Old Bus Photos

Maidstone & District – Leyland Panther – JKK 199E – S99

JKE 199E

Maidstone & District
1967
Leyland Panther PSUR1/1R
Willowbrook B45F

This photo of Maidstone & District Leyland Panther No S99 reg JKK 199E with Willowbrook B45F bodywork was new in April 1967 prior to the renumbering to 3099 so was probably taken in the summer of that year outside Southdown’s Pevensey Road bus station. M&D had I believe ninety five Panthers the first sixty had Willowbrook B45F bodies (S26-S40 and S61-S110) and the remainder had Strachans bodies of either B45D (3111-3120) or B48F (3121-3140) layout. The 190 route was part of the joint Southdown/M&D Heathfield cycle a complicated but effective group of six interworked services, a thorough explanation of this working can be found in the Southdown Enthusiasts Club book called "Working Together".

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave


12/07/17 – 07:27

Hants & Dorset/Wilts & Dorset had some of these wished upon them during the reshuffling of fleets under the early years of NBC, DKE.C and JKK.E batches. JKK 203E even managed to gain Tilling red! I have a bought view of her thus at Basingstoke.

Pete Davies


13/07/17 – 07:58

Further to Pete’s comment they were more of a curse than a wish. A nightmare to keep on the road mechanically, hated by most of the crews. Give me an RE or Leopard any day. The ex King Alfred trio on H&D benefited from having the 680 engine but were still not the most reliable buses.

Steve Barnett


14/07/17 – 07:37

Steve, I think it’s probably true to say that, if H&D/W&D had been BET operators, they would have stayed well away, as I belief Southdown did. Incidentally, does anyone know why some fleets suffered this ‘asset stripping’ by having vehicles transferred out? Was it that the recipients were deemed to be short of suitable vehicles?

Pete Davies


14/07/17 – 07:38

Hants & Dorset’s problem (one of them, at least) in the early 1970s was that they had not purchased enough single deck buses in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Such vehicles would have been suitable for OPO, but H&D had purchased mainly Lodekkas plus 6 coaches per year. Result: when costs started rising, and finding staff became more difficult, conversion to OPO was the logical move, but H&D were constricted by the lack of suitable buses.
Thus the 33 Panthers were an attempt to resolve this problem, but, as Steve says, they were notoriously unreliable. Hearsay claimed that, of the 33 buses, there were always at least 10 off the road. One could, of course, ask why Maidstone & District could release such a large number of buses, most of which were only around 4 years old, but preferred to retain older, underfloor engined, types with similar capacity. For H&D, the answer must have become obvious quite quickly!
It is interesting to speculate what the real problems were – the Panther was not universally hated. Sunderland apparently found them satisfactory, and Brisbane had a large fleet, some of which were rebodied at some stage in their lives. Perhaps when you have a large fleet, you have to find a way of making them work.
The vehicle in this photo was one of those that went to Wilts & Dorset – as far as I recall the vehicles concerned were S38-40 and S81-110. The first 17 were for Hants & Dorset, and the rest for W&D, but some didn’t enter service with their new owners until after the advent of NBC corporate liveries and the disappearance of the W&D name. A few did receive Tilling red or green (H&D’s version of it), and some ran with H&D or W&D fleetnames on the M&D dark green. There was more than just the one that Pete mentions in Tilling red – JKK 207E ran in Southampton for a while in that condition. I guess it must have been the spring/summer of 1972, and I have an idea that it was quite often used on the evening 47B service to Hursley – usually a crew working!

Nigel Frampton


15/07/17 – 06:56

At Winchester our three Metro Scanias were replaced by three of these Panthers, the three London Country Nationals for which the Scanias were swapped were allocated originally to Southampton. So the Panthers had a hard act to follow although I accept the Metro Scanias were not to everyone’s taste. Altogether we had 8 panthers allocated in the mid seventies, including the three ex King Alfred ones. It was rare that more than six were on the road at any one time. The three ex London Country buses finally arrived at Winchester when most of Southamptons allocation of Nationals were swapped with REs from around the Hants and Wilts depots. Southampton was desperately short of fitters and the Nationals were proving to be almost as challenging as the Panthers were so the powers that be decided to share the problem around!

Steve Barnett


16/07/17 – 16:42

JKK 190E

The attached may be of interest. In Hants and Dorset colours JKK190E is leaving Winchester Bus Station in December 1975. Although I have slides of the Panthers taken in Wilts and Dorset colours on routes around Basingstoke, these are at present in store following our recent move. One was often on the 76 to Andover which might explain an evening ride I enjoyed on Basingstoke’s last LL5G !

