Southern Vectis Omnibus Company
Duple Northern C45F
KDL 885F is a Bristol RESH6G with Duple Northern C45F body. Fleet number 301 in the Southern Vectis fleet, she is seen at the King Alfred Running Day in Winchester on 1 January 2010. Please note that the 2015 event has moved away from New Year’s Day and will be held on Sunday evening 3rd May and Bank holiday Monday 4th May instead – and in the hope of better weather!
Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies
23/02/15 – 07:50
Very clean, crisp lines and a sympathetic application of livery. Altogether a pleasing coach – and an unusual body choice for a Tilling company, although Southern Vectis always seemed to display a certain disregard for centralised purchasing policy. Perhaps it’s to do with being an off shore island!
23/02/15 – 08:50
Thank you, Petras. Sadly, the Isle of Wight isn’t far enough "off shore" to qualify as a tax haven, although I think my neighbour’s children have the right idea. They went to Cowes a couple of years ago and, when they were in the queue for coming back to Southampton, the elder one said to his brother "We’re waiting for the ferry back to England."
23/02/15 – 14:34
In the mid-1970’s, I managed the telephone billing section of Portsmouth Telephone Area, based in Southsea, which covered the Isle of Wight. On one occasion, I dealt with an irate customer living on the IoW, who said she wasn’t satisfied with my reply on the telephone and was ‘coming over from the mainland’ to see me in person. I think that local authority re-org in 1973, which took the IoW out of Hampshire and gave it its own council, gave them a sense of inflated importance!
23/02/15 – 14:34
There were nine coaches built with this body/chassis combination, four for Hants and Dorset, four for Eastern National and this one. The only other two RESH chassis had ECW bus bodies fitted out for DP, delivered to Midland General. There were also a few RELH with Duple Commander bodies, with Hants and Dorset and Eastern National again amongst the operators.
23/02/15 – 15:50
I’ve found a photo of one of the Hants and Dorset quartet and although only a few months older it is an earlier version of the Commander and has unusual upper windows. www.flickr.com/photos/
The Eastern National examples were similar to the Southern Vectis one.
24/02/15 – 06:17
Sorry, Chris, but the Isle of Wight was never part of Hampshire, but people got this idea because at one time education, police, fire and ambulance services were shared. At one time, the island even had a governor, but now it has a lord lieutenant just like any other county. Check on the island websites if you want to know more.
25/02/15 – 06:07
When I used to work in Hampshire, I had a good relationship with my opposite number, who worked in Newport IoW. I always smiled, when he referred to us as his colleagues on the North Island.
27/02/15 – 07:05
Wasn’t this coach 6HLW-engined at first, and a 39-seater? I believe that after a "poor-showing" on an extended tour it was re-engined with a 6HLX, either the following year, or pretty soon after. Was it up-seated at the same time?
27/02/15 – 09:13
Thx for correcting my misapprehension, David. I recall its DL vehicle registration mark and wondered if it was subsumed into Hampshire’s in 1973. Maybe not, then.
Loved the ‘North Island’ remark, Petras409.
I’ve just remembered that I looked at a wall map of Southampton/Portsmouth/IoW area when aboard the Cherbourg-Southampton ferry in its last season. The map showed ‘White Isle’ in the centre. It was a brave, but misguided attempt at using ‘possession’, but the spelling????
27/02/15 – 13:28
The Isle of Wight was part of Hampshire until 1890. Censuses that come up in family history searches say, for example "Carisbrooke, Hampshire" and "Whippingham, Hampshire."
One of my farmer cousins at the western point of the Island admits that visiting overners are good for the economy, but reckons that there ought to be a drawbridge to keep them where they belong once they’ve gone back to the mainland.
Some time ago I asked whether anyone else could recall a single-decker with an oval back window that ran from Freshwater to Alum Bay, and I think I’ve found the answer: a Reo (not part of the Southern Vectis fleet) which ran right up till 1949. Another oval-windowed single-decker pictured on p 57 of Richard Newman’s "Southern Vectis–the first 60 years" was a Guy Chaser, DL 5277, but that was sold in 1935.
It’s gone midday: time for my nammut.
27/02/15 – 15:49
Apparently the Wight name of the island has nothing to do with colour, but it apparently means a separate place or a separated place. Rather apt, really. How they loved their "DL" registration code, managing to keep it during the 1974 changes and after. They lost it in the major 2001 change, but still have a unique identifier as "HW". Sorry, a bit off piste as a comment, but the above contributions reminded me of this.
27/02/15 – 16:51
Michael, the ‘Oxford Names Companion’ states "Wight, Isle of (the county). Vectis c.150, Wit c.1086 (Domesday Book). A Celtic name possibly meaning ‘place of the division’, referring to its situation between the two arms of the Solent". This ties in nicely with your "separated place" explanation. I like your comment "How they loved their "DL" registration code", but as a young enthusiast I did too, even though I lived ‘up North’. Those lovely IoW registrations, the ‘Cuddles’, ‘Diddles’, ‘Fiddles’, Middles, ‘Piddles’, ‘Tiddles’ and Widdles’ – wonderful one and all.
