Old Bus Photos

Southdown – Beadle – Leyland – MUF 488 – 649

Southdown - Beadle- Leyland - MUF 488 - 649

Southdown Motor Services Ltd
Beadle – Leyland
Beadle FB31F

MUF 488 is one of those curious vehicles built by Beadles using Bedford or Leyland parts. The Leyland ones came from Tigers or Titans. In this case, the combination was delivered to Southdown in 1953, and has a FB31F body on TD5 running units. We see it outside the Southdown garage at Amberley on 13 September 2009.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

05/03/17 – 16:03

I suppose these days this would be called ‘recycling’. It is quite a nice looking coach although the front end lets it down a bit. Rather plain around the grille area and the joint between the upper windscreen sections and the destination display sits a bit uncomfortably.

Philip Halstead

06/03/17 – 07:08

If my information is correct, the NGT group had 18 of the type. They were all built on refurbished pre war AEC Regal chassis, and although mechanically an AEC down to the last nut and bolt., none of them carried AEC badges or logos. Northern had 10 FC35F versions DCN 83/92 – 1483/92; all similar to the example above, 1483 is currently undergoing restoration in the very capable hands of the NEBPT Ltd, who set themselves very high standards, I look forward to seeing the end result.
The other eight were for Wakefields Motors at Percy Main depot. Six were delivered in 1952, FT 7275/80 – 175/180, and were FC35F, the fronts differed to these, in that they had more bright trim, and an altogether softer look about them. A photo of 178 is posted elsewhere on this site. The other two FT 7791/2, 191/2 arrived in 1953, they were FC39F, as well as a larger seating capacity, they had a similar front to these which had a different destination layout incorporating a number section, to allow them to be used as D/P’s. All the P/M intake were different to those of NGT, in that they had twin cab doors and a full bulkhead separating the cab from the passenger saloon.
191/2 were sold to Garner Bridge of Weir, and 175/80 were exported to Yugoslavia of all places.

Ronnie Hoye

06/03/17 – 07:08

The running units for this coach came from pre-war Leyland Tiger TS8 FCD 368, which was delivered to Southdown in January 1939. The original Harrington B34R body, which had been temporarily converted to B30R perimeter seating (plus up to 30 standing) during the war, was rebuilt (not rebodied) by Portsmouth Aviation in August 1947. This body was removed and sold for scrap in February 1953, and the chassis was then cut to form front and rear running units for attachment to the integral Beadle body structure. The same construction principle was adopted some years later for the London Transport Routemaster. The Beadle body was offered in 30ft or 26ft lengths, and Southdown had examples of both. (Southdown also employed Beadle to fit full fronts of similar appearance to its Duple bodied PS1 coaches of 1947 to 1949 vintage.) Beadle Rebuilds (as the integral conversions became generally known) were introduced also at around the same time (early 1950s) by Maidstone and District and East Kent, again using Leyland running units.

Roger Cox

06/03/17 – 07:09

This vehicle has SOUTHDOWN in capital letters, which would make it a bus rather than a coach.

Chris Hebbron

06/03/17 – 17:12

Thanks for your thoughts, folks. The PSVC listing for this vehicle does not show whether it is TD or TS, but it does say B31F (not FB31F). Jenkinson says TD5 with FC35F. I note that his 1978 descriptions have been out of synch with other sources before! Chris H, yes, the general view is that it is a bus, but study the script on the front. I can understand why some consider it to be a coach. Now, where did we leave the discussion about bus, coach or dual-purpose?

Pete Davies

08/03/17 – 16:35

MUF 488 used the running gear from TS8 1468 (FCD368). It was delivered as a coach (888) but downgraded to bus work and renumbered 649 in 1958. Block lettering was usually, but not exclusively used on Buses. For example, the 15xx East Lancs Royal Tigers were delivered as DP’s with block lettering, but received ‘Mackenzie script’ when converted to OMO buses. The utility Guy open topers and Northern Counties DP Leopards also had ‘Mackenzie script’ and I have seen pictures of Beadle PD2/12’s similarly adorned. The front plaque with ‘Mackenzie script’ was a device used on many vehicles in place of the usual ornate Leyland marque badges. They were also used on ‘Queen Mary’s’. Hope this helps to clear up a few points noted previously.

