Old Bus Photos

Northern General – Leyland Titan – VUP 761 – 1761

Northern General - Leyland Titan - VUP 761 - 761

Northern General Transport
Leyland Titan PD2/12
Park Royal H35/28RD

Pictured outside Consett Depot, VUP 761 is a Park Royal bodied H35/28RD Leyland PD2/12, it was the first in a batch of ten delivered in 1957 – VUP 761/70; We have seen Northern General Transport vehicles with the open platform version of this type of Park Royal body before on this site, the previous ones being the Guy Arab IV’s of Tynemouth and District. The order for these handsome vehicles was initially placed by Sunderland District Omnibus, but prior to delivery they were diverted to Northern and entered service as 1761/70, so I don’t know if any of them got as far as being painted in SDO livery. They were generally to be found earning their keep on the long routes to Darlington and Stockton/Middlesbrough that NGT shared with United, where they were eventually superseded by the Routemasters. 1761 is still looking very smart, but going by the lettering and livery style it was probably nearing the end of its service life at the time this photo was taken, but I don’t think any of these vehicles suffered the indignity of being painted in NBC poppy red.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

20/12/13 – 15:51

I didn’t ever encounter these particular buses, but the combination of the dependable and stolid PD2 chassis with the stylish and well finished Park Royal bodywork of the time always formed a sound and efficient piece of capital equipment. The reputation that Leyland double deckers acquired from the TD1 through to the PD3 was entirely merited, and Park Royal bodywork, until it descended from the sublime to the ridiculous, was always a sound choice. Buses like these attained a level of reliability that present day bus engineers can only dream about.

Roger Cox

20/12/13 – 16:43

Couldn’t agree more, Roger.

David Oldfield

20/12/13 – 17:58

It’s called rugged simplicity lads. There’s a lot to be said for power steering and fully automatic gearboxes -especially when the driver has to collect fares, ensure the passengers are safe and watch out for top deck vandalism – self diagnostics can be a boon to the engineers and heaters, fluorescent lights and high visibility grab rails with low floor accessibility might be great for passengers but the modern bus for all its sophistication is a potential nightmare when it goes wrong.

Phil Blinkhorn

21/12/13 – 07:13

…..and so say all of us, Phil…..

David Oldfield

21/12/13 – 07:13

Power steering can also be a bad thing, Phil. Our half cabs a Percy Main were well maintained, and although heavier, they were perfectly acceptable, and at least they had ‘feel’ whereas the MK1 National was a nightmare on a wet or slippery road. Half the time you didn’t have a clue where the wheels were pointing, and it was more by luck than judgement if you went in the direction you intended to go.

Ronnie Hoye

21/12/13 – 08:32

Only drove a Mk1 National once in good conditions. Light and vague sums up the handling!

David Oldfield

21/12/13 – 13:58

A bendy is even worse, gents! Imagine putting the foot down for a standing start on a frosty morning, and seeing – via your mirrors – the back end advancing sideways towards the wall of a nearby property, while the front end just sits there. I know of one instance in Southampton and I’m sure it isn’t unique . . .

Pete Davies

21/12/13 – 13:58

Notwithstanding all the supposed development work and the well publicised testing in near arctic and sub tropical climes, the National MkI was appallingly unbalanced design with very poor front/back weight distribution. Its one saving grace was the almost indestructible bodywork. Some of the early 11.3 metre production examples went to London Country who, despite the dual door configuration, put the things on the Stevenage Superbus, thereby applying to that ‘premium’ service its first kiss of death. Hatfield and Dunton Green garages were next to receive these bundles of joy for local bus routes. By now Leyland had relaxed its rigid stance and agreed to produce a single door option, and, despite the ultra basic bus seating, a batch of these gems went on Green Line routes 721. 706 and 711. I never drove a National; at this time I worked in the LCBS HQ next to Reigate Garage, where the vicissitudes of the LN were well known. The introduction of these things coincided with a spell of extremely hot weather which caused some kind of meltdown in the gear selection/control mechanism. Also, the misconceived microswitches in the engine cover required someone to push the back panel hard to enable engine starting – it was said that the National was the only bus that needed a boot up the backside to make it go. I did often ride on these early Nationals, and found them to be utterly nasty. Drivers had never experienced such rapid engine acceleration before, and progress consisted of a succession of savage starts and violent stops. The body roll on corners was extreme, requiring passengers to clutch at the handrails to avoid being deposited in the gangway. The very light steering coupled with the long rear overhang behind the back wheels led to a spate of rear end collisions due to the backswing. The much hyped heating system, the rearward pod roof location of which added to the weight imbalance of the design, must have been created by someone with no knowledge of simple physics, since hot air rises everywhere except, apparently, in Leyland, Lancashire. The roof interior soon became Henry Ford’s preferred colour. Certainly the National did improve with time, but the 500 series engine was always a lemon. The MkII addressed several of the problems, but it could never match up to the Bristol RE that Stokes deliberately killed off to boost National sales.

