Old Bus Photos

Safeway Coaches – Dennis Lancet – ASV 900

Safeway Coaches - Dennis Lancet - ASV 900

Safeway Coaches - Dennis Lancet - ASV 900
Copyright all shots Ken Jones

Safeway Coaches
Dennis Lancet III
Reading C33F

It’s not often that you find a vehicle built in 1949 which until recently has had only one owner. This Dennis Lancet 33 seat coach was acquired new by Safeway Services of South Petherton in Somerset, which was ownedASV 900_sign and operated by the Gunn family. It was re-registered in 1985 to ASV 900 its previous registration was ETP 184 why it was re-registered I know not. I also shot this interesting sign from inside the coach.
In the early part of this year Stephen Morris of Quantock Motors purchased this vehicle from Vernon Gunn. He brought it to the West Midlands to attend a bus rally and not only was I lucky to photograph it, but also to be its only passenger to the rally. The vehicle has since returned to its base in Somerset.
I recommend the information about the company given on this very good website www.countrybus.co.uk

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ken Jones

19/09/12 – 07:19

Ken’s comments in respect of this magnificent vehicle raise another point. Never mind why the registration change, but why would a Somerset operator buy new a coach registered in Portsmouth? Could it be that the body builder registered it on the owners’ behalf? In those days it would have been remarkably unusual!

Pete Davies

19/09/12 – 07:20

This Reading (of Portsmouth) – bodied coach — hence the original Portsmouth registration was new to Safeway Services of South Petherton, the domain of the legendary Veronica Gunn. Following withdrawal in 1969 the coach, by then re-registered ASV 900 (did this stand for A Safeway Vehicle?), was retained in preservation by the company, and it is said that Miss Gunn even used it to go to Buckingham Palace to collect her MBE in 1987!

Philip Lamb

20/09/12 – 07:15

Found this reprinted article from 1947 at www.dennissociety.org.uk

Ken Jones

20/09/12 – 07:16

We should be grateful that this coach has survived and within a caring environment, too. It really is in superb condition and a tribute to the coachbuilder, of Portsmouth. Coaches of this era were really the swansong of ‘tween war art deco design. This coach oozes it in spadesfull.
For such a small coachbuilder as Reading & Co., we now have three examples of their craft on the website; The wartime austerity-bodied Provincial AEC Regal/Regent, this one and the 1964 Guernsey Nimbus. The firm lasted longer than I thought, showing that it was not just used for distress purchases. Does anyone have/know of, a history of Readings? I’d love to know more. Incidentally, coachbuilder Portsmouth Aviation was only just down the road from Readings.

Chris Hebbron

20/09/12 – 07:17

Quite a number of Reading-bodied coaches were registered in Portsmouth prior to delivery. The same was true of Wadhams at Waterlooville. Many were supplied through Sparshatts, a local agent which acted for a number of chassis manufacturers including Dennis. Sparshatts probably arranged for the vehicles to be bodied as well — a complete service for the small operator!

Philip Lamb

21/09/12 – 07:04

Picture of Portsmouth Aviation bodied half cab can be seen on this site under galleries / BVBG / The Bristols. Here is a quick link to view. 

Ken Jones

21/09/12 – 07:06

A History of Readings entitled ‘First and Last’ was published by the Provincial Society in 2009. See www.provincialsociety.org/shop.htm

Philip Lamb, Ken Jones, Andrew Goodwin & Pat Jennings

22/09/12 – 06:40

ASV 900_lr_2

Further to the posting of ASV 900, here is a view of the offside, taken at the Southsea rally in June 1990.

Pete Davies

22/09/12 – 06:42

Thx, folks, for the Reading history information.

Chris Hebbron

04/02/13 – 10:54

This lovely old coach is now owned by Quantock Coaches in Taunton. My step dad Vernon Gunn, nephew to Veronica Gunn MBE retired and did not want to just park the vehicle up. It is now still in its colours with Quantock.

Andy Blackwell

ASV 900_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

04/02/14 – 16:51

I know this site deals with old buses but I think what I am saying is relevant. On one of my infrequent visits to Salisbury today I saw 2 new double deckers. Only by looking carefully could I tell that it was a Dennis Enviro 400. Why are manufacturers seeking anonymity? Look at the radiator on the Lancet above, no doubt who made that. The Park and Ride Dennis single deckers are the same although Dennis are proud of their dustcarts- they put their name on them.
The Government seem to be realising that we need to make things in this country rather than selling each other dodgy financial products.
Come on manufacturers-be proud. Put your name on what you make. You might even consider a Union Jack (sorry- Flag)


05/02/14 – 06:12

Paragon, I agree with you absolutely but some operators have been known to remove name badges from vehicles. I remember when Trent in Derby began taking Bristol VR’s, the Chief Engineer at the time ordered the Bristol badges to be removed from the engine covers under the premise ‘I don’t see why we should advertise Bristol products’ Now whatever your views on the Bristol VR may be, I always thought it was a barmy notion!

