Old Bus Photos

Birkenhead Corporation – Guy Arab II – BG 8557 – 242

BG 8557

Birkenhead Corporation
Guy Arab II
Massey H31/28R

From the mid 1920s up to the outbreak of WW2, Birkenhead Corporation had been a confirmed Leyland aficionado, specifying Massey bodywork for a significant proportion of the fleet since 1931. With the advent of WW2 and the utility bus era, Birkenhead was allocated the Guy Arab II, hitherto unknown in its fleet, the first two arriving in 1943 with Weymann H30/26R bodywork. Thereafter Birkenhead managed to have most of their Arabs fitted with Massey H30/26R bodies of that company’s severe utility outline. BG 8557 was one of Birkenhead’s second batch of Arabs totalling twenty two, that arrived in 1944, all of which had Massey bodywork. A further twelve Arab IIs arrived in 1946 with bodywork shared between Massey, Park Royal and Northern Counties. The robust and dependable Arab clearly impressed the Corporation, for Guys featured in its order book at times right up to 1956. BG 8557 was originally numbered 324, but, in 1953, it was one of fifteen selected for rebodying with new Massey H31/28R bodywork when it received the new number 242. This bus was withdrawn in 1969 before becoming part of the new Merseyside PTE, and went into private preservation. It is seen at Brighton on the occasion of the May 1970 HCVC Rally, and now resides with the Wirral Transport Museum.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

18/10/21 – 07:09

Fine, distinctive vehicle! Many thanks to those that saved it and brought it to this superb condition. Seeing the lower-deck seating capacity of 28 I assumed that the new body must have been over 26′ long, but even allowing for the angle of the photograph the rear overhang doesn’t look excessive. A google search then revealed that the original 5LW engine had been replaced by the longer 6LW, but of course Arab IIs were built with the snout whichever engine was installed. I still wonder whether the "new" length may be 26’6" or thereabouts. Would love to see and hear it in the flesh!

Ian Thompson

19/10/21 – 05:42

Ian, it is possible that the length may be as you surmise, because the body was built to a width of 7ft 9ins for weight constraint reasons. The wartime Arab, like other Utilities, had a relatively heavy chassis because lighter metals formerly employed for certain components were diverted to military needs.

Roger Cox

19/10/21 – 05:45

The seating capacity seems to be an error – see lettering on this photo
There is actually a way of getting 28 seats into the lower deck of a 26-footer. By reducing the longitudinal seats over the wheel arches to 2-seaters, it is possible to fit an extra pair of lateral seats, with the seat backs sitting directly on the front of the wheel arches. But that is not the case here.

Peter Williamson

20/10/21 – 06:27

Thanks for that picture, Peter, which corrects a widely misquoted error. Even Bus Lists On The Web gives the incorrect lower deck figure of 28 for all the Birkenhead 1953 rebodied Arabs.

Roger Cox

28/10/21 – 06:54

As a tall person, I was very conscious of how stingy Birkenhead was with legroom, notably the H36/30R layout on the final batches of PD2s. (6 rows of laterals plus 2×3 longitudinal). Although I have no memories of twin seats over the wheel arches on any vehicles, I wonder whether the quoted 28 was originally intended in the way Peter Williamson suggests, and either not implemented or changed at a relatively early point in their new life. The Venture volume on Massey Bros quotes the H31/28R figure, but of course this may still be derived from the same source as the BLOTW entries. Inexplicably I don’t have a copy of T B Maund’s (definitive) volume on the Birkenhead Bus, but it would be interesting to know if there is any comment there.

Alan Murray-Rust

28/10/21 – 07:07

But is that how it was back in 1953? Southend’s contemporary Massey-rebodied CWA6s had 28 down with 4s on the longitudinal seats. Weren’t they the same length and floorplan?



