Old Bus Photos

Llandudno UDC – Dennis Pax V – FJC 737F

FJC 737F

Llandudno UDC
Dennis Pax V
Dennis B33F

In the latter months of 1968 Llandudno UDC replaced its two Foden PVSC6 coaches, www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/ used on the exceedingly steep Great Orme route, with two specially constructed Dennis Pax V buses with Dennis B33F bodywork, registered FJC 736/7F. After the delivery of the last five production Lolines to Halifax in 1967 Dennis had effectively abandoned the bespoke passenger vehicle market, and these were flat framed haulage chassis powered by Perkins 6.354 engines coupled to Dennis U type gearboxes (not, as suggested elsewhere on the internet, David Brown gearboxes). The specially constructed bus bodies, the very last built by Dennis, were delivered in a new livery of blue and cream. The Perkins 6.354 was ever a raucous power unit (I write from experience) and the din inside these buses during the steepest sections of the ascent of the Great Orme must surely have been deafening for drivers and passengers alike, though the standard of ride is said to have been good. Does any OBP aficionado have personal experience of these machines? The photograph was taken in September 1970. On 1st April 1974 Llandudno UDC was subsumed into the new Aberconwy District Council and the two Dennis Pax buses were repainted into a livery of maroon and grey, subsequently maroon and cream. Sadly, FJC 737F was later destroyed, reputably by fire, but FJC 736F survives in a restored condition.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

11/08/22 – 05:52

I may have been partly responsible for spreading the idea that these Dennises had David Brown gearboxes. The information came from Nick Larkin, one-time owner of FJC 736F, when he loaned it to a group of enthusiasts in Chesterfield. As a passenger I believed him, because not only was the arrangement of the gears the same as on the David Brown gearbox of the Bristol SC, but it even exhibited the same characteristic of catching out the unwary driver by moving off in reverse instead of second, which I have heard a Bristol SC owner talk about. It scaled Slack Hill in second gear, and almost repeated the achievement at Cromford, only resorting to first at the very top, after turning into Porter Lane. I can’t say I noticed the noise level inside, but those waiting with cameras outside certainly did! As to liveries, the first Aberconwy DC scheme I would describe as vermilion and grey rather than maroon and grey, and I haven’t seen in-service photos of anything later except blue and advertising schemes. I have been assuming that the new owner’s pseudo Llandudno UDC maroon and cream is a ‘should have been’ statement.

Peter Williamson

12/08/22 – 05:55

Peter W, you’ve just confirmed my recollection of this vehicle, I felt sure I’d had a ride on it and it was at one of Transpire’s Running Days in Chesterfield about ten years ago. I would agree that it was somewhat noisy inside but not unbearably so. I also remember the gearstick being behind the driver to his left, in the same manner as a Bedford SB. It was an interesting ride but I couldn’t help thinking it wasn’t really meant to be a bus though!

Chris Barker

14/08/22 – 05:43

I have driven Bristol SC and SU buses, both of which had the David Brown gearbox, but the gear lever selection positions of the two types differed. On both, the reverse and first gears were located on the far left, forward for reverse, back for first, and these gears were ‘protected’ from the rest of the box by a detente spring that became very weak over time. From there, cautiously moving right in neutral, next came forward for second and back for third, which is how the accidental engagement of reverse instead of second sometimes occurred when the detente spring had weakened. The SCs and SUs that I drove were all secondhand examples run by an independent operator, consequently far from pristine in condition. My technique to avoid the unintended launch in reverse was to deliberately engage reverse on the far left of the box, then carefully go back into neutral and let the stick gently move with the spring to the correct point to allow the forward engagement of second. This took less time to do that it does to describe. Even then I would cautiously engage the clutch to ensure the vehicle was going where I wanted it to go. After the third gear position the SC and the SU differed. To move from third to fourth in the SC one took the stick forward into neutral, over to the right and then back again in an inverted U movement, and then fifth was fully forward from that slot. The SU was more logical, and followed the positioning of the AEC Reliance five speed box, over and forward for fourth and back for fifth. Unsurprisingly, I have never driven a Dennis Pax, but the excellent gearbox in the Dennis Loline III also followed the Reliance selection format, and never once driving these for Aldershot and District did I accidentally engage reverse instead of second. Descriptions of the U type five speed gearbox show that it emulated the Loline box in gear stick positions, which explains the possibility of starting off in reverse, but Dennis gearboxes were fine pieces of engineering, and I can only assume that the protective detente spring in FJC 736F has suffered severely over time. Incidentally, one could never fall into this trap with a Reliance because the gear lever had to be lifted over a ramp to engage first and reverse, so you couldn’t easily get first whilst on the move – it was essentially a crawler gear. On the livery question, is the maroon and cream of the little Guy Wolf accurate?

