Old Bus Photos

Priory Coaches – Bedford WTL – BXM 568

Priory Coaches - Bedford WTL - BXM 568

Priory Coaches (Gosport)
Bedford WTL
Duple C20F

Here we have a Bedford WTL with Duple C20F bodywork from 1935. She is seen in the livery of Cyril Cowdray (Priory Coaches) of Gosport, another operator put off the road after upsetting the Traffic Commissioner once too often. She was new to Blunt, Mitcham, and spent some time on the Isle Of Man as CMN 986 before returning to the UK. The scene is an Open Day at the Provincial depot, Hoeford, on 8 June 1985.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

10/08/15 – 11:24

This coach has been with J. W. Lodge & Sons of High Easter for some years undergoing a thorough rebuild however I think it was put to one side while they were restoring their Ford T. I believe that their ultimate aim is to have a representative vehicle from each decade that the company has been operating. Since they are well in to their tenth decade that’s quite a fleet of historic vehicles!

Nigel Turner

10/08/15 – 16:04

Thank you, Nigel. Yes, it will be a VERY impressive collection when they decide that it’s complete. "Now, have we room in the garage for another OB?"

Pete Davies

11/08/15 – 16:49

The whole Lodge operation is very impressive and a credit to the three generations who have built it up over the last 95 years. I have no idea why I referred to them restoring a Ford T in my earlier comment, it is a 1926 Chevrolet

Nigel Turner

25/06/20 – 07:19

Lodge are still very active, but their vintage fleet now consists of Bedfords’ OB, SB, YMT and said Chervolet Charabanc. Sadly, no mention of the WTB.

Chris Hebbron

27/06/20 – 06:44

The WTB project was on display at an event at Lodge’s premises on 24 March 2019. At the time there was a lot of work to do on the vehicle.

David Slater

28/06/20 – 06:56

"I was intrigued about the Bedford WTL chassis, as it seems to have led a rather shadowy life. There is little written about it, either, but some research revealed the following.
The first Bedford chassis designed for PSV use was the WHB, built from 1931 to 1933, for a 14-seat body. Only 102 were ever sold. The larger WLB chassis quickly followed, with greater success, with over 2000 built between 1931 and 1938, when production ceased.
The WTL chassis was a three-ton lorry chassis, modified to sell as a still-larger PSV, but was not popular as a passenger vehicle in any great numbers, initially with just over 200 being built as such in its first two years, 1935 and 1936, but, nevertheless, it soldiered to receive passenger bodies in penny numbers until 1939. One’s or two’s describe the numbers bought by most operators, although, in 1935, Vauxhall had at least four in use for staff transport, Walter Alexander bought five and at least eight were exported to the Netherlands. Bodybuilders were varied, with small orders using Robson, Thurgood, Wilmott and Willowbrook, Unsurprisingly, however, the majority were bodied by Duple, although, in 1939, several of them were bodied by Plaxton. Those which went to the Netherlands were bodied by two firms, Werkspoor (Amsterdam) and Jurgens.
The WTL could, in retrospect, be considered a stop-gap chassis, its far more successful compatriot being the three feet longer WTB, introduced in late 1935..
However, the WTL (as well as the WTB) chassis were upgraded in 1938, which included an all-metal cab area with redesigned front wings. The radiator grill/bonnet area became rounded and modern-looking, foretelling the future OB front, minus radiator cap!. Engine power was increased from 64 to 72bhp."

Chris Hebbron

28/06/20 – 10:01

One little titbit I omitted from my post of 28/06/20 was that the redesign of the front ends in 1938 was a joint venture with Duple.

Chris Hebbron

28/06/20 – 10:03

BXM 568 Bedford WTL Duple C20F chassis No 875523 body No 5058
New to W E Blunt t/a Mitcham Belle, Mitcham 6/35
5/38 B B Atkinson, Douglas, IoM re reg as CMN 986
4/39 J W A Wightman, Onchan, IoM t/a Sunny Hours Coaches
9/61 L Q Keen, Douglas, IoM (not operated)
4/62 Kirkby Central, Anston (dealer) reverted to BXM 568
5/68 G A Arnold, Holmesfield (preservation)
11/71 Geoffrey Pitt t/a Doug Jones Coaches, Littleton
-/73 Howard Herridge, Gosport (preservation)
-/75 C Cowdrey t/a Priory Coaches, Gosport (later stored in Mid Hants railway yard at Medstead)
6/93 Ray Dodds, Fareham (preservation)
circa -/03 Len Carter, Fareham (dealer) but not moved from Ray Dodds premises)
2/08 Lodge Coaches, High Easter for restoration & eventual return to service in Heritage Fleet.