Roy Nicholson

09/03/17 – 06:52

Thanks, Roy

Pete Davies

01/12/18 – 07:07

I recall this bus on omo operations with Southdown in the 50’s-60-s before sale to a Scout Group where it was painted blue. A friend of mine Ray Oliver from Chichester bought it and ran it for a time before selling it to whoever did the current repaint restoration. Alas we lost contact many years ago.

Keith Styles

03/12/18 – 09:26

I think the current owner has a couple of Southdowns and maybe this one will be out and about soon.

Roger Burdett

10/02/19 – 07:35

Re the Beadle re-bodied Southdown buses. Although they were mainly on the private hire/excursion work, they were used on a trial Service from Worthing to Steyning, I think numbered 66. The service ran from Worthing via North Lancing to the Sussex Pad, then along the narrow road to Bramber and Steyning. I don’t think it was a success.

Paul Kidger


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PMT – Beadle Rochester – 717 AEH – C7717

PMT - Beadle Rochester - 717 AEH - C7717

Potteries Motor Traction
Beadle Rochester
Beadle C41F

Taken in the summer of either 1963 or ’64 this photo of Potteries fleet number C7717 registration 717 AEH which was a Beadle Rochester C41F integral coach delivered in 1956, it is seen here about to enter Southdown’s Royal Parade garage where most tour coaches were parked and heavy repairs were carried out at that time, the Rochester was an unusual choice for extended tours probably due in some measure to it’s raucous 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine although if the revs were kept up it gave a creditable performance, for it’s day, but more revs meant more noise.
Southdown had 20 similar coaches delivered in 1957 No’s 6-25 with registrations TCD 6-15 and TUF 16-25 which were used mainly on express services.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

12/10/14 – 08:53

A beautiful example of a Fanfare clone by Beadle. Shame about the raucous underpinnings.

David Oldfield

12/10/14 – 09:28

Fanfare clone was my first thought. Those engines were awful. There was a company called Trumix near Reddish, Stockport with a fleet of Commer mobile concrete mixers which regularly deafened the neighbourhood.

Phil Blinkhorn

12/10/14 – 09:29

A delightful looking coach indeed, but with integral construction I wonder what the longevity of such vehicles was. The specification "chassissless" always fills me with horror at the memory of the Yorkshire Woollen District Leyland Olympics of the 1950s – these seemingly modern buses showed signs of disintegration when almost new on the admittedly very rough minor roads of the 36 route from Sovereign Street Leeds to Elland.
Since then of course there have been commendable strides in the construction method – a certain Routemaster comes immediately of course to mind along with many other very satisfactory designs.

Chris Youhill

13/10/14 – 07:41

London Transport’s tram/trolleybus division, led by an essentially LCC tram team, were unusually adventurous in ordering chassisless trolleybuses from about 1936, yet the bus division continued the traditional way until the advent of the Routemaster. The majority of the pre-war trolleybuses led a full life, too.

Chris Hebbron

13/10/14 – 07:42

Well, I never had first hand experience of these beasts, Chris, but I never heard of any structural problems. They were, literally, Fanfare clones, Phil. In its last ten years (as "Weymann Story Part 2" explains) there were lots of happenings which added up to the eventually death of a proud and distinguished coach-builder (Weymann). One was when the directors forced the removal of a popular and competent manager, Jack Davies, in 1955. [This was just after the introduction of the Fanfare coach.] Jack Davies was snapped up by another well regarded coach-builder, Beadle, who almost immediately brought the Rochester onto the market. [To be fair to Beadle if you "remove" the Fanfare front, the rest of the coach still bears a strong family resemblance to existing Beadle coaches!] As for the weakness of integrals. Chris is, as ever, correct in his assertions. AEC (Monocoach) and Bristol (LS) had the same problems as Leyland (Olympic/Olympian). Beadle however also had extensive experience building their post war integral vehicles using pre-war parts. Again I never heard anything particularly bad about these vehicles – and they were hardly mainstream, mass-produced vehicles.

