Old Bus Photos

Hants & Dorset – Bristol LL – KLJ 749 – 779

KLJ 749

KLJ 749_2

Hants & Dorset Motor Services  
Bristol LL6G
Portsmouth Aviation DP36R

A Happy New Year to you all! It seems strange to hear that in May, but it was heard several times at Winchester on 4th May! Many enthusiasts and passers by gathered to give this Running Day a welcome at this new May date. The weather was certainly an improvement.

Illustrated here is Bristol LL6G KLJ 749, new to Hants & Dorset in 1950. It is unusual in having bodywork by Portsmouth Aviation (DP36R), one of ten supplied to Hants & Dorset in this batch. It is seen at Colden Common, before returning to The Broadway. The interior shot shows the multiplicity of notices displayed on the bulkhead.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Michael Hampton

19/05/15 – 06:11

Very nice photos of a fine bus, but–at the risk of being a tiresome pedant–I’m sure it’s an LL6G. That Garner 6LW makes it really fly along!

Ian T

19/05/15 – 06:13

A very handsome vehicle only slightly let down by the indicator box which looks to be from an earlier era and the slope doesn’t help.
It looks to be beautifully restored throughout but what a pity that a modern prohibition sign has been placed on the front bulkhead pillar. ‘elf and safety no doubt rearing its ugly, pedantic head again.

Phil Blinkhorn

19/05/15 – 06:13

Thx for posting a view of this vehicle, Michael, which certainly gets around in its dotage. It’s amazing how shades of art deco remained in coach design for quite a time after the war.
Why on earth did Hants & Dorset go to Portsmouth Aviation to body these vehicles rather than ECW, one wonders, although the finished article is attractive.
What do we know of Portsmouth Aviation? I know nothing.

Chris Hebbron

19/05/15 – 07:46

The reason this didn’t have an ECW body was the length of the Gardner 6LW engine. It required the front bulkhead to be further back and this would be a major change to a standardised body that it appears ECW weren’t prepared to do.
As a consequence the numbers of K6Gs and L5Gs were rather limited and all had ‘other’ body builders. The best illustration of the difference can be found in the Pontypridd fleet as they had both Ls and Ks with 5- and 6-cylinder engines, all with Beadle bodies and the difference in engine can readily be seen in the body.

David Beilby

20/05/15 – 06:05

I agree with Phil Blinkhorn’s comment re-the indicator box. I can’t help thinking that the effect is made worse by that H&D idiosyncrasy – the sun-visor over the driver’s windscreen. Was it really all that much more sunny in their territory than, say, Southern Vectis just across the water, or Southern National a bit farther west in Weymouth? I guess someone will come up with the reason for this appendage, and the name of him who decreed that all H&D buses must have one!

Stephen Ford

20/05/15 – 06:06

You’re quite right Chris- Art Deco seemed to be the decor of choice for coaches- especially half cabs- for a long time. The story of the Gardner engine is a glimpse of the past. It at first seems amazing that fleets of buses were obliged to use one chassis/coachbuilder and then that the coachbuilder should work on what later became a British Leyland principle of- effectively- dictating what your chassis was to be. How did the economics work? Were they negotiated contracts? And how, in reality, different are things in more recent times with Government telling you what sort of vast bussernaut to run? And how appropriate was tendering anyway? And were BET in reality any better than Tilling? Is it the case that civic pride and local councillor pressure often worked to passengers’ benefit in the municipalities? Questions, questions…


20/05/15 – 06:07

What a superbly handsome vehicle indeed with a glorious traditional high quality interior too. I do agree with Phil that the slope of the destination display might make for difficulty in reading, especially in certain bright conditions, but on balance I feel that the ECW "near vertical" pattern would have spoilt the look of the bus, particularly the flow of the roofline. The ECW type did though, of course, blend perfectly well with the Lowestoft design in what were, in my view, the finest looking and most practical front engined deckers of the postwar era.

Chris Youhill

23/05/15 – 07:11

Chris Hebbron asks about Portsmouth Aviation. I know little about this company but browsed a book about it some years ago. Photographs showed rebuilding of the bodies of some of Portsmouth Corporation’s Leyland TD4’s.
Examination of the Company’s website and Wikipedia page shows that it is still in existence but not in the business of bus bodybuilding or rebuilding.

