Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.
Tynemouth and District
Guy Arab IV
Park Royal H35/28
Tynemouth and District had eight of these – FT 9408/15 – 208/15, but I’m not sure if they were in addition to, or part of the 28 ordered by Northern General Transport. Unlike the Orion bodied Arabs, these beauties were popular with both passengers and crews alike and suffered from none of the constant knocks bangs rattles and squeaks of their predecessors.
The superbly engineered Guy Arab IV was arguably the best chassis of its generation, it was well built, well behaved and reliable. They were a delight to drive, and although not as fast as either the PD2 or 3 for me they were a better vehicle, the combination of the Guy chassis and the very handsome Park Royal H35/28R body made them an act that was extremely hard to follow. But how much better would they have been were it not for the outdated attitude of NGT? The depot Forman at Percy Main once said to me "Leylands are reliable plodders but nothing exiting, AEC’s are thoroughbreds but can be temperamental, but with the right engine you will never beat a GUY". The drawback with these was NGT’s stubborn reluctance to move on from the Gardner 5LW, they were huge fans of it, and over the years they must have used literally hundreds of them. With its unmatched record of proven reliability it was probably their first choice, however, it was designed in an age when PSV vehicles were smaller, lighter, and carried fewer passengers, but as good as it was, by 1956 it was showing its age and the performance was barley adequate for vehicles of this size and weight. Alternative units were available, and the obvious choice would have been the equally reliable but considerably more powerful 6LW. In my opinion, the 6LW would have changed these handsome beasts from what was undeniably a good bus, and turned them into possibly the best half cabs NGT ever had. In my experience with HGV’s, a larger engine with power to spare uses less fuel and is more efficient than one which is being continually pushed to its maximum design limits and has nothing in reserve. I know Southdown had some similar vehicles, but I don’t know if they were 5 or 6LW, I would be interested in comments from anyone who has any knowledge of them.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye
28/04/13 – 08:27
Well Ronnie, we’re seeing eye to eye again. A respected Commercial Motor journalist friend also said that Leyland are the reliable plodders and AEC the thoroughbreds – a comment with which I entirely concur. My driving instructor – who got me through the advanced test and was a part-time driver for Sheffield United Tours – always said that there is no substitute for cc s. Again, a sentiment with which I am in full accord. I couldn’t agree more with you about a preference for a 6LW powered Guy (or Bristol) over a 5LW. […..but just ponder that Eastern Counties in their parsimony put 4LWs in single deckers!] …..and as for the body? Yes, a beauty and a classic.
Isn’t it strange, though, how inefficient the industry could be? Roe were as good as, if not better than, their ACV partner PRV and were entrusted with building PRV style metal framed bodies – often on sub-contract to PRV when they were busy. [Tracky’s PS1 rebuilds were almost identical to this splendid beast.] …..and yet these Guys went down to London before going almost as far north as possible in England. How much did that add to the cost? We can all think of many similar examples.
28/04/13 – 08:27
The 48 examples delivered to Southdown in 1955/6 were all fitted with 6LW units. The Park Royal bodies fitted to these were based on the RT design, but were 5 bay construction.
28/04/13 – 09:29
Same body, though built by Crossley, but look how much more heavy Stockport’s PD2 looks with its tin front and draught/drip strips www.sct61.org.uk/
Northern General and its associated companies had one of the most interesting mixed fleets in the country in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the Guys with their traditional radiators, even those with the Orion bodies, gave added interest at a time when the Guy marque was declining in the face of what one Guy enthusiast remarked, many years later, was the unholy trinity, i.e. AEC, Daimler and Leyland.
28/04/13 – 13:51
Here is another picture of one of the 6LW powered Southdown Arab IVs with Park Royal bodywork, shown in Pool Valley bus station, Brighton. I have always regarded these machines as the possibly most handsome buses of all time, and for my money, the Arab IV was "the ultimate thoroughbred" in the conventional front engined double decker category. For sheer economy, engineering dependability and smooth operation it beat much of the opposition hands down. East Kent was another devotee of the Arab/Park Royal combination for very many years until it switched to the AEC Regent V in 1959, possibly because the BET group removed Guy from its list of approved suppliers in the mid 1950s, though by that time the Guy concern was experiencing financial problems anyway.
28/04/13 – 15:12
The year following the delivery of these Guy’s, NGT took delivery of a further 10 vehicles with RD versions of the handsome PRV bodies, but this time they were on a Leyland PD2/12 chassis, VUP 761/70 1761/70; the order had been placed by Sunderland District, but they were diverted to NGT for use on the longer routes they shared with United.
29/04/13 – 08:13
PMT had 30 Daimler CVG5 coincidentally also dating from 1956. By the late 60s, over half of them had been upgraded with 6LW engines. The difference between the two engine variants was noticeable, the 6LW versions being much smoother as well as being more powerful. Age was the only reason that all were not fitted with 6LWs, by this time the rear platform layout was outdated compared with the large numbers of Atlanteans and Fleetlines.
30/04/13 – 05:51
The posting of the Tynemouth Guy Arab with Park Royal body which I thought was one of the most elegant, stylish and well built of it’s time set me thinking that I had something similar among my own photos.
I found this one of an East Kent Arab IV taken in Folkestone bus station around 1970 but this is fitted with Guy’s full front bonnet which I quite like. Despite being a Southdown man all my life I must admit that the 4 bay style looks better than Southdown’s somewhat non-standard 5 bay style, I have no idea why they specified that design, 547 one of those shown was the only one of either batch to have a sliding rather than folding doors and is now in preservation.
30/04/13 – 08:47
I prefer 4 bays myself but did Southdown specify 5 bays to make them fit in with the PD2s (5 still being the norm for Leylands) not to mention the Beadle/Park Royal clones.
01/05/13 – 06:58
This is a perfect example of the difference between BET and Tilling Group Companies. Tilling would order X number of Y type vehicle, depending on where they would be based, some would have doors whilst others were open platform, engines would be either Bristol or Gardner, subject to availability, and the livery would be either green or red, but essentially they would all be pretty much the same. Here we see three BET companies who have ordered what on the face of it is the same type of vehicle, a Park Royal bodied Guy Arab IV, doors apart, look at the differences, Gardner 5LW Vs 6LW, exposed radiator or tin front, four bays or five, and the interiors would all be to individual speck as well.
01/05/13 – 11:47
…unless they happened to be Midland General/Notts and Derby Traction, in which case the livery would be blue, the seat back tops would be curved instead of straight, the destination layout was non-standard and the only KSWs they ever had would have a cord bell-pull downstairs instead of "push-once" buttons! But I think you are right, Ronnie. MGO were the exception that proved the rule, and not many others got away with it!
17/02/15 – 16:01
The East Kent Guy Arab IV photograph above submitted by Diesel Dave is on route 99 which ran from Folkestone town centre to the Shorncliffe Camp Garrison near Cheriton.