David Oldfield

13/10/14 – 07:43

These were sold shortly before I joined PMT in September 1968 after 12 years service so they must have been reasonably successful. More than can be said for the Roadliners that replaced them! We had the dubious distinction of changing the engines (due to failure) in all six Roadliners at various times at East Kent, Maidstone and District and Southdown Depots whilst they were on extended tours.

Ian Wild

13/10/14 – 17:25

Beadle were certainly an innovative concern.
Can someone explain the reason for and date of their demise?

Chris Hebbron

14/10/14 – 06:31

Beadle gave up building buses in 1958. The last were the PD2s for Southdown, built on Park Royal frames. They probably gave up because the golden years were over and supply far outweighed demand. They were a family firm with other irons in the fire – not least a Rootes car franchise. Eventually this became a VW franchise and they remain one of the most prominent VW dealers in the south.

A look at their web-site shows a big set up with, in addition, franchises for Kia, Land Rover, Nissan, Skoda and Toyota.

David Oldfield

14/10/14 – 06:33

There was certainly nothing wrong with Beadle bodywork, as it was widely used in many quarters, and not just the south east. They also built up quite a reputation with those chassisless rebuilds using Leyland Tiger/Titan or AEC Regent/Regal chassis. I always felt these looked stylish. Southdown used Beadle for a significant quantity of new builds, rebuilds and re-bodying from approx 1947 to 1957.
These included rebodying 37 Leyland TD3,4,5;
New bodies on 23 Leyland PS1’s (half-cab), and later rebuilding these and 40 Duple-bodied PS1’s to full front;
Rebuilding 50 Leyland TS7/TS8’s into chassisless coaches (20 at 30 feet and 30 at 26 feet length);
New bodies on 12 Leyland PD2/12 d/d’s (Park Royal supplied the frames);
A magnificent total of 130 coach bodies on Leyland Tiger Cub chassis (I remember these most as being on the regular Portsmouth/London service, but they fulfilled many duties);
and finally 25 Beadle-Commer TS3 coaches of the Rochester style. They look slightly different to the PMT one above due to having a central entrance.
That’s a total of 190 new bodies, 37 rebodying older stock, and 113 rebuilds of various means – grand total of 340.
I think they also did some rebuilding of Leyland TD3//4/5s which weren’t given a total re-body post-war.
I don’t recall the details of Beadles giving up coach or bus building, but they seem to have produced satisfactory work for all their customers.

Michael Hampton

14/10/14 – 06:34

John Clayton Beadle established a horse drawn carriage construction business in Lowfield Street, Dartford in 1893, and, in 1900, built a new factory in Spital Street, which was extended in 1910 to include a car sales showroom. The firm expanded during the motor age into passenger and haulage vehicle bodywork, and general engineering. During WW2 it was a subcontractor to Shorts of Rochester, supplying parts for Sunderland flying boats. Beadle continued to make bus/coach/general bodies and integral vehicles up to 1957, by which time the declining demand for such products resulted in the firm concentrating on its private car sales activities. These continue to the present day from showrooms in Princes Street, Dartford, but the firm also has outlets in other towns in Kent and south London. The 1910 construction and car showroom premises in Dartford of J. C. Beadle are now, ignominiously, a Wetherspoon pub called the ‘Flying Boat’, but the workshops to the rear were demolished many years ago. A gallery of Beadle vehicles may be found here:- www.flickr.com/groups/1890258@N22/  
Strictly speaking, the Routemaster was a semi chassisless design, employing front and rear subframes to carry the engine, wheels/axles, suspension and transmission components. The self supporting bodywork provided the structural integrity for the vehicle as a whole. It has been suggested that one reason for the abandonment of the FRM was the difficulty of introducing a centre exit without seriously weakening the structure, though redesign could doubtlessly have resolved the problem. (The other reason was that Stokes was firmly against the FRM, and Leyland had the integral Titan to sell.) One fully successful integral vehicle was the Bristol LS which ran to a production total of 1409.

