Old Bus Photos

Smiths Luxury Coaches – AEC Regent III – NTG 137

Smiths Luxury Coaches - AEC Regent III - NTG 137
Copyright S Fitton

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.

Ian Thompson

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.

Barry Armstrong

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!

Ian Thompson

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.

Brian Wainwright

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.

Les Ronan


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Sheffield Corporation – AEC Regent V – 7441 WJ – 441

Sheffield Corporation - AEC Regent V - 7441 WJ - 441
Copyright Ian Wild

Sheffield Corporation
AEC Regent V 2D3RA
Weymann H39/30R

Nearing the ending of its days, 441 was one of 26 Weymann H39/30R bodied AEC Regent V 2D3RA delivered in April 1960 to replace trams on the penultimate route – Meadowhead to Sheffield Lane Top . There were also 20 Alexander bodied Regent V for the same purpose. The photo was taken on 13 July 1974 at Whirlow Bridge. The presence of the Roe bodied Regent V (also delivered in 1960) in the background and the group of people nearby suggests it was an enthusiasts tour. Presumably 441 was not working on a route from its home garage as the correct destination of Dore is not shown. Orion bodies can look good!!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

A full list of Regent V codes can be seen here.


Couldn’t get much better than that, Ian (two of my favourites) – but could you not have got the Roe bus better, or nearer, or both!!! But of course Orions can look good – especially at 14 years old.
With the Roe bus being near the entrance to Whirlow Park, could it have been a wedding hire?

David Oldfield


Are all your photos this good, Ian? Do you have enough for a book? It occurs to me that, good as it is, Charles Hall’s book is photographically incomplete and that must leave scope for a "Glory Days" or some such (of Sheffield Transport) – using your photos and first hand knowledge.
After the Roes, these were my favourites, but why the extra long 5 seat benches over each rear wheel arch and why, from 71 in total 1960 Regent Vs, were only a few Weymann’s fitted with exhaust brakes? [It got that I could identify individual buses, with out seeing them, from my desk at school!]

David Oldfield


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PMT – AEC Reliance – 693 AEH – SN7693

PMT - AEC Reliance - 693 AEH - SN7693
Copyright Ian Wild

Potteries Motor Traction
AEC Reliance 470
Weymann B44F

This is one of many AEC Reliance 470 with standard BET style Weymann bodies (B44F) operated by PMT. This particular example dates from 1957 denoted by the 7 prefix to the fleet number. Allocated to Milton Depot at the time, it has come to grief sliding into a ditch adjacent to some road works whilst on an inward journey on the 43 from the village of Stanley to Hanley – which is the main town of the Stoke on Trent conurbation. Milton Depot had an allocation of about 20 buses, mainly single decks for services such as the one shown plus three lowbridge Atlanteans and I think three MCW highbridge Leyland PD3/4 for the Hanley to Abbey Hulton services. Inside the depot was a survivor – engineless AEC Regal ex fleet number S315 KEH 608 which was in use as the staff canteen. It later went to Hollis of Queensferry for preservation – wonder what happened to it? Going back to SN7693, I remember a call we took concerning a bus on fire somewhere out in the Staffordshire countryside. It turned out to be SN7680 of the same batch but by the time we reached it in a narrow country lane all that remained was a chassis – and some burnt grass banks either side of the road.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

These were the last batch of this type of body they had stick operated doors, Newcastle garage finished up with SN7688 which I would drive often as I thought it was a much better bus than the new Reliances we had with Alexander bodies, it had a good exhaust on it too.

Michael Crofts

Strange you should mention stick operated doors because Trent’s Tiger Cubs of the 1950’s had them. I remember thinking they had two gear sticks! The one to the right of the driver was forward when the doors were closed and then pulled back (a good pull was required!) and this pulled a flexible wire through a tube to open the doors, which were a mixture of jack-knife and two-piece. I often wondered if many fleets specified this apparatus. It fell out of favour by the end of the 50’s when something more sophisticated was felt necessary!

Chris Barker

Sheffield Transport amassed quite a fleet of Leyland Leopard Coaches between 1959 and 1961 with Weymann Fanfare, ECW and Burlingham bodywork. I did not have much cause to travel on them but I do remember that some, at least, (including the Weymann?) had this stick operation to their doors. These were full coaches with proper, heavy, coach doors – in the days when no coach had air assisted doors.