Roger Cox

15/08/22 – 06:41

The gear positions on FJC 736F were definitely the same as on the SC, complete with inverted U from 3 to 4. Our driver only forgot once, going straight from 3 to 5 and then quickly correcting. So maybe it has been fitted with a David Brown box at some time on its travels.

Peter Williamson

17/08/22 – 06:30

My apologies, Peter. That, as you describe it, is the David Brown gearbox as fitted to the Bristol SC, which is somewhat puzzling. The SC was produced from 1954 to 1961, and its successor, the SU with improved gear selection, from 1960 to 1966. Why would a mere two bus bodied examples of a widely sold Dennis haulage chassis, with a proven drive train of Perkins 6.354 engine and Dennis U type gearbox, appear late in 1968 with an old 1961 type of David Brown box? Surely these two machines didn’t emerge from Guildford in that form. Quite apart from assessing the dubious mechanical benefit of the David Brown box, the re-engineering would have simply increased costs to no discernible advantage – quite the opposite in my view. As far as I am aware, the only alternative gearbox offered by Dennis around that time was the Turner synchromesh. This seemingly straightforward post on the Llandudno Dennis Pax buses has taken a curious turn. Can anyone add to this aspect of the history of these vehicles?

Roger Cox

18/08/22 – 06:42

I remember the two Dennis taking over the Great Orme service from the Fodens but I don’t recall travelling on the Dennis but made several trips over the years on each of the Fodens. The Fodens were fitted with a sprag brake, effectively a ratchet which dropped into a pawl on the transmission when activated by the driver. This was used on the upward journey where the very steep 1 in 4 started just below a terrace of houses and remained in use until about the Half Way station for the tram. This was to prevent a runaway in the event of the engine stalling. Does anyone know if the Dennis pair had this device?

Ian Wild


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Llandudno UDC – Foden PVSC6 – AJC 91

Llandudno UDC - Foden PVSC6 - AJC 91

Llandudno Urban District Council
Foden PVSC6
Metalcraft C35F

Llandudno operated two of these single deckers on the route from the Town Centre to St Tudnos Church on the Great Orme. This was a continual climb with the steepest section of 1 in 4. The buses were fitted with a ratchet brake to prevent the bus running back down the hill if the engine stalled or the brakes failed. This was operated by a lever in the cab and was activated by the driver at the foot of the steepest section of the climb. My notes made at the time (September 1967) make reference to the clock fitted above the windscreens ‘which is always accurate’. Also, ‘the conductor is responsible for the smart interior condition of the vehicle’. The driver ‘had collected the bus from Fodens Works at Sandbach in May 1951 and had driven it each summer season since’. These two buses were replaced by very rare Dennis Pax single deckers in 1968 allegedly because of the non availability of the 9.00 x 22 tyres fitted to the Fodens.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

18/09/15 – 06:00

Was the ratchet brake of the same type as fitted to the Foden used on the Bargoed Hill route by West Mon (HWO 590)? And did any other operators use it?

Geoff Kerr

18/09/15 – 06:00

Well into the period when 20" wheels were standard for lorries, Foden continued fitting 22" wheels to some of their heavies, but if AJC 91 had been built on a goods chassis I don’t think the downswept body would have been possible, so could the larger wheels have been fitted for ground clearance?

