Todmorden Corporation – Leyland Titan PD2 – JWY 824 – 5

Todmorden Corporation - Leyland Titan PD2 - JWY 824 - 5
Copyright John Stringer

Todmorden Corporation and Joint Transport Committee
1950
Leyland Titan PD2/1
Leyland L27/26R

Scanning through the OBP Operators Index I just noticed a glaring omission. What – No Todmorden?
How could this possibly be ?
So here to immediately rectify the situation is their 1950 Leyland-bodied PD2/1 No. 5 departing Hebden Bridge for Burnley via Todmorden, in the Summer of 1969.
It has just left its dismal terminus in Cheetham Street – behind the Hope Chapel in the background – where it will have connected with the inbound Halifax J.O.C. route 48/49 from Brighouse. It has then turned left into Crown Street, and it is here seen completing its next turn right into New Road, ready for a spirited run along the Calder Valley to ‘Tod’, then on through Cornholme, Portsmouth and the Cliviger Gorge and into the County of the Red Rose.
Todmorden Joint Omnibus Committee was a staunch devotee of the Leyland marque, and for a period their fleet consisted solely of 38 PD2’s dating from between 1947 and 1951 – surely a fleet engineer’s dream?
This one passed to the Calderdale J.O.C. in 1971 becoming their 352, but it was withdrawn shortly afterwards and passed to Mulley’s of Ixworth. They withdrew it in 1977 and sold it to Bickers of Coddenham – acting as dealers – from whom it passed to the Stella Artois brewery in Belgium (who I trust paid a Reassuringly Expensive price for it).
Similar 1948 bus no. 2 survives in preservation, but does anyone know if No. 5 survived?

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

A full list of Titan codes can be seen here.


19/04/12 – 06:31

Beautiful picture of a beautiful bus in beautiful condition. 19 years old? What are the chances of a Dennis or Volvo lasting that long, let alone in that condition?

David Oldfield


19/04/12 – 06:31

Superb photograph of a classic municipal bus. ‘Tod’ buses did a fair bit of moorland hill climbing as well as serving the valley bottom roads by the River Calder. They ran on the Burnley to Bacup route which climbed to a fair height at Weir, they then usually continued from Bacup back to ‘Tod’ over another mooorland summit by Temperley’s brickworks at Sharneyford. If that wasn’t enough for the venerable PD2’s they went over to Keighley via a bleak moorland run over Cock Hill. In later years Leopard saloons replaced the PD2’s and some of the routes were given up as being uneconomical.

Philip Halstead


19/04/12 – 06:32

Can I say what a super pic: in the usual Todmorden sunshine. Makes you wonder why anyone ran anything else, especially with the longevity of these bodies- and look how smart on 20 years. Is it true- have I read it here- that the low bridge in Todmorden was the depot entrance?

Joe


19/04/12 – 07:27

Joe, you’re right about the low bridge. Originally there was a bridge on the Burnley Road but that was rebuilt in the 1930s and it was the depot that remained the restriction.
I liked Todmorden a lot and spent quite some time there riding and photographing in 1971 when it was Calderdale-owned but still of Todmorden character, with seven PD2s active. Given that the newest was twenty years old to say it was a surprise when two of them were repainted in Calderdale livery is something of an understatement.
However, when you say the bus connected at Hebden Bridge with the Halifax 48/49 you highlight one of the problems with the Todmorden network which turned back at the "boundaries". At both Hebden Bridge and Littleborough Summit, where Todmorden’s buses met those of Rochdale (later SELNEC), the twenty-minute frequency Todmorden service met a fifteen-minute frequency services, so good connections were not always assured.
Todmorden had some good destinations, from the confusing Portsmouth to Mankinholes and Lumbutts, the latter being very scenic services. They were so keen on Leylands they even ran them to the Cross Lee estate!

tod_titans_lr

The attached photograph shows six of the seven PD2s in the centre of Todmorden on 4th August 1971, a very fortunate combination. To think that the reason I was there was to publicise a vintage vehicle rally, namely the third Trans-Pennine Run! I’d rather just get on a service bus!

David Beilby


19/04/12 – 10:25

Oh, if only present day operators would realise that dignified liveries of this kind, whether tastefully restrained like Todmorden or rather brighter but equally "rich" like many others, do more to reinforce the owners’ stability and pride than all the expensive and totally meaningless "fairground or nursery school" offerings we have to endure today – one could hardly imagine the PD2s disguised as furniture vans and with virtually every window covered with a certain "stuff" which purports to allow perfect vision from within !!
As regards the incredible longevity of the Leyland bodies I have happy personal experience of working on many such fine vehicles. When I was with Samuel Ledgard we had a dozen such vehicles from new and a greater number second hand, most of which had simply "nipped over the Pennines" to join us in their later years. We had four highbridge PD1s from Ribble and seven from Preston Corporation, all around fifteen years old when acquired and in incredibly superb order and requiring virtually no attention. A further four lowbridge PD2s from Ribble followed, along with one from West Wales. Other bargains of the same reliable chassis included three PD1s with ECW bodies (a fascinating and pleasing combination to me) and three with BBW bodies – those six all from Bristol. Then there was a lone PD2/MCW from Tynemouth, and there were two more Ribble PD1s from the same batch as those first mentioned above – but these had been upgraded to PD2 form and rebodied by Burlingham.
It may be thought that such vehicles, purchased by a private operator while well in their dotage, would enjoy a quiet easy time but not a bit of it. The Ledgard services were intense, heavily patronised, often hilly, and tightly timed. nevertheless the fine Leyland vehicles performed like heroes under all conditions – a tribute indeed to the maintenance standards of their original owners and to the excellent attention practised by Samuel Ledgard.
An illustration of the intensity of the services can be given in the 5.30pm weekday departure from Leeds (King Street) to Ilkley via Guiseley, which required no less than four double deckers – two "part journey" buses left at 5.27 and 5.28 while the two Ilkley machines left at 5.29 and 5.30. Very occasionally the short distance riders could find themselves luxuriantly carried home in a nice coach if a vehicle shortage dictated this.
Perhaps the very finest of the second hand arrivals (no disrespect to the other splendid purchases) were the four Ribble PD1s 2471/2/8/9 BCK 414/415/421/422.
These retained above the windscreens in the cabs (undoubtedly a bit of lovely mischief by our Ledgard painters) a notice warning "BOOTLE DEPOT – NOT TO BE DRIVEN UNDER ***** BRIDGE."
Well, I must apologise to the historians of the splendid Todmorden undertaking for "drifting off", but these recollections do, to be fair, reflect some of the wonderful story and magic of Leyland and Lancashire "real" bus operation.

Chris Youhill


19/04/12 – 13:55

A very interesting and colourful post, Chris Y – drift off course as much as you like.

Chris Hebbron


19/04/12 – 16:15

Todmorden – a delightful Leyland print. How many people remember these somewhat unique coloured buses at the Yeadon Air Displays in the 1950s on hire to West Yorkshire Road Car alongside the Ledgard, West Riding, Leeds and Bradford Corporation hired in buses of the day at this annual event.

David Allen


19/04/12 – 16:17

With todays buses its a hard job to make them look smart, these are the exact opposite and it would be a hard job to make them look bad, no matter how hard some ‘Corporate image consultants’ may try.

Ronnie Hoye


19/04/12 – 17:51

I think Mulleys bought a total of four of these PD2s, I used to see one of them on a daily basis still in original livery working out of Mulleys ex Corona depot at Acton (near Sudbury, not London). It was said that Mulleys came to acquire them because the very enthusiastic Jack Mulley was fond of personally driving excursion coaches to Great Yarmouth in the 1960s when G. G Hilditch (later at Halifax/Todmorden) was General Manager at Great Yarmouth Corporation and so they came to know each other.

Nigel Turner


20/04/12 – 07:18

I feel the hand of Geoffrey Hilditch must have been behind the painting of the two PD2’s in Calderdale (Halifax) livery. Being an enthusiast as well as the manger must have been too much of a temptation to resist. In fairness though the two were of the newer PD2/12 batch and I used to see them on service around Todmorden when I lived there in the mid-1970’s. Needless to say they looked superb.
Just to point out to Chris regarding his reference to Lancashire, Todmorden is in Yorkshire despite having a Lancashire postal address and in BR days the station was in the London Midland Region with maroon signs. It’s a bit of a mixed up sort of place with its geography.

Philip Halstead


20/04/12 – 07:19

I imagine that every contributor to these pages, myself included, would give almost anything to be able to ride on and even more to drive such a superb bus as the Todmorden PD2 or any vehicles of that era.
The obvious care given to both the appearance of body work after such long and hard service and the equal care that must have been given to the mechanical side are of huge credit to it’s late lamented owners.
Care such as that will never be given to todays guady, over-decorated and uncomfortable offerings to which no real thought seems to have been given, perhaps that will mean they won’t last as long and who would want or be able to preserve one of those electronic "marvels".

