Old Bus Photos

Maidstone & District – Daimler Fleetline – 76 YKT – DL76

76 YKT

Maidstone & District
1964
Daimler Fleetline CRG6LX
Northern Counties H44/35F

Maidstone and District was an early user of the Leyland Atlantean, taking both normal and lowheight examples classified DH and DL respectively, from 1959 until 1963, when the Daimler Fleetline became the favoured choice. CRG6LX No.DL76, 76 YKT was delivered in September 1964. The Northern Counties body is shown as H44/35F on BLOTW but elsewhere is stated to be H44/33F. DL76 is seen in Tonbridge on 1st October 1967 by which time the BET was concluding negotiations with a view to the sale of its bus industry interests to the government. The imperfect state of the front panel of DL 76 indicates some prescience of the future world awaiting it under NBC.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


17/01/18 – 06:31

H44/33F seems more likely. The first Atlanteans of my local BET operator, Tynemouth and District had H44/34F seating, reduced on the next batch of Atlanteans, and the first batch of Daimler Fleetlines to H44/33F. This was achieved by reducing the inward facing seat over the front wheel arch from 3 to 2. 34 seems to be the maximum that could easily be fitted in downstairs, 35, although not impossible, would imply very cramped seating.

John Gibson


17/01/18 – 06:33

Roger, I would interpret the bent front panel another way – all was not perfect before National Bus company was formed whatever some fondly like to remember! Had it not been formed I would not have arrived at M&D from Eastern Counties in January 1970! It is perhaps an appropriate location to remind us of Mr Macawber: Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery! Perhaps the main reason BET were willing to sell out!
At that time all the M&D Fleetline DD were 77 seaters as indeed were the highbridge Atlanteans (according to the 1971 fleet list). DL 76 > 6076 was still at Tonbridge in 1971 having been converted to "OMB" as was the current expression. Tonbridge had no bodybuilders and had a small running shift, so it was no doubt waiting to go to Tunbridge Wells for repair – the dreadful split level garage that was eventually closed only in 2017!
See also www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/m_&_d_selected_memories.php

Geoff Pullin


17/01/18 – 06:33

Northern Counties made one of the best jobs of bodying the first generation rear engined buses. The engine shrouds hide the rear end bustle and the proportions look just right. In this instance the whole show was helped by a tasteful traditional livery that fitted the lines of the body. Although a bit boxy I thought the flat screens were better than the later versions where BET style curved windscreens were grafted on and never seemed to blend in right.

Philip Halstead


17/01/18 – 06:34

Nice looking bus, the livery helps. We had similar at PMT new in 1963. They were specified with a seating material called Replin which quickly became very soiled and were later retrimmed in very basic red vinyde. I prefer the M&D single headlamps to the twin headlamps fitted to the PMT batch. I like the Southern Region green Station nameboard!

Ian Wild


18/01/18 – 05:28

Not being familiar with the M&D fleet, I’m assuming that the prefixes DL and DH referred to the overall height rather than the upper-deck seating layout, hence the Fleetlines were DL as they had the drop-centre rear axle.

Geoff Kerr


21/01/18 – 06:22

The old M & D garage at Tunbridge Wells was originally operated by Autocar and was in existence prior to 1933 when London Transport expected to acquire it(they had to make do with the little garage in Whitefield Road which became the operating base for Greenline 704)The garage faced directly onto the main road and also Woodbury Park Road.Why do todays operators consider covered accommodation unnecessary?

Patrick Armstrong


24/03/18 – 06:17

A quick reply to Geoff Kerr; DH referred to ‘Diesel Highbridge’ and DL to ‘Diesel Lowbridge in the Maidstone & District fleet. I was not a lover of the Fleetline because, as a driver, I found the engine tended to resonate through the bodywork into the cab and would give me a severe headache after an hour! That is if the engine was not perfectly tuned and many ‘bus engine was not perfect! I also once had the misfortune to have an engine cowl corner fall away from the body and dragged it along road by the cables when returning to Maidstone from West Malling.

Freddie Weston


24/03/18 – 18:13

The ‘D’ stood for ‘Double Deck’, not ‘Diesel’, Freddie. The corresponding Single Deck code was ‘S’.

Roger Cox


07/06/18 – 05:27

Having known many M&D staff over the years I can say that TW was not very good at looking after vehicles. Many were the PD2s and Reliances that managed to mysteriously get to Brighton so that Edward Street fitters could do a brake reline or other maintenance task that TW didn’t want to do. It was very noticeable in old M&D days that the vehicles from GR & H would be very well looked after, whereas TWs looked like bumper cars.

Bob Cornford


 

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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


05/11/17 – 07:30

With reference to 3251 (ex SO251) as I knew it when I drove it. This was always a delightful vehicle to drive and was usually requested by our depot engineer – Ernie Marks – at Gravesend. I remember using it on many runs to High Halstow, Cliffe and also Meopham & Harvel. I have a photo slide of it taken when I used it.
With reference to S1-S5 or 3701-5, again when I drove all of them, these would often tread there way onto the 122 London to Brighton run and I had the pleasure of driving them between Gravesend and Tunbridge Wells. The only problem I found was the bodywork rattle caused by over-inflated tyres, something which Tunbridge Wells was usually in favour of. Hence, all vehicles from both garages had bodies that were shaken to pieces – sometimes almost literally!

Freddy Weston


09/11/17 – 07:14

Although my memory is not so good nowadays, I have to hand a fleet allocation list for 1st October 1971. From that it looks as if Freddy’s and Ernie Marks’ favourite Reliance 3251 had left the fleet by then. 3701-6 are shown as allocated to Tonbridge and 3125 was allocated to Maidstone. With regard to comments about high tyre pressures, it is relevant that M&D had three tyre mileage contractors in 1970. I think Gravesend and possibly Borough Green were covered by Michelin who would only have used radial ply tyres which have more flexible walls. The Tunbridge Wells district (inc Tonbridge, Hawkhurst and Edenbridge) was covered by Firestone with cross ply tyres which may have felt harder. Dunlop was the third contractor. This made it a bit difficult when vehicles were re-allocated across contracts! Around 1971, Dunlop were contracted to cover the whole fleet using a new centralised tyre workshop for fitting new and re-grooving tyres. Mobile inspectors examined the fleet regularly for pressure and tread depth. Each depot had a supply of wheel assemblies with fit tyres for failures in service. An interesting aspect of this was that quite a few vehicles were found to be fitted with wheels of the incorrect offset, so a supply of new wheels had to be bought to facilitate a sorting out!

Geoff Pullin

PS – I meant to add that Panthers 3131 and 3135 were delicensed for repair of fire damage and 3127 for major body repairs! Engine compartment fires were a bit endemic for Panthers and also Reliances at the time. As I have said elsewhere, M&D found that the Willowbrook bodied Panthers were better than the Strachans bodies which suffered a lot of panel movement and aluminium dust permeating the insides. They were strengthened by a scheme devised by Wiollowbrook!


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Tuesday 23rd October 2018