Old Bus Photos

Trent – AEC Regal I – RC 9668/74 – 303/768

Trent - AEC Regal I - RC 9668/74 - 303/768
Copyright Bob Gell

Trent Motor Traction 303                            Trent Motor Traction 768
1947                                                            1947
AEC Regal I                                                  AEC Regal I
Willowbrook FDP39F                                  Willowbrook B35F

A company not yet represented on this site is Trent Motor Traction, so this photo is to rectify that omission. In the early postwar years, Trent took delivery of a large number of AEC Regals with Willowbrook bus bodies. In 1958, some 20 of the Regals were modernised by Willowbrook, who fitted a full front, extended the chassis and lengthened the body to 30 feet, increasing the capacity from 35 to 39.
The rebuilt vehicles were treated as dual purpose, which meant they saw use on local services (the only time I rode on one was on the Derby ‘town service’ 27 from Scarborough Rise to the bus station), and also express services, often to the East Coast on summer Saturdays.
I’m not sure how much of a success they were, as they were withdrawn in 1962/3, only 2/3 years after the last of the unrebuilt examples.
My photograph shows rebuilt 303 (RC 9668) and unrebuilt 768 (RC 9674), both from the 1947 batch, at Derby Bus Station in 1960.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Bob Gell

16/12/12 – 11:03

Extending the chassis and fitting a new body? Sounds rather like the Tilling fleets with the Bristol L to LL conversion. Who’s idea was it?

Pete Davies

16/12/12 – 12:20

Were not some of these Regals lengthened by Trent themselves but remained half cabs?

Eric Bawden

16/12/12 – 14:47

I found this site by accident (What a fascinating place the internet can be) and have been delighted with the photographs and comments. I was with Trent from 1965 to 1967 prior to emigrating to Western Australia. I worked at the Hucknall depot in Nottinghamshire where we drove mainly Leyland PD2’s and 3’s plus Atlanteans and Daimler Fleetlines. I never gave a thought, sadly, to taking photographs but I have found a few examples of vehicles similar to those that I drove. If anyone has examples of Trent buses I would love to see them.

Malcolm Holmes

17/12/12 – 08:14

When I was a nipper we took holidays at Skegness and we stayed at digs near the coach park! I seem to recall one of the full front vehicle was used as some kind of booking office. Have I got this right? My father who had the same initials RC often commented the number plate would be just right for his own car this being before the craze was the general norm.

Philip Carlton

18/12/12 – 08:00

To answer a couple of points, the rebuilt vehicles didn’t have new bodies. As Bob rightly states, the original bodies simply had the rearmost bay extended to achieve 30ft length and provide four extra seats. In halfcab form they had been used on long distance express services but attracted complaints from passengers because the original bus seats were very low backed. The rebuilt vehicles were given dual purpose seats although these were still rather spartan. The rebuilds gave between four and five years service, the last being sixteen years old when withdrawn, I suppose that was quite creditable for Trent who usually worked to a twelve year maximum fleet life.
I’ve never known if the AEC radiator was retained behind the full fronts but the rebuilt vehicles had a reputation for getting extremely hot in the cabs and were known as ‘sweat boxes’ None of them were extended and retained half cabs. Quite a few rebuilds saw further service after leaving Trent. The mobile booking office at Skegness was a much earlier vehicle, a pre-war SOS.

Chris Barker

19/12/12 – 07:22

Chris – Thanks for the additional information.
The pre war SOS mobile booking office (RC 2721) was saved for preservation, and is currently being restored by LVVS at Lincoln.

