Horndean – Morris Commercial – DS 7422

Horndean - Morris Commercial - DS 7422
Copyright Pete Davies

Horndean Private Hire
Morris Commercial 1 Ton
Harris B10D

DS 7422 is shown in the PSVC listing for 2012 as being a 1926 Morris Commercial 1 Ton vehicle, with B10D body by Harris of Clanfield. She’s seen here in the Southsea Rally of 8 June 1986, in the markings of Horndean Private Hire. The listing says this is the original body, but rebuilt, rather than a replica.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

19/04/13 – 06:51

Cute little motor but it would also be nice to see a Viceroy, Dictator or Imperial. Yet another set of might have beens outrun by the big four (AEC, Bristol, Daimler and Leyland).

David Oldfield

19/04/13 – 11:05

I wonder how this quirky vehicle survived?
How I mourn the loss of Horndean’s Gales Ales Brewery. The sad-looking building was still there when I last passed it a couple of years ago.

Chris Hebbron

19/04/13 – 12:12

David, an Imperial survives at Wythall, as does a Dictator. I don’t know of a Viceroy in preservation, though I sure someone will correct me if there is!

Yes, Chris. The brewery tours were very good, always ending in a ‘sample’ or three!

Pete Davies

19/04/13 – 14:04

David: Probably not much of a ‘might have been’ in practice. Nuffield surely had the resources to have gone into large passenger vehicle construction in a large way if he had felt it worthwhile. However, the Morris Commercial brand was clearly doing very nicely with its near monopoly of vehicles for the GPO, so they probably never tried too much for sales outside this field. The post-war production was very much on the back of goods chassis, in an area where of course the OB had cornered the market.

Alan Murray-Rust

20/04/13 – 07:22

On 4th February 1924, William Morris bought the former factory of E. Wrigley and Co., tool makers, automotive component manufacturers and gear cutters, in Soho, Birmingham. He later relocated to the old Wolseley works at Adderley Park in 1932. Morris was intent upon an assault upon the bus and haulage vehicle markets, and initially offered ranges of mass produced light vehicles employing considerable engineering content from his private car models. The true psv Morris Commercial range from 1929 onwards, comprising the Director, Viceroy, Dictator and Imperial models, was designed by Charles Kearns Edwards, the one time Chief Engineer of the Associated Equipment Company who left when G.J.Rackham was appointed in 1929. He is credited with the early adoption in Britain of the dropped frame for psvs in the form of the Nulli Secundus or NS type, and also with the design of the first (wholly experimental) AEC diesel engine, which employed Acro indirect injection combustion chambers and followed German design philosophy very closely indeed. From AEC he moved on to Morris Commercial, where the light haulage range was quite successful, but the buses had limited appeal in the depressed pre war period. Edwards appears to have moved on again by 1932, this time to Guy Motors, Wolverhampton, and then again in 1936 to Shelvoke and Drewry at Letchworth and its associated company Hands Trailers, where he seems to have remained until retirement. The specifications of the Viceroy, Dictator and Imperial models may be found here www.moreg.org.au/  and some Dictator and Imperial pictures are shown on this site (scroll down to the bottom):- www.search.digitalhandsworth.org.uk  Finally, here are two clips of an Imperial being recovered (hopefully) for preservation, though the task looks pretty daunting to me:- www.flickr.com/1  www.flickr.com/2

Roger Cox

20/04/13 – 08:46

Thanks for that, Roger. I have every respect for those of us who lovingly restore and conserve these vehicles but, as you say, with some you wonder whether the outcome will be happy. And yet they do it.

David Oldfield

20/04/13 – 17:07

Thx, Roger, for the background information about MC and CK Edwards. Strangely enough, in my RAF days, I had under my charge, about thirty Hands trailers, a make I never saw before of since.
And, to bring the Imperial story further up to date, here it is safely under cover at Wythall. I notice there’s a radiator shell there, something missing from the short clips, unless they were stored elsewhere on that site www.flickr.com/

Chris Hebbron

21/04/13 – 07:29

It really is a small world, isn’t it? I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these pages about my student days in Birmingham. To be precise, I was at St Peter’s College in Saltley, NEXT DOOR to the Adderley Park works Roger mentions. They were either on strike or making Post Office vans. All those I saw were red, but I’m sure they must have done some of the Post Office Telephones green ones as well!

