Old Bus Photos

Aldershot & District – Dennis Falcon P5 – POR 428 – 282

Aldershot & District - Dennis Falcon P5 - POR 428 - 282

Aldershot & District Traction Co
Dennis Falcon P5
Strachans B30F

In the 1930s, Dennis manufactured a bewildering choice of small buses for lightly trafficked routes – Dart, Pike, Arrow Minor, Ace and Mace. These were all replaced in 1938 by a single model, the Falcon, available in normal or forward control, with the engine options of Dennis 3.77 side valve petrol or Gardner 4LK or Perkins P6 diesel. By the onset of WW2 only around 50 had been produced. Aldershot & District took delivery of nine petrol engined Falcons with four speed gearboxes and Strachans B20F bodywork in 1939, but they saw little use before being stored for the duration of the conflict. They were placed back in service after the war but, being petrol powered, all were withdrawn by 1951. It may seem rather surprising that Aldershot & District did not consider converting these little buses to diesel power, but they had been stored in the open in the Aldershot sports field for much of the war, and the bodywork had suffered quite severely. Instead, in 1949/50, the company took delivery of fifteen new Falcons of almost identical appearance to the earlier batch, though these were of the P3 type with Gardner 4LK engines and five speed gearboxes, and the B20F bodies were built by Dennis. In 1951/2 they were reseated to B24F. Withdrawal took place between 1956 and 1960. No less than 15 more Falcons, now of the upgraded and longer P5 variety but still with 4LK engines and five speed gearboxes, arrived in 1954, and a further 8 came two years later, all with Strachans B30F bodywork. These buses marked the end of an era, as they were the last Dennis single deckers and the final Strachans bodies to be bought by Aldershot & District. The last of the batch, POR 428, fleet no. 282, was withdrawn by the Aldershot company in 1967, and, along with many of its fellows, was sold to the Isle of Man. In 1997 it was rescued and returned to the mainland, where the next thirteen years were taken up with its restoration; see-: www.adbig.co.uk/282.html  
In the picture above 282 is seen in 1961 at Petersfield Station, awaiting departure on the very rural route 53 to Alton. A Dennis Loline I arriving from Guildford on route 24 pulls in behind.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

26/04/15 – 11:10

If I remember rightly, these buses were a ‘challenge’ to drive. The driver’s signalling window was higher than the driver’s elbow level, being closer to his shoulder level, so requiring an upward angle for his arm. I think only his hand could actually reach out, because the driver’s seat was so far inboard.
And the raked steering wheel was not positioned on the centre line of the driver’s seat either. So he was always steering through a bit of an angle – a bit like riding a horse side-saddle!


27/04/15 – 07:47

Obviously from an era when pride in the fleet was something to be encouraged. Today’s attitude seems to be that pride is an unnecessary outdated luxury, which is an expensive time consuming drain on recourses.

Ronnie Hoye

27/04/15 – 07:48

Quite a few types of normal control buses seem to have had the steering column positioned further towards the centre of the vehicle than forward control machines. I have never driven a Falcon, but this was certainly true of the Bedford OB, the Leyland Comet and the Guy GS. In my experience of all these other examples, the bodywork tapered inwards towards the front of the vehicle allowing reasonable access to the signalling window. The Strachans body design on these Falcons retained parallel sides right up to the bonnet, and I can well appreciate the difficulty of actually extending one’s signalling arm to as mentioned by Petras 409. I agree also, that the signalling window was set absurdly high for practical use, the saloon window level being set at a higher level than that of the exactly contemporary GS, which was a delightful little bus to drive. Strachans didn’t take ergonomics into account when designing these Falcon bodies.

Roger Cox


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Aldershot & District – Dennis Lance – GOU 845 – 145

GOU 845

Aldershot & District Traction Co
Dennis Lance K3
East Lancs L25/26R

Aldershot & District Dennis K3 fleet number 145 seen above at Alton Station, Hants celebrates its 50th year in preservation with Tim Stubbs by running an hourly service between Hindhead (145’s home garage) and Haslemere, Surrey, this coming Saturday, July 19.
First departures are from Haslemere Station at 10:35am and from Hindhead National Trust Car Park at 11:05. Last departures are from Haslemere Stn at 4:35 and Hindhead at 5:05 for the full round trip, and 5:35 from Haslemere at 5:35 for Hindhead, Farnham and Alton.
This is a small-scale event originally planned for friends associated over the years with 145’s preservation and running, so Tim asks me to point out that capacity may be limited, but 145 and 220 (Dennis K4) will be running trips the next day (Sunday July 20) at the Alton Running Day, Anstey Park, with frequent departures from Alton Station. Both of these deckers are unique survivals. 145 has a Dennis O6 engine (7.58 litres), vacuum brakes and Dennis overdrive gearbox; 220, dating from 1954, has a 1939 Gardner 5LW engine, vacuum-over-hydraulic brakes and Dennis o/d gearbox.
The very different engines give them totally different characters.
145 is also unusual in having 8 rows of seats upstairs, each seating 3 except for a 4-seater at the front. 220 (East Lancs L28/28R) is a foot longer and 6" wider, also with 8 rows aloft, arranged as alternating 3s and 4s.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Thompson

