Old Bus Photos

London General – Dennis 4 ton – XX 9591 – D 142

London General - Dennis 4 ton - XX 9591 - D 142

London General Omnibus Company
Dennis 4 ton
Dodson O26/22RO

Pictured at South Croydon on the May 1972 HCVC London – Brighton rally is Dennis 4 ton XX 9591, D142 of 1925 with the  almost inevitable Dodson O26/22RO bodywork. This bus has a complicated history that is detailed on the London Bus Museum website

Although a service was run by Charles Waymann in the Waltham Abbey area from 1920 to 1926, initially using a single decker and a double decker, both of the B type, and a Straker Squire double decker, the first “Pirate” bus in central London is generally credited as being the Leyland operated by Arthur George Partridge, which took to the road on 5 August 1922 under the trading name “Chocolate Express” (though only "Express" appeared on the body sides). The vehicle was a Leyland LB1 (i.e London Bus), a straight chassis vehicle developed from the heavier standard G7 model specifically to meet the stringent Metropolitan Police design requirements. There followed a flurry of activity in 1922 as other opportunist entrepreneurs entered the fray using a great variety of vehicle makes, but the Independents’ choice of double decker manufacture soon generally settled down to that between the Leyland LB (developed as the LB2, then LB4 and finally LB5) and the equally sturdy Dennis 4 tonner. The Dennis was a straight framed haulage chassis derived from the wartime “Subvention” or “Subsidy” type, of which over 7000 were produced in various wheelbases and weights between 1914 and 1918. A few single deck Dennis buses appeared on the London scene in 1922, but, to gain proper access to the lucrative London market, Dennis sought the acceptance of the 4 tonner by the Metropolitan Police as a passenger carrying double decker. Accordingly, the bus variant of the 4 ton model was modified for London in 1923 and emerged with the following specifications:-
Wheelbase extended from 15ft 6ins to 15ft 10ins
Larger front wheels from 720mm to 850mm
Cone clutch, four speed sliding mesh gearbox, overhead worm rear axle (contemporary LGOC buses had 3 speed chain gearboxes – it would seem that, even way back then, AEC spur gearboxes were noisy and unacceptable to the Met).
Body O26/22RO
CAV lighting set
The first 4 tonner for London operation was reported in Commercial Motor in August 1923 as being destined for Messrs W.H. Collins and Co. trading as A1 and painted chocolate brown. The engine, described below, was supplied by the White and Poppe factory in Coventry, set up in 1899 by Alfred White and Peter Poppe (pronounced ‘Popper’ – he was a Norwegian). This company became the main supplier of engines to Dennis who went on to purchase the Coventry firm in the post war recession of 1919.
‘T’ head side valve, 4 cylinder
115mm x 150mm = 6.232 litre, 40 -50 bhp
This engine, stated in the 1923 report as being the power plant of the 4 ton bus, was a widely used and successful unit, 4591 examples being made up to the Dennis takeover in 1919, and it then continued in volume production until the late 1920s. This was certainly the standard engine of the 4 ton double decker. A modified version uprated to 70 bhp was fitted to Dennis’s first bespoke bus chassis, the E type of 1925.

Now comes the conundrum. The power unit of D142 is stated on sundry preservation pages to be an example of the Type D, with a capacity of 5.8 litres yielding 36 bhp. However, the Type D engine (derived from its precursor, the Type C manufactured from 1913) is listed in Dennis drawings as:-
‘L’ head side valve, 4 cylinder
110mm x 150 mm = 5.702 litre, 44 bhp
Thus the alleged engine type of D142 is not consistent with the claimed capacity. The nearest White and Poppe engine of 5.8 litres was this 4 cylinder side valve, very unusual in a time of long stroke engines in being almost "square", and thus probably intended for private car applications:-
120mm x 130mm = 5.881 litre, 40-50 bhp, but only 209 of this engine version were made before the Dennis takeover in 1919, and it does not appear in the Dennis list of engine drawings from that date, which indicates that it was not produced later. Unless the preserved vehicle has improbably received a very rare earlier type of White and Poppe engine, which is emphatically not the alleged Type D anyway, the 5.8 litre engine description must be considered doubtful. I believe the engine in D142 to be the standard 6.232 litre unit approved by the Metropolitan Police, but comments would be welcome.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page



