Old Bus Photos

Tynemouth and District – Guy Arab III – FT 6572 – 172

Tynemouth & District - Guy Arab - FT 6572 - 172
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Tynemouth and District
1949
Guy Arab III
Pickering H56R

Here’s another odd ball for you, it’s a Guy Arab from Northern General’s Tynemouth and Wakefields subsidiary. I would guess from the registration it’s from about the late 40’s. I don’t know how many were in the batch or who built the bodies, but they’re unlike any other of Northern’s Guy’s that I know of. Northern were huge fans of the Gardner 5LW, and the vast majority of their Guy’s were fitted with them, but for reasons unknown to myself these vehicles came with a Meadows engine, were they perhaps re bodies? The engines were later changed and many had the 5LW fitted as replacements, but at least one of them ended up with an AEC unit, this ones also got the Indian Chief radiator cap, I wonder if that survived? I can remember them, but by the time I started at Percy Main they were long gone.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye


23/05/12 – 09:32

It looks very like a locally built Northern Coachbuilders body. Sheffield used them as an alternative to Weymann. Sheffield’s last were delivered in 1950, I think NCB closed shortly afterwards.

Ian Wild


23/05/12 – 09:33

This appears to be a Northern Caochbuilders bodied Guy Arab III Tynemouth had some similar chassis with Weymann bodywork Northern General also bought NCB bodied Guys but these had a short life with NGT.

Chris Hough


23/05/12 – 09:35

The bodies on these Meadows 6DC630 engined Arab IIIs, of which there were ten delivered in 1949, were by Pickering, and reputedly had metal frames. This picture, and some accompanying information, may also be found on this site:- http://www.flickr.com/  From this, it appears that all the Meadows engined Arabs, apart from No. 169, which received a 5LW, were re-engined with AEC 7.7s. The Meadows unit was very compact – like contemporary Dennis and Daimler designs, the timing gears were located at the rear of the engine – and the Meadows engined Arab had a short bonnet that could not accommodate the 6LW. Most operators that purchased Meadows engines replaced them with alternative power plants at the first C of F renewal or earlier. Though powerful, this motor had reliability problems – it was rumoured that the troublesome crankshafts were sourced from eastern Europe – and, by the standards of the time, it was deemed to be fuel thirsty, though it would probably compare favourably with the dipsomaniac beasts of the present day.

Roger Cox


23/05/12 – 09:36

I’m only guessing but, going by the style of the upper deck front windows I’d say they were Northern Coach Builders bodies. It ties in with the operating area, anyway.

Eric Bawden


23/05/12 – 09:37

Coach builder was Northern Coach Builders of locally Newcastle.Yorkshire Woollen had some identical buses.The photograph must have been taken on a hot day judging the way the driver has had to open the windscreen. If only you could do that on say a Wright bodied Volvo.

Philip Carlton


23/05/12 – 09:38

What a wonderful posting! and a perfect compliment to last year’s debate about Pickering utility bodies, because that’s who built these. There were ten of them, FT 6565-74 and they were delivered in 1949. I believe these were Pickering’s only post war double deckers. It has a strong hint of Northern Coachbuilders about it and as NCB probably had a full order book at the time, perhaps Pickering were able to offer a quicker delivery and of course, they had done a lot of work for Northern General previously. I think the result was a very fine looking vehicle!

Chris Barker


Ronnie – the body on this Guy Arab Mark Three is by Northern Coachbuilders. Northern Coachbuilders were based in Newcastle and bodied both buses and trolleybuses for Newcastle Corporation amongst others and ceased trading around 1951.
Northern General also had some Arab Threes with Northern Coachbuilders bodies. One such bus was 1236 BCN 136, which had the typical Guy Arab ‘snout’. The Meadows engine, whilst having a cubic capacity 10.32 litres was fairly compact and didn’t need the extended bonnet required by the physically larger Gardner 6LW. However, the Meadows engine proved unreliable and most were replaced by engines of other makes – usually a Gardner but also AEC and in the case of Midland Red their own K type.

Michael Elliott


23/05/12 – 09:40

According to my 1962 British Bus Fleets book, this bus is a 1949 Guy Arab III with a Pickering body.

Stephen Bloomfield


Thanks everyone I have replaced all but one of the ?s any offers on the seating capacity.

