Old Bus Photos

Maidstone & District – Leyland Panther – JKK 199E – S99

JKE 199E

Maidstone & District
1967
Leyland Panther PSUR1/1R
Willowbrook B45F

This photo of Maidstone & District Leyland Panther No S99 reg JKK 199E with Willowbrook B45F bodywork was new in April 1967 prior to the renumbering to 3099 so was probably taken in the summer of that year outside Southdown’s Pevensey Road bus station. M&D had I believe ninety five Panthers the first sixty had Willowbrook B45F bodies (S26-S40 and S61-S110) and the remainder had Strachans bodies of either B45D (3111-3120) or B48F (3121-3140) layout. The 190 route was part of the joint Southdown/M&D Heathfield cycle a complicated but effective group of six interworked services, a thorough explanation of this working can be found in the Southdown Enthusiasts Club book called "Working Together".

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave


12/07/17 – 07:27

Hants & Dorset/Wilts & Dorset had some of these wished upon them during the reshuffling of fleets under the early years of NBC, DKE.C and JKK.E batches. JKK 203E even managed to gain Tilling red! I have a bought view of her thus at Basingstoke.

Pete Davies


13/07/17 – 07:58

Further to Pete’s comment they were more of a curse than a wish. A nightmare to keep on the road mechanically, hated by most of the crews. Give me an RE or Leopard any day. The ex King Alfred trio on H&D benefited from having the 680 engine but were still not the most reliable buses.

Steve Barnett


14/07/17 – 07:37

Steve, I think it’s probably true to say that, if H&D/W&D had been BET operators, they would have stayed well away, as I belief Southdown did. Incidentally, does anyone know why some fleets suffered this ‘asset stripping’ by having vehicles transferred out? Was it that the recipients were deemed to be short of suitable vehicles?

Pete Davies


14/07/17 – 07:38

Hants & Dorset’s problem (one of them, at least) in the early 1970s was that they had not purchased enough single deck buses in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Such vehicles would have been suitable for OPO, but H&D had purchased mainly Lodekkas plus 6 coaches per year. Result: when costs started rising, and finding staff became more difficult, conversion to OPO was the logical move, but H&D were constricted by the lack of suitable buses.
Thus the 33 Panthers were an attempt to resolve this problem, but, as Steve says, they were notoriously unreliable. Hearsay claimed that, of the 33 buses, there were always at least 10 off the road. One could, of course, ask why Maidstone & District could release such a large number of buses, most of which were only around 4 years old, but preferred to retain older, underfloor engined, types with similar capacity. For H&D, the answer must have become obvious quite quickly!
It is interesting to speculate what the real problems were – the Panther was not universally hated. Sunderland apparently found them satisfactory, and Brisbane had a large fleet, some of which were rebodied at some stage in their lives. Perhaps when you have a large fleet, you have to find a way of making them work.
The vehicle in this photo was one of those that went to Wilts & Dorset – as far as I recall the vehicles concerned were S38-40 and S81-110. The first 17 were for Hants & Dorset, and the rest for W&D, but some didn’t enter service with their new owners until after the advent of NBC corporate liveries and the disappearance of the W&D name. A few did receive Tilling red or green (H&D’s version of it), and some ran with H&D or W&D fleetnames on the M&D dark green. There was more than just the one that Pete mentions in Tilling red – JKK 207E ran in Southampton for a while in that condition. I guess it must have been the spring/summer of 1972, and I have an idea that it was quite often used on the evening 47B service to Hursley – usually a crew working!

Nigel Frampton


15/07/17 – 06:56

At Winchester our three Metro Scanias were replaced by three of these Panthers, the three London Country Nationals for which the Scanias were swapped were allocated originally to Southampton. So the Panthers had a hard act to follow although I accept the Metro Scanias were not to everyone’s taste. Altogether we had 8 panthers allocated in the mid seventies, including the three ex King Alfred ones. It was rare that more than six were on the road at any one time. The three ex London Country buses finally arrived at Winchester when most of Southamptons allocation of Nationals were swapped with REs from around the Hants and Wilts depots. Southampton was desperately short of fitters and the Nationals were proving to be almost as challenging as the Panthers were so the powers that be decided to share the problem around!