Chris Barker

05/02/14 – 06:14

In the caption it is stated that the above vehicle was re-registered from ETP 184 to ASV 900 in 1985. This I find perfectly plausible, and I suggest that the subsequent information that the registration ASV 900 was applied by 1969 is not correct.
I am inclined to suppose that the reason for the re-registration is as follows. When paper registration documents (V5) were introduced, any vehicle remaining untaxed for a certain period automatically lost its registration unless it was claimed within a particular time limit. If not claimed, the vehicle had to receive a new registration when it came to be retaxed. I think there has since been some yielding on this point, and that it is now possible for a vehicle’s original registration to be reclaimed. ‘ASV’ is one of many marks used by DVLA (from the early 1980s) to issue to users who wished to have a ‘timeless’ (i.e. non-prefix/suffix) registration and who were prepared to pay for the privilege, or to issue to vehicles which needed to be re-registered for any other reason. (Vehicles dating from 1963 onwards may still have normally received a suffix/prefix registration, I’m not sure now).
Kinross-shire County Council (the original issuer of ‘SV’ registrations) was one of several Scottish authorities which did not get so far as issuing three-letter registrations, therefore in the normal course of events ‘ASV’ was not issued. The registration ‘ASV 900’ may or may not have been especially requested.
There is also the possibility that the registration ETP 184 was intentionally transferred to another vehicle, although I think this unlikely.

David Call

05/02/14 – 17:36

ASV marks, according to ‘A History of Motor Vehicle Registration in the UK’ by L. H. Newell (Newby Books, 1999) were issued post-1983, The vehicle in question was taken off the road in 1969, and probably not used again until 1987 when it was refurbished and repainted to convey Miss Gunn to the Palace. So 1985-1987 is I agree the most likely date of re-registration. Can’t say for certain, but It is unlikely ETP 184 was ever transferred. During the course of the last year, the coach was acquired by Go Goodwins of Eccles, and has subsequently been sold on again.

Philip Lamb


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Guernsey Railways – Albion Nimbus – 14626 – 72

Copyright Pete Davies

Guernsey Railways Co Ltd
Albion Nimbus NS3AN
Reading B35F

Here is a view of an Albion Nimbus, registration 14626. She is in the green and cream livery of the Guernsey Railways fleet and has a Reading body, with fleet number 72. The Guernsey Motors vehicles were a dark red (quite near the Northern General or Ribble "cherry") while Guernsey Railways vehicles were in this green and cream. She’s at Le Gouffre during a refreshment stop on a morning drive. At least, my ticket was for a morning drive, but the blind is set at Island Tour. Given the size of the island, I’ve never discovered the difference! Did the afternoon drive have a different route? The date is 15 September 1972.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies


15/09/12 – 07:26

EBW 112B_lr

Here is its twin number 173 (14651) at the centenary rally in Usti-nad-Labem on 19/06/1999.
It had travelled from Wareham to the Czech Republic under its own power.
It was even blinded for the "Morning Drive".
What a superb event it was, we attended on ex North Western Road Car 413 (JMA 413L) a Bristol RE/ECW.

Dave Farrier


15/09/12 – 08:43

Am I being unrealistically demanding in thinking I’d have expected something a little more fancy than a stage carriage Albion Numbus for a scenic trip?

Roy Burke


16/09/12 – 07:19

No Roy. I would have baulked at the regular use, by Ribble, NWRRC (and friends) of service buses on their X2/X60 type services. I had a very enjoyable ride around the Isle of Wight last month on a B10M coach – and also later on open-topped Olympians! SUT, Yorkshire Services and the local indies always gave us coaches in Sheffield.

David Oldfield


16/09/12 – 07:20

So, MORNING DRIVE did exist on the blind, then? I suppose setting it for ISLAND TOUR covered most eventualities!!! I see that Dave’s note was posted 40 years to the day since I captured the scene.
Yes, Roy, most folk would expect something a little more grand for a tour, but I don’t recall seeing anything like that. This, after all, is somewhat more upmarket than the Albion CX or Bedford types elsewhere in the Guernsey fleets at that time.

