Old Bus Photos

British European Airways – AEC Regal IV – NLP 645 – 1035

British European Airways - AEC Regal IV - NLP 645 - 1035

British European Airways
AEC Regal IV 9822E
Park Royal RDP37C

NLP 645 is an AEC Regal IV 9822E with Park Royal bodywork, new to BEA in 1953. The bodywork is described in different sources as HDC or RDC. The 2012 PSVC listing has her as RDP37C, which is a bit different! We see her during one of the infuriatingly rare open days at the Science Museum Annex, Wroughton, on 12 July 1986.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

07/04/16 – 15:00

RDP37C is the correct code – these were essentially observation coaches, but with a continuous roof-line and poorer quality "DP" style seats and interior trim. The "HD" code applied to Crellin-Duplex "half-deckers" such as the prototype which can be found on the "Ugly Bus" part of this website.

Neville Mercer

08/04/16 – 06:18

BLOTW. Under more shows 3 photos in Everyone’s photos of NLP 645 being with BEA until 1966-67 1 of the 3 photos shows coach went to the London perfume and soap house Yardleys whom were then based in Basildon Essex. NPL 641 also went to them they are seen as a pair in first of the 3 photos. It is later seen in preservation.

Alan Coulson

08/04/16 – 06:19

Thanks, Neville. These pages have carried a fair amount of debate about what is or is not a DP

Pete Davies

08/04/16 – 15:40

Manchester’s Burlingham bodied airport vehicles were always classified as "RC" by the PSV Circle, even though the level of comfort and trim was almost identical to the "RDP" London machines. I don’t think that there was any hard and fast policy- the use of the DP prefix was left to the discretion of the individual editor in the PSV Circle chain. In the case of North Western, for example, somebody at the Circle decided that the Weymann and Willowbrook 30′ DPs (the "Black Tops") were DPs despite their relatively bus-like seating and seat-pitch. The Alexander bodied 30′ Reliances of 1961 on the other hand were often described as "C41F", even though they consisted of coach interiors in a bus shell. Later in their lives (when repainted half-and-half) they were sometimes described as DP41F even though nothing had changed except their livery. I’m always very careful when I use a "DP" prefix- it’s essentially meaningless unless you go on to specify the exact configuration.

Neville Mercer

23/04/16 – 06:35

MLL 747

The contract to run and maintain the BEA transfer coaches between central London and the surrounding airports was held by London Transport. When the Commer Commando 18 seater observation coach fleet became due for replacement, LT convinced BEA to adopt a variant of its standard RF Regal IV saloon, albeit with a Park Royal rather than a Metro-Cammell body. The new fleet began arriving from 1952, and was classified 4RF4 by LT. In their earlier years, they saw sporadic use, some being stored in the winter months, but as air travel became more and more popular, so the BEA fleet saw increasingly heavier service. They soldiered on reliably until 1966/7 when they were replaced by front entrance Routemasters with luggage trailers. MLL 747, one of the 1953 deliveries, was withdrawn in 1967 and passed to Continental Pioneer, in whose ownership it is seen here on the A23 at Southgate, Crawley during the May 1970 HCVC Brighton Run. In May 1972 it was sold to Scout Groups in Brighton and Hove, and its subsequent fate is unclear.

Roger Cox

11/04/17 – 07:23

MLL 747 was sold to the 20th Brighton Scout troop. The Scout troop took it to summer camp at the Olympic Games in Munich 1972, I was one of the scouts. The huge luggage space came into good use. It was used to take the Scout troop to other summer camps, I remember at least one in the West Country. The coach was later sold and the troop bought a Harrington bodied coach I think a Grenadier from Unique Coaches of Brighton. A couple of photos of it in Brighton https://flic.kr/p/9nk4AM  – https://flic.kr/p/9oi6N7

Andy Gibbs

11/04/17 – 17:31

Although Roger mentions The vehicles running from Central London, the BEA ones, at least, ran from the West London Air Terminal in Kensington, to Heathrow. Here’s a link to an item about it: https://rbkclocalstudies.
The item mentions that, coming in, you could go to Central London, via the Terminal and presumably, you could pick up the vehicles in Cnetral London, too, but where?
Did the vehicles and terminal also deal with BOAC?

Chris Hebbron

07/01/19 – 07:18

Chris, as you may have found out, Ian’s Bus stop is pretty good at summarising the 4RF4 operations. The WLAT I think was only BEA – then BA per the K&C local studies link.
BOAC used their own Leyland Atlanteans from the Victoria Air Terminal (now the National Audit Office) which I think were garaged in the Heathrow area.

Ian London

09/01/19 – 06:37

To add a little to your second paragraph, Ian, the Victoria Air Terminal could well be that which was used before the war, serving the same purpose for Croydon Airport.

Chris Hebbron

10/01/19 – 06:24

The present National Audit Office was originally the Imperial Airways London Terminal, opened in 1939 to serve Croydon Airport. The war then intervened, and, with the resumption of peace, Heathrow became the airport for London, and BOAC the major carrier beyond Europe.

