Old Bus Photos

WYPTE – AEC Reliance – Pennine – ECP 950D – 250

WYPTE - AEC Reliance - Pennine - ECP 950D - 250

WYPTE (Calderdale)
AEC Reliance 6MU3RA
Pennine B39F

Having suffered a number of Albion Nimbuses whilst in his previous post at Great Yarmouth, Geoffrey Hilditch arrived as GM at Halifax only to find that his predecessor there had bequeathed him a batch of ten more, only recently delivered. Bought originally with the intention of operating out-of-town feeder services to and from the hilltop villages linking with double deckers on the main valley roads, the plan never really came to fruition and the Nimbuses found themselves operating through services from town to these places, as well as substituting for heavier duty single deckers on more local services. In these circumstances rather too much was perhaps expected of them and they soon began to give problems, and were generally unpopular with drivers (except Roger Cox !).
Hilditch was not impressed and within two years he began to sell them off, but there was still considered to be a need for some shorter and narrower than standard single deckers to negotiate the narrow lanes and tight reversing points. He chose to repeat what he had done at Great Yarmouth and ordered some AEC Reliances with Pennine bodywork of reduced dimensions. Seven arrived for the JOC fleet in 1966 – 249-255 (ECP 949-955D) – based on the 505-engined 6MU3RA chassis. Bodies by the Seddon subsidiary Pennine Coachcraft seated 39, 252 having seats with headrests (removed from the two Nimbuses that had been fitted with them previously). 249 was even exhibited at the Commercial Vehicle Show at Earls Court in that year.
They proved to be very useful on the more rural routes and were regular performers on the Heptonstall, Midgley, Booth and Mill Bank services. All passed to WYPTE Calderdale District in 1974 and were withdrawn in 1979/80. 250 was withdrawn on 31 July 1979 and sold at Central Motor Auctions the following month to Askin’s, the Carlton breaker. 251 escaped the breaker to operate for Everton Coaches of Droitwich for a while and was the subject of a sadly failed preservation attempt. 252 was exported to Malta, where it operated in a non-PSV capacity for a number of years.
Here 250 is pictured in WYPTE days (1975) still in Halifax livery as it rests in Rawson Street, Halifax whilst its driver has his mealbreak in the Powell Street canteen, which was down a passageway behind Harvey’s department store on the left.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

10/11/17 – 06:53

Nice interesting buses-always seemed in a hurry and went fast!

Stuart Emmett

10/11/17 – 06:54

I recently paid a return visit to the Halifax area to see relatives who live high above Mytholmroyd on the way up to Pecket Well. After living in the flat lands around Peterborough for over 12 years I found those moorland roads, hills and twists quite challenging even in my humble Vauxhall Zafira. I have nothing but admiration for the men and machines who piloted those orange and green buses into that hinterland. Even these short and narrow Reliances must have been a tight squeeze but unlike the Nimbuses they ousted they would at least have had some power.

Philip Halstead

12/11/17 – 07:17

I remember in the 70’s when I looked after the police radio stations. I was going to one near Blackshaw Head on a quite snowy day when one of these could not make it up a steep climb and had to assist in guiding the driver reversing for almost a 1/2 mile before he could turn round. I then had to walk back to where I had left my Land Rover.

Brian Lunn

12/11/17 – 07:18

That’s an interesting point, Philip. Some may know better than me, but the Halifax/ Heptonstall bus has to use a turning circle to approach the steep hill up to the village. At the top the road narrows through the village and is cobbled, becoming for a bus a single width. Every sort of bus seems to have been used, though, and the whole thing certainly requires skill.


12/11/17 – 07:19

Philip, I now live some 10 miles down the A1 where the Black Fens abut the rolling hills of West Hunts, and I agree that there could be no greater contrast with the dramatic Calderdale skyline than the the billiard table top topography of South Holland lying to the north of Peterborough. These Pennine bodied Reliances began to appear during my last months with HPTD in the latter part of 1966, but, being earmarked for (what was then called) OMO, they were not driven by we humble office employees who covered only crew duties. On the subject of the Nimbuses (yes, John, I loved ‘em) my acquaintance with them was always on the 46 route to Heptonstall, which, because of the unbelievably constricted terminal reversing point, colloquially known as ‘The Rathole’ – even the mirrors had to be flattened against the bus sides – these little machines carried a conductor. Before the coming of the Nimbuses, I believe that the route was previously operated with Regals, and I commend those drivers struggling over the years to turn round these bigger vehicles at the Rathole. However, I can vouch that the Nimbus did not lack performance when in good order, and could scamper up the steep Heptonstall Road from Hebden Bridge every bit as effectively as the Leopards that initially superseded them when the 46 was mercifully extended onwards beyond the Rathole to follow a circular terminal working round Heptonstall – why this route could not have been adopted long before I cannot imagine, unless there was some Road Service Licence difficulty. Having resolved the terminal problem, it was logical that the 46 would become a driver only operation, but, in my day, the Booth and Midgely services, which ran common with the 46 as far as Luddenden Foot, were PD2 crew runs. It would seem that they, too, soon became OMO workings with the then new Reliances. The Nimbus certainly had mechanical weaknesses, but so did the AH505 engine in the Reliance, so troubles were certainly not over. I have long thought that the fine Reliance chassis (much superior to the Leopard) should have been fitted with the superb Dennis O6 engine – we are all allowed to dream.

