Old Bus Photos

West Yorkshire – Bristol RELH6G – AWR 405B – ERG 5

West Yorkshire - Bristol RELH6G - AWR 405B - ERG 5
Copyright John Stringer

West Yorkshire Road Car Co
1964
Bristol RELH6G
ECW DP47F

A while back I posted a gallery of photos taken on the occasion of a Farewell to Samuel Ledgard tour in 1967.
Taken on the same day at the start of the tour is this one showing West Yorkshire Road Car’s fine Bristol RELH6G/ECW coach ERG5 (AWR 405B)loading in Bradford’s Chester Street Bus Station.
Behind is our tour coach – Ledgard’s Tiger Cub/Burlingham Seagull UUA 794.
Alongside is West Yorkshire’s SBW28 (KWU 388), a Bristol LWL6B/ECW B39R new in 1952 as no. 451 but renumbered in 1954. It was withdrawn in November 1967 and sold to North’s the dealer in 1968, passing to Drury (Northern) Ltd, Huddersfield for works transport.
Behind the LWL is SMG11 (MWR 222), a Bristol LS5G/ECW B45F new in 1954 as EUG11 with DP41F seating. It had been rebuilt by ECW as B45F in 1958 and renumbered SUG11, but then renumbered again to SMG11 (in the MW series) in 1962. It was withdrawn in 1968 and also sold to North’s.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer


15/01/13 – 14:49

My first solo visit to London from Sheffield was on one of these. (E reg. – but I didn’t record which one.) I knew I would not get a ZF Reliance – SUT didn’t do Yorkshire Services and East Midland didn’t do the Sheffield diagram. The ZF Reliance remains my favourite but the RE was a revelation and started my "love affair" with the marque and model both as passenger and as driver. A magic carpet ride and smoothly quiet. Was this only the ’60s? [Stephen Morris once said that standards of ride and engineering were never bettered than on the AEC Regal IV – the same could be said, especially of rear engined vehicles, of the Bristol RELH6G/L (and sisters)].

David Oldfield


15/01/13 – 17:38

In Lancaster, we used to have West Yorkshire vehicles coming through on the X88, which ran between Morecambe and Leeds/Bradford. So far as I can recall, these were usually from the CUG/EUG/SUG classes of LS, but we had the more modern MW types from time to time.
I have a view of one of these in the background of a slide of one of the Standerwick Atlanteans, but it isn’t suitable for publication.
With the others, there were obvious differences, but why was the example above not a full CRG???

Pete Davies


16/01/13 – 05:13

Probably due the peculiarity of official designations by BTC/ECW for these early coaches, Pete. If they had full destination blinds (including number boxes) and powered folding doors, then they were designated DP (express). If they had a single piece coach door and small destination blinds without number box they were designated Coaches. DPs included United’s 43 seaters fitted out to the most luxurious specification for the long trek to London. [Including the arm-chair like seats, a notable feature of RE coaches.] This looks like one of these United-like "DPs" – although 47 was the usual capacity for these REs.

David Oldfield

PS: The new Weymann Part 2 book designates Sheffield’s Fanfare Leopards as Express. The only difference between them and any other Fanfare produced is the full destination display – including number box.


16/01/13 – 08:40

Thanks, David!

Pete Davies


16/01/13 – 17:15

I agree with David Oldfield’s comments regarding the quiet comfortable ride of the ECW bodied RELH6G I think because the bodywork was so solidly built with good sound insulation and as they normally had only 47 seats quite spacious for passengers.
Driving on the other hand especially on the early 5 speed manuals took some getting used to as hearing the engine note to time gear changes was not easy but once mastered it gave genuine satisfaction, the main bugbear was what seemed to be too wide a gap between the 2nd and 3rd gears which was present on all RE’s coach or bus that I drove.
Also be careful selecting reverse on those type if the heater control was in the mid position in it’s quadrant as it was very easy to trap your finger very painful, but for all that I am glad to have driven the vehicles of the 60’s and 70’s rather than the automatic power operated point and steer vehicles that have followed since then where I would feel more of a wheel hand than a driver.

Diesel Dave


17/01/13 – 05:28

Yes. As an operator friend of mine once said, "I want professional drivers, not steering wheel attendants." As a fan of the ZF manual box [I know, not available on REs] I have only ever driven semi-automatic REs. Pleasurable, nonetheless. The gap between ratios on 2nd and 3rd gears was always far more noticeable on the Leyland Leopard, though.

David Oldfield


18/01/13 – 06:35

I have always been a fan of the RE despite an unfortunate incident involving one. In 1973 I went from Salisbury to Swindon for the purposes of a vasectomy. The deed was done and I caught the service bus home. At the time this route was shared by Wilts and Dorset and Bristol Omnibus and it was the latter’s RE that I boarded. Despite a dose of aspirin and decent suspension I felt every bump! At the short stop in Marlborough I had a walk round but was very glad to reach Endless Street bus station, which incidentally the asset strippers are going to sell now. Several years ago I saw a preserved example at the Warminster running day. It pulled away with that glorious Leyland sound and distinctive transmission noise and a shudder went through me.

Paragon


18/01/13 – 06:36

A lovely shot John, crammed full of interest – and doesn’t that cream and red livery really brighten up the wet weather scene? I cannot help but agree with David and Diesel Dave’s comments regarding the RE coaches. I had a real soft spot for them and thought they looked elegant and restrained, and as you say David, gave a very quiet and comfortable ride. West Yorkshire provided a coach for interested Central Works and Harrogate depot staff to visit the 1970 Earl’s Court Commercial Show. The company provided ERG7, their only ERG with semi-automatic transmission. It was such a smooth and gently powerful beast, and our three drivers (fitters Johnny Berry and Malcolm Houseman, and I think, driving instructor Johnny Parker) drove it as taught. Each upward gearchange was paused in neutral, to allow the Gardner engine’s revs to ‘die down’ before the next ratio was selected, and the changes were barely perceptible. Only the engine and exhaust notes gave the game away that the next gear had been selected.
David’s comments are correct relating to the designations – ERG being Express, Rear engine, Gardner, as the class had bus-type glider doors and a bus-style destination layout. They were painted cream and red, denoting their ‘dual-purpose’ status. The full coach version (CRG) had a one-piece coach door, and had a smaller coach-style (two aperture) destination display. Livery was cream and maroon, as befitting their more prestigious duties, and the coach version also sported a deeper aluminium trim strip beneath the side and rear windows, which was also ribbed. By the way David, if the coach you rode on to London was E-reg’d, it would have been CRG1 (OWT 241E), as it was WY’s only E-reg’d RELH. It was always my favourite WY RELH, and was company’s only manual gearbox CRG. It also had a fascinating history all of its own!

Brendan Smith


18/01/13 – 08:14

Brendan, thanks for that. Would that mean it was the RELH6B that was an "unfinished" test bed vehicle built sometime before 1967? After fulfilling its test duties it was re-engined with a Gardner and sent to ECW to be properly finished.

