Old Bus Photos

Trent – SOS DON – RC 2721 – 321

RC 2721

Trent Motor Traction
Brush B36F

Pictured on the HCVC Brighton Run in 1969 is RC 2721, an ex Trent SOS DON of 1935 with a Brush front entrance bus body that originally held 36 seats. SOS vehicles were favoured by the Trent and Northern companies during the 1930s, and the vehicle radiators were cast with the appropriate nameplates. No.321 ran for the Trent company until about 1953, when it then became a mobile booking office at Skegness, a popular holiday destination for coach trips from Derbyshire. In 1965 the vehicle passed into the hands of the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society, who rallied it in its unrestored state as shown in the photograph for several years, before retiring it with a (long term) view to full restoration in the early 1970s. Other pictures of RC 2721 may be seen on OBP here (scroll to bottom):- www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/

The extensive refurbishment/rebuilding programme is currently progressing well, as may be seen at this site:-www.lvvs.org.uk/

The SOS ON (“Onward”) type appeared in 1934 following the increase in maximum permitted length of single deckers to 27ft 6ins. The ON had the compact SOS 6 cylinder 5.986 litre RR2SB petrol engine which allowed the body to house 38 seats, and some retained the petrol unit right up to withdrawal in the early 1950s. A diesel version of the ON was immediately put in hand, and after trialling prototypes with the direct injection Leyland 8.6 litre engine and the indirect injection AEC 7.7 litre A171 engine, production adopted the AEC unit. The petrol ON thus became the diesel DON, but the AEC six cylinder engine was longer than the BMMO petrol, reducing the body capacity to 36 seats. The indirect injection engines in the BMMO DON fleet were converted to the A173 direct injection type in 1938, and this Trent example was likewise modified. By 1935, the SOS type presented a truly archaic appearance with the offset antiquated shape of radiator, narrow cab set entirely clear of the bonnet and different shape and depth to the mudguards (wings is hardly an appropriate description) on each side of the body. It compared unfavourably with the contemporary classic designs from Leyland, AEC and other major manufacturers. Whatever the mechanical merits, it was as if BMMO perversely set out to make its machinery as ungainly in appearance as possible. Not until 1938 did the more modern “AEC clone” radiator appear on BMMO SOS vehicles, and then only on double deck FEDDs. The first single deckers with the new style radiator were the SONs of 1939, as seen in this OBP page:- www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

12/03/17 – 17:37

I should have added that Potteries was another company that took SOS chassis. Surprisingly, Stratford Blue, a BMMO subsidiary from 1935, took none.

Roger Cox

13/03/17 – 16:34

UP 551, is a 1929 Northern General B37F Brush bodied SOS QL. It has been fully restored by Beamish Museum, and is shown on their website. Its in regular use transporting visitors around the site, and as Roger says in his posting, the Northern name is cast into the radiator. Whether it would be allowed onto a public highway is not known, but when this restoration is complete, it would be nice if somehow they could been seen together

Ronnie Hoye

13/03/17 – 16:35

Although Stratford Blue ran a very eclectic range of vehicles makes pre-war, it was a very loyal Leyland user post-war. I used to enjoy visiting there (and Birds)from time to time in the 1950’s and 60’s.
A pocket history of the company can be found here: //lths.lutsociety.org.uk/

Chris Hebbron

14/03/17 – 06:51

Ronnie – From photos on the web, it looks as if Northern General CN 2870 has ‘Northern’ on its radiator, UP 551 having Midland Red. See: https://tinyurl.com/he7e48f

Chris Hebbron

15/03/17 – 07:06

That’s a strange one Chris, having seen UP 551 in the flesh as it were, and in all the photos I’ve seen, it has Northern on the radiator, and yet, as can be clearly seen, in this case it has midland.
Explanations or theories anyone?

Ronnie Hoye

15/03/17 – 16:08

It certainly is a conundrum. The radiator shape and bonnet profiles of the two vehicles are quite different and it seems unlikely that they would be swapped over at any time.

Chris Hebbron

24/11/18 – 08:47

I have an AEC 171 engine with engine number A171RB 3952. It is Direct Injection which is puzzling me – your article describes converting 171 Indirect to 173 direct injections – was this an engine replacement or were the 171’s modified to 173 spec?

Steve Bruce

22/01/19 – 07:26

With regard to UP 551 carrying Midland Red on its radiator.
The radiators were cast with Midland Red in the header tank when constructed. The Northern plate is a separate casting fitted over the Midland Red logo. This arrangement was replicated during the restoration of UP 551.
The image was taken during a visit of a group from the Midlands hence the Northern plate had been temporarily removed.

Friends of Beamish

08/12/19 – 06:27

A tardy response to Steve’s query above, but AEC A171 indirect injection engines were (almost) universally converted to direct injection, at least in the UK, but I would imagine that the engine numbers remained unaltered.