Pete Davies


17/09/12 – 07:08

Until the advent of second hand Bristol SUs and LH in the eighties these were the last passenger chassis bought by Guernsey most of the Bedfords being based on lorry derived chassis The older Albion CXs had high backed coach type seats

Chris Hough


17/09/12 – 07:09

In response to Roy and David’s comments: Guernsey is quite small and distances short; and traffic very thin – I assume that economics dictated, and geography allowed, the use of buses on tour duties. Could Guernsey Railways/Motors have justified the purchase of special narrow-bodied coaches – and wasn’t the Guernsey width limit 7’4"? – which would have "laid up" out of season?. Its quite a different proposition to the use of buses for coaches on the mainland. Anyway, perhaps this was the Nimbus’s finest moment: tootling around impossibly narrow lanes, providing a "big bus" service where only truck-derived Bedfords followed . . . (until the Trafalger years).

Philip Rushworth

15/02/13 – 05:59

Not sure why people are referring to Albion ‘CX’ vehicles when they never operated on Guernsey. If they are referring to Victors (FT and earlier PH models), from 1950 the bodywork they carried (which was developed by Heaver and Guernsey Railways), was effective classed as ‘Service Coach’ standard, to be used on both stage carriage and island tours, etc. We would today classify this as Dual Purpose.
The Abion Victors (the chassis of which was also sold as the FT3 truck range) were followed by the Nimbus model, the style of body being adapted by Readings of Portsmouth), which was an underfloor engined Albion Claymore lorry chassis marketed under a different name for PSV use.
Guernsey’s final ‘standard’ vehicle to use this style of curved waistrail ‘Service Coach’ bodywork was the J4EZ1 model, which was derived from the Bedford truck range but popular for PSV and coach use between the OB going out of production and the VAS being developed.
Guernsey’s buses were no less inferior for their use of HGV derived chassis, nor were the many hundreds of Bedford J2 coaches used throughout the UK in the 60’s and 70’s. Of course the VAS chassis, designed for bus and coach use also ended up carrying truck bodies such as mobile library’s, etc. From an engineering point of view rural bus chassis and truck chassis were all but identical from the turn of the 20th century right up to the end of the 60’s, essentially being the same 3, 4 or 5 ton models, marketed under different names.


28/05/13 – 17:07

Contrary to misconception, all of Guernsey’s Albion Victors, Nimbus and Bedford J4 vehicles (delivered between 1950 and 1972), carried Service Coach bodywork for dual-purpose (stage carriage and tours) operation.
Their seating was identical throughout the classes being of the double-arched semi-high backed variety, well upholstered, though the moquette was updated over the years.
As far as the chassis were concerned, as John has pointed out above, the Albion Victor was derived from the FT3 truck series, the Nimbus was evolved from the Claymore underfloor-engined lorry and the J4EZ1 was Bedford’s long wheelbase 5-ton bonneted truck converted to forward control at the coach-builders under supervision from the local Bedford Agents.
In essence vehicle manufacturers frequently used engines, gearboxes, axles, cross members, braking and control systems, etc in common across their PSV and HGV ranges, only the chassis side frames for the former were specifically designed to ease the fitting of passenger bodywork, often being cranked over the axles to reduce step-heights. However, in terms of ride quality, comfort or reliability there was absolutely no appreciable difference between PSV or HGV chassis.
The width restrictions in Guernsey necessitated some diverse thinking with regards to chassis supply, often it was the axles that were over-width so it was more convenient, expedient and commercially acceptable to receive off-the-peg width-conforming 5-ton chassis rather than have a full blown PSV types converted to suit, which would have been a costly and often time-consuming exercise, where large volume manufacturers would need to take standard chassis off-line and effect bespoke modifications.
In pre-war days the maximum lawful vehicle width was restricted to 6′-6", this was changed to 7′-0" in 1945, then relaxed to 7′-4" after the last J4EZ5 / Pennine vehicles arrived in 1974. Due to restricted model availability, this was further relaxed to 7′-6" (for certain routes only)in 1979.
The 7′-4" vehicles that remained in the fleet after 1979 had their fleet numbers amended with an ‘A’ indicating they could serve ‘A’nywhere on the island’s route network.
The 7′-0" wide vehicles also received the ‘A’ suffix at the same time.

J Edward Rose

18/05/15 – 06:54

I have the privilege of owning Guernsey Railways 77 and have in the past owned several FT39 Albion Victors.
As has been previously mentioned the vehicle chassis is in principal Albion Chieftain FT37. On one occasion I purchased a life expired Chieftain for spares, the only difference I came across (to my cost) was that the truck road springs are shorter than the PSV springs, I assume to give the passengers a softer ride.
77 has now been in preservation for 35 years her operational life was just 23 years! whilst in preservation 77 has been "On the road" for at least 30 of the 35 years.
A good testament to Readings the body builder, Albion and her post Guernsey Railways owners.

