Priory Coaches – Bedford VAL 14 – BFT 942D – 50

Priory Coaches - Bedford VAL 14 - BFT 942D - 50

Priory Coaches of North Shields
Bedford VAL 14
Plaxton C52F

George Chapman established Priory Coaches of North Shields in 1929. North Shields is located in what was the County Borough of Tynemouth, and the name and company logo relate to Tynemouth Priory, which is an ancient monument situated within the grounds of Tynemouth Castle. By the early 50’s the fleet numbered in excess of 40 vehicles, to the best of my knowledge, they never ran any stage carriage services, although they did have a regular twice-weekly service to two local outlying hospitals in Morpeth and Prudhoe. For as long as I can remember, the fleet consisted entirely of Bedford’s of all shapes and sizes, with either Duple or Plaxton bodies. In common with most post war coach operators, at one time much of the fleet was made up of Bedford OB’s. As far as I know, they only ever had one VAL 14, I could be wrong, but I don’t think it was around for very long. The Priory livery was two shades of green and cream with gold lettering, and as far as I can remember the seats were upholstered in a rich dark red moquette material, and very smart they looked. The company has changed hands, but I’m pleased to say they are still on the go, although the fleet is nowhere near the same size as it was. It now numbers around 10 vehicles, the livery has also changed, and is now white with two shades of blue. Bedford’s no longer being available, the bulk of the fleet is now mainly Volvo.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

17/04/14 – 10:55

These were good looking and, for their time, well built coaches. If anything, they were a little more elegant than the Panoramas, with the thick pillar aft of the first bay. The VAL14 (Leyland engine) was better liked than the later and more powerful VAL70 (Bedford engine).

David Oldfield

17/04/14 – 18:24

The 1967 edition of ‘The Little Red Book’, information for which would have been supplied in 1966, stated, that Priory Motor Coach Co. Ltd., had a rolling stock of 12 coaches.
12 Bedford Chassis, and bodies by Duple 6, Plaxton 5, and Yeates 1.

Stephen Howarth

18/04/14 – 09:30

Purely a personal view of course, but I always found the Bedford VAL to be a delightful and fascinating vehicle to ride in and to drive. For whatever engineering reasons – six small wheels/leaf springing etc – its excellent degree of riding comfort seems often to be overlooked by those attaching great importance to its moderate but very adequate performance. I’ve even done journeys of well over 200 miles in VALs, riding and driving, in perfect contentment. While its gladly acknowledged that it can’t match the speed and power of the Leopard/Reliance/Volvo "big boys" it was nevertheless a very commendable design, and appealing too in what might by some be classed as its "cheeky" involvement in stage carriage work here and there. I loved the VALs and remember their plucky character very fondly, and when all’s said and done they came from a very honest "no frills" stable.

Chris Youhill

18/04/14 – 18:20

I have a photo of BFT 942D in cream and blue livery with "Leisureline" in the destination blind in the front bumper.
Does anyone know where this operator was based?

Dave Farrier

10/05/15 – 07:12

The Bedford VAL was produced in Underfloor Engine form for Australia in the early 1970s. Why not for the UK market? Seems odd as the United Kingdom was their main stronghold!


21/05/15 – 06:39

Dave Farrier,
Information re coach reg. BFT 942D.your listing of (18/04/14)
I have a note from another stating Leisureline to be a Blackpool based company. Note States same livery, information is by son of the owner. The era being around 1970’s.

Alan Coulson

26/02/16 – 14:22

Regarding underfloor engined VAL’s in Australia. As both a driver and mechanic which worked on them in Australia, until they were finally retired from service. The VAL’s you mentioned were actually bodied in Australia in 1974 after the YRQ had come out and after the VAL had actually ceased production. As there were chassis left over we continued to be able to buy them after cease of build in the UK. Until supplies of the new chassis became available, in many cases even the latter BLP had the front engine moved back as to meet customers demands. Keeping in mind that Australian design rules never specified ground clearance heights like the UK did. The underfloor engine option was one you used to pay extra for, at the time $250.00 for and the body builder would move the engine back to behind just the front axle. Not as far back as in the factory build YRQ, YLQ.
I myself even moved and engine back in one of my BLP school buses when the engine failed. Bit of a big job.



Birmingham City – A E C Swift – KOX 663F – 3663

Birmingham City - A E C Swift - KOX 663F - 3663

Birmingham City Transport
A E C Swift 505 MP2R
Metro-Cammell B37D+30

KOX 663F, is an A E C Swift 505 MP2R built in 1967 with Metro-Cammell B37D+30 standing bodywork. New to Birmingham and then West Midlands as 3663 it was acquired by Mid Warwickshire Motors before being preserved and has just been fully restored in West Midland livery.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ken Jones

13/04/14 – 18:30

Another candidate for the Ugly Bus page! Top-heavy treatment of the front end…. Was this for extra headroom? ….and the side route box and blank panel/window by the exit. Does it really have no doors?