Roger Cox


Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page



Trent – AEC Regal I – RC 9668/74 – 303/768

Trent - AEC Regal I - RC 9668/74 - 303/768
Copyright Bob Gell

Trent Motor Traction 303                            Trent Motor Traction 768
1947                                                            1947
AEC Regal I                                                  AEC Regal I
Willowbrook FDP39F                                  Willowbrook B35F

A company not yet represented on this site is Trent Motor Traction, so this photo is to rectify that omission. In the early postwar years, Trent took delivery of a large number of AEC Regals with Willowbrook bus bodies. In 1958, some 20 of the Regals were modernised by Willowbrook, who fitted a full front, extended the chassis and lengthened the body to 30 feet, increasing the capacity from 35 to 39.
The rebuilt vehicles were treated as dual purpose, which meant they saw use on local services (the only time I rode on one was on the Derby ‘town service’ 27 from Scarborough Rise to the bus station), and also express services, often to the East Coast on summer Saturdays.
I’m not sure how much of a success they were, as they were withdrawn in 1962/3, only 2/3 years after the last of the unrebuilt examples.
My photograph shows rebuilt 303 (RC 9668) and unrebuilt 768 (RC 9674), both from the 1947 batch, at Derby Bus Station in 1960.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Bob Gell

16/12/12 – 11:03

Extending the chassis and fitting a new body? Sounds rather like the Tilling fleets with the Bristol L to LL conversion. Who’s idea was it?

Pete Davies

16/12/12 – 12:20

Were not some of these Regals lengthened by Trent themselves but remained half cabs?

Eric Bawden

16/12/12 – 14:47

I found this site by accident (What a fascinating place the internet can be) and have been delighted with the photographs and comments. I was with Trent from 1965 to 1967 prior to emigrating to Western Australia. I worked at the Hucknall depot in Nottinghamshire where we drove mainly Leyland PD2’s and 3’s plus Atlanteans and Daimler Fleetlines. I never gave a thought, sadly, to taking photographs but I have found a few examples of vehicles similar to those that I drove. If anyone has examples of Trent buses I would love to see them.

Malcolm Holmes

17/12/12 – 08:14

When I was a nipper we took holidays at Skegness and we stayed at digs near the coach park! I seem to recall one of the full front vehicle was used as some kind of booking office. Have I got this right? My father who had the same initials RC often commented the number plate would be just right for his own car this being before the craze was the general norm.

Philip Carlton

18/12/12 – 08:00

To answer a couple of points, the rebuilt vehicles didn’t have new bodies. As Bob rightly states, the original bodies simply had the rearmost bay extended to achieve 30ft length and provide four extra seats. In halfcab form they had been used on long distance express services but attracted complaints from passengers because the original bus seats were very low backed. The rebuilt vehicles were given dual purpose seats although these were still rather spartan. The rebuilds gave between four and five years service, the last being sixteen years old when withdrawn, I suppose that was quite creditable for Trent who usually worked to a twelve year maximum fleet life.
I’ve never known if the AEC radiator was retained behind the full fronts but the rebuilt vehicles had a reputation for getting extremely hot in the cabs and were known as ‘sweat boxes’ None of them were extended and retained half cabs. Quite a few rebuilds saw further service after leaving Trent. The mobile booking office at Skegness was a much earlier vehicle, a pre-war SOS.

Chris Barker

19/12/12 – 07:22

Chris – Thanks for the additional information.
The pre war SOS mobile booking office (RC 2721) was saved for preservation, and is currently being restored by LVVS at Lincoln.

Bob Gell

13/06/13 – 11:34

As a fitter and a manager working at Trent for 30 years 1962 to 1992 I can confirm that the lengthened AEC Regals were indeed "sweatboxes" working on the engine in the cab in thick overalls on a hot day had to be believed! they did not retain the original AEC radiator but a flat metal affair, where they came from I am not sure. The conversions were all carried out at Willowbrook but for me they did not look right. As a matter of interest my boss at Trent for 25 years Malcolm Hitchen MBE is currently writing about his 50 years with Trent engineering hopefully to be published to coincide with Trent 100 years in October 2013

Alan Hiley

RC 9668-74_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

24/08/13 – 15:27

RC 2721

There is mention on this Trent page of a mobile booking office used at Skegness. This was RC 2721 a 1935 BMMO DON converted to the booking office in May 1953, acquired by the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society in April 1965. Still with them in 2013 and being put back to its original condition.

Alan Hiley

03/09/13 – 06:00

RC 2721_2

Alan Hiley in his contribution of 24/08/2013 makes mention of Trent Motor Traction Co., 1935 BMMO DON – RC 2721 being with the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society, in preservation.
I thought you would like to see it in their ownership.

Stephen Howarth


Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page



All rights to the design and layout of this website are reserved     Old Bus Photos does not set or use Cookies but Google Analytics will set four see this

Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Monday 15th April 2024