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Caerphilly UDC – Leyland Tiger – LTX 311 – 1

LTX 311

Caerphilly Urban District Council
Leyland Tiger PS2/5
Massey B35F

Fleet number 1 in the small Caerphilly concern was allocated to this less than common Massey-bodied single-deck Leyland PS2/5. Chassis number is 520623 and the body is number 2083 B35F. This image was taken at Bus & Coach Wales in Merthyr Tydfil 14/09/2014.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson

12/01/17 – 06:46

Very nice, Les! Thank you for posting. I particularly like the shape of the ‘valance’ forward of the door.

Pete Davies


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Caerphilly UDC – Leyland Titan – GNY 432C – 32

GNY 432C

Caerphilly Urban District Council
Leyland Titan PD3/4
Massey L35/33RD

Here we have another Urban District Council vehicle this time it is a Massey lowbridge-bodied Leyland Titan PD3/4 which was new to Caerphilly Urban District Council in October 1965 as fleet number 32. With chassis number L42817 and body number 5911 this bus looks in fine fettle in this photograph, taken at the Bus & Coach Wales event in September 2014.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson

21/01/16 – 06:49

What a smart looking bus. Very unusual to have hopper windows in the saloons of a bus of that age – wonder if they are a later fitment? Must be ‘pretty adjacent’ to the nearside top deck passengers heads – wonder if an additional notice is required ‘Please mind your head on the windows when leaving your seat’!!

Ian Wild

21/01/16 – 06:49

Nice view, Les, and thanks for posting.

Pete Davies

21/01/16 – 07:33

Caerphilly had hopper vents on all their later PD2s and PD3s as well as their Massey-bodied Leopards. They seem to have had some popularity in South Wales as Pontypridd also specified them on their last two Guy Arabs and first few Regent Vs as well as some Reliances at the same time. Oddly, they went back to sliders for the last Regent Vs.

David Beilby

21/01/16 – 15:37

Something curiously old fashioned about it for its age. Probably the trad Massey body and classic radiator- and the blind masks and handle… but how come the OMO-ish cab side windows? Smart job, though.


22/01/16 – 06:14

Very handsome bus, but what really is old-fashioned about it is that as late as 1965 someone thought it worth ordering a traditional lowbridge bus with the awful offside sunken gangway on the upper deck.

David Wragg

22/01/16 – 06:15

Joe – you’ve lost me there about "OMOish cab side windows ?? The extended destination handles were not unknown amongst certain operators and they were an extremely good idea – any small conductor/driver, or any height for that matter, could have a nasty accident climbing up a slippery metal foothold to change the destination in the more usual arrangement. As you say curiously old fashioned – but in my view delightfully traditional and oh how I wish they were rolling off the production lines in their hundreds today !!

Chris Youhill

22/01/16 – 16:10


Talking of small Conductors and changing destination blinds, here is an Oldham Corporation Passenger Transport Department ‘GUARD’ doing just that with the help of the extended winding handles, on Roe (H37/28R) bodied Leyland PD2/30, PBU 950 (Fleet No.450).
New in October 1958, it passed to SELNEC PTE in November 1969, and was given Fleet No.5350, a seen here.
It was the only bus to carry the SELNEC fleet number on the Crimson Lake livery.
It was withdrawn in July 1971, and went to Barnsley for scrap.

Stephen Howarth

22/01/16 – 17:04

West Riding were partial to long winding gear as were Salford. In Salford it was specifically to stop crews clambering up the bus front. Of course West Riding went one further so to speak by fitting exterior winding gear to their Wulfrunians!

Chris Hough

23/01/16 – 06:45

Chris Y…. OMOish because the drivers engine side window appears to be in two pieces but not angled enough for fares… Or was there an orderly queue up, the bus?! Any ideas anywhere… And Chris….were those or the Regent V at Ledgards the only survivors into West Yorkshire?


23/01/16 – 06:46

David W – Purely by chance, I came across an item about the last lowbridge-bodied bus built – in 1968 and preserved. Coincidentally it was also a PD3 with Massey body! It was bought by Bedwas & Machen UDC, who worked closely with Caerphilly and the two probably influenced each other.
See: //historypoints.org/index.

