Old Bus Photos

Coalporters Amateur Rowing Club -Bedford VAL – LBY 173D

Coalporters Amateur Rowing Club -Bedford VAL - LBY 173D

Coalporters Amateur Rowing Club
Bedford VAL 14
Duple C48F

There isn’t a lot to be said about this poor creature other than ‘oh, dear!’. LBY 173D is a Bedford VAL with Duple body, new in 1966 and relegated to carrying club members and their boats to and from events. She is seen near the group’s premises near Northam Bridge in Southampton, on the dull afternoon of 21 September 1981. What might in other circumstances be thought of as part of the frame for the upper deck is the boat rack.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

25/09/16 – 11:55

At long last, I have been able to gain access to Bus Lists On The Web! For some strange reason, I have not managed to gain entry until now. Perhaps I wasn’t hitting the correct buttons in the right order, but never mind. That website tells us that this vehicle was new to Rickards in May 1966. I imagine she had the maroon livery from new – what a comedown to this!

Pete Davies

Actually, at 15 years for a Bedford, I don’t think this coach looks so bad. Decent livery and lettering reflecting I assume… Coal!
It must have been over a few unsurfaced roads and even riverbanks and there seems little damage: bashed bumper, dent behind front wheels… and smart wheels too. The contraption on top looks odd when empty but loaded perhaps even impressive! Presumably the VAL was lower and better for the job?



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Whippet Coaches – Bedford VAL 14 – 390 GEW

Whippet Coaches - Bedford VAL 14 - 390 GEW

Whippet Coaches
Bedford VAL14
Yeates C52F

Taken on Sunday April 21st 1963 at a somewhat wet Brighton coach rally this photo shows a Bedford VAL 14 with a Yeates Fiesta C52F body of Whippet Coaches from Hilton in Cambridgeshire Registration No 390 GEW. This was one of only eleven VAL’s bodied by Yeates at least six of which went to Barton Transport and were all fitted with dual doors with either 50 or 56 seats which would seem to make them D/P’s, that of course is open to question.
Whatever your view the Yeates bodied Bedford VAL was a fairly unusual combination and was in my view an attractive vehicle which would have benefited from a more restrained paint job.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

03/11/14 – 06:36

This is a Fiesta body; the Barton ones were based on the earlier Europa styling. Possibly the siting of an exit door amid sloping window pillars may have been considered unsatisfactory.

Peter Williamson

04/11/14 – 06:47

If Dave is correct about Yeates bodying only eleven VALs and seven are accounted for here, could we possibly have details of who had the others?

Chris Barker

04/11/14 – 07:00

Charles Rickards of Brentford had AYV 92B, a Yeates bodied VAL.

John Hodkinson

04/11/14 – 11:26

Barton, Chillwell
963 963 RVO Bedford VAL14 1016 – Yeates 0010 C50D 6/63
964 964 RVO Bedford VAL14 1104 – Yeates 0011 C50D 6/63
965 965 RVO Bedford VAL14 1111 – Yeates 0012 C50D 7/63
966 966 RVO Bedford VAL14 1115 – Yeates 0013 C50D 7/63
967 967 RVO Bedford VAL14 1145 – Yeates 0015 DP56D 7/63
968 968 RVO Bedford VAL14 1146 – Yeates 0014 DP56D 7/63
969 969 RVO Bedford VAL14 1167 – Yeates 0016 DP56D 7/63

Gibson, Barlestone
54 179 CNR Bedford VAL14 1126 – Yeates 0020 C52F 5/63
58 407 EAY Bedford VAL14 1195 – Yeates 0021 C51F 10/63

Rickard. W2
AYV 92B Bedford VAL14 1181 – Yeates 0029 C52F 5/64

Whippet, Hilton
390 GEW Bedford VAL14 1060 – Yeates 0019 C52F 5/63

These were the only Bedford VAL with Yeates bodywork.

Ron Mesure

05/11/14 – 11:38

This may be a trick of the camera, but the odd thing about this body seems to be the high ground clearance which gives it a rather primitive lorry-look: this and as Dave says the (typical?) Yeates paint job is bucking the trend towards smoother, unfussy lines eg the Harrington Bartons…. and by-the-by why Whippet?- in northern climes, it is a poor man’s Greyhound (delightful though they are, he adds hastily) and "Whippet Quick" is not a phrase you want attached to your business.


