Old Bus Photos

Premier Travel – AEC Reliance – 85 UME – 72

Premier Travel - AEC Reliance - 85 UME - 72

Premier Travel (Cambridge)
AEC Reliance 2MU3RV
Burlingham Seagull C41F

The final Mk. VII incarnation of the classic Burlingham Seagull coach body is generally considered by most to be something of a travesty, compared to the earlier versions. With its squared off side panel and slight nod towards tail fins – becoming popular at the time on cars – and longer and fewer side windows attempting to vie with Plaxton’s first Panoramas, it just didn’t work and soon afterwards a complete redesign resulted in the introduction of the Seagull 70 which seemed to some degree to be inspired by the ‘new classic’ – the Harrington Cavalier.
85 UME had been new to Valliant of London W5 in 1959 but had later passed with others to Premier Travel, along with similar examples from Yelloway, joining a further one which Premier had bought new and resulting in probably the largest number of Mk. VII’s in any one fleet.
It is seen here on an enthusiasts’ tour in 1971.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

30/06/16 – 06:38

John, I agree absolutely with your comments about this final version of the classic Seagull design but strangely the angle of the photograph in your posting makes this one look really rather nice. I’m intrigued though, about those dividing strips in the side windows, it seems very odd to have panoramic windows and then divide them into smaller panes.

Chris Barker

30/06/16 – 08:05

The Seagull never seemed to look right without the centre sliding door. It was fundamental to the original design and the later front entrance versions always seemed to me to be something of a ‘lash-up’.

Philip Halstead

01/07/16 – 06:14

I’ve never seen a picture of this one when it was new, but I suspect that the window dividers were a later addition. Quite a few of the Seagull Mk VII bodies needed remedial work as Burlingham’s designers had been rather optimistic about the load-bearing strength of the original window pillars! As far as I know this was never a problem with the Plaxton Panorama of the late 1950s (or any of its successors), but the problem did re-occur at the Blackpool factory – by then Duple (Northern) – in the 1960s with the original Viceroy. Several of those rolled on to their backs resulting in window pillar collapse and crushed passengers.

Neville Mercer

01/07/16 – 06:15

The stenghtheners between the window pillars seem to run inside the glazing, and my guess is they were put in at recertification as the Mk VII had a reputation for flexibility…

Stephen Allcroft

01/07/16 – 06:16

Strangely, despite editing the photo for submission, I’d failed to notice those dividing strips. I’m going to have to search for a photo showing it (or similar ones) with Valliant to see if they were built like that, or whether it was a Premier Travel modification.
I agree, Philip, that the original centre-entrance version was by far the the best looking, but I think the front-entrance Mk.IV’s and V’s still looked pretty decent too. I think the worst looking Seagulls were the Mk.VI with flat windscreens and little bus-type windows (though they were undoubtedly a more practical proposition from Ribble’s point of view), and the downright ugly 1959 season model for the Bedford SB.

John Stringer

01/07/16 – 16:18

Setting aside the possible involvement of the Safety Elf or his predecessors, could it be that the centre-door version was more "coach" as used by one’s local holiday tours firm, and the front/forward entrance one was more "express bus" as used by North Western, Ribble, etc?

Pete Davies

04/07/16 – 15:58

Here is a picture of 86 UME without the strengthening in the middle of the windows (at least on the offside): www.sct61.org.uk/

Stephen Allcroft


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Premier Travel – Guy Arab II – CDR 750 – 110

Premier Travel - Guy Arab II - CDR 750 - 110

Premier Travel (Cambridge)
Guy Arab II 5LW
Roe L27/28R

By 1957, Premier Travel of Cambridge was looking to replace the remainder of its rather tired ex LPTB STLs and the second hand utility CWA6s from Huddersfield, Glasgow and Mansfield. It turned to the rugged Gardner 5LW powered Guy Arab II, choosing seven ex Southdown highbridge examples with the well constructed Northern Counties UH30/26R bodywork, and these were supplemented by three lowbridge machines from Plymouth Corporation with rebuilt Roe UL27/28R bodies. Allocated the fleet numbers from 102 to 111 inclusive, these became the only Guy buses ever to enter the Premier fleet. The Guys proved to be very economical and reliable, but the Plymouth examples had severely governed engines that limited road performance, even in the relatively flat lands of their operating territory. Given its sparsely populated rural network, Premier ran very close to the breadline. Nonetheless, one wonders why the company did not simply get the fuel pumps recalibrated to the manufacturer’s standard setting, but this apparently never happened. The Guys lasted with Premier for some four to five years before being replaced by “White Lady” Leyland PD2s from Ribble. The picture shows the crew of No. 110, ex Plymouth Arab II CDR 750, taking a layover break in Cambridge Drummer Street Bus Station on 26 August 1959.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

31/05/16 – 09:35

The conductress appears to be taking the term "layover just a bit too literally!!