Peter


23/05/12 – 10:29

According to BBF 10 the vehicle seating capacity was 56.

Stephen Bloomfield

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23/05/12 – 16:48

A correction to my earlier claim, there were apparently thirteen of these bodies, the ten Guy’s and three on re-conditioned AEC Regents of 1937, also for Tynemouth, FT 4220-4222. I wonder if they were ever photographed?

Chris Barker


23/05/12 – 16:49

The information on the flickr link that Roger provided says that these Pickering bodies were designed to resemble NCB bodies. Notice the difference in height between the front upper deck windows and the side windows, and compare that with a real NCB body here http://www.flickr.com

Peter Williamson


24/05/12 – 08:16

Chris, three of the Regents you mention – FT 4220/2 were sold to Provincial in 1957 to replace some of the vehicles they lost in a garage fire, you can find pictures of some of them on the Provincial Bus Enthusiasts Website, there is also a picture of one of them with its pre war front entrance Weymann body

Ronnie Hoye


24/05/12 – 08:17

I don’t think there’s a difference in depth, just a deep valance moulding over the windows. BH & D used to do the same, presumably because they both ran in sunny areas! It certainly makes a difference to the appearance.

David Beilby


25/05/12 – 07:38

Is it possible that Pickering used NCB frames for these bodies?

Eric Bawden


26/05/12 – 06:54

Apparently not, Eric. According to the info on the Flickr posting they were all-metal, whereas NCB only built composite bodies.

Peter Williamson


26/05/12 – 20:15

Is it not possible that these bodies were built on Park Royal frames? The profiles are very similar to the standard Park Royal body, also built by Guy themselves, on Arab IIIs.

Roger Cox


02/01/13 – 07:45

As a Geordie can I please clarify this is a Pickering body, not NCB. NCB bodies did not have the slight curve (taper?) to the front upper deck windows.
I used to see these when I was a young lad.

Peter Stobart


02/01/13 – 14:21

Talking about Guys with Meadow engines, LTE’s G436 was a speculative venture in 1949 by Guy, anxious to keep bus production going after the war, with London orders if possible. It employed an updated Guy Arab III chassis, with a Meadows 10.35 litre engine, fluid flywheel and pre-selector gearbox. It had a Guy body (5-bay) built on Park Royal frames that looked loosely like an RT forever allocated to a one-bus backwater route, the usual destiny for LTE’s non-standard buses, it was withdrawn in 1955, then went to Jugoslavia.
See here: www.modelbuszone.co.uk/

Chris Hebbron


03/01/13 – 06:24

It is rumoured that G436 was either "gifted" or sold at a very reduced price to the Tram and Trolleybus Department of LTE as a tempter for future orders for tram replacement buses. The chassis was modified from the standard Arab III to allow the fitment of RT class bodywork, though G436 itself had the usual provincial style Park Royal body. A second chassis, designed to accept all the standard Park Royal and Weymann RT8 bodies of the RT class, was offered by Guy, but never delivered. G436 had a full air operated braking system, together with a fluid flywheel and an air operated four speed preselector gearbox. As far as is now known, the 10.35 litre Meadows 6DC630 engine was fully rated at 130 bhp, which would have made the bus decidedly more sprightly than the RT/RTL/RTW family which had engines de-rated to 115 bhp. Quite apart from the uphill struggle against London Transport’s infatuation with standardisation, the dubious reliability of the Meadows unit would have handicapped Guy’s attempt to get a postwar foothold in the London market. Perhaps the GS order was some kind of consolation prize. G436 spent its final two years or so with LTE on the short 121 route between Ponders End and Chingford. A certain 13 year old Guy fan made a special pilgrimage from Croydon to Chingford in the summer of 1955 to see this bus and sample it as a passenger. After waiting patiently at length for its arrival, and observing only RTs on the service, an enquiry put to one of the RT drivers elicited the information that G436 had been withdrawn from service at the end of February!