Diesel Dave


20/04/12 – 07:20

It has always amused me that Todmorden Bus Station was always referred to as The Bus Departure Place. If the city fathers had not been economical with the stone work at the depot then there would have been no need for low bridge deckers.

Philip Carlton


20/04/12 – 07:21

Todmorden seems to have purchased a large number of all-Leyland double deckers over the years and one thing that surprises me is that some had very long lives with them and yet some were sold after twelve or thirteen years. Barton Transport bought two TD5’s from them in 1951 and got a further ten years service out of them. Later, in 1962, Barton’s purchased three PD2/1’s and again got long service from them. I think they knew that ex-Todmorden vehicles were very good purchases!
David’s comment about the PD2’s being re-painted when Calderdale took over the fleet made me smile. I think that as good as they undoubtedly were, any other engineer would have retired them on acquisition but good old Mr Hilditch couldn’t resist the temptation to have them in his fleet!

Chris Barker


20/04/12 – 13:45

Wasn’t Todmordens town hall half in Lancashire and half in Yorkshire?

Roger Broughton


20/04/12 – 13:44

Philip Halstead’s comment on the ambiguous county status of Todmorden reminds me of the fact that, until 1888, the boundary ran right through the town. Between 1875 and 1888, dancers in the Town Hall ballroom were able to waltz across the boundary on each circuit! I used to do business with a cotton mill in Walsden (2 miles south-east) and they were definitely Lancastrian in accent, attitude and cricket persuasion! Indeed, the current Yorkshire-based Walsden and Todmorden cricket teams all still play for the Lancashire League.
Reverting to a transport theme, had it not been for a delay in implementing the 1902 Todmorden Corporation Tramways Order, and the early introduction of pioneer motor buses in 1907, I doubt that we would now be discussing an all-lowbridge fleet. Todmorden was always a "missing link" in the Lancashire/Yorkshire tram network. Had their system been built, through-services may have been possible to Rochdale via Summit (assuming Todmorden adopted Rochdale’s standard gauge) but this would have precluded through running to Halifax via Hebden Bridge, as theirs was a 4ft system. Interestingly, in 1920, Halifax was actually authorised to extend their Hebden Bridge tram service to the Todmorden boundary but, of course, it was never built.

Paul Haywood


20/04/12 – 16:26

The original depot is still in existence and still in use by First. The ability of Daimler to provide a genuine low height Fleetline was one of the factors which meant they became the standard rear engined Halifax bus as they could enter the Millwood depot.

Chris Hough


20/04/12 – 16:27

It has often been said that Todmorden’s livery was dark and sombre – especially by those from ‘up the valley’ more used to Halifax’s colourful scheme. Although when newly painted the green shade appeared a kind of rich, dark olive, a combination of period paint technology and industrial pollution quickly turned the green very dark – almost black with a hint of green. Despite this – maybe even because of it – I personally thought they looked classy and dignified.
TJOC buses always gave the impression of being extremely well maintained, both mechanically and bodily, and were always spotlessly clean inside. Though in its last years it was struggling to make ends meet financially, these standards of presentation never dropped, and the tradition continued under Calderdale JOC, and right into the WYPTE and Yorkshire Rider periods. Even in those times Tod’s workshops were very well equipped and their staff very capable of carrying out quite major work – including serious accident repairs – and Halifax would sometimes send their buses ‘down the valley’ to get them sorted.
Sometimes Tod’ buses would be sent up to Halifax’s Elmwood workshops for servicing and repairs, and having been released for service by mid-afternoon would be used there for the rest of the day before been returned to their proper home. Halifax drivers appreciated this and would frequently comment how much better they ‘motored’ and above all how well their heaters and demisters always worked compared to their own.

John Stringer


21/04/12 – 08:30

Some excellent comments – I live in Walsden and we still have a good bus service, the Millwood depot is still in use and the route over the top from Hebden Bridge to Keighley is one of England’s most scenic.
Yes the Town Hall was half in Lancashire and half in Yorkshire until 1889, when, under the 1888 Local Government Act I think, the boundary was moved westwards. We still have the OL (Oldham) postcode and 01706 (Rochdale) phone numbers. I think Portsmouth remained in Lancashire for a bit longer.

Geoff Kerr


21/04/12 – 08:31

With reference to Philip Carlton’s comment I have never heard the term "Bus Departure Place" used officially. The official name was "Bus Starting Centre" (or so I always understood) although I believe it’s now officially Todmorden Bus Station. How sad: why make it the same as everywhere else in stead of retaining something unique?
Regardless of that, though, what a fabulous photo as many have already said, capturing not only the beautiful Leyland but also the essence of Hebden Bridge with the lovely, solid, stone buildings in the foreground and the precariously built terrace atop the hill behind.
Can I also "cast a vote" in favour of the low depot roof? I’ve always had a soft spot for sunken gangways (not that they’re ideal for people of my height!) and for the proportions of most lowbridge buses.
By the way, is Hebden Bridge Railway Station still maintained in a traditional style? It must be at least 10 years since I was last in it but it was beautifully preserved like a station on the K&WVR or similar.

Alan Hall


21/04/12 – 08:32

Many thanks to Philip for highlighting the fascinating and long standing saga of Todmorden’s eternal dilemma of allegiance. I actually worded my final comment somewhat misleadingly, and my reference to "Leyland and Lancashire real bus operation" was simply a commendation of the splendid standards of Preston Corporation and of Ribble.

Chris Youhill


22/04/12 – 07:31

In the mid sixties, I was working in Melling and travelled daily on Ribble route 301 from Liverpool, usually on a PD3, either the early Burlingham or the later MCW ones. All these buses seemed to be governed the top speed between 25 and 30 mph.
If a bus was running late for any reason it ran late for the whole journey as the driver was unable to make up the lost time.

Jim Hepburn


21/05/12 – 08:10

Thanks guys for your very interesting and colourful comments about Todmorden J.O.C.s buses, the 2nd Municipal Corporation to run motor buses. The first picture is particularly interesting to myself since I passed my PSV test on Number 5 the previous year and, (who knows) it could even be me driving it? Todmorden was operated like a happy ‘Family’ concern under a gentleman of a manager, William Edward Metcalfe, (or ‘Teddy’). The livery was Brunswick Green & Cream and when buses required painting they were done so by Jim Hoyle who travelled from Bacup over Sharnyford to get to his work on a motor bike. Despite some terrible winters, especially over Deerplay Moor, Sharneyford or Oxenhope Moor, I don’t recall our services ever being stopped, Snow, Fog or Ice were no obstacle for us due to a terrific team of Todmorden Council workers who kept the roads open for us, whereas Rochdale could stop if the wind changed direction and Halifax were often not much better. The reason for low bridge type deckers was the height of the original eastern end of Millwood Depot but the following three extensions were built higher. Also, as is said, the Hungrtwood Arch at Portsmouth required a delicate approach at an angle, when the early upper saloon passengers were warned not to stand up. The replacement iron railway bridge removed that problem.
The boundary always causes arguments but yes, Todmorden is in Yorkshire, for administrative purposes but the physical boundary cannot be removed, ie; the river ‘Walsden Water’ runs under and from one corner of the town hall to exit at the opposite corner of the round end and as has already been pointed out, ballroom dancers continually and unknowingly changed from Yorkshire into Lancashire and back again. That actually placed the Depot in Yorkshire with the Bus Station in Lancashire. To many residents the town is still half and half and the discussion will continue but to many of us it will always be Red Rose Lancashire. Sorry about the last bit but it keeps everyone interested.

Ken Lobley


22/05/12 – 07:40

Hb_lr

A little late in the day, but I’ve just come across this postcard of a scene taken in Hebden Bridge. It shows (left) one of Todmorden’s 1928 piano-fronted TD1’s, (centre) a Halifax tram returning on the 8-mile route back to the city, and (right) a Halifax AEC Regal (JX 1955) about to set off for Heptonstall (presumably before the extension into the notoriously narrow village?). This photo is also shown in the excellent "Halifax Corporation Tramways" (Thornton/King) publication and has a date of 1932. However, my postcard gives a precise date of 9th August 1931 and is credited to a Mr S.L. Smith. The Todmorden bus is, of course, just about to make the same turn out of Cheetham Street as our PD2 posting above. Note the pre-steam cleaned bank building on the older view. Remarkably, most of these buildings are still extant, apart from the mill bridge in the far distance.

Paul Haywood


06/07/12 – 14:37

What a cracking posting with some superb period ‘atmos pics’ as they were once called.