David Oldfield

My recollection is that earlier PMT Weymann bodied Reliances SN5573-5612 had electrically operated doors. I think lever operated doors commenced with SN6627-6646 and continued right through single deck deliveries including the 34 Albion Aberdonians until the ‘Jubilee’ batch SL801-810 when power operation recommenced. We avoided OMO conversions on lever door vehicles for as long as possible and of course the Aberdonians were never modified for OMO.
David mentions the lever operated doors on the Sheffield Leopards and I can recall a trip out to Bakewell on one of the B fleet Weymann Fanfare vehicles when fairly new (probably early 1960) where a friend and I sat on the front nearside seat and assisted with operating the door by hand as the driver was having difficulty with the lever operation from the cab!! The Fanfare vehicles were never modified to power operation whereas the Burlingham and ECW batches were later converted for OMO which included power operated doors.

Ian Wild

All the AEH reg batch AECs had the stick doors along with all the Albions.

Michael Crofts

With the delivery of 25 Alexander bodied Reliances in 1961, this brought a total to 150 of the 30 foot Reliances at PMT, most having Weymann bodies apart from another 10 Willowbrook bodied ones.

Michael Crofts

10/12/11 – 14:58

There were also a few Albion versions with this body operating Chell to Longton at this time. All three, Leyland, AEC and Albion had their own distinctive engine sound.
Anyone know who made the engines for the Albion?

Mr Anon

11/12/11 – 06:57

The Albions would have been Aberdonians – light-weight Leyland Tiger Cubs. The lightweight was in axle and chassis construction. They both shared the same Leyland Comet engine (0.350 version). Albions always had Albion gearboxes. [At different times, the Tiger Cub could have either a Leyland or an Albion box.]

David Oldfield

11/12/11 – 06:59

The Albion Aberdonian was a lighter weight version of the already lightweight Leyland Tiger Cub. It was powered by the Leyland O.350 engine of 5.76 litres giving 94 bhp, and was coupled to the Albion five speed constant mesh gearbox. It proved to be something of a frail beast, and most of the operators that tried it didn’t come back for more. Production ceased around 1960.

Roger Cox

11/12/11 – 11:20

The Albion Aberdonian had the same Leyland engine as the Leyland Tiger Cub, but strangely no Tiger Cub growl.

Peter Williamson

11/12/11 – 16:11

I always preferred the Aberdonian to the Tiger Cub, partly because I was brought with them. North Western’s batch of six spent most of their lives at Oldham depot and were the mainstay of the Saddleworth local services, running past my front door every half hour. I always thought they were quieter than the Tiger Cub and in retrospect I put that down to the Tiger Cub’s fan, although I don’t know if I’m correct in this.
The Albions had, shall we say, a distinctive vibration when idling. The only Aberdonian in preservation to my knowledge is the East Yorkshire one and that made the same sounds despite having a different body. It’s a bus I haven’t heard of for many years – does anyone know of its current status?
There are a few pictures of North Western’s Albions in my Saddleworth Buses gallery at: http://davidbeilby.zenfolio.com/ where they will be found in the 156, 157 and 158 collections. (This gallery is still developing but the collections relevant to these buses have been done.)

David Beilby

13/12/11 – 08:58

I too had a soft spot for the Aberdonian, despite my only first-hand experience of them being the Manchester ones with Seddon bodies of almost third-world standard. I always feel that the model had a rough deal being marketed as an alternative to the Tiger Cub, as an urban bus or express coach, when it would have been much happier doing the sort of jobs that Bedfords did – pottering around villages on market days or providing day trips to the seaside – but giving the passengers a more refined experience than a Bedford could.
As far as I know, Plaxton-bodied Aberdonian coach XUP 692 is still with us, but it now very audibly boasts a Leyland 401 engine, and by all accounts goes like a rocket. I wish one of the Charlie’s Cars Harringtons had survived.

Peter Williamson

13/12/11 – 11:21

There’s an idea for another thread on the web-site – re-engining with similar, but different and larger, engines. I am already aware of AV760 powered RTs and RMs!

David Oldfield

15/12/11 – 06:52

When I drove for Stanley Gath of Dewsbury he had an ex O.K Motor Services Roe bodied AEC Reliance RUP 768 that had a rod operated entrance door. The bus was always called Rupert for obvious reasons.

Philip Carlton

26/04/14 – 07:24

I used to go to work on the Albions from Chell to Hanley and the gearbox seemed to be arranged from right to left, very different from the Leyland and AEC.
Can anyone verify this?

Clive Reynolds

27/04/14 – 08:06

Clive, the gear selector gate on the PMT Albions was exactly the same as any other bus in the fleet. They had a five speed Albion constant mesh unit fitted. The linkage was very sloppy giving the effect to the driver of stirring a very thick pudding when trying to locate each gear!
The Tiger Cubs that were acquired from Stratford Blue in 1971 had exactly the same gearbox but with a Leyland designed selector arrangement. The gear change on these was much more positive (and heavy!) but once you acquired the knack, I always thought a pleasant bus to drive. Mind you, I didn’t have to operate them in service on one man services.

Ian Wild


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Friday 26th August 2016