Old Bus Photos

Cheltenham District – AEC Regent I – DG 9819 – 2

Cheltenham & District - AEC Regent I - DG 9819 - 2
Copyright Colin Martin

Cheltenham & District - AEC Regent I - DG 9819 - 2
Copyright Davis Simpson Collection

Cheltenham District
AEC Regent I
Weymann H30/24R

When my photos of the Cheltenham & District Albion Venturer
CX19 No. 72, were published they attracted a comment from Ian Thompson which read as follows-
"Three of the civilised and handsome Weymann-bodied 56-seat AEC Regents, mentioned by Chris, went in 1947 to fellow Red & White company Venture of Basingstoke, passing in 1951 to Wilts & Dorset. They were DG 9819 (No. 2) and DG 9820 (No. 3) of 1934, and BAD 30 (No. 10) of 1936. I remember seeing them (and secretly clambering aboard them in the AWRE Aldermaston bus park in 1955-56)."

Above are two photos of No.2, firstly looking immaculate with Cheltenham & District on 23rd May 1939 and then, about 1952, as ex-Venture 91, looking a little careworn on a filthy day, after Wilts & Dorset had taken over Venture.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron

This later-life picture of DG 9818 brings back not only happy memories of AWRE Aldermaston bus park in the 50s, but also a question that has niggled me for years.
I was never content with bus-spotting from outside and was always curious about staircases and upstairs seating layout. I very distinctly recall a decker whose staircase started in the usual way–three or four steps rising towards the offside rear corner–but then instead of turning to rise forward, it made a 180-degree turn to debouch upstairs facing the nearside. The two forward-facing seats opposite the top step were only singles. I don’t remember any incursion downstairs: the whole staircase fitted into the platform-well. My admittedly fallible memory recalls this bus as one of the Cheltenham trio, but when I asked a retired Cheltenham driver about it sixteen years ago he could recall no such layout; nor could Colin Martin, author of Cheltenham’s Trams and Early Buses (Tempus 2001) and other authoritative bus books.
I’ve studied hard the photos of the DGs and BADs in Colin’s books and in Venture Limited by Birmingham and Pearce (1995) and in Wilts and Dorset, by Colin Morris and Andrew Waller (Hobnob 2006) and can see nothing that suggests what I recall. The DGs had only 24 seats downstairs and the BADs 26, but they all seated 30 upstairs, so there again there’s nothing to back me up. I begin to wonder whether the bus that I recall so clearly wasn’t an ex-Cheltenham after all, but then whose was it? All the E. Yorkshire Beverley Bar buses I’ve clambered around on seem to have had conventional stairs but with Roe-type square top steps. Can anyone disentangle me? Thanks!
And thanks, Chris H, for the pictures.

Ian Thompson

10/02/11 – 10:16

These three AECs which went to Venture as nos 85, 88 and 91 all had Gardner engines on arrival at Venture. The front bulkhead downstairs had a large rectangular panel (with round corners) protruding into the lower saloon above the flywheel cover – presumably because the Gardner 6LW took up more room than the standard AEC. They sounded rather like tractors compared with the usual Venture AECs. The staircases did indeed turn through 180 degrees and the top step protruded into the lower saloon above the off-side sideways seat next to the staircase: it was rather oval-shaped and a good example of the metalworker’s art as despite the many footsteps no dents or bumps were visible. It was just large enough for a footstep. There was no danger of a passenger bumping a head as upon standing up the body was clear of the intrusion.

Michael Peacock

24/03/12 – 09:25

As a kid I remember traveling to school on these old AEC Regents. One of the features of the Weymann coachwork was access to the destination blinds on the top deck by undoing two latches thus enabling one to alter the route number. As some of the stops were shared by more than one route such action caused some concern to passengers and did not last very long as astute conductors would remove us guilty or otherwise.


06/12/12 – 16:54

Somehow I managed to miss Michael Peacock and Deryck’s comments on the Cheltenham Regents that ended their careers with Wilts and Dorset, and have only just read them! It’s a relief to know that my recollection of the odd staircase wasn’t mistaken after all. I think this arrangement must have been a Balfour Beatty speciality, as it’s shared by the 1949 Notts and Derby BUT/Weymann H32/26R trolleybus at the West of England collection at Winkleigh, Devon, which I saw only two months ago. Given the above-average upper deck seating capacity, the nearly-180-degree staircase was obviously space-thrifty. Belated thanks to Michael and Deryck for shedding more light on these fascinating vehicles.