Ian T

05/10/15 – 06:14

Is this confusion does not the ratchet brake refer to the actual handbrake.On goods chassis ratchet hand brakes worked upon the rear wheels only and when correctly adjusted one and a half pulls brought the brakes on,it was the emergency brake on air brake systems without spring brake chambers.Run back brakes or sprag brakes in their early form actually operated by dropping a bar onto the road!
When I worked for a haulage company who operated farm milk collection tanker one of the drivers picked up from about fifteen farms about 1800 gallons entirely on the ratchet handbrake around the hilly Sussex Weald

Patrick Armstrong


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Llandudno UDC – Guy Otter – CCC 596

Llandudno UDC - Guy Otter - CCC 596

Llandudno Urban District Council
Guy Otter
Roe B25F

Llandudno UDC was one of Britain’s smaller municipal fleets, and unlike most municipalities, it’s services were aimed at tourists rather than local residents. A fleet of small buses was built up for use principally on the Marine Drive, a 5 mile scenic road around the base of the Great Orme, a 679ft high headland which dominates the local scenery. In the early fifties, a second tour was added which took in some of the inland countryside and then circled the Marine Drive. In 1951 a stage service was introduced which connected the town centre with St. Tudno’s Church, near the summit of the Orme. Two Foden coaches were purchased for this spectacular route; it was said that the journey took 17 minutes, of which nine minutes were in first gear!
CCC 596 was one of a pair of similar vehicles bought in 1954; they were small enough to operate the Marine Drive tour, but could also be used on the St. Tudno’s stage service at quieter times. Like the Fodens, they were fitted with "Spragg Equipment", a safety device which apparently prevented the vehicles running back on the gradient. These were the last new buses to be bought by Llandudno UDC for fourteen years, until a pair of Dennis buses, based on a lorry chassis, were bought to replace the Fodens. in 1968.
On summer Sunday mornings an open air service was held in St. Tudno’s graveyard, and virtually the whole fleet was pressed into service to carry the crowds; the smaller vehicles ran round part of the Marine Drive before climbing a zig-zag road with easier gradients.
When new these buses, like the rest of the fleet, were painted maroon and cream. In the late sixties they was repainted blue and cream, a livery introduced on the Dennis’s. In 1974, Llandudno UDC was taken over by the new Aberconwy Borough Council, and the red and grey livery shown here was introduced. Bedford SB buses were purchased for the St. Tudno’s route, and several second hand Bedford VAS coaches took over the Marine Drive Tour. Later the stage service passed to Crosville, which resulted in Leyland Nationals climbing the Grat Orme. At this time the upper terminus was moved from St. Tudno’s to the Summit Car Park. After a spell with minibuses, Crosville’s successor, Arriva, now uses Dennis Darts, although only three journeys a day reach the Summit.
The size limit on the Marine Drive no longer applies, and nowadays Alpine Coaches run "Vintage" tours on the Marine Drive using Leyland Tiger Cubs, while the annual Transport Gathering in May sees a variety of old buses and lorries circumnavigating the Orme.
This view shows CCC 596 approaching St Tudno’s Church on the Sunday morning alternative route from the Marine Drive.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Don McKeown

29/10/13 – 13:29

Nice view, Don, and a very interesting caption. Thanks for posting. I’ve only ever been to Llandudno once, on a boat trip from Liverpool. It was running so late that my parents and I just had time to disembark and join the queue for boarding again!

Pete Davies

30/10/13 – 07:15

I remember taking the Marine Drive trip in the mid 50’s but we had a small normal control Guy, definitely petrol engined but I don’t know what model.
I also remember the Fodens on the mountain route. Formidable looking machines!

Bob Hunter

30/10/13 – 11:54

Here’s a webpage with full details of all the early buses going to Great Orme.
I like the Guy Wolf, which had detachable sides. It states that a surprising number of these vehicles survive and there’s a photo of a selection on the GO at the bottom of the page.
Link to view: www.llantransfest.co.uk/l

Chris Hebbron

31/10/13 – 07:27

This is shown in Classic Bus 127 and described as a Dennis Stork school bus owned by the former London County Council!


19/10/16 – 06:17

Nope this is one of only 2 Guy Otters new in 1954 to Llandudno and District Urban Council. They were fitted with a ratchet brake so as to stop them sliding back on the steep hill of the Great Orme.
They were registered CCC 596 and CCC 597.
As far as we know CCC 597 was used as a hen hut.
CCC 596 was bought by Alpine Coaches of Llandudno in about 1992 and Mike Jones an Alpine Mechanic (and my brother) spent over a 1000 hours restoring it.
We travelled to many shows in the 90’s with it and won many trophies.
Alpine still own it but it doesn’t get out much these days.

David Jones


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