Roger Cox

21/12/13 – 15:22

Brilliant resume of the National, Roger. I am a little more generously inclined to the MkII – but there was no excuse nor was it a substitute for the Series III RE that never was.

David Oldfield

21/12/13 – 18:04

And how did the Lynx measure up to the Nationals I & II?

Chris Hebbron

22/12/13 – 07:17

Lynx? Swearing and bad language should never be allowed on this site.

David Oldfield

22/12/13 – 07:18

It would be fascinating to know just what the warranty arrangements were for the Mk1 Nationals. They were either a nightmare or a milch cow for Leyland judging by the throughput of spares at the Chorley operation in the first few years. There was many an old Leyland hand seen shaking their head and muttering about the legitimacy of the type.
On a different tack, just what is it that the Brits don’t like about articulated PSVs? They operate successfully all around the world, including in many countries where snow and ice reign for far longer than in the UK. Certainly those with the power pack driving the rearmost wheels are harder to control in certain conditions but I can’t recall hearing such criticism of the breed anywhere else.

Phil Blinkhorn

22/12/13 – 08:46

Is it the "London Transport Syndrome", Phil? We didn’t invent it, we didn’t design it so we won’t make any effort to make it work. Oh, and whilst we’re at it, we’ll draw attention to the slightest fault – conveniently glossing over any faults in our own designs.
I’m a firm believer in the RM – having both ridden and driven numerous examples. It is fairly well documented, however, that there were numerous teething problems – which were eventually sorted out. [Pride wouldn’t let us design a dog.] The MB and DM(S) weren’t designed by LT, so could be jettisoned as rubbish and failures – but like the Cravens RTs they had long and honourable lives post LT. The Bendis fall into this category. They are not British – and therefore not worth consideration. Oh, goody. Some have gone up in flames. QED. [As a world-wide statistical point, this argument doesn’t hold water.] The Bendis are not bad, I simply don’t like them.
Now that is honest!

David Oldfield

22/12/13 – 09:04

According to Bus and Coach Magazine the Maltese Government in August ordered off the road the former LT Mercedes-Benz Citaros following nine fires in one year.


23/12/13 – 06:55

Roger’s summary of the Leyland National (perhaps a little off-topic here, but I didn’t start it!) is very accurate. For the passengers it was a lively ride accentuated, on those early models, by the shiny seats in an attractive shade of fawn.
LT passengers had long enjoyed the tactile pleasures of moquette and slithery seats requiring a steadying hold on the handrail were most unwelcome.


23/12/13 – 11:19

This British anti-bendi-bus attitude could simply be the fact that we increase our bus capacity with double-deckers which are familiar here, but nowadays virtually unknown on the continent, so they do it with bendi-buses. Having said that, it seems to me that, as ever, it’s the few influential ones who make the fuss, like Boris, peddling untruths like the rear part squeezing cyclists off the road etc.

Chris Hebbron

23/12/13 – 14:00

David and Chris make excellent points re articulated buses plus there is the "not invented in Britain" syndrome. Berlin operates both double deckers and articulated singles very successfully across a massive area of both intensely urban and semi rural road networks London could easily do the same. London tourism, in particular, has traded on the red double decker for decades as if they were the only double deckers in the world, touting riding on the top deck as a unique experience. As David points out, too many otherwise successful designs have been condemned by LT in its various forms and it was only the break up of LT that catapulted so many industry standard designs onto the streets of London. TfL under Boris has now come up with a very expensive animal compared to the articulated Citaro (£330K new as opposed to £200K) which it has lauded as being the best of all things to urban London, whilst ensuring no-one else can buy one even if they wanted one for the foreseeable future and even then any order would include a licence payment to TfL. Presumably if it turns out to be a dog, work will be done to rectify problems that the rest of the industry will not find out about until years later, (apart from some unusually good journalism from the Mail) see this link www.dailymail.co.uk/news/ whereas the Citaros were stigmatised in short order and very vociferously.

Phil Blinkhorn

23/12/13 – 17:27

Chris Y- did you see (Daily Mail story link above) conductors on a Borisbus for 12 hours a day cost £60K per annum for each bus?


23/12/13 – 17:28

It always surprised me that, despite North’s selling lots of London Transport (and possibly non-LT ones, too) double-deck buses to European countries such as Belgium/Jugoslavia/Canary Isles/Spain/Portugal, the double-deck principle never really gained momentum. Berlin had DD buses before the war, of course.

