Northern General – AEC Reliance – EFT 551 – 2154

Northern General - AEC Reliance - EFT 551 - 2154
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

The Northern General Transport Company
AEC Reliance 2MU3RV
Burlingham Seagull 70 C41F

On the subject of bus liveries that has been discussed on this site recently. Some operators seemed to adopt a one style fits all livery that hardly varied from one type of vehicle to another, and made little or no allowance for differences in body style or trim. This example from the NGT group is a rather sad looking AEC Burlingham Seagull that was once a rather attractive Wakefield’s coach number 251 based at Percy Main, the depot I worked at. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of one of these in coach livery, but in common with most other Northern group coaches ‘except Sunderland & District’ it would have been predominantly cream with maroon window surrounds and skirt, I cant remember if the roof was cream or maroon, but they did look rather splendid. This one seems to have had some other changes made, the centre roof window above the windscreen has been removed or painted out, and the seats appear to have been changed as the originals would have been red and didn’t have grab rails fitted. Sunderland & District had some Leyland Tiger Cub’s with identical bodies and they ended up in bog standard stage carriage livery.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

A full list of Reliance codes can be seen here.

30/10/11 – 15:02

Most regulars know that I am both an AEC and a Burlingham man. Whilst it is self evident and accepted that the original Seagull was a classic, unlike many others, I quite like the 60/70 models – even if they were not quite up to scratch with the original.
I never remember one of these in Manchester in the 70s but I only ever remember coaches in this livery, not the reversed cream version. Was the Tyne – Mersey service treated as a bus service for these purposes? This would still qualify as a quality livery by today’s standards.
One fascinating piece of trivia is that individual NGT group fleets were either AEC, Leyland or Guy fleets. So no standard corporate ordering there then.

David Oldfield

02/11/11 – 06:46

David, you are not on your own. Whilst, undeniably the Burlingham Seagull was the ‘Creme de la Creme’ I also had a soft spot for the 60/70 series.
My local operator Baddeley Bros. of Holmfirth had two original Seagulls on Royal Tiger chassis KWU 844 (1951) and LWY 653 (1953). They then had Bedford SBG/Burlingham RWY 277 in 1956, again still quite attractive. Then came four SB3′s in 1959 with the hugely curved windscreen Burlingham body (probably a coach version of the PA series Vauxhall Velox/Cresta cars of the period) Then in 1961 came Bedford SB1 2496 WY with the Burlingham 61 body. This body, I thought, suited the front engine Bedford better than the underfloor AEC/Leyland chassis. This coach was followed in 1962 by a Duple Gannet bodied SB5. Things were starting to slide Burlingham wise!
All these coaches served me as school buses between 1965/70 so perhaps I’m looking through rose tinted glasses.
I thought the 1959 petrol engined SB’s mundane, 2496 WY and it’s Gannet bodied sister 433 BWU, so-so but when we got the Royal Tigers with the classic Seagull body which was not that often, despite there age, that was the ‘Creme de la Creme’!


02/11/11 – 09:26

Couldn’t agree with you more, Eric. They were a superb coachbuilder but, towards the end, had more than their fare share of dogs – especially regarding design. Apart from the plastic roofs on Seagull 60s, I’m not aware of any considerable drop in quality and the Duple Continental and Firefly/Dragonfly were Burlinghams in everything but name and seemed to have a good reputation.
I’m a Sheffielder, who had relatives in the Barnsley and Huddersfield areas, and always thought Baddeley Brothers looked quite classy. I was only really aware of them as a student in the early 70s, passing through on the X19. By that time, the principal vehicles were Bedford YRQ/Plaxton Panorama Elite Express grant vehicles. They still looked smart, though.

David Oldfield

02/11/11 – 15:04

David, Your mention of plastic roofs on the 60′s has jogged my memory. I remember the cloth trim on the interior ceiling of both 2496 WY and 433 BWU being quite badly stained by the ingress of water when they would probably be only about five years old. Baddeley’s also had a Duple Alpine Continental on a Leopard chassis 474 EWW. Of course the other sizeable coach operator in the Huddersfield area was Hanson’s who had two batches of Firefly’s on Ford chassis in 1963/4


03/11/11 – 06:27

Strange, isn’t it, how many operators had heavy (or medium) weight service buses and lightweight coaches? Hanson and Booth and Fisher (recently posted) had AECs and Ford coaches, York Pullman was AEC/Bedford, the Doncaster indis went down a similar road and this was replicated around the country. Firms like Baddeley Bros were less common, but by no means unique, with their mix of heavy and light weight coaches.