Chris Hebbron

23/01/16 – 06:47

I don’t think the hopper vents would have been a problem for passengers leaving, since it was impossible to stand up in any case. The only way out was to slide along the seat – after asking anyone else who was on it to unload themselves into the gangway first.
There really was no excuse for this in 1965. I know these buses were wonderful for enthusiasts, but passengers and conductors were more important.

Peter Williamson

23/01/16 – 12:43

No Joe – you can definitely forget any OMO connotation on connection with the cab window. I’m pretty certain that the only front engined buses, and forward entrance ones at that, were some adapted by various operators for the purpose by angling the front bulkhead window partly over the bonnet. It was the shabbiest practice ever and involved the driver twisting round excessively to serve boarding passengers on the steps as they entered. Much unjustified scoffing is aimed at "Health and Safety" but this would be a prime example of where this "OMO" practice should have been stamped on from the very start !!
Now, the West Yorkshire/Ledgard takeover – all the Ledgard vehicles were taken over by West Yorkshire, but only fourteen were used by them. These were the ten AEC Regent Vs (six new to Ledgard and four ex South Wales) which became DAW 1 – 10, and the two Daimler CVG6s which became DGW 11/12. This apparent "series" of 1 – 12 was not a series but a coincidence as West Yorkshire already DGW 1 – 10 of their own, those being Bristol KSW6Gs. Also used by West Yorkshire were Ledgard’s two Thames/Duple coaches which became CF1/2.

Chris Youhill

25/01/16 – 06:31

Thank you, Chris Hebbron. I hadn’t realised that lowbridge bodies were produced as late as that. My family left for Malta for three years in 1956, by which time Hants & Dorset Bristol LD series Lodekkas could be seen in Gosport. Of course, the change over took some time, and returning in 1959 there were still lowbridge Bristol Ks running around Gosport and Fareham, as well as a couple of highbridge convertibles that had originally been panted in reversed out livery and which, with the upstairs roof on, rattled like mad.

David Wragg

26/01/16 – 06:46

The specifying of lowbridge bodywork as late as 1965 and even afterwards indicates organisations in which the purchasing decisions were dominated by the engineering department. Better to have a simple, proven traditional chassis like the PD3 rather than one of those troublesome rear engined things. As far as the passengers were concerned, they were used to the old lowbridge type and didn’t know any better. The fundamental reason for running buses – that of encouraging people to travel by offering an attractive mode of transport – didn’t enter the equation. The Lodekka was still available right up to 1968, but that didn’t have a rear entrance, nor could it have a Massey body. This was surely a case of "It’s always been done; why change?".

Roger Cox

29/01/16 – 07:09

Does anyone know why, after decades of running lowbridge dds, Caerphilly suddenly switched to highbridge for their last two PD2s (F-reg) and subsequent Atlanteans?

David Call

30/01/16 – 06:10

I think the main reason that Caerphilly changed was the removal of a low railway bridge at Maes-y-Cymmer, between Ystrad Mynach and Pontllanfraith. This was on two routes – the famous 36 from Cardiff to Tredegar and also the former Commercial Motor Service route from Pontypridd to Blackwood. As a consequence it had an impact on a lot of fleets as Cardiff, Caerphilly and West Mon worked the 36 whilst the other service involved Caerphilly, Pontypridd and West Mon. Pontypridd also had a works journey to Pontllanfraith and for this reason Pontypridd had two lowbridge K6Gs in an otherwise highbridge fleet.
Cardiff’s contribution was lowbridge Crossleys followed by Bridgemasters. I think there was another low-ish bridge which still constrained Cardiff a little and only certain batches of vehicles appeared on the 36 even when the Maes-y-Cymmer bridge was removed.

David Beilby

25/10/16 – 14:22

Ramsbottoms last two PD3s, 10 and 11, were fitted for OMO by having an angled shelf towards the driver but when they were transferred to Bury after the Selnec takeover, the crews there would not entertain it at all.

David Pomfret


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