Old Bus Photos

Midland General – Bristol Lodekka – 972 ARA – 453

972 ARA

Midland General Omnibus Company
1956
Bristol Lodekka LD6G
ECW H33/25RD

Photographed in Nottingham in August 1961 is Midland General 453, 972 ARA, a Bristol LD6G Lodekka with ECW H33/25RD bodywork, delivered to the operator in October 1956. This vehicle, together with other buses from across the NBC, went to West Riding in April 1970 to expedite the withdrawal of the troublesome Guy Wulfrunian fleet. Sadly, 453 didn’t last very long in the care of West Riding as it went to the scrapyard in December 1971 having, rather pointlessly, been renumbered No. 408 just one month earlier.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


09/04/18 – 07:39

Such a pity the BTC had such a rigid livery policy with most Loddekkas being in wall to wall red or green. We were denied the opportunity to see such attractive vehicles in attractive liveries such as this one on a wider scale. The Midland General livery seemed to slip through the livery police net somehow but the loophole was soon spotted by the dreaded NBC and the even more dreaded poppy red was soon inflicted.

Philip Halstead


10/04/18 – 05:39

I agree – the only other attractive exception was BH&D, who had cream roofs and a much deeper band of crew around the lower deck windows – oh, and I think that either Notts & Derby or Mansfield District did something similar with Tilling Green and cream. Pity as the ECW body was beautifully proportioned, although too Spartan inside for my taste.

David Wragg


10/04/18 – 05:40

Some Midland General vehicles were initially painted dark blue with a white band and the fleetname in NBC style.

Stephen Bloomfield


10/04/18 – 05:41

Midland General never was a Tilling company but throughout it’s existence as a BTC and THC operator, it’s vehicles were always immaculately turned out, regardless of age and always sported comprehensive, fully working blind displays with via points shown, right until the later FLFs and VRs which had provision for ultimate destination and service number only. It was strict company policy that they must be correctly set too, the word ‘SERVICE’ would never have been allowed, in fact it wasn’t even on the blinds as an option.

Chris Barker


11/04/18 – 06:00

What is often overlooked regarding the BTC’s standard red and cream/green and cream ‘Tilling’ liveries is that when they were first introduced, the Tilling Group was in private hands. For many years the Group had operated a policy of centralised control and one of its aims, post-World War II, was to standardise on its ‘in house’ Bristol-ECW products – namely the K type double-decker in highbridge or lowbridge form, and the L type single-decker in bus or express form. Standard liveries for its bus fleets were also being pursued. When the Tilling Group was nationalised in 1948, outwardly it would probably have looked like ‘business as usual’ to the general public, as the old Tilling liveries remained. Interestingly, when the Balfour Beatty Group came under state control, Midland General, Notts & Derby Traction and Mansfield District retained their original liveries. Later, when the Red & White Group was acquired, Cheltenham District continued with its dark red and cream livery, applied in its distinctive fashion. The BTC did not seem to be as obsessed with rigid standardisation as perhaps the privately owned Tilling Group had been.
Although many of the coaches in the BTC fleets donned cream with either green or red/maroon relief, some distinctive and well respected coach liveries continued – those of United, Royal Blue, South Midland, Bristol-Greyhound, and Crosville spring to mind. Presumably prestige and local good will still counted for something, even under state control.
When the THC and BET Group were combined to form the state owned NBC in 1969, with the well-intentioned objective of halting the decline in bus use, for the first few years it appeared once again to be ‘business as usual’ regarding liveries. Ironically, it was someone from the private sector – one Freddie Wood – at the behest of the Heath government, who was responsible for the corporate liveries inflicted on the constituent companies in 1972. The standardised poppy red and white, or leaf green and white liveries for buses and ‘local coaches’ and the allover white National coach livery were not a patch on the liveries they replaced. In fairness, the introduction of the ‘National white coach network’ did improve public awareness of express travel and business did increase as a result, but why such an impractical colour was chosen for such hard working vehicles operating over long distances in all weathers remains a mystery.