Bob Gell

13/06/13 – 11:34

As a fitter and a manager working at Trent for 30 years 1962 to 1992 I can confirm that the lengthened AEC Regals were indeed "sweatboxes" working on the engine in the cab in thick overalls on a hot day had to be believed! they did not retain the original AEC radiator but a flat metal affair, where they came from I am not sure. The conversions were all carried out at Willowbrook but for me they did not look right. As a matter of interest my boss at Trent for 25 years Malcolm Hitchen MBE is currently writing about his 50 years with Trent engineering hopefully to be published to coincide with Trent 100 years in October 2013

Alan Hiley

RC 9668-74_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

24/08/13 – 15:27

RC 2721

There is mention on this Trent page of a mobile booking office used at Skegness. This was RC 2721 a 1935 BMMO DON converted to the booking office in May 1953, acquired by the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society in April 1965. Still with them in 2013 and being put back to its original condition.

Alan Hiley

03/09/13 – 06:00

RC 2721_2

Alan Hiley in his contribution of 24/08/2013 makes mention of Trent Motor Traction Co., 1935 BMMO DON – RC 2721 being with the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society, in preservation.
I thought you would like to see it in their ownership.

Stephen Howarth


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Bickers of Coddenham – AEC Regal 1 – GK 3172

GK 3172_1_lr

GK 3172_2_lr
Copyright Victor Brumby

Bickers of Coddenham
AEC Regal I
Duple C32F

Here is a pair of poor photos taken in Great Yarmouth in August 1958. As a London Transport spotter predominantly, I was excited to note the registration GK 3172 on a cream and green AEC coach under the Bickers title – it had to be an ex-London bus! I guessed it could be an ST, STL or T. Inspecting the dumb-irons was the easy way for those in the know, and there was indeed the brass plate on the right hand iron but the left hand one which would have given me the fleet number had been removed.
Later I found that it was formerly T 300 which had been delivered in 1931 and withdrawn in 1938, bought by Arlington Motors, Vauxhall Bridge Road, The driver told me his boss had picked the vehicle up from a scrapyard, with that non-London Transport body already fitted – he thought, perhaps, off a Leyland.
A letter to London Transport gave me the stock number and some of these details. How kind companies used to be to little perishers who pestered them with daft enquiries!

Sometimes I gathered redundant discs from such ‘finds’ and nowadays some folk collect them – so below are those from T300, in case any of you chaps are interested.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Victor Brumby

Tax Discs_lr
    Copyright Victor Brumby

24/11/11 – 06:46

Gut instinct. Shape of destination indicators and circular insert. Looks a bit Plaxton to me. Would have been an early one – even off a Leyland. Would also have been rare to see a Plaxton in or from the London area.

David Oldfield

24/11/11 – 06:47

How useful those little brass plates on the dumb-irons could be – I found them indispensable when finding old LT buses as showmen’s vehicles at funfairs!
Looking at the indicator area above the cab, the body looks as if it could well be a Duple.

Chris Hebbron

24/11/11 – 06:48

Bearing in mind cheap labour in those far-off days, organisations as big as London Transport might well have employed a special "Clerical Officer, D.E.L.P." (Daft Enquiries from Little Perishers) to answer such esoteric questions!

Stephen Ford

24/11/11 – 06:49

Most fascinating to notice from the two PSV licences that this fine vehicle had been demoted in April 1955 from "Express" to "Stage" – so often the fate of luxury coaches whose charms had begun to wane, but to the advantage of the service bus passengers who benefitted !!

Chris Youhill

24/11/11 – 07:46

As an addendum, the excellent website, Ian’s Bus Stop, shows that the vehicle was sold to Arlington Motors in August 1938, then bought by Osborne of Tollesbury, who had it re-bodied it by Duple as C32F. It was in service with Bickers in 1954 and withdrawn in March 1959. T300’s body was transferred to T369, which suggests that only the chassis was sold by LPTB.