Chris Hebbron

24/12/13 – 06:44

Ref. to Joe’s remark on costs of Borisbus conductors, I have never understood why the UK does not adopt the continental method of revenue collection, at least for urban routes – self-cancellation of pre-purchased tickets. It reduces to a minimum driver’s duties as a ticket seller/revenue protector and so cuts down on dwell time at stops. On-the-spot penalty for ticketless travel (spot checks by teams of roving plain-clothes inspectors) is fixed at about 25 times the standard fare. So, provided tickets are checked once in every 25 journeys the operator loses nothing, and the freeloaders gain nothing.

Stephen Ford

24/12/13 – 06:45

These "Borisbus" absurdities are nothing more than a vanity project for a publicity hungry London Mayor. I am not a great fan of the articulated bus, but Johnson’s hysterical condemnation of the Citaros in his self awarded parallel role of "Cyclists’ Champion" was just another headline grabbing stunt. Perfectly sound, expensive public service vehicles (I prefer the old expression) have been flogged off well before their properly depreciated lifespan, at a heavy cost to all national taxpayers (most of whom receive no benefit whatsoever from the huge and disproportionate subsidy handed out to TfL). In their place have come these ridiculous committee designed camels, each having a unit cost far above entirely acceptable, proven, modern designs. Within a few years, these things, neither fish nor fowl (nor barely recognisable as buses) will be deemed too old to continue in passenger transport service within the exclusive, rarefied bubble that seemingly now encompasses London. What then? I do not see realistic operators outside the Metropolis wanting Borisbuses for normal services. No doubt they will be sold off to dealers at hugely discounted prices for school transport operators once the rear doorways have been permanently nailed up.

Roger Cox

24/12/13 – 06:46

Leyland Nationals in the snow would go anywhere the problem was stopping them but the traction was amazing on snow covered roads going up hill.

Michael Crofts

24/12/13 – 06:47

David (Oldfield); living in the Morley area and working in Bradford, between about 1988 and 1990 I probably travelled on a West Riding Lynx up to ten times per week. As you will know West Riding built up a large fleet of these (as they did, of course, with the Guy Wulfrunian!), but the Lynx had a full service life. I found it an attractive vehicle to look at, not especially noisy, fairly comfortable and with very impressive acceleration. I admit I am not a professional busman, either a driver or an engineer, so why do they seem to be so unpopular? You are not the only person to condemn them on this and other forums!

Dave Towers

24/12/13 – 08:31

Boris buses do not have conductors. They are platform attendants – allegedly to prevent customers falling off. It patently hasn’t worked if recent news is to be believed. They do not have anything to do with fare collection or revenue checks. In central London there is already ticket-less operation similar to what you have suggested, Stephen.
Personally, I find the Boris bus ugly in the extreme, its linking with the name Routemaster an abomination and its whole existence pointless. Most, if not all, of its useful features are also found in the standard offerings of ADL, Wright-bus and Optare and its usefulness and desirability outside London (new or second hand) is, as Roger said, nigh on none-existent.
Dave/Lynx. As said elsewhere, the National had an unassailable body to mitigate against its dreadful engine and handling. The Lynx was so badly designed. The body depended on its bonded glazing and other such features to ensure body rigidity. In practice this didn’t happen. Rattling and twisty body syndrome did. In the general scheme of things the engine was too big for the bus – and contributed to body disintegration – and with the transmission contributed to as clog and anchor style of driving and ride. It didn’t hit the market at an auspicious time, but even so the poor sales represented what operators thought of it. Caldaire was the only big scale operator of the type and probably, like LT mentioned above, had to make it work. Getting rid of so many vehicles would have bankrupt them.

David Oldfield

24/12/13 – 13:45

I seem to be a Rare busman on these pages as I Liked the National. We used to operate them (Crosville) on the C84 service which was a five hour round trip and these buses worked for a living day in and day out fully loaded on lots of trips, they were T reg they spoilt the National by putting Gardener engines in them making them noisy and smelly with no performance !
I had a K reg Lynx as a training bus I believe it was one of the last to be made and always enjoyed driving it.