Steve Barnett


16/07/17 – 16:42

JKK 190E

The attached may be of interest. In Hants and Dorset colours JKK190E is leaving Winchester Bus Station in December 1975. Although I have slides of the Panthers taken in Wilts and Dorset colours on routes around Basingstoke, these are at present in store following our recent move. One was often on the 76 to Andover which might explain an evening ride I enjoyed on Basingstoke’s last LL5G !

Keith Newton


17/07/17 – 06:00

Keith’s picture shows 1695 which was one of the replacements for the Metro Scanias, the 66 was their regular home mainly I think due to slow running time which meant the struggle on hills didn’t affect timekeeping too much. Incidentally the view shown is ab0ut to change significantly, the bus station closed a week ago. The garage in the background is being demolished and stands are being built on the left hand side to facilitate running in the other direction. This finally takes buses out of the pedestrian area of the city. (Ex King Alfred leopard in the background)

Steve Barnett


20/07/17 – 07:17

My misty memory recalls that the 30 Fleetline / Marshall two-door single decks were arriving when I landed at M&D in 1970. They all went to Medway towns. GM Arthur White had a history of buying large batches of new types of vehicles and I suspect that these were ordered to replace Panthers which could not perform adequately there and the need for single decks elsewhere was indeed a good way of moving vehicles out and keeping more reliable machines, especially after new CE Vin Owen had prevailed with Leopard orders rather than AEC or Panthers. I can recall investigating a few engine fires in those days and Panthers were not quite as bad as 590 Reliances from what I recall! Of course the 1970 SD Fleetlines did not last long as a new Traffic Manager wanted more capacity, so they were swopped for similar age DD Fleetlines with Northern General, now that OMO operation of DD had been accepted in the company. See www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/

Geoff Pullin


 

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Midland Red – BMMO D9 – EHA 415D – 5415

Midland Red - BMMO D9 - EHA 415D - 5415

Midland Red (Birmingham & Midland Motor Omnibus Co)
1966
BMMO D9
BMMO/Willowbrook H40/32RD

EHA 415D has the unmistakable outline of a Midland Red D9. She has the operator’s own H72RD body, built in collaboration with Willowbrook. Does this mean one designed it and the other built it, or one built the frames and the other added the panels? We see it, newly withdrawn from service and still in full NBC livery (sorry!), in the Southsea rally on 8 June 1980.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies


10/11/16 – 07:07

I wasn’t aware that Willowbrook had any involvement in the bodywork of the D9, but I am open to correction if evidence is offered. My understanding is that the bodies were built in the Midland Red Carlyle Works on MetSec frames, and incorporated aluminium alloy and glass fibre panelling, as employed previously in the single deck S14 design.

Roger Cox


10/11/16 – 07:08

It’s come back! Its no good- I have lived in the Midlands in my youth, but I still cannot get fond of Midland Red. I don’t know what it is- that all over red (It was, want it?), or I can still see those single skin fibreglass domes (is that right- how much more was single skin?) or what seemed rather drab uniform interiors… or I could never get used to that sort of "Billy’s bus" front end: but steady, I’m sure they had many virtues: perhaps they were an engineer’s bus…?

Joe


10/11/16 – 09:05

Roger, The PSVC lists might be wrong: they say that the D9 has a BMMO/Willowbrook body, with H40/32RD seating, but both Jenkinson and the old "Ian Allan" BBF listings do not mention Willowbrook. BLOTW, however, mentions only Willowbrook as building the bodies. Ah, well . . .
And the ‘captcha’ code for this comment ends in D9 !!!

Pete Davies


10/11/16 – 09:05

According to ‘Midland Red’ A history of 1940 – 1970 it states "5401-45 bodies completed by Willowbrook"

Peter


10/11/16 – 13:54

The D9 was an integral vehicle, the only double decker so constructed apart from the London Transport Routemaster, which was actually semi-integral. Production of the D9 came in several batches with the following fleet nos:-
4773 : prototype 1958
4849 – 4952 : 1958 to 1961
4945 – 5044 : 1962 to 1963
5296 – 5445 : 1963 to 1966
I confess to being previously unaware of it, though a closer look at my copy of ‘Midland Red Buses’ by M.W. Greenwood confirms that the 45 "tail end charlies" were finished off by Willowbrook, possibly in part because by this time, even before the BET sell out to NBC, BMMO in house production was winding down. Certainly, the D9 design itself owed nothing to the Willowbrook company.