Chris Youhill

01/06/16 – 06:54

The Premier Travel company has a curious link with the present day state of the bus industry. In 1950, a certain John Alfred Blythe Hibbs, after working for the company in his second year as part of his degree studies at Birmingham (Woodbrooke) University, was appointed in 1950 as Personal Assistant to Arthur Lainson, the boss of Premier Travel. The precarious financial state of the company saw the departure of Hibbs in 1952, whereupon he became a ‘transport consultant’. In 1954 he completed a Masters degree thesis on the shortcomings (as he saw them) of the Road Service Licensing system. Then, in 1956, he and a partner bought Corona Coaches of Acton, near Sudbury, Suffolk, and then purchased the nearby business of A. J. Long of Glemsford in 1958. Almost exactly one year later, in August 1959, the entire business failed, and Hibbs once again became a consultant cum journalist until he found a job with British Railways in 1961 as Traffic Survey Officer, Eastern Region, at Liverpool Street. After several job reclassifications, he left BR in 1967 for the academic world where he thereafter remained, loudly proclaiming his views, until retirement. Thus, his entire practical knowledge of bus operation was gained with Premier Travel for two to three years, and then for a further three years with his disastrous Corona venture. This, then, was the "expert" whose "experience" saw him recruited by Ridley to give a cover of academic justification to the industry death knell called deregulation. You couldn’t make it up. Then, with the ‘success’ of deregulation behind him, Hibbs was then involved in the equally catastrophic privatisation of the railway system, yet another industry in which his experience was minimal. As George Bernard Shaw said, "Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach".

Roger Cox

01/06/16 – 09:13

Wonderful comments there Roger, and I fear that virtually everyone has now forgotten the scandalous Hereford and Worcester trial of 1985 – a handful of rural bus routes were allowed to be operated by "competent" small coach companies in order to prove that de-regulation would be in the interests of healthy competition and passenger benefit. Breaches of the embryo stern measures proposed were rife, but still the move went through and that’s where we are today !! A classic lesson in the need to stamp out a fresh virus before it it becomes a Nationwide uncontrollable epidemic.

Chris Youhill

01/06/16 – 17:24

My views on Ridiculous Nicolas have been aired here and elsewhere before. The man had one of the brownest noses of any of Thatcher’s sycophants and Roger’s comments come as no surprise. Having spent many years organising and operating conferences around the world for many disciplines in both academia and industry and having seen how the two interface, whenever an academic "expert" is asked to spout on television or in the press on how industry or the economy should deal with a problem, or should be run, unless I know they have years of practical experience alongside, or before, their being closeted in some think tank or hall of academe, I mentally switch off. Time after time these experts have been relied on to give their dubious weight to politicians’ hairbrained schemes, not just in the UK. The "reasoning" seems to be that the brightest brains are academics. That’s as maybe but translating theories into practice in established and sometimes in need of help industries needs real time, hands on, knowledge as well as hours sitting thinking and theorising.

Phil Blinkhorn

01/06/16 – 17:26

And back to the bus CDR 750 ended up next on a farm in Essex as a lorry and there was a article in a old Buses Annual and is now rebuilt back to a utility bus at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum.

Ken Wragg

12/06/16 – 06:48

Something has been sticking in my mind…the company replaced its "preowned" utility Daimlers with some dependable and snouty Guys: and what did we get? proudly named "Premier", a presumably solvent and possibly affordable local bus service on a shoestring, as were a number of municipalities: no leased leviathans then with their dodgem transmissions and (often) miserable drivers… right, back to reality….


12/06/16 – 09:11

Blame ‘Economics’, Joe, manifest in the form of One Person Operation. Back then, a driver was just that, able to concentrate on the job, and a conductor spent the whole time with passengers. Realistically, in modern road conditions, something like the sedate 5LW Arab would struggle to keep time, though some of the present day bus timings are absurdly fast. Even so, the operating costs of modern buses are much higher than those of the Arabs, PD2s et al of the past, yet the reliability is far lower. Years ago, a bus ride was a pleasant experience. I don’t find that to be true today.

