Old Bus Photos

Birkenhead Corporation – Guy Arab II – BG 8557 – 242

BG 8557

Birkenhead Corporation
Guy Arab II
Massey H31/28R

From the mid 1920s up to the outbreak of WW2, Birkenhead Corporation had been a confirmed Leyland aficionado, specifying Massey bodywork for a significant proportion of the fleet since 1931. With the advent of WW2 and the utility bus era, Birkenhead was allocated the Guy Arab II, hitherto unknown in its fleet, the first two arriving in 1943 with Weymann H30/26R bodywork. Thereafter Birkenhead managed to have most of their Arabs fitted with Massey H30/26R bodies of that company’s severe utility outline. BG 8557 was one of Birkenhead’s second batch of Arabs totalling twenty two, that arrived in 1944, all of which had Massey bodywork. A further twelve Arab IIs arrived in 1946 with bodywork shared between Massey, Park Royal and Northern Counties. The robust and dependable Arab clearly impressed the Corporation, for Guys featured in its order book at times right up to 1956. BG 8557 was originally numbered 324, but, in 1953, it was one of fifteen selected for rebodying with new Massey H31/28R bodywork when it received the new number 242. This bus was withdrawn in 1969 before becoming part of the new Merseyside PTE, and went into private preservation. It is seen at Brighton on the occasion of the May 1970 HCVC Rally, and now resides with the Wirral Transport Museum.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

18/10/21 – 07:09

Fine, distinctive vehicle! Many thanks to those that saved it and brought it to this superb condition. Seeing the lower-deck seating capacity of 28 I assumed that the new body must have been over 26′ long, but even allowing for the angle of the photograph the rear overhang doesn’t look excessive. A google search then revealed that the original 5LW engine had been replaced by the longer 6LW, but of course Arab IIs were built with the snout whichever engine was installed. I still wonder whether the "new" length may be 26’6" or thereabouts. Would love to see and hear it in the flesh!

Ian Thompson

19/10/21 – 05:42

Ian, it is possible that the length may be as you surmise, because the body was built to a width of 7ft 9ins for weight constraint reasons. The wartime Arab, like other Utilities, had a relatively heavy chassis because lighter metals formerly employed for certain components were diverted to military needs.

Roger Cox

19/10/21 – 05:45

The seating capacity seems to be an error – see lettering on this photo
There is actually a way of getting 28 seats into the lower deck of a 26-footer. By reducing the longitudinal seats over the wheel arches to 2-seaters, it is possible to fit an extra pair of lateral seats, with the seat backs sitting directly on the front of the wheel arches. But that is not the case here.

Peter Williamson

20/10/21 – 06:27

Thanks for that picture, Peter, which corrects a widely misquoted error. Even Bus Lists On The Web gives the incorrect lower deck figure of 28 for all the Birkenhead 1953 rebodied Arabs.

Roger Cox

28/10/21 – 06:54

As a tall person, I was very conscious of how stingy Birkenhead was with legroom, notably the H36/30R layout on the final batches of PD2s. (6 rows of laterals plus 2×3 longitudinal). Although I have no memories of twin seats over the wheel arches on any vehicles, I wonder whether the quoted 28 was originally intended in the way Peter Williamson suggests, and either not implemented or changed at a relatively early point in their new life. The Venture volume on Massey Bros quotes the H31/28R figure, but of course this may still be derived from the same source as the BLOTW entries. Inexplicably I don’t have a copy of T B Maund’s (definitive) volume on the Birkenhead Bus, but it would be interesting to know if there is any comment there.

Alan Murray-Rust

28/10/21 – 07:07

But is that how it was back in 1953? Southend’s contemporary Massey-rebodied CWA6s had 28 down with 4s on the longitudinal seats. Weren’t they the same length and floorplan?



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Birkenhead Corporation – Leyland Titan – FBG 910 – 10

FBG 910

Birkenhead Corporation
Leyland Titan PD2/40
Massey H31/28R

Birkenhead 10 entered service in January 1958 with Birkenhead Corporation Transport. It has bodywork by Massey Brothers of Wigan which had been a major supplier of bus bodies to Birkenhead for various chassis since 1931. From 1957 to 1967 Birkenhead had almost totally standardised on the Leyland PD2s with Massey bodywork. Although there were inevitable changes in body design, there where essentially only two external appearances of body. The later design that had a more upright front profile is shown on the Wirral Transport Museum’s Birkenhead 152.
In 1969 10 passed to the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (MPTE) where it served until February 1974. Although out of public service, 10 then spent a further six years of service in the driver training school. In 1980 Birkenhead 10 became part of the 201 bus preservation society. It is seen at NWVRT open day in June 2014 at Kirkby.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ken Jones

01/09/14 – 07:30

Just a classic. Nothing more to say.

Phil Blinkhorn

01/09/14 – 18:50

I’ve always felt Massey’s bodies to be a bit of a mixed bag, in terms of some designs, but this one can’t be faulted. The Wirral was very colourful in this era, what with Birkenhead and Wallasey Corporations’ cheery liveries.

Chris Hebbron

02/09/14 – 06:46

The epitome of a British municipal bus. Straightforward chassis and body design coupled with a superb and tasteful livery. The fleetname and crest show a high degree of civic pride that existed with most municipals in those days. Also a clear and easily legible destination display with no need for the bus to be daubed in route branding graffiti like today. Sheer class.

Philip Halstead

16/04/15 – 06:46

Class indeed, and what a sight it used to be at the Woodside Ferry terminal to see dozens of these lined up, always looking smart, with the dull green Crosville buses terminating farther up the hill. I remember you could get off a bus (or a ferry) at Woodside and catch a train from Woodside Station to London Paddington. Now it’s all gone.

Mr Anon

07/10/19 – 07:25

Not all entirely gone as buses still go down to the Woodside ferry just nowhere near as many but the same goes for the river Mersey which once was busy with ships, boats, ferries up and down now a thing of the past but will once again be back but then even busier not in my lifetime though.
My father in law drove this bus, and when he sadly passed away this exact same bus led the funeral cars to the church.



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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Monday 11th December 2023