Crosville – Bristol LL6B – NFM 46 – SLB 290

Crosville - Bristol LL6B - NFM 46 - SLB 290
Copyright David Humphrey

Crosville Motor Services
Bristol LL6B

Here is a photo of SLB 290, Crosville’s last half-cab single decker. It is a 1952 Bristol LL6B with B39RD bodywork. It is pictured at central works, Chester in the summer of 1970 shortly after its withdrawal from service.
It was latterly allocated to Chester depot, spending its last days mostly operating routes C6/7, Chester to Ellesmere Port via the villages of Stoak and Stanney and a short working within Ellesmere Port (the route inevitably referred by crews as the "stroke your fanny").
I got to drive it a few times in service, and compared to the later underfloor engined single deckers, LSs and MWs, it was like driving a sports car, super bus to drive.
Just after I uploaded the photo, I discovered that the "new" Crosville, based in Weston-Super Mare, has acquired SLB 290, and have started to restore it.  They also have another photo of the bus from when it was in service, parked on the Chester depot "overspill" parking area at Chester Northgate rail station. See their website ‘News’ page, or their Facebook site.

Photograph and Copy contributed by David Humphrey

A full list of Bristol codes can be seen here.


09/06/12 – 12:13

A lovely posting, David, of a true icon. The L series represents the utter pinnacle of front-engined single deck design and the ECW body was very handsome. Fitted with the Bristol engine and the ‘supertop’ gear, they went, as you say, very well indeed.
For me the only issue with SLB 290 is the altered destination indicator, which looks a bit unbalanced and clumsy. All indicator blinds involve a compromise of one sort or another; ECW’s standard early post-war two part indicators gave room for detailed intermediate destination points alongside the route number, but required long blinds that were not economical when routes with different numbers covered the same intermediate points, (e.g. service 4 and 4A in York). The later, three part box overcame this problem but involved five separate blinds and a fiddly little gear, (especially when worn), to switch between the three number blinds. Slow and occasionally complicated to alter. Eventually, of course, came the omission of intermediate points altogether in the ‘T’ form indicator. Cheaper and less complicated, of course, but less informative, too.
None of this alters the fact that Bristol Ls were superb, as your posting so excellently reminds us. Glad SLB 290 has been preserved.

Roy Burke


21/01/13 – 17:16

Great to see a photo of SLB 290 in service (just). I work as a part time heritage driver for the aforementioned Crosville of Weston-super-Mare and can confirm that the restoration is coming along nicely. They hope that this lovely vehicle will join 2 other genuine Crosville Bristol Ls in the private hire fleet.
I can’t wait to drive it – I love the 6-cylinder engine/gearbox combination!
David, could I ask your permission to use this photo on my blog? I will credit you of course. I write about my driving experiences quite often and I’m looking forward to the day when SLB 290 is the subject of my posting! At the moment I’m just writing about its restoration. See my blog at the link below

Busman John


Newcastle Corporation – Daimler COG5 – HTN 222 – ?

HTN 22_crop_lr

HTN 222_lr
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Newcastle Corporation
Daimler COG5
Northern Coachbuilders H56R

What looks like a pre delivery photo of three Daimlers for Newcastle Corporation, “note the blue light to the side of the destination blind” this has been commented on before on this site. Going by the registrations I would say they were built in the late 1930s, and to be honest if I were shown a picture of one of these in a different location I wouldn’t be able to say who the bodybuilder was, but I think the name on the building may be a clue.


What on earth were they thinking of with the front wing and the headlights? They look as if someone remembered them about ten minutes before they were due to leave the factory and they were stuck on as an afterthought, for me they completely spoil the look of what is otherwise a rather handsome vehicle. I don’t know anything about them, maybe someone can provide information for the ‘?s’. But if I’m right about the date they would almost certainly ‘or the chassis would’ have still been around until about the early to mid fifties.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

06/06/12 – 07:50

Yes, good looking vehicles, spoiled by the apparent afterthought of where to place the headlamps. Then again, perhaps they did omit the headlamps entirely, as these are where most folk would expect the fog lights.