Michael Crofts

24/12/13 – 15:35

The Lynx came with four engine options, though not concurrently. Early examples had the Leyland TL11 or Gardner 6HLXCT coupled with the Leyland semi auto gearbox. The Cummins L10 and ZF fully auto box were added later, and became the standard when the Leyland and Gardner power options were withdrawn. Then Leyland Bus fell into the clutches of Volvo, and the THD102KF 245 bhp 9.6 litre unit – developed from the AEC engine – was offered as an alternative to the Cummins. All the Lynxes that I drove were Cummins powered, and had the endearing Cummins PT injection system characteristic of a total lack of logical liaison with accelerator pressure. Depressing the pedal brought no response until the engine revved up to a level way beyond that which was desired. Easing off the pedal again yielded no effect in reducing revs until the thing suddenly shut down again to idling speed. Effectively, Cummins engines were either ‘on’ or ‘off’, making it impossible in buses so powered to drive smoothly with consideration for the passengers. The driver might just as well had an on/off throttle switch on the dashboard. The transmission howl from gearbox and rear axle in the Lynx gave one a severe headache in no time; the semi integral body structure must have amplified the noise somehow. Yes, the Lynx could certainly motor, but progress was decidedly savage and unpleasant. I absolutely hated driving the Lynx; it was beaten for nastiness only by the Seddon Pennine IV, and then by a small margin. My distaste was shared by all the drivers of my acquaintance that encountered the things. In one depot where I worked the Lynx was nicknamed "The Scud" – it went like a missile and was just about as uncontrollable. The L10 powered Olympian was a nasty creature too, unlike its Gardner stable mate, but the Lynx was far worse. It is noteworthy that the ‘in house’ Cummins engines, latterly the ‘C’ family and M11, are no longer offered for the automotive market. The ‘B’ series and its derivatives, as used in ADL buses, was originally designed by the Case Corporation, and it employs the trusted Bosch type conventional fuel injection system. This web page www.aronline.co.uk/  gives one opinion of the Lynx, much of which I do not share, especially the comment, "The Lynx was a good vehicle to drive; Cummins and Volvo-engined buses had acceleration best described as alarming and were very popular amongst drivers". Popular with drivers? Not in my experience.

Roger Cox

25/12/13 – 06:35

Just as matter of correction (and we are way past the 1970 cut off for this site) the Cummins C series engine had a conventional fuel injection system, same as the B series. I believe both types were built in Darlington for UK applications – as was the V6-VIM – now THERE is a pre 1970 comment!- Daimler Roadliner!

Ian Wild

25/12/13 – 09:39

Thanks for that correction Ian. my only driving knowledge of the ‘C’ engine came from a couple of Dennis Javelins at one garage, and, yes, they were less ‘snatchy’ than the L10s. Mercifully, I never had to handle a Roadliner.

Roger Cox

26/12/13 – 08:36

The interesting thing about the Lynx and Caldaire (West Riding/Yorkshire was that the single deck Lynx seemed to become a major part of the fleet, replacing double deckers such as Bristol VR’s. This (with real minibuses) seemed then to be the way forward: surely passenger numbers were declining & something simpler was needed, together with buses that could pick up around suburban estates. Then the megagroups formed and we have the lumbering megabuses which can scarcely squeeze into bus lanes: what is the real logic (not the public transport command economy logic) of this?


26/12/13 – 13:07

Re Michael’s comments on the National. The only ones I have ever driven were the early MK1, of K & L vintage, this covered the period from Aug 1971 to July 1973, and I don’t retract a single word I said about them, they were in my opinion an absolute abortion. By the time you got to the ‘T’ registered vehicles ‘Aug 78 to July 79’ that Michael speaks of, a further five years had passed during which time many of the problems had been dealt with. However, I can’t help thinking, that had the opposition not been killed off, and had the companies been given a free choice rather than having the National thrust upon them, the chances are that working for Crossville, Michael would have been driving a Bristol RELL rather than a National.

Ronnie Hoye

02/01/14 – 08:23

Returning to the photo of 1761, this batch of ten buses were very easy on the eye – Ronnie describes them as handsome and I can’t think of a better adjective with which to describe them. They were also very fast (for their day), particularly when given their head South of Durham on the 46 (Darlington) and the 55 (Middlesbrough). Their downside was the seating, which was cramped and provided inadequate legroom, especially for long journeys.
They were intended to displace the MCCW (Orion)-bodied Guy Arab IVs, themselves less than two years old, from the above services although I can well remember both types operating in tandem on the 47 and 55 during the early ’60s. The arrival of Routemasters at Chester-le-Street and Bensham depots in 1964/5 ousted these fine machines from the North Road but they continued to provide excellent service elsewhere on less prestigious routes. The 136, as seen above, was, at 11 minutes from Consett to Chester Road (Moorside), a bit of a comedown compared with Newcastle-Darlington (1 hour 55 minutes) and Newcastle-Middlesbrough (2 hours 9 minutes).

Alan Hall

18/05/14 – 06:24

VUP 769

1769 seemed to outlast its siblings of this batch as this was the only example I saw/travelled on. It often found itself on the scholars (of which I was one) run from Lanchester back to Consett.


18/05/14 – 11:56

I see from the colour of the wheels and logo that we have now entered the NBC era, and look how standards have dropped. Okay, the photo was taken on a damp and dreary day which is never a help, but both vehicles are showing signs of neglect. The Atlantean appears to have a broken fog light, and neither vehicle has any front wheel trims. Neither would have been acceptable under the old NGT regime, whatever the reason the wheel trims had been removed, they would have been replaced, and the broken light would have been attended to at the earliest opportunity, apart from anything else its an offence, fog lights are not obligatory, but if fitted must work.