Roger Cox

12/11/17 – 09:40

An example of Heptonstall village bus "squeeze" as Joe mentioned. //www.sct61.org.uk/hx266

John Lomas

21/11/17 – 07:18

Ah, the short Pennine Reliances. What do I remember? Clutch problems, snatching brakes, skidding in wet weather, the inevitable cold heaters and demisters, head gaskets (yes even on the AH505 engine). I have to bow to Roger and John who were there before me that the Nimbus was actually worse!!!!

Ian Wild

24/11/17 – 07:27

Provided all was working well I always much preferred the 505 Reliance to the heavy, clunky L1/L2 Leopards, though of course I wasn’t involved with having to maintain them. Cold heaters and demisters were a feature of most of the buses that I remember driving throughout my career (except during the summer months when some suddenly seemed to blow hot !). The dimensions of these reduced Reliances rendered them just right for the roads they were intended for.
However, I would completely agree with Ian that Reliance brakes could be unpredictably and frighteningly snatchy, and that these short ones were the worst of all. Many of the routes they were used on were tightly timed and yet involved negotiating miles of narrow, steeply graded and winding country lanes with blind bends and shiny worn surfaces, along which numerous farm tractors with muddy tyres and leaking muck spreaders would have passed, and to which herds of cows would have added their messy contribution. All it needed then was for it to rain and you had a recipe for disaster. You had to be extremely careful, yet the running times often didn’t exactly encourage this.
It always seemed to me that when a standard chassis had bits lopped off it to make it shorter and narrower it always upset the balance of things. Even worse than these Reliances were some Bristol LHS6L’s that WYPTE graced us with for a while. The LH was designed primarily as a 32ft x 8ft vehicle and may well have been okay in that form (can’t say – I never drove one). The LHS was a shorter version, maybe around 27ft 6in and sometimes 7ft 6in wide, but ours were as short and narrow as it was possible to make them, with seemingly just enough wheelbase to allow for the engine and transmission to fit, the front and rear overhangs cut down as far as they could go, and with small wheels. This resulted in a 24ft x 7ft 6in, 27-seater roller skate of a bus yet which had the same powerful 0400 engine, gearbox and braking system of the full sized version – seemingly unmodified – and all its weight distribution completely messed up. Those things really were the most fearsome buses I’ve ever driven – too much power for their own good, rear wheelspin, bouncing up and down on the back end and the brakes locking up, skidding and sliding. Terrible things.

John Stringer


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Demonstrator – Seddon Pennine IV – RBU 502F

Demonstrator - Seddon Pennine IV - RBU 902F

Demonstrator - Seddon Pennine IV - RBU 902F

Seddon Pennine IV
Pennine B45F

Something to give Roger Cox the shudders ! In late 1968 Halifax Corporation borrowed the prototype Seddon Pennine IV demonstrator, though I wonder if the intention was simply to give the manufacturer some operational experience of their new model. Surely manager Geoff Hilditch could never have been serious about the department acquiring any. I believe this body design remained unique, as shortly afterwards the model was offered as a complete item with a more distinctive style. Hilditch later collaborated with Seddon in the introduction of the heavier duty rear-engined Pennine RU model, and the prototype of that soon appeared in Halifax on trial.

In the first photo it is seen passing along Waterhouse Street in the town centre. In the second, rather snatched and blurry shot, it is seen at speed on the A58 between Stump Cross and Hipperholme whilst operating the dreaded Meredith & Drew private hire return journey.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

25/08/13 – 11:32

Good to see this bus in reasonable condition. It later became Seddon’s own works bus, used to bring staff to the factory off Shaw Road in Oldham. In this role it replaced the earlier Seddon that ran as West Riding 738 (EHL 500). Both of these vehicles were clearly non-PSVs as shown by their deteriorating condition. RBU 502F I don’t believe ever got repainted and ended up with several plywood "windows". It was still there when I was in the late seventies.

David Beilby

25/08/13 – 14:53

How right you are, John. I consider the Pennine IV to have been the most horrible vehicle of my experience, though the Cummins engined Leyland Lynx runs very close in second place. It was basically a crude, fragile, lorry derived design with primitive suspension and decidedly wayward steering characteristics. The ear splitting din from the Perkins 6.354 engine mounted in the front overhang made the Regent V sound like a trolleybus by comparison. I cannot believe that, having inspected this Emett inspired aberration, Geoff Hilditch even remotely considered it suitable for the taxing topography of the Halifax bus network. Robert Seddon had been very supportive towards GGH at an early stage of his engineering career, and it is fully understandable that he, GGH, would have wished to assist in the development of Seddon’s more determined incursion into the main bus manufacturing market. Though the Pennine IV sold reasonably well as a lightweight, medium duty coach, those who acquired the thing as an inexpensive bus soon found that it was not up to the job. Seddon then went on, with GGH’s encouragement, to produce the RU, and this, also, ultimately proved to be something of a broken reed. Only the heavier weight Pennine VII produced for the Scottish Bus Group showed that the firm could make a fully robust psv. I recall that my very first experience of a Seddon coach was in 1958, when, as an ATC cadet on summer camp at RAF Colerne, near Bath, I went on a chartered trip with the rest of the squadron to Wookey Hole. The vehicle that took us was a Seddon, probably the R6 powered Mark 11, as it had the engine mounted under a rather high floor of a front entrance coach body. My main recollection of the ride is the seemingly continual gearchanging (it had a two speed axle into the bargain) required of the torqueless, screaming engine that kept the driver fully employed throughout. I did take a picture of this machine with my Brownie 127, but the negative fell somewhere by the wayside during parental home removals when I worked elsewhere in the land. I wonder if anyone now can identify this beast or the operator.