David Oldfield

03/11/11 – 17:46

Hanson’s was rather a complex fleet in the fifties. The coaches were a mix of Regal III and Reliances and Bedfords and the buses were AEC with a smattering of Albions. Between 1956 and 1966 most of the AEC’s went on to be rebuilt as buses. The Bedfords were kept anything from 2 to about 5 years and from about 1959 all new coaches were Fords right to the demise of the Hanson business in 1974. This change of allegiance is thought to have being something to do with Hanson Haulage buying large numbers of Ford lorries.
Baddeley’s although being a smaller operator chose both Leyland and Bedford for new coaches in the fifties, many with Burlingham bodies, this policy continuing into the sixties. They also purchased quite a few secondhand coaches, including 2 that had been operated at one time or another with Hansons. Another feature of Baddeley’s was the hiring in for the summer season of coaches from local dealer Hughes and the Baddeley’s fleet name and number being applied. Several of these were in Wallace Arnold cream as the had be leased by WA for one or two seasons from Hughes when new. This led to Baddeley’s having quite an interesting and varied fleet. Wish I had owned a camera in those days.


04/11/11 – 07:04

I agree with you David. The last of what some would call ‘proper coaches’ to carry the Wakefields name were two Plaxton Embassy Bedfords ‘SB8′s I think’. The next Wakefields after that were Alexander ‘Y’ type DP’s on Leyland Leopard chassis, but I think that would have been a decision based on economics. Percy Main depot didn’t have any long distance or express routes, so the coach fleet was only used for private hires and excursions and most were de-Licensed at the end of Blackpool Illuminations, so apart from three double deckers the Wakefields name virtually disappeared from October until about Easter, where as the DP’s were used all year round and went onto stage carriage work in winter months. If memory serves, for the first couple of years some of them had the seats changed to ordinary bus type during the winter.

Ronnie Hoye

13/11/12 – 08:40

I remember going to the Lake District in the early 60s on one of these and it did indeed have the reversed coach livery the above is a later incarnation.

Malcolm Swaddle

18/04/13 – 17:40

EFT 550

Not in colour I’m afraid, but I’ve found this photo of one of EFT 551′s sisters in its original Wakefield’s livery. As I’ve said, Percy Main had four of these, EFT 550/3 – 250/3; and they remained in service as coaches until about 1970, they were then transferred to Northern and downgraded to D/P’s

Ronnie Hoye


Browns Blue Bus – Daimler CWA6 – GYE 64

Brown's Blue (Markfield) - Daimler CWA6 - GYE 64
Copyright Victor Brumby

Browns Blue Bus Service
Daimler CWA6
Duple H27/26R

In the 14th. edition of London Transport ABC, a photo of D 179 was shown as belonging to Brown’s Blue Bus Service of Ibstock (Leics.) On 10th January 1958, therefore, I went to Leicester with T. Brown and we saw and rode on such a D. Foolishly, however, we neglected to note the registration number and later found that while we had ridden on a D to Markfield, thinking it to be 179, it actually was not.
To refine the search, on the 1st. February, 1958, I went again to Leicester, with T. Houghton and we saw five more D’s, excluding the one I had seen before, now known to be D169. Their LT fleet nos. had been D19. 161, 165, 169, 179 and 74 which is pictured above. We rode on D74 to Ibstock where Brown’s Blue had recently taken over the garage of Victory Coaches Ltd. who owned a couple of fine AECs. The Daimler in the background is ex-East Kent, and a newish Leyland coach is on the right.
I have a dozen or so photos of (mostly) withdrawn buses, which I’m glad I’ve kept; I have often wondered if there might be a forum which gathers these things in for posterity – your website may be it!
I hope this contribution may be of interest to you chaps.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Victor Brumby

A full list of Daimler codes can be seen here.

27/10/11 – 07:36

Thank you, Victor for a super photo and text. I envy you. I remember seeing a D at Hinckley (I think) about the time you were actually riding on them. As an eleven year-old Leeds lad, I always associated blue utility Daimlers with Sammy Ledgard, and I couldn’t quite come to terms with the uncanny similarity (in my eyes). In the mists of time, one forgets that it was not just the ubiquitous Midland Red that served Leicestershire – fascinating as the MR fleet was at that time. If only I had been born a few years earlier so I could have ridden and photographed these D’s (and whatever else Brown’s Blue could offer) on routes which, even today, are unknown to me.

Paul Haywood

27/10/11 – 14:06

Is that Hylton and Dawsons Leyland Royal Tiger in the background?

Philip Carlton

01/11/11 – 11:43

Coming from Yorkshire like Paul, I too was fascinated by the "Browns Blue" post and superb photo, especially as I now live in Loughborough.
I would love to learn more about the firm, its fleet and routes, if anyone feels like "writing in".
Anything to do with London Daimlers, and a "Ledgardian" approach has to be totally absorbing!

John Whitaker

01/11/11 – 14:39

Browns Blue was quite a substantial operator which originated in 1923. Ultimately their operating area covered Loughborough, Whitwick, Ashby, Coalville, Ibstock, Hinckley and Leicester. They sold out to Midland Red in 1963 by which time the fleet totalled thirty nine vehicles. Apart from three Daimler double deckers bought new after the war, the general policy seemed to be second hand deckers for service work and most coaches bought new, these included some Dennis Lancets which later received Yeates full front bodies. There were six ex-London Daimlers and also one from Southport. In 1963, nine early post war RT’s were purchased and also some Regent III’s from Sheffield and Devon General. An unusual feature was that most of their double deckers were fitted with platform doors by the company, including all of the LT D’s. From photographic evidence, it appears that it was usual for them to have one double decker on service with a coach as a duplicate. There were three depots at the time of sale, at Markfield, Ibstock and Leicester. The unusual name arose from the fact that the firm was founded by Mr Laurence Brown and his vehicles were blue!

