East Kent – AEC Reliance – MJG 48

East Kent - AEC Reliance - MJG 48
Copyright Brendan Smith

East Kent Road Car Co Ltd
AEC Reliance MU3RV
Beadle C32C

When new, this handsome-looking vehicle would have worn East Kent’s traditional coach livery of maroon and cream. In the photo it is seen towards the end of its East Kent days, still on active coaching duties, but wearing a revised livery of grey and maroon. At some point in its career, MJG 48 has received extra aluminium trim strips along the body sides, with another strip discreetly added above the headlights. This subtle, well thought out modification has, in my view, allowed for the application of an updated livery, whilst maintaining an air of quality and dignity befitting an older vehicle. (The coach is actually sporting NBC white bus-style fleetnames and ‘Double N’ logos on the sides, but somehow they do not dominate). This fine coach and its siblings had long working lives with East Kent, and most were not withdrawn I believe until 1975.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Brendan Smith

A full list of Reliance codes can be seen here.


24/09/12 – 10:33

Talking of subtle differences, this is essentially the Rochester body (for separate chassis) but the front end does not immediately give it away. The main part of the body is uncannily like the Weymann Fanfare – even more so on the Rochester itself. Fine vehicle, fine operator – fine memories.

David Oldfield


24/09/12 – 17:15

After looking at yesterdays posting of the East Kent Beadle bodied Reliance I remembered having a photo of another of the batch in the original livery which was taken in the mid sixties in Eastbourne where I think the passengers had taken a lunch break on their way to Swanage. The traditional East Kent colours look superb on this style of bodywork but then they suited just about any style available at the time, we were fortunate in the south east in having three companies namely Southdown, M&D and East Kent all with superbly elegant liveries plus Eastbourne Corporation with their deep blue and primrose colours all within a relatively small area.

MJG 44_lr

East Kent had three batches of Beadle bodied Reliances delivered in 1957 the 32 seat tour coaches with centre entrances in the photo No’s MJG 41-52 followed by No’s MJG 285-300 with 37 seat front entrance bodies which bore a resemblance to the Rochester integral design and lastly No’s NFN 327-349 with 41 seat bodies similar to 285 etc at least some of the later type even had a rear destination screens used when on express work, attached is a photo taken again in the mid sixties of NFN 341 on Margate sea front alas can’t see the rear panels.

NFN 341_lr
NFN 341

I think that these Reliances along with Southdowns Tiger Cubs were the only underfloor engined chassis bodied by Beadle if you discount the Commer powered integrals of which incidentally East Kent had three KFN 250-252 delivered in 1955 with 41 seat front entrance dual purpose bodies if I am wrong no doubt someone on the site will put me in the picture.

Diesel Dave


25/09/12 – 07:11

Beadle also bodied early Sentinel under floors – www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/ 

Peter Williamson


26/09/12 – 07:05

I knew that I had to have forgotten something namely the Sentinels, but an even greater omission considering that I lived nearby is of course the Maidstone & District’s batch of Reliances delivered in 1957 No’s SO 223-239 reg No’s YKR 223-239 with B42F bodies.
I am open to further correction.

Diesel Dave


06/01/13 – 07:04

The NFN is shown with the livery used when downgraded for bus work. Originally the livery was all-over red with an ivory waistband – which didn’t stop them being used on bus routes, of course.

Lew Finnis


Sheffield United Tours – AEC Regal III – KWA 722 – 182

Sheffield United Tours - AEC Regal III - KWA 722 - 182
Copyright R H G Simpson

Sheffield United Tours
Windover C32F

Looking in remarkably good shape for a contractor’s vehicle is this ex Sheffield United Tours AEC Regal III – chassis number 0962200, with a C32F body by Windover. It entered service in 1949, was sold on to Davies, Tredegar (via dealer) about July 1958, thence (via dealer) to Townson as shown, who operated it for about two years before selling on again.
What a great combination was the AEC Regal III/Windover half cab.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson


21/09/12 – 07:10

SUT had a goodly number of these vehicles on both the medium weight 068 as well as the heavyweight 0962 version of the Regal III. There were also a fair number of Duples – which were disposed of rather quickly/earlier than the Windovers. I’m too young (oh yes I am) to remember these half-cab Windovers in service. Apparently they were known for two things: (i) They were superbly finished – "even better than Duple" but (ii) the structure was suspect (with the common post-war use of "green" wood for the frames). These bodies were very popular with the BET companies who did substantial coach work (especially in the north). It was rare, however, for them to reach a ten year life-span with their first operator.

