London Transport – AEC Merlin – SMM 15F – XMB 15

SMM 15F

London Transport Board
1966
AEC Merlin P2R
Strachans B46D

In the mid 1960s London Transport began moving away from its ageing bespoke designs – RT family/ RF/ RM family – and belatedly began investigating the standard offerings of the bus manufacturing industry. The ensuing saga became a sad, expensive story of incompetence, profligacy and waste, from the RC Reliances, XA Atlanteans and MB/SM Merlins/Swifts of the 1960s, and onward through the 1970s and beyond with the Daimler Fleetlines and Metro Scanias. The first London Transport Merlins (Chiswick clung to this appendage even when Southall changed the name of the AH691 engined 36 ft long version to Swift 691) had Strachans dual doorway bodies seating 25 at the rear and accommodating (exceedingly closely – I speak from personal experience) 48 standing passengers in the lower front section. These early examples of the Merlin had a low driving position that was raised on later production models. Classified XMS, fourteen of them equipped with coin operated turnstiles went into service in central London on Red Arrow service 500 in 1966 and performed that duty well. At the same time, the Country Area was pursuing a policy of adopting the Merlin for conventional one man operation as the XMB type, and had nine Strachan B45D bodied examples ready for service in the early months of 1966, but the T&GWU refused to accept them. All except XMB 1 were then repainted red, de-seated to the 25 plus 48 standing format, and used on Red Arrow services. The solitary Country Area survivor, XMB 1, which had 46 seats and then carried the registration JLA 57D, went into store, during which time it was first reclassified as XMB 15 in November 1966, and then re-registered in January 1967 as NHX 15E. In August 1967 its registration was changed yet again to SMM 15F, and it continued to spend time in store with occasional forays out and about for route surveying and training purposes. Finally, in January 1969, nearly three years after delivery, it was transferred to Tring garage where, in the following month, it carried its first fare paying passengers on the single bus allocation route 387 between Tring and Aldbury village. In 1970 it became a member of the London Country fleet, but its identity crisis was still set to continue. In mid 1971 it was reclassified MBS 15 in accordance with the rest of Merlin fleet, but in November 1973 it was sent to the by now GLC controlled London Transport who repainted it red and promptly put it into store. MBS 4, formerly XMB 4 was sent from LT to LCBS in exchange. MBS 15 saw very little, if, indeed any service use with LT thereafter, before being dumped at the old Handley Page airfield at Radlett in 1975 along with very many other unwanted LT Merlins. The following web page illustrates the chequered career of this bus:-
https://ccmv.aecsouthall.co.uk/

In the picture above, taken early in London Country days in 1970 at Tring garage, XMB 15 has lost its London Transport roundel on the front panel, but has yet to receive its LCBS “Flying Wheel” symbol. The Strachans bodies on the early Merlins proved to be of sounder construction than the Metro-Cammell examples on the later deliveries, which quickly showed evidence of structural failure in the roof section above the central doorway.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


10/05/19 – 06:58

Thank you Roger,
Little known about vehicle article and photograph, I just thought these were rather mundane vehicles but did travel on the Red Arrow when they were new. So which one was the model done of ?, possibly a Dinky Supertoy or a Corgi, I did have one, but in my younger days it was repainted to look like an LUT Seddon, that will start the comments flowing, methinks.

Mike Norris


10/05/19 – 07:00

Didn’t quite a lot of these end up being sold to Belfast after being stored at Radlett?

David Pomfret


11/05/19 – 07:00

Several of the Strachan bodied versions along with the regular ones ended up at Gatwick Airport. Gatwick Handling had both types but Bcal and Airtours only had the latter ones. Nearly all replaced by Leyland Nationals.

Keith Hanbury-Chatten


17/05/19 – 06:50

In fairness to LT they were far from alone in having to withdraw MCW Scanias early as they suffered badly from corrosion. The one bought by WYPTE were all withdrawn early for this reason.

Chris Hough


17/05/19 – 10:32

All MetroScanias suffered this fate but, eventually, the Metropolitan had feet of clay. It did not fail as quickly as the MetroScania but in later life there were serious corrosion problems at the back end which some operators addressed by rebuilding them. The reasons for the LT failure with "off the shelf" designs is well documented (here, as elsewhere) – a sad indictment …..