Portsmouth Corporation – Thornycroft J – BK 2986 – 10

Portsmouth Corporation - Thornycroft J - BK 2986 - 10

Portsmouth Corporation
Thornycroft J
Dodson O16/18RO

BK 2986 is a Thornycroft J, built in 1919 for Portsmouth Corporation. It originally had a Wadham O16/18RO seater body but was rebodied in 1926 with an ex London General AEC B 1920 Dodson O16/18RO body. Having been built in Basingstoke, it is fitting that she is seen in the Milestones museum there, one of three Portsmouth buses. Note the tram tracks – there’s a Portsmouth tram there as well. The photograph was take on 12th November 2013.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

07/07/14 – 15:54

Thanks for posting this elderly bus in it’s current position. We are fortunate that Portsmouth Corporation had what we would now call an enlightened view of bus preservation. Both this bus, from it’s first ever batch of buses, and a tram (No 84) were retained by the Corporation from the 1930’s onwards. They also saved the very first trolleybus (201) in 1958, which then went to Beaulieu in 1960. It has had a more chequered history since, but has also resided at Basingstoke for a few years. It is now safe with the CPPTD (the preservation group, not the Corporation!) in Hampshire. The Thornycroft in the picture was quite often brought out and driven around on special occasions for some years. At that time it was in the then-current red/white livery. I remember seeing it at the Brighton Coach Rally c.1962, with a bikini-clad young lady hanging on at the back, trying to smile, wave, and keep her balance! In 1976 (I think), it was used by representatives of the Portsmouth Council to open the new M275 motorway into Portsmouth. Fortunately there was no park and ride service then, otherwise there might have been some suggestions for use? – no, probably not. Both this Thornycroft and the tram seem to be well cared for now, and located in a sympathetic setting at Basingstoke.

Michael Hampton

07/07/14 – 16:39

Am I not right in thinking that this bus was originally No. 10, but renumbered 1 for most of its preserved life, more recently getting back its correct number? I used to see it a lot (with 201) at the late lamented Dave Chalker’s annual Southsea Spectacular on Southsea Common.
Does anyone have a photo of one of these vehicles with original Wadham body. I had one but can’t find it now – typical! Another survivor is what’s left of the 1931 diesel-engined Crossley Condor (RV720), after being cut down as a service vehicle. After being abandoned on the council tip, it was rescued and is a runner.

Chris Hebbron

08/07/14 – 07:18

When you see vehicles like this, you realise the great strides made in chassis and body design in the 13 years between 1919 and 1932.

Chris Hebbron

08/07/14 – 07:20

Yes, Chris, this bus was originally No. 10 in the fleet, out of the series 1-10 for the batch. I read somewhere in a fleet history that it had also been used as a petrol tanker by the Corporation for a while after withdrawal from passenger service. As the Karrier 6-wheel double-deckers bought in 1927/28 to replace these Thornycroft J’s were very thirsty buses , this probably explains the conversion. Another fleet history does state that the Karriers had to be refuelled during the day to keep them in service. Presumably, after the Karriers were withdrawn in 1935, No 10 was redundant as a tanker, and a Dodson body was re-united with it for preservation. It became No.1 in c.1942 – an odd year for such a decision to be made and carried out (don’t you know there’s a war on?). It remained as No.1 until virtually the end of CPPTD, and it’s correct original No.10 restored, I think in the early 1990’s, but I’m open to correction on that.

Michael Hampton

03/10/14 – 08:39

No 10
Copyright Unknown

I finally found the picture of No. 10 with its original body, on The Hard – I’ve only ever seen one other photo of these with Wadham bodies.

Chris Hebbron

05/10/14 – 07:26

There is another photograph of this bus with the original body in the PSV Fleet History PH14 Portsmouth Citybus Ltd.(and its predecessors) Pathfinder UK Ltd. Published February 1997

Andy Hemming

25/08/20 – 06:15

Chris Hebbron’s monochrome picture of this bus, also to be found on LTHL, is from a Pamlin print of which I have a postcard. This dates the image capture to 5 October 1925, though the shot seems to show decidedly bright and sunny weather for autumn.

Roger Cox

26/08/20 – 05:21

A sunny Autumn? Well, that’s Sunny Southsea for you Roger! Thx for the extra information and date.

