Smiths Luxury Coaches (Reading) Ltd
AEC Regent III 9613S
Weymann Orion H30/26R
Quite awhile ago on the ‘Q&As’ page there was a question titled ‘Ex Rhondda Regents’ which questioned the number of AEC Regents that joined the fleet of Smiths Luxury Coaches from the Rhondda. The question was answered but as usual the thread took on a different direction as to whether they had an AEC or Crossley gearbox, this resulted in the contribution by David Beilby of the above vehicle.
David also provided the following copy, NTG 137 was formerly Rhondda 284 and is seen here in April 1968. The hidden connection to the ‘ex Rhondda Regents’ question is that it was working the somewhat ill-fated Crossley Omnibus Society Grand Southern tour over the Easter Weekend. Ill-fated as the Society’s ex-Oldham Crossley 368, which was due to work the first leg from Manchester to Reading, had a differential failure at Stone in Staffordshire (the upside of that is that it was fitted with a reconditioned differential afterwards by Oldham Corporation).
I wasn’t on the tour but Stan Fitton, the Secretary of the Society and tour organiser, was and this photo is one of his taken on this fascinating tour which involved visits to the Bournemouth and Reading trolleybus systems and Provincial (Gosport and Fareham) NTG 137 provided the transport for most of the tour. If anyone can tell me where this photograph was taken I would be very grateful as I’ve no idea. The fairground ride in the background may provide a clue and I think it’s safe to assume the bus didn’t reach this location through the arched bridge behind. Unfortunately in the strip of negatives containing the above shot the previous photo is of Oldham 368 at Manchester Victoria and the one after is in Weymouth. So it’s somewhere between Manchester and Weymouth!
Well that narrows it down a bit David.
The ‘Ex Rhondda Regents’ question can be read here.
Photograph and part copy contributed by David Beilby
05/02/11 – 09:30
I can shed no light on the mystery location, but NTG 137 brings back memories.
My original question was poorly worded: I probably gave the impression that both the ex-South Wales Regent Vs and the ex-Rhondda Regent IIIs were spongy to drive. The Vs WERE, but the IIIs were nice and crisp.
I’m also grateful for the clarifications about Crossley’s role in AEC gearbox design and production.
26/03/11 – 07:30
I started at Smiths in 1968 aged 15 as an apprentice coachbuilder and left in 1978. I have many happy memories of my time there in particular the many characters that worked there. Alf Smith the Guvnor as we had to call him was a true gent, he lent me 20 quid from his wallet to buy a Lambretta which I had to pay back at 10 bob a week. I would love to hear from anybody else that worked there.
28/03/11 – 10:30
Barry, I left Smiths in 68, so we may or may not have overlapped, but I’m equally keen to meet other ex-Smiths folk. You’re right about the Guvnor: until you got to know him he seemed a bit remote in his smart clothes, sweeping into the yard in his Jaguar, but he was really a very kind, decent man. A pal of mine is scanning hundreds of photos he took in the 50s and 60s, including many of Smiths Coaches. What we haven’t got are pictures of the characters, in all their variety!
21/07/12 – 17:11
I was on that ‘ill-fated’ tour but it was a long time ago and the old memory ain’t what it was. As I recall, after we broke down at Stone we had a long wait until a very comfortable coach arrived from Reading. This got us to Reading in the wee small hours and we changed onto the Regent III. All I can remember is that it was damned cold and I couldn’t sleep – unlike some! I don’t think we stopped again until we got to Weymouth, where we stopped for brekky. After that the stops (as I recall) were Gosport and Fareham, Portsmouth Corporation and Bournemouth, where we had a somewhat shortened trolleybus ride to that originally planned. Then it was back to Reading, where Stan Fitton canvassed b&b places, starting off with us youngsters, and had the job of convincing sundry landladies were were not Aldermaston Marchers. I think some of the oldsters had to kip on benches in Reading pubs, but again, memory fades. So I guess the answer is likely to be Weymouth or Bournemouth, but I honestly don’t know.
08/06/14 – 07:29
The location is the old Westham Coach Park in Weymouth, as confrimed by the ‘Wild Mouse’ in the background, and by my wife, who grew up just along from the coach park in Abbotsbury Road, and as a girl used to cut through it.