Roger Broughton


14/09/12 – 06:47

Being a Tod lad I spent many happy hours riding on the ‘PD2s’ my favourite being number 2. Does anyone know who restored her and where she is now or did any of the other PD2s survive because if so, I would be very interested in acquiring one!

Paul Stothart


18/09/12 – 07:31

I sincerely hope that they sandblasted the bank building – had they steam cleaned it, it might not now be standing..
Incidentally, could someone perhaps confirm why there were apparently two power wires for the tramway – was it to avoid a frog at the diverging points which I presume were located not far up the road? Would the conductor have had to manually move the trolleypole to the opposite wire?

David Call


5 minutes later

Ignore the above dopey comment – as it was a terminus, the conductor would have had to move the trolleypole anyway!

David Call


19/09/12 – 07:06

…but why are there two tram wires for one track? Don’t tell me- the electricity went the other way! This is presumably just before the river bridge, and the single tram track just stops: did the tram always do so too?

Joe


10/10/12 – 09:14

In reply to Paul Stothart. (14.09.12), Todmorden PD2/1 Fleet number 2 was a terrible bus to drive when it was in service because it had a very poor lock in one direction. It was preserved simply because it was bus No2 which did the inaugural run in 1907 due to No1 having frozen to the ground. No2 was in the care of Todmorden Antiquarian Society for some years but unable to finance the upkeep, it went into the care of David Powell who had a wonderful restoration done on it, correcting the poor steering lock in the process. The bus was resident down south the last I heard of it. Another PD2/1 was partly restored on a farm in south midlands some years ago but I lost track of it. A TJOC PD2/12 was destined for restoration after Halifax decommissioned it but I think that one has been scrapped? Leopard/Willowbrook No9 is still doing the rallies in West Yorkshire with John Flowers at the helm and No15, (ex=Tow Bus) is currently under restoration to its original single deck bus form by Mike Sutcliffe, ‘The Leyland Man’, who also owns the famous open top Leyland G2 No14. One of the Leopard/Seddon-Pennine buses from TJOC was offered to me when Blue Bus sold it but I lost track of that one also. The one’s that did have a possible future in restoration were usually purchased from Mulley’s but I guess they have all long gone now?

Ken Lobley (ex-TJOC)


05/12/12 – 17:59

Hi there, I have enjoyed reading the messages on your page & seeing a dear old Tod bus. Happy days when my late father Ted Silby drove for them from around 1940/41 until 1955 when we as a family moved south into East Anglia where he became a driver for Eastern National. Dad always loved those Leyland buses with their powerful engines that could tackle the steep hills. Many were the stories of digging out a bus with a shovel in the winter snows, or even having to walk down to get help. Wearing a heavy great-coat & flying boots to keep out the freezing cold through the cab floor. Memories of Todmorden & those buses went hand in hand. I remember the name Teddy Metcalfe, & also Alver Brown who I think was Dad’s conductor. I still have some bus tickets from my childhood. Also my Dad was the first person to drive a Tod bus up Haworth High Street unofficially. A treat for the locals, but as he was new to the route he forgot to stop at the bottom. It’s a long time since this tale was told so I can’t recall how he turned around at the top, except carefully! Happy days to be sure, remembered fondly.

Jean Wilson


06/12/12 – 07:02

Nice to hear the tales of your father, Jean. Greatcoat and flying boots – more a case of ‘Are you flying tonight’ rather than driving!

Chris Hebbron


06/12/12 – 11:50

Just by coincidence, Tod. 2 was spotted parked in First Halifax’s Skircoat Garage last week.

John Stringer


06/12/12 – 17:33

I here the owner of Tod 2 has good connections with First and is staying at Skircoat

Geoff S


08/12/12 – 15:29

Tod creast

This is the splendid TJOC coats of arms device still carried by their equally splendid 1934 Leyland TS6 towing wagon (formerly bus no. 15 – YG 7831) until its withdrawal in 1971. Note how it still bears the London, Midland and Scottish Railway device, despite this having been swallowed up into British Railways as far back as 1948. Several of the bus fleet carried this version also well into the 1960’s. That was (and in many ways still is) Todmorden for you – always caught in a wonderful time warp !

John Stringer


09/12/12 – 07:52

I understand in modern times certain Volvo double deckers allocated to Todmorden carried the council crest on the radiator grille.

Philip Carlton


09/12/12 – 11:49

There was always a fierce local pride amongst the Todmorden staff, most of whom never really accepted that they were still anything other than Todmorden JOC. ‘Interference’ by Halifax in any of their affairs was strongly resented and opposed, and visitors from ‘up the valley’ were usually treated with superficial politeness but regarded with deep suspicion ! "Tell ‘em nowt" was the rule.
An R-registered Fleetline (7006) was repainted into full TJOC livery in the 1980’s, and it kept this until withdrawal. Then an R-registered PSU4/Plaxton (8534) that had been at Todmorden since new was put into TJOC livery, though towards the end it was transferred to Halifax – but still retaining the livery.
A number of the F-prefix Cummins-engined Olympian/NCME’s allocated to Tod’ were also fitted with small plates with the town’s coat of arms on their grilles.
Finally after all these had gone, and after a great deal of pressure had been brought to bear, a Volvo Olympian/NCME (31737) was put into the TJOC livery.
After its withdrawal 31737 was stored for quite a while pending a decision what was to happen to it, then just when everyone suspected that it had gone for scrap it was reported that it had been secured for preservation.
Nowadays Tod’ does not have its own permanent allocation, and buses are simply sent ‘down there’ from Halifax as required. When they return to Halifax for servicing they are replaced by whatever is available at the time, so the chance of there ever being a bus in a dedicated livery again is very unlikely.

John Stringer


10/12/12 – 07:34

tod1

As a postscript to the picture of the emblem with the LMS coat of arms, here is a view of the final style, incorporating the BR double arrow logo – although using traditional gold transfers rather than the "official" red and white. It would be interesting to know whether the double arrow ever appeared as part of the livery – e.g. on a feeder service – on any other buses.
I have always assumed that the continued use of the LMS version was simply a question of using up the existing stock of transfers until they ran out. Did the BR lion and wheel logo (in either version) ever make an appearance?

JWY 824_lr

Also attached a view of No.5 with its three siblings in Mulley’s yard at Ixworth. This was taken in October 1971, and the lack of blinds suggests that this was shortly after their arrival and before entering service.

Alan Murray-Rust


14/01/13 – 13:32

HWY 36

Joe on 19/4/2012 said the depot was the reason for the lowbridge buses. Well here it is with Titan 18 departing to do some midday extra short workings that were a feature of TJOC operations.
Some great comments and this is one operator I do miss. Pity I was never exploratory enough to go to Mankinholes, it was always a case of the bus might not come back.

Ian Lynas


12/02/13 – 17:04

Let me add my own thoughts to this fascinating stream of memories. I was born in Orkney but moved down to the Summit/Littleborough Area so lived in the Rochdale Corporation Passenger Transport Dept area. We actually lived about 100 yards from the Summit Inn which was the joint meeting place of Rochdale and Tod, so we are virtually on the edge of Rochdale latterly Selnec and Greater Manchester operating area. The oldest bus I remember seeing was one of the FWT batch. I always thought the livery was drab but they were remarkably long lived a testament to the fleet engineers. I mind seeing a Todmorden bus on frequent occasions in the evening picking up workers at Fothergill and Harveys Mill at Factory End in Summit. To my young eyes the buses never were well patronised so was not entirely surprised that there was a merger at the end. The only times I ever saw them quite busy was on Good Friday when there was a popular Fair held in Todmorden. I also remember seeing 3 Todmorden buses in the evening at the terminus at Summit which I thought a bit peculiar. I remember the 20 service on Saturdays which was express run to Rochdale latterly by single deckers of the 1961/2/4 batches, Leyland/East Lancashire.. My father and I visited the depot and saw the Leyland breakdown truck. It would be interesting to think what the buses would have been like if the bus depot entrance had been built higher. In my childhood and youth I regularly went to Sunday school and on this occasion I think we must have combined with other Sunday Schools and for our outing we were going to Fleetwood and the weather forecast on the Saturday was for torrential rain and it rained and rained. I will never forget the journey on the way home. Every stanchion, pole etc had items of wet clothing hanging up to dry. The buses were tough an rugged as I remember buses going up over Sharneyford to Bacup which was a big test of endurance. I wonder how many Volvos would last as long as Todmorden buses.