Peter Davies

19/05/15 – 06:05

Well said, Peter, in your comments about Readings, Albion and 77’s owners in preservation. It makes one wonder how many Enviro 400s will still be around in 35 years time.
Incidentally, where I used to work, there were five of us named Peter Davies or Davis. We identified ourselves by using the Welsh system of ‘Davies the . . .’ The silly thing was that the one with the English spelling (no E for the uninitiated) was Welsh [Davis the Welfare, as he was in Social Services] and the four with the Welsh spelling were English, at least by birth although my grandfather WAS a Welshman! We were continually receiving each others post, and used to meet several times a week to exchange papers. No such troubles in your workplace, I hope!

Pete Davies

25/04/16 – 06:39

Guernsey Nimbus 75 16216, now carrying a UK reg JNP 590C, is also preserved and was out yesterday on the Cheshire Run, part of Drive it Day 2016.
Photo can be seen at www.oldclassiccar.co.uk/

John Lomas

30/04/17 – 07:50

And 175 will be out on the Cheshire Run again today.

Tim Smith


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Provincial – AEC Regal I/Regent I – EHO 282 – 15

Provincial - AEC Regal/Regent I - EHO 282 - 15

Provincial (Gosport & Fareham Omnibus Co)
AEC Regal I/Regent I
Reading H??/??R

Doubt exists about the vehicle chassis type, but here is the story as of now.
In 1943, Mr Orme-White carried out his first (of many) vehicle re-constructions, involving an AEC Regal I (although recent research suggests it was a Regent I chassis), purchased from the War Department with the registration DK 7791. The original source of the chassis is unknown.
Provincial re-conditioned the chassis, fitted a 7.7 litre AEC engine and got Reading’s of Portsmouth to body it. It was their first double deck offering, of utility specification and painted wartime grey. It was also re-registered EHO 282 and numbered 15.
In 1952, it was rebuilt again by Reading and lasted in service until 1959. Its body was then donated to number 12 (FHO 604) and the chassis scrapped.
What is interesting is that a small and almost unknown bodybuilder was given permission to build an austerity body and it might well have been its sole effort. The year of build was after the initial austerity bodies had been built on ‘unfrozen’ chassis, but before full-scale austerity bodybuilding had got underway. Did Reading come up with its own design or use someone else’s austerity plans? If the latter, the question is whose does it resemble?

Photograph Reading Coachworks (from the website below).
Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron using material by Ray Tull and
Stewart Brett from the website //www.regent8.co.uk/regents.htm


08/09/11 – 14:27

What clue is there in the fuel pump on the bulkhead?



08/09/11 – 14:28

Probably of no significance at all, but the next registration to the original donor vehicle, DK 7792, was a Regal supplied to Yelloway in 1932.

Stephen Ford


08/09/11 – 14:29

The DK registration on the chassis was a Rochdale area plate.

Roger Broughton


08/09/11 – 14:30

Looks like a semi-floating hub at the back, so can’t be later than 1932. And what a well-proportioned body!

Ian Thompson


I lived in the Gosport area as a child from 1949 to 1952, and well remember the Provincial (Gosport & Fareham) Regents. These initially puzzled me as their sound was so unlike the London Transport AECs that I recalled as a very small boy from 1946, when I lived in Selsdon, Croydon. I personally much preferred the Guy/Park Royal bodied Guy Arab IIIs that served the Alverstoke and Haslar Route 11 on which I lived, and the Arab III is still one of my favourite bus types.
It is now thought that EHO 282 was a Regent. The Regal had a longer wheelbase than the double deck chassis. The photo indicates that the proportions of the bus are in keeping with those of a Regent, whereas a double deck body on a Regal would have necessitated a short length behind the rear axle to keep within the 26ft overall length limit of the time.

Roger Cox


10/09/11 – 07:42

One thing I didn’t mention originally was the bespoke double destination blind boxes, a Provincial’ feature, even then. All extra work in austerity times.
And are they safety rails high up on the upper-deck front windows? They don’t look like vents or the like.
It looks as if there’s a Regal/Regent badge on the radiator grill itself – pity it’s illegible.
Thx for the additional comments which have shed some more light on this intriguing bus.
And I think most of us echo Roger’s comment about proportion – austerity bus bodies have a charm of their own.

Chris Hebbron


10/09/11 – 07:43

And Roger could that also be the explanation as to why the Leon Lion had a centre entrance utility body fitted?