Pete Davies

27/04/13 – 09:54

I love the upright windscreen on that little Morris-Commercial, and the livery couldn’t be bettered, as Midland General knew.
I’m grateful for Roger’s technical pages: details like that are otherwise very hard to come by.
Chris H: I hadn’t realised that Gales of Horndean had sadly closed down, but a quick search reveals that the tower is thankfully to be kept as part of the new housing scheme.
I occasionally drove through Horndean with Smith’s and felt that the brewery gave the town real character. On cycle rides in the fifties I used to wonder why three pubs between Reading and Woodcote belonged to a brewery nearly fifty miles south, but my grandma (born on a nearby farm) explained that a Gale had married a Miss Blount, from a S. Oxfordshire family, a connection that enabled Gales to buy the pubs.

Ian Thompson

27/04/13 – 13:17

Glad to learn the the tower will be kept, Ian, a real landmark in an otherwise rather nondescript town. Your mention of non-standard clutches of pubs reminds me of, in the Seventies. a clutch of Charrington’s Pubs (a London brewery) on the edges of Fareham and several Marston’s pubs on the Portsmouth-Winchester road. As for PO Telephone vans, Pete, go to the link and halfway down is a photo of some at Adderley Park – http://tinyurl.com/

Chris Hebbron

30/04/13 – 10:55

I’m surprised that no-one has commented on the registration no. of this vehicle, DS 7422, which cannot be the original. DS was issued to Peebles-shire and its registration series had reached only as far as DS 6396 when the "year letter" series began in the 1960s. I assume the original was sold as a "cherished" plate and replaced. Unused numbers from small Scottish counties were normally used in this way as so few had been issued prior to 1964.

Geoff Kerr

21/12/14 – 06:56

With regards to the original number for DS 7422 it may have been lost prior to John Harris ‘rebuilding’ the body. From what I have been given to understand it was built from a lorry chassis, as were many of Mr Harris’s creations. I knew the last owner of DS 7422 the late Richard Payne well & viewed the vehicle whilst it was with him. Aspects of it led me to believe it to be a replica, including moulded rubber Lucas King of the Road ‘vintage rear lights. Mr Harris built several similar bodies on Morris 1 ton chassis & a Bedford WLG RVS 305 (another ‘age related number) but with shed like freelance vintage body for promotional use.
DS 7422 was recently sold in Richard Payne’s sale for £14,200 (hammer price) to a Mr Maskell of Wilstead Bedfordshire.

John Wakefield


CIE – Leyland Titan – OYI 827 – RA62

CIE - Leyland Titan - OYI 827 - RA62
Copyright Brendan Smith

CIE (Coras Iompair Eirann)
Leyland Titan PD3/2
CIE H41/33R

Seen in the dark blue and cream livery introduced for double-deckers in 1961, RA62 shows the final version of the CIE double-deck body, which is said to have been originally influenced by the prewar Leyland bodies supplied to Dublin United Tramways. The body design certainly had character, but was beginning to look dated by 1959, with its six-and-a-half bay construction, and Thomas Tilling-style three window arrangement at the front of the upper deck. Originally, the RAs were fitted with one-piece destination displays, but on overhaul the class later received the three aperture layout modelled here by RA62. The Titan PD3/2 chassis had semi-automatic transmission – and air brakes, whose fading characteristics have been so well described elsewhere on this website. Maybe the CIE versions had a holy statue in the cab as a back up system in case of emergency. Even then, the statue would probably have covered its eyes with its hands….

Photograph and Copy contributed by Brendan Smith

17/04/13 – 07:24

The "pseudo Birmingham" livery. Very nice!

Pete Davies

18/04/13 – 07:34

It has hitherto been my understanding that CIE double-deckers from this period had a position on the gear selector for fully automatic operation – or, at least, the ones used on Dublin City Services did, if that made a difference. Although the buses could theoretically be driven in semi or fully automatic mode, there was apparently a notice in the cab to the effect that drivers found selecting the gears manually (i.e. ‘semi’) would be dismissed.
This information came from a driver I once knew who had worked for CIE in Dublin.
Is it correct, do you know?

David Call

18/04/13 – 08:19

What an interesting question about the transmission! When I first moved to Southampton in 1970, I was working with a fellow who was in his last few months of work before retiring. He had a "mid 60’s" car which had the usual three pedals, but he hardly ever used the clutch, saying that his car had this same arrangement as David reports. He’d slip the car into that gear and move off. It was a Wolseley of some sort, if I remember correctly.