Andrew Wylie

Post script which is really a question. Did some withdrawn Todmorden buses end up in the fleet of W Alexanders fleet up in Scotland. I know that they had lowbridge Leylands in Montrose and elsewhere. If they did I wonder if some photos survive


13/02/13 – 04:32

Five prewar Todmorden buses did go to Alexander’s in 1938 via the dealer Millburn Motors of Glasgow. They were Leyland TD1’s of 1928/29 numbered 3, 7, 13, 14 & 18 (WW 6759, 6797, 6800, 6801 & 8958). 13 & 14 were not used and were returned to the dealer. 3, 7 & 18 were taken into stock but did not last long, being withdrawn in 1939/40. Another Scottish operator – Baxter’s of Airdrie – also took five Tiger TS8’s and two Titan TD5’s in 1950/51. No postwar Todmorden buses crossed the border.

John Stringer


14/02/13 – 07:07

Just to amplify the point made by Andrew, Todmorden Bus Depot had low roof trusses throughout the later extension at the western end. The original depot would accept highbridge buses but once in, they had to be reversed out!
Eh, we had one or two normal height Halifax buses with damaged roofs when they had called in at Todmorden for some assistance!

Ian Wild


31/05/13 – 17:43

The BR Lion and Wheel logo was never used on Todmorden buses. The LMS crest lasted until at least 1961 (!) and was eventually replaced by the plain words "British Railways", to which the double arrow was later added.
Some coaches in the Halifax JOC fleet had the BR double arrow on the rear.

Geoff Kerr


30/01/14 – 15:45

When Calderdale JOC came into existence one of the TJOC Titans received full Halifax livery One day in 1971 I was walking along Stanningley Road in Leeds when the 4.10pm Halifax bus came roaring up the dual carriageway. It was none other than the aforementioned Titan which had made its break for freedom and got to Leeds. It was in amazingly good fettle for such a vintage machine it certainly showed a number of Leeds two door Atlanteans a clean pair of heels. Its rasping exhaust could be heard echoing of buildings for several minutes after it passed.

Chris Hough


30/01/14 – 18:00

The bus painted in full Halifax colours was Halifax fleet number 356 and lasted for quite a while after withdrawal behind Elmwood Depot potentially for preservation. Eventually it deteriorated to such a degree that the scrapyard was the only option.

Ian Wild


31/01/14 – 07:09

355 and 356 both received the Halifax livery, 355 in August 1971 but 356 a little later – it was still in Todmorden livery in early September. My photo of the Bus Starting Centre just below the top of this extensive posting was taken on the day I first saw 355 – it’s just visible amongst the others all still in Todmorden livery.

David Beilby


31/01/14 – 10:09

KWX 17

Ian Wild mentions a former Tod’ PD2 being parked up behind Elmwood Garage after withdrawal. Here is what was by then WYPTE’s 3355 so parked, along with withdrawn 1962 Leopard/Weymann 3033 and 1963 PD3/4/Weymann 3053, some time in early 1976.

John Stringer


28/03/14 – 07:03

Hi Chris Youhill, to endorse Chris Hebbrons comments I must add my own, it’s always a treat to read your "driftings", nostalgia in great bucket loads, especially your mention of the 6 Leyland PD1s that were acquired by Ledgards from Bristol Omnibus Co. I always felt that Leyland Motors repute and the esteem in which they were held throughout the world was a classic example of the ‘way that it used to be’, and rarely matched today,sadly. As a footnote to my driftings, I will be staying in the Hebden Bridge area later this year, it’s a pity that the streets will be empty of PD1s, that’s a fact. I will watch for more of your driftings Chris, thanks.

Dave Knapp


28/03/14 – 09:10

Dave K – I’m afraid that the streets of Hebden Bridge have always been empty of PD1s, Todmorden went from TD7s to PD2s and Halifax didn’t buy any Leyland double-decks at all until their own PD2s.
Now this is something I should really have more sense than to try and do, i.e. ‘correct’ Chris Youhill, but there are a couple of statements on which I’d like to comment. First of all, the one that the two ex-Ribble rebodied PD1As were from the same batch as the four Leyland-bodied ones. In 1947 Ribble bought 48 PD1As, 10 with Leyland highbridge bodies (2470-9) and 38 with Brush lowbridge (2480-2517), and it was, of course, 22 of the Brush lowbridges which were rebodied by Burlingham – I make the Ledgard ones ex-Ribble 2484 and 2498. As to whether all 48 were from the same ‘batch’, they did have identical chassis, they all came in the same year, and the registrations did follow on from the highbridges to the lowbridges, so – er, okay then.
Regarding the source of the fifth lowbridge PD2, it actually came to Ledgards from Eynons of Trimsaran, but had been new, not to West Wales (the independent), but to Western Welsh (the BET company).
I have always been a bit suspicious about EUH959, since Eynons were the sort of operator who bought their double-deckers second hand and usually used them to the end of their useful life. Perhaps the fact of EUH959 being lowbridge went against it, since I’m not aware that Eynons had any requirement for lowbridge vehicles.

David Call


28/03/14 – 09:14

Many thanks David for that very humbling response, and I do indeed take great pleasure from keeping alive accurate "atmosphere" of what were undoubtedly the good old days of service provision – days which were sensibly regulated and free of excessive profiteering rather than sensible returns on investment.
Just to add to the discussion on the "all Leyland" aspect, I passed my PSV test on one of the six PD1s which Ledgard bought new in 1946 at the start of a whole new era after the gloom of WW2 – the Ministry examiner was a sombre but fair man with no idea how much that hour on unfamiliar roads in West Leeds meant to me. As I descended, for the first time in my life, a long hill in Armley in third gear a voice through the cab window sighed "There are four gears on this vehicle." I’m sure this was a trick as I approached a T junction with poor visibility – I stayed in third gear and would no doubt have been failed for changing up to fourth. JUM 378 must have "known" how anxious I was to pass – it was freshly arrived from a morning peak journey and everything was "just right" and it behaved like a dream.
When I returned to Otley depot the "No nonsense Brummie" manager emerged from his office and asked "Have you passed Kid ?" I replied "yes", but that I’d had to endure a skit from the examiner to the effect that I needed a lot more practice before being let loose on the Public. Our boss repeated "I said have you passed Kid?" So again I said "Well, yes." With a smile he simply said "Number 14 tomorrow Kid" and returned to his office to fill another gap with a name.
"Number 14" was a very taxing late turn on the incredibly busy Leeds – Guiseley – Ilkley service which was sixteen miles in 53 minutes and steep hills and full loads galore. The bus was the glorious PD1/ECW LAE 12, a former native of Bristol, and like the test vehicle of the previous day, JUM 378, it behaved like a dream, pulling well and with a fair turn of speed and a clutch and gearbox like silk. That was a Friday evening, and I was given the same duty (but two hours longer, an extra round trip) on the Saturday when I found myself in the seemingly enormous 1952 U, one of the six AEC Regent V/Roe beauties. I say "seemingly enormous" – it just shows what a difference can be made by one foot longer and six inches wider, oh and that huge bonnet.
How I’d love to turn the clock back to 1961 and do it all again.

Chris Youhill


JWY 824_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


28/03/14 – 17:39

Dave K, You may see a PD1a/Leyland in Hebden Bridge when you visit. as Wigan 34 may be out on a few weddings this summer.

Geoff S


08/04/14 – 16:54

Thanks for the tip Geoff S. A lookout will be maintained ! As an afterthought Chris Youhill, your remarks about well behaved PD1s,we used to have a route in Bristol with a sharp left hand turn just as the gradient steepened from medium to bloody steep, and with practice, one could change down from 3rd to 2nd then 2nd to 1st (if needed),without using the clutch pedal,of course,perfectly matching all the revolving parts was a definite prerequisite,and as you say it was quietly satisfying once mastered ! Oh, and It was not quite the same experience if done with a Bristol or Gardner, what good days they were in spite of the long hours.

Dave Knapp


09/04/14 – 08:16

A little misunderstanding and friendly disagreement here Dave – I can honestly say that I have never changed gear without using the clutch on any vehicle in my life. While I admit that seemingly perfect changes can be achieved by "matching" the necessary speeds I’m quite sure that hidden damage and/or wear is imposed upon transmission couplings and differentials etc by this practice. Just another point of view I accept, and I have insufficient detailed mechanical knowledge to back up my theory, but that’s just the way I’ve always felt about it. As you say though silent smooth changes on the PS1s/PD1s were very satisfying indeed, reinforced I always felt by a definite hint of prewar TS/TD dulcet gearbox tones.