John Wakefield

02/06/21 – 08:48

I thought this might be of interest to visitors to this site, a newspaper article which appeared in the Fraserburgh Hearld and New Counties Advertiser, 13 January 1931. The article relates to my Gt.Gt Grandfather George Jaffray from Rosehearty, Fraserburgh, who was a master joiner and local businessman. George was fined 25 shillings in the first case of its kind in the Sheriffs Court, for allowing a motor omnibus for which he owned to ply for hire without having painted in conspicuous place the total number of passengers which the vehicle was allowed to carry.

Clive Taylor


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Priory Coaches – Bedford OB – ?? – 47

Bedford OBs

Priory Coaches of North Shields
Bedford OB
Duple C27F

My thanks to the management of Priory Coaches North Shields, for allowing me to use this photo.
An impressive line up of Duple bodied Bedford OB’s from the late 40’s (exact year unknown) In the background is Tynemouth Castle, which overlooks the mouth of the river Tyne. To the extreme left, the white building at the top of the cliffs is the Coast Guard Station.

Bedford OBs cu

Above the roof line of the buildings you can see the medieval monument of Tynemouth Priory, which the company is named after, at one time a gold image of the Priory was displayed on the rear of their vehicles. The livery was two shades of green and cream, with gold leaf lettering and logo, the seats were upholstered in a dark rich red moquette material. Around 1953, the layout was altered and cream became the predominant colour. On the OB‘s, the bulk of the body became cream, the roof, front and rear wings, lower skirt, radiator and bonnet tops were dark green, the wheels and the side flash below the window line was the lighter green. The present day fleet is mainly Volvo, and the livery is white with two shades of blue. The Priory logo is still used, but is no longer displayed on their vehicles, the lettering is now blue, but same shaded style font is still used.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

12/05/14 – 08:42

Only a small number of Bedford OB coaches were produced late 1945 after the war with production increasing in 1946 a Bedford PSV circle listing would give you exact year. This listing provides date to 1st owner. Which may help you to date photograph. Sorry I do not have access to listing.

Alan Coulson

12/05/14 – 14:03

T. G. Chapman (Priory Coaches) of South Shields had the following OB/Vistas:
FT 5666: 04/46
FT 5679: 06/46
FT 5680: 06/46
FT 5884: 10/46
FT 5885: 02/47
FT 5892: 10/46
FT 5893: 01/47
FT 5894: 10/46
FT 5895: 11/47
FT 5896: 10/46
FT 6102: 11/47 (SMT body)
FT 6281: 01/48
FT 6358: 06/48
FT 6642: 05/49
FT 6795: ?
FT 6905: 1950
FT 7009: 1951
There were also 12 OB’s (6 Duple, 6 Plaxton FC30F) with FT registrations delivered between 7/46 and 12/48 to Taylor Bros. of North Shields. Some of the registration numbers of Taylor’s vehicles were in the same batches as the Priory (Chapman) ones, so I assume there was a connection between the two. This is according to the PSV Circle book on the OB.

John Stringer

13/05/14 – 06:37

John, I’m not aware of any connection between Taylor Brothers of North Shields and Priory Coaches, but that’s not to say there wasn’t one. Around 1960 ‘ish’ Taylor Bros became a subsidiary of Hall Brothers of South Shields, who subsequently became part of the Barton Group

Ronnie Hoye

13/05/14 – 13:08

Sorry Ronnie, an unfortunate typo crept into my comment above, the listed OB’s being those of G. Chapman (Priory Coaches), not Taylor Bros.

John Stringer

13/05/14 – 17:20

John, I note that one of the numbers listed is for the OB’s is FT 6905, as I said, I am not aware of any connection between Taylor Bros and Priory Coaches, however, Taylor Bros had a Daimler CVD6SD with C33F Burlingham body, registration FT 6909, only four away. The vehicle is pictured elsewhere on this site, and was last heard of tucked away in a corner of Wright Brothers depot in Nenthead, and awaiting restoration. The two depots were very close to each other, Priory was in Queen Street, and I think Taylor’s were literally just round the corner in Hudson Street. Another thing that I had quite forgotten, I don’t know when the business started, or if there was any connection between the two, but certainly from the end of the war until about the mid to late 60’s, the main Vauxhall / Bedford dealership in North Shields was also called Taylor Brothers, and they were on Tynemouth Road, which was only a stones throw from both the Priory and Taylor Bros depots. This is only speculation on my part, but the dealership changed hands at roughly the same time the coaches were taken over by Hall Brothers. death duties perhaps?