Ian Thompson


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St Helens Corporation – AEC Regent V – GDJ 438 – H138

St Helens Corporation - AEC Regent V - GDJ 438 - H138

St Helens Corporation
AEC Regent V MD3RV
Weymann H33/28R

The letter in front of the fleet number denotes the transport committees sanctions codes for new vehicles, I think I have seen this before with another operator but who just slips my mind at the time of writing. I am not quite sure as to why it is used unless it is a way of dating the vehicles. The strange thing is that it was only used on their double deckers mind you when this shot was taken in the summer of 64 St Helens corporation only had 4 single deck vehicles. Three AEC Reliance Marshall bodied buses and rather strange for a corporation fleet a Leyland Leopard L2 centre entrance Duple Britannia coach. Not quite sure what that was used for, school children to the swimming pool perhaps or for private hire, they would not of been the first municipality to go down that road.

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

H or L often meant High or Low bridge? Some municipalities would have coaches to take civic parties on tours of inspection- eg the planning committee!


It’s been said before, and it’s still true. In the right livery, the Orion could be a handsome beast. This is an excellent example. [So is an STD Orion!]

David Oldfield

In this colour scheme, being light on the top half, the whole vehicle looks balanced and attractive. And the rear wheel spats give a touch of class!

Chris Hebbron

Sheffield had the (in)famous 9000 WB, a Reliance/Roe Dalesman C37C – for the use of the Transport Committee but available for Private Hire.
It was alleged that this was bought "because Leeds had one" – but I do not know whether this was true.
Salford had a late (1962) Weymann Fanfare/Reliance which became an airport coach after SELNEC took over. It replaced a Daimler CVD6/Burlingham – both originally committee coaches.
The St Helens Leopard was a 1962 Motor Show exhibit and is pictured in Doug Jack’s book "Leyland Bus".

David Oldfield

You’ve hit the nail squarely on the head David. In the right livery the Orion could indeed be a handsome beast. In this neck of the woods Samuel Ledgard operated four ex-South Wales AEC Regent Vs and an ex-Tyneside Leyland Titan PD2 with such bodies, and they looked a treat in Sammie’s blue and grey livery. The Regents were somewhat spartan inside mind you, but they had the most beautifully raucous exhaust note to compensate. Following Ledgard’s takeover by West Yorkshire in 1967, the AECs were numbered DAW1-4 and later allocated to Harrogate depot. My brother and I would deliberately walk from our usual stop in Bilton, to the one at the top of King Edward’s Drive, just for the sheer pleasure of catching one into town (and obviously back!!). They were generally to be found on the 1/2 Bachelor Gardens-Woodlands and the 9 New Park-Oatlands services, which suited us just fine. At the time I had a morning paper round, and so was also treated to the glorious sound of them barking their way up Bachelor Gardens or the Hill Tops just after seven each morning. Fabulous!

Brendan Smith

DAW 1 – 4 were indeed vehicles full of character Brendan. DAW 2, MCY 408, was the first Ledgard vehicle to be painted in West Yorkshire colours quite soon after the takeover. Along with all the AECs it was initially allocated to Otley and while working the last journey home at 22:35 from Cookridge Street it failed at the Gaumont Cinema (as was). It was taken to Roseville Road and treated to a mechanical wash with a vengeance – being 14’6" inches high it fouled the washing machine and suffered a damaged front roof dome, it was quickly repaired and became the first red "Sammy’s" double decker since G.F.Tate’s WN 4759 in 1943.

Chris Youhill

20/11/11 – 07:30

The Leyland Leopard L2 coach was number 200 (SDJ 162).
On October 9th 1965, I had booked to go, as a Liverpool fan, to Old Trafford to see Liverpool play Manchester United. My friends and I went by bus from Huyton down to Lime Street as we had booked on Crown Tours of Liverpool to get to Old Trafford.
I had a pleasant surprise to find that our coach was SDJ 162, on hire to Crown. However we lost 2-0 to goals from Best and Law, so the coach remained the highlight of the day.
It was later part exchanged against Bedford VAM 201 (KKU 77F) and was not traced after that.

Dave Farrier

20/11/11 – 13:35

David Oldfield mentions above the fact that Sheffield had a coach because Leeds had one. Leeds first coach was a 1965 AEC Reliance with a Roe body based on the Roe bodied AEC Reliance service buses bought at around the same time It was numbered 10 ANW 710C and was bought for private hire it went into preservation but its current whereabouts are unknown. Just before the PTE took over a trio of Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopards were also purchased numbered 21-23 MUG 21L etc

Chris Hough

20/11/11 – 14:44

Chris. How interesting – since the Sheffield one predated your Leeds one by about seven years. The story mangled the facts a bit, evidently.
As a matter of fact, I actually drove 10 when it was owned by Classic Coaches of High Wycombe on a private hire from Reading to Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, and back.
It was of Classics original fleet of four (including a West Riding Dalesman, a "Brown Bomber" Harrington and a Royal Blue MW/ECW). Mr Crowther then grew too quickly and went pop – after which I lost track of his vehicles. A lot of the interesting ones found further homes in preservation – it is to be hoped that the three Reliances above were among them.