Roger Cox

12/01/19 – 07:04

Thx for confirming my thoughts, Roger. It must have been almost the last flourish of Art Deco architecture and duly awarded the name of the Empire Air Terminal. My favourite is the Daily Express building in Manchester, renovated not many years ago and truly beautiful, not a word I use lightly!

Chris Hebbron


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London Transport – AEC Regal IV – MLL 971 – RF 334

London Transport - AEC Regal IV - MLL 971 - RF 334

London Transport
AEC Regal IV

Here is another of the Uxbridge allocated RF buses, seen in the summer sun of 1971, the year in which UX garage saw the welcome return of these stalwart performers, having lost them previously in 1962 in favour of RT double deckers. RF 334, MLL 971 stands at Heathrow Central on route 223, in the close company of RT 4182, LYF 241, on route 140. I know not the identity of the bohemian gentleman who seems to be reflecting upon the sanity of someone wishing to photograph a bus. Tillingbourne operated five ex London Country RF buses between 1971 and 1973, RFs 233, 254, 595, 680 and 699, and these I drove at weekends. Acceleration from rest in second gear was rather sedate, and the cab was a bit restricted (the RF was 7ft 6ins wide) but the vehicle felt like a true thoroughbred. The RT and RM families suffered the derating of their engines to 115 bhp, but I believe that the RF retained full engine power, which, in the case of the 9.6 litre horizontal A219, was 120 bhp.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

11/12/14 – 06:39

I was once told by the owner of a preserved RF that, according to the drawings in his possession, they are actually only 7ft 4ins wide.

Peter Williamson


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SMT – AEC Regal IV – JSF 149 – B 449

SMT - AEC Regal IV - JSF 149 - B 449

Scottish Motor Traction
AEC Regal IV 9821E
Alexander C30F

SMT, who later became Eastern Scottish, were a regular sight in Newcastle, they shared several routes into Scotland with United, and this one is discharging its passengers at the drop off point in the Haymarket Bus Station. There were three different routes to Edinburgh, and two to Glasgow. Morning departures on the Edinburgh routes were United vehicles, with SMT covering the afternoons, and vice versa from the other end, and I think it was the same for the more direct route to Glasgow. However, one of the Glasgow routes was a very long drawn out affair, with a running time of over seven hours. If memory serves, the vehicles met a point which was roughly half way where a refreshment stop was taken, the crews would then swap vehicles and return to their start point, but the vehicles would carry on and return the following day. It was also the case that in the event of a breakdown, the other company would provide a replacement, so presumably an arrangement existed with the insurance which allowed the other companies crews to man the vehicles. They were in abundance in Scotland, but this type of Alexander body never caught on south of the border to the same extent as the later ‘Y’ types, although North Western did have a few. Personally, I thought they were not a million miles away from the Park Royal body of the period.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

20/03/14 – 07:12

Although they eventually developed their own style, Alexanders did set out building clones – often under subcontract – of other companies’ designs (notably Leyland and Weymann). They did a PRV/Monocoach copy but I don’t know whether these Regal IVs were on PRV frames. In the recent Y type book it was pointed out that this style of flat windscreen lasted (on AL deckers) until the ’80s. The North Western Leopards – and the Reliances which preceded them were not strictly to this design at all. They were a standard BET design structure with this style windscreen grafted on to the front.[There were, I believe, others too – as well as "bog standard" BET bodies without a whiff of Alexander about the style.]

David Oldfield

20/03/14 – 17:40

Pseudo Willowbrook, perhaps?

Pete Davies

20/03/14 – 17:41

On the point of driver change over on the "long" Glasgow route, I have a feeling that the same thing happened at Penrith on the Manchester/Liverpool to Glasgow/Edinburgh services. Something similar happened on the X2/X60 group of interconnected routes: (Great Yarmouth)/ Nottingham/ Manchester/ Blackpool).

David Oldfield

22/03/14 – 08:30

On the subject of driver changes en-route when I became an express services driver at Southdown’s Eastbourne depot in 1970, a journey from Margate to Bournemouth on the South Coast Express service that passed through Eastbourne around midday with an East Kent driver who took his meal break there. The coach either an East Kent Reliance/Park Royal or a Royal Blue Bristol RE/ECW was then taken to Brighton by one of our drivers who handed it over to a Royal Blue driver who had just taken his meal break who then took it on to Bournemouth. The Eastbourne driver then took over the coach brought in by the Royal Blue driver which he then took back to Eastbourne to hand over to the East Kent driver after his meal break to take back to Margate thus all three drivers drove a coach from both East Kent and Royal Blue. This experience led me to prefer the Reliance over the RE and nothing ever persuaded me otherwise especially when accessing the underfloor lockers of the RE on a wet day