Roger Cox

25/08/13 – 19:52

RBU 902F_3

Here is a photo of RBU 502F, which I photographed in Fred Winters scrapyard at North Cave in East Yorkshire, taken in 1982, still carries Seddon names on the side, but none standard windows.

Mike Davies

26/08/13 – 17:12

It is interesting to note that the front wheels in particular are inboard of the body sides by quite a margin. With the weight of the engine in the front overhang, a relatively narrow track and presumably 8ft wide bodywork, does anyone know what it handled like?

Brendan Smith

27/08/13 – 05:39

Yes, Brendan. The Pennine IV handled like a pig. I drove one from Gomshall in Surrey to Loughborough, and the steering needed constant correction to keep the thing in a straight line, not helped by the bouncy suspension which could barely cope with the weight of the overhung engine. It had the worst road behaviour of any vehicle I have ever driven.

Roger Cox

27/08/13 – 05:40

Didn’t KMB take 100 Pennine IVs with pretty-much off-the-peg Pennine bodywork around 1970? I think the only concession to Hong Kong conditions were full-depth sliding windows, whilst drivers sweltered behind BET windscreens, and the Perkins (V6?) engines sweltered behind grilles designed for temperate climates . . . I think nearly all were rebuilt with in-house fronts incorporating flat/opening windscreens and larger radiator grilles within a few years.
Halifax JOC’s [sic] Pennine RUs had a high/flat floor (they were kitted-out as DPs): did they have a high chassis frame or did Plaxton support the body floor in some way? and did any other RU operator opt for this high floor line? They also had narrow two-piece glider doors – in short, non of the advantages offered by the RU, but all the engineering problems . . . surely, Halifax’s usual Leopard/Reliance chassis choice would have done the job better. What struck me when they were introduced – and I was 5/6 at the time, so memory might be fading a bit here – was the way the lower back panels stepped out and that they didn’t have "modern" rear lights but the "old" two-piece/oblong units sort-of set into the rear panel . . . is anybody getting the gist here? I’m wondering now, I think they’d be 10 metre, so the step-out couldn’t have compromised length, but was it necessary to inset the rear lights into the body to accommodate the length of the rear overhang? (presumably the RU, squeezing everything behind the rear axle, had a longish overhang?). I think they may also have had coach-glasses below the rear window containing the registration and, either side, the Halifax coat of arms . . . I’m sure that’s the case, because it stuck in my young mind as being "inappropriate" for a bus (as opposed to a coach).
I guess that if I could be bothered to trawl flickr etc then the answers might be there, but I can’t, and anyway its much more interesting to see what this site might come up with . . . or not!

Philip Rushworth

27/08/13 – 11:40

There is a photo of mine posted on ‘another website’ showing a rear view of one of the Halifax RU’s – complete with the stepped out panel. Here’s the link.

John Stringer

28/08/13 – 06:07

I didn’t move to Huddersfield until 1972 but I can’t recall the three Halifax Seddons having this unusual rear end arrangement at that time. At the time of the PTE takeover (yes, 1974 and outside the strict remit of this site), Huddersfield had two further Seddon RUs on order to be bodied by Pennine. We were instructed by Geoffrey Hilditch as PTE Engineering Director Designate to transfer the body order to Plaxtons who produced bodies similar to those recently delivered to Rotherham Corporation also on RU chassis. Whilst I can’t recall the floor layout, I am certain that those buses did not have the protruding rear panels as shown on Halifax 315. Could these have been to create a small luggage boot?? Engine access would have been restricted.

Ian Wild

28/08/13 – 06:09

Thanks for that, John – well, thanks for both sign-posting your photograph and for having the fore-sight to photograph the rear-end, anticipating my musings of 40+ years later. In my mind, the coach-glass just had the crests either side of the registration, but can I make out Halifax in Gothic script above the registration? (the glass is deeper than I remembered); neither do I remember the reversing lights, nor the removable centre panel, nor the squared-off-compared-to-BET-standard rear window – but I think my memories were pretty accurate . . . . now, if only my mother would have given-in to my entreaties to ‘ride on one of the "white buses" to Huddersfield’ I might be able to recall what the interiors were like. The final "Halifax Passenger Transport" timetable (pre-WYPTE) contained a "glossy" colour section illustrating/detailing Halifax buses over the years: one of the Seddons was illustrated, and the description included the phrase (or similar) " . . . the design is still regarded as experimental . . ." – sadly, by 1974, I think the experiment was largely over as regards the Pennine RU drive-train.