Roger Cox


FT 6572_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


19/05/16 – 06:18

Much has been written about the origins of these Pickering double deck bodies for Tynemouth, but this much I know.
I bought a secondhand Britbus model of G436 the London Transport Meadows engined Park Royal bodied Guy. Firstly after dismantling it, I filed away the rain strip over the top of the front upper deck windows. Secondly I replaced the half drop windows with sliders. It is often difficult to remember what the rear of a bus looked like without the aid of photographs. But, based on memory I deepened the rear emergency windows on the top deck at the rear of the bus and placed a vertical dividing strip down the rear staircase/ platform window. Finally I repainted it in Tynemouth livery, added appropriate transfers and Hey Presto, what did I end up with a Pickering bodied Guy.
So I submit that these bodies had Park Royal frames and were panneled and completed by Pickering.

Anon


 

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Samuel Ledgard – Guy Arab I – JUA 762

Samuel Ledgard – Guy Arab I – JUA 762

Samuel Ledgard – Guy Arab I – JUA 763
Photographs by ‘unknown’ if you took these photos please go to the copyright page.

Samuel Ledgard
Guy Arab I
1943
Pickering H30/26R
Re-bodied 1953 Roe H31/25R

Much has been widely written about World War II utility bodywork and the appearance and durability of the various makes. Possibly the least numerous were the bodies by Pickering of Wishaw, the uppermost shot of one of the two Samuel Ledgard examples been shown here. JUA 762 was an Arab FD1 with the flush bonnet and Gardner 5LW engine. It has to be said that the Pickering bodies quickly deteriorated structurally and soon became a very sad sight. This picture clearly shows the most unusual, and extravagant in the circumstances, upper saloon emergency exit with three large glass panes. This bus and its FD2 twin were new in 1943 and in 1951 they were rebodied by Roe as shown in the lower view, and initially retained their 5LW engines. In 1956 they received 6LW units which necessitated the lengthening of the bonnet for JUA 762 – JUA 763 (lower picture) being an FD2 model was of course all ready for the longer engine without such a modification. There were many anomalies in the allocation of vehicles by the Ministry of Supply in those dark days and here we have a classic example – one of each model delivered together. On the theme of utility bodies in general I have to say that I thought that the Duple offering was of very pleasing appearance and, from my experience of working on them, possibly the soundest and most durable in construction. The shapely Northern Counties bodies were, of course, a most pleasing exception to the rule in their own right.

Photographs and Copy contributed by Chris Youhill

Bus tickets issued by this operator can be viewed here.

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Go on Chris- explain about the Emergency Exit: I always take it as a door at the upstairs back from which some unfortunate youth occasionally drops: (in my day we would not have dared to annoy the conductor by even touching it and would ever after have to sit downstairs) was that non-utility? Were there 3 kickout panes – presumably on each side?
I would also like someone to tell me why these 6 cylinder Guys had to have snout extensions, sometimes if I recall with a radiator shrouded in leather? Were Gardner engines longer than say Daimler or Leyland?

Joe

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I don’t think Joe that there is anything dramatic about the emergency exits on the utility Pickering bodies. Presumably it was simply their own design but seemed rather extravagant under the Wartime shortages. The two vertical dividing pieces can just be made out in the picture and the total glazed area is quite enormous.
I have spoken to a very knowledgeable friend about your second question which had me foxed. Seemingly there was no excessive length in the Gardner 6LW engines and the reason for the "snouts" is quite fascinating. The wartime Arabs were seemingly designed with consideration being given to the Ministry orders that they were all to be fitted with 5LW engines in the interests of fuel economy. After early deliveries it appears that operators in hilly districts complained that performance was not adequate and therefore the FD2 was introduced with space for the longer six cylinder unit in a few cases where "hilly hardship" could be proved. As the chassis had been designed with transmission components arranged to suit the shorter engine the only practicable course was to provide "the snout" and the somewhat untidy but fascinating leather "filler." Presumably the bonnet itself remained the same for each version, and my informant believes that a dispensation was granted as the alteration caused the vehicle length to slightly exceed the 26 foot maximum of the time.

Chris Youhill

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Sorry- I’ve seen it: the two glazing bars at the back. Perhaps they had three long pieces of glass in the shed left over from a carriage contract- doors? (that’s a wild guess!). I thought you meant those three plain windows at the rear- but then you had privileged access to the back!

Joe

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I wish someone would produce, like magic, a full rear view of the Pickering bodies – nobody seems to have one – and I was really glad when this nearside view turned up quite recently as the strange emergency door glazing can at least just be seen – I was beginning to fear that my memories of teenage years was perhaps playing tricks on me.

