Old Bus Photos

Leicester City Transport – AEC Bridgemaster – 217 AJF – 217

217 AJF

Leicester City Transport
AEC Bridgemaster B3RA
Park Royal H45/31R

217 AJF Leicester City 217 was one of the first vehicles to be delivered in the new cream livery with three maroon bands. It was withdrawn from service in 1971, worked for other companies until 1998 when it was bought for preservation and is now owned by individual members of the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust. It originally had only 72 seats but an additional row was inserted in the upper deck in 1963. It has been fully operational since 2011. More information can be found at this link.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ken Jones

08/05/14 – 07:53

It just shows how even an ugly duckling like the Bridgemaster can be enhanced by a quality livery. Good to see it preserved and in running order.

Ian Wild

08/05/14 – 07:54

Isn’t this livery just much more dignified than the red/grey/white Leicester City Council corporate livery that came after? – we’ll paint our buses the same colour as our "bin waggons" because, presumably, we think our passengers are rubbish. When I first visited Leicester in 1984 the LCT operation had echoes of various conflicting past ages: Ultimate and Solomatic ticket machines; and, yes, conductor operation; but two-door buses abounded; and on some one man buses change was delivered down a chute from a change-giver situated by the driver’s left shoulder (Roger Cox – or indeed anybody living in Halifax late 60’s/early 70’s . . . or in fact in Leicester late 70’s-late 80’s! – will get the picture). LCT was the first time I saw drivers/conductors wearing flat-caps as a matter of course – now, around in First Leeds country, if I ever spot a driver wearing a cap, then the odds are in favour it being a non-uniform baseball cap.
In how many respects was the Bridgemaster a low-height-cut-price-Routemaster-for-the-provinces?
And what a bloody indulgence of LCT to buy a small number of buses they subsequently decided were non-standard (didn’t see that coming then!) and so dispose of prematurely . . . all on the backs of their rate-payers presumably.

Philip Rushworth

08/05/14 – 10:58

The Bridgemaster was an AEC/Park Royal integral model, but there the resemblance to the Routemaster stopped. Among the most obvious differences the Bridgemaster was only available with a manual gearbox, it did not have power steering, was a lowheight design and completely different in appearance!

Don McKeown

08/05/14 – 10:59

Phil They also bought AEC Renowns which also left early along with the non standard Daimler CSG6/30s bought in the early sixties.
Many years ago Leeds bin wagons were a very similar shade to the buses while the lighting dept used blueand the direct works dept used grey The in the late sixties early seventies everything apart from the buses went bright red In Lancaster the bus shelters and the dust carts are still using Trafalgar blue the colour used fro the buses from 1974 to their demise Perhaps they overstocked!

Chris Hough

08/05/14 – 10:59

It is said that following the loan of a Sheffield Transport bus, the general manager of Leicester was so impressed with the blue and cream livery that he decided to adorn his buses with a virtually identical scheme in maroon and cream. Details of the Sheffield bus escape me at present, but what excellent taste that man had!

John Darwent

08/05/14 – 11:45

DBC 189C

Variations on a theme. DBC 189C was a H44/31F East Lancs bodied AEC Renown, new to Leicester City Transport in 1965. Around the mid to late 70’s. it was sold to Hunter of Seaton Delaval, and is pictured in service with them on the road between Earsdon and Seaton Delaval. Did it too start life in the rather smart version of the Leicester livery?

Ronnie Hoye

09/05/14 – 08:56

Ronnie. Yes. John. Could it have been one of Sheffield’s 519-524 batch of similar Bridgemasters? Sheffield never had any particular problems with either Regent Vs or Bridgemasters in their mountainous operating area – and all achieved a full working life (12/13 for Bridgemaster and 13-17 for Regent V).

David Oldfield

09/05/14 – 08:56

The previous Leicester livery was not unlike the Hunters livery with the window surrounds in cream and the rest in maroon.

Chris Hough

09/05/14 – 09:58

2523 WE
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

David – May well have been a Sheffield Bridgemaster on loan.  Pretty similar apart from opening top deck front windows. Go compare.