Chris Hebbron

25/11/11 – 06:46

Well, it was a pleasant surprise to find this operator appearing on the web site as I am sending this note from a computer less than four miles from the Suffolk village of Coddenham. Indeed a work colleague was brought up in Coddenham and knows various members of the Bickers family. She has recalled that in her childhood Bickers vehicles always seemed to be older (i.e. more interesting to us) than those of other operators.
Alfred C. Bickers (father of the Geoffrey Charles Bickers shown on the licence) had begun running into Ipswich from Coddenham by 1925. In April 1927 he bought a new 14 seat Ford Model T bus RT 2975 which no doubt became obsolete by the 1930s and was discarded. Many and various buses, (nearly always second hand) were bought until 1988 when that part of the business was divided between Eastern Counties and Ipswich Buses. Imagine everybodys surprise when about ten years ago there appeared on the Ipswich – Felixstowe Vintage Vehicle Run a Ford Model T RT 2975 bus complete with original log book, entered and restored by David A. Bickers of Coddenham, grandson of the original owner. In the 1960s Dave Bickers was a well known motor cycle scramble rider and later he and his son Paul started to do stunt engineering work for films including a number of James Bond movies, see www.bickers.co.uk Clearly the restoration of a bus would have posed little problem to such a family of engineers.
The PSV Circle states that GK 3172 was scrapped after withdrawal by Bickers but then that was what they said about RT 2975!

Nigel Turner

30/11/11 – 15:04

AEC RT2634 0905 JoBurg 3_resize

AEC RT2634 0905 JoBurg r_resize

Chris Hebbron alludes to the brass dumb-iron plates to be found on all the period London buses. Above is the plate of the RT which languishes in the Johannesburg Museum of Transport, which I was amused to photograph on 2005.

Victor Brumby

16/08/13 – 12:14

Chris Youhill comments (above) about the apparent demotion of this vehicle from Express duties to Stage.
My own memory is becoming a little hazy now, but my recollection is that, when it came to vehicles’ PSV licences, ‘Stage’ was a higher category than ‘Express’, i.e. with a vehicle licensed as a ‘Stage Carriage’ you could do everything you could have done with one licensed as an ‘Express Carriage’ – and more. The requirements for a ‘Stage’ licence were stricter – e.g. a passenger/driver communication system (i.e. bell or buzzer) had to be provided. Most vehicles were licensed as ‘Stage’, irrespective of the sort of work they were likely to be called upon to do.
Am I remembering correctly?

David Call

18/06/15 – 10:43

I missed David Call’s comment of a couple of years ago. The classifications ‘Stage’ and ‘Express’ Carriage referred to Road Service Licences, the licences granted to operators by the Traffic Commissioners to run passenger services between specified points to a published timetable via a detailed route stopping at particular points at stated fares. The maximum size of machine for each route was also dictated. The vehicles were all licensed as psvs, and had to pass Certificate of Fitness tests at fixed intervals according to age. Thus coaches could be used legally on bus services and buses on coach services (the latter sometimes to the discomfort of passenger posteriors, no doubt). All this has changed, of course. Buses and coaches, like all vehicles of three years of age or more, now have to pass an annual MoT test, and the number of vehicles that a commercial operator can run is limited by the Operator’s Licence. The actual passenger services/routes are no longer licensed at all outside London. Bus companies today can run what they like when they like, and charge what they like for the (often dubious) privilege, subject to 42 days notice being given to the local Traffic Commissioner for applications for new or changed services.

Roger Cox

GK 3172_1_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

04/06/16 – 06:39

This is a late comment but the difference between stage and express was merely that of the minimum fare charged.Express services had a minimum fare of one shilling and "excursions and tours" was merely a special variety of express carriage.
I think that vehicles used purely for private hire were licensed as "contract Carriage" but I am not sure about that – it is a long time since I did my Institute of Transport course and by the time I got my CPC (Operators licence) it was all irrelevant anyway.