Chris Barker

02/11/11 – 09:32

Thanks Chris for the Browns Blue information. I believe they had at least one "HGF" D type, making the Ledgard similarity stronger. Did the Ds last into the 1960s, or was their demise before the RT intake, and take over?
Also, did they ever run into Shepshed, or is the Leicester to Shepshed route of thorough Midland Red origin?
Dare I ask if you or any other enthusiast, has any notion of a fleet list?!
Thanks again

John Whitaker

02/11/11 – 13:29

The Daimlers were all Duple bodied, EWM 372 ex Southport and GYE 64, HGC 288/292/296, HGF 806 and GLX 905. I was wrong about the RT’s, these arrived in 1958 and gradually replaced the Daimlers which had all gone by 1959 except the CVD6′s bought new, 2 Brush and 1 Roberts which lasted a year or so longer. The fleet was almost all AEC and Bedford by the takeover. I don’t believe they reached Shepshed but apparently reached Loughborough from Copt Oak via Nanpantan although this is not mentioned in lists so perhaps was occasional. The nearest point to Shepshed would have been Whitwick. The new replacement Midland Red services were numbered C70 – C72 and C80 – C89 with gaps, also 665/666 670, 677, 686/688 and 694. I’m afraid these numbers mean nothing to me however!

Chris Barker

03/11/11 – 06:29

Many thanks again Chris for the detailed info on "Brown’s Blue"

John Whitaker

06/11/11 – 17:11

Paul, John and Chris – thank you indeed for your speedy recognition of the ex-London utility Daimlers and a cornucopia of additional data on Mr. Brown’s Blues!

Victor Brumby

22/01/12 – 06:59

Brown’s Blue is still a famous name to those who lived in NW Leics in the 50′s and early 60′s. The service went past my house in Newbold Verdon (10 miles West of Leicester). One route served the (then) mining villages such as Bagworth and Ellistown – terminating in the main square in Coalville. We travelled on a weekend to see family and I always sat in the ‘pretend’ drivers seat upstairs at the front.

Neil Brearley

09/05/12 – 09:17

I worked as a conductor for the midland red Coalville garage in 1968/9 as a summer student.The midland red Markfield garage had just closed and their drivers and conductors moved to Coalville most of these fine gentlemen had been Browns Blue men so I got to hear lots of stories about how good a company Browns Blue was. I remember them operating several ancient AEC double deckers from London Transport.

Wayne Robinson

09/05/12 – 19:12

It’s interesting to note that D’s 161, 165, 169 & 179 started life as Green Line vehicles, based at Romford Garage and used on routes from Aldgate to Romford and other places in Essex. There were also Summer services from Baker Street to Whipsnade Zoo, which I travelled on one year. By 1950, they were considered worn out from traversing the punishing East End cobbles and put into store. The staff at Merton Garage, who had all the other ‘early’ D’s, heard about them and eventually insisted on having them, despite union objections, because it enabled older buses to be withdrawn. It turned out that they were actually in fine fettle and ran alongside their red compatriots for a few months, before being re-painted red. I recall them in green at Morden, where I lived, adding colour to the bus scene. Their lives were no shorter than the other D’s, which says much for their rugged construction, more usually acknowledged in the austerity Guy Arabs.
Like John Whitaker, I love all things ‘D’, especially as I lived in the middle of LT’s ‘Daimlerland’ They, plus the pre-war RT’s, made the area unique for many years.
D74, above, looks, bodily, in good condition, with not trace of sag on the waistline. It was overhauled by LT, in 1951, which would have helped.

Chris Hebbron

09/08/12 – 07:28

Interesting to find this forum as I am the grandson of Lawrence Daniel Brown, the founder of Browns Blue. The business started out from Markfield in a long garage at the side of our detached house. I remember it well and the story goes that Grandad had a lorry for transporting goods during the week and at weekends swapped the back end for a shed type structure with a row of wooden seats and he used to ferry people from Leicester to Bradgate Park at weekends. I spent many an early morning travelling to and from the pits to ferry the miners around Stanton and Merry Lees etc.

Nigel Brown

30/10/12 – 06:04

It was truly wonderful reading about Browns Blue busses, my Uncle Reg Brown used to talk about them when i visited him. Many thanks

Lesley Sherriff

30/10/12 – 06:05

Just read all the comments about Browns Blue. I had just entered a piece about my journeys on Browns Blue to and from Charnwood School on another site. South Charnwood as it was then. I was eleven then and all their vehicles were saloon type single deck buses. We seemed to have two drivers on our school service. One we knew as Baz and the other was ‘misery’ because he never smiled. This was about 1938 just as WWII was about to start. I travelled on Browns Blue during the war until I left school at 14 and started work At D. Byford hosiery firm on Blackbird Road in Leicester. I joined up in 1944 – 1948

John Swan

30/10/12 – 15:08

Can I direct anybody interested in finding out more about Brown’s Blue to the recently published history of the company by Mick Gamble, published by Leicester Transport Heritage Trust? It’s not cheap by any means, but in hardback at 212 pages with some great colour pictures, I guess that reflects a limited print of 500 (mine, sourced through MDS Books, is no 104…). After the company history, Appendices cover subsequent events, garages/staff, personnel, remnants/prsent day, and fleet-list. Highly-recommended.