David Oldfield

22/11/11 – 07:27

David This posting proves what a small world it is! I went to secondary school with David Crowther and later worked with his wife. Like many enthusiasts I think he let his heart rule his head despite training as an accountant

Chris Hough

22/11/11 – 09:16

Small world indeed. A very nice man – but not a successful operator – but I know a number of "professional" operators who would fit this bill as well. [I also know a number of the latter who run the ship with military precision but are thoroughly unpleasant people to work for!]
PS David had a cracking pair of Leyland engined REs as well!

David Oldfield

13/07/12 – 06:10

I went to school on this vehicle. If I remember I think the Letter in the fleet number was related to the registration number. A DDJ bus would be D### and K199 was a KDJ registration.

Geoff Atherton

14/07/12 – 18:09

To pick up a point raised in the original post, about "sanction codes" in front of fleet-numbers: the ten AEC Regent Vs delivered to Bradford Corporation Transport in November 1962 (126-135) carried the code "A" – they were the only vehicles so to do. These vehicles had been ordered in March 1961. John Wake, GM at St. Helen’s, had been appointed GM at Bradford in March 1961 . . . but left for Nottingham in July 1962. This innovation didn’t survive beyond his departure – although the St. Helens-style three piece destination layout did, and the earlier Regent Vs (106-125) were converted to this layout. I gather, from J S King’s excellent three-volume history of BCT, that John Wake didn’t stay long at BCT because his anti-trolleybus views put him in conflict with a good proportion of the Transport Committee . . . although that didn’t, during his short tenure, stop him pushing through the agreement in committee that led to the final decision to decommission the trolleybus operations.

Philip Rushworth

05/08/12 – 07:24

Re the comment from Geoff Atherton, St Helens K199, Reg No. KDJ 999 was an experimental Regent V front entrance bus bought in lieu of the fact that Leyland could not supply Atlanteans. She was unique to the Corporation and as far as I can remember had the nickname "Big Bertha". She ended up on the 309 service from Burtonwood to Southport, but had a habit of running out of diesel on route. Apparently, whilst on charter to Blackburn, she also dropped part of her engine on the nearside lane of the M6! As far as I am aware, she is still extant in the North West Transport Museum in St Helens.

Alan Blincow

22/08/12 – 14:58

St Helens Corporation had a kind of year letter system but it was only briefly used on double deckers. Some had the letter stencilled internally, others didn’t. Some had just the fleet number at the front of the bus, others didn’t.
It was only used between 1954 and 1966, the final six Leyland Titan PD2As and three AEC Regents (1967) were just 50-58.
Letters A-D were retrospectively applied, A being pre-1945, B were 1945-47, C 1948. The London specification AEC Regent RT types were given letter D. Sanction E was the first to be applied new, to Leyland Titan PD2s (1954/5), F (1955/6), G (1956). H, J and K were AEC Regent Vs of 1957-59 and the first "St Helens bonnet" Leyland PD2As of 1960. Letter L applied to AEC Regent Vs and Leyland PD2As built in 1961/62. L was used for the 1965 Leyland PD2As instead of M, but these had year-letter registrations and the corporation decided that with future new buses having year letter registrations the fleet number prefix was no longer necessary so it was dropped. However many of the L prefixed buses carried them internally until withdrawal in Merseyside PTE days in the late 1970s.

Paul Mason

25/05/13 – 08:34

Re Alan Blincows post…
K199 was used on the 309-319 services between Warrington and Southport extensively between 1963 and 1967 and most certainly didn’t run out of fuel on the ‘last Southport’!!!. The tank was more than ample for any duty that the Corporation ran.
I think you are referring to an article in Mervyn Ashtons otherwise excellent book on St Helens Transport…. Let’s just say that Mervyn was using a little ‘poetic licence’ at times!!!.
I bought Big Bertha from Tom Hollis at Queensferry in June 1978, and later sold her on to Ray Henton at the North West Transport Museum, where she still resides…

Roy Corless

GDJ 138_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

24/08/14 – 10:39

Yesterday I did a wedding hire with ex St Helens AEC Regent V/MCW bus no 58. A warning in the cab says Unlaiden height 14ft 3 1/2in . So this must have been the standard for the corporation till the last half cabs were delivered

Geoff S


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Valliant Direct – Gilford 168OT – GW 713

Valliant Direct Coaches - Gilford 168OT - GW 713
Copyright E J M Abbott, used with permission.