14/04/14 – 07:43

Both sets of doors are open.

Roger Burdett

14/04/14 – 07:43

Slightly less ugly than the same bodybuilder’s effort on the Liverpool Panthers.

Phil Blinkhorn

14/04/14 – 08:44

Doors… I can see a handrail to each right and a well-light at the bottom- but above that I look straight through the bus. Is there room on the left, obstructing the driver’s view?… Now it can be told?


14/04/14 – 08:44

Two pictures for your consideration

KOX 663F_2

one showing that the vehicle does have doors

KOX 663F_3

and one internal shot showing the standing area.

Ken Jones

14/04/14 – 18:19

Thanks Ken- looks like one flap on each side then? Ceiling marvellous shade of Nicotine, reminiscent of top decks. Is that your silver handled cane?


14/04/14 – 18:19

Pity it’s ugly – certainly an unbalanced design – because it’s a superb restoration from the photographic evidence. The Liverpool Panthers might beat them in the ugly stakes but the Southport Panthers, with deeper screens, were quite handsome for their time.

David Oldfield

15/04/14 – 06:57

Not my cane and not my bus before anyone asks – they haven’t made a Swift in N gauge yet!

Ken Jones

15/04/14 – 06:57

It looks to me as if Met Cam have used the lower front end of a double deck Fleetline as supplied to Birmingham – probably at the customers request in the interests of standardisation

Ian Wild

15/04/14 – 06:57

I must be fair and agree with David: uglybus maybe, but it looks a lovely job. I have however been staring at Panthers & Swifts on this site and wonder why this bus has so much infilling between screen and peak- look at the Leeds Roes- just enough. Never mind.


15/04/14 – 06:58

Looking at a photo of a Southport MCW-bodied Panther here, it looks like the same windscreen to me (although in the curved Manchester version rather than the Birmingham vee-form). But I can see three subtle differences which make it fit better. The blank space above the screen is split up by the way it is mounted, the front half of the bus has deeper windows and the remaining height difference is accommodated by the livery application. It just shows what a little thought can do.

Peter Williamson

15/04/14 – 10:49

…..and longer (panoramic?) side windows, Peter. Always make a better impression than multiple short windows. [Only the Y type "got away" with it, but the panoramic side window – normally coaches – version was much better.]

David Oldfield

15/04/14 – 10:51

These buses were built to the operator’s specification using many standard parts in the interest of economy and ease of maintenance. The flat screens for example, like much of the front end treatment, are shared with the BCT double-deck fleet and were used because they were much cheaper to replace than curved ones. The shell is that used to body mainly Panthers, but also some Panther Cubs and some Swifts and is a close copy of the ubiquitous BET design.
It is a great credit to the owners that they have restored this bus, which is now, and arguably always was, an interesting rarity. If we were to judge all historic artefacts on their aesthetic appearance alone, and only retain what looks nice, bearing in mind of course that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, an immediate end would be put to those interminable antiques programmes on the TV!
Let’s hope that the owners don’t read the comments left here – If I were one of them, I would feel insulted.

KOX 663_4

The bus does look much better in more favourable surroundings, as I’m sure that you gentlemen will agree.

Philip Lamb

15/04/14 – 18:11

I’m not sure why anyone should feel insulted. It is a most attractive restoration of a rather unpretty bus, but a lack of prettiness is no reason not to restore- or I would be rejected by the NHS! As it is, it tells a fascinating tale of fleet management, which has unfolded here- and how this and other operators resolved such questions. Consider the rather odd looking PS1 deckers-utility over looks? Or single deck Fleetlines? Bridgemasters, Wulfrunians were all unpretty but of their time. Was there a balance between appearance and economy through standardisation? Good material for discussion- so we can all be wannabee General Managers!


16/04/14 – 06:49

Can’t understand why anyone would feel insulted over the ugly bus comments. Preservation of anything is normally for reasons of historic value. Availability, familiarity, rarity are other factors. Looks rarely come into it and shouldn’t have any bearing with a true preservationist

Phil Blinkhorn

16/04/14 – 06:50

Thank you Joe for your balanced comment. There’s no reason for anyone to be insulted by any of the comments on this link – mine or anyone else’s.
There is, of course, a reason for the body being on both Swift and Panther. It’s the same bus. They shared a frame and only the engines and gearboxes were different. It was the first entirely new bus (in 1964) from the Leyland Motor Corporation, after the merger of Leyland and ACV in 1962.

David Oldfield

16/04/14 – 11:09

I consider this bus to be of an interesting – "different" – but perfectly acceptable appearance, especially compared to some of today’s double deckers from certain factories, vehicles which are simply a mass of incongruous bits and pieces disguised to a degree by ghastly "liveries." The Birmingham Swift’s livery is dignified and unsullied in the extreme, and the ceiling material in my view is delightfully restful and attractive and a welcome change from the almost universal garish matt white of today – I’m sure this material was chosen by BCT rather than having anything to do with nicotine Joe.