Philip Rushworth

15/12/12 – 07:37

I am sat here in not so Sunny, but warmer than England SPAIN.
I am writing a piece to say in Church tomorrow, and I wanted to find the name of the Bus company I used to catch with my Mum to go shopping from Newbold Verdon to Coalville in 1956 when I was 9 years old.
I know now it was Browns Blue we used to get the Bus outside the Dragon pub in Dragon Lane.
The Beauty of the Old Browns Blue was if you could see the Bus coming up from the Recky you could run and be at the Bus stop at the Dragon before the bus got there.
We used to get the bus every day when I went to Ibstock Sec Modern they never let us down not even in the bad winter of 1962.

David Isaacs

23/01/13 – 15:46

I was pleased to find your site as I am the eldest grand-daughter of Laurence Daniel Brown and I have many childhood memories of playing around the garage with my brothers and sisters (not allowed these days of course!) we knew all the drivers and conductors, and they all kept an eye on us we were known as little beggars if I remember rightly!

Cheryl Halse

11/03/13 – 07:23

I am a just retired heavy truck mechanic but I remember Brown,s Blue buses very well.In 1954 we lived in Heather right opposite the school Browns used to run a school run bringing the kiddies from Normanton-Le-Heath to Heather primary school. My mam would take me to the bus stop I was 4 years old then and put me on the bus give the conductor 1 penny and ask him to put me off at my Gran Lawrences’s house at 3 Station road. The conductor I remember well was Mr Briers he made sure I always sat in the front seat next to the driver the bus used was usually the Bedford "O" type the driving area was painted brown And I remember the engine cover had a small guard at the rear protecting the gear lever which "rattled" all the time. It made my day to sit and watch the driver another chap who worked on this route was Alf Andrews from Ibstock. Everyone was friendly everyone knew everyone if you were running for the bus they would always stop and pick you up. This service through Ibstock and Heather ran through to Ashby de la Zouch I reckon it ran 2 services a day and picked the kids up in the afternoon when school finished the bus stopped opposite the school for the pick up.
It was a very sad day for Ibstock and the surrounding villages when Brown,s Blue finished very sad.
In later years when I trained as a truck mechanic with A. Fletcher & Son on Station Road Ibstock I worked with a chap who had worked at Browns for many years his name was Tom Powell he lived in Congerstone and he drove a lovely 2 tone blue Vauxhall Cresta the one with the rear wings tom was a good work mate.
After Browns had finished Mr Briers son Roy started a bus company called Reliant Coaches they were predominately blue in colour they ran for many years after taking over Joe Rudin,s garage at Strawberry Villa on the Melbourne Road Ibstock one or two of the chaps who worked for Roy also were old Brown’s Men Roy ran a good outfit good buses all AEC Happy days. We shall not see the likes of again.

Tony Lawrence

12/03/13 – 06:30

Lovely childhood memories, Tony. Thx for sharing them with us – as you say, those days are gone. Pity!

Chris Hebbron

GYE 64_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

02/06/13 – 06:30

My father drove for Browns Blue as did my grandad sadly both have past away my father rests in Groby church yard very close to Laurence the founder. How fitting this is so as the firm was like a family, when I visit I thank Laurence with a prayer thanks for the memories rest in peace all.

Keith Partner


London Transport – AEC Regent III – MXX 232 – RLH 32

London Transport - AEC Regent III - MXX 232 - RLH 32

London Transport - AEC Regent III - MXX 232 - RLH 32
Copyright Allan Machon

London Transport
AEC Regent III 9613E 
Weymann L53R

Just a short contribution but I thought you may be interested in the above shots of ex London Transport RLH 32 which looked a real treat at the Oxford bus rally last Sunday 16th October.
As you can see it is still in the Samuel Ledgard livery which it received in 2007 for the 40th Anniversary of the Samuel Ledgard Society Re-enactment running day on Sunday 14th October of that year. The vehicle has been owned by Time Bus Travel of St. Albans since 1997 fortunately it narrowly escaped being converted into a mobile home in 1975

Photograph and Copy contributed by Allan Machon

A full list of Regent III codes can be seen here.

23/10/11 – 08:06

Ah, the RLH, one of my favourites! Looking forward to seeing RLH 48 later today at Cobham/Brooklands Museum’s first major event at the new museum site. RLH 32 will gladden the heart of Chris Y.

David Oldfield

23/10/11 – 11:27

……and it gladdens my heart to see one, too, David, since I recall them, in my three years spent in London, running on the South Wimbledon circular 127 route. The strange thing is, that although they were originally bound for Midland General, I have never actually seen a photo of one in that company’s livery.
It certainly looks smart in SL’s livery, though.
Nice post!