David Oldfield


18/01/13 – 11:03

Just like Brendan I have the very greatest admiration for all versions of the Bristol RE. Having at one time had many relations in the South I was a fairly regular traveller on the London services and the RE coaches were above reproach in all respects, particularly quiet smooth running and supreme comfort – we have every sympathy with your predicament Paragon but the Bristol can scarcely be blamed for that, and what a mercy you didn’t have to travel home on some of today’s ghastly apologies.
The Bristol RE service bus was equally impeccable in every way – not least in tidy professional ECW appearance. A well known driver who at one time used to write very balanced, sensible and informed articles about various models once gave the RE a wicked slating, saying that its road holding was nothing short of dangerous etc etc – I was amazed by this obviously genuinely meant opinion, and could only reflect on what he might have thought to a wet road and an AEC Swift with most of the load in the rear area !!

Chris Youhill


18/01/13 – 11:38

…..or a Leyland National 1…..

David Oldfield


19/01/13 – 06:21

I once caught the by then National Express coach from Wigan to Leeds in the mid seventies I was somewhat surprised when an ECW bodied RE West Yorkshire coach arrived.
The ensuing ride was a bit of a Tardis moment; a superb ride in a seat that todays body builders would do well to study. A well driven bus complete with conductor of vintage years.
Incidentally did ECW ever change the seat support design (on the aisle end) in the last 40 years prior to their final closure? All the ones I’ve ever seen look like they were designed in the thirties.

Chris Hough


19/01/13 – 06:53

Oh yes, Chris, those were the days…..

David Oldfield


19/01/13 – 09:48

I’ve done Penzance to Aberdeen over three days as a passenger in Roger Burdett’s Royal Blue RE a couple of years ago. Great comfort and large windows to look out of – very good indeed

Ken Jones


19/01/13 – 11:35

Yes David, CRG1 was indeed the Bristol RELH6B test bed vehicle you describe (chassis number REX003). It did have a turbocharged Bristol BHW engine fitted at one point while with Bristol C. V, which was based on a horizontal version of the BVW unit. As you say, it was later fitted with a Gardner 6HLX engine, and the body kitted out to full coach specification. The BHW engine never went into production, which was a pity in some ways, as the sound effects would no doubt have been quite interesting, whether in turbocharged or naturally-aspirated form.

Brendan Smith


19/01/13 – 14:40

I used to be quite pally with some of the drivers who worked these on the Newcastle/London run, and they all spoke very highly of them. To me they always looked dignified and quietly restrained in United’s olive green and cream coach livery ‘the vehicles that is and not the drivers’ sad to think that some of these coaches ended up in the anonymous all white corporate image livery of National Express

Ronnie Hoye


19/01/13 – 18:01

OTA 640G

—- sorry but I think these vehicles looked really good in the NATIONAL livery and I’m glad that OTA 640G is carrying this livery in preservation. It looks sleek and stylish, but I know such a comment might upset people who always want to see vehicles in original liveries, but here again there are already a number of Bristol RE coaches preserved in Royal Blue livery.

Ken Jones


20/01/13 – 05:04

Ken. You could be right, but a Duple or Plaxton looks horrendous. The ECW gets away with it because of its parallel straight line.

David Oldfield


20/01/13 – 12:26

My point is not so much that they didn’t look nice, some types suited the livery very well, but it was the fact that they all looked the same. Pre NBC the BET group used a wide variety of vehicles with many instantly recognisable liveries, but even the more uniform Tilling fleets still had a certain amount of individuality, Royal Blue and United being classic examples. However, when they became NBC they lost all that and became anonymous and boring.

Ronnie Hoye


20/01/13 – 12:28

In the mid 1970s I used to travel quite frequently between Purley and Eastbourne by National Express. The vehicle that usually turned up was a National Travel (South East) [aka Timpson] Bedford YRQ carrying a Willowbrook Spacecar body, and the thing always made a meal of the gradients along the Caterham Valley and across the Weald. The standard of ride was truly awful, pitching and bouncing over quite ordinary road surfaces, and the bodywork itself seemed to be exceedingly plastic and crude. At weekends, the outbound trip from Purley was sometimes duplicated by an RE such as that shown in Ken Jones’s photo, and the contrast in high passenger comfort and effortless road performance could not have been greater. Having driven YRQs with bus bodywork, I suspect that much of the problem with the NT(SE) coaches was the Spacecar body, which soon acquired a notorious reputation for fragility. The Bristol RE was an outstanding design, and Stokes couldn’t wait to kill it off in favour of the Leyland National.

Roger Cox


03/03/13 – 07:57

An RE was the best for the passenger and the driver. It did depend on the suspension type and I drove my first one in the mid 60s for United Counties from Northampton to London. Once on the motorway she could be opened up and the front seemed to rise slightly and she was away. The steering was good and ideal for town work as well. Going through was a doddle. I drove a lot of RE’s for the Royal Blue and they were just as good. They were good for luggage also which helped to distribute the weight. They would not cope with the size of some of the suitcases which are in use these days.

Jim Stapleton


03/03/13 – 10:49

The ECW coach body on the RE was a thoughtful blend of traditional and modern design based on excellent engineering and quality standards of build. At the time there were a good number of outstanding looking (and quality) coach bodies available on a Leopard and Reliance chassis and of course BMMO had their own excellent contender, but for pure class in every department nothing beat the RE/ECW combo and it survived to look the least bland in National’s so called livery.

Phil Blinkhorn


14/06/13 – 12:11

Diesel Dave’s comment regarding the difficulty in hearing the engine to time gear changes, reminds me of the many journeys I made between Newcastle and Leeds on these vehicles. Most drivers kept the cab window open to hear the engine/exhaust. One chap though, who I regarded as the absolute expert, used a different technique. On the up changes, the gear lever would be offered very gently to the next position. You could see the stick vibrate but such was the delicacy of touch that no grating sound could be heard. When the revs were right, the vibrating ceased and the lever just fell into the next gear!
At the other end of the scale we once had a Northern General driver (I have no idea why) who had never driven an RE before. We crunched and ground our way south with the driver trying to avoid changing gear whenever possible. To his credit, he admitted that the problems were down to him and not the bus.

Bob Hunter


29/12/13 – 16:21

When I started work at Keighley depot there was DX types SMGS SMAS SRGS VRS LHS lots of conductors the real thing always on time very rarely missed not has comfortable I remember KDX 39-44 69-71 93-96 KDX 133-145 162-166 I think KDX 138 was based at Skipton along with VR 44 later to be 1944 SRGS were good to drive with the semi auto-gearbox I went to Lowestoft to bring back the Leyland Olympian I brought 1801 I think it had a Vorth gearbox 2 more of my fellow drivers brought 1802 1803 these were taken to Harrogate then later they came to Keighley also around that time the Leyland National was introduced the DXs and SRGs where disappearing.

John French


AWR 405B_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


26/06/17 – 07:20

Well good folks of OBP, I have to apologise most profusely, and especially to our David O, for peddling mis-information on 18.1.13 relating to West Yorkshire’s CRG1. I have only just realised, whilst browsing on OBP that CRG1 was not WY’s only E-regd RELH. For some inexplicable reason I had totally forgotten about CRG2-4 (PWR 858-860E). I could blame this on the ‘short’ E-registration letter year (‘F’ suffix registrations commencing in August 1967, heralding the letter suffix ‘year’ changing from January to August) or I could blame teenage excitement on the arrival of the five dual-door RELL6Gs (SRG34-38:PYG 652-656E) overshadowing all else, but it was neither. I’m now off to eat a large slice of humble pie with a few green beans!