28/02/15 – 05:54
I see that Brendan and I seem to share Benny Hill’s "lavatorial" sense of humour!
28/02/15 – 05:55
On a recent holiday coach tour from East Yorkshire we had a very able driver who lived on the IoW on the round the island tour he never stopped talking on driving off the ferry at Southampton he welcomed us back to the North Island.
28/02/15 – 05:57
Philip, this coach was indeed originally fitted with the smaller Gardner 6HLW engine when new. As you comment, it was soon re-engined with the larger 6HLX unit. Apparently this followed an embarrassing incident whereby passengers on a coach tour had to disembark, in order for 301 to reach the top of a hill. As a young enthusiast, I was very fortunate in seeing this beautiful coach in Harrogate when quite new, and still have a not very good black and white photograph of it, parked on Esplanade, at the bottom of Cold Bath Road. Whether it had the more powerful 6HLX engine by then I do not know, but given the steepness of some of the hills around the area, I sincerely hope that it had!
28/02/15 – 09:48
Is that tale of the 6HLW engine being defeated by a hill verifiable? 6LW engines powered 30ft long double deckers in pretty hilly territory all over the land without trouble. I can accept that the performance of the RE with the 112 bhp 6HLW might not have been sparkling, and some gradients may have required bottom gear, but I remain a trifle suspicious of the story.
28/02/15 – 12:05
Yes I know what you mean Roger, but the story is told in Duncan Roberts’ ‘Bristol RE – 40 years of service’ book, which is a well-researched publication. West Yorkshire’s Bristol MW coaches (with 6HLW engines) seemed to manage trips around the Dales without too much drama, but then they had ECW aluminium-framed bodywork. I have a suspicion that Duple like Plaxton at the time, were still using composite bodies, which were quite a bit heavier. It is interesting to note that West Yorkshire’s ECW-bodied RELH6G coaches performed well on the Yorkshire-London services, with fully rated (150bhp) Gardner 6HLX engines. However, when WY’s first Plaxton-bodied RELH6G coaches arrived, within a short space of time they were deemed to be ‘sluggish’, and were re-engined with Leyland O.680 units rated at 168bhp, to improve performance. Maybe the same fate had befallen 301 – that of heavier coachwork?
01/03/15 – 06:56
Brendan, that is quite correct about the Duple bodies being composite steel/wood construction, and therefore relatively heavy. The caption to the photo in Duncan Roberts’ book, in which he related the proverbial story about the passengers having to get out and walk up an hill in Scotland, also mentions the construction of the Duple bodies. As I understand it, Duple didn’t adopt all metal frames until the advent of the Dominant.
In practice, even the ECW-bodied RESLs with 6HLW engines were considered to be sluggish. Southern Vectis had a number of those, and they apparently gained a reputation for causing people to miss ferries!
02/03/15 – 07:30
Thanks for the information on Duple bodies Nigel, and also that on Southern Vectis’ sluggish RESL6Gs. I’ve since reflected on Roger’s quite justifiable suspicion relating to the tale, and the comments on 301 in Duncan Roberts’ book. It is quite possible that the coach did struggle on the hill, and the driver did what he thought best under the circumstances. Conversely, the coach did actually manage the climb fully laden with passengers and their luggage, albeit very slowly in first gear, with the driver later commenting on its performance to colleagues on his return. No doubt it would not have taken long for the tale to "develop" as a consequence. Hmmm! We need Miss Marple on the case.
02/03/15 – 17:50
In the postwar years up to the end of the 1950s, the eight legger lorries of Atkinson, ERF, Foden and Guy, and the classic Scammell artics were all powered by the 112 bhp Gardner 6LW. Torque is the prime factor in a commercial vehicle engine, which is where the Gardner range excelled. It is worth remembering that the vaunted 125 bhp engines of AEC and Leyland developed around 118 bhp at the 1700 rpm governed speed of the 6LW, an advantage of just 6 bhp. As Ian T says in his comment on John Stringer’s post of the United Services Dennis Loline I on this site, "112 ghp (Gardner horsepower) was worth 125 of anyone else’s". I think that the story of the 6HLW powered RE coach being totally flummoxed by a hill, like much folklore, is probably apocryphal. Turning to the matter of Duple bodywork, I personally felt that, after the neat styling of the 1950s, the Duple designs of the 1960s – the Vegas, Vistas, Viceroys et al – were uninspired in the extreme, except in respect of frontal treatment which was garishly appalling, reminiscent of the worst aesthetic abominations emanating from the car factories of Detroit. The mass of frontal metalwork alone must have added considerably to the unladen weight. Duple only partially redeemed itself with the Plaxton clones of the 1970s; the true Plaxtons still looked better.
Donning my hard hat, I now await the impending onslaught from Duple aficionados.