Roger Cox


10/11/16 – 14:37

I have looked at Steve Richards’ book on the D9/D10 classes, titled "More Room on Top". He states that all the D9s were built at Central Works, except some of the final batch. However by the mid-sixties there was a severe skilled labour shortage at Central Works. The emphasis there was on single-deckers construction, and the final 45 D9s had only reached the part-panelled stage. It was this group which were completed by Willowbrook. They were virtually indistinguishable from the fully Carlyle-built D9s. Steve Richards records that the side lamps were positioned slightly lower, and the small "Midland" display above the destination screens was slightly different. The first four [5401-5404] were delivered in December 1965, the rest followed in 1966, finally being completed in November that year. I would say from this account that these particular ones should be described as "BMMO/Willowbrook" rather than being attributed wholly to the Loughborough company.

Michael Hampton


10/11/16 – 14:38

Although at the time I had little interest in the detail construction of buses, I do know that when I had the pleasure to drive D9’s in service in 1967 from Redditch and Digbeth garages I found them to be far superior in steering, semi-automatic gear changing, engine power, superb disc braking and general driver friendliness than anything I had driven on BCT. One slight problem I remember them to be very light and bouncy in the ride especially when empty. I certainly class them in the 3 finest double deckers to drive in my 50yrs experience with PSV’s, with the Routemaster and Neoplan Skyliner

Tony Morgan


11/11/16 – 05:44

The erroneous idea that Willowbrook constructed, rather than merely completed, the bodies on the final 45 D9s seems to have crept into all sorts of places, even on the Coventry Corporation Transport Society webpages :- http://www.cct-society.org.uk/midland/buses_t05.htm 

3002 HA 
Here is a picture of an earlier D9 No.5002 (3002 HA) taken in Birmingham in the late 1960s, when the bus still wore the BET style livery and fleetname. Like its single deck counterpart, the S14, the suspension of the D9 was by Metalastik rubber units, though independent at the front. One curious feature of the D9 was the full hydraulic braking system in which the pump was driven from the output side of the gearbox, giving rather peculiar braking responses at low road speeds. In the Routemaster, the pump was driven at engine speeds. The prototype D9 originally had disc brakes at front and rear, but the first production batch had discs on the front only, with drum brakes on the rear wheels. Even these discs proved troublesome, and all the later D9s were equipped with drum brakes all round, the first batch being retro fitted accordingly. I note Joe’s impassioned plea concerning this operator, so I hope soon to submit a gallery of Midland Red buses to the OBP site for his enjoyment.

Roger Cox


11/11/16 – 08:01

Apparently this vehicle sometime in the seventies carried an all over advertisement for a ‘Do It Yourself Warehouse’ which could have been called ‘Super D’. I think it was in an all over white livery.

EHA 415D_2

Also just above the top front windows a strengthening bar can be seen which was added due to front dome fatigue.

Peter


11/11/16 – 08:01

This has been an interesting exchange of views! Thanks for your comments.

Pete Davies


12/11/16 – 07:17

5395

Attached for comparison a side image of 5395 taken in Shrewsbury bus station in 1970.
I enjoyed riding on the D9s particularly on the rural services. An unusual feature was the inward facing front nearside seats downstairs. The book ‘ More room on top ‘ is recommended although I am biased as a friend contributed a number of excellent colour photos.

Keith Newton


12/11/16 – 07:19

I’ve seen the obvious now- that the D9 had a considerable front overhang which gives it its funny look- but as Tony says it’s an Engineer/Driver’s bus… and anything comparable with a Skyliner must be OK. We’ve been here before but compare this overhang & everything else with its contemporary the Wulfrunian and you can see how folk were thinking then, especially if rear-engine to them meant Renault 10!

Joe


16/11/16 – 14:45

It was not only D9s that were finished off by Willowbrook. S17s around the same time were and I believe both Willowbrook and Plaxton were used. Serious production difficulties caused by skilled staff shortages. Interestingly outside contractors were not used for the later S21 and S22 types but Plaxton were used for S23 by which time all production was stopping. Although every D9 appears to have been modified and allegedly no two buses were the same, the Willowbrook finished ones are identifiable by the trim above the front wheel arch. MidlandRed.net is a good source of information.