Pete Davies

18/04/13 – 16:51

I wonder what the reasoning for that gear selection instruction was….During my time on London Transport (1975-1978 at New Cross and Walworth) I only ever drove manually in spite of the RMs, RMLs and DMSs having the same gear selection arrangement. I found that I could drive the buses more smoothly in manual, and it was useful when driving up steep hills with a full load of passengers (like Shooters Hill) to be able to keep the bus in the correct gear until the gradient lessened.

Norman Long

18/04/13 – 17:41

Not quite the same, Norman, because the vehicles were then becoming quite elderly, but the instruction – when I drove for Reading Mainline – was always to drive in semi-automatic mode.

David Oldfield

19/04/13 – 06:49

Wolseley, Pete… Didn’t the big ADO minis & even the originals have a sort of semi automatic box where you could choose to change or just drive… or am I imagining that…. very clunky & jerky… with a crude straight gate and change…?


20/04/13 – 11:47

Joe, I think the car my colleague had was getting on for the size of something like the Austin Princess, but not quite as big, certainly not one of the Mini, 1100, 1800 family.

Pete Davies

20/04/13 – 17:11

The 1800 "Land Crab" was a deceptively spacious car, predecessor to the atrocious Princess: like the Princess it had a 6 cylinder option but the Princess had a standard automatic box. The Wolseley versions had Wolseley names like 18/85.
Some of this generation did have a semi auto box, though, but I think only the Mini and 1100- so it could have been a Wolseley 1300? These cars seemed big!
Googling seems to confirm.


20/04/13 – 17:13

A Wolseley 6 maybe?

Stephen Ford

20/04/13 – 18:18

Atrocious is the perfect description of the Princess – a company I worked for foisted one on me which I refused to use and was very happy to have exchanged for a second hand Cortina. BL gave the Princess a sex change and brought out the Ambassador, just as bad and equally loathed.
The 1100 and 1300 were a breed apart from their larger outgrowths which were, the original 1800 apart, appalling.

Phil Blinkhorn

21/04/13 – 08:01

Sorry, Joe. I can’t have expressed it properly. The Princess I had in mind was not the item which I have seen described as a sewage farm on wheels. From looking at Wikipedia, my guess is that my colleague’s beast was the Westminster, with Wolseley badges.

Pete Davies

21/04/13 – 09:56

Consensus has it that the 1100/1300 and "land-crab" 1800/2200 were essentially good cars – if a little bit underfunded on R & D or quality. One disgraceful aspect of English manufacturers at that time – especially BMC and Rootes – was badge engineering, but they also recycled model names. The Austin Princess was an honourable name by a fine (traditional) manufacturer. [Again, don’t confuse the real Austin/Morris et al with their shadowy and shady British Leyland personas.] The BLMC Princess was not the same beast.

David Oldfield

21/04/13 – 11:12

In 1966 when I was 19 I was employed as a management trainee for a major UK company. One of our jobs was to "sub" for area reps if they were ill or on holiday. Our South London, Kent and Sussex rep had a stay in hospital and I was sent from Manchester to sub for him. I travelled in my upright Ford Popular which I expected to use for the duration of my stay and did for the first few weeks.
When the rep came out of hospital he had a six week convalescence and during the last two weeks he came around with me instead of "being bored at home". He couldn’t drive until signed off but gave me the keys to his car. Our reps could have a company car or use their own which was covered by the company insurance. For two weeks I had the great pleasure of driving a 4 litre Princess R around the South East. Vanden Plas body, Rolls Royce engine and BMC engineering at its best!

Phil Blinkhorn

22/04/13 – 07:53

A coach operator friend of mine in Sheffield also ran private hire taxis and wedding cars for a while. [He "did" one of my brothers’ wedding.] He had a RR Princess 4 litre. Apparently the engine was never used in a RR car – it was derived from an engine used by the Army in an armoured car! My driving instructor had the predecessor 3 litre Princess as his private transport.

David Oldfield

22/04/13 – 10:16

We had a complaint a year or two back from someone who thought we got off the point too much. Much as I have enjoyed this thread, and joined in, I think that we probably are naughty little boys and have strayed a little far off the appointed track. [I don’t recollect ever seeing a half-cab Austin Princess or one bearing an "O" licence.]

David Oldfield

22/04/13 – 10:16

The FB60 engine was a smaller version of the RR Military B. The Princess R was the only civilian vehicle mass produced by another manufacturer using a Rolls Royce engine.

Phil Blinkhorn

22/04/13 – 14:35

David, whilst I fully understand your point, one of the joys of this site is the way we can wander down memory lane, taking the odd side path which leads who knows where. Of course being well experienced in finding our way around we all eventually seem to get back on track!

