Old Bus Photos

Premier Travel – AEC Reliance – 85 UME – 72

Premier Travel - AEC Reliance - 85 UME - 72

Premier Travel (Cambridge)
AEC Reliance 2MU3RV
Burlingham Seagull C41F

The final Mk. VII incarnation of the classic Burlingham Seagull coach body is generally considered by most to be something of a travesty, compared to the earlier versions. With its squared off side panel and slight nod towards tail fins – becoming popular at the time on cars – and longer and fewer side windows attempting to vie with Plaxton’s first Panoramas, it just didn’t work and soon afterwards a complete redesign resulted in the introduction of the Seagull 70 which seemed to some degree to be inspired by the ‘new classic’ – the Harrington Cavalier.
85 UME had been new to Valliant of London W5 in 1959 but had later passed with others to Premier Travel, along with similar examples from Yelloway, joining a further one which Premier had bought new and resulting in probably the largest number of Mk. VII’s in any one fleet.
It is seen here on an enthusiasts’ tour in 1971.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

30/06/16 – 06:38

John, I agree absolutely with your comments about this final version of the classic Seagull design but strangely the angle of the photograph in your posting makes this one look really rather nice. I’m intrigued though, about those dividing strips in the side windows, it seems very odd to have panoramic windows and then divide them into smaller panes.

Chris Barker

30/06/16 – 08:05

The Seagull never seemed to look right without the centre sliding door. It was fundamental to the original design and the later front entrance versions always seemed to me to be something of a ‘lash-up’.

Philip Halstead

01/07/16 – 06:14

I’ve never seen a picture of this one when it was new, but I suspect that the window dividers were a later addition. Quite a few of the Seagull Mk VII bodies needed remedial work as Burlingham’s designers had been rather optimistic about the load-bearing strength of the original window pillars! As far as I know this was never a problem with the Plaxton Panorama of the late 1950s (or any of its successors), but the problem did re-occur at the Blackpool factory – by then Duple (Northern) – in the 1960s with the original Viceroy. Several of those rolled on to their backs resulting in window pillar collapse and crushed passengers.

Neville Mercer

01/07/16 – 06:15

The stenghtheners between the window pillars seem to run inside the glazing, and my guess is they were put in at recertification as the Mk VII had a reputation for flexibility…

Stephen Allcroft

01/07/16 – 06:16

Strangely, despite editing the photo for submission, I’d failed to notice those dividing strips. I’m going to have to search for a photo showing it (or similar ones) with Valliant to see if they were built like that, or whether it was a Premier Travel modification.
I agree, Philip, that the original centre-entrance version was by far the the best looking, but I think the front-entrance Mk.IV’s and V’s still looked pretty decent too. I think the worst looking Seagulls were the Mk.VI with flat windscreens and little bus-type windows (though they were undoubtedly a more practical proposition from Ribble’s point of view), and the downright ugly 1959 season model for the Bedford SB.

John Stringer

01/07/16 – 16:18

Setting aside the possible involvement of the Safety Elf or his predecessors, could it be that the centre-door version was more "coach" as used by one’s local holiday tours firm, and the front/forward entrance one was more "express bus" as used by North Western, Ribble, etc?

Pete Davies


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Black and White – AEC Reliance – AAD 249B – A249

AAD 249B

Black & White Motorways
AEC Reliance 2MU4RA
Harrington Grenadier C41F

This batch of five coaches seems to be rarely photographed despite their superb appearance enhanced once again by a beautifully simple livery on the most elegant of bodies.
Delivered in May 1964 they were AEC Reliance 2MU4RA chassis with Harrington Grenadier C41F coachwork, fleet No’s were A247-A251, the photo was taken on Marine Parade Eastbourne probably in the summer of 1965.
My impression was that Black and White operated very few extended tours or other excursion work instead concentrating on their extensive express service network, perhaps someone can confirm or contradict me on that point.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

29/06/16 – 16:14

I am not sure about extended tours but I think that Black and White did have a day excursion programme- how big the catchment area was I do not know.
Given the peak requirements on Summer Saturdays, a source of midweek revenue was desirable.
The only company I can think of with an express commitment pattern like Black and White (Yelloway) did have a substantial day excursion traffic with a huge catchment area.