Chris Youhill

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Obviously, everyone goes for the standard 3/4 front view picture, and I have no dispute with that. Very few people seemed to take the equally characterful rear 3/4 shots, and even less managed to capture the interior atmosphere – the different designs of seats, light fittings, bell-pushes, framing etc. Of course, interior shots in the pre-digital era meant extra expense on flash, and not entirely satisfactory results because of glare from glazed surfaces and so on. But the interior (and of course the sound) was THE bus travel experience. Any interior and/or rear shots out there?

Stephen Ford

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The ‘snout’ was a means of accommodating the extra length of the six-cylinder (6LW) Gardner engine when it replaced the five-cylinder (5LW) unit. Gardners were generally quite long engines for their capacity. This was due them having a ‘timing case’ of generous proportions, housing a triplex timing chain, and also due to the arrangement of the cylinder blocks. The latter were split into pairs, so a 4LW would have two 2-cylinder blocks, a 6LW two 3-cylinder blocks and a 5LW would have a 3-cylinder plus a 2-cylinder block (no doubt today this would be termed ‘modular construction’!). This arrangement added to engine length as the water jacket had to extend around both ends of each block, and there was a gap between each block as well.
The original Guy Arab utility ‘decker was built to the 26ft overall length of the period. By the time Sammie’s ‘twins’ were re-bodied, double-decker dimensions had been increased to 27ft. Thus a more powerful, but longer 6LW could be fitted by extending the bonnet and moving the radiator forward to accommodate it. The alternative would have been to have the rear of engine protrude into the lower saloon, no doubt entailing modifying the front bulkhead, shortening the prop shaft and altering the gearchange linkages. Possibly the chassis cross member behind the engine would require attention as well. Moving things in a forward direction was much simpler!
Apparently after production of the first 500 utility Guy Arabs, the bonnets were lengthened in order to accommodate 6LW engines, should operators require them. Special dispensation was authorised to allow for their slightly increased overall length. These became known as Arab Mark IIs, with the original design, unofficially I believe, becoming the MkI. As you say Chris, one of those anomalies of the time – the two buses must have been ‘on the cusp’ in production as it were, hence an FD1 and an FD2 delivered together. Interesting stuff!

Brendan Smith

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Thanks indeed Brendan for those most interesting facts about Gardner engines. While I’ve always been aware of the method of producing 4, 5, or 6 cylinder units by combining two blocks as necessary, I certainly never suspected the extra problems of multiple cooling jackets and intermediate gaps !! I have just looked up the records and am amazed to discover that JUA 762 and 763 were, despite the consecutive registration numbers, delivered and entered service five months apart – and there is a gap of 69 between the two chassis numbers. This seems to suggest that there was perhaps a "holding back" of some vehicles by The Ministry of Supply while they decided which operators could prove the greatest need at a particular time.

Chris Youhill

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Some of the most attractive buses which LGOC/LT had in the Thirties/Forties were the 6-wheeler AEC Renown ‘Bluebirds’ LT Class, which were the last of the breed. The last 20, however, were fitted with Gardner 6LW engines which made the bonnets so long that the bodywork design had to be shortened (at the back) to keep them within the legal length! It showed in the upstairs side rear windows and the platform side opening being shorter! And they looked like pigs with their snouts!

Chris Hebbron

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03/06/11 – 17:12

Can anyone remember Nudd Brothers and Lockyer of Kegworth Nottm., who rebuilt utility bodied ex London Transport Guy Arabs for Edinburgh in the early Fifties, which had a full front but open to the near side, very smart looking buses.

Roger Broughton

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04/06/11 – 06:43

I agree Chris H that the "Bluebirds" were magnificent looking vehicles, and incredibly sleek and of tidy design for the early 1930s – and actually I could also forgive the appearance of the "long bonnet" Gardner powered ones – I was once told that they were fitted with special horns which went "oink oink", and if you’ll believe that you’ll believe anything !!

Chris Youhill

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04/06/11 – 06:46

Yes, the Edinburgh Nudd rebuilds were very attractive, and it wasn’t just the side that was open: there was no glass in the nearside ‘windscreen’ either. They were in fact halfcabs disguised as full fronts. They were built just after the company was taken over by Duple, and based on a Duple design.
By coincidence we have just been discussing Nudd Bros & Lockyer in another context. Click on this quick link, wait a second or two to view.