Chris Youhill

 

Tynemouth and District – Leyland Atlantean – CFT 640 – 240

CFT 640_lr
Copyright Ronnie Hoye

Tynemouth and District Transport Co Ltd
1960
Leyland Atlantean PDR1/1
Metro Cammell H44/34F

Not very good photo of one of the first Leyland Atlantean PDR 1’s to be delivered to Percy Main depot, they were MCW bodied, and if I’m correct, they were the first in the Northern group but I don’t think they had a very long life as they were outlived by both the previous PD2’s and 3’s. If memory serves, they were CFT 636 to 43 fleet numbers 236 to 243, 236 carried the Wakefields name but was identical in all other respects. The vehicle is standing in what used to be the layover area for Newcastle Haymarket Bus Station ‘an area much changed now’ and would have been on either the number 5 to Whitley Bay St Mary’s Island, or the 11 to Tynemouth Front Street. I suspect the photo was taken in the afternoon as it’s standing next to what looks like an Alexander bodied Eastern SMT, together with United they ran a joint service to Edinburgh, morning departures from Newcastle were United vehicles and afternoons were SMT, vice versa from Edinburgh.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

———

16/04/12 – 07:41

Box-like they may be, but in my mind, a classic of ‘early’ modern bus design. I remember well the first appearance of the PDR1/1 MCW in Sheffield in 1959. The first batch numbered 881-899 lasted until 1976-8, exceptional lifetimes of 17 to 19 years in such a hilly environment. Strangely, the 1960 batch 915-932 only lasted between 12 and 14 years for reasons unknown to me. I wonder why the Tynemouth batch should be short-lived? Memories though of drivers over-revving etc in view of not being able to hear the tone of the rear engines after so many years of sitting alongside the powerplant.

John Darwent

———

16/04/12 – 07:42

There seems to have been a gentlemens’ agreement that when Leyland ceased building bodies in 1954, MCCW (Metro-Cammell) would get the work. This continued with the bulk of early Atlantean orders going there – the only exceptions being Weymann getting the semi-lowbridge and a token number of Alexanders and then the Roes. Quite a selection of uninspired designs.
Not surprising the PD2s and PD3s outlasted them, they were better buses. Not until the 1972 introduction of the AN68 did the Atlantean reach its potential and become rather a fine bus – quite the best first generation rear engined model.

David Oldfield

———

16/04/12 – 11:34

John, you’ve forgotten 363 – 368 which were numerically earlier, but probably contemporaneous with 881 – 899. There are myriad stories of the operators who worked hard to make early Atlanteans work – Maidstone & District and Ribble to name but two. Sheffield invested heavily in Atlanteans and never reverted to PD2/PD3 as others did – even though the latter were available for another ten years and OMO wasn’t legal on them for another seven. The difficult operating conditions helped to ensure standards were high in Sheffield and why the general public probably never noticed any problems that there were.

David Oldfield

———

16/04/12 – 14:39

I believe that early Atlanteans were retro fitted with rev counters so the drivers would know what the screaming from the back seat was…. they appeared on their left.

Joe

———

16/04/12 – 16:51

Never seen that Joe, but have seen Tachos fitted there (for private hire or on preserved vehicles). Are you sure that was the reason for the screaming on the back seats!!!???

David Oldfield

———

17/04/12 – 07:06

I well remember in the 60’s and 70’s when the Commercial Motor Show was held at Earls Court, Bus and Coach the trade magazine on a number of occasions ran articles featuring Alan Townsin (the well known technical writer and one time Buses editor) and another trade insider who passed considered and sometimes irreverent opinions on the latest offerings from at that time mainly British manufacturers.
When the early rear engined deckers appeared they made the comment one year that a box is an honest shape why try to hide it something that modern day designers of bodywork and colour schemes could well take on board.

Diesel Dave

———

17/04/12 – 11:42

Seeing this broadside view of an MCW Atlantean has made me reassess their style. At the time of their introduction, their box-like shape came as a shock. Although the front elevation of these MCW’s were indeed plain and uninspiring (like, to my mind, most of the Orion breed), the side elevation shows subtle and not unpleasant proportions. However, even a plain canvas can be transformed by the application of colour, eg. Ribble’s mainly red MCW’s looked drab, whereas Sheffield’s blue and cream examples looked smart. Subtle changes to the front windows and/or domes could alter their appearance totally. Glasgow, Liverpool, Bolton and Nottingham had good examples, creating their own house-styles from the basic box shape.

Paul Haywood

———

18/04/12 – 11:35

Early Atlanteans, as John and David point out, had their fair share of mechanical problems. It was such a revolutionary concept that was, perhaps, inevitable, The centrifugal clutches on the PDR1/1 made pulling away abrupt and jerky, (Maidstone & District converted all of its Atlanteans, originally introduced to replace trolley buses in Hastings). Many other components seemed to have shorter lives and maintenance costs were high, as was off-road time. Additionally, they were thirsty.
They did have excellent performance, however; if you were running late, an Atlantean was the vehicle that gave you the best chance of making up time, as another contributor, (in a PMT posting?), has observed.
I’m afraid I don’t buy the idea that drivers couldn’t hear or interpret the engine note from the back. You could tell very well. Over-revving, in my experience, was almost always due to drivers simply knowing that they could get away with it, especially when they were in a hurry. Very expensive if overdone!
The cost of their early Atlanteans was the main reason why M&D changed to Fleetlines: not as quick, but quieter, more reliable and preferred by passengers. (Rear upper deck seats on the semi-lowbridge Weymann Atlanteans were popular only with school boys). Attractiveness of appearance is a matter of taste, of course. Paul clearly doesn’t like the Orion, (although I thought it looked well on M&D’s Arab IVs), and I agree with him that an Atlantean in Ribble’s plain livery could look drab. M&D’s ‘moustache’ helped break up the frontal boxiness, and the overall livery was attractive, I think. With age, fading paintwork, and the small chips and scrapes, etc., to which they were prone, rear-engined vehicles might look more tired than equivalent front-engined buses; that was just par for the course.

Roy Burke

———

You can hear an Atlantean again at this link

 

Rotherham Corporation – Crossley DD42/8 – HET 509 – 209

Rotherham Corporation - Crossley DD42/8 - HET 509 - 209
Copyright John Stringer

Rotherham Corporation
1952
Crossley DD42/8
Crossley H30/26R

Lined up at Rotherham Corporation’s rather gloomy depot in 1968 are 211, 212 and 209 – 1952 Crossley DD42/8’s with Crossley bodywork to their later four-bay design. The HET-registered batch were the very last ‘proper’ Crossleys ever built. They must have been near to withdrawal, if not already withdrawn, because very shortly afterwards 213 – the last Crossley ever delivered (though 214 was numerically the last) was presented to the British Transport Museum, but turned up in my home town, on indefinite loan to Halifax Corporation, where the GM – Geoffrey Hilditch – was assembling a fascinating assortment of old buses to present in that year’s 70th Anniversary Parade (see Roger Cox’s Gallery – 1968 Halifax Parade). It remained there for a few years, even being called upon to perform Driver Training duties on occasions in the early 1970’s. It was entered in the 1973 Trans-Pennine Rally, and I had the privilege of driving it back from Harrogate to Halifax – my only Crossley driving experience. Despite all the criticism heaped on the make over the years, and though it was a bit on the slow side with rather heavy steering, I still found it a pleasant bus to drive, with a lovely gear change, and it was one of the nicest riding buses I have ever driven. So there !

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

———

12/04/12 – 06:22

To be fair John, it was parsimonious management and badly designed engines that did for Crossley and there are probably a lot of people out here who would agree with you. AEC helped, but it came too late, and the bodies continued and were, for the most part, very good.

David Oldfield

———

12/04/12 – 06:23

Hi John,
Splendid line up of Crossleys’.
This body design already seems to have some Park Royal influence even by 1952, as did some Roe bodies of the same period.

Eric Bawden

———

12/04/12 – 17:58

As well as the Rotherham Crossley Halifax had an ex JMT TD1 and an ex-Red Line AEC Regal. When Geoff Hilditch went to Leicester the trio were used on a round the park service on the occasion of the depot open day to mark the end of open platform buses in October 1982. Also there was a one and a half deck trolleybus that came from Leicesters twin town Aachen. The Crossley is in the Science Museum Reserve collection the fate of the others is unknown.

Chris Hough

———

13/04/12 – 06:08

Is the Aachen Trolley the one at Sandtoft which looks like the result of a nasty accident?

Joe

———

13/04/12 – 06:08

My previous post wrongly ascribed the one and half deck trolley to Aachen rather than Krefeld. Apologies to all in Leicester.

Chris Hough

———

13/04/12 – 06:09

I travelled on these Crossleys on many occasions on service 69 from Sheffield to Rotherham when I spent 5 months at a basic training workshop at Parkgate, just up the road from the Rotherham Depot. I always felt that Rotherham buses were somewhat inferior to those of my native Sheffield. I can only ever remember Rotherham’s Crossleys turning up on the 69 although doubtless other makes must have been used on occasions. The final leg of my journey to Parkgate was by Mexborough and Swinton, usually on a lowbridge Atlantean – I still recall that Mexborough and Swinton seemed to have 100% conductresses on their buses. They also acquired several batches of Leylands of varying types from Southdown which gave added interest.