Diesel Dave

25/03/14 – 10:14

This is Prudhoe Place just south of the Haymarket Bus Station in Newcastle. The building in the background was a cinema (and if we could so what film was being advertised we could probably date the photo). Just to the right of the camera was the famous Mobile Canteen MC2 (and was there ever an MC1?). Buses that were going to lay over usually dropped-off passengers here and then parked on the other side of the stand, rear-end inwards. This was also the pick-up point for Tynemouth 5 and United 8 during the afternoon peak period until all New Coast Road buses moved to St Mary’s Place in the late 1960s.
The Edinburgh routes via Otterburn (9 later 508) and Wooler (15 later 510) were irregular. There was an Edinburgh SMT bus that left Edinburgh at about 09.00 for Newcastle via Otterburn and then returned via Wooler mid-afternoon. There was also an Edinburgh SMT bus that left Edinburgh at about 10.30 for Newcastle via Wooler and returned at 16.45 via Otterburn. Edinburgh crews worked both buses right through. There were only a couple of 5 minute stops en route.
The Edinburgh route via Berwick (12 later 505/6) was hourly south of Berwick and more or less hourly north of Berwick. There were only a couple of 5 minute stops en route. As far as I know United buses worked through to Edinburgh but usually had SMT crews north of Berwick. SMT buses worked through to Newcastle but usually had United crews south of Berwick. However some of the scheduling was quite complex: buses might meet and swap crews at Niddrie Cross Roads, just outside Edinburgh, to get the crew back to Berwick before the end of service.
The Glasgow route (14 later 515) was once a day in winter and twice a day in summer. It was very slow and had a 45 minute stop at Galashiels. The buses worked right through but met at Galashiels where the crews swapped over. The United crew was, latterly, from Whitley Bay. There were also summer Saturday express journeys, that took about 5 hours, on which the crews worked right through, and came back the same day. At Glasgow holiday period there were often lots of duplicates and crews from a variety of depots north and south of the border.
Scotland definitely had its own culture, which included labels on bus windscreens, as shown in this photo. Why it was normal, north of the border, to use labels to show the route and destination I never could work out. Were there too many destinations and route variations at each depot to include on one blind?

Paul Robson

25/03/14 – 15:48

Paul Robson makes mention of paper stickers on the windscreen for the service/destination. Surely this is preferable to showing ‘SERVICE’ or ‘DUPLICATE’ as mentioned in another thread which is on the go at the minute.
Good on yer Scottish Bus Group.

Stephen Howarth

27/03/14 – 06:53

At the old National Express/Shamrock and Rambler Coach Station (77 Holdenhurst Road) the toilets were situated at the rear of the booking hall.
The passageway had a huge rack (like a postal sorting rack for letters) that held yellow paper destination labels for literally all the served destinations in the South of England together with such labels as "On Hire To".
I remember seeing one London label being held up (cheekily) by a hitchhiker on the Ringwood Sour Road.

David R

11/02/15 – 06:03

Newcastle services were run by SMT until 1964 under service nos 230, 231, (Berwick), 270 (Jedburgh) and 273 (Kelso) with other nos for services on these routes purely North of the Border. Glasgow – Newcastle/Whitley Bay was 252. Glasgow Scarborough was also a joint service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with a night service from Glasgow on a Friday, returning North on Saturday night.

Mr Anon

17/12/15 – 17:00

I really must most strongly disagree with Alexander "having started building clones." they built their first coachwork in 1921 a number of years before Park Royal were even formed; and while they were happy to build to another coachbuilder’s outline when required (a rather awful Park Royal look for SBG from 1955-7 or a rather old-fashioned Weymann outline for Glasgow in 1953-5) they built to their own too, and the Eastern Regal IV is entirely a product of Drip Road Stirling.
I’d contend the bus in the following  link is somewhat more imaginative and indeed stylish than any mid-1930’s product of NW10. www.flickr.com/photos/
The use of of the word clone in relation to Leyland bodies implies they were building to a Leyland outline to win custom; in fact they built utilities and postwar double decks to Leyland outline because Leyland body production had been halted by the government because Leyland was needed to make tanks; Alexander were in fact operating with Leyland’s blessing and full co-operation.
Leyland chose three bodybuilders for prototype Tiger Cubs, they were MCW, Saunders-Roe and Alexander, and when the coach version of the Tiger Cub was planned all of the Leyland prototypes including the one that lapped MIRA at 80mph were bodied by Alexander.
The bus prototype worked for Starks of Dunbar and then Londonderry & Lough Swilly Railway, still in service with the latter in 1975, not bad for a lightweight.
Alexander designs are I would contend more often copied than Alexander copied other designs.

Stephen Allcroft

19/12/15 – 06:59

Two further corrections: Contrary to David Oldfield the angled windscreen was available on R type double-deckers as late as 1999; secondly I got the start date of Alexander’s coachbuilding (initially at Camelon) a year early in the previous post, still Alexander were building bus and coach bodies in 1922 and Hall, Lewis only started in North West London two years later. Park Royal Vehicles was formed after Hall, Lewis’s liquidation by their major creditor in 1930; eight years after Alexander started.
Incidentally the Lewis family also owned Northern Counties Motor and Engineering Company Ltd.
PRV didn’t do an Alexander A-type copy but there were quite a few from Roe, which were done using PRV frames, and it Alexander’s design of double curvature windscreen was used on a number of otherwise standard Park Royal and Roe products.
Northern Counties of course copied the Panoramic J type for Yorkshire Traction.

Stephen Allcroft


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