Malcolm Hirst


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Whieldons (Green Bus Co) – Guy LUF – 500 URF

Whieldons (Green Bus Co) - Guy LUF - 500 URF

Whieldons (The Green Bus Co. Ltd)
Burlingham Seagull C37F

From the beginning of November 1973 Whieldons o/w The Green Bus Service was taken over by the National Bus Co with Midland Red continuing much of the network although three Uttoxeter services passed to PMT o/w the Potteries Motor Services. Mr C J Whieldon had commenced bus operation in May 1927. By chance, I had a few rides in the spring of 1972 by catching an early Saturday journey out of Rugeley for Uttoxeter via Drointon returning direct via Abbotts Bromley. I still have a faded Setright ticket which might have been a return. The latter service was always a newish Seddon Pennine IV bus which continued on to Cannock but the Drointon service was an older coach no doubt as it wandered the country lanes. On one occasion I caught a Ford 570E with Duple Yeoman body i.e. it looked and sounded like a Bedford SB with a seat next to the driver.
Once I enjoyed a ride on 500 URF, a Guy LUF with Burlingham Seagull coachwork which the company had bought new in 1958. The first passenger boarded somewhere in the lanes and the opportunity was taken for a photograph.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Keith Newton

24/06/16 – 05:58

Oh dear, Keith; the mention of the excellent Guy Arab LUF in the same paragraph as the Seddon Pennine IV illustrates the decline of Green Bus from the sublime to the ridiculous. The Pennine IV was an abomination. Guy offered an underfloor engined chassis, initially the Arab UF, and then from 1953, the the lighter LUF, between 1950 and 1959, after which date the manufacturer chose to place all its eggs in the one ill fated basket called the Wulfrunian. It is rather curious that the Tilling group depended heavily upon Gardner engined underfloor engined chassis, yet the BET, municipal and independent sectors had limited choices of Gardner powered UF models. Atkinson, Daimler and Guy all produced Gardner engined underfloor chassis, but orders were never large. Daimler offered epicyclic transmission as standard, which was an option with Guy, but otherwise the gearbox in Atkinson and Guy models was of the constant mesh variety. The decidedly heavy Daimler Freeline was additionally suspect by virtue of its high pressure hydraulics until an air pressure variant became available. North Western Road Car sought to recreate Bristol simplicity and reliability in the rugged Atkinson chassis, but the heavy hand of BET central control stopped this project in its tracks, and Atkinson never really made much of an impression thereafter. Guy were generally more successful, but the real problem lay in the availability of the AEC Reliance, which, with its light steering and excellent synchromesh gearbox, was a driver’s dream. Even when the shortcomings of the AEC wet liner engines began to emerge, the sales scenario did not alter materially, though Leyland picked up customers with the introduction of the Leopard. I have often wondered if the availability of a decent synchromesh gearbox to the smaller makers might have influenced the situation in their favour. Perhaps the ideal would have been a Gardner powered Reliance. One is surely allowed to dream!

Roger Cox

27/06/16 – 05:53

I get the impression that BET’s central purchasing policy was more about bulk discounts, and cost generally, than anything else. Guys were almost certainly more expensive than Leylands and AECs, and the company might not have been able to handle the quantities required to allow bulk discounts.

Peter Williamson

29/06/16 – 06:11

Perhaps it’s just the angles of the photo, or maybe 500 URF was simply way past her best by then, but this might just about be the ugliest and most downtrodden Seagull I have ever seen.
Were the glorious, beautiful Seagull bodies different for each type of chassis ?

Stuart C

29/06/16 – 16:11

I am not a Seagull expert but this I believe is the later version with the front entrance body and I believe has a higher waist line. IMHO the best derivative was the centre entrance version on the 8ft wide chassis as on Tiger Cubs and some Reliances.
I also had a soft spot for the Ribble/Standerwick domed versions as they looked like a purposeful express coach.

Roger Burdett

29/06/16 – 16:12

This is a very late example of a Seagull Mk V body, but incorporates many non-standard features, most notably the straight moulding at skirt panel level. Burlingham had already moved on to the Mk VI (with window pans as supplied to Ribble and others) and the Mk VII (with "panoramic windows"), so I suspect that these later Mk V bodies were made from whatever bits were left over. These "Meccano Kit" bodies (both from Burlingham and other body-builders) tended to end up on low-volume chassis at the end of their production runs.

Neville Mercer


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Friday 1st July 2016