Ian Wild

———

13/04/12 – 06:09

Hilditch’s vintage collection also included an ex-JMT Leyland Lion PLSC (repainted into Edinburgh livery for an appearance in the film ‘The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie’), and an ex-Swindon Guy Arab II with wonderfully original Weymann utility body. The Regal was actually ex-Red Bus, Mansfield. It was petrol engined, and a fine bus indeed. There was also a mightily impressive bonneted Leyland Lioness all weather coach.

John Stringer

———

14/04/12 – 07:05

The Krefeld trolleybus is part of the Aberdeen and District Preservation Trust and is kept at the Grampian Transport Museum at Alford in Aberdeenshire.

Stephen Bloomfield

———

14/04/12 – 08:14

DM 6228_lr
Copyright Bob Gell

This is the Leyland Lioness referred to by John Stringer, which I photographed at Cobham in April 2002. Quite a magnificent vehicle!
A few years ago (2005), the Red Bus Regal and the Swindon utility Guy were in the Science Museum Reserve Collection at Wroughton, Wiltshire. They seem to have occasional Open Days and it is well worth a visit.

Bob Gell

———

25/11/12 – 08:25

Having once had the pleasure of driving Oldham 368, I can totally agree with John Stringer’s view of the Crossley driving experience. However, unlike most people I am not convinced that it was the Crossley engine that did for the company. By all accounts AEC’s modifications solved the problems well enough, and if the market had remained buoyant I see no reason why Crossley’s fortunes should not have revived. But in fact the bottom dropped out of the bus market in 1950, at which point wartime shortages had all been alleviated and most tramway conversion projects completed. This left the bus manufacturing industry as a whole with too much production capacity, and what nobody ever mentions is that Crossley was in the uniquely vulnerable position of being totally reliant on bus production for its survival (the Crossley Brothers engine builder being a separate concern). Everyone else had other activities to dilute the effect of the reduction in bus orders – cars in the case of Daimler, and goods vehicles in all other cases – but Crossley simply had nothing else to do.

Peter Williamson

———

25/11/12 – 11:14

There’s a good deal of truth in Peter’s observations but Crossley’s was also a cast iron case of "give a dog a bad name", coupled to the fact – borne out in time – that the ACV group would not support the marque as a separate entity.
The badging of the prototype Bridgemaster as a Crossley, an odd thing to do with a vehicle aimed primarily at BET, may have raised hopes in Heaton Chapel but was very much a false dawn, as was the badge engineering of Regent chassis as Crossleys and BUT trolleybuses and the use of Park Royal’s body designs by the body building side of the business.
Many publications and "those in the know" point to the move across the boundary to Stockport as a factor in Manchester’s rejection of the marque – some say THE major factor in the demise of the business – but, whilst politics and the local economy certainly played a major part in Crossley obtaining and retaining Manchester’s business up to the engine problems, and then Stockport’s after the move – hardly a like for like swap(!), I’ve not seen any evidence of the rejection being other than based on sound technical and business grounds.
Manchester, unlike Birmingham, another major Crossley user, certainly continued to order vehicles in quantity on an annual basis throughout the 1950s. The two chassis type policy (Leyland and Daimler) adopted by Manchester was at the behest of A F Neal, not the politicians, at a time when Manchester was very much involved in getting the best out of its Crossleys and, given a large proportion of the workforce were Manchester ratepayers, had there been any belief in the long term future for the type within the excellence of the ACV group, there would have been no good reason for Manchester to abandon the breed.

Phil Blinkhorn

———

27/11/12 – 07:27

Again, I’m not convinced that further patronage from MCTD would have made a great deal of difference to Crossley, given the sudden drastic reduction in the operator’s annual requirements. If "The Manchester Bus" is to be believed, all buses delivered up to and including 1951 had been ordered (in principle if not in detail) back in 1945/6, so that the decision not to buy any further Crossleys had no effect until at least the 1953 deliveries, by which time AEC had pulled the plug. And even if they hadn’t, what then? Triple sourcing for only 100 vehicles per year would not have done Crossley a great deal of good. And MCTD was hardly likely to abandon Daimler after discovering the delights of Gardner engines and fluid flywheels. I just don’t see it.

Peter Williamson

———

27/11/12 – 13:11

Historically, Manchester was Crossley’s biggest customer for both bus chassis and bodies. In the 1930s,for political reasons, the Transport Committee insisted that the bulk of orders go to Crossley. From the beginning of 1930 to the end of 1940 no less than 772 chassis were delivered and Crossley either built, finished or provided frames for around 800 bodies, both figures include trolleybuses.
From 1945 to 1950 (1951 in the case of trolleybuses) 355 all Crossley buses and trolleybuses were delivered plus a further 50 bodies on the CVG5s, out of a total of 598 deliveries of all makes received by MCTD, a further 100 all Leyland/Leyland MCW vehicles from the immediate post war orders being delivered in 1951.
The Phoenix bodied Daimler CVG6s, delivered in 1950/1 were not ordered until 1948 but I can’t state with certainty if this was before of after AEC’s purchase of Crossley, I suspect the latter.
It is obvious from the work that went on between MCTD and Crossley during WW2 on both chassis and, particularly, body development that Manchester was still very much linked to Crossley as its major supplier.
Back in the 1930s Stuart Pilcher had persuaded the Transport Committee to accept Leyland tenders as a second string supplier so all his eggs wouldn’t be in the basket of a company that wasn’t always consistent in its product development and production.
The Daimler orders in the run up to war were only placed because Crossley were directed by government to concentrate on military production and Pilcher wasn’t going to be left bereft of vehicles in his drive to rid Manchester of trams.
Had Crossley heeded Manchester’s interest in the Gardner/Wilson combination instead of its own power/drivetrain ideas it probably would have survived the down turn.
Albert Neal was frustrated by Crossley’s intransigence over the HOE7 debacle. We don’t have records of the many meetings and phone calls to back up the letters that exist between the two concerns but it is a safe bet that long before the AEC takeover a decision had been forming to reduce the dependence on Crossley and the takeover changed the thinking from a reduction of dependence to total divorce.
The Phoenix bodied CVG6 order was the first indication to the outside world of the way the wind was blowing and in 1949 the Transport Committee formally confirmed that the Department’s policy would, in future, be split 50/50 Leyland and Daimler with MCW as the preferred body builder.
So how does my contention that Manchester’s continued patronage of Crossley would have saved the company stand up?
It is true that the general bus market declined after the rash of orders immediately following the cessation of hostilities. The figures, however, speak for themselves. Manchester took delivery of no fewer than 601 vehicles between the last of the post war orders which for the sake of my argument has Leyland 3299 being the last, and the end of December 1958 – the 601 thus includes the Phoenix bodied Daimlers.
Based on previous ordering patterns, had Crossley listened to Manchester’s needs, they would certainly have picked up the orders that went to Coventry (270 chassis)and there is every reason to believe that a good proportion of the orders that went to Leyland would have gone to Errwood Park. As there was great satisfaction with the bodies Crossley had produced or finished, again it is almost certain a good proportion of the bodies required would have emerged from Errwood Rd, especially given Neal’s dislike of the early MCW Orion offerings.
As it turned out Errwood Park did get a final order from Manchester for 62 BUT trolleybuses (basically Regent chassis with locally produced Metrovick control gear) but Burlingham got the body contract, Piccadilly wanting nothing with a Crossley badge and justified the vehicles under its two chassis policy as BUT was a 50/50 AEC/Leyland company.
So, with Crossley under the AEC banner but still active at Errwood Rd, why didn’t the Department buy locally produced motor buses especially as AEC eventually solved the engine problem and, given their willingness to have Gardner engines mounted on Regent chassis, would presumably have been more than happy to work with MCTD to produce a Gardner/Crossley combination which would have resulted in a reasonable flow of orders?
The answer is down to politics, but nothing to do with the move to Stockport. In the early 1930s Stuart Pilcher pressed hard to have orders for AECs approved, on sound technical grounds. The transport committee, given the Great Depression, insisted on orders going to Crossley and it might be said that the bus side of the business both survived and benefitted technically from the largesse of the Committee.
Albert Neal’s frustration with Crossley led to the two chassis supplier policy which was both technically and economically sound but why Leyland and Daimler to the exclusion of AEC/Crossley?
Firstly there was a great deal of "the dog having a bad name" thinking in the industry and in Piccadilly and Manchester Town Hall in particular and, for the time being, the ACV group were keeping the Crossley name.
Even more importantly, Leylands were made in Lancashire and were considered as "local" in terms of where the Committee’s money would end up. Daimler may have been in Coventry but Gardner engines were made in Patricroft.
AEC, on the other hand, made it plain from day one that all monies spent at Errwood Rd would be directed to the newly formed ACV and it was based in London!!
There have been statements in various publications that Crossley was too small to survive as a bus manufacturer but post war it managed to build 1114 DD42s chassis between 1945 and 1951 plus the trolleybuses for Manchester, Ashton and Cleethorpes and 1680 SD42/43 single deck chassis, 1175 of which were for a one off export order to Holland.
Those figures are hardly small and, in addition, they were also building bodies.
So, I return to my contention that had Manchester not pulled the plug Crossley would have survived, but having persisted with an engine that frankly didn’t work as advertised, they committed commercial suicide by not listening and working with their most loyal, consistent and largest regular customer.