Ronnie Hoye

VUP 761 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

04/08/16 – 08:54

I lived next door to the depot at this time, and I’m sure that the buses parked at that end of the depot were awaiting disposal, which would excuse the missing foglight.

Stuart Gunn

09/08/16 – 06:18

I have an update to the discussion about the New Routemaster which took place in this thread two-and-a-half years ago, although actually it is also closely linked to the main subject matter of this forum, because the story really begins with the original Routemaster.
Readers may recall that, when the Routemaster was finally withdrawn from normal London service, an urban myth started circulating, to the effect that its open platform had been specially designed for London to allow passengers to board and alight between stops during periods of heavy traffic congestion. (This has resulted in anything with an open platform now being called a Routemaster.) Of course we all know that, in reality, getting on and off between stops is something that was always discouraged for safety reasons, until Boris promised to being it back in order to get elected as mayor.
Well the update is that next month – a mere four months after the end of Boris’s second term – the ‘platform attendants’ on the New Routemasters are to be dispensed with to save money, and the rear doors are to be kept closed between stops. What a surprise!

Peter Williamson

09/08/16 – 09:23

And what a criminal waste of public money on a preposterous vanity project.

Roger Cox

10/08/16 – 05:54

It’s probably partly political, with a Labour Mayor in post, to dismantle one bit of the ‘Boris Legacy’, with a wish to get rid of his unattractive-looking buses, too, but that is a step too far! Politicians love these projects, Concorde being one of the most expensive for huge technical advances, but no direct benefit to more than a few rich and business folk.

Chris Hebbron

11/08/16 – 06:25

As one who has always thought of Concorde as being a simply beautiful design, I cannot bring myself to say the same about the New Routemaster.

Brendan Smith


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Northern General – AEC Reliance – FT 9917 – 2262

FT 9917
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

The Northern General Transport Company
AEC Reliance MU3RV
Willowbrook B43F

When it was new in 1957, this Willowbrook bodied AEC Reliance was one of three in the Tynemouth and District fleet, FT 9916/8 – 216/8 the livery was always all one colour but they never carried adverts. They were originally DP41F’s, but when they were transferred to Northern General they were re-seated as buses and I think the capacity was increased to 43. They had a lever operated manual door, and believe me your arm got rather tired if you had one of these on a busy local service route, so needless to say the door spent a lot of time left open on warmer days. As I remember them from their days at Percy Main, they had a lower trim on the front, similar to the Venture bus to the right of the picture, and they also had a trim that ran from the rear of the front wheel and right round the back of the vehicle at the same height as the top of the inspection panels, but 40 odd years on it may well be that the memory is playing tricks.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

12/03/13 – 13:16

I have to say the lack of any form of relief – trim or paint – reminds me of some other operators in the BET group. It just goes to show the level of tolerance for "individuality" that once prevailed (or still does) in some groups. The relief Ronnie mentions, even if it’s only the trim as seen on the Saro Tiger Cubs Ribble had, or the front end on the Venture vehicle in the picture, does make a lot of difference.

Pete Davies

12/03/13 – 14:08

Pete, I’ve just been talking to a former colleague of mine from Percy Main, and he reminded me of something I had quite forgotten. When they were about six or seven years old, one of these (unknown) caught fire and was extensively rebuilt, it may well have been this one, and that would explain the lack of trim.

Ronnie Hoye

12/03/13 – 14:58

It would indeed, Ronnie. Thanks for the update.

Pete Davies

18/05/14 – 06:28

The registration makes it look older as most registration offices had progressed much further in their issues by 1957 ie 3 letters, 3 numbers and some were well into reversed series. Yes, Tynemouth had its own vehicle registration office issuing one mark (FT) and up to 1957 had only issued 9917 marks!



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Northern General – AEC Routemaster – EUP 405B – 2105

Northern General - AEC Routemaster - EUP 405B - 2105                Copyright Ronnie Hoye

The Northern General Transport Company
AEC-Park Royal Routemaster
Park Royal H41/31F