Chris Hebbron

23/10/11 – 11:30

I had the honour, and I mean that most seriously, of conducting RLH 32 all day and evening on the day of the Samuel Ledgard commemoration – the beautifully restored vehicle represented the four RLHs which Samuel Ledgard operated (RLH2/4/6/8). Free public journeys, massively supported, were operated on Ledgard routes. I wore my genuine uniform which I’ve kept all these years, and used Setright machine SL 40 (I bought it some years ago) and real SL tickets. The day was even more memorable for me, as it was fifty years almost to the day since I started work as an eager young conductor in October 1957. SL 40 was also at our Otley and Ilkley depots throughout its existence. Just to add the final touch of nostalgia to the day preserved ex Bristol Leyland PD1/ECW LAE 13 was present – my first Ledgard bus in passenger service when I started driving in 1961 was LAE 12 !! Its scarcely possible to express sufficiently our gratitude to the gentlemen Messrs Pring for their expensive and superb restoration of MXX 232 and for bringing it all the way north to star in the Day’s events. You can see me in my smart conductors uniform and a shot of RLH 32 whilst way up north at this link.

Chris Youhill

24/10/11 – 07:44

Brooklands was the "very best of London Buses" – and it certainly was. Everything seemed to be in showroom shine condition and there was an excellent cross section of vehicles with a good route network. …..and yes, RL48 was in excellent condition and on top form out on the road. Chris H – I’m not sure any of them actually got to Midland General. They, along with Notts & Derbys, got some rather splendid KSW6G/ECW instead in 1953. They weren’t AEC/Weymann but they rather fine nonetheless.

David Oldfield

24/10/11 – 07:45

Lovely photos. The Weymann bodied Regent III was certainly a classic and an all time favourite of mine. I travelled home from school daily on Rochdale’s highbridge versions in the early 60′s. Just also noticed the Ford 100E behind in both views was exactly like my first car, a 1956 model acquired in 1965 – ah nostalgia!

Philip Halstead

24/10/11 – 13:44

MXX 232_c_lr

Here is a picture of RLH 32 taken in 1970 at Woking early in London Country days. It was then allocated to Addlestone Garage, but it didn’t last much longer with LCBS as it was withdrawn in July 1970. The Ledgard RLHs were Nos 2,4,6 and 8, KYY 502/4/6/8, which arrived at Armley between December 1964 and February 1965.

Roger Cox

25/10/11 – 06:55

Nice to see the bus in Woking, Roger C, a place I had and still have connexions with. They were based not just at Addlestone, but also Guildford Garage, but many of the routes didn’t need lowbridge vehicles at all. always felt that the red livery suited them best.
My understanding, David O, was that Midland General ordered thirty, but only took ten in the end, the other twenty going to LTE.

Chris Hebbron

25/10/11 – 06:59

RLH 2/4/6/8/ were purchased by Ledgard specifically for the Horsforth to Otley services, operated from Yeadon Depot, which required lowbridge vehicles. Funny though how "needs must", and on Saturday nights Otley depot operated three dance specials from Ilkley Town Hall, one of which was to Yeadon. Allocation of drivers for these appeared on the typewritten weekly master sheet at Otley and Ilkley Depots and in red block letters was shown as :-


Chris Youhill

25/10/11 – 07:01

I’m afraid this subject always arouses a little hostility in me because I never seem to see these vehicles ascribed correctly. In 1948, Midland General ordered thirty of these vehicles but it was decreed by the British Transport Commission that ten would have to suffice and when they were delivered in 1950, being registered ONU 630-639, the remaining twenty were diverted to London Transport. Midland General received payment from LT for them. The correct description should therefore be (in my opinion!) ‘London Transport’s Midland General type Regents’ Alas, I don’t hold out much hope of this but I’m as nostalgic about one sadly missed blue operator as Chris Y is about another!

Chris Barker

25/10/11 – 07:02

Before being taken over by the BTC, Midland General ordered 30 Regent/Weymann lowbridge buses when they only needed 10, in the hope of staving off the Bristol invasion for as long as possible. BTC was having none of this, and diverted 20 to London Transport, where they became the first 20 RLHs. That left 10 at Midland General, one of which is seen here

Peter Williamson

25/10/11 – 11:34

I believe there were one or two routes in the Chesterfield/Alfreton area that required lowbridge buses. In addition the B8, Nottingham – Mansfield (by a peculiar circuitous route) also required them on account of a railway bridge near Bestwood Colliery. Despite being deprived of the remaining 20 lowbridge Regents, I think I am right in saying that no Bristols reached Midland General until the Lodekkas in 1954. The 15 KSW6Gs delivered in 1953 were actually designated Notts & Derby Traction, to replace trolleybuses on the A1 Nottingham – Ripley service. Actually, when the trolleybuses were withdrawn, the A1 (via Basford) ceased to be the main Riply service, and the KSWs operated on the parallel B1 (via Bobbersmill), displacing, in the main, highbridge preselector Regent IIIs of around 1949 vintage.