Pete Davies

06/06/12 – 07:51

HTN 231, 233, presumably from the same batch of 1939 NCB bodied COG5s, finished up in 1956 with the LCBER bus fleet.
See my recent post, and fleet list on the subject

John Whitaker

06/06/12 – 07:52

This picture appears in Alan Townsin’s book "Daimler", where it is credited to the Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Libraries. The photo was taken in June 1939, and shows the first three of a batch of 18 COG5 machines with Northern Coachbuilders bodies, which were followed by two more with Northern Counties bodies. This batch of 20 brought the total number of COG5 buses in the Newcastle fleet up to 71, the highest number outside Birmingham at that time.

Roger Cox

06/06/12 – 07:52

From the registration number this looks like the same series as the two mentioned in the recently posted fleet list of Llandudno & Colwyn Bay vehicles (Nos. 1 and 2).

Stephen Ford

06/06/12 – 11:38

Bus headlamps are a fascinating topic to study. Several operators in the late thirties decided that low mooted headlamps or maybe fog lamps were more effective for smog conditions in many of the major cities. The first LPTB RT AECs had no main headlamps in the traditional place, and similarly Coventry had some Daimler COG5s with only low mounted lights similar to the Newcastle COG5s.

Richard Fieldhouse

06/06/12 – 11:38

I gather from photos published elsewhere that it was not until January 1949 that legislation specified how the headlights had to be placed. Nottingham favoured low-down "driving lamps" like this from 1935 and only modified them when the law changed. Did it improve visibility in fog? We tend to forget that headlights were not used routinely on (reasonably) well-lit city roads until comparatively recently. I wonder how practical they were when fitted with blackout shutters during the war? I have also seen (possibly on this site – not sure) buses with the two headlights mounted at different heights.

Stephen Ford

06/06/12 – 17:34

I cannot remember where, Stephen, but you are right about asymmetrical headlight siting.
Interesting to see these NCB bodies. They bear no resemblance to those I came to know post-war in Sheffield. They are quite a well balanced design and it seems a pity that they were abandoned after the war.
I have wondered, occasionally, whether the post-war design was deliberately similar to Weymann. (There is a vague similarity, and NCB’s order for about 40 bodies on various chassis was primarily to fill in for the fact that Weymann did not have the capacity to fulfil all its orders at that time.)

David Oldfield

06/06/12 – 19:42

Rather a splendid frontage to the NCB factory, which I’m rather surprised no one in this posting has picked up on.
Don’t suppose it has survived.

Eric Bawden

06/06/12 – 20:02

Long gone I’m afraid, Eric, but the Mill is still there but missing the top

Ronnie Hoye

08/06/12 – 17:15

Headlamp heights: the classic example is the early post war Morris Minor which pictures show with headlamps tucked in at the side of the radiator grille: then they had to be lifted into two fairings in the wings. The early Hillman Imp had excessive toe in on the front wheels to lift the headlamps- it is said: someone miscalculated, I assume.
Those old headlamps (CAV?) really did dip- the outer one just went out, often leaving the inner directed at the kerb. Consequently, the outer lamp was rarely used. Nowadays these would be foglamps, which was possibly the idea- or perhaps it avoided awkward brackets. The mudguards suggest quite some travel on the front suspension!


08/06/12 – 17:16

To try and answer David’s query about post-war NCB body design, one has to look-back to the war period. NCB was designated by the Ministry of War Transport to supply only re-bodies. In late 1944 the LPTB was directed to order 20 bodies for their war-damaged AEC and Leyland trolleybuses. NCB delivered a body similar to the pre-war style of LPTB trolleybus in late 1945 and all were delivered by mid 1946. These NCB bodied trolleybuses had a suffix C after their fleet number.

In June 1946 Bradford Corporation received their first of six NCB re-bodied 1934/35 AEC 661Ts (607, 614, 615, 616, 621 & 622). These bodies closely resembled the London C suffix trolleybuses and the back views were almost identical such as the emergency upper deck window and the platform window. The front windows however were more of the utility body style with opening vents and a result referred to as semi-utility. A rear view of 607 is appended. From this unique NCB semi-utility design emerged the standard NCB Mark 2 body by late 1946. This type was then seen in many towns and cities on both new and old chassis. This NCB body had an improved, more rounded front style and a reduced rear platform window but a similar LPTB rear upper -deck window shape. This may explain the link in NCB design with LPTB MCCW, Weymann and BRCW trolleybus bodies.

Richard Fieldhouse

08/06/12 – 18:00

Thanks Richard. Logical and highly likely.