Ronnie Hoye

19/05/14 – 07:14

It was interesting to see the list of OB registrations from John Stringer, and they had me reaching for my Glass’s Index of registration numbers.
FT was the mark of the ‘County Borough Council of Tynemouth’, and was the mark allocated to it, when it became a County Borough, and commenced issuing registrations as and from 1st October 1904.
FT ran from then until January 1957.
John shows TF 5666 being registered on April 1946, and must have been only the 2nd vehicle licensed that year, because the year started at FT 5665.
Similarly in 1948 the year started at 6276, with FT 6281 being only the 6th licensed. It can be seen therefore that it was a very slow moving mark.
So it took 53 years to issue 10,000 marks, (an average of less than 200 a year), it must have been an easy job working in the Motor Vehicle Taxation Office in Tynemouth

Stephen Howarth

19/05/14 – 15:35

The DVLA seem to have stumbled upon a nice little earner in unused Tynemouth FT registrations. The BBC George Gently series is set in the early 70’s, in a recent episode I noticed an Austin with a numbers first LFT registration. Tynemouth did get as far as three letters followed by the numbers, but never with the numbers first. Incidentally, the 1 numbers, AFT 1 – BFT 1 Etc, were all Tynemouth Police vehicles.

Ronnie Hoye

20/05/14 – 16:33

The county borough of Tynemouth got as far as the start of the KFT series before it changed to AFT —B! It must have been getting a little busier in Tynemouths motor taxation office…

Tom Carr

20/05/14 – 17:20

I think we may have our wires crossed here, Tom. The first three letter FT registrations delivered to Tynemouth and District were the 1957 Willowbrook bodied Leyland PD2/12’s, they were AFT 49/53, but AFT 1 was an Austin Westminster for Tynemouth Police, and the first of every issue up to KFT were also Police vehicles. The fist issue with a suffix was in 1965 ‘C’ but the letters reverted to AFT. Under the local boundary changes of 1974, FT became a Tyne and Wear registration.

Ronnie Hoye

21/05/14 – 08:08

It wouldn’t have required a great deal of intelligence for the local villains to spot the unmarked police cars, then, Ronnie.

Roger Cox

15/06/14 – 07:57

Tom is quite right – Tynemouth got as far as KFT 333 before starting the year suffixes with AFT 1B in August 1964.
And he’s not wrong to say that it must have been getting busier in Tynemouth’s motor taxation office – by October 1974, they had reached the VFT-N series whereas Gateshead, which had made it as far as SCN 56 before adopting the year suffixes in July 1964, had only reached the RCN-N series…

Des Elmes

18/03/15 – 07:05

AFT 1 was also on a Humber Super Snipe which came chauffeur driven when I was a lad to pick Chief Constable J. J. Scott up who lived diagonally opposite my grandmothers.

Eddie Hill


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Priory Coaches – Bedford VAL 14 – BFT 942D – 50

Priory Coaches - Bedford VAL 14 - BFT 942D - 50

Priory Coaches of North Shields
Bedford VAL 14
Plaxton C52F

George Chapman established Priory Coaches of North Shields in 1929. North Shields is located in what was the County Borough of Tynemouth, and the name and company logo relate to Tynemouth Priory, which is an ancient monument situated within the grounds of Tynemouth Castle. By the early 50’s the fleet numbered in excess of 40 vehicles, to the best of my knowledge, they never ran any stage carriage services, although they did have a regular twice-weekly service to two local outlying hospitals in Morpeth and Prudhoe. For as long as I can remember, the fleet consisted entirely of Bedford’s of all shapes and sizes, with either Duple or Plaxton bodies. In common with most post war coach operators, at one time much of the fleet was made up of Bedford OB’s. As far as I know, they only ever had one VAL 14, I could be wrong, but I don’t think it was around for very long. The Priory livery was two shades of green and cream with gold lettering, and as far as I can remember the seats were upholstered in a rich dark red moquette material, and very smart they looked. The company has changed hands, but I’m pleased to say they are still on the go, although the fleet is nowhere near the same size as it was. It now numbers around 10 vehicles, the livery has also changed, and is now white with two shades of blue. Bedford’s no longer being available, the bulk of the fleet is now mainly Volvo.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

17/04/14 – 10:55

These were good looking and, for their time, well built coaches. If anything, they were a little more elegant than the Panoramas, with the thick pillar aft of the first bay. The VAL14 (Leyland engine) was better liked than the later and more powerful VAL70 (Bedford engine).