Brendan Smith


 

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West Yorkshire – Bristol MW6G – AWU 466B – 1146

West Yorkshire - Bristol MW6G - AWU 466B - 1146 
Copyright Brendan Smith

West Yorkshire Road Car Company
1964
Bristol MW6G
ECW DP41F

Originally numbered SMG38, this vehicle became 1146 in West Yorkshire’s 1971 renumbering programme. It was one of twenty-six MW6G buses delivered to WY in 1963/64 – these being the first new single-decker WY buses for some time. For quite a few years previously, the Company had been able to cascade its mid-life dual-purpose vehicles for stage carriage use – repainting them red and cream in the process. The MW6G buses were originally delivered as B45F, but in 1971, SMG33-38 were reseated with high-backed seats from withdrawn LS dual-purpose vehicles. Unusually, the reseated batch retained bus livery, rather than receiving WY’s then dual-purpose/express livery of cream with a red band. As can be seen, ‘T-type’ destination indicators were fitted at the front, but no displays were fitted at the rear. The vehicles sported full-depth rear windows in their nicely rounded domes. They were quiet and comfortable buses to ride in, whether coach or bus seated, not to mention being very reliable and economical workhorses.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Brendan Smith

———

08/09/12 – 07:45

There are so many West Yorkshire experts who visit this site that one needs to be very careful about one’s facts. Someone may know otherwise, but my recollection is that WY fitted high back seats as a matter of course in their early MWs, designated SUGs. I remember them well on route 43, Leeds to Scarborough, always in standard livery. ‘SUG’ was explained to me in conductors’ training school as ‘Single, Underslung Gardner’. ‘SMG’ – ‘Single, Maximum Capacity Gardner’ – came later, I thought, as the company started to fit bus seats. Originally, SUGs had destination indicators made up of the two lower sections of ECW’s then standard three-part screens. The change to ‘T-type’ screens embraced all stage carriage vehicles, in the mid-1960’s. It’s a pity that the screen in this picture is sloppy; even if the screen didn’t have the right destination, (which could occasionally happen), the driver could, I think, have made sure the route number was displayed clearly.

Roy Burke

———

08/09/12 – 07:46

I agree entirely with Brendan about such vehicles being quiet and comfortable to travel in. I had many rides on those of Midland General which were all of the 6G type and always found them so. I’ve never had any experience of the MW5G, I suspect the ride may have been rather different.
David O remarks elsewhere about the popularity of the Guy Arab UF/LUF for coaching work. I too, never had any experience of these but I’ve always imagined that there couldn’t have been much difference between them and the MW.

Chris Barker

———

09/09/12 – 08:02

West Yorkshire vehicles were regular visitors to Blackpool on the "Joint Services" pool and also to Morecambe – alias British West Bradford – on the X88 service from Leeds. We could and did get anything that was available.
The "class" letters seem to have gone from most of the former Tilling group fleets at about the same time, though the Crosville arrangement was adopted by Potteries.
A pleasant enough view, but the indicator display would be of no use at all to a stranger. Thanks for sharing, Brendan.

Pete Davies

———

09/09/12 – 08:02

West Riding were a somewhat surprising recipient of West Yorkshire 1125 825 BWY which was new to West Yorkshire in 1963 as SMG17 in 1974. It lasted with West Riding until 1975 when it was scrapped.

Chris Hough

———

09/09/12 – 08:04

You are indeed right Roy, that West Yorkshire’s earlier deliveries of MWs (MW5Gs) with bus outline bodywork were fitted with high-backed coach seats. They were classed ‘EUG’ when new, denoting Express Underfloor Gardner, as were the earlier batches of LS5Gs, also with bus shells and coach seats. In later life many were demoted to ‘SUG’ status, for use mainly on stage-carriage work, gaining more red to their livery, but retaining coach seats. They would no doubt have been comfortable machines to ride in on the Leeds to Scarborough run, but many of us did wonder why WY continued to specify 5-pot rather than 6-pot Gardner engines for it’s longer-distance vehicles. It must have taken an age to reach Scarborough, Blackpool or Middlesbrough from the heart of the West Riding. (Could that be the reason for fitting half a dozen of the more powerful MW6G buses with 41 high-backed seats later on?). Some of the SUGs were fitted out for "one man" operation in later life, and received 45 bus seats in the process. They were re-classified SMG at the same time, the ‘M’ as Roy says, denoting Maximum seating capacity, and described as such in Ian Allan’s BBF No9. I too have heard this quoted by West Yorkshire staff, but have heard other staff say that ‘M’ meant the bus was suitable for one Man operation. Both descriptions appeared to be very relevant to the buses concerned, but as a skinny apprentice at the time, I did not wish to provoke an argument with either party, and came to the conclusion that maybe they were both right!

Brendan Smith

———

09/09/12 – 08:03

Where was this picture taken Brendan? Judging by the route number, could it have been York, Harrogate or possibly Keighley? As we’ve seen on other postings, it was not uncommon to have to ride many miles on express services in bus seats, but to have this DP for a local suburban estate run must have been delightful!

Paul Haywood

———

10/09/12 – 06:56

Paul and Brendan – my trusty 1960 fare table book (seriously speaking one of my most treasured possessions) may hold the answer to this query. At least in 1960 there was no service 9A in Harrogate or Keighley, but in York services 9/9A ran between Clifton and Tang Hall Lane. Our lovely meerkat friend from TV would no doubt click his teeth and remark "seeemples."

Chris Youhill

———

10/09/12 – 06:58

There are other mysteries here! I know the camera can lie (or the process can) but that’s not Poppy Red, and I’m not sure about the side band- should be a sort of grey-white and yet seems to match the presumably original window surrounds- which would be self-colour cream, I imagine: yet the grey wheels are there and NBC fleetname. As to where… looks too warm for Keighley: has a look of east Leeds about it

Joe

———

10/09/12 – 06:59

I remember seeing the first MWs entering service in Bristol in February 1958. These had AHY registrations and ugly flat backs. The second (DAE) series had the more rounded style and I suppose other early operators of the type had bodywork which went through the same design change.

Geoff Kerr

———

11/09/12 – 06:52

We really need Brendan to tell us where this photo was taken to be sure of the location. In 1960, as Chris says, there was certainly a service 9/9A in York, but it was invariably a double-decker route in those days. I worked it many times as a conductor; a very busy urban route. The picture dates from NBC days – at least 9 or 10 years later – by which time things might have changed, of course. If the picture is indeed in York, things must have changed a lot, since the very idea of OMO on the Clifton/Tang Hall Lane service in the mid-1960’s would have been thought laughable. In Tilling days, York had only one single deck city service, (Leeman Road/Hull Road, route 7), necessitated by a low bridge, operated in my time with L5Gs, (YSGs), later replaced with SUs, (YSMAs). There were then very few OMO routes, and all of them, as you’d expect, were light semi-rural services.

Roy Burke

———

11/09/12 – 06:55

Well Chris- that looked like a York street light, too. Did NBC remove the "York", and have West Yorkshire in East Yorkshire (nearly?) …or is this bus out of area, which explains the blinds?

I should have added that its not West Yorkshire red either which was much redder? This is almost maroon.