Peter Williamson

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05/06/11 – 14:19

As for pigs, Chris Y, I thought the only buses which oink-oink’ed were the Dennis ‘pigs’, the pre-war Dennis Aces and Maces!

I do recall reading somewhere that the Nudd Edinburgh Guy bodies were somewhat frail. They were designed to be lightweight, maybe they were too lightweight!

Chris Hebbron

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05/06/11 – 14:22

When first delivered the rebuilt Edinburgh Guys had a very flamboyant "grille: this was later replaced by Edinburgh’s own version of the Leyland BMMO inspired tin front.
Preserved 314 JWS594 has had the original flamboyant front restored and is now resident at the Scottish Bus Museum at Lathalmond.

Chris Hough

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05/06/11 – 14:23

I tend to think that the Edinburgh Guy’s were the only complete bodies ever produced by Nudd Bros & Lockyer. I believe all of their other production were re-builds.

Chris Barker

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07/06/11 – 09:36

They were certainly attractive buses, even with the flamboyant front! See here:

Chris Hebbron

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10/07/11 – 07:47

Pickering of Wishaw was set up in 1864, and was mainly a constructor of railway rolling stock. It seems that only about 37 Pickering utility bodies, all of them highbridge, were built in 1943, and no further bodies by this firm appeared during the war. They quickly became known for shoddy workmanship, and, notwithstanding official exhortations such as "Walls have Ears", "Be like Dad, keep Mum" and "Careless Talk costs Lives", this appalling reputation spread throughout the bus industry. It is surely certain that this also came to the knowledge of The Ministry of Supply, and was the reason for no further utility bodies being sought from the Pickering company.

Roger Cox

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11/07/11 – 07:22

That is most interesting Roger and, while I knew that there weren’t many Pickering utilities around, I had no idea that there were as few as that – regardless of censorship one might be forgiven for saying that there were approximately 37 too many. On the bright side, however, their awful quality and very early demise caused the excellent Roe rebodying of the two Ledgard examples and brought to my career one of the most delightful and characterful vehicles (JUA 763) that I ever conducted and drove. RIP "T’Guy."

Chris Youhill

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11/07/11 – 11:18

I recently discovered that Nottingham City Transport were "blessed" with 5 Pickering-bodied Guy Arab I’s in 1943. They were No.s 89-93 (GTV409-413?). In the published Geoff Atkins photo the 3-piece window to the emergency door is also discernible. Nottingham’s Utility fleet eventually had a total of 16 Arabs, the remaining 12 being Massey or Weymann, plus 27 Daimler CWA6s with Northern Counties, Brush or Duple. Apparently the first Utilities were not withdrawn until 1956, so it seems that even the wretched Pickering bodies must have lasted at least 13 years.

Stephen Ford

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12/07/11 – 05:40

The Pickering story is indeed an interesting one and I have done a little research and it seems there are a few inconsistencies. In an article in Classic Bus in 1993 about Pickering’s link with Northern General, a figure of around 65 double deck utilities is given, mostly on Guy Arabs but also some Leyland TD7’s and some re-bodies of older chassis. Some of the Guys went to Sunderland District and Sunderland Corporation purchased two from Blackburn Corporation in 1948 (so they had a re-sale value!) These clearly did not have the three pane upper deck emergency exit but the Nottingham ones did.
Turning to single deckers, it is recorded that Pickering bodied 54 Albion CX13’s to MoS specification in 1946, 30 of which went to Red and White, others to Economic of Sunderland and South Yorkshire. In fact Red and White had 22 more Albion/Pickerings in 1947 but by this date, presumably there would have been no MoS involvement. Most but not all R & W vehicles were re-bodied by BBW after 5 or 6 years and Ledgard’s purchase of five in 1959 were ex Pickering re-bodies (perhaps Chris Y knows if the BBW bodies were much better?) Apparently Northern General had around a hundred vehicles re-bodied by Pickering, on AEC and SOS chassis and the average further life was about nine years, presumably by the end of the 1950’s they had become distinctly archaic! There were also ten Meadows engined Guy Arab III double deckers for Tynemouth in 1949 and these were of very pleasing appearance, they appeared to be of substantial construction and I know nothing about them but I wonder if they went any way towards making amends for what had been produced earlier.