19/07/14 – 08:11

Every month, for ten years, from the mid ’50’s, I used to get one of these buses from Woking Station to Botley’s Park Hospital at Ottershaw, then back: not a long journey, about 6 miles/30mins. How I looked forward to riding on them – their unique engine sound and that ‘U’ turn on the gear lever when the driver engaged overdrive.
One distinctive feature of them was the unusually large width between the headlights, the same size and height, too.
Thank goodness one has survived, looking so very kempt, too!

Chris Hebbron

19/07/14 – 08:12

Lovely to see an unfamiliar face even if it looks like a cousin of a Daimler CV. How does 220 end up with a 5LW, 25 years its senior? Dennis must be the great survivor, with an unfailing eye for a niche and a willingness to change, even if this includes ownership… but AEC, Leyland, Bristol, Guy, Daimler… where are you when we need you?


20/07/14 – 07:11

Joe. All the makes you mention have one thing in common –
Donald Stokes. First we gave him a knighthood then a peerage. That’s what we do in this country- reward incompetence.


20/07/14 – 07:30

GOU 845_2

Here is a rear view of the vehicle: Copyright John G. Lidstone

Chris Hebbron

20/07/14 – 15:23

Sir Donald Stokes (knighted before the merger) was probably not the sharpest tool in the box for someone who was a company leader, although he was a good salesman, but taking over the newly-enforced merger of the ‘batty’ BMC, which should have gone into bankruptcy, was a poison chalice for anyone. Definitely a case of being between and rock and a hard place!! This was an era of strikes and mayhem at the best of times, mainly centred in the Midlands, with strong unions with leaders and shop stewards, like ‘Red’ Robbo, with Communist leanings, a Labour government which was always interfering with the running of the company, but never grasped the nettle of bringing in union democracy (despite Barbara Castle trying) adding more chaos to the brew! His peerage, in my view, WAS debatable.

Chris Hebbron

21/07/14 – 07:20

Joe. The Gardner engines came from 1939/40 Lances and Lancets when they were taken out of service. The engines were overhauled and incorporated Gardner approved updates to increase the BHP.
Today this is called recycling!


22/06/15 – 15:13

Is it my imagination or is the rear destination blind of GOU 845 offset to the nearside? If so, was this normal practice on Aldershot and District or just this batch of vehicles?

Larry B

23/06/15 – 06:43

The offset is also present on LOU 48, which is a K4. See www.sct61.org.uk/ad220a  GAA 628 is also shown offset on the sct site but without type ID. Haven’t found any other rear views of Lances with other companies to compare

John Lomas

23/06/15 – 06:48

They would appear to be offset as you say. I would suspect the reason for this was to keep the housing for the mechanism clear of the staircase. I think the final design of Leyland body had "bulging" rear number displays for the same reason. See this link

David Beilby

09/05/17 – 07:47

Can anyone remember an Aldershot & District single decker bus that ran from Midhurst to Bognor Regis via Chichester. I seem to remember it ran on Chichester’s Market Day (Wednesday)

David Strickland

09/05/17 – 17:05

Aldershot & District route 19A was a summer service that ran four times a day beyond Midhurst, the normal terminus of the 19, onwards to Chichester and Bognor.