Andy Hemming

24/05/15 – 07:33

Thx, Andy, for shedding a little more light; doing work on Portsmouth Corporation’s TD4’s. They must have been under pressure to farm out work like that.

Chris Hebbron

02/08/16 – 06:54

KLJ 749 is still going strong. It is owned by two members of the Bristol Vintage Bus Group and was a star turn at the Group’s running day on the 31st July, 2016. I was privileged to act as conductor/banksman on a number of trips. Its climbing ability with a full load was quite impressive

Jerry Wilkes

04/08/16 – 09:14

In response to Chris Hebbron’s enquiry about Portsmouth Aviation, here is a bit of information, though the bus industry features only briefly in its history.
Portsmouth Aviation was formed on 6 April 1929 as Inland Flying Services at Romford in Essex before moving in May 1930 to a small airfield on the Isle of Wight at Apse Manor, near Shanklin, where it undertook light aircraft maintenance work and offered pleasure flights. Meanwhile, in response to a 1928 government suggestion that all towns with a population of 20,000 or more should provide aviation facilities, Portsmouth Airport, a municipal venture, was developed from 1930 on the north east corner of Portsea Island. The first flight into the new airfield took place on 14 December 1930, although the official opening did not occur until 2 July 1932. Inland Flying Services then transferred its base to the new mainland airport and began operating a local air service to Ryde on the Isle of Wight, adopting the new name of the Portsmouth, Southsea and Isle of Wight Aviation Company. The inclusion of Southsea in the title was purely to encourage seaside custom; there was never an airport there. The Ryde airfield was opened by PSIOWA in 1932, becoming fully operational the following year. The company used typical aircraft of the period, amongst others the De Havilland Moth, Puss Moth, Dragon, Westland Wessex and Airspeed Envoy (Airspeed had transferred its business from York to Portsmouth in 1933). Developing rapidly, the firm began serving a number of air ferry destinations around the south coast, at the same time expanding its aviation engineering, maintenance and repair facilities. With the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, PSIOWA were ordered by the government to cease the flying services and concentrate upon aircraft maintenance, repair and modification duties, and this continued for the duration of the war. With the return of peace in 1946, PSIOWA changed its name to Portsmouth Aviation to reflect its core activities, but took on a wider range of work beyond the air industry. One such new venture was the construction of commercial vehicle bodywork to meet the post war surge in demand. It did, however, design and build one example of the Portsmouth Aviation Aerocar Major, a pod fuselage, twin engined, twin boom machine for a pilot and five passengers. The 1946 prototype was flown briefly in 1947 and exhibited at the 1948 and 1949 SBAC Farnborough Shows. Not having the resources for volume output, the firm made arrangements for series production to be undertaken in India, but the plan fell through, and the machine was scrapped in 1950. The bus bodywork side of the business fared rather better, with deliveries of single deckers on Bristol chassis to Hants & Dorset and Wilts & Dorset, plus others on Bedford OB chassis to the Independent sector. Remedial single and double deck bodywork attention was undertaken, including some Aldershot & District Dennis Lances and Portsmouth Corporation TD4s. Some Hants & Dorset lowbridge utility Guys are said to have been rebodied by the firm, but it is probable that the original Brush bodywork was rebuilt. In 1950, Portsmouth Aviation, like many others, dropped out of this declining market to concentrate on aviation and military business. The firm still exists on the site today, but this is not the case with Portsmouth Airport itself which closed in 1973 after some accidents that were attributed to the its inadequate size for modern aircraft. At that time it was the last significant commercial airport still relying upon a grass runway.

Roger Cox

06/08/16 – 06:35

More than I could have hoped for, Roger, many thanks. FWIW, The airport was doomed when, during a wet summer and soggy grass, a Hawker Siddeley 748 on Channel Isles’ service skidded almost onto the dual-carriageway Eastern Road arterial road into Portsmouth, with its mate almost doing the same thing 45 mins later! Aircraft this large were banned shortly afterwards and another operator used three Twin Pioneer planes, painted red, blue and yellow, but not big enough to be profitable. This proved to be the airport’s deathknell. There was the opportunity to buy the closed Thorney Island RAF Station nearby, but Portsmouth Council said No and the more sensibly-sited Eastleigh (Southampton) Airport has taken over the mantle.