Phil Blinkhorn

22/04/13 – 18:24

So, as we were saying, AP made a semi automatic box for small cars (Mini, 1100) in the style of these bus transmissions. Why, though, were CIE drivers (allegedly) fired for using it? It seemed to be the norm on rear engined buses in those days. I would have thought the power available on a bus of this age would demand some intervention… any drivers know?


23/04/13 – 07:57

Didn’t Northern Scottish use an Austin Princess licensed as a PSV on an airport service? I think it was an E-suffix registered car, so would have been new in 1967. Of course it wasn’t a half-cab, and nor was it in Northern Scottish yellow/cream livery – but standard black I think. Memory says it was even numbered "NX1". So if my memories are correct, there is a link between the meanderings on this topic!

Michael Hampton

23/04/13 – 07:58

Interesting comments relating to fully-automatic ‘boxes with semi-automatic over-ride. It’s fascinating how operators seem to have had such differing views on how they should be used. From observances riding on LT Routemasters over the years, their drivers in the main seemed to prefer controlling the gear selection themselves. On the few occasions where the transmission had been seen to be left to its own devices, the progress seemed more stately. One thing still intrigues me though. Drivers of semi-automatic vehicles were usually instructed to pause in neutral when changing up, in order to let the engine revs drop and effect a smooth change. This also prolonged gearbox brakeband life. Semi-auto gearchanges carried out under power were frowned upon by engineering staff, yet the Routemaster, with a broadly similar transmission, actually operated like this in fully-automatic mode. Can anybody work it out?
Meandering back off piste, didn’t the Austin Champ (a would-be challenger to the Land Rover) also have a Rolls-Royce engine? Going a little further off piste, Wolseley versions of the Austin Westminster were the 6/99 and later 6/110. They sported that delightful Wolseley feature – the illuminated radiator badge. A lovely touch on a decidedly handsome car. Today, no doubt this would be ‘cool’. We simply called it class.

Brendan Smith

23/04/13 – 07:58

Phil. My friends will also tell you of my ability to stir it!

David Oldfield

23/04/13 – 13:56

The Austin Champ was designed to reduce UK military reliance on US built Jeeps but it was eclipsed by the Land Rover. Initial production models had Rolls Royce built engines but most vehicles had a modified version built by BMC under licence. The relatively few vehicles built for the civilian market had the licenced built engine as an option but the majority had an all BMC engine.

David, I bet my stirring spoon is bigger than yours.

Phil Blinkhorn


East Midland – Guy Arab – GNN 136/437 – D36/7

East Midland - Guy Arab - GNN 136/437 - D36/7
Copyright R H G Simpson

East Midland Motor Services
Guy Arab
Roe L27/28

At first glance, this pair are identical, but not so. See the differing sizes, and positioning, of the headlamps, and also the deeper edge of the canopy on D37 (far Vehicle).
These were delivered in 1945, then rebodied by Roe in 1954. I cannot be certain, but think that the seating capacity was L27/28R, both before and after. See also the paper stickers inside the lower saloon, perhaps telling of timetable changes, or advertising EMMS’ other services, sometimes advertising for drivers/conductors.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson

14/04/13 – 08:23

Incredible, Les. Never seen these in original guise but have seen the rebodies. As usual, the new bodies were beautiful and beautifully made – but interestingly, they were quoted as being 26′ 9" long. [Was this done simply by building the body longer, or was the chassis extended?] Roe rebuilt literally hundreds of war-time Guys and Daimlers but the sad thing is that few, if any, lasted more than ten years with their new bodies. East Midland, Tracky, County and Woolen spring readily to mind as do the, penny numbers of AECs and Daimlers for Sheffield A fleet.

David Oldfield

14/04/13 – 18:39

and of course, Sheffield Guy 45 David, rebuilt by Roe for the B fleet.

John Darwent

14/04/13 – 18:39

During the war official dispensation was given for the current 26ft. length limit for two-axle double deckers to be increased to 26ft. 9in. in the case of Guy Arabs, in order for the optional long Gardner 6LW engine to be fitted, by allowing it to project forwards in a ‘snout’ rather than have to move the front bulkhead back.
As it happened, the majority of Arab II’s continued to be fitted with the shorter 5LW, but the elongated bonnet was used irrespective of which engine was fitted. All East Midland’s Arabs had the 5LW, so there would probably have been a lot of spare space behind those radiators.