Malcolm Hirst


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Provincial – AEC Regal I/Regent I – EHO 282 – 15

Provincial - AEC Regal/Regent I - EHO 282 - 15

Provincial (Gosport & Fareham Omnibus Co)
AEC Regal I/Regent I
Reading H??/??R

Doubt exists about the vehicle chassis type, but here is the story as of now.
In 1943, Mr Orme-White carried out his first (of many) vehicle re-constructions, involving an AEC Regal I (although recent research suggests it was a Regent I chassis), purchased from the War Department with the registration DK 7791. The original source of the chassis is unknown.
Provincial re-conditioned the chassis, fitted a 7.7 litre AEC engine and got Reading’s of Portsmouth to body it. It was their first double deck offering, of utility specification and painted wartime grey. It was also re-registered EHO 282 and numbered 15.
In 1952, it was rebuilt again by Reading and lasted in service until 1959. Its body was then donated to number 12 (FHO 604) and the chassis scrapped.
What is interesting is that a small and almost unknown bodybuilder was given permission to build an austerity body and it might well have been its sole effort. The year of build was after the initial austerity bodies had been built on ‘unfrozen’ chassis, but before full-scale austerity bodybuilding had got underway. Did Reading come up with its own design or use someone else’s austerity plans? If the latter, the question is whose does it resemble?

Photograph Reading Coachworks (from the website below).
Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron using material by Ray Tull and
Stewart Brett from the website http://www.regent8.co.uk/regents.htm


08/09/11 – 14:27

What clue is there in the fuel pump on the bulkhead?



08/09/11 – 14:28

Probably of no significance at all, but the next registration to the original donor vehicle, DK 7792, was a Regal supplied to Yelloway in 1932.

Stephen Ford


08/09/11 – 14:29

The DK registration on the chassis was a Rochdale area plate.

Roger Broughton


08/09/11 – 14:30

Looks like a semi-floating hub at the back, so can’t be later than 1932. And what a well-proportioned body!

Ian Thompson


I lived in the Gosport area as a child from 1949 to 1952, and well remember the Provincial (Gosport & Fareham) Regents. These initially puzzled me as their sound was so unlike the London Transport AECs that I recalled as a very small boy from 1946, when I lived in Selsdon, Croydon. I personally much preferred the Guy/Park Royal bodied Guy Arab IIIs that served the Alverstoke and Haslar Route 11 on which I lived, and the Arab III is still one of my favourite bus types.
It is now thought that EHO 282 was a Regent. The Regal had a longer wheelbase than the double deck chassis. The photo indicates that the proportions of the bus are in keeping with those of a Regent, whereas a double deck body on a Regal would have necessitated a short length behind the rear axle to keep within the 26ft overall length limit of the time.

Roger Cox


10/09/11 – 07:42

One thing I didn’t mention originally was the bespoke double destination blind boxes, a Provincial’ feature, even then. All extra work in austerity times.
And are they safety rails high up on the upper-deck front windows? They don’t look like vents or the like.
It looks as if there’s a Regal/Regent badge on the radiator grill itself – pity it’s illegible.
Thx for the additional comments which have shed some more light on this intriguing bus.
And I think most of us echo Roger’s comment about proportion – austerity bus bodies have a charm of their own.

Chris Hebbron


10/09/11 – 07:43

And Roger could that also be the explanation as to why the Leon Lion had a centre entrance utility body fitted?

Chris Barker


11/09/11 – 08:18

I think that you have hit on the answer about the Leon Lion, Chris. Photos can be a bit misleading sometimes, but the picture of the Lion does seem to show that the rear wheel is located directly under the rearmost but one window on this five bay body. The centre bay is decidedly wider than the rest, so that all the other bays are obviously of pretty short length, and the rear axle seems to be located well to the rear of the bus. A centre or front entrance would have been the best solution in the circumstances.

Roger Cox


17/04/12 – 14:18

The original post mentions Mr Orme-White. I’ve no idea how true it is, but I have been told that Mr White of the Provincial Tramways group (Gosport and Fareham, Portsdown & Horndean among others) was the same Mr White of White’s Removals, and this is the reason behind the removal company’s "sponsorship" of some trams under restoration in the Portsmouth area.