Chris Barker


11/09/11 – 08:18

I think that you have hit on the answer about the Leon Lion, Chris. Photos can be a bit misleading sometimes, but the picture of the Lion does seem to show that the rear wheel is located directly under the rearmost but one window on this five bay body. The centre bay is decidedly wider than the rest, so that all the other bays are obviously of pretty short length, and the rear axle seems to be located well to the rear of the bus. A centre or front entrance would have been the best solution in the circumstances.

Roger Cox


17/04/12 – 14:18

The original post mentions Mr Orme-White. I’ve no idea how true it is, but I have been told that Mr White of the Provincial Tramways group (Gosport and Fareham, Portsdown & Horndean among others) was the same Mr White of White’s Removals, and this is the reason behind the removal company’s "sponsorship" of some trams under restoration in the Portsmouth area.

Pete Davies


11/07/12 – 18:39

I contacted White & Co. (Removals) of Portsmouth, Pete, and, after a period of silence, while the family tree was being consulted, they’ve advised me that there seems to be no connexion between H Orme-White and their family.

Chris Hebbron


12/07/12 – 19:29

Now there`s a name to savour! This was a fleet just made for enthusiasts, and my early experiences of being a bus enthusiast are saturated with the delights of this wonderful fleet. I am just amazed that it does not enter these columns on a more regular basis. I remember they had an AEC "Mandator" petrol tanker rebodied as a bus, and have often been tempted to join the Provincial Society, but one cannot be "in everything"
Mention of Mr Orme White reminds me that the family were connected with the Imperial Tramways group, who had interests in Grimsby, Middlesbrough, and , pre Sir Clifton Robinson, with one of my favourite tram fleets, the London United! I think they also had connections with the ill-fated Mid Yorkshire Tramways too.
Lets have more Provincial content, and, in the meantime, may I recommend those who are able, to make the journey to Crich, where LUT No.159 is about to be unveiled after a beautiful restoration to its pre-Underground Group condition. As a TMS member, I do have an axe to grind, but it really is a wonderful expression of the art of vintage vehicle restoration, under the professional care of the TMS staff, and the "LCC Tramways Trust".
Sorry to go all "trammy"….it won`t happen again!

John Whitaker


John W is right to applaud the Orme-White family and their link with some great companies such as London United Tramways and the Provincial Tramways Group.
I believe the Gosport & Fareham Bus Company running under the name Provincial started in 1929 and replaced the trams. By 1936 they had bought several AEC Regents with Park Royal bodies. Some of these buses were still running in 1963 when I visited Gosport. I rode on one of these buses and this experience was magic, as the sound from the AEC crash gearbox was something never to be forgotten. The Provincial Company had some very interesting buses and hopefully someone has some photos to post on this web site.

Richard Fieldhouse


14/07/12 – 07:48

I probably feel about LUT’s ‘Diddlers’ the way John W feels about LUT’s trams. YouTube has a couple of short films about ‘Diddlers’ on their inauguration day in May 1931, but there are several antiquated (albeit covered-top) LUT trams putting in an appearance, too. It’s wonderful to see that long-gone world, 88 years ago. Little traffic, an open-top NS bus, steam roller, conductor punching tickets, driver’s white summer coat, evocative soundtrack…I feel the eyes watering now! Enjoy HERE: www.youtube.com

Chris Hebbron


14/07/12 – 10:56

I too, Chris, am captivated by that era of summer coats for drivers, with the odd steam roller about! I don`t quite remember it, but it is of extra fascination because it is close, but not quite akin to our earliest memories. I have always been fascinated by history, especially from the early 19C., when I like to imagine myself involved at the time of my (other hobby) family history characters!
I regard the Diddlers as part of the LUT story, and, as such, they have an appeal of their own. I do not think they were particularly attractive vehicles, but that is of no consequence; they were very much an "in house" product of the Underground Group, built "in house" by UCC, and were not intended, design wise, to appeal to the general transport "market", but more intended to resemble the "Feltham" trams.
This whole period of tram to trolleybus conversion, and the early days of London Transport provides enough material for years and years of OBP correspondence!
I should have mentioned earlier, that the White family, George White in LUT days, were also involved in the early days of Bristol Tramways, which had Imperial Group connections too.

John Whitaker


14/07/12 – 18:04

I shall look forward to seeing LUT’s 159 at my next visit to Crich, John. It must have been a huge task to recreate all that top deck ‘cast-iron’ alone. At the other end of the spectrum, I have a soft spot for Feltham MET 331, looking much sleeker and stylish than its mainstream cousins.
I hold no special brief for London Transport, but what it achieved from its 1933 creation to 1940 was amazing….with sliderules, but without computers!

Chris Hebbron


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