Chris Youhill

16/04/14 – 18:24

Perhaps David O you should have started your thread with ‘I think it is ugly’ rather than ‘pity its ugly’ that way it is defined as your personal opinion rather than Carte Blanche opinion on the bus as clearly opinion on this bus is divided and just maybe less people may feel a little offended – just my thoughts!
Clearly a lot of time, money and hard work has gone into an excellent restoration of a relatively rare vehicle. I rather like this bus and I would also agree with Ian Wild with regards to the front end treatment.

Richard McAllister

16/04/14 – 18:25

I think some of the difference between this Swift and the Southport Panther are due to the fact that the Panther has a front mounted radiator and therefore needs the attractive grill fitted by Metro Cammell and also has deeper destination apertures which decreases the size of the blank panel above the screen, the deeper windows in the front part of the body also lessen the large side panels aided by the band of colour below the window line which may not look as good on the O/S. To me the use of curved screens on the Panther make little difference to the overall appearance, but the Swift’s restoration is a credit to a huge amount of time and effort by many people WELL DONE.

Diesel Dave

16/04/14 – 19:02

The ceiling colour is similar to that employed by LT on its Routemasters and is there to combat nicotine. This only worked in part. I used to sell a PVC/aluminium product called Tedlar which was supposed to defeat nicotine by being wipe clean but the cost of the product and the cost of cleaning was too much for the 1960s bodybuilders and operators.

Phil Blinkhorn

17/04/14 – 06:29

David’s comment about the windows being shorter than on the Southport Panther has caused me to look at this a little more closely, and I have come to the conclusion that the Swift’s body was designed very much from the inside out. The door apertures are much narrower than on the Panther, and the exit door is mounted further forward. Presumably this was to give the internal layout that the operator desired, but the result is that it would have been impossible to fit longer windows in the front half, and therefore at all (since this was well before the advent of the Borismaster ethos where every bay can be a different size!).

Peter Williamson

26/04/14 – 18:15

Thanks for the interest and comments. My brother David and I funded and Trailways of Bloxwich, West Midlands, transformed the Swift. To me it’s a beauty !
No offence taken ! The walking stick belongs to Trailways owner Ron Faherty !

Robert Carson

27/04/14 – 08:13

Well, Robert, you can both be proud of the finished product and of Trailways for doing such a fine job. I did wonder if the walking stick was something West Midlands Travel provided on all their buses to help all disabled passengers!

Chris Hebbron

28/04/14 – 09:49

KOX 663_4

Here is KOX 663F when owned by the troubled Mid Warwickshire Motors. It is seen in Mereden on an enthusiasts’ tour.

Tony Martin

24/12/15 – 12:11

The usual stamping ground for single-decker BCT buses like this was the 27 route because it required so many low railway bridges to be negotiated – notably in Northfield and outside the Cadbury factory. The 27 was my daily transport to and from school and during the 1960s and early 70s BCT would use the route to trial all kinds of manufacturers test offerings, asking passengers for their opinion. There were Ford R192s (BCT later bought a couple) and even on one occasion a Volvo.

Ray Trendy

KOX 663F_2 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

01/01/16 – 16:51

I think the "issues" with the frontal styling arose because the Swift chassis was (at the rear) relatively high, but this one has a low driving position. Hence the correspondingly low positioning of the windscreen, relative to the overall height of the vehicle, which needs to allow for the height of the floor in the rear section.
As David O says above, the Swift and Panther used the same chassis frame, but Swifts had radiators in the side adjacent to the engine, and I believe this caused them to have higher floors at the rear. Other bodybuilders had this problem with Swifts, for example, Southampton’s East Lancs bodied batch numbered 7-10 also had an "extra" section between the windscreen and destination box.

Nigel Frampton


Southampton Corporation – AEC Regent V – 369 FCR – 349

Southampton Corporation - AEC Regent V - 369 FCR - 349

Southampton Corporation
AEC Regent V 2D3RA
East Lancs H37/29R

369 FCR is a Regent V of the 2D3RA variety, with East Lancs H66R bodywork from 1963, in the fleet of Southampton City Transport, fleet number 349. She’s seen in Vincent’s Walk on a sunny lunchtime in January 1976, between duties on the 15 to Swaythling via Bassett Green. The blinds have been set on the way into City Centre, but the bus needs to turn round.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

26/06/15 – 05:19

To my mind one of best looking of the MkV. but my own favourite is Nottingham City Transport MK V. followed by NCT Renowns. They were nice to drive and nowhere in Nottm. could they not go.

J. A. Bagshaw


All rights to the design and layout of this website are reserved     Old Bus Photos does not set or use Cookies but Google Analytics will set four see this

Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 21st April 2018