Valliant Direct Coaches
Gilford 168OT
Weymann C30D

This is a photo of a 1931 Gilford 168OT coach with Weymann semi-fabric body along Brighton seafront. It is painted in the livery of Valliant Direct Coaches of Ealing, who owned it for many years. The coach was eventually saved by well-known bus saviour, Prince Marshall, and it languished for many years at the Science Museum Annexe at Wroughton, Nr Swindon, Wilts. Eventually, with the financial generosity of the London Omnibus Traction Society, Seb Marshall was able to restore it thoroughly to the immaculate state we see in the photo above.

Gilford was a short-lived company from 1929 and 1935. It was unusual in that it never made anything, merely being an assembly outfit. It also made Wycombe bodies, with the parts also being made to order and bought in. As might be deduced from the body name, they were based in High Wycombe. They used American petrol engines, especially Lycomings. One unusual feature was the suspension which used Gruss Air Springs, another US import, the front cylinders being easily spotted either side of the radiator. They were more like shock absorbers and enabled vehicles to ‘glide along smoothly and supremely comfortable on four cushions of compressed air’! These were indeed superior vehicles!
Gilford were very successful in the early years, but the Wall Street Crash and Depression took its toll and competition from the big boys intensified, with sales dropping relentlessly from 1932, despite new models coming out and a move towards goods vehicles. A late attempt at fitting the unreliable Meadows diesel engine did not help the situation. The final straw was what caused problems for several companies, the formation of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933, with the consequent takeover and demise of lots of independents in London and much of the adjoining counties. (Christopher Dodd, a London bus body builder, who’d supported the independents almost exclusively, was wiped out at a stroke). The success of Gilford in selling vehicles to independents over the years created the situation where, after the takeovers, London Transport became the largest operator in the UK of Gilford buses and coaches at 220, for some five years, until standardisation started in earnest!

Seb Marshalls blog on restoring GW 713 can be read here.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron

Didn’t Gilford produce a prototype double decker of extremely low height and very modern appearance for the early 1930s?? I can’t remember if it was first a bus and later a trolleybus, or the other way around – I rather suspect the former. In any event it sadly never caught on apparently.

Chris Youhill

Bus then trolleybus. The remains of Gilford went through two rapid changes of owner before ending up with Sentinel. Another case of interesting antecedents – like the Roadliner to Dennis R via Duple 425 "family tree".

David Oldfield

If we’re going ancient, let’s have more Gilford – although there weren’t many. What about Reo? [They were also used by the likes of Black and White.] …..and Sentinel who enjoyed a brief and honourable fling post war. If Gilford were the great might have been pre war then Foden and Sentinal were the great might have beens post war. Just a thought.

David Oldfield

I’m afraid my shots don’t go that far back, but if anyone wants to send me some then I will post them.

See the ‘Coming Soon’ panel the next two contributions fall into the ancient category


I’m sure I saw a photo of Gilford’s double-decker bus/trolleybus once, but can’t pin down where. It was certainly modern-looking for its time.
We’ve all heard of the famous AEC Q front-entrance double-decker, but around the same time, Leyland also built a similar vehicle, which had a squarer flat front (might have been lowbridge) and also looked modern for its time. I don’t believe there were any takers and it was broken up in the end, if memory serves me right. Anyone got a photo of it? I’m not sure where the engine was placed, though, but not at the front.

Chris Hebbron

Chris H, are you sure it wasn’t the Leyland TTB front entrance trolleybus?

David Oldfield

You’re right David, I was a little adrift there!

Chris Hebbron

I am sorry to say that Chris Hebbron’s original information is not quite correct in that the photo of GW 713 in Valliant livery was taken some years ago after initial restoration by Prince Marshall & not as a result of recent restoration by his son Seb Marshall. It is currently in a very dismantled state and the subject of a very major restoration by Seb after his acquisition of the coach from Science museum storage at Wroughton the progress of which can be seen on his blog via link at end of Chris’s article.
Hopefully it will not be too long before it is once again restored to the immaculate condition shown in the photo.


I contacted Seb Marshall to fill in the gaps between its original restoration and its subsequent sad demise into the condition it sank into before he started restoring it. I can do no better than send you his reply which I think is worthwhile printing.

Hi Chris,

The photo was indeed taken in my father’s time, if you look closely he is driving, I believe it is Brighton ’63.