Joe

———

11/09/12 – 06:58

Sorry Joe but this is not east Leeds West Yorkshire had no service numbers as low as that in the Leeds area all services in east Leeds were either throughs to York and points east or at a push to places like Barwick Scoles and other dormatory villages which were in the West Riding until 1974 West Yorkshire applied NBC fleet names to standard Tilling red but often painted the cream band on both saloons and deckers.

Chris Hough

———

11/09/12 – 07:01

Apologies for being a little slow in responding to the above comments folks, but I’m making preparations for my ‘jollies’ and have been ‘sidetracked’ away from OB Photos several times! Paul, Chris Y and Joe, sorry to keep you in suspense as a result, but the photo was taken on Woodfield Road, Harrogate. The vehicle was on the newly-introduced 9A Bus Station – Dene Park route, serving a new estate of low-rise flats for older people. From what I can recall, 1146 had been recently transferred from I think, Leeds depot, and presumably had not yet received a blind showing Dene Park, which would go some way in explaining the unhelpful (and slovenly) route display. (There is also what appears to be a maroon Leeds depot allocation disc in front of the fleet number, rather than a green Harrogate one). Joe, your comment on the livery has me puzzled too. I’m not sure whether the processing (AGFA slide) has made the poppy red look like Tilling red, or whether the bus was still wearing Tilling red, with NBC grey wheels, white band and fleetnames applied. Some WY depots did apply white bands and fleetnames to vehicles still in Tilling red, if the paintwork was still sound, pending a full repaint into poppy red at a later date. I smiled at your comment that the view looked too warm for Keighley.

Brendan Smith

———

12/09/12 – 07:11

Thanks for settling this teaser for us Brendan – I had based my wild assumption of the wrong year of course, and on the pretty unlikely possibility of a vehicle transfer or loan to York – and my meerkat informant has received one week’s notice !!

Chris Youhill

———

12/09/12 – 07:11

Brendan, as a Keighley postcoder (although living just over the border into North Yorkshire), I must defend the place! Emily Bronte would have had difficulty selling "Wuthering Heights" with the title "Sunny Hills"! When we think of famous people with "sunny dispositions" we automatically think of Denis Healey, Eric Pickles, and Alastair Campbell who were all born in Keighley! There’s nothing wrong with good old fashioned gloom and misery. Mark my words, no good will come from sunshine, it only attracts the wasps!

Paul Haywood

———

13/09/12 – 06:59

Thanks for settling the mystery, Brendan. I have several views of buses still in Tilling green or red but with NBC style fleetname. A Southern Vectis bus in Southampton (on loan to Hants & Dorset and with the latter’s fleet number – don’t fret, boys, I’ll submit it for consideration in a week or two!) has Tilling green, NBC fleetname and the white stripe.

Pete Davies


 

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West Yorkshire – Bristol L5G – CWT 869 – 128

West Yorkshire - Bristol L5G - CWT 859 - 128
Copyright S N J White

West Yorkshire Road Car Company
1938
Bristol L5G
ECW B32F

This bus is one of the final Bristol L5G pre-war single deckers in the series 110 to 205 which could be seen all over the operating territory of the West Yorkshire Road Car Company. It has a “bible indicator” with a minimum size “H” destination strip in place. The ECW body is more to the BET style, but an evolving body design preferred by West Yorkshire since the late twenties. The bus is parked in Leeds near the West Yorkshire Vicar Lane Bus Station circa 1950.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Richard Fieldhouse


22/07/12 – 11:28

It is always a pleasure to see photographs of this generation of Bristol! They are so "purposeful", and full of character!
I particularly remember this West Yorkshire variety, as represented here by 128, and memories of riding on these buses, both locally, and longer distance on the Leeds to Bridlington run, come flooding back. I particularly remember the wonderful sounds they made, and hope to soon re-live that experience by sampling the near complete United example in the care of the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society! By a strange coincidence, some 20 of 128`s sisters, by now numbered in the SG series after the April 1954 renumbering, were sold to Lincolnshire in 1955 or 1956.
Richard points out the BET influence, which was particularly evident in the "porch" door arrangement.
I suppose, in the 1930s, there was more dovetailing of the shareholding between the BET, and TBAT groupings, the division of which became more distinct after the 1942 reorganisation.
I can also remember craning my neck out of the school window on Manningham Lane, in Bradford, as these wonderful buses growled by!

John Whitaker


23/07/12 – 08:14

With respect Richard, the number plate is blurred, 128 was CWT 869.
The bus was new to Ilkley depot and stayed there many years, and as an infant of five years old onwards I travelled to Ben Rhydding Primary School on it and its siblings throughout the War and beyond.
As John so rightly says, these vehicles were absolutely full of character in every way. Our childhood pranks, on the School Special service, included forcing weakly victims (I was often one) into the boxes with hinged lid which were next to each single seat over the rear axle. Other abominable conduct included "graffiti by deletion" in removing the gold "S" from "To seat 32 passengers" on the front bulkhead – the poor conductors usually preoccupied in trying to persuade the "Bellgraphic" ticket machines to issue fifty or sixty penny singles in a five minute journey !! Adjacent to the seating capacity transfer was another splendid gold four line notice which read :-
SMOKERS ARE
REQUESTED
TO OCCUPY
REAR SEATS
When I was four, and already hooked on the bus industry, I frequently dragged poor Dad to the depots and on one occasion a magnificent sight greeted us at Cunliffe Road. Standing on the angled forecourt stood 186 – DWW 591, newly delivered from Harrogate Headquarters and yet to carry its first "Bellgraphic" purchasing passenger !!
What very happy days those were – oh to return to them – and where have the last seventy one years gone ??
On a sombre note, and discarding the rose tinted spectacles for a moment, the War in Europe was reaching its worst severity and many residents of Ilkley were painfully aware of it, sadly.

Chris Youhill

Alt done thanks Chris


23/07/12 – 08:16

I’m not familiar with West Yorkshire’s territory, but surely these vehicles, with their 5LW engines, would have been a trial to drive in hilly terrain. The final days of some of them, in Lincolnshire, would certainly have been more suitable!
What was the driving force of the 1942 re-organisation, a strange thing to do in the middle of a war?

Chris Hebbron


23/07/12 – 13:06

These vehicles were relatively lightweight, and with a 32 passenger capacity never had to manage the same load as, say, a fully-laden 56-seat K5G double-decker. I never went up Whitwell or Garrowby Hill in one, but they always seemed to trundle along very satisfactorily. As John and Chris do, I have the fondest memories of them, in my case because the Service 97, on which they were regularly used, was the first time I was ever allowed on a bus alone.
I don’t know the precise reasons for the Tilling/BAT break-up, but I do know there was increasing tension between the parties, possibly over wartime vehicle allocation amongst other things. It seems just to have been felt that the two parties would do better in full charge of part of the empire rather to have to agree with each other about how to run all of it.

Roy Burke


23/07/12 – 18:24

Chris Youhill mentions disfiguring the gold leaf on the WYRCC buses In Leeds for many years a hypnotherapist advertised on LCT vehicles and I must own up some forty years later to amending the ad to read hypno the rapist on more than one occasion!