David Oldfield


21/09/12 – 08:32

I don’t recall seeing – and certainly don’t have any "bought" views of – these vehicles in reality, though I have seen them in model form. The models seem to capture the reality very well. I have vague memories of Townson vehicles in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, when they, like Monk of Warrington and, of course, Wimpey, used old buses and coaches as staff transport.

Pete Davies


22/09/12 – 07:11

Some of the earlier SUT coaches were 0662 Regal I types and the name of the body was the Huntingdon. It was built in numbers on Leyland Tiger and AEC Regal chassis and North Western had quite a few Bristol Ls. I believe there were also one or two Guys. Windover then went on to have further success on Royal Tiger and Regal IV underfloor chassis with the Kingsway. [Personally, I thought this an ugly body – but then few could compete with the early Seagulls.]
Bizarrely, for a firm whose products (from the point of view of finish) were so highly regarded – and eminently suitable as touring coaches – they disappeared after the Royal Tiger/Regal IV era. I am not aware that they even got as far as bodying a Tiger Cub or Reliance. Doubly strange since they had been in business since 1766. Their factory was just down the road from Duple’s in north London.

David Oldfield


22/09/12 – 07:12

Davids point about BET companies in the North. As far as I know Ribble had some Windover’s, and although I’ve only seen pictures of them, Northern General had 8 on Guy Arab chassis fitted with Meadows engines, but they were later replaced with AEC A173 7.7 units. They were new in 1949 and by Northerns standards they had a relatively short life of only 8 years, they were gone by 1957.

Ronnie Hoye


22/09/12 – 07:13

I’ve always thought that this body from Windovers came a very close second to the Duple A type for it’s pleasing lines and symmetry. They got the look of this just right and it’s very easy on the eye compared to others of the time, some of which had the vertical framing pointing up in all directions, like badly arranged flowers in a vase! There’s no wonder that the BET group went for them in a big way although I had heard about the problems mentioned by David O, I understand that the roof and domes were notorious for leaking water into the saloon.

Chris Barker


22/09/12 – 07:13

Do any of the Sheffield contributors remember various SUT AEC Regal coaches operating on hire(?) to Sheffield Transport during the late 1950s? I particularly remember the fully fronted LWE registered batch operating on the 82 between Ecclesall and Middlewood with an honesty box just inside the entrance. I think this was more a result of a crew shortage rather than serviceable vehicles.

Ian Wild


23/09/12 – 06:45

Re S.U.T. coaches operating on hire to S.T.D. I can also remember travelling on them on the 82.
Also I remember that Batchelors hired a coach to "market" their products. They gave out free samples of their products! I recall that this was my first introduction to green pea soup.

Stephen Bloomfield


23/09/12 – 06:46

I’ve just been through the fleet history to make sure of my gut reaction, and Ribble never operated any vehicles with Windover bodywork. Some of North Western’s Huntingdon bodied Bristol L5Gs were "cascaded" to Melba Motors in 1958-61 and repainted in that subsidiary’s blue and cream livery. EFE have produced a 1/76 scale model of one of these Melba machines, depicted after sale to British Railways.
For customers wanting bodywork for underfloor engined chassis (but who considered the Kingsway too avant garde) Windover also offered the Queensway model with more "traditional" lines. Unfortunately it somehow resembled an electric-powered delivery van or milk float and its only major customer was Yorkshire Woollen District.
Incidentally, while it’s a well-known fact that the Kingsway body was named after the location of the BET Group’s head office (and the Queensway merely mimicked the nomenclature of the Kingsway), nobody has ever been able to tell me why the front-engined body was called the Huntingdon. Any suggestions?