Sam Caunt


01/02/17 – 17:12

I have only just seen the comments re Willowbrook completing D9s. I can remember seeing them in skeletal form travelling along the then A50 towards Coalville. Their destination was confirmed by my father who was based in the divisional traffic office in the 1960s. The drivers would have had to take the scenic route round Ashby in order to avoid two low bridges, hence their appearance in Coalville. I am unable to say which route they used onwards to Loughborough, but the M1 would have been available from November 1965!

Peter Baseley


 

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Maidstone & District – AEC Reliance – 3 YKK – S 3

Maidstone & District - AEC Reliance - 3 YKK - S 3

Maidstone & District Motor Services Ltd
1963
AEC Reliance 2U3RA
Willowbrook B53F

S 3 was among Maidstone & Districts first 36ft long vehicles being an AEC Reliance 2U3RA with a Willowbrook B53F body delivered in September 1963 as part of a batch of four, the body was to the early BET design with a curved rear dome and the four piece flat glass windscreen. The style of which was later fitted with first the curved windscreen and later still the peaked rear dome, overall I did like the BET design. The distinctive Maidstone & District livery always looked good on any type of body, with it’s cream ‘moustache’ below the windscreen and cream bands below and above the side windows, that above the windows having a subtle light green edging which combined with the dark green main colour looked pure class. This was one of very many fine liveries lost to NBC’s corporate dead hand (and head) now only seen at rallies etc. Todays colour schemes, I refuse to call them liveries, nearly all scream TAT, never CLASS, there that is my rant for today!!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave


24/08/15 – 06:04

I agree entirely Dave about modern colour schemes. I’ve just been to Blackpool for the first time in many years and the once smart fleets of cream and green buses and trams have been replaced by a mish-mash of black and yellow on the buses and purple and white on the new trams. To compound the felony most of the vehicles in both fleets are festooned in hideous adverts all over the vehicles including the windows. There were two of the Balloon trams running on the day of my visit on Heritage Tours in the original liveries and again compared to the modern stuff they looked sheer class.

Philip Halstead


25/08/15 – 06:19

PMT had two similar batches of buses, ten like this on AEC Reliance chassis, the other ten on early Leyland Leopards. They squeezed in 54 seats (I seem to remember an inward facing single behind the entrance door). Thinking back, they must have been a bit cramped for leg room or maybe people were smaller generally in those days. I agree entirely that the later BET design with curved front and rear windows was a true classic – even this version had a touch of class about it.

Ian Wild


26/08/15 – 05:50

NGT’s Percy Main depot ‘Tynemouth & District’ had two 49 seat D/P versions from 1962, FFT 812/3 – 262/3. They were on a Leyland Leopard PSU3/3R chassis. On Saturdays during the summer months, drivers on 0800 spare would often find themselves doubled up with a Northern driver doing a Dup to Blackpool. The bodies were stylish and well built, and the Leyland wasn’t a bad vehicle, however, I always found them to be a bit on the clumsy side, perhaps it was the low sitting position, or the lack of power steering.

Ronnie Hoye


26/08/15 – 05:50

One of these days someone with clout within the hierarchy of a significant operator, is going to (1) tell the PR/Marketing gurus to go and play with an alligator, (2) bring back a modest dignified livery, not invented by "Toys R We", and (3) restore windows (and former window apertures), to the purpose for which they were invented – looking through! He (or she) might even throw out stupid punning route descriptions, and substitute a series of proper route numbers that starts at 1 and carries on until all the routes have been covered – usually without getting anywhere near the 3-digit variety, let alone the 500, 600, 700 etc. series.

Stephen Ford


26/08/15 – 17:24

And so say all of us, Stephen.

David Wragg


26/08/15 – 17:24

Absolutely spot on, Stephen, and magnificently put.

Steve Crompton


27/08/15 – 06:36

I fully understand what Stephen F means. But let’s not forget that traditional London Transport used route numbers up to the 700s well before this site’s 1970 date. It seems that 1-199 were red bus routes, 200-299 were single-deck routes, 300-499 were green bus routes, 500-699 were trolleybus routes, and 700-799 were Green Line routes. At the trolleybus conversions, though, some were renumbered into the 200 series. Southdown also had an "area scheme" for their route numberings, such as the 40’s in the Portsmouth area, and the 50’s in Chichester and Bognor. If these overran, the equivalent 100 series were used. But there were no 200’s until after NBC took a hand, and 700’s were used for Limited Stop services. I remember BMMO and Crosville had letter prefixes to some services for local areas. So although there may be a case for using low numbers for bus routes, not all traditional bus companies followed that philosophy forty or fifty years ago!