Chris Hough


23/07/12 – 18:24

Yes, Chris, I remember the "Smokers must occupy rear seats", and "please tender exact fare, and state destination", as well as the box over the wheel arch. My rose tinted specs are getting darker by the day! The WYRC territory is not all hills, Chris, it is just that there are some, severe in places, or long and arduous in others, but loads of "flat" in between.
In 1942, the 2 main groupings (this is a great over simplification!) were TBAT, (Tilling and British Automobile Traction), and the BET, which had BAT connections, hence the confusion.
In 1942, the company stockholdings were simplified, resulting in, basically, Tilling group, and BET. In the process, some companies "moved camp". North Western became BET, and Crosville went the other way, to quote 2 examples. Wilts and Dorset, before 1942, were largely influenced by Southdown, but they too, moved to Tilling. Plenty more as well, but someone out there will know a lot more than I do!
Talking about hills, Chris, do you also remember the notice on Garrowby Hill;"Drivers are instructed to engage low gear", headed West Yorkshire Road Car Company. No mention of EYMS!
I thought these memories originated only a couple of years ago, Chris !!
Other memories I have of these buses, and the earlier "J"s, is the trolleybus ride to Bingley, followed by the WY from Bingley to Dick Hudsons, walking across the Moor to Ilkley, and getting the WY back, stopping off for the best fish and chips in the world, at Guiseley.
Looking back, a most attractive world, but as you suggest, Chris, it is easy to put the less attractive aspects to one side. There were plenty of worries in the late wartime and early post war years.

John Whitaker


23/07/12 – 18:26

As an afterthought to the post above, I remember that West Yorkshire bus rides were at great speed, so the 5LW was never a problem! Even with a G or K so powered, the impression of speed was vivid.
On the other hand, it was just about possible to hear each cylinder firing in the 5LW when the double decker reached the summit of Baildon Brow, or Hollins Hill.
You can`t beat these old Bristols! They would have soldiered on for a 30 year stint or more, especially with the efficient management back up of one of the Tilling Group`s "flagship" fleets.
As Roy says, they trundled along very satisfactorily!

John Whitaker


24/07/12 – 06:43

Thx, John, for giving me a greater understanding of the split. When it comes to ‘keeping calm and carrying on’, in the war, I recall a GPO engineer on firewatch on the roof of a telephone exchange, being disciplined for, as it was delicately phrased at the time, ‘making water in his boots’, then tipping the contents away the next morning and putting said boots back on. Whatever the merits or otherwise of the case, it occurred to me when reading these old papers that thousands of Allied/Enemy troops, plus Jews, were dying every day and they were bothered about someone peeing in his boots! Another case was minutes of the Whitley Committee and concern that the GPO Home Guard were keeping ammunition in the building’s basement. What did they expect???
But I digress.

Chris Hebbron


24/07/12 – 18:12

Well well Chris Hough – the time for justice has come after all these years. I shall have no option but to inform Mr.M.A.Hamid’s solicitors of your confession. Only joking of course, and it was a very clever "adjustment" to the advertisement indeed !!

Chris Youhill


24/07/12 – 18:13

Another digression but so typically British any troops on active service (ie fighting) who appeared unshaven would be put on a charge!

Chris Hough


24/07/12 – 18:14

You say, John, that old Bristols ‘would have soldiered on for a 30 year stint’. Well, some of them pretty well did, as an earlier posting on this very site shows: the York-West Yorkshire 1939 K5Gs.
To be fair, the chassis were extensively modified and the new bodies dated from 1954/5, but the mechanicals lasted until 1969, when the vehicles even went on to get an extended life with Yorkshire Woollen District. A great example of the high quality of Bristol and Gardner engineering. My beloved Maidstone & District, while specifying AEC engines in their own postwar Bristols, chose K5Gs for Chatham & District, operating in the hilliest patch of M&D’s entire territory.
Gardner fan though I am, by the mid-1950s motor vehicles of all types were becoming more powerful, and the limitations of the 5LW made it a retrograde choice for double deckers; the more progressive decision was to specify 6LWs. Southdown, as you will know very well, Chris (Hebbron), not only specified 6LWs in all their postwar Guys, but fitted them retrospectively in the seven of their wartime Arab IIs that originally had 5LWs.
Finally, Chris, (since we WY aficionados are always so pleased to see a Southerner take an interest in that wonderful company that we want to make the most of it), do you know what induced Southdown, such a devoted Leyland customer, to enter into their affair with Guy? It was quite a big one: Southdown had as many Guys as M&D had PD2s.

Roy Burke


24/07/12 – 18:16

PLEASE LOWER YOUR HEAD was always ripe for modification, too, when it appeared in the downstairs saloon on a lowbridge double decker. There’s a direction sign a short walk from where I now live, which is supposed to point to Butlocks Heath. I’ll let you imagine how the local mischief makers convert it with insulating tape and correcting fluid!

Pete Davies


25/07/12 – 07:03

Oh blimey Pete, I do hope that "modification" was not a slur on a one time Prime Minister of this Land !!

Chris Youhill


25/07/12 – 07:05

Was it not World War 2 that induced Southdown to buy Guys? They were issued with Utility models and like other operators found them to be tough, reliable and economical.

Paragon


25/07/12 – 07:06

To pick up on the TBAT thread – before returning to WYRCC. The reason for the division of TBAT interests in 1942 was that (officially) it was in the interests of efficiency: TBAT companied had representatives from both BET and Tilling on their board of Directors and the Chairmanship rotated in alternate years, now BET and Tilling had differing ideas on how things should be done . . . John Hibbs quotes Claude Crossland-Taylor (GM of one-time TBAT-owned Crosville) as having stated that BET’s W.S.Wreathall felt that the arrangement "never worked" and that at borad level "there was the feeling that it was no use doing this or that because next year it might be cancelled by the next Chairman". One of the main problems seems to have been Tillings Chairman, J.F.Heaton: he had his own ideas on how things should be conducted (read the relevant parts of the three-volume "The Years Between 1909-1969" [the history of NOTC/WNOC/SNOC/ENOC] to see how ruthlessly he drove the senior management of NOTC out of their business after Tilling acquired control) and both Sidney Garke and R.J.Howley of BET found Heaton difficult to deal with (Howley is on record as having described certain of Heaton’s ideas as "rot" [strong stuff for the 1930s one imagines!])- it was Howley that convinced the BET board to divide the TBAT assets.
TBAT had been set up in 1928 to tidy up what had become rather complicated share-holdings by BAT (the BET subsidiary charged with developing bus operations) and Tilling: BAT had interests in 19 companies, of which Tilling had an interest in 11 . . . but Tilling also held an interest in BAT itself. TBAT was formed by reconstituting BAT, and Tilling gave up its shares in the various operating companies in exchange for an increased shareholding in TBAT. At the same time those BET companies – YTC being one – whose bus operations had outgrown their tramway origins were transferred from BET to TBAT control. After the Railway (Road Transport) Acts of August 1928, which allowed the four main-line railway companies to legally operate buses and haulage vehicles, it was agreed in November of that year – presumably to stave off development of a "railway-owned group" by encouraging investment alongside TBAT – that the railway shareholding in any TBAT-associated company should be exactly equal to the TBAT holding . . . although that didn’t stop the railways trying to do their own thing regarding Crosville and United.
Some BET companies (YWD, PET/PMT, SWT, NGT) remained outside TBAT (and were later joined by Hebble and the various subsidiaries of NECCo [COMS, Rhondda, WWOC, DGOC, "Mexborough"]), as did purely-Tilling companies (NOTC etc, BT&CC, BH&D) later joined by Westcliffe-on-Sea and UCOC).
At the time of its formation TBAT probably seemed a good idea in terms of tidying-up shareholding and presenting a united face against the railways’ intentions. But by 1942 the tensions were probably beginning to show, and the war provided a good excuse to unbundle things in the interests of inefficiency. The BET/Tilling shareholdings in the TBAT companies were not transferred to the holding companies, instead two new companies were formed to acquire the shareholdings – BET Omnibus Services and Tilling Motor Services.
So OK, back to WYRCC! Looking at the division of TBAT assets – WYRCC seems to have been the only TBAT company with a reasonable proportion of urban/rural mileage to to have been allocated to TMS. Crosville had some urban mileage in South Lancashire and the Wirral, but that was more than balanced out by the thin territory in North Wales.
Sorry, but I can’t get excited about the bus! Too many Bristols with similar bodies painted in standard Tilling red/green.
But why did WYRCC persevere with "bible" indicators long after linen blinds had been shown, by their adoption by nearly all operators, as being a much better/more practical alternative? Still "bible" indicators were better than Crosville’s ludicrous "Widd board" system of the same period.