Neville Mercer


23/09/12 – 06:50

Sorry pardon chaps, but not for the first time I’ve got it wrong, Northern General had 10 Windover Guy’s, I don’t know the full numbers of the batch, but one was BCN 26 fleet number 1226

Ronnie Hoye


23/09/12 – 06:51

Yorkshire Woollen had Windover coaches both half cab and a late batch of Royal Tigers. Incidentally when I got married the Rolls Royce wedding car had a Windover body c.1935.

Philip Carlton


23/09/12 – 06:52

I don’t recall hearing about SUT coaches on hire to Sheffield Transport Department before, but it certainly happened that Joint Committee buses went to work for SUT on occasion. Under the Sheffield heading of the ‘Vehicle Developments’ column, in Buses Illustrated issue no. 56 for November 1959, there’s a report that " …. Leyland Tiger PS1’s 1193-5, 1201/2 (KWE 93-5, KWE 1/2), which have Weymann bodes, were on loan to Sheffield United Tours in July."
Interestingly, in the same issue under the Sheffield United Tours heading, it mentions that the operator actually hired back AEC Regal III’s, 186/90 (LWE886/90) from the dealer to whom they’d already been sold, in order to assist with summer peak traffic. It must have been a busy summer at Charlotte Road!

Dave Careless


23/09/12 – 06:53

I did not know that Windover were in business as far back as 1766, but the firm certainly opened a factory in my nearby town of Huntingdon in 1796, building high quality carriages and, later, motor car bodywork for prestigious marques such as Rolls Royce and Bentley. The business moved to Colindale in north west London in 1924.The firm made aircraft components during WW2 and expanded into commercial vehicle bodywork postwar. In 1956 the company was taken over by Henleys and all coachbuilding activity ceased.

Roger Cox


23/09/12 – 19:37

HWJ 989_lr
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

HWJ 990_lr
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

HWJ 992_lr
Copyright R F Mack

Just a follow up to the story on SUT Regals which may be of interest, EYMS purchased three of SUT 1947 Regal/Duple coaches in 6/48 becoming 502-504 HWJ 989/990/992 these lasted with EYMS until 9/60 and then all three passed to Lloyds of Nuneaton.
At first they were operated in SUT livery with EY fleet names before being repainted into EY’s indigo blue & primrose, I believe Yorkshire Traction also bought some from this batch as well.

Mike Davies


23/09/12 – 19:39

The Windover Kingsway did make it into the lightweight era, just. Two AEC Reliances appeared at the 1954 Commercial Motor Show with C41R bodies. They were MBE 611 for Hudson, Horncastle and RUP 843 for Gillett, Quarrington Hill. Biss Bros, Bishops Stortford also had four Kingsway bodied Foden PVRF6, NJH 847 of 1951, and NUR 197, NUR 198 and ORO 107 of 1952. A further BET customer for the Queensway was Red Line, W10, with OLX 1-3 on AEC Regal IV chassis. A picture of one appears in Ian Allan abc of Buses and Coaches, published around 1956, although wrongly described as a Reliance. At least the first and last were rebodied with Plaxton Panorama bodies, and photos of them in this form can be seen on Flickr.

David Williamson


24/09/12 – 07:18

The SUT AEC Regals were on hire to STD, I think in 1956, they also worked on the 110 Parson Cross via Owlerton service at peak times.
A colleague, the late Mike Gillott, became an auxiliary conductor, supervising the half cab forward entrance. He regularly travelled to and from his workplace on 82 Ecclesall duties, assisting the regular driver.
An acute staff shortage WAS the reason for the hiring.

Keith Beeden


24/09/12 – 10:31

Thank you for the information Keith, I recalled the honesty box and hence no normal conductor to take fares but I couldn’t remember how the manual door was operated.