Roger Cox


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Premier Travel – Leyland Titan PD2 – DCK 212

Premier Travel - Leyland Titan PD2 - DCK 212
Copyright John Stringer

Premier Travel (Cambridge)
Leyland Titan PD2/3
East Lancs. FL27/26RD

Photographed in Drummer Street, Cambridge in 1970, this was one of eleven former Ribble ‘White Lady’ PD2’s, new in 1950 and purchased by Premier Travel in 1962. Around the same time that Ribble were taking delivery of these, Premier Travel had taken into its fleet three Daimler CVD6’s with uncommon Wilkes & Meade full-fronted double-deck coach type bodies with front ends and other styling features clearly influenced by the Ribble vehicles. The Daimlers were not a success and did not have long lives, but clearly still impressed with the White Lady styling PT’s management seem to have jumped at the chance of grabbing as many as possible when they came onto the second hand market. This one was withdrawn in 1972.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

A full list of Titan codes can be seen here.

24/02/13 – 09:54

Thanks for posting, John. I have photos of others of this batch and find it to be an unusual – if not unique – way of using the Ribble ‘square triangle’ indicator display.

Pete Davies

24/02/13 – 12:39

Here is a photo of one of the Daimler CVD6/Wilkes & Meade vehicles. 
See: this link.

Chris Hebbron

25/02/13 – 07:19

The three Wilks and Meade (there is no ‘e’ in Wilks) bodied Daimler CVD6 "County" class double deck coaches, were delivered in 1950 and withdrawn in 1964 (HVE 401) and 1966 (HVE 402/3). The Ribble White Ladies arrived in January 1962, and thus ran alongside the CVDs only for a maximum of four years. The Wilks and Meade bodies on the Daimlers were of very poor quality, and had to be extensively rebuilt using new framing by Premier Travel in its own workshops. The Leylands and their East Lancs bodies were much better buses, and lasted with Premier for eight to eleven years. Paul Carter’s book on Premier Travel (Capital Transport) is the comprehensive history for anyone interested in this operator.

Roger Cox

25/02/13 – 07:22

As Roger Cox has correctly pointed out on the page on this very forum devoted to the bodybuilder Wilks & Meade, that is the correct spelling, rather than the much more frequently quoted Wilkes & Meade. If in doubt, refer to the OBP page devoted to Wallace Arnold – the evidence is there for all to see, in glorious black & white!

David Call

28/07/14 – 07:53

In the background can be seen one of Primitive Travel’s, sorry – Premier Travel’s, ex Devon General AEC Reliance buses (VDV xxx). These were acquired during 1970, so this and the presence of the ECOC LKH dates the picture to no earlier then the summer (note the leafy trees) of 1970 and no later than 1972* when DCK 212 went to Wally Smith’s scrapyard at Thriplow.
*The LKH is almost certainly 168 as by this time it was one of just two surviving K’s in Cambridge; the other, 269, bore adverts between decks whereas 168 didn’t towards the end. But whether 168 or 269, the final demise of the Cambridge K’s narrows the date of the picture down to 1970-71.
On the Wilks & Meade bodies, the problem was the use of unseasoned timber in their construction. This was a common problem in the early postwar years and by no means confined to PT’s Daimlers.
One of the three PT Daimlers, HVE 401 "County of Cambridge" spent many years after withdrawal quietly decomposing at the rear of PT’s Godmanchester depot. It was later kept company by one of the ex LT RF’s and a Burlingham Seagull coach.
The nameplate from HVE 401 (these were small ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ things mounted above the radiator grille) ended up in the late Mr Lainson’s then office at 15 Market Hill; maybe the other two also ended up there but I don’t know.

Darren Kitson

14/07/18 – 07:09

I worked at Premier Travel, Chrishall for approx., 12 years. First as a conductor, then a bus driver. Working for a small company was a pleasure, and I made a lot of good lifetime friends, in fact it was more like a family.I am still interested in old photo’s or books, and would willingly help anyone wishing to fill in about routes run by them. A Mr. Grice ran the Chrishall depot for the whole of my time, and a more dedicated man you would not wish to meet, working far more than the normal hours today, and 7 days a week.

John Harvey


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Tuesday 5th December 2023