their occasional meet on the Moor as their exodus with large vehicles or trailers – all at the same time – coincided with the last journey from Widecombe which had to connect with the said 82 and the last train at Okehampton. The owner of the Albion, who was the regular drive on almost every Summer Sunday over the years, was always patient and courteous and I am grateful to him for the opportunities to ride the coach.
The photo is taken at Hound Tor before the steep descent into Widecombe.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Keith Newton

28/08/17 – 10:12

This is a Victor FT39N powered by the Albion 75 bhp 4.88 litre four cylinder diesel engine that was delivered new to Way of Crediton in 1950. I believe that the gearbox is a five speed constant mesh unit. Nowhere can I find the stated capacity of the Duple bodywork, but this was usually 31 or 33.

Roger Cox

29/08/17 – 06:36

My 1993 edition of Preserved Buses, Trolleys and Trams gives LOD 495 as an FT39AN with a Duple FC31F body.

Dave Farrier

30/08/17 – 07:57

Thanks for that confirmation about the bodywork, Dave. As for the chassis designation, this is FT39AN as you state, but it was often shortened with the ‘A’ omitted. Why? I don’t know, or indeed what the letter itself stood for. The final ‘N’ indicated the "normal" 16ft wheelbase, the longer 16ft 11ins version having the letter ‘L’ instead. The ‘A’ cannot have indicated an initial variant because the post 1956 versions became the FT39KAN and KAL. Perhaps it indicated forward control, but I know of no normal control examples. I have to admit that the some of the (pre Leyland) Albion company’s type numbering seemed to have no logical basis that I can discover. The initial Viking/Valkyrie/Valiant/Victor were classified as PA/PB/PC etc up to PW which clearly meant successive passenger variants. Then came the Venturer M81 and the Valorous M85, which were superseded in 1937 by the Valkyrie and Venturer CX. After WW2 the Victor name reappeared as the FT as seen above, contemporary with Valiant/Viking/Venturer models all classified CX, and the KP underfloor model. Then under Leyland ownership came the Nlmbus MR9 and the Aberdonian MR11, though the latter had no design similarity with the shorter Nimbus, being essentially a lighter weight version of the Tiger Cub. Then some degree of logic returned with NS for Nimbus (again with AN suffix), LR for Lowlander, VT for Victor, VK for Viking, before the Albion name disappeared forever. (Another firm with puzzling model designations was Thornycroft, but that is by the way.)

Roger Cox

31/08/17 – 04:56

At risk of seeming foolish, did the A stand for Albion (engine)? Valorous belongs to the Wulfrunian school of bus naming & then Valkyrie? With whole dictionaries to go at!
I’ll stick, BMW/Mercedes style with CVD6 and K6A!


01/09/17 – 05:48

Possibly, Joe, but why didn’t the contemporary Albion engined Venturer CX19 and CX37, Valiant CX39, Viking CX41 (a variant of which was called the HD61 – again why?) and the experimental KP71NW have the ‘A’ also? The numbers, always odds rather than evens, seem to have had some sequential logic albeit with gaps, though the number 39 was duplicated for the Victor and Valiant models. Perhaps Bletchley Park could come up with the answers to the Albion nomenclature.

Roger Cox

01/09/17 – 05:49

In John Gillham’s book "Buses and Coaches 1945-1965", he says that the FT 39 Victor was introduced in early 1947, and that a modified version, known as the "FT 39 AN" appeared at the end of 1951, with the long wheelbase "FT 39 AL" following some three years later. The same thing happened to the Nimbus in 1960, when the NS3N was replaced by the NS3AN.
I take this to mean that the A was just a spec-update marker, rather as Leyland would later use it on PSU3A (and on to G), AN68A etc.

Graham Woods

01/09/17 – 05:50

Roger, according to definitive book ‘Albion of Scotstoun’ (Adama & Milligan) the ‘A’ suffix indicated improvements to the previous version, including a larger wormwheel assembly on the rear axle, improved braking, heavier springs, flexible radiator tubes, improved fuel filtration and minor wheelbase alterations. The insertion of the ‘K’ before the ‘A’ indicated a later variant fitted with the larger EN287 5.5 litre engine (replacing the EN286 4.88 litre unit) and heavier front springs.

John Stringer

01/09/17 – 15:19

Thank you Graham and John. That explanation does make sense. Back in its vastly superior days when Classic Bus was under Gavin Booth’s editorship it included a series of comprehensive articles on the history of the Albion passenger ranges by Alan Townsin. Sadly I gave all my copies away after being totally disenchanted with the magazine’s altered and self obsessed guise under subsequent editors. I remain rather baffled by the type letters of the heavier Albion models which all, passenger and haulage, seem to have been classified CX. In addition to the Venturer CX19 and 37, the Valiant CX39 and the Viking CX 41, there were the CX1 7 tonner, CX3 6½ tonner, CX5 12 tonner six wheeler and CX7 eight wheeler 14½ tonner. The FT3 code included a haulage version for 4 to 5 ton loads and one suspects that the straight framed FT39 Victor was a simple derivative from it. This webpage gives a list of some pre 1945 Albion types, though it is far from comprehensive in detail:- www.autogallery.org.ru/m/albion.htm

Roger Cox

02/09/17 – 08:08

Sorry to dive off the main subject but I just want to say how much I agree with Roger about Classic Bus magazine. Totally ruined by the Best Impressions outfit and a total rip-off based on the lack of content and acres of empty space on the pages. I have lapsed my subscription in disgust.
There I feel better now!

Philip Halstead

02/09/17 – 08:54

Interesting comment on Classic Bus as I feel it has gone the other way and improved enormously making it more readable and not just for the anorak which is where Gavin (an extremely knowledgeable guy) was taking it.
Best forgotten is the editor in-between.
Even if I am not totally in agreement with the content I still keep my subscriptions going as if we lose the magazines Bus & Coach History and reach to the public will be diminished and ultimately it makes the movement more fragmented

Roger Burdett


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