John Darwent

09/05/14 – 12:46

…..and as Ian said, at the top, what a difference a livery can make – just like on the Orion. Even 525, of the ugliest of PRV designs, looks good in STD livery – as it still does in preservation.

Question for all our experts out there. Recent reading has brought up an number of "forgotten" facts. One is the legislation requiring a downstairs emergency exit on 30′ long deckers. The Leicester Bridgemaster has one behind the driver’s cab, the "normal" position. Apart from those with platform doors – where the emergency exit was a door at the rear of the platform – only the Alexander Regent Vs of Sheffield had the additional emergency exit behind the driver. Why? Did the legislation come in during the course of 1960? STD’s Roe and Weymann Regent Vs arrived between January and April 1960. The Alexanders were the last to arrive, again in April.

David Oldfield

10/05/14 – 08:59

Leeds later 30 foot vehicles had an emergency window in the first bay on the offside rather like an upper deck emergency window

Chris Hough

10/05/14 – 08:59

Dont know for certain, David. By 1960 the NGT Group had entered the world of the Atlantean. The lower deck emergency exit was on the O/S between the rear axle and the engine. The only half cabs required to have an emergency exit on the lower deck were the SDO R/D Burlingham bodied PD3’s. They had a door on the back at the foot of the stairs, the Routemasters (O/S rear behind the axle, and the Ex East Yorkshire Renowns (centre rear). The Orion bodied PD3’s had the standard cut away section of the open platform which extended round the back, and allowed an escape route should the vehicle end up on its side.

Ronnie Hoye

10/05/14 – 08:59

The requirement for an additional emergency exit must have come in around 1959. The Leeds PD3s with Roe bodies didn’t have it but the tram replacement Daimlers in the reversed UA series did.

David Beilby

10/05/14 – 12:36

Thanks chaps. I was aware of the Leeds vehicles, Chris and David. Still anecdotal though. We’ve not pinned down a date, just more or less confirmed it by detection.

David Oldfield

11/05/14 – 08:21

There’s a small booklet that was produced by the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust in 2011 called "Maroon to Cream", The Story of Leicester City Transport’s Livery Change, by Mike Greenwood, which details the revision to the Leicester livery and highlights the Sheffield connection; it’s a fascinating little booklet that is well worth a read.

Dave Careless

11/05/14 – 08:22

Off-subject though this may be, I query the random positioning of front number plates on buses, and whether they were perhaps not subject to he Construction and use Regulations by which cars and motorcycles were bound.
Above we see Leicester Corp. Bridgemasters cast their plate high above the cab, under the destination indicator, BTC oft used a square plate slung the left under the cab, where the standard spot was at the base of the radiator – sometimes actually attached to the grille.
The only two ‘lets’ which I know to have been permitted in commercials, have been the rear plate of pantechnicons mounted atop the roof at right, and London Transport bypassing the white and yellow plates prescribed for all other vehicles in GB, by continuing with white on black. These allowances must have been arranged by the most complex legal wrangling and alteration of otherwise immutable law.
Thanks to all correspondents.who make this such a lively forum, with remarkable knowledge of the minutiae of omnibology and simply wonderful archive photographs, now saved for posterity by their exposure in OBP.

Victor Brumby

11/05/14 – 17:38

Leeds buses had a square registration plate affixed under the cab windscreen. However All the exposed radiator MCW Orion stock had a straight plate under the windscreen. The 60 all Leyland Titans had a transfer straight number plate under the cab window. The concealed radiator Daimler had a plate at the bottom of the tin front later Daimlers with Manchester style cowls reverted to the square cast plate. Later concealed Titans and Regents had their plates at the bottom of their tin fronts. All rear entrance buses had a square plate in the offside rear corner. These were usually painted. The last rear entrance Leeds buses 1966 AEC Regent had an illuminated plate over the rear platform window. All rear engined types had a plate at the bottom of the front dash positioned between the tow points. All rear engined deckers had a rear plate over the back window.

Chris Hough

12/05/14 – 08:34

Lincoln Corporation`s four Bridgemasters followed on from Leicester`s final batch by chassis nos. Does anyone know if they were cancelled by Leicester?
Lincoln were wedded to Leyland/Roe products and went back to them for several years. I have always wondered if they bought them at a bargain price, particularly as they were in the same traffic area and maybe the general managers were good pals?