Roger Cox


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Aldershot & District – Dennis Dominant – HOU 900 – 174

Aldershot & District - Dennis Dominant - HOU 900 - 174
Copyright Roger Cox

Aldershot & District
Dennis Dominant
Strachans B41C

The Dominant represented the initial attempt by Dennis to offer an underfloor engined single deck chassis. Like the contemporary Regal IV, Royal Tiger, Freeline and Arab UF models, the Dominant was a heavy beast, but, unlike those competitors, it never achieved quantity production. The engine was a horizontal version of the advanced 24 valve wet liner O6 diesel of 7.58 litres coupled to the Hobbs semi automatic gearbox, which used disc clutches instead of annular brake bands to engage the gears. A two speed axle was also specified. The middle section of the chassis was ‘humped’ slightly to clear the engine and gearbox, which made the design rather more difficult to body than its competitors. Only three Dominants were made, and all were shown at the 1950 Commercial Motor Show. One was displayed in left hand drive chassis form, but it is believed never to have run under its own power. The other two received Strachans bus bodies of very different character. The bus in the demonstration park had a supercharged (not turbocharged) engine, raising power from 100bhp to 130 bhp, and full air braking, and had a front entrance bus body, probably with 41 seats, of conventional appearance. The other, vacuum braked Dominant became very well known as Aldershot & District No.174, HOU 900, and its B41C body was an example of the uncertain approach to styling adopted by a number of coach builders in the early years of the underfloor engined chassis. The initial strange wing pattern was subsequently simplified to a more usual style by A&D as seen in the picture above.
The Hobbs transmission revealed early weaknesses, and it was replaced in both running Dominants by standard Dennis two plate clutches and five speed gearboxes. The demonstrator was sold to Trimdon Motor Services who registered it MUP 297 and ran it, now without the supercharger, for seven years, before selling it on to become a mobile shop. The other Dominant remained in the Aldershot & District fleet from 1951 for fourteen years, spending much of that time ploughing its way on the Aldershot – Cove group of services. It is seen here in 1961 leaving Aldershot Bus Station with Weymann L25/26R rebodied Guy Arab I of 1943 No.873, EHO 695 alongside. This Arab was one of a number of such chassis originally destined for, but ultimately not wanted by London Transport. It was initially fitted for A&D service with a Strachans L22/26R body, rebodied in 1950, and finally withdrawn in 1962.

More information about the Dominant may be found on this site:-
www.dennissociety.org.uk and a picture of the Trimdon example may be found here:- http://trimdon.com/galleries/

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

20/01/13 – 13:38

Thank you for posting this view. It has settled a problem I’ve had for some years, in respect of my "bought" slides. Not all photographs come with an indication of where (and/or when) they were taken. I have several where this building features in the background. Clearly, it was in A&D or AV territory, but the precise location was a mystery until now!

Pete Davies

20/01/13 – 14:11

Thanks for the links Roger. The original wing embellishments were rather odd – those sort of things did not really belong on coaches of the new underfloor-engined era, but the front one being the ‘wrong way round’ was plain silly. Many coachbuilders and operators of the time must have been really confused as to what to do with this new layout of vehicle. However once A&D had modified it in the fashion depicted on this photo I think it looked rather nice, with its gently curved lower windscreen line just taking the edge of any tendency to boxiness. The A&D livery of the period was just superb and enhanced any vehicle.
The Arab looks really fine too. Weymann bodies looked great on any type of chassis. Many operators who rebodied their utilities after the war also converted them to the low-bonnetted Arab III layout, but I always felt – purely from an enthusiast/aesthetic perspective – that the Arab II’s original tall bonnet looked far more balanced, and in keeping with its rugged, no-nonsense nature.

John Stringer

20/01/13 – 14:51

The bus station at Aldershot was opened in August 1933, and I believe that it was the only company owned bus station within the BET group. Sadly, it has now gone. The site is now occupied by residential development, and the replacement bus station is an austere affair near the railway station entrance.

Roger Cox

20/01/13 – 15:31

Omnibus Stations Ltd, a company jointly owned by North Western and Ribble owned Lower Mosley St Bus Station Manchester, also long gone.

Phil Blinkhorn

20/01/13 – 16:26

The Wilts and Dorset bus station in Endless Street, Salisbury is up for sale. When it is gone all the services using it will be decanted onto the surrounding streets to join the local services in an already congested City centre. Is this progress? No,it’s called asset stripping. Sorry to go off topic. I’m a great Dennis fan and on a sunny summer afternoon I sometimes cut my grass with my 1960’s Dennis lawnmower.


20/01/13 – 17:56

I know it’s off topic, unless the lawnmowers were scale model prototypes for buses, dustcarts or fire appliances, but I’d no idea they were still being made as recently as the 60’s. I saw one at Amberley on one occasion, several years ago.
To be fair, Paragon, I visit Salisbury every couple of months or so, to exercise my "dodders’ pass". Salisbury Bus Station is in dire need of fairly extensive refurbishment, at least. Is it purely asset stripping, or is it another of those odd instances where the site is sold and then leased back? Is the aim to clog Blue Boar Row, Endless Street and New Canal even more than they are already as a permanent feature, so even more shoppers will be discouraged from visiting, and go out of town or use mail order/internet shopping instead? You’re right. It is NOT progress!