Phil Blinkhorn

———

27/11/12 – 14:10

…..and of course Leyland learned from Crossley’s mistakes…..?

David Oldfield

———

27/11/12 – 16:22

David, you and I are old enough to realise that governments, economists and companies are too bound up with their own brilliance to take the time look around to see the mistakes of others and far too busy take the time to look back in history.

Phil Blinkhorn

———

27/11/12 – 17:37

Or, to quote (approximately) two often mentioned statements:
1. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.
2. History teaches us that history teaches us nothing.

Stephen Ford

———

28/11/12 – 07:30

There’s an interpretation here that Crossley was an arrogant engineer led company devoid of commercial nouse that always thought they knew best and certainly there is some evidence to that effect. When they weren’t playing the ‘local jobs’ card with Manchester they played it with Stockport (though it’s probable that most of their employees lived in M/cr even after the move to Errwood Park as they had only to take a hop on a #19 to get from Gorton). Their bids for work were rarely the cheapest and when they were so there is a pattern of requests for subsequent price uplifts post contract. Failure to win a bid sometimes led to a request to retender on somewhat specious grounds.
I don’t think the move to Stockport had any part in the downfall of Crossley. Manchester would have continued to take Crossley product if it had been better served by Crossley. Crossley were the engineers of their own downfall, something that I guess ACV realised after the acquisition.
Smaller bus builders than Crossley with a much smaller customer base did survive, Dennis to name but one and which, in a very different form, is still around today.

Orla Nutting

———

28/11/12 – 15:50

I would suggest one of the main reasons for the demise of Crossley Motors was the fateful decision by the Managing Director, Arthur Hubble in late 1944 not to use the "Saurer Head" HOE7 engine, which had performed very well in the prototype Crossley DD42/1 (GNE 247). The engineers were instructed to redesign the engine to avoid Saurer patents infringements. This was a hurried operation, untested and the outcome was a mess. Sadly this redesigned engine was fitted to the production run of SD42 and DD42 buses from 1945 onwards up to 1949 and caused a lot of trouble. AEC engineers then came to the rescue to redesign the engine and produce the HOE7/5 downdraft version which was a big improvement but too late as the damage had been done. Was this a case of money taking precedence over engineering?

Richard Fieldhouse

———

28/11/12 – 15:51

Dennis, however, Orla, did not rely solely on building buses (which they dipped in and out of over the years), but also on municipal vehicles like dustcarts and fire engines and all-purpose lorries. It was the companies with all their eggs in one (bus) basket which often failed, as in other business dealings. I leave out arrogance, well covered above!

Chris Hebbron

———

28/11/12 – 17:15

In fairness to Peter’s point in regard to Crossley having nothing else to do when the orders slowed, every other chassis manufacturer did have other lines of production and a look at what those alternatives were highlights just how Manchester dependant Crossley had become:
Leyland, AEC, and Guy, all produced trucks with a broad customer base. Foden and Sentinel tinkering on the edge of the market had truck businesses.
Also Leyland and AEC bus divisions had good relationships with BET and a range of export customers
Dennis was in the middle of a fire engine replacement boom.
The two long established bus manufacturing companies most exposed were Daimler and Crossley.
Daimler, as Peter says, had car production but in 1953 when Geoffrey Hilditch joined the company for a very short time, he was aware of redundancies in the bus division and that the car division had been badly affected by increases in purchase tax and the concentration on high end vehicles which, whilst individually profitable, were sold in far smaller numbers, up to five times fewer, than the competing Jaguars which were also cheaper, Jaguar of course eventually buying out Daimler.
Two things saved Daimler bus production. Of immediate influence was the production of a quality product designed to the needs of a loyal and widespread customer base which, whilst rarely offering large orders, kept the lines working.
The company was really kept afloat by the very profitable Ferret armoured car which was ordered by the British army and over 20 export customers.
As Peter says, Crossley had nothing else. Car production had long ceased, only two prototype trucks were built post war and the British military that had been a major customer almost continuously since the WW1 abandoned the company – I wonder why? Did the same attitude that lost them Manchester’s business cause annoyance at the War Ministry and among the heads of the armed forces?
Due to production priorities at the Alvis factory, Crossley did produce just six Saracen armoured car pre-production models in 1956, well after the AEC takeover.
With regard to the Saurer head, there is an inference that Hubble hoped to get away with copying it without paying for a licence and the redesign was done hurriedly and badly under pressure of his irritation.
It’s ironic that the money it cost from an accounting point of view to redesign the head badly, taking in hours worked, overtime and tooling, wasn’t much less than he could have negotiated for a licence.
The real cost was, of course much, much more.

Phil Blinkhorn

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28/11/12 – 17:22

Bradford had 6 Crossley DD42/7 buses which were fitted with the HOE7/5 engine to which Richard refers. As young enthusiasts in the early post war years, we were very aware that the BCPT Maintenance staff had a very low regard indeed for these buses, Nos.518 – 523. They were virtually restricted to one route, West Bowling, and were suitably disposed of at a very early date for post-war 8ft. wide vehicles. Neither did they find a purchaser!
This is not a personal dislike, as their official unpopularity tended to heighten our fondness for them, but for "Them that knew", they were hated with some vehemence!

John Whitaker

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29/11/12 – 07:22

I do incline to Orla’s interpretation of the Crossley chronicles. The company did play politics to secure orders. The arrogance attributed to the Crossley company really lay with the Managing Director, Arthur Hubble. Although we do not now know what terms Saurer demanded for the use of its combustion chamber design (and the comprehensively researched book by Eyre, Heaps and Townsin has not been able to establish any figures about this matter), it does seem that the payment of a licence fee was the fundamental factor. Other manufacturers used Saurer technology very successfully – the Morris Commercial diesel engines of Saurer design continued in production into the Leyland era. The last minute revamp of the original Saurer HOE7 cylinder head demanded by Hubble was not received gladly by the Crossley design team, and the resulting motor was a dud in terms of reliability, economy and performance. Hubble’s innate obstinacy was revealed in other ways, also. Crossley steering was always heavy, a problem that could have been easily rectified by redesigning the steering geometry, but the company would not budge. Instead it replaced the races with thrust buttons that made a bad situation very much worse. When AEC took over Crossley, it insisted that the troublesome HOE7 had to be sorted out quickly, but Hubble resisted this strategy, and a frustrated AEC gave the job to its own engineers. The resulting "downdraught" engine was a major improvement, though it still inherited the crankcase weaknesses of the original Crossley design. Yet, despite the availability at last of a fully competitive engine by courtesy of AEC, Crossley continued to make and fit the old HOE7 to many new orders, even in some instances where the customer was expecting the downdraught version. After the success of the Birmingham order for 260 DD42/6 buses, AEC instructed Hubble to approach Gardner for an agreement for the supply of LW engines, Birmingham’s preferred power plant, thereby keeping Birmingham interested in future Crossley orders. The meeting between the intransigent Hubble and the autocratic Gardner family had an inevitable outcome, and Hubble reported back to AEC in obvious glee that Gardner would not supply Crossley with engines. Yet, in a very many aspects, Crossley got a great deal right, presumably in those areas where Hubble didn’t interfere with his engineers.The DD42 was a fundamentally sound chassis design, and Crossley constant mesh and synchromesh gearboxes were excellent. Whether, with a more sensitive hand than Hubble’s on the company’s tiller, Crossley would have remained in business for a longer period is imponderable now, but the certainty is that its reputation would have been significantly higher, a major factor in commercial success.

John, weren’t the Bradford Crossleys of the DD42/4 type, and delivered in 1948? At that date they would have been fitted with the standard HOE7 engine. Were they converted later to the downdraught HOE7/5 specification?