05/11/14 – 15:40

I think it’s inherent in the design, it looks high. The Duple Vega Major looks low, sleek and right. To a lesser extent, so does the Plaxton Val. The other mainstream coach on the VAL, the Legionnaire, looked higher – as did the other minority body, the MCW Topas II.

David Oldfield

09/11/14 – 06:51

To not answer Joe’s question about the name "Whippet", unfortunately the book issued to mark the operators 90th anniversary says that the "the origins of the name are obscure" so presumably the present owners never asked their grandfather where he got the name from. They also own a non trading company called Bloodhound Bus Lines!

Nigel Turner

10/11/14 – 06:56

If Paul Carter, the author of the "Whippet" book, and of several other comprehensive East Anglian transport volumes, cannot positively elicit the origins of the name, then I doubt that anyone ever will. It has been suggested, however, that the name was adopted to give an indication of speed, and "Greyhound" had already been (over)used elsewhere to such an extent that the name was becoming rather a cliché, hence "Whippet". Originally, it was "The Whippet", but in more recent times, presumably inspired(!) by the Go Northern, Go Ahead, Go Whittle etc Academy For The Misuse Of The English Language, it has traded as "Go Whippet". As one living locally to this operator, I continue to be bemused by its radical changes of livery every few years. The only constant factor is the inclusion of blue in some form. Latterly this has become a rather unexciting shade that covers almost the entire vehicle, but individual buses have differing applications of the relief colour – this is just a simple yellow stripe on the latest acquisitions. All the Busway vehicles, Whippet and Stagecoach, wear the same livery, which is rather confusing to the public as the tickets of the two operators are emphatically not inter-available. The County Council did attempt to introduce a common ticket along the Busway, but this fell foul of rejection through inter operator rivalry, and has been abandoned. Another characteristic of the company is the policy of allocating individual buses to individual drivers – each driver keeps the bus for the entire working day. This may be a sound policy for coach work, but it mitigates against efficient bus utilisation. At certain times of the day, the bus stations at St Ives and Huntingdon are full of Whippet buses on layover.

Roger Cox

17/11/14 – 06:44

Whippet has been sold to Tower Transit – an Australian company.

Mark Smith

17/11/14 – 17:21

Back in 1952, Mr Lee was in talks with Eastern National about selling the business however nothing came of it. According to the EN records Mr Lee wished to retire but did not think his sons were capable of running it.

Nigel Turner

18/11/14 – 06:13

Even before that, in May 1947, and again in early 1951, Mr Henry Lee entered into talks with Mr Arthur Lainson with a view to selling out to Premier Travel. Now, nearly 27 years since the demise of the Lainson era Premier Travel, Whippet is still around, though I foresee some significant changes on the horizon once a financially hard nosed new owner takes charge.

Roger Cox

19/11/14 – 15:17

I think a sell off by Whippet has been on the cards for some time, Stagecoach would probably have bought them if it was not for the monopolies commission. At least it should now put Whippet in a stronger position in the Cambridgeshire bus scene & provide some competition to Stagecoach.
On a lighter note, I wonder if they will replace the Whippet with a Kangaroo!!

John Wakefield

10/01/16 – 05:52

A year or so on & Tower Transit have not made significant changes to Whippet, they are still only operating around the same amount of services, many tendered rural route supported by Cambridgeshire County Council. No new buses have been acquired although some ex London ones have cascaded down but these are ‘old’ vehicles including some short Dennis Darts on 03 plates. But they also have three 12 plate ADL Enviro 200’s branded ‘Puppy’s for use on rural routes. As at present they are no threat to Stagecoach. They have though produced a useful fold up timetable covering all bus routes.