Provincial took quite a number of Pennine IVs to replace its re-built Guy Arabs. Anyway, when I was trawling on-line to satisfy my curiosity as to how many, I discovered that the model had been offered with 3 choices of engine: Perkins V8 (eg., KMB); Perkins in-line 6 (eg., Provincial); and Deutz 6-cylinder (a sop to win the Provincial order?) – were any Pennine IVs actually built with the Deutz option?

Philip Rushworth

28/08/13 – 15:07

The reign of the Deutz engine at the Gosport and Fareham (aka Provincial) company came to an end with the retirement of Mr H Orme White in 1967 at the age of 81. His successor, Mr Woolford, looked to get rid of the elderly AEC and Guy crew operated buses, several of which had been rebuilt with Deutz air cooled engines, and introduce a replacement fleet of one person operated single deckers. The Seddon Pennine IV/Perkins 6.354 was chosen, presumably because it was relatively cheap, and no doubt, it was felt that Seddon machinery would be more durable than the offerings from Bedford (history would prove otherwise). When these vehicles were delivered, the Deutz era at Hoeford was well past, so it is unlikely that a Deutz engined option for the Pennine IV would have enticed the then management of Gosport and Fareham. In the event, the G&F undertaking was swallowed up by the Wiles Group in 1969, and, thanks to Nigel Turner’s researches (see his comment on the ‘Gosport and Fareham (Provincial)’ gallery on this site) we now know that the Wiles (later the Swain) Group was one of the identities of the asset stripping Hanson Trust. Less than a year later, on 1st January 1970, G&F was sold to NBC. The possibility of a Pennine IV being offered with a Deutz air cooled engine utterly beggars belief. The racket given out by these engines became legendary. The Perkins engined version was deafening enough. A Deutz engined version would have required the entire passenger complement to wear industrial ear protection.

Roger Cox

29/08/13 – 06:36

Mention of the Deutz engine being fitted to Seddons rang a distant bell from the time years ago when I used to read the weekly ‘Motor Transport’ newspaper and took a bit more of an interest in trucks than I do these days. I recall a variant of the 13:4 truck chassis (to which the Pennine IV was probably related) which was sold under the Seddon-Deutz identity and was clearly aimed at wooing overseas customers, so it seems likely that it could have been offered in the Pennine IV also. I have found a link to a website showing an item of literature about the truck version (though unfortunately it reveals little else) here: //www.commercialmotor.com/big-lorry-blog/that-maggie-was-a-seddonanothe

John Stringer

29/08/13 – 06:37

Roger, I just want to be clear about this – you don’t think that a Deutz-engined Pennine IV would have been the most refined vehicle on the market? In one of the wonderful ways of this site, I hadn’t realised that the Wiles Group was the acorn from which Hanson Trust grew. At its peak Hanson Trust included Courage Brewery, Golden Wonder snacks, hotels, and much more, on both sides of the Atlantic – but they over-reached themselves with a bid for ICI in which some shady business practices were exposed, and I now understand that they’ve contracted to be a largely UK-based supplier of brick/concrete/aggregate to the construction industry.
The Hanson family’s bus/coach operations, petrol stations, car/PSV driving school, travel agencies, and road haulage operations (principally based around Huddersfield) all remained family-owned businesses outwith the Hanson Trust. JET petroleum, one of the first discounted petrol retailers, was started by a consortium including the Hanson family but was disposed of when it had grown to a size where substantial investment in refining capability would have been required.
Anyway, back to the Pennine RU (if not the Pennine IV): according to Vol2 of Duncan Roberts’s history of Crosville (TPC/NBC) problems with the short drive shaft inherent in the RU’s design led to Crosville’s specimens being modified by having the engine set back by 8-10in to accommodate a slightly longer drive-shaft, which resulted in a slight bustle effect in the bodywork . . . could this have been a late modification to Halifax’s RU’s pre-delivery? something that was incorporated into the overall body-work design/dimensions in the later vehicles to which Ian refers?

Philip Rushworth

29/08/13 – 19:15

Crosville had the largest fleet of Pennine RUs at 100 some of which were dual purpose Crosville did not go back and quickly disposed of the ones they owned The next largest fleet was the 49 owned by Lancs United These had Plaxton bodywork with a very old fashioned front with a two piece separate wind screen Prior to this LUT had bought both REs and LHs so the choice was somewhat surprising At the time the RU was seen as a version of the RE which would replace the expected model cull by Leyland to make room for the National which was just off the drawing board