David Oldfield

The links below are to comments that were updated at 18:20

Richard`s explanation is succinct and clear. It was obviously an easier design move, to develop the Bradford Mk1 "semi" design into what became the standard post war style.
What I would also like to know is whether the pre-war style, as used by Newcastle, Aberdare and others , was a metal framed design. If so, there is another reason for going down the "London rebody" route, as the post war style of NCB body, well known in so many fleets, was a composite product.
Another interesting aspect about this company, is their adoption of an "ECW" style about 1950, which superseded the standard type. Trolleybuses for Cleethorpes, and Mark 111s for Newcastle refer.
After the post war boom, aided by the failure of EEC to re-enter the market, NCB collapsed, and were wound up c.1951.
Published literature refers to the company operating in a converted aircraft hanger. Is this the same building as the one shown in the header photograph?

It may be interesting to also point out that NCB built significant numbers of Park Royal designed utility bodies on wartime Guys for London Transport.

John Whitaker

09/06/12 – 07:46

John, the building in the photo was on Claremont Road in the Spital Tongues area, and overlooked Hunters Moor and Exhibition Park, I think the aircraft hanger you refer to was in Cramlington which is about 7 miles north of Newcastle.

Ronnie Hoye

09/06/12 – 07:47

John the reason for the ECW clone – with strangely unbalanced and unequal bays – was that someone from ECW management went to NCB just before they folded. The reason that they folded was that their owner/principal shareholder died and the death duties did for the company. Interestingly, the machinery and raw materials were bought by Charles H Roe – and, one assumes, used subsequently for their own production. Doubly interesting since there is no record of Roe bodies being iffy but the NCB composites had a quite dreadful reputation – especially for the frames sagging in middle and later life. Sad since I thought Sheffield’s last batch, MWB 1950 Regent III, were quite handsome.

David Oldfield

09/06/12 – 07:48

The ‘ECW style’ Northern Coachbuilders bodies supplied to Cleethorpes on BUT trolleybuses and Newcastle on AEC Regents followed the appointment of Mr B W Bramham as General Manager at NCB. Prior to his move to NCB Mr Bramham at been at ECW since 1936 and before that he had been at Charles Roe’s.
I understand that NCB offered both wooden and metal framed bodies. Many of the wooden framed bodies suffered from poor quality timber, which caused them to look ‘down at heel’ in later life.

Michael Elliott

09/06/12 – 12:10

You are correct, David, when you refer to sagging NCB bodies!
Although Bradford`s 1947/8 regent IIIs lasted until 1962/3, I have this abiding memory of curved waist rails! Strangely though, contemporary bodies on the rebodied 1934/5 AEC trolleybuses never demonstrated this feature! But that, perhaps, is an indication of the superiority of electric traction! (half joking!)

John Whitaker

09/06/12 – 17:40

I read somewhere that someone from NCB went to work for Barnard, and that Barnard then produced a few bodies to NCB design. But when was this, and which NCB design? Or did I dream that?

Peter Williamson

11/06/12 – 15:09

Bradford also had 6 1950 Daimler CVD6s, with Barnard bodies, Peter, and I too heard from somewhere that there was an NCB connection. The body plates on Bradford`s Barnard Daimlers referred to "Barnard Norfolk Ironworks"….I remember it well, so whether they were composite or not, I have no idea.
I have not seen photographs of identical vehicles in other fleets, although I understand there were some, and there was a vague resemblance to the NCB design.
Again, I have memories of buses with curved waist rails towards the end of their BCT lives, but all 6 were sold on for further service in 1959.

John Whitaker

22/09/14 – 14:40

The reason for the very low down head lights or fog lights (often NOTEK!) on our lovely old buses was that in the 30s and 40s we had in both the north Newcastle and Leeds etc as well as London extreme smog!
This was a really lethal mixture of coal fire and industrial smoke from foundries and steel furnaces etc (all moved to China now!) with very high levels of soot in it and then heavy fog to hold it down and stop it dissipating easily!
I have experienced smog in Leeds and London where the services were stopped it was so bad and the conductors had to guide the drivers of the buses back to the depots with make shift flares and torches!
That’s the reason for the low down bus lighting to try and prevent glareback and focus what light came through on to the near side kerb!
The clean air act changed all this and then now all heavy industry emigrated to China!