Brendan Smith


11/04/18 – 06:04

Midland General, together with Notts & Derby and Mansfield District, were Balfour Beatty companies. Balfour Beatty initially concentrated upon tramway operation in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, whence it then broadened its activities into electricity generation and supply in those counties. When the electricity supply industry was nationalised in 1948, that aspect of the Balfour Beatty operation was taken over by the government, but the three public transport components of the business, by then using trolleybuses and motor buses, did not automatically follow suit. The disposal of Midland General, Mansfield District and Notts & Derby was a decision taken by Balfour Beatty in the light of the then Labour government’s aspirations for public ownership of the bus industry. Tilling sold out at about the same time, but the BET resisted. I agree with Chris that the standards of Midland General were very high, endorsed by the splendid livery.

Roger Cox


19/04/18 – 06:35

The reason that the Midland General fleet could be so smart was that the services operated were extremely profitable compared with other operators such as Trent.

Nigel Turner


20/04/18 – 06:40

Indeed so Nigel, Midland General had some very lucrative routes and on weekdays they operated many works and colliery services which operated throughout the day to meet changing shift patterns. On Saturdays, when vehicles which had been used on such duties might otherwise have stood idle, many of their principal services were so busy with shoppers, they were doubled in frequency, so the fleet was fully utilised. A blue livery and a blue chip company!

Chris Barker


 

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Ribble – Leyland Atlantean – RRN 414 – 1814

RRN 414

Ribble Motor Services
1962
Leyland Atlantean PDR1/1
Weymann L39/33F

Seen in August 1969 in less than pristine condition leaving Manchester’s Lower Mosley Street Bus Station (often confusing us slow witted southerners by appearing on bus destination blinds as “Manchester LMS”) is Ribble 1814, the last of a batch of fourteen Weymann bodied lowbridge Atlanteans on the original PDR1/1 chassis. This was fitted with a straight rear axle which required the lower deck to incorporate a step to gain access to the uplifted rear part of the saloon. The corresponding rear section of the upper saloon also had to be raised, so that a side gangway of the traditional lowbridge variety was employed in that area, though this was located on the nearside of the vehicle (front engined lowbridge double deckers had the gangway on the offside to avoid fouling the passenger entrance). The 1801 -1814 lowbridge Atlanteans were the last examples of the PDR1/1 chassis to be bought by Ribble.
Another OBP page showing one of these Atlanteans may be found here:- At this link
and a comprehensive article by Neville Mercer on Lower Mosley Street is here:- Lower Mosley Street – Article

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


13/03/18 – 06:06

I think by 1962, the bodywork on these lowbridge Atlanteans had improved somewhat on the original examples which came out in 1959. The single skinned fibreglass domes (which tended to crack) had been replaced by double skinned ones, the interior face being a sort of brilliant white plastic which seemed to resist yellowing very well. Other small improvements to the interior trim and panelling made the general ambience feel noticeably better and I quite liked to travel on the later ones. I believe both Ribble and PMT got very long service lives out of them in spite of the problems they were supposed to have had.

Chris Barker


17/03/18 – 07:15

Looks like someone tried to prize off the Ribble fleet nameplate on the front panel.
Perhaps her less than pristine condition is down to her being due her seven year Check/Overhaul.

Cyril Aston


18/03/18 – 06:47

Ribble got very good service from these some lasting into the eighties

Chris Hough


18/03/18 – 06:47

Quite a sad photo, I can’t remember which particular bus it was, but had a trip on one of this batch when brand new on the X23 from LMS. I suppose I haven’t worn any better than the bus! Personally I enjoyed riding on the lowbridge Atlanteans. PMT used them on the Stoke-Stafford service which like the Ribble services gave them a good chance to open up. Travelling in the rear upstairs was quite smooth, I suppose the lower height lowered the centre of gravity, resulting in a better ride.