Pictured at the Seaburn Bus Rally, this 1964 Routemaster has been beautifully restored to its original livery and is now part of the North East Bus Preservation Trust Ltd collection; it was one of the second batch to be delivered. I know the two batches differed slightly, but I’m not sure if it was only that the first ones had rear wheel spats. Prior to the Routmasters, the last front engine half cabs to carry the Northern name were the 1958 PD3’s with Orion bodies ‘Sunderland District’s were rear door Burlingham bodies’ before the Routemasters arrived on the scene their were then three or possibly four batches of PDR1 Atlanteans with both MCW and Roe bodies. Northern ran a lot of longer routes alongside United, when they introduced the front entrance Bristol Lodekkas Northern decided it was time to replace the rear door Park Royal bodied PD2’s on these routes with a more modern vehicle, but rather than use Atlanteans they bought the Routemasters specifically for the purpose. I think reliability may have been a factor as the early Atlanteans were ‘A tad temperamental’ Northern specified the Leyland O600 engine and the same gearing as the Green Line RMC’s, as far as I’m aware they gave excellent service and reliability was never a problem. Our depot didn’t have any so I must be one of the few drivers at Percy Main to have driven one on service, I was on the number 1 which ran between Whitley Bay and Lobbly Hill Gateshead, my bus ‘an Atlantean’ broke down at Team Valley and a replacement was sent out from Bensham depot, it turned out to be a Routemaster. I only drove it for a couple of hours but found it a very nice vehicle to drive.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

13/05/12 – 08:41

…..and I spent many a happy hour driving AEC and Leyland engined ex LT RMs in Reading for Reading Mainline. I now have the occasional charge of a preserved green RML. Still nice to drive but unfortunately, like most RMLs, re-engined.

David Oldfield

13/05/12 – 18:49

What make was/were the replacement engine(s) and did the conversion entail any gearbox/transmission changes, David? In the back of my mind, Iveco comes to mind.

Chris Hebbron

14/05/12 – 07:43

There several experiments using Cummins C (Javelin 8.2), Scania (9.2), DAF (?) and IVECO (7) engines. DAF never got beyond the one experimental, the others went into "mass" production. I don’t know the numbers, nor how it was decided to allocate which engines to which (batches of) vehicles.
These vehicles tended to keep their AEC/LT (semi)automatic gear-change. The vehicle I regularly drive – and will be doing so next week in Slough – is a 1966 RML with IVECO engine with original gearbox which still operates in either semi or fully automatic modes.
From the cab it is very obviously a re-engine although, surprisingly, from the saloon it sounds more like a "proper" vehicle. I can only surmise that this is because it still has the original gearbox. It does not, however, have the performance of an AV590 or 0.600 – nor the real sound.
The last refurbishments, however, were also made to comply with "Euro…" regulations and have the Cummins B (5.9) engine and Allison fully automatic gearbox both found on the Dennis Dart. They are therefore cruelly, but aptly, known as "Dartmasters". The latter have also totally changed the character of the cab.

David Oldfield

14/05/12 – 09:29

Thanks, David, for that interesting background information. It’s also interesting that the original engines performed better than their replacements. Maybe some of it is strapping the engines up with ‘save the world’ technology, understandable, but not conducive to performance or fuel consumption!

Chris Hebbron

14/05/12 – 14:57

As a P.S. to my comments above. It’s all speculation, but given the reputation for build quality and reliability that the Routemaster built up with Northern, I think it’s safe to assume that if the RML had gone into production AEC would have loaned a couple to Northern for evaluation purposes, then who knows?

Ronnie Hoye

14/05/12 – 18:30

Ronnie; do you mean RML or FRM? The Northerns were front entrance RMLs (or RMFs in London language). FRM1 was the rear-engined prototype which Leyland knocked on the head because it competed with its own new Atlantean.
There should have been three prototype FRMs – one of the other in Sheffield Transport colours. Alan Townsin said that both Yorkshire Traction and Northern General had already shown an interest in the new model "off the drawing board". Having tested it for "Bus and Coach" in August 1967 he concluded that "…..the general impression was of a vehicle which made everything previous seem out of date, in much the same way as the RT in its day."

David Oldfield

14/05/12 – 18:46

It’s an age thing David, I did mean the RMF

Ronnie Hoye

15/05/12 – 07:34

It’s an age thing for most of us who use this site! What day is it nurse?

David Oldfield

15/05/12 – 07:36

I wish I’d been issued with fingers instead of thumbs, FRM, the one that Leyland couldn’t wait to kill off, in much the same way that they did with the Fleetline, as the Americans say ‘if you can’t beat them, buy them’

Ronnie Hoye

15/05/12 – 07:38

Chris, can I just point out that David’s comment about the performance of replacement engines was specific to IVECO, which was the smallest of the units in the original experiment. I recently had a ride on an RM with a Scania engine and it went like a bat out of hell! It also made some nice traditional sounds which were entirely compatible with the RM’s transmission.
As regards FRM1, this still exists of course, and it is very special. I once had the pleasure of riding on it, and it felt like meeting the Queen!