Chris Hough

29/08/13 – 19:16

Philip, I suspect that any operator that bought a Deutz engined Pennine IV would have gone bankrupt within a week; nobody would have ventured to take a second trip on such a raucous machine. Seddon did offer a version of the Pennine IV with the engine, a turbocharged Perkins 6.354, set lower at the front beneath a high floor level, and called it the Pennine 6 (reverting to Arabic numerals), but I believe that few were sold in the UK. A picture of a Willowbrook bodied example may be seen here:- www.flickr.com/
It is noteworthy that a more substantial/wider track front axle seems to have been fitted to this model. The Wikipedia entry for the RU confirms that the Crosville examples were modified as you describe. I think that they just about managed to get a ten year life out of them. It is surprising that, given Seddon’s decidedly chequered history as psv manufacturers, the Scottish Bus Group entrusted the firm with the design and manufacture of a Gardner engined "Leopard clone". In the event, the Pennine 7 proved to be a robust and reliable model. Turning to the subject of Hanson, my initial encounter with this name came when, as a Traffic Clerk at Halifax in the mid ‘sixties, I came across it as a bus operator and haulage contractor in Huddersfield. Much later, in 1984, Hanson bought out the old London Brick Company, famous for its fleet of red AEC lorries, for a song when the share value fell below its asset value (notably the land). Now the vast acreage of former brick clay workings between Yaxley and Peterborough is the location of a horrible, high density, new town development named ‘Hampton’ (whoever dreamed up that name should get out a bit more.) Brick making remains only on a very reduced scale at Kings Dyke near Whittlesey.

Roger Cox

01/09/13 – 14:08

Roger, giving some thought to things, just how much of a Seddon product was the Pennine VII? When did the first Pennine VIIs enter service – 1973/4? Seddon had acquired Atkinson in 1970 . . . and presumably the designs to the Atkinson Alpha. SBG wanted an underfloor saloon with manual gearbox following withdrawal of the Leopard PSU3/3R in 1970/71 – Seddon wouldn’t have been required to design de novo, just polish-up (eg. get rid of the vacuum brakes) the old Alpha design (last built 1962/3 for Sunderland). Does anybody out there know just how much – if anything, I stand to be corrected – the Seddon Pennine VII owes to the Atkinson Alpha? Did any of this factor in SBG’s thinking? . . .
Again an aside, generated by trawls initiated by this site: I hadn’t known that, until Atkinson’s takeover by Seddon in 1970, Leyland had held 15% of the shares – presumably since the time of Atkinson’s reconstitution in 1933.

Philip Rushworth

02/09/13 – 08:00

Philip, thanks for that idea about the Atkinson pedigree of the Pennine 7. I am sure that you are correct, though the thought had not struck me before. Seddon had never built a traditional heavy duty psv chassis, nor one with a horizontal underfloor engine, yet the Pennine 7 went into service quickly, had no teething troubles of significance, and gave years of reliable service, a situation utterly at variance with the history of unpredictable psvs of genuine Oldham origin. The service record of the Pennine 7 has more in keeping with the Atkinson legacy of rugged dependability than the Seddon saga of underwhelming engineering design. Certainly, the Atkinson board fought strongly against the hostile takeover bid by Seddon in 1970, sadly to no avail. Earlier attempts to take over Atkinson by ERF and Foden were successfully resisted. Some sources quote the Leyland shareholding figure in Atkinson as 20%, and it was Leyland’s acceptance of the Seddon offer that allowed the splendid Preston firm to fall into the dubiously capable clutches of the Oldham upstart. This page makes interesting reading:- web.warwick.ac.uk/services/ The malign influence of the Stokes era at Leyland spread far and wide. Perhaps Leyland detected the underlying weaknesses at Seddon, took the money, and anticipated an early demise of its enlarged, over ambitious, Oldham competitor. As it turned out, the independent Seddon-Atkinson company lasted only a further four years before selling out to International Harvester of the USA in 1974.

Roger Cox

02/09/13 – 08:00

Your thoughts regarding Atkinson’s possible input into the Seddon Pennine VII design are fascinating Philip, and maybe the Atkinson Alpha just could have been updated by Seddon-Atkinson, you never know. After all, Leyland Leopard and AEC Reliance chassis evolved steadily throughout their long production lives, with various modifications to engines, brakes, gearboxes, axles etc, as vehicle lengths (and weights) increased over time. Your aside re Leyland’s 15% shareholding in Atkinson reminded me that Gardner had a small shareholding in ERF for many years. Also, following the Foden brothers split in the early ‘thirties, Gardner supported Edwin Richard Foden when he founded ERF in 1933, by supplying engines to him on credit terms. This was not offered to other Gardner customers at the time, but Gardner presumably realised the potential of ERF’s strong commitment to the development of Diesel-engined lorries. The link up was to prove beneficial to both parties for many years.

Brendan Smith

03/09/13 – 09:00

I believe that the Pennine 7 was purely a Seddon product. I worked there at the later stages of its production and they were all built at Oldham, whereas the Gardner-engined 400-series lorries were always built at Preston (then, at least). I even designed a spring packer for the Pennine 7 to help balance one batch which were proving troublesome – I can’t remember with certainty which but it may have been the Plaxton-bodied version.
Apart from the fact that they were underfloor-engined chassis with a Gardner engine, there was little in common between the Alpha and the Pennine 7. The frame was completely different on the Pennine as it was cranked to accommodate the wide 6HLXB engine. Alphas had either Atkinson’s own gearbox, a weird and wonderful contraption but very compact, or a David Brown box. The Pennine 7 had a ZF box. Late versions of both had semi-automatic boxes which I think were self-changing gears.
I think, but can’t confirm, that the front axle was a Seddon-designed one on the Pennine, with an Eaton rear axle. The Alpha had Kirkstall axles.