Andrew Gosling


 

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Brighton, Hove & District – Bristol Lodekka – OPN 807 – 7

Brighton, Hove & District - Bristol Lodekka - OPN 807 - 7

Brighton, Hove & District
1959
Bristol LDS6B
ECW H33/37R

Seen in Brighton in the summer of 1960 is Brighton, Hove & District OPN 807, fleet no. 7, an example of the rare LDS short version of the Bristol Lodekka with flat lower saloon floor, air suspension on the rear axle, and air (instead of vacuum) over hydraulic braking system. With some adjustments, the LDS model then went into volume production as the FS type. The prototype LDS, an LDS6G with Gardner 6LW engine, went to Crosville in 1958 as 285 HFM, fleet no. DLG 949. In May / June 1959, BH&D received LDS buses OPN 801 to 808, the company’s first Lodekkas, which were powered by the then newly introduced 8.9 litre Bristol BVW engine. OPN 804 to 808 had ECW H33/37R bodywork, but OPN 801 to 803 were CO33/37R convertible open toppers. www.flickr.com/
As delivered, these eight LDS6B buses had the Cave-Brown-Cave heating system installed and, as seen in the photograph, lacked a conventional radiator at the front of the engine bay. The deficiencies of this heating/cooling arrangement, especially apparent with the overheating prone BVW engine, led to its subsequent disconnection and the fitment of a normal radiator, though the cooler running Gardner powered Crosville prototype retained its Cave-Brown-Cave heating and blank front panel with winged motif to the end. OPN 807 served with BH&D until January 1969 when, under NBC “rationalisation”, it passed to Southdown ownership with all the BH&D operations. Withdrawn in 1972, it then went on to Brittain’s in Northampton http://bcv.robsly.com/ who sold it, ostensibly for preservation, in June 1979. Having since passed through a number of supposedly preservationist hands, it would seem that it still exists in the current ownership of a dealer, the London Bus Export Company of Lydney, though its current condition is uncertain. If it still retains its BVW engine then spares for that will be scarcer than hen’s teeth.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


18/02/18 – 17:05

APN 54B

Prodded by Roger’s item, I Googled LDX 003 and found Nigel Furness’ book mentioning LDX003 and LDX004 both of which had passed me by! His book also adds that BCV changed the designation of the six LDL 30′ chassis built in 1957 (eg Bristol L8450 – see http://www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/?p=34464 to LLD after they were built which explains why I had come across this confusing reference at some time whilst at BCV.
Roger’s photo reminded me of one that I took at BCV in early 1964 showing no. 4 with two non-standard to Tilling Group features of these vehicles: the split step (making a ‘stepless’ entry into a stepped access!); and the side route no. indicator. The first feature is still extant in the photo-link of no. 7 in Brittain’s ownership.
When I took the photo I had just arrived back at the factory at Brislington after a long spell with BOC so was not aware why no. 4 was at BCV. It was the first of the eight LDS chassis built at the end of the 138th sanction for BH&D, although the last three with convertible open top bodies were given fleet nos. 1 -3. I also have a note to say that its BVW engine was fitted with a DPA (distributor) type fuel injection pump, instead of the original in-line fuel injection pumps of either CAV or Simms manufacture. I’m not aware that this cheaper component was adopted as a standard in later BVW engines.

Geoff Pullin


19/02/18 – 07:07

Whoops – got confused. This photo is of BH&D no. 54, not 4 and hence is an FS6B of the 214th sanction dating from 1964. The bit about DPA pumps definitely refers to 5no. 4!

Geoff Pullin


19/02/18 – 07:08

Thanks for the picture of the "stepless" door platform on these buses, Geoff. I had completely forgotten about these, but I now recall that they were held to create more platform stumbles than they sought to eradicate. Your reference to the use of DPA fuel pumps on these early BVW engines is notewothy. DPA pumps appeared in the mid to late fifties on smaller engines, but this must surely have been one of the pioneer applications on a relatively large commercial vehicle engine. Was it intended to thus equip the production BVW as standard? I am not an engineer, just an interested layman, but I can recognise the appeal of the DPA against the traditional, much more costly, in line pump. The DPA has to work harder serving all the injectors, but the advantages of cheaper and easier replacement together with simplified calibration must have been attractive. Was reliability a problem, and did these early Lodekkas keep these pumps?

Roger Cox


19/02/18 – 07:08

I remember these Lodekkas from my gap year conducting from Conway Street in 1969/70. The lowered rear platform step was said to be popular with all the old ladies of Hove but in rush hour with visitors and foreign students they were also what we now consider a trip hazard. Happy days!