Peter Williamson

15/05/12 – 13:31

Very interesting comments, David, on the FRM. I never saw the ‘Bus and Coach’ article, (yes, I ought to have seen it!), and have never seen any pictures of the prototypes, but it sounds as if it had great potential. Leyland, as Ronnie points out, were eager to kill off anything that competed with a Leyland product. Operationally, the Fleetline was a far better bet than early Atlanteans, being more economical and less expensive to maintain, and it would have been a boon to the industry to have had an AEC alternative, too. Leyland’s arrogance, which manifested itself in many ways at that time, was a tragedy for the whole of the British motor industry.

Roy Burke

15/05/12 – 18:00

There were other interesting possibilities which Leyland killed at birth. The only really decent and successful rear-engined single-decker was the Bristol RE. It eventually had the option of Leyland engines (which I approve of) but another option "on the books" which was neither promoted nor taken up was of the AH691 AEC engine. Ulsterbus (and all offshoots) had shown a great interest in the AEC option but were dissuaded by Leyland from taking it up – just as later, New Zealand were "persuaded" to take the Leyland 510.

David Oldfield

16/05/12 – 07:47

In some ways fitting a Scania engine into a Routemaster is the supreme irony. The Routemaster started life with AEC, they in turn became part of British Leyland ‘not to be confused with Leyland Motors’ At the time of the ‘merger’ AEC had designs for a new vehicle, but BL in their wisdom or otherwise decided not to go ahead with it, all the plans ‘including those for a new engine’ were sold to Saab and the result was the 80 and 100 series and every vehicle since, so I suppose you could argue that by using an AEC designed Scania engine in a Routemaster the wheel has in effect turned full circle

Ronnie Hoye

22/09/13 – 07:51

Regarding the allocation of re-engined Routemasters in London, the rough rule was by operating group: South London and London General got Iveco re-engines and everywhere else got Cummins. The reasoning was, the DMS buses also had Iveco engines at these garages.
I used to like the Routemasters on the 130 from Newcastle to Sunderland as a boy.


22/09/13 – 14:35

When were the last of these vehicles withdrawn and what happened to them afterwards?

Chris Hebbron

23/09/13 – 05:57

The answer to the first question is that Northern last used them in service on 16th December 1980. Someone else will have to answer the second bit!

Dave Towers

25/09/13 – 18:18

I have a Classic Bus magazine from 1994. The article must have been about the late 1950s, when they were in the process of creating the Atlantean. In it were clear, side by side pictures of the two prototype Leyland’s running on a route for evaluation by a bus company. One had the engine in front of the front axle, with a front wheel drive. It made the steering very heavy & would tilt up without the conductor on the rear platform. During tests they always made sure they had a conductor on. The other type had the engine on the rear platform & a full front. There is also a rear view picture of a top secret third type, which from memory only got to the test track at night, but was later broken up & the parts used on a conventional layout. If anyone would like further information I will read it again for more accuracy. If anyone would like the magazine, you can have it, for postage costs only.

Andy Fisher

26/09/13 – 06:30

I drove a Routemaster just once, at an LT Open Day – OK I paid a few circuits "on" so had a few laps. Compared to the PD3 on which I did my PSV training the Routemaster felt like a real driver’s bus – everything light to the touch and set up just right, although the horizontal gear-selection gate felt odd to start with. However, I’d take a PD2/3 over a Lodekka anytime – for me the Lodekka’s driving position, with that raked steering-wheel, was just uncomfortable/awful.

Philip Rushworth

26/09/13 – 14:53

Philip, don’t forget that the horizontal gear-selection gate was probably specified to replicate the pre-selector used on the many thousands of RTs with which all LT drivers would have been familiar (to say nothing of the many municipalities who operated pre-selector Regents).

Stephen Ford

26/09/13 – 14:53

The disposal details of all 50 Northern General Routemasters (2085-2134) are to be found at www.countrybus.org/RMF/RMFa.html  
This site, Ian’s Bus Stop, has full life histories for most London Tansport classes and closely related classes, e.g. London Country Leyland Nationals. Well worth a visit.

Dave Farrier

28/09/13 – 16:14

Thx, Dave F.

Chris Hebbron

01/10/13 – 06:30


Whilst on the subject of the Routemaster, has anyone seen a photo of the Chinese Youtong-built vehicle destined for Macedonia, designed with more than a nod at London’s Transport’s ubiquitous product!
(Copyright unknown).

Chris Hebbron

01/10/13 – 10:45

Oh – if only Colin Curtis could see this!!!!!

Michael Hampton

01/10/13 – 17:46

The Youtong vehicles were ordered as an up to date version of the buses that Skopje took second hand from LT in the early 1960s. Those of course were RTs but they have always been regarded as something special in the minds of the citizens and, obviously, the authorities. As they didn’t buy any second hand Routemasters at the time LT were withdrawing them, the new vehicles can probably be regarded as competing with the Borisbus in terms of using old shapes and ideas in a modern format. Neither would win a beauty contest but both are at least interesting and controversial. Just a pity that no British manufacturer could cater for Skopje’s needs.