Keith Newton


17/07/17 – 06:00

Keith’s picture shows 1695 which was one of the replacements for the Metro Scanias, the 66 was their regular home mainly I think due to slow running time which meant the struggle on hills didn’t affect timekeeping too much. Incidentally the view shown is ab0ut to change significantly, the bus station closed a week ago. The garage in the background is being demolished and stands are being built on the left hand side to facilitate running in the other direction. This finally takes buses out of the pedestrian area of the city. (Ex King Alfred leopard in the background)

Steve Barnett


20/07/17 – 07:17

My misty memory recalls that the 30 Fleetline / Marshall two-door single decks were arriving when I landed at M&D in 1970. They all went to Medway towns. GM Arthur White had a history of buying large batches of new types of vehicles and I suspect that these were ordered to replace Panthers which could not perform adequately there and the need for single decks elsewhere was indeed a good way of moving vehicles out and keeping more reliable machines, especially after new CE Vin Owen had prevailed with Leopard orders rather than AEC or Panthers. I can recall investigating a few engine fires in those days and Panthers were not quite as bad as 590 Reliances from what I recall! Of course the 1970 SD Fleetlines did not last long as a new Traffic Manager wanted more capacity, so they were swopped for similar age DD Fleetlines with Northern General, now that OMO operation of DD had been accepted in the company. See www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/

Geoff Pullin


 

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Maidstone & District – Leyland Panther – LKT 132F – 3132

Maidstone & District - Leyland Panther - LKT 132F - 3132

Maidstone & District
1968
Leyland Panther PSUR1/1R
Strachans B48F

LKT 132F is a Leyland Panther PSUR1/1R new to Maidstone & District in 1968. It has a Strachan B48F body, somewhat unusual for a BET firm, and we see it in the Netley rally on 14 July 1996 so the body at least is more or less ‘home’ as Strachans later products were built just along the road in Hamble. The Parish Council calls it Hamble Le Rice now, and it’s nothing to do with puddings. In this sense, it means ‘rich’.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies


20/11/16 – 15:48

Yes its a standard BET front, but the livery does a great deal to hide the uneven window and panel spacing layout. Just by example if you were to look at Liverpool 1097 currently in the heading on the ‘other’ bus blog page, it shows how neat this one really is. Its a pity we don’t have sound on here as Panther exhausts were in a class of their own.

Mike Norris


21/11/16 – 07:54

Mike there is a section on here for bus noises. To be found at the ‘More pages’ tab top right in the menu, then select ‘Old Bus Sounds’.

Stephen Howarth


 

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Maidstone & District – AEC Reliance – 251 BKM – SO251

Maidstone & District - AEC Reliance - 251 BKM - SO251

Maidstone & District
1958
AEC Reliance 2MU3RV
Harrington B42F

By the mid 1950s, bus patronage was beginning to show signs of serious decline, and the Traffic Commissioners were empowered to grant dispensation for the use of buses with more than the traditional 20/26/30 seats on (what was then called) OMO operation. The first large saloons bought by Maidstone & District specifically for OMO were eleven Harrington Contenders of 1955 powered by the distinctive TS3 two stroke engine. Then, having gained experience with the all conquering AEC Reliance on coach duties, this chassis became the firm M&D choice from 1957 for OMO saloon work. Initially, the selected bodywork supplier was Weymann, then Beadle, before Harrington was chosen to build the bodies on a batch of twenty five in 1958. Here is 251 BKM, SO251 in the M&D fleet, seen in July 1973 after disposal to the dealer, Trevor Wilcox Brown, the proprietor of Tillingbourne Bus Company. This Reliance, a 2MU3RV model fitted with a Harrington B42F body, was never operated by Tillingbourne, but was quickly sold on to another dealer in Middlewich. I undertook the delivery run from Gomshall to Middlewich, and was impressed by the alacrity with which the machine tackled the hills around Amersham – I always skirted round to the west of the Great Wen – though the top speed was understandably rather modest on the motorway. The picture shows the bus somewhere around the Chipperfield area in Hertfordshire (if my high mileage memory is still functioning). En route on the motorway, I was somewhat disconcerted to find that the accelerator ceased to return to shut down the engine speed, so I pulled in at the next service area and investigated. By lifting up the inspection flaps in the floor, I established that the return action was provided by a simple coil spring linking the throttle rod to a lug on the chassis. The locating loop on one end of this spring had just snapped off, mercifully leaving the remaining part hanging down. I scoured the ground around the lorry park to see what I could find to effect a rudimentary repair and was rewarded by the discovery of a length of rigid but pliable wire. This I managed to force between the last two coils of the broken end of the spring, bent it round to secure it, and then made a loop with the other end before fatiguing off the surplus length (all done with the fingers – I had no tools with me). That bit of Heath Robinson engineering got me safely and uneventfully on to my Middlewich destination.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


17/10/16 – 07:26

Smart, purposeful looking bus.
Perhaps the Middlewich dealer sold it on to an unsuspecting operator, who may have run it with your rudimentary bit of wire doing its job, for many years, Roger!

Peter Murnaghan


17/10/16 – 09:10

255 BKM

A member of this batch, 255 BKM, was sold to Clynnog and Trefor Motoer Services in North Wales, where it lasted for many years.

Don McKeown


18/10/16 – 08:00

253 BKM was saved for preservation in 2008 after festering in Somerset for many years.
Now safely stored inside "somewhere in Sussex" pending restoration.

Malcolm Boyland


Reference vehicle S2 this was delivered to Tonbridge depot along with S3-4 and 5, All four from new as we already had S1 also from new. I think that it was probably because the M&D were using the idea of new busses would encourage us drivers to accept larger vehicles on one mam operation. They were right because we were also the first depot in the fleet to accept the use of double deckers on o.m.o. work.
If my memory serves me correctly these were Bristols.
I was a driver at Tonbridge from 1961 until the closure of the depot. then transferred to Borough Green and then Tunbridge Wells until the mid nineties when I had to retire due to ill health.

Mick Green


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Wednesday 20th September 2017