Roger Cox

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29/11/12 – 07:24

Phil, the reason I said that all Manchester deliveries up to 1951 had been ordered (in principle) back in 1945/6 is that "The Manchester Bus" includes the Daimler/Phoenix orders in the 1946 order figures – originally just 50, but quickly increased to 90. That could, of course, be wrong. I didn’t know about the reason for Manchester going to Daimler in the first place.
On the subject of Crossley’s "attitude" problem, I have commented before (maybe not here) about how it seemed to be confined to chassis matters. The body division seemed willing to bend over backwards to do whatever the customer wanted. Strange that.

Peter Williamson

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29/11/12 – 09:50

I am not sure Roger; I just know they were not liked by BCPT! We had a friend and neighbour who held a high position at Thornbury, and his comments were far from complimentary. I remember one school special when the Crossley was virtually unable to ascend Oak Lane, and drivers too hated them for their "slow gear change" They were banished to the short and fairly flat West Bowling route. Ordered in 1947, but not delivered until mid 1948, I have often wondered how other "hilly" systems coped with their DD42 Crossleys.
Lancaster is quite hilly, and they had DD42s, although I am not sure of just how exact such comparisons are. I am as certain as I can be that no alterations of a mechanical nature were made to our 6 Crossleys, but I am unable to confirm this as I would not now know who to ask!

20 minutes later

I have just "dug out" my BCPT stock book of the 1950s, and see that I have recorded 518-523 as type DD42/3, and they entered service in September 1948.
Another character defamation aimed at them was their weight, but I have to say that they did seem to demonstrate quality of build, and had a more luxurious air about them, as, indeed, did the 1952 Crossley trolleybus rebodies, which entered service early 1952.

John Whitaker

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29/11/12 – 10:13

All really interesting stuff, folks. Do we have a date from which the HOE engine was dumbed down? Oh, those lucky early post-war orderers, whoever they were!

Chris Hebbron

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29/11/12 – 10:57

Well, I’ve already said that they were distress purchases – when anything was better than nothing – and that the bodies were palpably a much better product than the chassis. I cannot say it better than any of the other correspondents. You cannot turn round in Sheffield without bumping into a hill but the Crossleys were put on the least hilly routes (ie with fewest hills per mile/route). The SD42s did venture out into Derbyshire – but presumably the lesser weight helped to make this possible. [Anyone have experience of SD42 coaches. How did they fare?]

David Oldfield

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29/11/12 – 10:57

So much has been said about the miserable performance of postwar Crossleys – both on this site and for quite a long period in Classic Bus magazine (to the point where the editor had to end further correspondence if I recall). However, there are two points that never really seem to be raised.
The first is that we only here about the double deckers, but how did operators find the single deck version ? The SD42 was very common amongst independent coach operators – probably not through choice initially, more because in the postwar coaching boom they had to take anything they could get, but how did they perform ?
Secondly, if the main problem lay with the troublesome breathless engines and the rest of the design was pretty good, and their bodies excellent, what about the operators who subsequently re-engined theirs with Gardner/Leyland/AEC units ? Surely then they ought to have been good buses – problem solved ?
Does anyone know how these vehicles performed ?

John Stringer

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29/11/12 – 10:58

It’s just occurred to me that this trio bear bodies of the same style as the Portsmouth Daimler CWA6’s that Crossley re-bodied in 1955. SEE: www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/

Chris Hebbron

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29/11/12 – 14:44

Roger, I think I misquoted the HOE designation on an earlier post, and am now more confused than ever. I believe Bradford’s Crossleys, being 8ft. wide, should be classed as DD42/4, whereas I have always thought of them as DD42/3, even though I misquoted them as DD42/7 before! I will leave you technical experts to sort it out, and apologise for my "clouded enthusiasm", compounded by ever increasing senior moments!

John Whitaker

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29/11/12 – 14:44

My good friend John W mentions in his Bradford stock book that 518 -523 were Crossley DD42/3 which I believe relates to the 7′ 6" width chassis whereas the Bradford Crossleys were 8′ wide. This means they should be coded DD42/4 as they were part of the 94 sanction. Could they have been ordered as 7 ‘6" but changed to 8′ width as there was a long period from ordering to delivery in September 1948 when 8′ width was legal?

Richard Fieldhouse

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29/11/12 – 14:48

Peter, I just wonder if the difference in attitude between the chassis and body side of the business was because Hubble regarded the former as real engineering and a science and liked to interfere and the latter as far less worthy of his input.
It has always seemed to me that the excellence their bodies attained throughout their history matched the aspirations for their chassis and engines which were, certainly post war, rarely attained. If only the latter could have matched the former.
With regard to the chassis order eventually bodied by MCW with the Phoenix body, I understood that the sanction for a call for tenders was given for a bulk total of vehicles required up to 1951 by the Transport Committee in 1945. My reading of archive material, albeit 30 years or so ago, was that this did not include the CVG6s and probably did not include the Leyland bodied PD2s of the 32xx batch though Heaps and Eyre contend they were included in the total.
Heaps and Eyre state a total order of 763 vehicles was made between 1945 and 1946.
"The 1945 order was for 100 each from Leyland and Daimler and 109 from Crossley…..the 1946 order was for 100 Leylands, 50 Crossleys and 54 Crossley trolleybuses, followed by 100 more Leylands, 60 Crossleys and 50 Daimlers – the Daimler order was quickly increased to 90".
The catch is in the indefinite wording. The "100 more Leylands" were PD2s and the type was only available to order from 1947, though a demonstrator had been shown to some operators, not including Manchester, in the last months of 1946.
I believe those Leylands and the CVG6s were ordered in 1948. To back this up, Southport bought the first 8ft wide PD2s when announced in the autumn of 1947 and had received them all by the end of the year. A host of operators took PD2s of both widths in the period 1947-1950 yet Manchester, which needed vehicles for both tramway and obsolete vehicle replacement didn’t receive its PD2s until May 1951 deliveries stretching until February 1952. London had placed its order for RTL and RTW PD2s in early 1948 and Manchester’s order followed this, the London vehicles being delivered from 1950.
Similarly operators large and small were receiving Daimlers throughout the period 1946-1950 (indeed Manchester’s 1945 ordered CVG5s arrived and, to Manchester’s great exasperation, half the chassis had to be stored awaiting Crossley bodies, whilst the Brush bodied examples were delivered as intended in 1947/8).
I can see no reason to suppose Manchester delayed a total of 200 urgently needed vehicles when everyone else were receiving vehicles in sequence of order.
The CVG6s were, I believe, ordered as a hedge against the problems at Crossley and the second batch were added by Albert Neal when he ran out of patience.
Regarding Manchester’s move to Daimler pre war and to expand on my simplistic previous statement, on February 8 1939 the City Council approved a 3 year purchase plan to allow Pilcher’s tramway conversion. This did not include Daimlers but included 165 Crossleys (diesels and trolleys) out of 325 vehicles but it was soon obvious Crossley wouldn’t be able to cope, given the demands of the military.
The Council changed its mind and approved, after some heavy lobbying by Daimler, an order for 327 buses and trolleybuses 124 of which were Crossleys and 83 Daimlers. The reasoning was the promised delivery dates by Leyland and Daimler would reduce the time for tramway conversion by half and would guarantee delivery if war was declared – ironic given many of the Daimler chassis ordered were destroyed by enemy action.
The next order in July 1939 was changed from the planned 50 Leyland and 50 Crossley diesels to 33 Daimler, 33 Leyland and 34 Crossley.
The Council got it right. Crossley had delivered only a third of their allocation when they had to cease bus production, Leyland delivered everything on time and the Daimlers were delivered as required up until the time the factory was bombed.
Crossley suffered both financially and in terms of talent as some design staff left to join Leyland.

Phil Blinkhorn

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HET 509_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

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30/11/12 – 07:39

Re David O’s comments about Sheffield Crossleys – the initial batch of DD42/3s spent virtually all their working life on the Inner Circle Services 8/9 which had some fearsome gradients – Newbould Lane, Crookesmoor Road, Rutland Road come to mind. The Sheffield Crossleys were a small proportion of the fleet – but all the 1948 batch of DD42/5s ended up as driver trainers – maybe if you could drive a Crossley you could drive anything!!

Ian Wild

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30/11/12 – 07:40

Chris, on the subject of the resemblance between the Rotherham Crossleys and the Portsmouth rebodied CWA6s, this has been discussed on the Portsmouth thread – see Chris Hough’s comment and my reply a couple of messages further down.
It’s not as straightforward as it may appear.

David and John: I have no personal experience of the SD42, but I have never heard anything bad about it, and quite a lot of good in fact. It seems that the engine could cope a lot better with the lower weight, and the refinement of the Crossley chassis was really appreciated by coach operators.

Peter Williamson

 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Wednesday 22nd October 2014