John Stringer

14/04/13 – 18:41

They would be Arab I’s, but were they 5LW’s or 6LW’s? And Roe’s part in building austerity bus bodies was something I’d only recently discovered. Few of them ever seem to have made their way south of the Midlands. I certainly never saw one and it’s very much a recent discovery that they built any. Duple, Brush and Massey seemed the dominant builders and their quality was in that order, too, I’d hazard.

Chris Hebbron

15/04/13 – 07:44

East Midland took only twelve utilities during the war. The first, in 1941, was a Bristol K5G which went to North Western in 1946 in exchange for an Arab I/Roe. Next came two Arab I’s with Brush bodies, the remainder were all Arab II’s with Roe bodies. Interestingly, East Midland managed to obtain consecutive last numbers for the registrations throughout the war. Five of the Arab II’s received new Roe lowbridge bodies in 1954. There was a further Arab II which was taken over from Baker Brothers of Warsop in 1953 and also rebodied by Roe. All of them went in 1960 and six years does seem a sadly short life for a vehicle with a new body but of course the Atlantean was no doubt responsible for that.
The question of the wartime length dispensation for the Guy Arab is an interesting one, production continued after the war with the Arab II, then the Arab III, all built to the extended length before the maximum dimension was increased to 27ft. So if it was an emergency wartime measure, how come the dispensation was never rescinded after the war, was it quietly forgotten about? It’s surprising someone didn’t ask, if Bristol and Daimler can accommodate the Gardner 6LW, why can’t Guy!

Chris Barker

15/04/13 – 07:44

Chris H: Jasper Pettie’s "Guy Buses in Camera" states the following:
"[the first] 500 were known as the Arab MkI. Thereafter the Arab MkII was introduced, and all had the longer bonnet and outswept front mudguards which had featured only on the 6LW-engined MkI examples".
On that basis, if they are definitely MkI chassis, they must have had 6LW engines. If as John Stringer states all the East Midland Arabs had 5LW, then these are MkIIs.
Caerphilly had at least one Roe utility ArabII, which survived as training bus until at least 1966. It has curved valances to the canopy and platform rather than the straight ones on the EM view, but this could have been a subsequent modification. BBF records it as rebuilt 1957, but the only obvious difference is that the front top deck windows are rubber-mounted, and there are two sliding windows per side on the lower and three on the upper deck.

Alan Murray-Rust

15/04/13 – 07:45

Chris… If you check Peter Gould’s lists, it was Doncaster’s wartime Roe bodied Regents that seemed to survive longest- Does anyone know why?


16/04/13 – 07:29

Joe At least three of the Doncaster Regents were to full peacetime standards being delivered in 1941 all of the Roe bus output for that year were to the same pre war spec. It is possible that the 1942 Doncaster Regent was also built to this standard using sored parts. Certainly Roe produced a full utility body by January 1942 albeit on so called unfrozen chassis for Yorkshire Woollen and Yorkshire Traction.
As well as building utility bodies on Guy and Daimler chassis they also built a number of trolleybuses building 63 of the 438 buses produced.

Chris Hough

16/04/13 – 10:50

Thanks Chris. I recall that the survivors mostly had proper domes and smelt rather funny. The lists suggest that Doncaster took very few buses during the war and got rid of the Guys fairly quickly: anything with an AEC engine (Bristol, Daimler, AEC) hung on, and were usually Roe bodied. The trolley story is even thinner: a very few utilities, rebodied by Roe after the war (presumably the same bodies that found their way on to the post war Titans.)


19/10/13 – 18:00

East Midland Motor Services took over Baker Brothers in Warsop who run the Mansfield to Church Warsop service I am not sure if it went to Shirebrooke the garage was at the side of the Hare & Hounds pub, the relief road in Warsop as gone through the garage. They took over Trumans at Shirebrooke and built a larger garage which is now a furniture shop.

Arthur Williams

16/05/16 – 17:53

East Midland Motor Services had 6 depots in North Derbys and North Notts, Chesterfield, Shirebrook, Clowne,Worksop, Retford and a shared garage at Mansfield with Trent, they covered quite a large area going as far as Doncaster, in the 70s they changed colour from red to lime green, the Chesterfield depot is now a car sales, the Shirebrook depot is a furniture w/house Clowne is a car repair place, Worksop still survives. Mansfields is a car repair and petrol station, Retford I am not sure,

Mr Anon

19/05/16 – 06:22

New Street, Chesterfield, is car body repairs rather than car sales, although Stagecoach East Midlands retained offices there for quite a while after the buses had moved out.

Peter Williamson


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 2nd July 2016