Chris Barker

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12/07/11 – 14:47

According to Alan Townsin`s book, "The Utilities" in the Best of British Buses series, Pickering produced 18 utility bodies on Mk.1 Arabs, and 37 on Mk.2 in 1943. There is no mention of any other bus build until the Albion contract of 1946, and I am not aware of any Pickering bodies on CWG5 chassis.
Perhaps they were busy with other wartime contracts, as the whole bus building business was under the strict control of the MOWT, and based on a contract system.
I suspect that Pickering was no worse than most other utility bus builders of that time, as most makes demonstrated severe problems with the use of unseasoned timber, and the lack of alloy metals. I cannot comment on the 1946 Albion single deck contract, which was largely allocated to the Scottish Bus Group, but there was certainly nothing wrong with the post war Aberdeen streamlined trams, which exuded quality!

John Whitaker

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13/07/11 – 07:33

Your research is interesting Chris, as I have since realised that there were some Pickering bodies on unfrozen TD7, which would probably account for the difference between Alan Townsin`s 55 Guys, and your total of 65. Certainly Leicester had a Pickering TD7.
I cannot think of any rebodies at the moment, but there probably were some, but definitely none on Daimler wartime chassis. CWG5 chassis were only bodied by Duple and Massey (High) and Brush (low).
Glasgow received several batches of post war Pickering bodies which had reasonable lives I believe.
Regarding the triple rear window, was this a unique feature, or am I correct in thinking that a very early Duple bodied Arab 1 for Maidstone had a similar feature? Was the triple window even carried on after the first few bodies, or did Pickering comply with the utility directive at that time, and panel over the whole thing?

John Whitaker

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13/07/11 – 08:47

Re. Pickering utility bodies, I have re-read Alan Townsin’s Utility book. If I read correctly, Pickering would not have built any utility bodies on reconditioned chassis, as "rebodying" was also controlled by the MOWT, and firms were allocated this function, Pickering not being one of them. East Lancs and NCB were the principle firms here, with Croft also involved in Scotland.
The whole utility chapter is absolutely fascinating!
I personally find as many differences in design amongst utility bodies as existed in peacetime. Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, and they have a fascination and charm of their own to me!

John Whitaker

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13/07/11 – 11:57

Hanson of Huddersfield received four Pickering bodied Albion CX13’s in late 1945, 186-189 (CCX 880-3) and a further four, 196-9 (CVH 226-9) in 1946. All had been withdrawn by 1950. 186-9 were sold to Carmichael of Glenboig (a photo exists of 186 with Carmichael with the body apparently heavily rebuilt) and 196-9 were sold to Birkenshaw Mills for staff transport, suggesting that these bodies were perhaps considered to be too badly deteriorated for further psv use.
Incidentally, a further four Albions were taken into stock in 1947/48 two with Burlingham and two with Duple bus bodies and these remained in service till 1958-62

Eric

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14/07/11 – 06:33

Opinions, respected naturally, seem to vary on the quality of the Pickering utility double deckers and I can only speak from personal experience as a youthful passenger in two of them on Guy Arab chassis. Sadly I have to say that they very rapidly deteriorated into a sorry state and were also I think far from handsome. While I appreciate that unseasoned timber and other unsatisfactory materials caused problems in most makes I have to say that, again from personal experience this time including driving and conducting, we had no significant trouble with the Duple and Roe versions, both of which were tidy looking and attractive in their "utility" way and many examples of ours gave very long service. Oddly the Park Royal "relaxed" vehicles (London Transport D182 – 281) which didn’t enter service until May 1946 onwards did involve very serious timber problems and much rebuilding was often needed. Despite this however, once "fettled" they too gave long and extremely reliable service on arduous and busy routes and I admired and delighted in them – their various "London" features adding to the magic – we had twenty two out of the hundred, quite an impressive proportion I think.
Regarding the Albions, rebodied from Pickering to BBW. I had experience only of the Ledgard five and they were splendid machines. The BBW bodies appeared sound and of course bore a close resemblance to their attractive Lowestoft ECW cousins. The Albion chassis were a potent delight with one of the quietest and smoothest diesel engines to be found – and the gearbox gave a creditable impersonation of prewar Leyland TS and TD models – altogether a fascinating package !!