David Beilby

03/09/13 – 16:30

David, thanks for that detailed response – my curiosity is satisfied!

Philip Rushworth

02/07/14 – 06:33

While it may at first seem strange that the SBG ‘entrusted’ Seddon with the task of producing an underfloor engined single decker to their requirements, one has to remember that they probably didn’t have a lot of choice at that time. Leyland clearly weren’t interested, while the other established British manufacturers didn’t have a ready made heavy duty UFE chassis – I’m thinking Bedford and Ford there, neither of whom (I guess) would have wanted to build something with a Gardner engine. Other than that, they would have had to go to a foreign, or foreign-owned, manufacturer – or there was Seddon. I don’t think there would have been anyone else at that time. I suppose one other possibility might have been ERF, who did build buses, but not for the British market.
The SBG had already become involved with one foreign-owned manufacturer in such a project (the Ailsa), and probably didn’t want to be seen buying too much foreign produce at that time – SBG was, after all, a state-owned body. Volvo wouldn’t have built a version of the B58 with a Gardner, or Leyland, engine, although that chassis might, at first sight, seem to have met SBG’s requirements. A few years later, Dennis were actively looking for opportunities in the UK bus market, but there didn’t seem to be any sign of that in the early 1970s.

Nigel Frampton

RBU 902F_2 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

31/10/16 – 08:21

Several Seddon buses went to Central America in the late 60’s. Places like San Salvador, Nicaragua. They went up to 8,000 feet on journeys.
My boyfriend/husband was the engineer at the time and went with them, We have the photos.

Janet Wood

31/10/16 – 15:10

I’m sure we’d like to see a couple, Janet, if you feel like posting them.

Chris Hebbron


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Lancaster City Transport – Seddon RU – TBU 598G – 598

Lancaster Corporation - Seddon RU - TBU 598G - 598 

Lancaster City Transport
Seddon RU
Pennine B??F

Much has been written, on this website and elsewhere, about the Seddon Pennine. Most of such text is not complimentary. Southampton City Transport had several, with bids for their Gardner engines being far higher than bids for the complete vehicle when they were withdrawn.
TBU 598G was the demonstrator, which Lancaster acquired via Midland Red after that operator had taken over Green Bus of Rugeley. The wife of one of my office colleagues could not get out of her mind the thought that Rugelli [as she pronounced it] was in Wales so, whenever they went from Winchester to York, she would ask "Why are we going via Wales?" I digress!
It is clear that 598, to give her the Lancaster nomenclature, is in no condition for service in this view inside Heysham Road garage on 20 May 1975. Note the missing door for the engine compartment, and the cleaner’s broom, which is having a rest.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

28/10/12 – 10:14

Perhaps the broom was propping the body up!
I had a ride from Huddersfield to Stocksmoor on it (the bus, not the broom) when it was on demonstration to Huddersfield Corporation.

Eric Bawden

28/10/12 – 11:40

An apropriate time of the year to be talking about the broom.

Ken Jones

28/10/12 – 11:41

Glad you clarified the means of transport Eric, given the time of year!!! As far as the RU goes, I had a connection with these as I sold some internal panelling to Seddon Pennine for the Crosville order which meant a good deal of shuttling between Crane Wharf Chester and Oldham. I worked for Huntley Boorne and Stevens of Reading and they, apart from making tin boxes for Huntley and Palmers – of which they were an offshoot, had a product range of decorative PVC finishes laminated to a variety of metals. Most ECW bodies from around 1967 had some interior panels in this material (as was the "wood" finish to the glove box on some Mk 3 Ford Cortinas and the "wood" embellishment on the side of the Mini Countryman) and Crosville wanted certain interior panels on their RUs to match as the material was easy to clean and impervious to tobacco.

There were great expectations for the RU. Those with Seddon Pennine (or to be exact Pennine Coachcraft) bodies fared worse than those from other bodybuilders though mechanical problems far outweighed those of the bodywork.

Phil Blinkhorn

28/10/12 – 17:05

Indeed, Ken. My mother in law still rides hers, at 92!

Pete Davies

29/10/12 – 07:14

Pete, are you saying your 92 year old mother in law still has a 1969 Seddon Pennine RU?

Eric Bawden

29/10/12 – 11:03

No, Eric! Just a broom.

Pete Davies

29/10/12 – 11:03

Seddon seemed to drop the ‘Pennine Coachcraft’ name sometime in the late ’60s/early ’70s. Morecambe & Heysham AEC Swifts 1-7 (new in 1967) arrived with ‘Pennine Coachcraft’ bodies, but the bodies on Seddon RUs 11-6 (new c1972/3) were known as simply ‘Seddon’, as were those on similar-vintage Lancaster Leopards 116-21.

