Old Bus Photos

London Transport – Leyland Titan TD2 – GX 131 – TD 85

London Transport - Leyland Titan TD2 - GX 131 - TD85
Photograph by D W K Jones Permission to publish granted by Capital Transport Publishing

London Transport
Leyland Titan TD2
Birch H30/26R

In my first supplementary comment on the London Transport low-bridge Daimlers with Duple bodies (posted here), I said the following:
“A further look at D1’s lean-back, but ramrod-straight front, makes me recall the frontal look of the very rare 1932 Birch body. I have seen a photo of one somewhere and will try to find and upload it.”
I have now found the photo (memo to Chris – tidy up books in spare bedroom before ‘her indoors’ comes back from a few days away!) which does show an uncanny ‘austerity’ resemblance, not only at the front, but along the side, too! There are even ventilators above the downstairs windows like the Brush bodies had!
This is an interesting photo of TD 85, taken on 4th May 1935, whilst helping to carry supporters to the Rugby League Cup final at Wembley (Those of you ‘up North’ will be overjoyed at the word ‘League’! As a Southern ‘Union’ person, I am less so!
The bus was one of 30 originally owned by Birch Bros, a company which was an ‘independent’, running bus services within London. LPTB was formed on 1st July 1933, but it took almost to the declaration of war in 1939 before it had finally swallowed up all the independents. Birch Bros., however, succumbed in early 1934. When the bus was taken into stock, it was painted into LGOC/London Transport livery, but there was still a debate about what would be put on the vehicles’ sides. As a result, re-painted buses continued to have GeneraL applied, and it was some years before LONDON TRANSPORT appeared universally. Legally, though, you can see the four words making up LPTB in full, on the bottom front edge. LPTB’s pre-war TD class was the largest of all which came from the ‘independents’, only being disposed of in 1939. Many of those not scrapped went to Liverpool, being painted grey, as were all buses which ran to or by ‘sensitive’ places such as munitions works and military installations. Oil-engined TD85, however, went to an operator in Essex, finally being scrapped in late 1949. Shame!
Because Birch Bros. also ran express services from Kings Cross to Rushden (Northants), they were immune from total LPTB takeover, much to the latter’s chagrin! ! In fact, Birch Bros only finally shut down in 1971, suffering from the all-too-common fall in passenger numbers.

Bus tickets issued by this operator can be viewed here.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron


What an incredibly interesting and historically informative picture and text Chris for which I thank you. I know that what I am about to say is pure coincidence and cannot be the case, but one can’t help feeling sure that the Ministry of Supply MUST have seen this photo when drawing up their "utility" WW2 specification. Just one of those little cases which make the in depth study of passenger transport so utterly absorbing.

Chris Youhill


They must have seen it, otherwise it’s too much of a coincidence. Has the Duple look – later Birch bodies were not so balanced or handsome. The rear profile, upstairs, has a whiff of (pre-war) Weymann and a shred of Sheffield (built during the war to peacetime standards in the Tramway workshops).

David Oldfield


Glad you found this absorbing, Chris, and agree it could almost have been a template for the austerity design.
One little aside is the use of stencils in the rooftop box. Imagine the problem of getting up there to change the route number every time! The majority of London trams had stencilled numbers and, even at my tender age then, I could spot a number 8 the wrong way round from half a mile away, just as I’m blessed (or cursed) with the ability to spot a spelling error in the same way!

Chris Hebbron


23/03/11 – 17:45

Thanks this was really lovely to read my father-in-law ‘Nob’ Horace Brown of Shefford used to work for the Birch Bros, driving the buses. my husband is always talking about it and trying to get a model of the bus he drove this is how I came across your details. Thank You loved it and will show nick, his dad died quite young so it would be nice to find bits out for him to keep and treasure

Mel Brown


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