Steve Milner

12/05/14 – 08:40

Manchester had square plates under the cab window as radiators were exchanged from time to time. There is a photo in The Manchester Bus of a vehicle carrying two different registrations after Burlingham delivered the first batch of the 1958 PD2s with plates on the bottom of the radiator and a swap was done later with a radiator for a 1959 Orion bodied PD2 and the mechanic failed to remove the plate from the original vehicle which would , along with its new radiator, have received the standard square plate. This left the newer vehicle with a correct UNB registration and an incorrect TNA one. The second batch of 1958 PD2s received square plates prior to delivery after Burlingham were reminded of Manchester’s requirements.
I don’t know of any hard and fast rules prior to the introduction of reflective plates, by which time, of course, front engined buses were being phased out by the manufacturers.

Phil Blinkhorn


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King Alfred – AEC Bridgemaster – 324 CAA

King Alfred - AEC Bridgemaster - 324 CAA

King Alfred Motor Services
AEC Bridgemaster B3RA
Park Royal H45/29R

This photo was taken at the Broadway Winchester where so many others were taken over the years by a great many other enthusiasts I believe that it was taken in the mid seventies.
This bus was one of King Alfred’s second pair of AEC B3RA Bridgemasters with H45/29R bodies delivered in September 1961 the first pair being delivered in October 1959 followed in June1964 by a pair of Renowns both of which are preserved by FoKAB.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

A full list of Bridgemaster codes can be seen here.

22/09/13 – 11:26

To the best of my knowledge, the AV590s in Sheffield’s Regent Vs and Bridgemasters didn’t pose too much of a problem – as was also the case with most RMs. [Was the problem with the AH590 (and AH470) the same as Leyland originally had with moving of sump and peripherals in order to put the engine on it’s side?] Yes Roger, why couldn’t they get it right? […..but neither did Bristol…..]
Whatever the reason, re-reading Alan Townsin’s Blue Triangle, it almost seemed as if there was a self-imposed death wish with strategic planning at Southall – which ran straight into the arms of the grim reapers of Leyland. Why didn’t they develop a Bridgemaster height version of the RM? Why did they cave in to BET with the redesign from a classic to a classically dreadful design? Like Alan Townsin I am a sometimes critical lover of the Southall thoroughbreds – but I hold my head in despair when I see highly respected modern manufacturers who seem to revisit the same sorts of crass stupidity 50 years on!

David Oldfield

23/09/13 – 06:13

May I be allowed to say, or venture, or whisper that in its time the Bridgemaster was a fashionable design. Domey curves were out and the cantilever-looking front end was cute. What will our successors say about those curvy black glass bits today and as for the back end of the Borisbus…. all it needs is a dorsal fin!


23/09/13 – 08:53

Nice view, Dave. The bus doesn’t appear to have any of the Hants & Dorset features which were applied almost immediately when H&D took over KAMS in 1973, so this photo would have been taken, at the latest, mid April of that year.
Thanks for posting.

Pete Davies

25/09/13 – 07:17

I have to agree with David about the Southall death-wish, but I take the opposite view of how it manifested itself. Mechanically there was a lot of Routemaster in the Bridgemaster, and that was what put some buyers off – particularly the integral construction, and even more particularly the lack of choice of bodywork that that entailed. The Routemaster could not be sold on the open market because it was too complicated and too expensive, so why build a lowheight version? As for styling, they had to capitulate to BET because BET was The Market. The number of municipalities needing lowheight double deckers was limited, so if they couldn’t sell the Bridgemaster to BET, it was hardly worth having developed it in the first place. What was really needed was a lowheight Regent V. That eventually happened in the form of the Renown, but as well as coming far too late, I have been told that even that was over-engineered.

Peter Williamson

25/09/13 – 18:26

All very true, Peter. Perhaps the Renown/Regent path should have explored from the start. Those who stuck with the old (Renown) rather than the new (Fleetline) were certainly loyal fans. Unfortunately, by that time (especially with deckers) AEC was a busted flush. Merged? I think not.
The 6U3ZR Reliance was a seriously good coach – but it was out on a limb on its own. There were serious plans to offer the AV691 in the Bristol VR and the Daimler/Leyland Fleetline and the AH691 in the Bristol RE. Ulsterbus was interested in the latter. The bean counters of British Leyland put an end to those plans, just as they had to the FRM. [Dream on.]