Chris Hebbron


Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page



Drake & Mc Cowen – Leyland LB2 – XP 435 – B21

XP 435_lr

Drake & Mc.Cowen
Leyland LB2
Dodson O48RO

I thought I’d lost this photo until I found it today tucked inside a book.
My father was very friendly with Joe Mc.Cowen and I think he fought with his nephew(?) in the war (sadly he was killed in N Africa in 1941).
Joe lived at 1 Bonny Street Camden Town NW1 and I used to go there with my father on a spurious excuse, which I suspect was just a ruse so some heavy drinking could be done. Joe’s place was in terrible condition and stank of old cigars. I think the bus was used on the 3 or 53 route, at least the bus terminus was very close to Bonny St. I remember my father telling me that Drake had run off with the conductress, so I don’t know what happened to the company after that! The picture looks like it might have been taken in Regent’s Park.
I look forward to any comments regarding the above operator or vehicle.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Paul Canty


01/07/12 – 09:55

The definitive work on this subject is “London’s Buses Volume 1 – The Independent Era 1922-1934” by Messrs Blacker, Lunn, and Westgate, published by H J Publications in 1977 (and of course long out of print), from which the following information is extracted.
According to the book, the business commenced in August 1923 and was originally a partnership of William Drake of 245 Great College Street N1 and Robert McCowen; but Mr McCowan left the business in about 1926 and Mr Drake continued as sole proprietor until he sold the business to Birch Brothers in October 1928.
Two buses were operated:
XP 435 Leyland LB2 Dodson O26/22RO new 8/23
XT 4603 Leyland LB4 Dodson O26/22RO new 5/24
In addition a second-hand Leyland LB4 Dodson, XP 4355, was acquired for spares in 11/23. Its chassis was dismantled and the body used as a shed.
XT 4603 achieved fame when it was overturned by protestors during the General Strike, but ran in service the next day with its windows boarded over.
The original livery was creamy-yellow and black (or possibly very dark navy) with DRAKE & McCOWAN fleetname in large gold letters as per your photograph. After Mr McCowan left the fleetname was changed to DRAKE. In 1928 the livery was changed to red and white and the fleetname became W. R. Drake in script lettering.
Drake and McCowan are known to have operated on route 27 (their version becoming 206 under the Bassom system in December 1924). Under the 1924 Act one of their buses operated on the 206 and the other on the 284A (unfortunately I have no idea where those routes went in those days).
Drake & McCowan’s buses were originally kept, with those of several other independents, at Dangerfield’s garages in Camden Town and Chalk Farm, but when Dangerfield sold out to the LGOC in 1927 they were moved to Bridge Wharf Garage in Kentish Town Road.

Michael Wadman


05/07/12 – 16:20

I know the shiny paintwork and stylish fleet name helps, but what a handsome, well-proportioned bus!
There are good- and not so good-looking vehicles of all periods, but the team that designed this one can look down and be proud.

Ian Thompson


05/07/12 – 16:21

Pauls photograph is a great reminder of the era of the London "Pirates". This Dodson body was the most popular fitment to Leyland LB series, and Dennis buses over the whole "Pirate" scene, followed by the Birch body, and, less common, Strachan and Brown.
There is something uniquely distinctive about Dodson bodywork, as has been discussed before, but this is emphasised more when seen on some provincial fleets, notably Wolverhampton, and the style was quite popular in several fleets. Peterborough and District comes to mind, as well as Hastings Tramways.
I wonder if this particular bus was one of the survivors into LT days, which were converted to trolleybus tower wagons.
Thanks for a nice photograph.

John Whitaker


05/07/12 – 17:44

If memory serves me right, John W, LPTB stayed true to its AEC roots and used withdrawn NS buses as tower wagons, wire lubricators and, more generally, as tree loppers and mobile canteens. Surprisingly, at a time when many of the first-generation Green Line T’s were being replaced and available for conversion, it also bought some AEC Mercury lorries for use as tower wagons. I have no idea what vehicles LUT used for their ‘Diddler’ system which started in 1931, but maybe continued with the same ones they’d used to maintain the erstwhile tram system. It was all done on the cheap.

Chris Hebbron


06/07/12 – 14:14

I refer you to Capital Transport`s "The London Trolleybus Vol.2" re LB Leyland tower wagons. Full details are in there!
The original ADC vehicles were used in LUT days.

John Whitaker


Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page



All rights to the design and layout of this website are reserved     Old Bus Photos does not set or use Cookies but Google Analytics will set four see this

Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Tuesday 5th December 2023