Anthony H


20/02/18 – 06:03

As of Feb 12 it was still at Lydney. Gossip says it was possessed over an unpaid bill. I would have thought offering it for continued preservation would have attracted a buyer.

Roger Burdett


21/02/18 – 07:26

steps

Reading Geoff Pullin’s post regarding Brighton & Hove APN 54B and its modified entrance step, it put me in mind of a similar design modification applied to a East Midland VR some 9 years later. PRR 121L and its low entrance step option was presented to the local press in Mansfield as a help to the aged and infirm. I don’t know how long it lasted but photos on the web show it had gone by the time Yelloway became the owners. I captured my picture when nearly new at Mansfield depot.

Berisford Jones


28/02/18 – 07:37

Berisford’s photograph of East Midland VRT PRR 121L’s step arrangement has reminded me that one of East Yorkshire’s 1973 VRTs (932) was similarly treated, but was converted to standard layout in later life. Maybe such experimental steps were more widespread than maybe first thought.

Brendan Smith


28/02/18 – 12:21

I seem to remember that ECW did about half a dozen VRTs with this step as an experiment in 1972/3 – another one was Trent 631 (RCH 631L), which was converted to normal within a year or so.

Bob Gell


03/03/18 – 06:40

Roger asks about the DPA fuel injection pump. To my knowledge it was never used on production BVW engines, but others may know differently! I can’t find any information about its introduction to other makes of engines but remember that it was used by Leyland on 680 engines in AN68 Atlanteans and later Leopards and probably Panthers. I can’t remember about the 500/510 series.
The DPA did have some reliability problems but the reduced initial cost and ease of replacement was probably thought to compensate in Leyland’s eyes. It was not suitable for increasing power outputs at a time that competition was pushing them up. The ‘Power Plus’ series of 680 engines used in trucks were fitted with in-line fuel injection pumps and that was the engine used in the Ribble / Standerwick VRL/LH coaches and why they were able to go ‘uphill at 70mph’ compared to 36ft Leopards, which were stuck with the DPA version because the in-line pump would foul the chassis frame. We had to wait for the Tiger before this power problem was sorted!

Geoff Pullin


04/03/18 – 06:50

From memory the later 680’s had an F&M Friedmann and Maier injection pump fitted.

Andrew Charles


05/03/18 – 08:02

Geoff, thank you for the fascinating information regarding BH&D 4 being fitted with a CAV DPA distributor type (sometimes known as rotary) fuel injection pump when new, as I had no idea of such an experiment. As you comment, the standard BVW engine was fitted with an in-line injection pump of either Simms (SPE type) or CAV (N type) manufacture, although I seem to recall that in later years the CAV pump became the norm. West Yorkshire’s 0.680-engined Bristol RELHs and Leyland Leopards were fitted with DPA pumps as standard, apart from a handful of WY’s last Leopards which had Austrian-built Friedmann & Maier (F&M) in-line pumps. F&M injection pumps were also used on Leyland-engined Leyland Tiger TR and National 2 models. The Leyland 510 engine fitted to the National 1 used the CAV NN-type pump, which was a development of the N-type, the immediate difference being that the NN had its oil supplied from the engine lubrication system, whereas the N was simply ‘splash fed’ by oil from its own small ‘sump’. Also, on the National engine the injection pump was laid on its side rather than being vertical.
As Roger says, the cheaper initial cost, ease of removal/replacement and simplified calibration were in the DPA pump’s favour, but I would tend to agree that the pumps would have had to work harder than a larger in-line pump on more powerful engines. The main problem WY had with DPA pumps related to fuel leaks, mainly although not solely, around the banjo bolts retaining the high pressure outlets to the injector pipes. I think Geoff is correct in thinking that the DPA pump was not suited to the steady increase in power outputs on large diesel engines in later years, although CAV did introduce the DPC (Distributor Pump, ‘C’ type) to help counter this, but I’m not sure as to its success. Going back to the DPA pumps, it came as something of a surprise when I first saw one on a 0.680 Atlantean engine. The pump looked so small on the side of such a large engine, especially when compared to the very large (but admittedly long-lived) injection pumps used by Messrs L Gardner & Sons on their range of engines!

Brendan Smith


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 21st April 2018