Phil Blinkhorn

01/10/13 – 17:47

Yes, he only missed out on the news by a few months.

Chris Hebbron

01/10/13 – 17:48

Is this going straight into the Uglibus section?


26/10/13 – 17:11

I was very interested in your section on Routemasters, particularly in the Tyne and Wear, County Durham areas 1970’s. One of your correspondents notes the 130 route, Newcastle to Sunderland. I can remember this being route 40 prior to 13O and continuing to Hartlepool or Middlesbrough. I am interested in obtaining any further info on this. I am also keen to bring back some more memories of routes south of the Tyne from this period and can recall a lot of them but would like to see a list. Do you have any idea where I can access such detail?

Dave Alcock

27/10/13 – 16:12

The 40 was a rather hybrid route, dating historically to the owners of various parts of it before ‘grouping’. From the thirties until NBC days it was really two overlapping routes; United’s 40 ran from Middlesbrough to Sunderland via West Hartlepool, and that of Northern / SDO ran from West Hartlepoool to Newcastle via Sunderland. The overlapping section was a joint operation, with all of the companies running journeys from West Hartlepool to Sunderland to give a more frequent headway.
The United / Northern territorial boundary was at Easington Village, where passengers had to rebook, and United would run further short workings within their section, as well as frequent duplicates to fit in with mining shift times. In the same way Northern had short workings between Newcastle and Sunderland.
The United timetable only showed the Newcastle journeys as brief details, and the Northern timetable ignored the Middlesbrough section altogether (indeed anyone travelling from Sunderland to Middlesbrough would have found the Durham District routes D1 / D2 to be quicker.

David Todd

31/12/13 – 07:20

It’s great reading all your comments,I was a conductor on the trollybusses in NW London 1958-1961 then went onto the RMs we changed overnight. The RM was a wonderful bus but in those early days some of them were experimental. We had RM 1134 at Stonebridge Park and the first time I took it out as a driver I pulled into a bus stop applied the brakes which came on then went off I braked harder and was nearly thrown through the windscreen. Then we had different suspension Dunlopillow was one where after a short while the conductor was sick because the rear of the bus just kept bouncing up and down all day. All garages were told to drive the bus in different ways we were told to drive in automatic at all times, Cricklewood were told to drive in manual it was supposed to save on fuel, I found that when the bus was fully loaded in the rush hour because the gear change from 1st to 2nd was so quick you lost all power so I used to pull away in auto click into second manually gun it then back into top. I last drove an RM in 1965 when I left, I am now 72 and have the chance to climb back into that wonderful bus for one more run {only on the test track at Canvey Island Essex} but I am looking forward to it you never forget how to drive them.

Bix Curtis

24/04/18 – 06:47

Just to say in my opinion the last Routemasters front design was the best looking and handsome bus to this day.
The bonnet, grill, lights etc., never seem to get dated.
Anybody agree?
A real Bus!

Chris Campbell

EUP 405B_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

10/06/18 – 08:50

Can anyone help me with info for a model of a Northern Routemaster in yellow. Three were painted in yellow for Tyneside area operation but one carried ‘GATESHEAD’ fleetnames, the other 2 ‘Northern’. Can anyone tell me which one it was that carried ‘Gateshead’ please.


11/06/18 – 05:56

Whilst the undermentioned website lists all 50 Northern General Routemasters with photographs of each one (and in some cases a history of allocations, liveries etc) some vehicles have only the dates new, date renumbered and date sold. //www.northernroutemaster.co.uk/
There is a photograph of FPT 595C (Fleet number 2125 renumbered to 3109) in yellow but I can’t read the fleetname but it looks like Northern.
On the SCT61 website there is a photograph of RCN 687 (Fleet number 2125 renumbered to 3109) in yellow with the Northern fleetname. On the Northern Routemaster website there is a note regarding this vehicle: ‘In August 1975 this was one of two Routemasters to receive a less striking version of the Newcastle PTE yellow livery’. Photo here: //www.sct61.org.uk/ng3071
Hope the above helps narrow down your quest I don’t know.

David Slater

23/06/18 – 06:51



These pictures of a Northern General Routemaster in a sorry state were taken in June 2014 at the yard of Carnell’s Coaches, Long Sutton , Lincolnshire. Carnell’s had previously gone into liquidation in November 2013, though the site still seemed to be in use, though access was not possible when I took the pictures. I cannot identify the actual bus because no number plate or fleet number can be seen. The destination blind shows "Eastbourne", and "Hailsham" is also just visible, which might give some clue to its earlier operation and hence identity. I returned to the site again shortly after to take another look, but the vehicle had then gone.

Roger Cox


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