Pete Davies

21/01/13 – 06:12

………with supercharger, no doubt, Paragon!

Chris Hebbron

21/01/13 – 06:13

Paragon, Is it a petrol mower?

21/01/13 – 06:14

Pete, the Dennis lawnmower business was sold off by Hestair, which also disposed of the Mercury truck business. However, Dennis lawnmowers are still made, albeit by the Derby firm of Howardson. See http://www.dennisuk.com/history/

Roger Cox

21/01/13 – 06:16

With reference to Roger’s comment (20/01) about BET-owned bus stations . . . how about: Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Batley – YWD (or corporation?; Newcastle Worswick Street, Northern; Scarborough Westwood, and Bridlington, EYMS; Skelhorne Street (Liverpool) and Carlisle, Ribble; Ammanford, James; Haverfordwest, Western Welsh; and this is now getting too far south for clear recollection – didn’t Southdown own a bus station at either Lewes or Uckfield? (one of the few instances of Southdown using their own premises – on the grounds that they’d already paid road tax to use the public roads, so why pay again to provide their own terminal facilities off-road). And then again what is a bus station – didn’t BMMO use its Stourbridge garage as a "bus station" of sorts?

Philip Rushworth

Oops, I forgot! Didn’t M&D own two bus stations in Maidstone until the early ’70s?

21/01/13 – 06:18

As has been mentioned, body builders weren’t quite sure what to do with the new-fangled underfloor-engined chassis. A few builders seem to have noticed that, unlike half cabs where the front and rear were very different, it was possible here to build in features which emphasised the symmetry of the new shape. A flat side view of this Dominant in its original form would show this symmetry in the ‘wings’, and perhaps something similar was attempted in the mouldings above, but they didn’t quite have the nerve to carry it through. The whole idea was, of course, a big mistake, because a bus/coach is not a static object but something that moves FORWARD!

Peter Williamson

21/01/13 – 14:25

The BET Group North Western Road Car Co also owned many of its bus stations – Macclesfield, Oldham, Altrincham, and Northwich for sure. This was fairly common practice among area agreement companies of any size. More interesting perhaps (to me at least!) are the independent operators who had their own bus stations – Birch Brothers’ Rushden facility springs to mind along with Blair & Palmer’s East Tower Street premises in Carlisle.

Neville Mercer

21/01/13 – 14:26

Yes it is a petrol mower. The engine was made by another great British engineering company now long gone, Villiers of Wolverhampton. I use a modern Dennis on our bowling green, superb quality but unfortunately powered by a trouble-free Japanese engine, just like my car. Where did we go wrong? No. Don’t lets get started on that.


22/01/13 – 06:52

Villiers was a long established company in small engines for motor-cycles and lawnmowers. In the early 1980s, they produced a 2-stroke engine for lawnmowers with Mountfields. Unfortunately, this was a disaster and led to the demise of the company.

Jim Hepburn

22/01/13 – 11:07

Mention of Villiers reminds me of a Fanny Barnett motorbike I had, briefly, in the 1950’s. It was a distress purchase from a friend, when my trusty Ariel broke down, and was soon sold on. A similar distress purchase was a Wartburg, also briefly owned. I was not a lover of two-strokes, although, of course, I exclude the Commer TS3 engine!

Chris Hebbron

22/01/13 – 12:26

Chris, my dad and I drove a 1967 Wartburg Knight from Stockport to Rome and back in the summer of 1967 with my mum and two sisters.
Fuelling was a two stage process which we thought might cause problems once we left French and German speaking countries. The first fuel stop in Italy at Aosta we were approached by a typically dressed Italian widow, all in black. I handed her a note in Italian stating what we needed. Her reply was "Awight Duck, nah problem I’ll get ma son ta fill y’ap all cushty".
Turns out that, though she was Italian, she’d lived in London from 1920 to 1965.
The Wartburg was faultless, its 998cc engine tackling Alpine passes with 5 adults on board as brilliantly as it managed the autobahns and the Autostrada del Sole.

Phil Blinkhorn

22/01/13 – 14:11

I know others who share the positive view of the old Wartburg. I also know people who swore by – not at – their Comecon Skodas. As a dyed in the wool VW person (from Beetle onward) I am a very happy modern Skoda (VW in sheeps clothing) owner – despite recent comments by Phil. Just bought a new one at the weekend – so haven’t worn it out yet!