Stephen Ford

25/10/11 – 11:35

ONU 633_lr_2

One of my not very good shots I’m afraid the original is very very dark but it is in colour.


26/10/11 – 05:50

Thx, folks, for the full story (with link and colour photo) of these interesting buses. How different the MG ones look from their LTE cousins, with different destination display, upstairs roof ventilators and square number plate below windscreen. LTE did not change the side windows from the sliding version, though. I only saw MG vehicles when visiting relatives in Chesterfield and don’t recall seeing these at all. MG buses seemed to lurk in this town. Maybe, from the brief glimpses of their vehicles, I didn’t recognise them for what they were.

Chris Hebbron

26/10/11 – 15:51

It occurs to me that although Midland General became a constituent part of BTC in 1948 (and failed in its ploy to stave off Bristols for as long as possible!) it managed to keep its livery for many years. What other BTC companies, if any, retained their individual liveries? I exclude London Transport.

Chris Hebbron

26/10/11 – 16:53

MG was part of Balfour Beattie – who of course still exist in transport infrastructure (ie railways). They generated their own electricity for Notts and Derby and were thereby nationalised under the nationalisation of the power industry.
It has not occurred to me until this recent post that MG had deliberately over ordered so that they could have as many of their beloved AEC/Weymanns as possible. [Pity they were rumbled.]
Red and White and Cheltenham and District were also Balfour Beattie and retained their own distinctive liveries until NBC days – just that reds and whites didn’t stick out so much. Even so, there was still a greater element of freedom of liveries with BTC/Tilling than with NBC. [United and Crosville coach liveries not to mention Brighton and Hove.]

David Oldfield

26/10/11 – 17:48

With respect, I don’t think that the Red and White group of companies was associated with Balfour Beatty. Balfour Beatty certainly owned Notts and Derby, Midland General and Mansfield and District, but Red and White United Transport was a separate group which included, apart from Red and White’s own services, those of Cheltenham District, Newbury and District, South Midland, United Welsh and Venture of Basingstoke. The group sold out its British bus operations to the BTC in 1950, but retained its overseas interests under the name United Transport Company, until it disposed of these to the BET group in 1971.

Roger Cox

26/10/11 – 18:20

Glad my photos of RLH32 have given pleasure. I was particularly interested in Roger’s photo of RLH32 working out of Addlestone Garage (WY). In the late’60s, I was working at Plessey Radar in Addlestone and spent many a happy lunch hour around the garage. I am sure I must have seen her then, but regrettably have no photos.

Allan Machon

27/10/11 – 07:23

I have a feeling that the Red & White Group were always independent until voluntarily selling out to the BTC – how they must have cursed, because they were (to the best of my knowledge) the last company to succumb (at least voluntarily) before the Labour Government fell. Cheltenham District were owned by Balfour Beatty until Red & White bought them out a short time before the outbreak of war. It was stupid of me to have forgotten about C & D, which were on my doorstep. As you say, David O, they didn’t stick out so much (and I’m colour-blind)!

Chris Hebbron

27/10/11 – 07:24

Cheltenham District had been a Balfour Beatty company but was sold to the Red & White group in 1939. Another BB company was Llanelli & District which was absorbed by South Wales in 1952. Interesting comments about the ordering of these vehicles, Midland General had some very lucrative services and also some very hilly routes. Perhaps the thought of fully loaded buses going up steep hills led them to conclude that the 9.6 litre Regent was a better prospect than what they were destined to receive from Bristol!

Chris Barker

27/10/11 – 12:08

Yes, Midland General can’t have been over-impressed by their first experience of Bristols – in my earlier posting I had forgotten that in 1953 they received three second hand lowbridge K5Gs from Hants & Dorset (two 1939 and one 1940 vintage). Thrashing one of them up the hill from Langley Mill to Heanor market place would have been a slow and noisy experience! About 1963, the 7.7 litre crash gearbox Regent IIs only came out on Saturdays on the Nottingham – Alfreton run (B3/C5). Yet I recall hearing a driver express his strong preference even for these over the everyday Lodekkas. His comment was, "Put one of these [Regents] in first and it’ll climb up the side of a house."

Stephen Ford

30/10/11 – 06:26

I was always told that Red and White was started by the Watts family who I believe are still in business as tyre fitters.

Philip Carlton

30/10/11 – 17:35

Correct: Watts of Lydney, Glos., are a very large tyre company with a global presence,including aircraft, fork lift truck and industrial tyres.

Chris Hebbron

23/03/12 – 06:46

Reading Chris’s story about drivers of double deckers being strongly advised to keep to the centre of the road under a certain bridge reminded me of at least one other notice. When much younger I liked to sit in the seat behind the driver, I was fascinated by a notice in the cab of Maidstone & District double deckers which read " This a highbridge double decker not to be driven into Bexhill, Sittingbourne or Tenterden garages". As none of the local companies operated lowbridge buses in the area I was at that time unsure of the difference between the two types this being around 65 years ago. I know that at a later date an extension was built onto Bexhill garage to allow highbridge buses into that part only, I only drove coaches into Tenterden garage so I am sure if any alterations were made there and never even saw Sittingbourne garage

Diesel Dave

23/03/12 – 16:38

London Transport had to pick their bus garages carefully when they received their austerity buses during the war, as they were taller than the usual LT spec. Their garages were inherited from a motley collection of past companies and fortunately some had high-enough entrances to cater for them. Most Guys finished up in East London and most Daimlers in Merton/Sutton Garages.