Michael Hampton


27/08/15 – 10:45

Portsmouth Corporation befuddled many a holidayer by giving some routes a different route number for each direction – 18 one way and 19 on the return, for example. But, later, it stopped doing this, leaving two systems in place. As for route suffixes, it used them for the same route, but shortened sections. The highest I recall was the 143 which went up to 143F! Stagecoach West, my local operator, however, uses them for deviations on a basic route.

Chris Hebbron


27/08/15 – 17:06

Quite right Michael and Chris. Obviously big operators will in any case need to go into the hundreds. Midland Red was an obvious example (Lichfield-Stafford route 825 etc), and so were Western/Southern National. In my own local area the much-lamented Midland General used a letter followed by single digit number, which would in theory have given them up to 234 two-digit route descriptions – though, in fact, they never got beyond letter G! It seems strange that in the deregulated/privatised bus scene route numbers can be dictated by the dead hand of local government, because the public are not credited with enough intelligence to distinguish between a red number 25 and a blue number 25. Of course, it would help if all the buses operated by a particular operator were painted blue, or red, or whatever instead of random daubings of ginger-pink with yellow stripes (which is where I came in!…)

Stephen Ford


27/08/15 – 17:07

With the creation of T&W PTE, control of all services wholly, or where the majority of the route was within the boundaries of Tyne and Wear passed to the PTE. These services were operated by the former Corporation fleets of Newcastle, South Shields and Sunderland, as well as NGT group companies and United, and several independents who ran unnumbered routes. Having gained control, the PTE in their wisdom or otherwise decided that no two routes within their area would have the same number, and regrdless of company, all vehicles on those routes would share a common livery. Former Newcastle routes remained more or less unaltered, numbers where then anything from 100 to 800 groupings, depending on the area. I suppose it made sense to someone, but the public didn’t like it at all, especially in areas which had previously been served by several different companies, all of whom had a different livery.

Ronnie Hoye


27/08/15 – 17:08

Just a small point. The route pairings on Portsmouth Corporation were different. 18/19 was not a route pair although 17/18 and 19/20 were. (Personally I always found this system more convenient than the the usual bi-directional system.)
Incidentally, route numbers such as 143 covered journeys outside the city boundary and were from the Southdown series. Thankfully, there are now many books available covering the Portsmouth Corporation system for those looking for further information.

Andy Hemming


28/08/15 – 06:52

I should have known better than to mix up two trolleybus routes on which travelled frequently, Andy. Thanks for correcting me.
I should also have mentioned, originally, that the corporation’s ‘local’ bus routes were lettered, too. The 1xx series, logically, covered areas some miles outside Portsmouth (Leigh Park, for example) and into Soouthdown territory, to which their buses could go, as they were building developments created especially for ex-Portsmouth residents displaced by wartime bombing.

Chris Hebbron


28/08/15 – 06:54

Philip, I have just been to Blackpool and I noticed some slightly smarter newer buses which are Grey with Lemon though of course their dark tinted windows tend to look blackish, much nicer than the Black and Yellow, but horror of horrors they have some of the heritage trams in that Purple, I hadn’t noticed them on previous visits. Bolton 66 was out and running on the limited stop heritage rides today.

John Lomas


28/08/15 – 06:54

The difference between a red 25 and a blue 25? Well, In the 1950’s/60’s, Southdown managed to run two routes designated 38! Fortunately they were about 50 miles apart, as one was in Brighton, the other in Portsmouth, so never the twain met. I haven’t checked this, but I think the Brighton one was eventually run by BH&D after the BATS scheme came into operation. Did any other of the larger companies have a pair of routes within their territory with the same number, but separated by a fair distance?

Michael Hampton


29/08/15 – 06:51

Manchester, up until the end of the trams, had trams, trolleybuses and buses, all with the same route number running through the city centre, all serving different destinations.

Phil Blinkhorn


01/09/15 – 07:37

You also had the phenomenon of a joint service on which each operator used a different number, e.g. Huddersfield – Bradford, where for a number of years Hebble used 12, Huddersfield JOC 38 and Bradford 64, or Gloucester – Hereford, where Bristol used 55 and Red & White 38.

Geoff Kerr


 

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