Philip Rushworth


25/07/12 – 07:06

One of these vehicles (116 CWT 857) by then renumbered SG7 was (I believe) taken out of store, repainted and pressed in to service to run a shuttle service from Forster Square to Shipley (to avoid crossing the City Centre during re-development). I am guessing this to be in 1958 but I might be plus or minus a year or so. It was used for a West Yorkshire Information Service tour and I have a Box Brownie photo of it in the newly built Market Square in Shipley.

Gordon Green


25/07/12 – 10:20

No, Mr Youhill, it isn’t intended to have any connection with Lord Broadstairs (as he is mentioned in one of the Jeffrey Archer books) but he did keep his yacht nearby . . .

Pete Davies


25/07/12 – 11:24

I’m sure you’re right, Paragon, about Southdown’s introduction to Guys, and I couldn’t agree with you more about the qualities of these vehicles. It’s Southdown’s postwar fleet buying policy that intrigues me. They bought Leyland PD1s in 1947 and a whole load more in 1948, in which year they also bought about a dozen Arab IIIs. That might be explained by postwar supply issues, (I don’t know). However, Southdown bought Leylands regularly throughout the 1950’s, (for stage carriage they bought only Leylands), but for reasons I’ve never understood, included 48 Arab IVs amongst them during 1955/6. They never bought any more. M&D had special operational reasons for buying Arab IVs, but as far as I can see, Southdown didn’t. In so predominantly a Leyland fleet, the one-off Guy order just seems odd. If the company’s experience with Guys led them to prefer them over Leylands, fair enough; but why then buy more Leylands at the same time and stick with Leyland exclusively thereafter?

Roy Burke


25/07/12 – 11:24

Interesting posts…. it is not just now that the bus industry is mired in the politics of business. "Bible indicators" could have been regarded as a heritage feature in York (or Yark as they call it locally), together with those ancient high-nosed Bristols. My recollection of them in Rotherham or Doncaster (can’t remember which) is that the ? 5G engine would reach peak revs in seconds in first gear, so they would always set off with a screaming clatter: it all added to the heritage feel! The engines had a later life of course- on the back of showmen’s wagons, still, failing memory suggests, with red paint & Bristol badge.

Joe


25/07/12 – 16:43

Well isn’t it amazing Pete, what interesting facts we learn in these topics. I either never knew, or had perhaps forgotten, that Mr. Heath had ended his career in the Upper House.

Chris Youhill


25/07/12 – 16:44

Roy, as a regular here, I am really surprised that another reason hasn’t dawned upon you.
Many operators had a dual sourcing policy – AEC/Leyland at Sheffield; Leyland/Daimler at Manchester, or even triple as did Leeds and Birmingham. This also extended to regular preferred coach-builders. As much as anything, this was to spread the load and ensure early deliveries rather than putting all eggs in one basket. Southdown were obviously a Leyland operator but also happy with their allocation of war-time Guys. Maybe they had a need for quick delivery of vehicles which couldn’t be met by Leyland. They certainly did this at other times with Commers and Fords.
SUT and Yelloway were AEC operators who supplemented the front line fleet with Fords and Bedfords at various times – as indeed did Wallace Arnold.

David Oldfield


25/07/12 – 16:45

Philip Rushworth is entirely accurate in his assessment of the fundamental reason for the Tilling – BAT split in 1942. In retrospect, it does seem that a major industrial reorganisation at a time of severe national peril was rather curious, but the matter was brought about almost entirely because of the personality of J.F. Heaton. The Tilling involvement with BET came when Richard Tilling agreed to work jointly with BET in developing public transport, and, in 1928, took a shareholding in the BET’s subsidiary BAT. Richard Tilling died the following year, and when Heaton was appointed vice chairman, all the Tilling family members resigned from the board. Heaton, who later became chairman, came from an insurance background, and was appointed secretary of the Tilling insurance arms, Road Transport and General from 1919, and Motor Credit Services from 1922. From here he increased his influence over the Tilling transport interests, whilst remaining a director of the insurance business (which was taken over in 1923 by General Accident, now Aviva) until 1933. His style as chairman of Tilling was autocratic and intolerant, and the rift in management style with his fellow directors of TBAT caused frictions from the early ‘thirties. Heaton’s financial background was a major factor in his "one size fits all" mentality that imposed the rigid standardisation upon Bristol products on Tilling group companies, in marked contrast to the much more flexible BET approach to management. Whatever the solid engineering merits of the Bristol K5G and L5G, they were decidedly unsophisticated. Even Guy, in the midst of wartime expediency, could design and produce an effective, reliable flexible engine mounting, a feature that eluded Bristol until around 1950. Heaton’s total preoccupation with maximising quick financial return over all other considerations (seems to ring bells with the present day financial sector) brought him quickly to the negotiating table in 1948 when the new Labour government expressed a desire to nationalise road transport. The BET took a totally different view, and remained independent for 20 more years.

Roger Cox


25/07/12 – 16:46

Entertaining, Joe, though your version is of the local pronunciation of the name of my home city, my favourite rendition of it comes from the railway station. I have memories of arriving there in the horrid small hours of a cold winter’s night, to hear echoing around the vast, cavernous but deserted space of the main line platform the announcement: ‘Nyorg! This is Nyorg!’ The effect is best reproduced if you shout into a bucket while holding your nose.
I find West Yorkshire’s fetish for Bible indicatora as perplexing as I do Southdown’s flirtation with Guy. And why ‘Bible’? There doesn’t seem anything terribly ecclesiastical about any of WY’s destinations. At York, (sorry, Joe, Yark – or even Nyorg if you prefer), I never heard them referred to as anything other than ‘flap boards’.

Roy Burke


26/07/12 – 07:23

Fearful of opening a can of worms, can I make the tentative suggestion that the purchasing policies of some bus companies may have been subject to influences other than operational performance or builder delivery times? In those pre-subsidised days, when all manufacturers and many operators lived or died by pure, unfettered capitalism (as opposed to municipal rate juggling etc), the salesmen of chassis and body makers would undoubtedly have tried to influence chief engineers, proprietors and committee members. Not suggesting baksheesh, heaven forbid, but there must have been some out-of-hours wining and dining arranged by the under-dogs to try to break the stranglehold of the big boys. This may, possibly, explain why years of consistent purchasing policy suddenly changed for no apparent reason, only to change back soon after.
Sorry, gents, this is WAY off the WY L5G thread, but that’s what’s good about OBP – it makes one thread into a tapestry!