Ian Wild


25/09/12 – 07:00

Roger answers the Huntingdon question.
Trent had some Regal IIIs – one I believe now owned by Steve Morris – and Timpsons had Regal IV/Kingsways (such as LUW 454 which worked on hire to SUT, complete with shield.) Thanks to Trevor Weckert for latter information.

David Oldfield

22/03/13 – 08:00

SUT was the winners of the 1st International coach rally in Montreux in 1949 with KWA 724, a Regal III with Huntingdon coachwork. they repeated this success the following year with LWE 892, one of the full fronted Regal III’s. Incidentally, the entire batch of full fronted Regal III’s were originally ordered as 7’6" (6821A)wide but when Ben Goodfellow, the new GM took over he modified the order to that of LWE 885-890 to remain as ordered but LWE 891-896 to the new 8′ wide specification (9621E). Regarding Batchelors Demonstrators..MWJ 197/NWB 198/9/203/4/6/8/OWA 210/111/OWB 215 were all used for this purpose.

Trev Weckert


Safeway Coaches – Dennis Lancet – ASV 900

Safeway Coaches - Dennis Lancet - ASV 900

Safeway Coaches - Dennis Lancet - ASV 900
Copyright all shots Ken Jones

Safeway Coaches
Dennis Lancet III
Reading C33F

It’s not often that you find a vehicle built in 1949 which until recently has had only one owner. This Dennis Lancet 33 seat coach was acquired new by Safeway Services of South Petherton in Somerset, which was ownedASV 900_sign and operated by the Gunn family. It was re-registered in 1985 to ASV 900 its previous registration was ETP 184 why it was re-registered I know not. I also shot this interesting sign from inside the coach.
In the early part of this year Stephen Morris of Quantock Motors purchased this vehicle from Vernon Gunn. He brought it to the West Midlands to attend a bus rally and not only was I lucky to photograph it, but also to be its only passenger to the rally. The vehicle has since returned to its base in Somerset.
I recommend the information about the company given on this very good website www.countrybus.co.uk

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ken Jones

19/09/12 – 07:19

Ken’s comments in respect of this magnificent vehicle raise another point. Never mind why the registration change, but why would a Somerset operator buy new a coach registered in Portsmouth? Could it be that the body builder registered it on the owners’ behalf? In those days it would have been remarkably unusual!

Pete Davies

19/09/12 – 07:20

This Reading (of Portsmouth) – bodied coach — hence the original Portsmouth registration was new to Safeway Services of South Petherton, the domain of the legendary Veronica Gunn. Following withdrawal in 1969 the coach, by then re-registered ASV 900 (did this stand for A Safeway Vehicle?), was retained in preservation by the company, and it is said that Miss Gunn even used it to go to Buckingham Palace to collect her MBE in 1987!

Philip Lamb

20/09/12 – 07:15

Found this reprinted article from 1947 at www.dennissociety.org.uk

Ken Jones

20/09/12 – 07:16

We should be grateful that this coach has survived and within a caring environment, too. It really is in superb condition and a tribute to the coachbuilder, of Portsmouth. Coaches of this era were really the swansong of ‘tween war art deco design. This coach oozes it in spadesfull.
For such a small coachbuilder as Reading & Co., we now have three examples of their craft on the website; The wartime austerity-bodied Provincial AEC Regal/Regent, this one and the 1964 Guernsey Nimbus. The firm lasted longer than I thought, showing that it was not just used for distress purchases. Does anyone have/know of, a history of Readings? I’d love to know more. Incidentally, coachbuilder Portsmouth Aviation was only just down the road from Readings.

Chris Hebbron

20/09/12 – 07:17

Quite a number of Reading-bodied coaches were registered in Portsmouth prior to delivery. The same was true of Wadhams at Waterlooville. Many were supplied through Sparshatts, a local agent which acted for a number of chassis manufacturers including Dennis. Sparshatts probably arranged for the vehicles to be bodied as well — a complete service for the small operator!

