Old Bus Photos

King Alfred – AEC Bridgemaster – 324 CAA

King Alfred - AEC Bridgemaster - 324 CAA

King Alfred Motor Services
AEC Bridgemaster B3RA
Park Royal H45/29R

This photo was taken at the Broadway Winchester where so many others were taken over the years by a great many other enthusiasts I believe that it was taken in the mid seventies.
This bus was one of King Alfred’s second pair of AEC B3RA Bridgemasters with H45/29R bodies delivered in September 1961 the first pair being delivered in October 1959 followed in June1964 by a pair of Renowns both of which are preserved by FoKAB.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

A full list of Bridgemaster codes can be seen here.

22/09/13 – 11:26

To the best of my knowledge, the AV590s in Sheffield’s Regent Vs and Bridgemasters didn’t pose too much of a problem – as was also the case with most RMs. [Was the problem with the AH590 (and AH470) the same as Leyland originally had with moving of sump and peripherals in order to put the engine on it’s side?] Yes Roger, why couldn’t they get it right? […..but neither did Bristol…..]
Whatever the reason, re-reading Alan Townsin’s Blue Triangle, it almost seemed as if there was a self-imposed death wish with strategic planning at Southall – which ran straight into the arms of the grim reapers of Leyland. Why didn’t they develop a Bridgemaster height version of the RM? Why did they cave in to BET with the redesign from a classic to a classically dreadful design? Like Alan Townsin I am a sometimes critical lover of the Southall thoroughbreds – but I hold my head in despair when I see highly respected modern manufacturers who seem to revisit the same sorts of crass stupidity 50 years on!

David Oldfield

23/09/13 – 06:13

May I be allowed to say, or venture, or whisper that in its time the Bridgemaster was a fashionable design. Domey curves were out and the cantilever-looking front end was cute. What will our successors say about those curvy black glass bits today and as for the back end of the Borisbus…. all it needs is a dorsal fin!


23/09/13 – 08:53

Nice view, Dave. The bus doesn’t appear to have any of the Hants & Dorset features which were applied almost immediately when H&D took over KAMS in 1973, so this photo would have been taken, at the latest, mid April of that year.
Thanks for posting.

Pete Davies

25/09/13 – 07:17

I have to agree with David about the Southall death-wish, but I take the opposite view of how it manifested itself. Mechanically there was a lot of Routemaster in the Bridgemaster, and that was what put some buyers off – particularly the integral construction, and even more particularly the lack of choice of bodywork that that entailed. The Routemaster could not be sold on the open market because it was too complicated and too expensive, so why build a lowheight version? As for styling, they had to capitulate to BET because BET was The Market. The number of municipalities needing lowheight double deckers was limited, so if they couldn’t sell the Bridgemaster to BET, it was hardly worth having developed it in the first place. What was really needed was a lowheight Regent V. That eventually happened in the form of the Renown, but as well as coming far too late, I have been told that even that was over-engineered.

Peter Williamson

25/09/13 – 18:26

All very true, Peter. Perhaps the Renown/Regent path should have explored from the start. Those who stuck with the old (Renown) rather than the new (Fleetline) were certainly loyal fans. Unfortunately, by that time (especially with deckers) AEC was a busted flush. Merged? I think not.
The 6U3ZR Reliance was a seriously good coach – but it was out on a limb on its own. There were serious plans to offer the AV691 in the Bristol VR and the Daimler/Leyland Fleetline and the AH691 in the Bristol RE. Ulsterbus was interested in the latter. The bean counters of British Leyland put an end to those plans, just as they had to the FRM. [Dream on.]

David Oldfield

29/12/13 – 12:17

An unashamed plug, I know, but if you’re within striking distance of Winchester on New Year’s Day the biggest-ever King Alfred Running Day features among other delights the 1935 Albion Victor 20-seat coach AAA 756, whose return to Winchester was celebrated in April.
Another reason to come: 2014 is to be the last Winchester New Year’s RD; it will be replaced by a smaller-scale event each April.
Happy New Year to All.

Ian Thompson


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Wednesday 17th August 2022