David Oldfield

29/12/13 – 12:17

An unashamed plug, I know, but if you’re within striking distance of Winchester on New Year’s Day the biggest-ever King Alfred Running Day features among other delights the 1935 Albion Victor 20-seat coach AAA 756, whose return to Winchester was celebrated in April.
Another reason to come: 2014 is to be the last Winchester New Year’s RD; it will be replaced by a smaller-scale event each April.
Happy New Year to All.

Ian Thompson


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South Wales – AEC Bridgemaster – WCY 890 – 1210

South Wales - AEC Bridgemaster - WCY 890 - 1210
Copyright Bob Gell

South Wales Transport
AEC Bridgemaster 2B3RA
Park Royal H43/29F

Now here is a shot of a bus somewhat out of its area, the photo of this South Wales Bridgemaster was taken in July 1969, in Dewsbury Bus Station. At the time it was working on Yorkshire Woolen district routes you can see the top blind displaying ‘Yorkshire’. I am not sure why YWD would need to hire/buy something so non-standard as the above for their fleet – shortage of vehicles for some reason perhaps or late delivery of new ones?
I would be interested to know the answer – no doubt someone will know and let me know.
Also in view is a 1967 West Riding Marshall B51F bodied Leyland Panther PSUR1/1 registration LHL 171F fleet number 171.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Bob Gell

04/04/11 – 07:04

At the time Yorkshire Woollen had a severe vehicle crisis. In addition to the Bridgemasters from South Wale some vintage Bristol Ks from West Yorkshire were also acquired. In addition a number of former Sheffield C fleet buses also entered service these were PD2s with Roe and ECW bodywork and some early Atlanteans all tended to be used on local area routes in Dewsbury

Chris Hough

04/04/11 – 07:07

The reason why Yorkshire Woollen had these Bridgemasters was due to a severe shortage of buses.Later Bristol K double deckers were acquired from West Yorkshire and United Auto.

Philip Carlton

05/04/11 – 05:30

Thanks, Chris and Philip, for confirming that YWD needed to buy additional vehicles because of a shortage of buses. I think most enthusiasts know they had those problems, but how and why did they occur? Every operator’s fleet needs eventually to be replaced, and YWD would, (or certainly should), have had a well-established renewal programme, as did all BET companies. That was standard policy throughout the group. So what caused the ‘severe crisis’?

Roy Burke

08/04/11 – 05:00

Chris and Philip Thanks for the answer to my query – as you probably guessed, this was taken at the same time as the West Yorkshire K5G already posted.

Bob Gell

24/11/15 – 06:08

With regard to Roy Burke’s comment, the reason these things occur is generally twofold firstly manufacturers delivering buses late; secondly and particularly when the old CoF system was in operation a larger number of buses than that planned for could need replacing.
Of course the third reason is rarer but most to be feared: prohibitions on running vehicles by the Traffic Commissioner.
Some fleets seem more prone to vehicle shortage than others. at SMT/SOL/Eastern Scottish it seemed to be endemic.
Here we are talking about Yorkshire Woollen and I have a captcha ending in HD.

Stephen Allcroft

17/02/16 – 05:53

I am of an age that remembers the South Wales Bridgemasters coming to Yorkshire Woollen. The first one I saw was on the B&C services to Ossett from Fir Cottage and as someone who loves AEC buses and (Regent Vs) and still does it was hard to work out what was going until a really nice conductor told me saying "E lad we getting assorts coming, God knows what next" at this time various buses turned up on these routes ex Sheffield Atleanteans with I think regarding plates that began with BWB and buses from West Yorkshire which seemed to stay on the Thornhill Bristall A route but really at that time I think there was quite a shortage of new buses coming into service and as long as a bus turned up you didn’t bother where it came from but as a bus enthusiast it was paradise goodness knows how Central Works at Dewsbury knew where to find spares for them.

Dave Parkin


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