Chris Hebbron


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Hants & Dorset – AEC Regent V – 975 CWL – 3475

Hants & Dorset - AEC Regent V - 975 CWL - 3475

Hants & Dorset Motor Services
AEC Regent V LD3RA
Park Royal H65R

975 CWL is an AEC Regent V of the LD3RA variety. She was new in 1958 and has a Park Royal body seating 65. New to City of Oxford as their 975, she is seen in the yard of the Hants & Dorset depot in Southampton, still in Provincial (Gosport & Fareham) green and cream but with Hants & Dorset fleetname in NBC style. It’s April 1975 and she is between duties on the 47 Winchester service.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

16/03/14 – 09:42

A beautifully balanced classic design. What were BET and PRV thinking when they let those dreadful steel framed monsters loose on the world. I cannot believe it was impossible to produce a better design – just because they had steel frames. As was pointed out recently, sticking a Beverley Bar outline on a Bridgemaster worked wonders at East Yorkshire.

David Oldfield

16/03/14 – 09:43

It’s a long time since I submitted this, because so many of you have been sending in far better views, but I have a vague recollection the original text said that she is preserved.

Pete Davies

16/03/14 – 11:55

With only 65 seats in a 30ft body, the legroom must have been quite generous!

Chris Barker

17/03/14 – 07:45

I have this listed as preserved in Kidlington but have never seen it.

Ken Jones

17/03/14 – 17:33

Yes — preserved awaiting restoration.

Philip Lamb

17/03/14 – 17:34

This picture sums up for me the confusion of the early NBC era. It’s a green Hants & Dorset bus, but it’s not H&D Tilling green. It’s in Provincial green/cream, but not their traditional style. It’s a BET origin bus operating for a former Tilling company. (OK, Hants & Dorset operated some AEC Regent III’s earlier). In the background is a Lodekka, presumably a Hants & Dorset bus, but in red, not in green! Well, it did all settle down of course to just red or green in NBC shades, until Confusion Stage 2 arrived with deregulation. Hants & Dorset survives (sort of) under the fleet name "Damory Coaches", operating some stage services in Dorset in a rather non-descript grey livery. It’s part of Wilts and Dorset, which is part of Go Ahead. Yes, times have moved on. The Regent V in the picture does still look good, and was splendid in it’s original City of Oxford livery.

Michael Hampton

18/03/14 – 08:23

Very generous, Chris, most 30ft deckers of this layout were usually around the 73 seat mark.

Ronnie Hoye

18/03/14 – 10:55

These buses were known in Oxford as "Queens’ due to their size and indeed majestic appearance. 65 was later to become the standard COMs seating capacity for double-deckers with centre gangway in the upper saloon until the arrival of the first Fleetlines, following the first batch of Bridgemasters which seated 72. Subsequent Bridgemasters and the Renowns had a shortened rear overhang and were all 28-ft long 65-seat forward-entrance vehicles — not quite as roomy as the Queens! The five Lolines were forward-entrance 63-seaters.

Philip Lamb

18/03/14 – 10:57

I have always presumed that the reason for 65 seats in a 30ft body was in order to comply with an agreement with the staff in respect of maximum capacities – such agreements were common at the time. Having said that, Oxford’s first Bridgemasters (306-15) were 72-seaters – there may have been a ‘no standing passengers’ agreement, or restrictions on which routes they served. Anyone know the full story?
Later Oxford Bridgemasters (316-28) and all the Renowns (329-71) were short 65-seaters.
Oxford purchased sixteen 30ft Regent Vs in late 1957/early 1958 – eight with Weymann bodies (964-71) and eight Park Royal (972-9). All were H37/28R while with Oxford.
As far as I am aware, all the above sixteen went for further service with other operators after sale by Oxford. Stevensons (of Spath) upseated 966 and fitted platform doors, making it H41/32RD. Laycocks of Barnoldswick fitted doors to 968, but left the seating as it was – as 968 was replacing an accident-damaged 53-seater, the capacity perhaps wasn’t seen as critical. Were any of the others upseated, or fitted with doors?

David Call

18/03/14 – 13:48

Michael, the Hants & Dorset Lodekka with the T style indicator display you mention is XPM 47, new to Brighton Hove & District.