Roger Cox

14/10/14 – 10:59

I too can remember this Rootes engine in various vehicles- sounding like a monster version of a mad moped. Thanks for the potted history, Roger. Beadle seemed to be jobbing coachbuilders, seeing a niche for modern-looking but cheap (?) coaches for firms perhaps wanting to replace half-cabs. If we are around 1956, as seems the case, the Commer engine could also provide a response to the massive post-Suez fuel price inflation.
Eventually, sixties "affluence" and the multi-nationals with their service networks must have squeezed them out.


15/10/14 – 07:22

…..and of course the Rootes franchise also explains to Commer/Rootes running gear!

David Oldfield

15/10/14 – 07:23

Thx, folks, for the potted history of Beadles. At least they’ve survived in some form. As for their Dartford showroom, to their credit at least Wetherspoon’s have a history of preserving old buildings which otherwise would have decayed away and/or been demolished.

Chris Hebbron

29/10/14 – 07:10

At my time at Beadles they also built Commer vans, a number of Commer trucks built for the G P O MOBILE workshops for the erection of telegraph poles,and for a short while Humber Hawk estate cars. My jobs were to fit wheel arches, floor trap doors for access to the engine, stair treads. also about 12 double decker buses cant remember if they were for Southdown or Maidstone & District.

Dave Parslow


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Moss Tours – Beadle Rochester – WKJ 787

Moss Tours - Beadle Rochester - WKJ 787
Copyright Roger Cox

Moss Tours Isle of White
Beadle Rochester
Beadle C41C

This picture of WKJ 787, a Beadle Rochester C41C coach was taken in 1970 at Alum Bay, Isle of Wight. The Rochester was an integral design from the Dartford based coachbuilder, and was powered by the Rootes TS3 3 cylinder horizontally opposed piston two stroke engine, very similar to the pre war Sulzer ZG9. (The wartime Junkers Jumo aero engine operated on related principles but differed in several design aspects.) The TS3 was designed initially at the Humber works of the Rootes group, and production was undertaken at the former Tilling Stevens (hence "TS") factory in Maidstone that Rootes acquired in the autumn of 1950. Two stroke engines have a power stroke on every rotation of the crankshaft, and have to have some form of pressure charging for induction. On the TS3 (and on contemporary Foden two strokes) this was achieved by a Roots (no commercial relation to Rootes) supercharger driven by the engine, which absorbed some of the power output.  The engine had a capacity of 3.26 litres and developed 105 bhp at 2400 rpm. The very distinctive exhaust note akin to a Gatling Gun in full cry earned these engine the sobriquet of "Knockers". A four cylinder 4.35 litres version was developed giving 200 bhp at 2600 rpm, and 14 prototypes ran 1.2 million miles very successfully, but this programme came to a halt with the Chrysler takeover of Rootes in 1967. Chrysler had entered into joint agreements with fellow American engineers Cummins for commercial vehicle engine supplies, and the exceptionally promising TS4 was an embarrassment to these arrangements. As it turned out, the Cummins V6 and V8 engines were a disaster. The TS3 was subsequently cancelled as well, and Chrysler turned to Perkins for the supply of smaller engines. Yet another promising British engineering achievement foundered upon corporate ignorance and myopia. //www.commer.org.nz/
The Rochester in the picture began life in 1955 as a Beadle demonstrator, and was later acquired by Moss Tours on the Isle of Wight. It was bought by a church group in the 1990s, and then thankfully sold on into preservation. To my eye, the body design is quite well proportioned, making due allowances for the ample application of chrome at the front. A recent view of this Rochester may be found here:- www.flickr.com/

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

03/08/12 – 07:57

To my mind this is pretty much what a centre entrance Weymann Fanfare would have looked like. I’ve never seen one, so was that an option or were they all front entrance?