Chris Youhill

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14/07/11 – 06:36

Certainly the wartime utility bodies suffered from the use of unseasoned ash, and materials were strictly allocated to manufacturers who had to take what they were given. Even so, some body manufacturers had better construction standards than others, and generally did a good job in difficult circumstances. In such worthy company, Pickering did not measure up too well. Didn’t one municipality cancel its order for Guys when it learned that they would be bodied by Pickering? Nowadays, railway stock design requires the entire vehicle to bear the stresses. Traditionally, in the past, railway and tram bodies relied on substantial under frames to carry the main loads, and rail borne vehicles are not subject to the same level of shocks and jolts as a road vehicle. Perhaps the bus body designs of the railway orientated Pickering concern did not take such factors sufficiently into account.

Roger Cox

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14/07/11 – 09:51

It has to be remembered, too, that each bodybuilder, bizarrely, was able to design its own body; thus some designs were probably structurally sounder, to start with, than others. And I recall that at least one bodybuilder rejected some timber as being, even for those dark times, beyond the pale! London Transport were always impressed with the Duple product, even though they never used them in normal times. But even they gave up on overhauling the bodies as part of their normal high standards, opting to dispose of them prematurely. Since many of them then went to humid Far East climes, I wonder how they fared there! As for the escape upstairs rear windows, although many of London’s Guys had them steel-sheeted over, I don’t recall any of the 181 earlier Daimlers being so treated.

Chris Hebbron

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14/07/11 – 18:58

I was delighted to read responses about Pickering utility bodies, and accept that they must have been a bit on the flimsy side, but it is just that I find them, and all utilities, absolutely fascinating!
Leicester had a Pickering TD7 which they cut down to single deck in 1950, and it ran, although rarely, as such until 1955! (No.347) I think it is true to say, though, that all builders in this era had their problems. The Brush CWA6 bodies in Manchester hardly had long lives, and Park Royal trolleybus bodies were withdrawn very early in both Newcastle and Reading. I would agree with Chris Y about Duple, as Alan Townsin also came to that conclusion too, and who better to judge than that?! It was probably due to the wedge shaped stiffener at the front near side canopy area.
Pickering were basically rolling stock (railway) builders, which is probably significant, but so were Roberts, and Hurst Nelson. The latter were the third biggest Tramcar builder in the UK, but only VERY rarely did they venture into the bus field. I believe the panelled emergency exit was a requirement which was relaxed in early 1943.

John Whitaker

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15/07/11 – 07:29

I believe that the municipal who cancelled their Pickering allocation was Derby, who would have recevied two on Guy Arab I 5LW chassis. The MoWT allocation system usually meant that body buiilders in the north had their products delivered to operators in the north, and similarly for southern builders to southern operators. This was a general rule, I believe. So Derby was "quite southern" for a Pickering build. But where did these two go? – all the way to Brighton, where they entered the Brighton Hove & District fleet! Nos 6364/6365 (GNJ 574-5) lasted there from 1943-1949. Although neighbouring Southdown has 100 Guy utilities, BH&D found this pair non-standard. Their other utilities were Park-Royal bodied Bristol Ks. The two Guys found themselves transferred in 1949 to Western National, where they operated out of Plymouth garage. (This is from a memory of a photo in Buses Illustrated many years ago). I have no information as to how long they stayed there, although WNOC did have other Guy Arab utilities delivered new, so the chassis would have been acceptable. I have read comments elsewhere (I think in "Classic Bus" magazine) that several builders of rail vehicles had a hard time when entering the bus building business. Pickerings is usually quoted as the prime example, and Cravens also get a mention.

One contributor mentioned the post-war streamlined Aberdeen trams, which he said were good products. An article in Classic Bus a while ago recorded that Aberdeen wanted English Electric to build these trams, and placed their order. However, EEC had decided to withdraw from the tram/bus market by then, so would not accept an order. However they had drawings of the design that Aberdeen wanted. The Corporation then placed it’s order with Pickerings, who approached EEC for copies of the drawings. EEC not liking this intrusion, refused the request. What to do? Aberdeen then resubmitted their order to EEC, who then subcontracted the work to Pickerings, and sent them the drawings for the contract!
I hope I have this right – if the Classic Bus contributor or another reader spots an error in this, please send in a correction.