Stuart Beveridge


Portsmouth Corporation – Leyland TD4 – RV 9404 – 150

Portsmouth Corporation - Leyland TD4 - RV 9404 - 150
Copyright A M Lambert

Portsmouth Corporation
Leyland Titan TD4
Cravens H26/24R

Having dabbled with Leyland TD1 & 2’s, Crossley Condors, an AEC Regent and some TSM’s, with bodies spread amongst Short, Park Royal, Leyland and English Electric, CPPTD settled on a large order for 30 Leyland TD4’s with Cravens’ bodies, to the same pattern as its trolleybuses, both types being delivered in two tranches during 1936/37.
There were subtle differences between bus/trolleybus bodies, notably the upstairs bus front windows lacking a curve at the bottom corners. Also, the last five (156-60), as can be seen from the photo, had different headlamps, plus fluting on the front nearside wing.
The buses had long lives, with engineering staff rebuilding bodies of some of them around 1950 and the last going in 1960! Both in the photo, with rebuilt bodies, lasted from 1937 to 1958. One was destroyed in 1941 by enemy action.


It’s the side-issues which often intrigue in bus photos and this one’s no exception. To our left of 158, peeps out part of a lorry. This was 105/RV2000, a 1932 Crossley Condor/EE double-decker, which was a CPPTD conversion to a waste disposal lorry after revenue-service withdrawal in 1948.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron


03/06/12 – 19:41

Thanks Chris for another fine picture of Portsmouth Corporation pre-war Leyland TD4s. These were the days when one could be proud of your locally owned bus services which met the needs of community. The Transport Acts from 1968 onwards towards privatisation in the eighties have all produced changes, many for the worse. Happily this website draws the line at 1970 but my favourites are buses and trolleybuses of the 1930 to 1950 period.

Richard Fieldhouse


04/06/12 – 11:35

Oh how I agree with Richard about this superb posting from Chris!
Each municipality was so different, and they each exuded their own character and "flavour", as there was no central control from outside the town or city.
There was, in the municipal fleet, the opportunity to express some civic pride, with individual liveries, crests, coats of arms, and well (generally) maintained fleets.
Sadly, those days of pride , with some social discipline connected to it, have largely disappeared.
These 2 Titans could not be anywhere but Portsmouth, a fleet which took pride in its appearance. There were many others, but it is this individuality which is at the root of my enthusiasm, and hence, like Richard, it declines rapidly after 1950.
Not to say that other transport groupings were of no interest, as company and independent fleets also had character, but this was displayed in a different way.
Nostalgic and foolish old person that I am!

John Whitaker


04/06/12 – 17:11

You’re not wrong, Richard, about Transport acts. Before deregulation buses were classified as Public Service Vehicles, where as now they are Passenger Carrying Vehicles, no mention of ‘Passengers or Service’ I think that just about sums it up

Ronnie Hoye


05/06/12 – 08:28

The point John Whitaker makes about the old municipalities and their civic pride is all too true as control originated with in a short distance of where operations took place, by the same token criticisms and complaints could also be dealt with equally rapidly.
I worked both as conductor and driver for Eastbourne Corporation from 1961 to 1969 which at that time had a fleet of about 50 buses, a small fleet but beautifully maintained and turned out at all times. The coach painting was carried out solely by brush when repaints were due, no spray equipment was owned at that time, all this was done by two very skilled men namely Bill Hollobone and Reg Metcalfe. Reg even painted every advert panel by hand truly a work of art and a source of great pride, and a joy to watch in action.
Things definitely ain’t what they used to be, nostalgia rules OK.

Diesel Dave


06/06/12 – 09:50

You’re both so right, folks, about the special aspects of municipal fleets. CPPTD also had some hand-painted adverts, usually for local concerns. And the management had a fair degree of autonomy as well: it tends to be forgotten that these were publicly-owned ‘proper’ businesses and other employees of the councils, including councillors, tended to leave them alone, as long as they were, at least, self-supporting.
When I worked for GPO Telephones, we were always conscious that we were the only government-run business, but here, we were always constrained by government tight-fistedness, never giving us enough money to get rid of waiting lists/have the latest technology for a world-beating telephone service (until privatisation, that is). But that’s another story!

Chris Hebbron


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Tuesday 27th January 2015