Southern National – Leyland Lion LT1 – VE 2143 – 3439

Southern National - Leyland Lion LT1 - VE 2143 - 3439

Southern National
Leyland Lion LT1
Beadle B35R

Before the First World War, the public transport needs in Cambridge were met by the horse drawn Cambridge Street Tramways Company and some small, often short lived, independent motor bus operators, most notably the Cambridge Motor Omnibus Company. In 1907 the assets of the struggling Cambridge Motor Omnibus Company were bought by James Berry Walford who hailed from Egham in Surrey. He relaunched the business in 1908 as the Ortona Motor Company which progressively became the major operator in the Cambridge area, finally seeing off the tramways company in February 1914. In 1913 The BET/BAT group took a initial 50% shareholding in Ortona, to which railway interests were later incorporated, and in 1919 Thomas Tilling set up the neighbouring Eastern Counties Omnibus Company in Ipswich which then became a Tilling/BAT company in 1928. In 1929, T/BAT assumed control of United Automobile Services and took steps to rationalise the somewhat sprawling United territory that covered large parts of Northumbria, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and East Anglia. The Lincolnshire sector became the Lincolnshire Road Car Company, and the East Anglian part was transferred to an expanded Eastern Counties Road Car Company which subsumed the Ortona business on 14 July 1931. The Ortona vehicle livery changed from green to red, and 94 vehicles, 73 of them less than five years old, all with pneumatic tyres, were transferred to the new business. By the 1920s Ortona’s favoured choice of manufacturer had become Leyland, with Titan TD1 double deckers ultimately predominating. Single deck deliveries were more varied, but three Leyland Lion LT1 saloons with Dodson B32F bodies, VE 2142/3/4 arrived with Ortona in November/December 1929. A picture of VE 2144 in original form may be found in Paul Carter’s book, Cambridge 1, to which much of this detail must be credited. These ran with ECOC until 1945, and it is thought that they acquired Gardner engines during that period. In the picture the two inspection holes in the bonnet suggest that a 5LW lay beneath it, probably fitted by ECOC. VE 2143 was sold to Southern National who fitted it with a new Beadle B35R body and a CovRad radiator in 1947 and gave it fleet number 3439. On disposal by Southern National it was acquired by G J Mutton, a showman of Coalpit Heath, South Gloucestershire. This bus was still in use with a showman when photographed in 1961 on Mitcham Common. Behind the Lion may be seen another former Western/Southern National bus, YD 4707, an AEC Regent of the early 1930s rebodied by Beadle around 1943/4, with its upper deck trepanned for fairground duties. Does any OBP expert have more details of this bus please?

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

13/04/22 – 08:13

Just out of interest, between 1925 and 1929 Ortona placed a total of 24 BMMO SOS chassis.
These comprised of 7 “S” types in 1925/6, 7 “Q” types in 1927 and 5 each of the “M” and “ODD” types in 1929.

Eric Bawden


Lytham St Annes Corporation – Leyland Titan TD – BTF 25 – 45

Lytham St Annes Corporation - Leyland Titan TD - BTF 25 - 45

Lytham St Annes Corporation
Leyland Titan TD4c
Leyland FH30/24R

The Leyland Titan TD4 replaced the TD3 in production from 1935, differing from its predecessor fundamentally only in the replacement of the three servo vacuum braking system by vacuum/hydraulic operation. The Lysholm Smith torque converter, designed in 1928, was quite popular in the TD3c ‘Gearless Bus’ chassis, the ‘c’ suffix denoting the converter, and remained a transmission option for the TD4. In 1935 Lytham St Annes Corporation took three Leyland Lion LT7c vehicles with torque converters, and all the 1936/37 deliveries, totalling 22 buses, of Lions and Titans, had the converter transmission. These, however, were the last torque converter buses to be received by Lytham St Annes. BTF 25, No. 45, is a Leyland Titan TD4c delivered in March 1937 with a Leyland full fronted FH30/24R body. Unlike the full fronted centre entrance Titans in the fleet of its near neighbour to the north, Blackpool, the Lytham St Annes buses had exposed radiators and rear entrances. In later years some were converted to open top, but number 45 survived intact into preservation. It is pictured at South Croydon on its way to Brighton during the May 1972 HCVC Rally. It is currently undergoing extensive restoration. This is one of only two surviving ’Gearless Buses’, the other being BTB 928, Lytham St Annes No. 34, a 1936 Leyland Lion LT7c.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

13/04/22 – 08:07

Interesting post, Roger. I imagine that the sudden burst of interest in buying Leyland Gearless buses was the closure of their tramway system between 1936 and 1937, thereby easing the tram drivers’ transfer to buses. Many a municipal transport entity did this, but Portsmouth Corporation was late in doing so, buying Crossleys so fitted post-war, when the trams had gone in 1937! They so liked them, that they were converted with Leyland TD4 engines and gearboxes late in their lives! The Crossleys had, if memory serves, Brockhouse converters, which involved the engines rising to their governors to pull away and accelerate and coasting along to the next bus stop!