Michael Hampton

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15/07/11 – 10:47

Yes Michael, I believe you have that right! The Aberdeen streamliners were actually an EEC design, as shown by the 4 pre-war almost identical examples (inc. the 2 x 4 wheelers). English Electric withdrew from this business and did not re-enter after the war, so the Aberdeen cars were built by Pickering to the pre war EEC drawings.

John Whitaker

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15/07/11 – 10:47

Michael H Mentions Cravens in his list of bodybuilders This Sheffield based firm built several batches of vehicles for its home town and also for others as far afield as Portsmouth In post war years they built AECs for Sheffield and RTs for London Their latter were sold on as non standard in the fifties but ran happily for others somewhat in the manner of DMS class buses a decade or too later. I think although this is open to clarification Cravens became part of John Brown engineering as did East Lancs for a time in the sixties East Lancs designed buses were built in Sheffield under the Neepsend name in the old Cravens factory

Chris Hough

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15/07/11 – 13:59

Yes, I recall Cravens bodied 45 AEC Regents 5 Regals for Nottingham City Transport in 1937. It was the old story – they undercut previous suppliers Metro Cammell and Northern Counties and got the business. Build quality was not up to scratch, and serious rebuilding was necessary – making them actually more expensive in the long run. Two quotes come to mind :
1. "The bitterness of poor quality lives on long after the sweetness of low initial cost has been forgotten"!
2. Reporter’s question to astronaut : "What do you think about when you are waiting for blast-off?" Reply : "I think that every component in this spacecraft went out to competitive tender, and the lowest price won" !

Stephen Ford

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15/07/11 – 14:01

Strictly speaking, Cravens bought East Lancs directly – as noted in the TPC/Venture book about East Lancs. Cravens then sold out to John Brown. The Neepsend bodies were built in another factory at Neepsend in NE Sheffield, the original factory being in Darnall SE Sheffield where railway rolling stock continued to be built.
The East Lancs workforce feared for their jobs at this time but, apparently, the quality of build in Sheffield was not as good as in Blackburn and when demand dropped in 1967/8 the Neepsend factory was closed.

David Oldfield

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16/07/11 – 07:04

I think I would agree with John W that perhaps history has been a little hard on Pickerings. Obviously some products would come to be known as better than others but given the circumstances and materials of the utilities plus the fact that Pickerings were relative newcomers, I think allowances should be made and of course operator maintenance was a big factor too, which would explain why a quality operator such as Nottingham City Transport ran theirs for 13 years (that is not to denigrate Ledgard in any way whatever!) I wish someone could post a picture of the Tynemouth Guy’s of 1949 which were very fine looking vehicles!
What excuse, however, could be made in peacetime? I think the dubious epitaph would have to go to Strachan’s who turned out a great many sub standard vehicles over many years after 1945 which had to be heavily rebuilt or withdrawn early, the worst of which and surely the record holders being the Leyland PD1’s supplied to Western SMT in 1949 which fell apart after only three years!

Chris Barker

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06/09/11 – 07:19

J Laurie`s Chieftain buses of Hamilton had 2 TD1s rebodied with Pickering utility bodies. One had a Sheffield registration, the other had come from Western SMT. Both of these buses had lowbridge bodies.
Central SMT had a substantial number of TS2 single deckers from 1932, originally bodied by Pickering.

Jim Hepburn

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12/09/11 – 08:43

PS. to the last comment.
I should add that these TD1s had six bay windows as they probably had originally. They are the only utility bodies I’ve seen with six bay windows.

Jim Hepburn

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13/09/11 – 07:45

Did some of the Croft utility bodies in Scotland not have 6 bay layout Jim? I think also that Pontypridd had some BBW utility bodies also to that layout.

John Whitaker

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13/09/11 – 07:48

Jim, the Pearson framed bodies were also of six bay utility construction. You can see a picture of a former Crosville TD7 thus bodied on "The People’s League for the Defence of Freedom" gallery.

Roger Cox

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17/09/11 – 08:08

You may be right, but as I said these were the only 6 bay utilities I had come across. The TD1s had a shorter wheel base than a TD7 so they seemed to be quite a sturdy body.
I could never take to the Duple version.
I thought the Massey highbridge body was pretty smart.

Jim Hepburn

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