David Oldfield

17/04/14 – 18:24

The 1967 edition of ‘The Little Red Book’, information for which would have been supplied in 1966, stated, that Priory Motor Coach Co. Ltd., had a rolling stock of 12 coaches.
12 Bedford Chassis, and bodies by Duple 6, Plaxton 5, and Yeates 1.

Stephen Howarth

18/04/14 – 09:30

Purely a personal view of course, but I always found the Bedford VAL to be a delightful and fascinating vehicle to ride in and to drive. For whatever engineering reasons – six small wheels/leaf springing etc – its excellent degree of riding comfort seems often to be overlooked by those attaching great importance to its moderate but very adequate performance. I’ve even done journeys of well over 200 miles in VALs, riding and driving, in perfect contentment. While its gladly acknowledged that it can’t match the speed and power of the Leopard/Reliance/Volvo "big boys" it was nevertheless a very commendable design, and appealing too in what might by some be classed as its "cheeky" involvement in stage carriage work here and there. I loved the VALs and remember their plucky character very fondly, and when all’s said and done they came from a very honest "no frills" stable.

Chris Youhill

18/04/14 – 18:20

I have a photo of BFT 942D in cream and blue livery with "Leisureline" in the destination blind in the front bumper.
Does anyone know where this operator was based?

Dave Farrier

10/05/15 – 07:12

The Bedford VAL was produced in Underfloor Engine form for Australia in the early 1970s. Why not for the UK market? Seems odd as the United Kingdom was their main stronghold!


21/05/15 – 06:39

Dave Farrier,
Information re coach reg. BFT 942D.your listing of (18/04/14)
I have a note from another stating Leisureline to be a Blackpool based company. Note States same livery, information is by son of the owner. The era being around 1970’s.

Alan Coulson

26/02/16 – 14:22

Regarding underfloor engined VAL’s in Australia. As both a driver and mechanic which worked on them in Australia, until they were finally retired from service. The VAL’s you mentioned were actually bodied in Australia in 1974 after the YRQ had come out and after the VAL had actually ceased production. As there were chassis left over we continued to be able to buy them after cease of build in the UK. Until supplies of the new chassis became available, in many cases even the latter BLP had the front engine moved back as to meet customers demands. Keeping in mind that Australian design rules never specified ground clearance heights like the UK did. The underfloor engine option was one you used to pay extra for, at the time $250.00 for and the body builder would move the engine back to behind just the front axle. Not as far back as in the factory build YRQ, YLQ.
I myself even moved and engine back in one of my BLP school buses when the engine failed. Bit of a big job.


18/02/20 – 07:27

Priory went into liquidation at the end of 2019. Their website is down and some links redirect to Rothbury Travel Group

Alan Walker

19/02/20 – 06:18

Priory were latterly owned by the same owners as Rothbury Travel. They also own various other coach operators in the North East and other areas of the country.

Tim Presley

20/02/20 – 06:20

I was brought up in Whitley Bay in the fifties. During the summer holidays, my parents would book day trips either with Wakefield’s, a subsidiary of Northern, or with Priory Motors. Although I was too young to be able to identify the coaches provided, it is obvious looking back that the type most commonly used was the Bedford SB.
The last trip that I made with Priory was some years later when I went on a day tour to Buttertubs Pass. For some reason, the coach that should have been provided was not available, and instead of one large coach, we got two small ones. I travelled in the second, A Plaxton Coach-bodied Bedford J2 mini, not perhaps the ideal vehicle for a day tour, and at the opposite end of the scale from the Bedford VAL, nevertheless, I found it an interesting experience.

John Gibson

20/02/20 – 15:34

Another Priory Coaches VAL FJA 990D ended its days derelict in Myalls of Bassingbourn yard. www.flickr.com/photos/

John Wakefield

05/03/20 – 06:46

John, priory Coaches (North Shields) sadly ceased trading in December 2019.
They only ever had one Bedford VAL, that’s the one pictured above, there was however another company based in Coalville, who traded under the name of Priory Coaches UK Ltd & Rigleys Hire Ltd.
As far as I know, they have also ceased trading.

Ronnie Hoye

06/03/20 – 06:29

FJA 990D was with Priory Coaches, Christchurch.
I think there were quite a few Priory Coaches, there was another one in Royal Leamington Spar at 38 High Street

John Wakefield


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