David Oldfield

22/01/13 – 17:04

Wife had a fourth hand Comecon Skoda in the late 1970s. Rubbish body ended up 50 shades of mustard but the engine and transmission were fantastic as, I’m told, were their PSVs which I have ridden on from time to time over the last 40 odd years.
BTW my latest Skoda troubles with the bonnet lock follow on from a leaking water pump and damaged timing belt at 38,000 miles. Have had partial compensation from Skoda but they are hardly my favourite people at present.

Phil Blinkhorn

23/01/13 – 15:49

There was a lot of snobbery about Comecon products fostered by the likes of Clarkson and Co. who rarely have to pay for their motoring. Saab won the Monte Carlo Rally using a 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine just like the Wartburg. My daughter had a Comecon Skoda for a couple of years. I had to replace the water pump but other than that it was totally reliable. She then wanted a more fashionable Seat-disaster. For nearly 40 years I have ridden East German MZ motorcycles, I’m on my second one now. Practical, easy to maintain – just like we used to make in this country.


HOU 900_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

06/03/13 – 06:57

A slightly late comment on Roger’s excellent article and the mention of the "hump" in the chassis rails – which was actually on the nearside only, over the engine and certainly no higher than the raised sections over front and rear axle. The contemporary press were most unforgiving and scathing with their comments about the uneven surface. Strangely, other manufacturers with even worse "humps" escaped such criticism. I have always thought that quite possibly the press were encouraged by the likes of AEC and Leyland who were marketing their chassis (Regal IV, Royal Tiger) with the expectation that the provided outriggers would be used as pick up points for the vertical body frames and floor. The truth was of course that many body builders simply ignored the top level of the chassis and used substantial cross bearers as a foundation for floor and body where required. Certainly though, this issue pointed the way to the later dead flat chassis on Reliance, Tiger Cub and Lancet UF, to name but three.

Nick Webster

06/03/13 – 16:44

Thanks for your very informative comment, Nick. I am sure that you are right in your suspicions that the ‘big two’ massaged the publicity machine of the commercial press to wound the sales of the Dominant. During WW2, notwithstanding the supreme peril of the nation, Rolls Royce, with its eye on post war dominance, tried every trick to get the Napier Sabre aero engine cancelled, and much of the unbalanced criticism of that engine that still holds sway today derives from that campaign. Dennis engineering was of a high order, but the trouble with the Dominant (and the later Lancet UF) was the dependence upon the old ‘O’ type gearbox once the Hobbs transmission had proved to be unreliable. That gearbox, with its sliding mesh engagement for indirect gears, and the preselective overdrive that required familiarity for successful operation, together with the wrong way round ‘right to left’ gate, required some skill in use when located halfway along the length of an underfloor engined chassis. If Dennis had equipped the Lancet UF from the outset with a straightforward constant mesh five speed gearbox as it did with the Loline, then the sales might well have been more of a challenge to AEC and Leyland.

Roger Cox

06/03/13 – 18:13

Roger, without wanting to drift too far off topic, there may well be truth in what you say about Rolls Royce but there is no doubt that the 24 cylinder H block Sabre suffered from complexity and poor quality control from the start which, had it emerged through a time of peace would have been solved.
In time of war where reliability was all,it was too unreliable compared to the less powerful Merlin and probably too complex for the Erks to deal with as the war moved swiftly forward through Europe with minimal facilities at the forward bases where the Typhoons and Tempests found themselves in the ground attack role, the Sabre, for all its power being uncompetitive in dog fights above 21,000 feet. Post war there was little for the Sabre to power as air forces turned to jet and turboprop power.

Phil Blinkhorn

08/03/13 – 07:30

Phil, the legend of the Sabre’s ‘unreliability’ dies hard. The most convincing and clearly documented assessment of this engine may be found in the book "The Power to Fly" by the extraordinary author LJK Setright. This site, as you rightly point out, is not the forum for aero engine debates, but the facts about this remarkable engine show the traditional, Derby briefed view to be highly jaundiced. To quote Setright: "..when properly maintained instead of being criminally bodged (a reference to the widespread practice of tampering with the automatic boost control by mechanics at several airfields to achieve even higher outputs and thus airspeeds) it was exemplary in its reliability". Production of Typhoons totalled 3300, and that of Tempest V/VIs reached 942. Engine production would have well exceeded the 4242 airframe total. Those figures could not have been achieved by an untrustworthy piece of engineering. It’s high time that the Derby manipulated Sabre legend was despatched once and for all. Meanwhile, back at OBP…..

Roger Cox


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Tuesday 25th February 2020