David Call

The history of Pennine Coachcraft is, as far as I can make out from published information and my own records, as follows:
Seddon was producing its own cabs and later bodies for trucks and vans from the 1940s and throughout the 1950s.
It started to build bus bodies in penny numbers in the late 1940s and this grew during the 1950s, most going for export.
Pennine Coachcraft was registered as a company in 1960 and, for accounting and management purposes, was treated as a separate company in the group, though sharing Seddon’s truck and bus chassis site, building commercial vehicle cabs and bodies and bus/coach bodies.
From 1966 Seddon simplified its type names. Bus/coach production was based on chassis known as Seddon Pennines of various marques, of which the RU was just one. So a Seddon Pennine RU bodied by Pennine Coachcraft would be a Seddon Pennine RU/Pennine whilst one bodied by Plaxton would be a Seddon Pennine RU/Plaxton. Other chassis were bodied, for instance, an AEC Swift would become an AEC/Pennine.
When the RU was launched it was originally marketed as the Seddon Pennine RU/Pennine and certainly the Crosville order was couched in those terms but as orders came in for the type and other bodybuilders were specified, Seddon decided that the Pennine name would be linked only to the bus and coach chassis so sometime in the period 1970-1972 the Pennine Coachcraft badging was replaced by Seddon though the legal entity was maintained and Huntley Boorne and Stevens were still invoicing Pennine Coachcraft when I left in June 1971.

Phil Blinkhorn

31/10/12 – 14:47

The Seddon Pennine RU was a grave disappointment to a bus operating industry utterly fed up with the take it or leave it attitude of the Stokes era British Leyland. Operators hoped that the RU would become a real challenger to the dubious Panther/Swift offerings, and become a vehicle comparable with the superb Bristol RE, which Leyland was determined to kill off to enhance the market prospects of the National. Unfortunately, the RU had serious design deficiencies, particularly the exceedingly short prop shaft between the gearbox output and the rear axle, which led to regular failures. Unlike all its other contemporary competitors, the RE took the drive forward to the gearbox set ahead of the rear axle, and then back again to the differential. Actually, this principle had been pioneered some years earlier by a tiny firm in New Addington, Croydon, called Motor Traction, which produced the Rutland Clipper in the mid 1950s. This had a Perkins R6 mounted vertically in line at the rear, and the drive was taken forward to an amidships mounted transfer gearbox that drove the prop shaft back to the rear axle. Only two were made, both with Whitson bodies, but, lacking a camera back in the days of my long gone impoverished youth (the youth is long gone, not the impoverishment), I have no pictures, though I remember seeing one about the Croydon area quite regularly at the time. There is currently a picture of the Clipper at this site:- www.ebay.co.uk/  but it may not be around for much longer.

Roger Cox

31/10/12 – 17:38

The "take it or leave it" attitude Roger mentions led to the demise of Leyland’s trucks as well as their buses. Hauliers noticed that certain European manufacturers were producing lorry cabs with sleeping accommodation, but the BL attitude was that "British truck drivers don’t sleep in their cabs" and didn’t respond. My brother in law is a retired long-distance truck driver. Guess what makes he would normally be expected to drive, and sleep aboard, from about the mid 1970s . . . They weren’t UK-built!

Pete Davies

01/11/12 – 07:05

Rutland Clipper_lr

I have endeavoured to copy the Rutland Clipper advert, and I attach it here. It isn’t very good, but it is possibly better than nothing. Pictures of this very rare machine are equally rare.

Roger Cox

01/11/12 – 10:03

It looks as if the photo was taken at Northolt airfield. Whilst London Airport (Heathrow) was active at the time of the photo Northolt was the "home" of the BEA Viking and one is in the background. BEA eventually closed its Northolt base in 1954

Phil Blinkhorn

01/11/12 – 11:29

I assume, Phil, that this was unrelated to RAF Northolt, or did they share or the RAF take over later?

Chris Hebbron

01/11/12 – 16:50

I believe Northolt is still a joint civil and RAF field.

David Oldfield

01/11/12 – 16:50

When London Airport (Heathrow) opened in May 1946 it was just a collection of runways, prefabs and tents. BOAC and other airlines moved in.
BEA was formed out of BOAC in January 1946 and was initially based at Croydon. With there being little room at the new London Airport and Croydon being seen as too restricted for expansion, the airline moved its base to Northolt in March 1946.
In 1950 BEA operated the world’s first turboprop service with one of the Viscount prototypes from Northolt to Paris Le Bourget.
Alitalia, Aer Lingus, SAS and Swissair all used Northolt before moving to Heathrow.
In 1952 Northolt was the busiest airport in Europe with over 50,000 movements
In April 1950 BEA operated its first service from what is now Heathrow and over the next four years gradually transferred its services there, the last routes at Northolt being domestic flights with DC3s and Vikings. The last BEA flight out of Northolt was a DC3 in October 1954.
Northolt was opened in May 1915 and the RFC/RAF has operated from there ever since, making it the RAF station with the longest continuous use. It was a fighter base in WW2 and fighters appeared again in 2012 as part of the exclusion patrol arrangements for the Olympics.
Currently the airfield houses RAF communications aircraft and helicopters as well as a range of admin sections. It also has civilian traffic again as a number of business flights operate to/from there.

Phil Blinkhorn

02/11/12 – 07:26

Thx, Phil – very interesting.

Chris Hebbron

26/11/12 – 08:34

In 1975, when the photo was taken the undertaking’s title was "Lancaster City Council Transport Department. The change took place after the Lancaster and Morecambe & Heysham fleets amalgamated in 1974.