Pete Davies


11/07/12 – 18:39

I contacted White & Co. (Removals) of Portsmouth, Pete, and, after a period of silence, while the family tree was being consulted, they’ve advised me that there seems to be no connexion between H Orme-White and their family.

Chris Hebbron


12/07/12 – 19:29

Now there`s a name to savour! This was a fleet just made for enthusiasts, and my early experiences of being a bus enthusiast are saturated with the delights of this wonderful fleet. I am just amazed that it does not enter these columns on a more regular basis. I remember they had an AEC "Mandator" petrol tanker rebodied as a bus, and have often been tempted to join the Provincial Society, but one cannot be "in everything"
Mention of Mr Orme White reminds me that the family were connected with the Imperial Tramways group, who had interests in Grimsby, Middlesbrough, and , pre Sir Clifton Robinson, with one of my favourite tram fleets, the London United! I think they also had connections with the ill-fated Mid Yorkshire Tramways too.
Lets have more Provincial content, and, in the meantime, may I recommend those who are able, to make the journey to Crich, where LUT No.159 is about to be unveiled after a beautiful restoration to its pre-Underground Group condition. As a TMS member, I do have an axe to grind, but it really is a wonderful expression of the art of vintage vehicle restoration, under the professional care of the TMS staff, and the "LCC Tramways Trust".
Sorry to go all "trammy"….it won`t happen again!

John Whitaker


John W is right to applaud the Orme-White family and their link with some great companies such as London United Tramways and the Provincial Tramways Group.
I believe the Gosport & Fareham Bus Company running under the name Provincial started in 1929 and replaced the trams. By 1936 they had bought several AEC Regents with Park Royal bodies. Some of these buses were still running in 1963 when I visited Gosport. I rode on one of these buses and this experience was magic, as the sound from the AEC crash gearbox was something never to be forgotten. The Provincial Company had some very interesting buses and hopefully someone has some photos to post on this web site.

Richard Fieldhouse


14/07/12 – 07:48

I probably feel about LUT’s ‘Diddlers’ the way John W feels about LUT’s trams. YouTube has a couple of short films about ‘Diddlers’ on their inauguration day in May 1931, but there are several antiquated (albeit covered-top) LUT trams putting in an appearance, too. It’s wonderful to see that long-gone world, 88 years ago. Little traffic, an open-top NS bus, steam roller, conductor punching tickets, driver’s white summer coat, evocative soundtrack…I feel the eyes watering now! Enjoy HERE: www.youtube.com

Chris Hebbron


14/07/12 – 10:56

I too, Chris, am captivated by that era of summer coats for drivers, with the odd steam roller about! I don`t quite remember it, but it is of extra fascination because it is close, but not quite akin to our earliest memories. I have always been fascinated by history, especially from the early 19C., when I like to imagine myself involved at the time of my (other hobby) family history characters!
I regard the Diddlers as part of the LUT story, and, as such, they have an appeal of their own. I do not think they were particularly attractive vehicles, but that is of no consequence; they were very much an "in house" product of the Underground Group, built "in house" by UCC, and were not intended, design wise, to appeal to the general transport "market", but more intended to resemble the "Feltham" trams.
This whole period of tram to trolleybus conversion, and the early days of London Transport provides enough material for years and years of OBP correspondence!
I should have mentioned earlier, that the White family, George White in LUT days, were also involved in the early days of Bristol Tramways, which had Imperial Group connections too.

John Whitaker


14/07/12 – 18:04

I shall look forward to seeing LUT’s 159 at my next visit to Crich, John. It must have been a huge task to recreate all that top deck ‘cast-iron’ alone. At the other end of the spectrum, I have a soft spot for Feltham MET 331, looking much sleeker and stylish than its mainstream cousins.
I hold no special brief for London Transport, but what it achieved from its 1933 creation to 1940 was amazing….with sliderules, but without computers!

Chris Hebbron


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Thursday 24th October 2019