Meffan of Kirriemuir
Scottish Aviation C29F
On Sunday 25th August 2014, I went to the Seaburn classic and vintage vehicle rally. They had vehicles of all shapes and sizes, with most of the buses having been seen previously on this site. However, this is one I’ve never seen before. GSR 244 a Commer Q4, with C29F body by Scottish Aviation. It was new to Meffan of Kirriemuir in 1943. I assume the Perkins diesel was a later modification. Not a lot of detail I’m afraid, but an unusual vehicle.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye
04/09/14 – 06:50
Ronnie, I think this Commer would be later than 1943. Whilst there were certainly some civilian Q4 lorries built from 1943 I don’t think there were any PSV applications until after the war.
The immediate post war Commer Q4/Commando story is a little complicated.
Basically, as I understand it, the Q4 was a goods chassis and at the end of the war the Rootes group were left with some surplus unsold Q4 chassis, possibly a cancelled government contract.
Some of these chassis were then reworked to become suitable for PSV use and when this supply was exhausted further chassis were built to PSV standards and these were called Commando.
Just what the difference was I have never been able to determine.
GSR was an Angus registration, so that ties in with Kirriemuir, but was current between Nov 1949 and Feb 1951. The normal control Commando was superseded by the forward control version in 1950 so I suspect GSR 244 dates from early 1950 and is a Commando rather than a Q4.
It may have had a later diesel conversion but the Perkins P6 was an option in these Commers from new.
04/09/14 – 06:53
This was new in April 1950 with a Rootes 6 cylinder engine.
Further note this was an ex WD chassis dating from 1943 reconditioned and bodied in April 1950.
04/09/14 – 18:00
Thanks for the chassis information Alan. That explains why it is a Q4 and not the Commando. It looks as if the Q4 and Commando ran alongside each other for much longer than I thought. In my message above I should have said the forward control version was of course the Avenger, and it appears the Avenger and Q4/Commando also overlapped by about a year.
04/09/14 – 18:00
Thanks for that, Eric and Alan. I was going by the information displayed on the vehicle. However, my thoughts at the time were that the body looked to be to modern and well appointed to have been of 1943 vintage, so a rebodied wartime chassis would explain it.
26/11/14 – 13:58
I wonder if anyone can point me in the direction of a photo of an RAF Commer Commando whilst it was actually in service with the RAF. I am trying to research a genuine registration number for a modelling project. There is a fine preserved vehicle in the Yorkshire Air Museum but it is carrying a post-RAF service civilian registration.
03/12/14 – 05:36
Andy – The one in the Yorkshire Air Museum originally carried the registration RAF 138076. From 1949, when a new system of military registrations took place, it became 08 AC 67.
So take your pick or build two models!
23/02/15 – 07:43
Re the Meffans Commer coach. About 20 of these vehicles started life in 1946 as BEA one and a half deck airport coaches to run to Heathrow. They were replaced around 1949 and bought by Scottish Aviation who rebodied them and fitted recon 6 cyl side valve engines. Most were bought by Scottish operators including Meffan and Fern of Kirriemuir. Alexander took 20, one of them was used on the Pitlochry Kinloch Rannoch service I have first hand knowledge of the Kirriemuir ones as I drove both often.
09/04/16 – 08:19
Andy, no doubt you will be aware that the Oxford Die-cast Company has brought out a model Commer Commando in 1:76 scale. Liveries include RAF, BEA, BOAC,Australian National Airways and soon to come, South African Airways.
09/04/16 – 10:33
What a very handsome tidy and friendly looking little vehicle, with a bright but refined livery which suits it admirably.
11/04/16 – 06:07
Having read with interest all your comments. I draw your attention to Alan Oxley and Isla Adamson comments which were gratefully received.
Alan in stating new to Meffan with a Rootes 6 cylinder engine being ex War Department chassis from 1943 reconditioned and re-bodied in April 1950.
Isla comment of, bought by Scottish Aviation re-bodied and fitted with 6 cylinder engine most of these coaches were bought by operators including Meffen, also Alexander took 20.
I have come across a photo of GSR 244 showing the original owner to be Alexander of Falkirk information is along side that of current owner being Derek Thompson of Longframlington, Northumberland at time photo was taken. If you input GSR 244 to BLOTW under search the owner it does show to Meffan however if you select More it raises 12 photos of coach. 1 photo clearly shows original owner to be Alexander so here lies the confusion of new to Alexander or Meffan. A 2nd. Photo shows coach sold to a Falkirk firm ( ? Alexander) after service from War Department.
Alexander or Meffan is no further trace until it was acquired by the late Ted Heslop of Acomb near Hexham in Northumberland in 1970 a scrap merchant / preservationist. Stripped to the chassis it was rescued in 2010 by Derek Thompson who re-bodied it with a Scottish Aviation body and a Perkins P6 engine. A 3rd. photo shows coach on rally circuit showing to WEST COACH MOTORS in Scotland whilst with Derek. Suffering in health Derek sold coach.
In May 2015 see’s the coach return to Scotland present ownership Unknown as of 10/04/2016.
GSR 244 is a 1943 Commer Q4 Ex. War Department chassis as in 1st.photo show’s it to have all Aluminium Bodywork by Scottish Aviation based in Glasgow.
A brief history would look like,
Alexander / Meffan 1950.
West Coast Motors ?
Ted Heslop 1970.
Derek Thompson. 2010.
Alexander of Falkirk were coach builders around 1947/48/49 I ask could this coach have been built by them then listed as new to Meffan in 4/1950 or would anyone be able to confirm it went Meffan then Alexander. Any further history be gratefully accepted. Thank you to everyone for information up to this point.
Looking at another photo out of the 12 listed under More on BLOTW across the rear doors of GSR 244 is The pride of COQUETDALE, Northumberland. To the top right of the right rear door is,
11/04/16 – 16:25
We’re in need of Occam’s razor here; the vehicle concerned was built in 1943 as a goods chassis, not a PSV, it was not at any time a BOAC vehicle.
Walter Alexander & Sons Ltd (and subsidiary David Lawson Ltd ) did indeed run a batch of Commer Commandos with similar bodies; they and this coach were not however bodied by Walter Alexander but by the Prestwick, Ayrshire based company Scottish Aviation. From 1946-51 with a decline in aircraft production they built all aluminium bus and coach bodies.
This particular coach body was fitted at Prestwick by Scottish Aviation and the coach sold to Meffan of Kirriemuir. It is not recorded as ever having worked either for the Walter ALexander companies or for West Coast motors in any source I have ever seen.
16/04/16 – 06:08
Stephen Allcroft. Thank you for your detail I shall amend notes.
26/04/16 – 14:50
GSR 244 never served with West Coast Motors, the pic of it on Flickr by ‘ASP8’ in West Coast Motors livery is a digital photo edit on what it might have looked like in WCM livery.