David Oldfield


18/06/19 – 07:49

Surprisingly, when the Docklands Light Railway had a strike last year, 40-year old Metropolitan MD60 turned up on the replacement service. No corrosion apparent. So there’s a bit of life left in the design in London yet.

Bill


19/06/19 – 05:38

Bill, There are very few Metropolitans on the road now, because of the dreaded ‘metal moth’. MD60 is only in circulation thanks to a very lengthy (and no doubt costly) rebuild by the guys at Bus Works Blackpool and owners EnsignBus. See reference to it here: http://ensignvintagebuses.blogspot.com

Petras409


26/06/19 – 09:45

Leicester Trust have one on the road as well.

Roger Burdett


17/07/19 – 07:04

Sister vehicle XMS6 (JLA 56D) finished up with The Violet Bus Service at Blackrock, County Louth but none of the Strachans bodied Merlins ended up with Citybus/Ulsterbus in Northern Ireland.

Bill Headley

 

Upminster & District – AEC Regent V – 220 CXK

220 CXK

Upminster & District
1961
AEC Regent V 2D2RA
Park Royal H38/31F

In 1961, London Transport bought a Regent V on behalf of BEA to test the practicality of using double deckers on the service between Cromwell Road Air Terminal and Heathrow. The vehicle had a Park Royal H38/17F body, the restricted seating figure arising from the adaptation of the rear section of the lower deck to serve as a large luggage carrying compartment. The 2D2RA chassis had a 9.6 litre AV590 engine coupled with a Monocontrol gearbox. Proving that the double decker concept was feasible, it wore several liveries as it served with BEA for a number of years alongside RMF1254 and then the RMA fleet with their luggage trailers. It was sold in 1968 to Super Coaches (Upminster) Ltd., one of whose trading names was Upminster & District, and the new owner converted it back into standard bus configuration with windows and 31 seats on the lower deck. It is seen here on the HCVC Brighton Run in 1971, where it seemed to be functioning as a support vehicle rather than as an entrant itself.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


09/04/19 – 09:13

Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be any references to this vehicle after 1971. Super / Upminster & District were rather fond of AECs and ex London vehicles, probably due to their traffic manager, a young man called Peter Newman. In 2019, as chairman of Ensign Bus, his fleet suggests that he is still very fond of AECs and ex London vehicles.

Nigel Turner


11/04/19 – 06:16

I’m pretty sure that this Regent V was destroyed not long after this picture was taken. I cant recall now if it was a fire or an accident that put paid to it, but think it was the former. I’m sure someone with better knowledge will confirm my thoughts

Malcolm Pelling


13/04/19 – 06:00

I don’t believe that this was taken on the 1971 rally, since by then it had been sold from Super Coaches to City Coaches and on to Ementon, Cranfield.
It’s history is:-
B.E.A, Ruislip 6501 12/61
P.V.S. (London) Limited (dealer), Upminster 5/67
Super Coaches, (Upminster) Limited, Upminster 1/68 re-seated to H37/31F as no 681
City Coach Lines (Upminster), Limited, Upminster No, 506 2/69
S.M. Ementon, Cranfield 10/70
Withdrawn 6/72 after an accident and to Paul Sykes Organisation (dealer), Barnsley 12/72 for scrap. I photographed it with the identical destination setting, including the paper insert, on the 1968 rally as seen in this link.

John Kaye


14/04/19 – 06:11

You are right, John. As you suggest, it was the previous year. My mistake.

Roger Cox


21/04/19 – 07:18

I am not really a bus person (more into coaches) but to me the rather square Park Royal body on 220 CXK looks very similar to the bodies supplied to East Kent also on Regent V chassis, perhaps 220 CXK was tagged onto an EK batch?. I like the coach style wheel discs, Delaine used to have them on their Atlantean d/ds.

Andrew Spriggs


22/08/19 – 10:45

Does anyone know the colours when it was with BEA with BEA Titles? as only B&W pics seem to be available.

