Old Bus Photos

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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