Paul Haywood


26/07/12 – 07:28

Things seem to have moved on since you posted the note to me, Roy, but here goes.
During the war, passengers waned fast as holiday/excursion traffic evaporated, coastal towns/beaches suffered severe movement restrictions and routes were modified away from seafronts, to avoid folk seeing coastal defences. The need for buses decreased, too, but, with 162 Southdown buses being requisitioned and expected deliveries diverted, Southdown had to make good some shortfall and borrowed from East Kent and Eastbourne. The waxing started with D-Day and 99 Guy Arabs arrived between 1943 and early 1946, an above-average 44 with the excellent metal-framed Northern Counties bodies and some with 6LW engines. Such was the build-up or bus traffic around Portsmouth/Gosport/Southwick (Allied Operational HQ at Southwick) that Southdown was ordered to take over Fareham Bus Station from Hants & Dorset.Long story short, the Portsmouth Area Manager (AFR Carling) during these frenetic times, took over as Southdown’s General Manager in 1947, His respect for the 6LW Guys’ performance, whilst being flogged mercilessly in the late unpleasantness, was the reason why he ordered Guys from time to time thereafter.
And we all know that it was a wise buy.
However, I don’t recall ever seeing many post-war ones around Pompey, although the open-top austerity ones were at Hayling Island.
As for bible indicators/flap boards and other such Northern quirks, this arcane system of indicators was quite new to me. Linen blinds and slip boards is all I’d ever come across. You learn something new every day, even though you didn’t really want to (actually quite interesting, but that’s between us)!

Chris Hebbron


26/07/12 – 07:28

I agree Roy about the Bible indicators – I bet many a staff member slipping on the pathetic metal footholds while trying to lift the enormous thing aloft, perhaps painfully grazing a shin, would come out with loud remarks which were anything but ecclesiastical !!
Much scoffing these days is directed at Health and Safety legislation, but such a dangerous practice as this should certainly have been outlawed – and of course in the case of the earlier "J" types the infernal thing even leaned forward when installed and the triggers had to be thrown to secure it.

Chris Youhill


26/07/12 – 07:29

Philip Rushworth’s post about Tilling’s J. Frederick Heaton is spot-on.
When Brighton Town Clerk and some councillors went to Thos. Tilling to discuss some sort of take-over of Tilling’s Brighton fleet, they found that they’d entered a lion’s den!
They said later that Heaton ‘was a man who could persuade others that he could make more money for them running their businesses that they could themselves’. He flatly refused any suggestion of selling Tilling’s Brighton business and the councillors found themselves agreeing to a completely different deal, albeit not a bad one in the end!

Chris Hebbron


26/07/12 – 07:30

As well as WYRCC using "bible indicators" Eastern Counties were also fans of these perhaps they were called this because they actually resembled Jewish Talmudic scrolls.
Lancs United also had a system of slot in stencils rather than roller blinds. The tin boards were kept under the stairs and were prone to falling onto the platform with a resounding clatter! The stencils were back lit at night.
Like WYRCC and ECOC LUT adopted normal roller blinds in the early fifties

Chris Hough


26/07/12 – 07:31

Bible indicators/flap boards, Widd cards, BMMO’s persistence with painted boards on single deckers, and Ribble’s externally-illuminated destination blinds . . . if you want to sell a product then the public have to know what you’re selling (in the case of road transport that means where you’re going). How many potential passengers missed their bus because – especially in the hours of darkness – they couldn’t identify the destination? Me! Well, I’m not old enough to to have fallen prey to any of the above but scrolling LED displays and other illegible/faint electronic displays have caught me out when in unfamiliar territory – will the industry never learn?
And I’ll add to the above list United Counties’s use of a tiny, cramped font on its linen blinds during the 1980s.
Rant over.

Philip Rushworth


26/07/12 – 07:33

I have learnt a great deal from my posting of this West Yorkshire Bristol L5G so many thanks to all the many people who have made a contribution. I have particularly found the character of J. F. Heaton of great interest and this may explain why the West Yorkshire Road Car Company had such an austere pre-war fleet and retained the use of its ‘bible indicators" well into the mid fifties. The term "bible indicator " was always the description used in by the crews in Bradford but I agree it was hardly ecclesiastical. I do think the TBAT/Tilling/BET descriptions and information are worthy of filing elsewhere on this site for easy reference.

Richard Fieldhouse


26/07/12 – 11:09

That’s no rant Philip, but is perfectly valid comment.
The tiny "off centre" font is no doubt yet another interference by highly paid "consultants." West Yorkshire were guilty (I use the word without apology) of this to some tune on all classes of vehicle. Not only was the font tiny, and concentrated in around a third of the display width at the nearside, but it was in lower case lettering !!
Telescopes and/or magnifying glasses were needed to decipher "Ilkley", "Otley", "Leeds" etc. I suppose I’m often guilty of saying "I despair" – well I am, and I do !!

Chris Youhill


26/07/12 – 11:11

Apologies, first, for taking up yet more space, especially about southern BET operations in a posting about a northern Tilling company. You may well be right, David, and I thank you for offering your suggestions. As you say, dual sourcing and mixed fleets were common – just look at Southdown’s neighbour – but if that did become Southdown’s policy, it clearly didn’t last long. After 1956 they reverted to Leyland as sole supplier, (I exclude the Commer coaches, for which there is an operational explanation), and by the time I joined them, Southdown’s Engineering Department was very, very Leyland only. So if dual sourcing was the reason for buying Guys, the policy was, as they might have said at West Yorkshire, ‘neither nowt nor summat’. Supply difficulties might also be a reason, I agree, but being aware of the senior personalities at Stratton House at the time, I’m inclined to think Southdown would have got Leylands if they really wanted them. O.K. No more from me.

Roy Burke


26/07/12 – 11:12

Perhaps companies should adopt the Wigan Corporation policy of two green lights on either side of the indicator to inform prospective passengers that it was their bus as a ratepayer so they dint catch a Ribble or LUT vehicle by mistake.
Even when ECOC adopted linen blinds they often showed Eastern Counties or Service as a destination not very useful to intending passengers. Of course the SBG were renowned for paper stickers on windscreens as a destination with the proper indicator often left blank!

Chris Hough


26/07/12 – 11:13

Following on from awkward/dangerous blinds, I recall that a few of the earliest of LUT’s double-deck ‘Diddlers’ had a bracket, front and back, on the roof, which held the route number in metal stencil form. You’d have needed a ladder to climb up and change the darned things and also carrying a stencil up and down to-boot! There would have been a desire to keep the same trolleys on the same route, save for a catastrophe, but common-sense prevailed very quickly!
I’ll second Richard F’s suggestion of 26/7/12.
Could someone please describe a Widd Card to me?

Chris Hebbron


26/07/12 – 11:15

The subject of Bible Blinds and other methods brings me on to the subject of so called Tram Boards.I wonder if any other operator uses them as here at Lothian Buses.All buses have a metal holder in the lower front window and at various times the display shows Limited Stop etc or a variation of a route.At all three depots there is a large area holding the various boards.