Pete Davies

18/03/14 – 17:26

Thank you, Pete D for the info about the red Lodekka in the background – doesn’t it just add to the glorious (or inglorious) mix of events at that time? Although of Tilling origin, it’s original colours were neither tilling red or green, but a handsome red and cream!
Also, a correction. I have passed several Damory vehicles today, and all were a deep blue, quite smart if admiring modern vehicles. Perhaps the grey was a passing phase, or my poor memory.

Michael Hampton

19/03/14 – 07:27

No, Michael – our successors in title to the Hants & Dorset "COMPANY" name, if not the fleetname, are like the rest of the ‘Go South Coast’ group in that they don’t seem able to keep a livery for long. Could be Worst (f), of course!!!

Pete Davies

19/03/14 – 07:28

969 gained platform doors when owned by Leon of Finningley.

Keith Clark

19/03/14 – 16:27

On an isolated trip into Damory country some years ago, I seem to recall seeing the buses in light grey and white, perhaps another passing phase, Michael!

Chris Hebbron

20/03/14 – 17:21

I don’t recall seeing any grey, Chris, but certainly turquoise has appeared in the past!

Pete Davies

22/03/14 – 08:23

I did a double-take when I saw this photo as I thought Pete Davies must have been standing next to me when he took it. However, my photo of this bus in the same place has a different route number and different vehicles in the background. H&Ds vehicle shortage was so bad at this time that I used to cycle to Shirley Road and Grovesnor Place every Sunday morning to see what had turned up that week – this one was a surprise though. I believe it lasted 5 weeks before the crews blacked it! I was told that the cab window had a habit of randomly dropping out over the bonnet!

Phil Gilbert

22/03/14 – 15:37

Phil G, most of my views at this location were taken during the working week, rather than at weekends, and usually during the lunch break.

Pete Davies

24/05/14 – 08:30

I used the ‘-CWL’ Regents in the late ’60s when travelling on the old ‘3’ service that ran along Walton Street, and they shared the route with (mostly)Renowns and Bridgemasters until the sudden arrival of the first ‘G’ reg., N.C.M.E. bodied Fleetlines that must have been the last ‘true’ Oxford’ double-deckers to keep both the old livery and the single-panel front route-number/destination display. With the Daimlers, a new, racier, ‘go faster’, ‘Oxford’ transfer appeared, smaller and less ‘stuffy’ than the old one. As for the roomy Regents, I always thought that the curvy bodywork of the second, Park Royal, batch helped redeem the plainness that came with the tin front: I never thought that any of these buses would survive their (routine) early retirement by C.O.M.S. and it was a surprise to find that ‘975’ may still be around as another potential showcase for the attractive old ‘Oxford’ livery (the ‘magic’ of the scheme was lost, in my view, when the it became a plain, two-colour affair).

I’ve been away from the Oxford area for decades and came across the correspondence on the ‘long Regents’ by accident. If my observation about ‘975’ gets posted, could I ask if anyone can explain why Oxford was flooded with ‘alien’ two-man double-deckers (such as Aldershot & District’s Loline 1s and East Kent’s Regent Vs) in the late ’60s? Was this an early manifestation of the N.B.C. homogenisation that would bring the inevitable Bristol VRs, or was their some kind of operational crisis that required a ‘loan out’ from other operators.

John Hardman

25/05/14 – 09:28

Re vehicle shortages in Oxford. In 1981/82 I was working in "The City" and attended a talk given by the head of City of Oxford M.S.
He said that every time the hourly pay rates increased in the Cowley car factory, the mechanical/engineering staff left Cowley Road depot for more pay. So it could well have been a lack of engineering staff, until the next pay rise on the bus side of the equation.
Eventually COMS moved the engineering facility to Witney, so as to make it uneconomical to commute to the car factory in Cowley.

Dave Farrier

25/06/14 – 08:19

Dorset Transit buses were white, light grey and orange- there were a couple of Leyland National 1’s at least- not sure if there were other types. I have seen pictures of them parked up amongst Damory vehicles, but don’t know if there was a connection.


02/05/16 – 06:40

Reference the vehicle shortages, that was indeed the case – engineering staff shortages. It became a major embarrassment at Oxford (and further afield) in the early days of NBC. So they flooded the streets with unconventional vehicles (for Oxford streets) that were running well while the maintenance was transferred to other companies.