Alas early preservation did not have the funding it does today and the body was very tired back then and was only cosmetically enhanced by Valliants. As we’ve gone into it we’ve discovered it has had a very hard life, with a number of framework repairs evident not surprising really as it went to war!

We were planning to have it ready for Brighton next year, but work has dictated otherwise so sometime in the not too distant future is all I can say at the moment.

All the best,

Chris Hebbron

You are right Chris, Gilford did build a low-height double-decker in 1931, and it was displayed at that year’s Commercial Motor Show. It was a very advanced design incorporating front wheel drive, thus allowing a very low floorline, as the usual bulk of the rear axle and differential casing were dispensed with.
After delving into various books, all manner of things came to light. The bus was known as the ‘D-type’ (presumably for double-decker), and was of chassisless construction with an overall height of 12ft. 11ins, which was pretty impressive for a ‘decker with central gangways on both decks. The engine was also unusual in being a German-built Junkers horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder two-stroke diesel unit. A four-speed constant mesh gearbox was mounted ahead of the engine, and the drive then went to the front wheels. As usual, Gilford had fitted Gruss air springs to the vehicle, and the front suspension was independent to boot!
The Wycombe 56-seat rear-entrance bodywork was of steel-framed construction, and was of a modern-looking full-fronted design. A Tilling-style three-piece front window arrangement was used on the upper deck, with the outer glasses curving round to meet the front side pillars. Unfortunately, no orders were forthcoming, and as David rightly says, it was then converted to a trolleybus, and apparently saw service as such with Wolverhampton and Southend-on-Sea. A picture of the bus in its original form was shown in Buses Illustrated No.8, but I’m sure I’ve seen a picture of it elsewhere, and will keep looking!
Gilford chassis designations were generally straightforward. The numbers denoted the wheelbase (in feet and inches) and the letters described the driving position. So an SD was Standard Drive (meaning bonneted, or normal control), and an OT was Over Type (meaning driver alongside engine, or forward control). As such, the engaging 168OT in the photo would be of 16ft.8ins wheelbase, Over Type layout.

Brendan Smith

Its nice to see my grandfathers coach on the sea front I remember him talking to me about the coaches he had.

Stephen Valli

Stephen – I’m glad that the photo gave you pleasure. You will no doubt know that your grandfather is greatly respected among the bus enthusiast fraternity for his successful efforts at bus preservation when it was in its infancy.

Brendan, Thx for researching all that useful information on the ‘D’-type, most of which I was unaware of. As ever, it was a mixture of their own construction and buying-in parts and, as ever, the conservative bus industry of the time stayed well away from purchasing it, despite the general good name and record of Gilford. A photo of it would be wonderful, if you can track one down. Sadly, although I can boast about three of the earliest Buses Illustrated somewhere, No. 8 wasn’t one of them, more’s the pity!

Chris Hebbron

The patent number for the D-type is (GB)353,902 and was applied for by the Gilford Motor Company Ltd and Edward Bert Horne on April 29th 1930 and accepted on July 29th 1931. The drawing shows a lower deck plan, with the engine protruding significantly into the lower saloon with two pairs of rearward facing seats to each side of it, and a vertical section through the bus showing the front wheel drive and Gruss springs. You can view the drawing here. 

Malcolm Thwaite

Thank you for posting such an interesting technical drawing Malcolm. I had read somewhere that the engine on the D-type had intruded into the lower saloon, but had not envisaged it doing so by quite as much as shown! The seating arrangement around it was fascinating – and what seats for the enthusiast they would have been, right next to that two-stroke engine….

Brendan Smith

24/01/12 – 05:52

Nice to see a colour picture of a Gilford. My grandfather drove for them when they were in High Wycombe and I have a photo of him sat on a chassis outside the factory

Andrew Stevens

05/04/14 – 07:07

I remember reading an extensive history of Gilford in Buses Illustrated once complete with many photographs. One reason for their demise mentioned was a large part of their market was to independents, and I understand that the problem was many of them were unable to pay the instalments on the purchase. The same thing brought down Guy in South Africa, where they sold direct to small operators who didn’t pay up or disappeared into the night.


05/04/14 – 09:37

Don’t I remember a section here on OBP about a year ago devoted to the Gilford decker, photos, drawings and all? I’ve searched but can no longer find it.

Ian Thompson

05/04/14 – 09:38

Is this what you mean Ian


05/10/15 – 07:03

GW 713

Here is another picture of GW 713 taken at Madeira Drive at the end of an HCVC London – Brighton Run in the early 1960s. By the 1970s this coach had been repainted into the livery of Evan Evans Tours.

Roger Cox


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