Chris Hebbron

26/05/12 – 07:01

This might be one for Chris Youhill (who’s postings I’ve followed on other sites): why work for Ledgard’s, as opposed to LCT, BCT or WYRCC?
I suppose location might be a factor: only Ledgard had a depot in Otley or Yeadon, but in Bradford surely BCT offered better working conditions? Similarly in Ilkley wouldn’t WYRCC have offered better conditions than Ledgard? And couldn’t Armley-based staff have travelled on the frequent LCT services to LCT’s Bramley depot? WYRCC/BCT/LCC all ran more modern fleets . . . What was it that tied staff to Ledgard’s?
And, for that matter, why did staff in any town with both a company and "corpo" depot (Halifax for example) choose the former over the latter – location of depots? or what??

Philip Rushworth

26/05/12 – 09:30

Well there’s another cat put among the pigeons, Philip!

David Oldfield

26/05/12 – 16:48

While Chris Y is getting steam up (for which I am waiting with baited breath!), I’ll throw in my pennyworth. All sorts of reasons. Leaving aside the political “labour/public versus conservative/private” debate, different operators created different impressions and reputations for themselves. “Xyz is a lousy company and I wouldn’t work for them if they were the last employer on earth” etc. You will know from my comments elsewhere that I was a fan of Nottingham City Transport – it always seemed efficient and competent, and its buses were usually well-kept – even the older ones. BUT NCT had a reputation – they waited for nobody. With the conductor on the platform, they would ring off with you no more than three paces away, and a pre-selector Regent , second gear engaged and held only on the footbrake would take off like a greyhound. You stood no chance! Barton’s on the other hand, and South Notts too, would wait for any runners, and their conductors were generally more considerate, helping with pushchairs, luggage etc. Obviously there is more scope to re-coup time on longer interurban journeys, so in a way this is understandable. On the other hand, Barton as an employer had a reputation for being high-handed. The company belonged to the family, and any driver who damaged a bus got his marching orders. Obviously staff who were also enthusiasts might have their own reasons for wanting to work for this, rather than that operator – especially those that ran varied and interesting fleets. And don’t forget that in the 1950s and 60s there was a degree of government control over pay through the Ministry of Labour’s Wages Inspectorate – so it was not necessarily a case of small private operators paying significantly lower wages.

Stephen Ford

26/05/12 – 20:33

Many full-time employees of smaller, private companies started as part-timers, something not countenanced by most of the larger companies – except in Scotland.

Alan Hall

26/05/12 – 20:41

In the Halifax case, Philip, and very probably in other Corporation v Company scenarios, the influencing factors were the higher standards of wages and conditions on the municipalities.

Roger Cox

27/05/12 – 06:38

Stephen mentions the high handed attitude to staff from the Barton management the same autocratic attitude was practised by Samuel Ledgard prior to his death in 1952. There are many apocryphal stories about his attitude to staff. One is of a guard being sacked after Mr Ledgard saw him riding a motor bike and told he was not paid enough to have such a machine and he was sacked! Another is when an elderly passenger told a crew they were running early. The guard told the passenger it was"nowt to do with thee" The next day the man was summoned to see Mr Ledgard aka the old man.
Leeds corporation were also strict although higher pay was the norm with numerous stringent fines and restrictions for transgressors.

Chris Hough

30/05/12 – 07:25

I was most amused by Stephen’s accurate expectation that I shall be "getting steam up" and he won’t be disappointed !! However I’m going on holiday for ten days or so and therefore I’ll write it when I get back. The matter of staff loyalty to independent operators is a complex one and I should be able to outline many aspects which will, I think, surprise Philip.