Stef


23/08/19 – 06:19

A quick Google found this: https://www.flickr.com/photos/

Geoff Pullin

 

Potteries Motor Traction – Daimler Fleetline – 5001 VT – L 1001

Potteries Motor Traction - Daimler Fleetline - 5001 VT - L 1001

Potteries Motor Traction
1964
Daimler Fleetline CRG6LX
Alexander H41/31F

Photographed in June 1970 at Manchester, and mercifully still retaining its Potteries livery and logo, is Daimler CRG6LX Fleetline No. L 1001, 5001 VT, with Alexander H41/31F bodywork, the first of a batch of twenty five delivered in April 1964. Ten similar vehicles followed in 1965. L 1001 seems to be remarkably coy about showing its destination, reducing its passenger information down to a sticker in the windscreen. Was this route not a standard operation for this type of vehicle, which would not then have had Manchester on its blind display?

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


17/03/19 – 09:11

Yes Roger,
It should be able to show ‘Manchester’ in the top half of the box (where it reads P.M.T.) and the second line would show X2 in Bold, with Knutsford over Altrincham (where it shows ‘Service’) There are photos on the web of the PD3’s that used to run this service and I have downloaded a copy of Fleetline 964 from the web in exactly the same place showing the full service blind that I refer to.The layover seemed to be quite lengthy and in busy times, the vehicle would have to vacate the stand and park on Lower Mosley Street itself, prior to returning to load up for the return journey. I spent many hours in my spotting days here but sadly I never got to ride on the service, principally as it was an out and back service TO Manchester. These Alexander bodied Fleetlines did not look out of place here as they were look alikes of North Westerns own examples and when PMT provided an NCME bodied Fleetline, of course that resembled LUT’s which used LMS on the Blackpool service, as all had a basic Red/Cream livery.

Mike Norris


18/03/19 – 07:08

North Western’s Fleetlines had single piece curved windscreens, single headlamps and different sidelights and the NWRCC colour scheme with a lighter red and more cream was much less drab. PMT’s colours on its double decker fleet didn’t exactly brighten up the Potteries’ landscape.

Phil Blinkhorn


20/03/19 – 06:15

The PMT vehicles often parked in Whitworth Street West. This road was close to LMS and was between the two railway lines that ran from the old Central Station and the line from Oxford Road. In my spotting days the low bridge Atlanteans were common fare.

Andrew Gosling


20/03/19 – 06:16

The ABC Coach and Bus Guide for the Winter period 1969/1970 contains a timetable for the Potteries to Manchester PMT service X2. Points served were Newcastle-under-Lyme, Hanley, Burslem, Tunstall, Kidsgrove, Lawton Arms, Sandbach, Holmes Chapel and Knutsford. Set downs were at Altrincham, Sale, Stretford and Manchester (Lower Mosley Street). (A full fare table was not shown.
The timetable shows ‘dep’ for departure times up to and including Lawton Arms and ‘arr’ for arrival times at Altrincham and beyond. However, Sandbach, Holmes Chapel and Knutsford have neither ‘dep’ or ‘arr’ which may mean they could have been both pick-up and set down points).
The northbound departure times were:
09:20 from Newcastle-under-Lyme (arriving Manchester 11:30) on Saturdays and Sundays
14:30 from Hanley (arriving Manchester 16:30) on Fridays and Saturdays
The southbound departure times were:
12:00 from Manchester (arriving Hanley 14:00) on Saturdays
18:00 from Manchester (arriving Newcastle-under-Lyme 20:10) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
PMT also ran a Hanley to Birmingham service X1 which had a similar format timetable.

David Slater


21/03/19 – 06:58

Bury also had some Alexander Fleet lines, 117 to 131, later 6317-31, but they had flat windscreens and were the full height version.

David Pomfret


26/03/19 – 06:53

David Slater’s description of the timetable is very helpful. Was it really the case that passengers were only allowed 30 minutes to spend in the city of Manchester.
Barely time to purchase a cup of tea and an Eccles Cake!

Petras409


02/07/19 – 05:59

L1001. 5001 VT was allocated to Newcastle Garage and service X2 was operated by Hanley Garage it may have been the case that ‘Manchester’ was not on the destination blind. Out of interest the bus was destroyed by a fire at Newcastle Garage in 1975.

Leekensian

 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Sunday 25th August 2019