Alan O. Watkins

975 CWL Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

16/10/17 – 07:02

Just a note to say that 975CWL is still alive, albeit still awaiting finishing off. 75% of the major work has been completed but other projects have recently had priority and I would also like to see 975 completed before I "pop off"
Regarding the vehicle shortages, yes staff was a part off the problem but a major factor was the lack of AEC engine parts, notably 470 & 505 pistons and liners which were in very short supply and caused most of the COMS fleet of Reliances and Swifts to be off the road at the same time. Also a lot of the cooling systems were in bad shape due to the resistance to using anti-freeze in the early sixties……………and it came back to bite them!
When a new Chief Engineer was appointed in 1973 there was much needed investment carried out in the Engineering department with new facilities for annual MOT preparation made at Chipping Norton Depot, not Witney although this depot was also enlarged to cope with the extra allocation.
In 1973 25 Fords were introduced to replace the Reliances………but that is another story!

Grahame Wareham


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Hants & Dorset – Bristol RE – MRU 126F – 918

MRU 126F

Hants & Dorset Motor Services
Bristol RELH6G
Duple Commander III C48F

This photo taken in the early seventies at Bournemouth Square bus station shows Hants & Dorset No 918 one of a batch of five similar coaches delivered in June 1968 No’s 916-920 registrations MRU 124-128F these being Bristol RELH6Gs fitted with Duple Commander III bodies those on 916/917 being C40F whilst 918-920 were C48F, the Bristol/Duple combination was somewhat unusual. The RE was a vehicle I was undecided about but as my recent posting on the East Kent coaches shows I am a fan of the Duple Commander bodies especially the Mk III and Mk IV of which this is an excellent example in it’s restrained but elegant livery, note the full set of top sliding windows and the quarter lights a classic of it’s day.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

13/03/14 – 07:48

Nice, Dave! Looks a lot better than the later livery of poppy and white . . .

Pete Davies

13/03/14 – 07:49

After the ZF Reliance, the RELH was easily the best coach of the ’60s and early ’70s. The ECW body was also superb but these Duple coaches came as welcome relief to the almost unrelieved Lowestoft fare. Only in the early ’70s did Plaxton get a look in – for about two years they provided NBC with only RELH coaches.

David Oldfield

13/03/14 – 17:02

To my eye, the Duple bodies of this period are marred by the truly dreadful Detroit ‘inspired’ front end treatment. One supposes that the perpetrator believed this to be in line with the public tastes of the time. Not in my case!

Roger Cox

14/03/14 – 05:45

Question for you Duple experts – is this a Commander III or IV? Looks like a IV to me comparing with the ones at PMT (3 x G and 2 x H Reg on AEC 691 chassis). The low mounted headlamps look like the IV or are these because of the front mounted Bristol RE radiator? The III version (to my mind) had a horrible front grille.

Ian Wild

14/03/14 – 16:27

Problem is, Ian. People don’t seem to agree. This is an earlier Commander – at a time when Viceroys had the earlier grille. I think the IV "came along" when the Viceroy also got this grille – about a year later. The IV’s lower dash and light units, was slightly different with lights in a perspex fairing and there was a Viceroyesque ribbed metal strip all along the side at between wheel arches level. This was the last hurrah for the Commander as the Commander V emerged as a Viceroy – the only Viceroy variant on heavy chassis. By this time, I think only AECs and Leylands carried the Viceroy.

David Oldfield

14/03/14 – 16:27

Hello Ian
This is definitely a Commander III. The ‘horrible’ front grill was on the Commander II, and the early Viceroy, which also had those bulging twin headlights. The only awkward thing about the Mk III for me is the kink in the lower body line, just behind the front wheels. The Commander IV was the stylish design by Carl Olsen that also appeared on the later Viceroy. The headlights were recessed behind a glass panel and lined up with a ribbed aluminium band which continued unbroken along the lower body side. I don’t think the quarter lights and sliding windows were so common on these later marks.

Mike Morton

14/03/14 – 17:45

The awkward kink in the lower body line is in fact the easy way to distinguish the Mark III from the Mark IV plus the ribbed aluminium band mentioned by Mike which was matched by a similar band above the window line. Overall the changes were small but a hugely significant improvement to the design.

Diesel Dave


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