Jim Davies

11/12/12 – 11:38

TBU 598G_02

Here’s a view of the bus while it was still a demonstrator for Seddon, at the Rugeley premises of Green Bus on 20 December 1970. Alongside it is one of the operator’s pair of Seddon Pennine 4 buses (20, YRF 136H) bought the previous year.

Alan Murray-Rust

10/04/15 – 10:51

Although 598 is a demonstrator vehicle, as far as I’m aware, Morecambe & Heysham as then was, took delivery of all of 11-16 prior to the arrival of 598. They all worked the route past my home at the time, & I travelled on all of them regularly, along with the M&H Swifts. Once Lancaster took over the running of both fleets, they were all living on borrowed time, as Lancaster pursued an all Leopard/Atlantean policy – the whole fleet became common user, & there were probably understandable doubts as to the abilities of the Swifts & Seddons to climb some of Lancaster’s stiff gradients, especially on the slog up to Moor Hospital. For the same reason, whenever a M&H double decker was used on the joint University U1-U3 service, the vehicle was always one of the 5 Leylands (87-91), & never a Regent.

Andy Richmond

10/04/15 – 16:59

Thank you for your thoughts. I had moved south by the time of Local Government Reorganisation in 1974, and was only "visiting" when I took this photo. According to the PSVC listings, TBU came with quite a history. New in March 1969, she passed to Green Bus in May 1971, then to Midland Red in November 1973. They sold her to Ensign and Lancaster bought her from Ensign in October 1974. She entered service in Lancaster in March 1975. PSVC shows her as having been withdrawn in March 1977, passing via a couple of dealers to Northern Ireland.

Pete Davies

13/06/16 – 05:52

When the U1 – H3 services started Morecambe regularly used one of the Regent V with Massey bodies numbers 82-86. The route ran past my parents house so I often saw them.
Incidentally 84 from this batch was the only M&H bus at that time to have platform doors supposedly for safety when used on school services !!!

Keith Wardle

13/06/16 – 11:02

Thank you, Keith! Being a resident of the maroon and cream territory next door, I saw the green and creams only at irregular intervals and this particular one even more rarely. If this particular Regent had platform doors. It seemed so out of place when none of the others did!

Pete Davies

13/06/16 – 11:03

Like Andy R, I can only remember Morecambe & Heysham using PD2s on the University services, the PD2s being of course Morecambe’s front line dds at the time. I’ll happily be outvoted, though, if anyone else has recollections from the period.
As for Regent V no. 84, I don’t recall it being used on school services, particularly, in fact the only time I remember it having a regular run was when, for a few years, it worked the White Lund Corner to Overton service, which had a vehicle requirement of one bus. In later years, however, it may have done the afternoon Morecambe Grammar School to Bolton-le-Sands extra, but I’m not sure. Does anyone know if platform doors were fitted from new? The answer to this question was probably contained in Lancaster’s 1978 jubilee booklet, a copy of which I no longer possess.
As to the ex-M&H Swifts being capable of climbing Lancaster’s hills, I think the Swifts would have had a power/weight ratio at least equal to that of Lancaster’s Tiger Cubs, and with the RUs it would definitely have been superior, the Tiger Cubs having been standard fare on the Moor Hospital service for several years. Size would have probably been a greater consideration, I can’t now remember whether anything bigger than 30′ ever ran to Moor Hospital (or Williamson Park).

David Call

13/06/16 – 13:03

David, to answer your query about platform doors on Morecambe & Heysham 84 – YES. According to the PSVC listing, 81 to 83 and 85, 86 were H56R when delivered. 84 was H56RD.

Pete Davies

14/06/16 – 06:01

The quote about 84 being ordered with doors for schools services was made by a member of the transport committee when the buses were delivered and was reported in the Morecambe Visitor. I never saw it used on such services although it might have prevented me and my mates leaping off the open platform several yards before the stop. None of us suffered any accidents from this daft behaviour.

Keith Wardle

27/06/16 – 11:09

TBU 598G finished its’ days with Ardglass GAA carrying players to matches. It is seen here parked in Ardglass at the side of the Ulsterbus sub-depot there. This photo was taken shortly after its’ arrival – I am not sure that happened to it subsequently but would guess it was scrapped.
www.flickr.com/photos/  (The photo is my own and is watermarked as such)

Bill Headley

28/06/16 – 06:24

Bill, Thanks for your comment. 598 is noted in the PSVC fleetlist as having arrived with Mulhall, Ardglas, in 2/78 and as having gone to Kidds (dealer), Maze, by 9/80. Your guess about what happened after that is almost certainly correct!

Pete Davies

TBU 985G_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

23/06/17 – 06:50

I drove her at Whieldons and always found her a great little motor, it was a popular bus and was very reliable, other a diff problem in 1971 which took a couple of weeks to arrive, but considering that TBU had been passed around many firms and had worked extremely hard, perhaps understandable. Its problems started at Midland Red Tamworth, when it was expected to be driven without having the water topped up, not the best idea perhaps!!! This was the first RU, what a shame it wasn’t saved.

Bryan Yates


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