Philip Lamb

21/09/12 – 07:04

Picture of Portsmouth Aviation bodied half cab can be seen on this site under galleries / BVBG / The Bristols. Here is a quick link to view. 

Ken Jones

21/09/12 – 07:06

A History of Readings entitled ‘First and Last’ was published by the Provincial Society in 2009. See www.provincialsociety.org/shop.htm

Philip Lamb, Ken Jones, Andrew Goodwin & Pat Jennings

22/09/12 – 06:40

ASV 900_lr_2

Further to the posting of ASV 900, here is a view of the offside, taken at the Southsea rally in June 1990.

Pete Davies

22/09/12 – 06:42

Thx, folks, for the Reading history information.

Chris Hebbron

04/02/13 – 10:54

This lovely old coach is now owned by Quantock Coaches in Taunton. My step dad Vernon Gunn, nephew to Veronica Gunn MBE retired and did not want to just park the vehicle up. It is now still in its colours with Quantock.

Andy Blackwell

ASV 900_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

04/02/14 – 16:51

I know this site deals with old buses but I think what I am saying is relevant. On one of my infrequent visits to Salisbury today I saw 2 new double deckers. Only by looking carefully could I tell that it was a Dennis Enviro 400. Why are manufacturers seeking anonymity? Look at the radiator on the Lancet above, no doubt who made that. The Park and Ride Dennis single deckers are the same although Dennis are proud of their dustcarts- they put their name on them.
The Government seem to be realising that we need to make things in this country rather than selling each other dodgy financial products.
Come on manufacturers-be proud. Put your name on what you make. You might even consider a Union Jack (sorry- Flag)


05/02/14 – 06:12

Paragon, I agree with you absolutely but some operators have been known to remove name badges from vehicles. I remember when Trent in Derby began taking Bristol VR’s, the Chief Engineer at the time ordered the Bristol badges to be removed from the engine covers under the premise ‘I don’t see why we should advertise Bristol products’ Now whatever your views on the Bristol VR may be, I always thought it was a barmy notion!

Chris Barker

05/02/14 – 06:14

In the caption it is stated that the above vehicle was re-registered from ETP 184 to ASV 900 in 1985. This I find perfectly plausible, and I suggest that the subsequent information that the registration ASV 900 was applied by 1969 is not correct.
I am inclined to suppose that the reason for the re-registration is as follows. When paper registration documents (V5) were introduced, any vehicle remaining untaxed for a certain period automatically lost its registration unless it was claimed within a particular time limit. If not claimed, the vehicle had to receive a new registration when it came to be retaxed. I think there has since been some yielding on this point, and that it is now possible for a vehicle’s original registration to be reclaimed. ‘ASV’ is one of many marks used by DVLA (from the early 1980s) to issue to users who wished to have a ‘timeless’ (i.e. non-prefix/suffix) registration and who were prepared to pay for the privilege, or to issue to vehicles which needed to be re-registered for any other reason. (Vehicles dating from 1963 onwards may still have normally received a suffix/prefix registration, I’m not sure now).
Kinross-shire County Council (the original issuer of ‘SV’ registrations) was one of several Scottish authorities which did not get so far as issuing three-letter registrations, therefore in the normal course of events ‘ASV’ was not issued. The registration ‘ASV 900′ may or may not have been especially requested.
There is also the possibility that the registration ETP 184 was intentionally transferred to another vehicle, although I think this unlikely.

David Call

05/02/14 – 17:36

ASV marks, according to ‘A History of Motor Vehicle Registration in the UK’ by L. H. Newell (Newby Books, 1999) were issued post-1983, The vehicle in question was taken off the road in 1969, and probably not used again until 1987 when it was refurbished and repainted to convey Miss Gunn to the Palace. So 1985-1987 is I agree the most likely date of re-registration. Can’t say for certain, but It is unlikely ETP 184 was ever transferred. During the course of the last year, the coach was acquired by Go Goodwins of Eccles, and has subsequently been sold on again.

Philip Lamb


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Monday 3rd August 2015