Philip Carlton


26/07/12 – 14:02

For many years Morecambe & Heysham did not use route numbers when they were adopted many of the AEC Regents had a slot in card for this in the nearside upper deck front window totally unseeable in the dark!

Chris Hough


26/07/12 – 14:02

Apart from the Routemasters, all Northern General half cabs had a flip down ‘DUPLICATE’ sign mounted to the left of the windscreen

Ronnie Hoye


26/07/12 – 14:20

It has been said umpteen times here on OBP about the character of our long departed vehicles but I have to make a comment on the "scrolling LED`s" of today`s monstrosities, if you stand to the side the destinations cannot be read and if the sun is on them, equally they cannot be read, even with today`s technology on some scrolling LED boards lower case is also used.

David Henighan


27/07/12 – 08:16

I always thought the archetypal BTC display was best – separate single line destination in a good bold font, and a two or three line "via" display, sometimes incorporating the route number, or alternatively with a separate three track route number display. But, as Chris Hough pointed out, only good if it was used properly. What good came of showing destination "Western National" via "Service No." I shall never know! Midland General/Notts & Derby had a slightly different layout (well, they would, wouldn’t they!) in which the destination was below the "via" screen, so the route was described in correct sequence, for example "Eastwood, Brinsley, Selston, ALFRETON" – except that the "via" displays were not repeated in reverse order so they were always back-to-front in one direction! City operators tended to go for simplicity on the assumption that the vast majority of passengers were locals who knew the network (London being a noble exception). Nottingham for many years had one-piece blinds which incorporated route number, destination and if necessary a "via" line, but on inward journeys usually didn’t bother with route numbers, just showing "CITY". Later, suburb names replaced specific destinations, so that routes 20/52/57/69 were all just "Arnold", 6/18/28 "Bestwood" and so on.

Stephen Ford


27/07/12 – 08:16

I remember these vehicles well in my childhood. Travelling from Leeds to Kirk Deighton on the Leeds-Knaresborough 36 route I think it was. They could cover the distance with speed…even faster when one of the Roseville Road drivers with a big handlebar moustache was driving he made the Bristol sing. I remember he once got on at Vicar Lane going to the garage and the young lad who was driving was not going fast enough for him he kept tapping on the cab window and waving him to go faster, I think he was late for his shift. On Sundays there used to be about 20 West Yorkshire both single and double deckers pass going to Scotton Sanatorium which dealt with TB in those days, the busses were all packed with visitors from Leeds. They Started about 1:30 and they were in convoy for a good 20 minutes and then they would return around 4:30. I used to sit on the wall and watch them all pass on the Sundays I stayed at my Aunts.

Brian Lunn


27/07/12 – 08:17

Having been born in Glasgow in the early 1930s, I can`t remember seeing anything other than roller blinds on either buses or trams. Maybe Scotland was way ahead of the rest of the country, at least in something!

Jim Hepburn


Widd plates [sic] were a sheet of paper sandwiched between two layers of celluloid bounded by a metal frame. They were displayed in holders under the front canopy/inside the front window (or for the route letters used for the double-decked Liverpool-Warrington services in the front upper nearside window). Crosville actually replaced the roller blinds it previously-used with this sytem in the 1920s: seemingly, linen blinds and destination equipment were considered too costly in terms of maintenance – when the TBAT-owned Western Transport and Llandudno Blues were absorbed in the 1930s the linen blinds were ripped out of the acquired vehicles and Widd boards substituted. What did Crosville display in the destination boxes of its buses? – a paper label stating "Crosville". The Widd plate system lasted into the post-war years until replaced by the then standard two-piece Tilling display from 1946 onwards: apparently, Crosville had been required to pay Widd (the name of the firm owning the "technology" [there is a company called Widd Signs based in Leeds to this day]) for the rights to manufacture the signs itself . . . and that payment had to be justified. Having read previous posts, about the only point one could make in favour of the Widd plate system was that it must have been less risky/more convenient for the conductor than having to handle heavy metal bible plates.
Back to CWT 869. As pictured this vehicle is fitted with a "H" board, used for one-line displays (the display being on the horizontal bar, and the verticals fitting into the holders on the vehicle). Comprehensive displays were catered for by a rectangular board that filled the whole area of the indicator. Most boards had a flip hinged at the mid-line (either vertically or horizontally) so that with the flap left/right or up/down, as the case may be, the details for one direction were shown . . . at the terminus swing/lift/drop the flap and the reverse information was displayed, thereby saving the hassle of changing over the board at the end of every journey. That’s where I understand the term "bible indicator" comes from – swinging a vertically-hinged flap was like opening one of the huge leather-bound church or family bibles with which people in those days would have been familiar.

Philip Rushworth


27/07/12 – 08:44

No, CY, he didn’t actually get "elevated". That’s just a figment of the novelist’s imagination, even though it has quite a ring to it. He only ever got as far as "Sir".
Now, dot matrix indicators. Am I the only one [surely not!!!] to notice the things are almost impossible to photograph, and even worse on a digital camera?

Pete Davies


27/07/12 – 15:35

Thank you indeed to Brian Lunn for his memories of the wonderful J5G and L5G days – actually though the Wetherby/Knaresborough services were 37/38/39 – the classic 36 was Leeds – Harrogate – Ripon, and still is. I’m quite sure that every victim of "Mr.Handlebars", both human and mechanical, will always remember him – the unchallenged holder of the title "The World’s most atrocious and callous bus driver ever." How he could sleep at night I can’t imagine – he can’t have had any conscience about all the wrecked gearboxes and diffs, and abandoned passengers and early running for which he was daily responsible. My last experience personally was when I attempted to board the celebrated DX 82 at what was then the top stop in Cookridge Street on the 34 Ilkley route. The forward entrance Lodekka had already been thrashed into maximum speed uphill from the Terminus and, despite holding out a timid hand, I was left to wait for the next bus.
I’m surprised, well perhaps not, to hear that he had the arrogance to rap on any other driver’s cab window for increased speed – that says it all. Characters like him are one of the key reasons why people can’t be "coaxed out of their cars and onto the buses" !!
Now where’s that bottle of vintage embrocation ? – I think there was a drop left from the 1960s !!

You’re quite right PD in mentioning the difficulty in photographing dot matrix displays. Only if the display is not changing, and the light is favourable, and the lettering is not faded or worn, is there any chance of a decent picture – and of course intending passengers have even more to lose.
I think that the "Dayglow" destination blinds, with bright clear yellow lettering on black material are the best we are ever likely to enjoy – photographers and passengers alike.

Chris Youhill


28/07/12 – 08:30

Dot Matrix. Now wasn’t she a conductress at West Yorkshire’s Bradford depot?

Brendan Smith


28/07/12 – 15:57

Yes indeed she was Brendan, but perhaps you hadn’t heard that she’d got tied up with a PNEU driver called MOCY CLIC – they both went absent without notice and haven’t been heard of since – very sad.

Chris Youhill


CWT 859_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


30/01/18 – 05:36

I wonder if Chris Youhill remembers the glorious aroma at Vicar Lane Bus Station in Leeds?
It came from Thornes Confectionary who made Butter Dainties a very tasty caramel sweet with a chocolate centre. Sadly when you were on West Yorkshire RCC it was missed when the company moved.

David Thorpe


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Thursday 28th October 2021