Chris Youhill

12/06/12 – 07:09


In answer to Philip’s query of the 26th Ultimo (as "last month" used to be referred to in the days of quills and ink) I think that, to avoid writing a complex book here on OBP, I can sum up the subject in two simple words – "JOB SATISFACTION."
In the case of the Samuel Ledgard undertaking it was of course not the usual small independent operator but was a large concern with five depots, or to be strictly accurate four depots and one "running shed." The Firm was a very good employer indeed and paid wage rates well above what was necessary, but quite reasonably in return insisted rigidly that "the job was done properly" – as a minority who thought otherwise soon found out as they queued at the Labour Exchange !!
The network of busy tightly timed services was an interesting one, varying between well patronised interurban routes through local town facilities to medium length outer district forays. Comprehensive rotas were in force at all depots and all staff worked interestingly on all routes operated from those premises. The Contract, Private Hire, Express Service and Excursion functions were thriving and varied.
The fleet was quite magnificent in its variety of chassis and bodywork makes and models – new and, after the demise of the Founder Samuel, second hand. A duty could easily involve a new synchromesh AEC, followed by a new or second hand manual Leyland PD and, later in the day a preselector Daimler (new or "previously owned") – and perhaps an Albion Valkrie or a 1930 ex Birmingham Regent 1 very successfully posing as a Burlingham veteran luxury coach/maid of all work thirty years "new." Well, enough of the nostalgia which really made the job so very enjoyable and varied.
It must be stressed that the Firm’s services were so totally reliable, and greatly appreciated by the Public, that such a level has never been seen in the area since and is still greatly missed. The vehicles, regardless of pedigree, were superbly maintained by very proud craftsmen staff and well treated by drivers with a pride, and ANY lost mileage (which was so rare as to be a sensation followed by a searching enquiry) was regarded as a very serious matter indeed and was virtually never caused by a breakdown. Yes, the Municipal and Group operators may have appeared to offer better conditions and in some ways did, but some of their modes of operation were the road to boredom and insanity. I have also worked for Leeds City Transport where OPO drivers or crews lived on the same route year in year out and, in the case of the crews, with the same "mate" day in day out. This system encouraged widespread work dodging as a science by those so inclined of whom there were plenty (classed conceitedly by themselves as "fast men" which in reality meant gearbox, flywheel and diff wreckers) and double the work for those who wouldn’t lower their standards. I also worked for West Yorkshire at Ilkley which was better, as you did all the routes and had a different colleague every week. I finished my career for the last fourteen years with the Pontefract family owned firm of South Yorkshire – in effect a miniature version of Samuel Ledgard’s – where good wages were paid and the vehicles were also superbly maintained, and everyone worked all the routes long and local.
By the way Philip, just a small point, but West Yorkshire did in fact have a depot in Yeadon High Street.
So, there you have it, I’ve tried to explain as briefly as possible "Why work for Ledgard’s" – believe me I wish I could turn back the clock to October 1957 and start all over again – as Mr. Sinatra famously sang "I did it my way."

Chris Youhill

12/06/12 – 18:47

Nice to see you on the platform of D213/HGF 690, which Sam’l Ledgard had from 1954 to 1960. I’d like to have seen them in SL’s excellent livery. Did you start as a conductor and work up to driver?
I think your reply was very appropriate. Within reason, pay is less important than job satisfaction and a good employer encourages a loyal and stable workforce. And you were lucky to have lived in an era of buses of various ages, makes and technical differences. It needed skill and empathy to drive a vehicle with a crash, then synchromesh gearbox, then a pre-selective gearbox, and make a good job of it.

Chris Hebbron

13/06/12 – 09:30

Sorry, I meant HGF890.
My abiding memory of these buses was how imposing they looked from the outside, being very tall at 14′ 6", and spacious inside, due, I suppose, to their high roofs. they sported LT’s three-piece indicators, which was unattractive at the rear, seemingly stuck on with glue! Looks as if SL unstuck them from the above photo!

Chris Hebbron

13/06/12 – 09:33

Chris Y s comments on LCT are interesting when my dad was a guard from 1953-1984 he had a total of three drivers in that time For much of the period different garages worked allocated routes although this changed as OMO spread and crews moved to the remaining 2 man routes and the use of universal rostering meant that all depots eventually worked all routes. There also existed a "senior rota" for long serving crews whereby they did not have extremes of starting and finishing times
Like many bus operators LCT had to take what it could get in terms of recruits when people were reluctant to work unsocial hours in a time of full employment this did not in many cases lend itself to good customer relations and the service and the publics perception of the service suffered As a result a whole phalanx of potential passengers were lost for good

Chris Hough

MXX 232_lr (2) Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

13/06/12 – 09:34

Thanks Chris Hebbron – yes the London Sutton depot "HGFs" were a fine model full of real character. One hundred of them were delivered between May and November 1946 – Daimler CWA6/Park Royal. In 1953/4 we acquired no less than twenty two of them at a time when the prewar fleet had to be replaced – they performed heroically and handled heavily loaded services punctually and reliably on very harsh roads.
They retained a lovely London feature in the cabs above the windscreens, in Gill Sans lettering, "DOUBLE DECK- HEIGHT 14’6" To my utter amazement they were apparently the first London buses to feature a continuous cord bell in the lower saloon – I was always under the impression that this had been a London feature !! The sound emitted by the cab roof buzzer to indicate that the upper saloon bell push was being used was sheer joy, and bestowed a most beneficial free foot massage on the front seat passengers up there.
The picture was taken at Ilkley in December 1957 in my second month as a conductor. The Firm did not teach people to drive, and so I obtained my PSV licence elsewhere before eagerly returning to where my heart lay, and my first duty as a driver was a late turn on a Friday on the very busy Leeds – Guiseley – Ilkley service. The bus was ex Bristol Leyland PD1/ECW LAE 12 which behaved like a dream and performed like a trooper.

Chris Youhill

13/05/13 – 07:34

Chris et al, sorry! I’ve only just stumbled on your replies to my question: the answers were, quite frankly, staring me in the face.

Philip Rushworth


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Thursday 24th April 2014