Ronnie Hoye

03/08/12 – 07:58

Whereas there were front entrance Rochesters there were never centre entrance Fanfares. They are suspiciously similar but I believe Weymann were on the market first and, if you ignore the Fanfare front end, the rest can be seen as pure Beadle – despite similarities. I still find it incredible, after all these years, that Beadle "got away with" the Rochester as did Duple (or was it Roe?) with the Elizabethan and the Dalesman.
This vehicle made a guest appearance at last year’s Hemel Running Day. Handsome beast, whatever.

David Oldfield

03/08/12 – 07:59

Yorkshire Woollen had a batch registered CHD 375-390 new in 1957 and these were C41F.They were all withdrawn in 1967.

Philip Carlton

03/08/12 – 08:12

I’ve seen this several times, in ISLAND QUEEN guise. Moss still exists as an operator on the Isle of Wight, as part of Southern Vectis, whose fleet has been renumbered in the last few weeks as part of an exercise involving the whole of "Go South Coast".

Pete Davies

03/08/12 – 10:56

What a lovely picture. I can see the Fanfare similarities but it smacks of Yeates in some ways too.

Les Dickinson

03/08/12 – 17:20

The TS3 was an amazing engine; a real success story in a difficult area of internal combustion technology.
General Motors also produced the Detroit Diesel with a Roots blower, as early as 1938. It was used in some British tanks, but never used in the UK other than this, to my knowledge.
Chrysler made a stupid decision to scrap development (which included plans, jigs and engines) of the TS4, which was virtually ready to go. A couple of engines survived under wraps and here is the wonderful sound of a TS4 running: www.youtube.com/ 

Chris Hebbron

03/08/12 – 17:21

Yes, Les, the somewhat ornate decoration does suggest the designer had a look at some Yeates products and liked what he saw. I’ve always had the idea that the Yeates decoration was overdone, on the basis of "There’s a bit here that’s still blank. Let’s decorate it!" It must have increased the body weight, surely?

Pete Davies

03/08/12 – 17:21

Southdown had 25 Rochesters the first five of which had centre entrances but the windscreens and the first body bay were quite different being more akin to the bodies fitted to Southdown’s Tiger Cubs which were being delivered around that time. The remaining twenty were standard front entrance 41 seat models which were used extensively on express services. I drove later Commer Avengers fitted with this engine which could be quite lively if revs were kept up which makes me think I would love to have tried the four cylinder version it could have had great potential another chance missed.

Diesel Dave

03/08/12 – 17:40

WKJ 787_2_lr

I have been through my archives and attached is a picture you may want to add to the current discussion. Island Queen is owned by Roger Burdett and in 2008 I was a passenger on it to Scotland via the Kirkby Stephen Rally. The day before we went to the Lakeside and Hatherwaite Railway where I took this picture. Besides the obvious change in livery the vehicle has lost one of the orange front skylights.

Ken Jones

04/08/12 – 07:45

Thanks for that link to the TS4, Chris. That sound takes me right back to the days when the Southdown Commers could be seen (and decidedly heard) sprinting along the A22 and A23 south of Croydon. The cancellation of the TS4 and discontinuation of the TS3 should be added to the sadly substantial list of corporate follies that has denuded the UK economy of much of its engineering expertise.

Roger Cox

04/08/12 – 07:46

How did it perform, Ken, and was the engine noise subdued inside?

Chris Hebbron

04/08/12 – 07:47

I couldn’t have put it better myself Pete, this is better for being a little less cluttered I think.

Les Dickinson

04/08/12 – 11:41

Reference question above from Chris Hebbron – I thought it performed well – Scotland and back with no problems – and as a passenger it gave a nice ride. It was however noisy depending where you sat, so choice of seat is very important on this vehicle as I soon discovered.