Chris Hebbron

13/04/22 – 12:58

As you say, Chris, all of Portsmouth’s 31 post-war Crossleys had turbo-transmitters from new, until the late 1950’s when the engines and transmissions from withdrawn TD4s were substituted. Interestingly, though, only two of Portsmouth’s 46 pre-war Leyland TD4s were delivered with torque convertors, both new in 1935. Therese were Nos 126 [EEC body] and 130 [Leyland vee-front body]. Both had this transmission replaced with normal gearbox transmission in 1947. It’s possible Leyland had a replacement programme in place at about that time, as I have read of various municipalities and companies who replaced torque convertor transmission with standard gearbox in the period 1946-47.

Michael Hampton

14/04/22 – 08:17

You have to wonder why they converted 126 and 130 from turbo converters to normal gearboxes in 1947, then purchased a whole batch of Crossleys with turbo converters in 1948/49. Was it around that time that there was a change of General Manager, a thought in the back of my head?

Chris Hebbron

16/04/22 – 08:05

Chris Hebbron mentions the change of Manager at Lytham.
Here are the dates
J.C. Fairchild 1929 – 1946
W. Ashton 1946 – 1954
I hope that helps?

Stephen Howarth

19/04/22 – 06:16

There was no change of Portsmouth manager until 1951, when H C Simmonds took over from Ben Hall. Mr Hall had been manager for many years, and would have been in charge of the ordering of all the pre-war Leyland Titans, and the post-war Leylands and Crossleys. He would also have dealt with the replacement transmissions of the TD4c’s 126/130.
Mr Hall was very pleased with the pre-war Crossley Condors, and I have seen a photo of a visit made by a Crossley rep to Portsmouth c.1945 to receive his congratulations on the lengthy service of these diesel-engined vehicles. Perhaps the reputation and sales pitch was sufficient for the post-war order to be placed. After all, Crossley’s war-time demonstrator had been well received in several places [although it’s not recorded to have visited Portsmouth], and it was only later that the Crossley company messed things up by not proceeding with the patent rights on the engine design.

Michael Hampton


Wigan Corporation – Leyland Tiger TS4 – EK 8867 – 81

Wigan Corporation - Leyland Tiger TS4 - EK 8867 - 81

Wigan Corporation
Leyland Tiger TS4
Santus B32R

This picture of Wigan No.81 was taken on a dismal day in Brighton in May 1969 during the HCVC Rally. It shows a Leyland Tiger TS4 with locally Wigan built Santus B32R body delivered in October 1932. It has been established that the peculiarly Wigan name of Santus did not indicate a link between the coachbuilder and the confectionery manufacturer – see comments on this OBP page:-
The TS4 appeared in 1931 to compete with the AEC Regal, ironically designed by John Rackham who had created the Titan and Tiger models before migrating to Southall. It had a more robust chassis with a larger engine than the TS3, a new ‘silent third’ gearbox, a fully floating rear axle and triple servo brakes. In this 1969 picture EK 8867 is wearing a very faded Wigan livery which must surely be the one it wore upon withdrawal some time earlier, whenever that was – I have no Wigan fleetlist. It is now in proper preservation.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

15/02/22 – 05:48

More than anything, this photo shews how bodywork progressed in the seven or so years after 1931! What on earth was a ‘silent third’ gear: no screaming, or some sort of synchromesh device?

Chris Hebbron

16/02/22 – 06:26

The Leyland Tiger TS1, 2 and 3 versions were fundamentally the same chassis differing only in overall length and wheelbase. The TS4 was the single deck equivalent of the Titan TD2 and shared the same engine and transmission specifications. The four speed sliding mesh gearbox of the earlier models was replaced by one in which third speed was in constant mesh with helical cut gears giving a much quieter sound output, hence the ‘silent third’. This gearbox was subsequently employed in all standard Tigers and Titans up to the TS11 and TD7. Wigan No. 81 was delivered in October 1932 when Leyland’s initial diesel engine of 8.1 litres was only just being produced in quantity, and most of these went into Titans, so it almost certainly began service with the 7.6 litre petrol engine. The fact that it was still wearing its Wigan livery, albeit much faded, in 1969 suggests that it may well have been converted to diesel power during its period of service with the Corporation. The Leyland oil engine, later increased in capacity to 8.6 litres, was closely based upon the petrol unit, both being of overhead camshaft layout, and the compact design, unlike competing AEC and Gardner offerings, meant that it would fit within the same bonnet length as the petrol engine.

Roger Cox

05/03/22 – 06:24

A belated thx, Roger, for your comprehensive reply.

Chris Hebbron


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