Ken Jones

04/08/12 – 17:20

The TS4 was discontinued as a result of the Rootes takeover by Chrysler who introduced the V6 in the Dodge KP Series. This engine was seriously fast outpacing the TS3 and according to my father (who used the TS4 in development on the road). Unfortunately it was an erratic engine throwing belts and of course saw its reputation totally screwed by its lack of reliability in Daimler Roadliners.
Island Queen is a delight to drive and ok for noise if you sit in the front half. It is likely to be out and about in the second half of 2013

Roger Burdett

04/08/12 – 20:46

I’m sure that the initial engine in the Roadmaster was a Cummins ‘small-V’ one, which proved troublesome to the point where it was replaced by a Perkins engine and finally a Leyland unit, none of which produced a fully acceptable solution. I’ve seen it mentioned that it was originally a marine unit and suffered from problems of responsiveness, not a problem in a marine setting. Other contemporary Cummins engines were pretty good, but the one fitted was suitably very compact.
The chassis appears also to have been prone to flexing, causing body problems.
The TS4 never really came out of R&D and into volume production, to my knowledge.
Whatever the shortcomings of the early Leyland Nationals, they acquitted themselves well in comparison with the Roadliner. Thx, Ken, for the passenger experience pointers.

Chris Hebbron

07/08/12 – 07:14

I have had a ride on this vehicle, and got the impression that the engine noise was amplified by the entrance stairwell, which is presumably right next to the engine. This suggested that a front-entrance one would probably be more refined.

Peter Williamson

13/08/12 – 08:49

Here is a link to a picture of a Rochester with a front entrance body. The pillar at the rear of the front curved corner glass has had to be repositioned from that of the centre entrance design in order to accommodate the door. This one, KPR 688, was apparently one of three Rochesters bought new by Bere Regis and District in 1957. www.flickr.com/photos/

Roger Cox

15/10/12 – 17:06

The other surviving Rochester, 8 GMK, is likely to be a couple of years before it appears on the rally scene as there are a couple of others in the queue before it gets started.
There is a lot of work to do to it, including a large dent in the rear dome and some chassis work. Plus I need to get the ‘K’ and the VAS finished first. There are quite a few shots of it at this link.

Charlie Lemon

06/05/13 – 08:19

I travelled many hundreds of miles on the Yorkshire Woollen Rochesters and always enjoyed riding on them. However, while 105 bhp is impressive on paper, my recollection is that they had no worthwhile torque whatsoever, which made hill climbing a slow and tedious business, even with a driver who knew to keep the revs up (they were the only coaches at the time fitted with a rev counter). With someone who tried to drive them like a Gardner, things became hopeless as below a certain RPM the engine switched to four stroke which halved the power.
As far as noise is concerned, I do not recall them being any worse than, say, a Leyland inside but the ones I knew had front entrances and I always sat at the front. Outside was a different matter. I used to deliver papers early in the morning and remember a brace of Rochesters heading for Blackpool in the morning stillness as they blasted their way out of Cleckheaton. They were audible for about 3 miles. Heaven only knows what a TS4 would have sounded like.

Bob Hunter

29/10/13 – 07:17

The resemblance between the Weymann Fanfare and the Beadle Rochester, which was highlighted earlier in this thread, is also mentioned in John Senior’s "The Weymann Story Part 2 1942-1966".
Apparently at a time when Weymann was highly profitable there was a disagreement between the managing director, DJA (Jack) Davies, and the owners, United Molasses, about what to do with the profits. The row became acrimonious and Davies was forced to leave. He went to Beadle in March 1955, and the Rochester appeared the following year.

Peter Williamson

06/11/13 – 16:08

On YouTube under the heading ‘QUANTOCK CLASSIC BUS DAY 2011 Part3’ a short journey aboard WKJ 787 is included in the video. The Rochester footage begins at 5.54 and lasts until 8.09, followed by a very brief ‘encore’ from 9.20 – 9.56. Sound effects from the little Commer TS3 engine are as one would expect – growly, raucous and gorgeous. It’s definitely worth watching/listening to if you like 2-stroke diesels – just make sure the neighbours are out before you turn up the volume!

Brendan Smith

07/11/13 – 07:15

Brendan: My word- I’d forgotten what it was like. An Atco with hyperdrive…. and what a driver!


WKJ 787_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

04/02/14 – 07:41

Does anyone have any information about WKO 136 ? apparently a demonstrator.



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