John Wakefield

10/01/16 – 10:50

I like John’s comments about Whippet and the name for the ADL Enviro 200. Among my traffic duties with Southampton City Council was visiting applicants for disabled parking bays. On one occasion, I was ushered in and I saw the back end of a dog disappearing through a doorway. A few minutes later, one of the household asked, "Where’s Tyson?" "He’s in the back garden," was the reply. Now, Tyson, in the canine context, projects an image of some of the more vicious breeds. Eventually, Tyson condescended to return indoors. I saw a whippet. Clearly, the owner had a good sense of humour!

Pete Davies

27/01/18 – 07:05

Whippet have recently terminated a number of subsidised routes around Huntingdon and St ives which have now been taken by Stagecoach Busway and Dews.

David Ormerod

12/06/19 – 06:29

Whippet are hoping to celebrate in some way or another, it’s 100 year anniversary (sometime in 2019 but no one knows when!). I would love to hear from anyone with ideas how best we could celebrate this event(we will most likely pick a date in Aug 19 for our celebration). I don’t believe we will wish to go too over the top and the budget will be limited.


13/06/19 – 06:29

Pauline (I assume you are in someway connected with Whippet)
The event that you could have chosen for the 100 year celebration was Bus Fest at Whittlesey in May, but that event is now past. You really should have arranged a date at the beginning of the year and ahead of the rally season. Most events have now been advertised in the various bus enthusiast publications and calendars. I do wonder if there is much interest in the company now since the take over by Tower Transit and more recently Ascendal. Sad that this old & respected established company was sold out of the Lee family ownership.

John Wakefield

14/06/19 – 06:30

Hi John
Yes, I am Office Manager at Whippet Coaches and (last week) was given the enviable task of organising an event to celebrate the 100 year anniversary.

No name given


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Priory Coaches – Bedford VAL 14 – BFT 942D – 50

Priory Coaches - Bedford VAL 14 - BFT 942D - 50

Priory Coaches of North Shields
Bedford VAL 14
Plaxton C52F

George Chapman established Priory Coaches of North Shields in 1929. North Shields is located in what was the County Borough of Tynemouth, and the name and company logo relate to Tynemouth Priory, which is an ancient monument situated within the grounds of Tynemouth Castle. By the early 50’s the fleet numbered in excess of 40 vehicles, to the best of my knowledge, they never ran any stage carriage services, although they did have a regular twice-weekly service to two local outlying hospitals in Morpeth and Prudhoe. For as long as I can remember, the fleet consisted entirely of Bedford’s of all shapes and sizes, with either Duple or Plaxton bodies. In common with most post war coach operators, at one time much of the fleet was made up of Bedford OB’s. As far as I know, they only ever had one VAL 14, I could be wrong, but I don’t think it was around for very long. The Priory livery was two shades of green and cream with gold lettering, and as far as I can remember the seats were upholstered in a rich dark red moquette material, and very smart they looked. The company has changed hands, but I’m pleased to say they are still on the go, although the fleet is nowhere near the same size as it was. It now numbers around 10 vehicles, the livery has also changed, and is now white with two shades of blue. Bedford’s no longer being available, the bulk of the fleet is now mainly Volvo.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

17/04/14 – 10:55

These were good looking and, for their time, well built coaches. If anything, they were a little more elegant than the Panoramas, with the thick pillar aft of the first bay. The VAL14 (Leyland engine) was better liked than the later and more powerful VAL70 (Bedford engine).

David Oldfield

17/04/14 – 18:24

The 1967 edition of ‘The Little Red Book’, information for which would have been supplied in 1966, stated, that Priory Motor Coach Co. Ltd., had a rolling stock of 12 coaches.
12 Bedford Chassis, and bodies by Duple 6, Plaxton 5, and Yeates 1.

Stephen Howarth

18/04/14 – 09:30

Purely a personal view of course, but I always found the Bedford VAL to be a delightful and fascinating vehicle to ride in and to drive. For whatever engineering reasons – six small wheels/leaf springing etc – its excellent degree of riding comfort seems often to be overlooked by those attaching great importance to its moderate but very adequate performance. I’ve even done journeys of well over 200 miles in VALs, riding and driving, in perfect contentment. While its gladly acknowledged that it can’t match the speed and power of the Leopard/Reliance/Volvo "big boys" it was nevertheless a very commendable design, and appealing too in what might by some be classed as its "cheeky" involvement in stage carriage work here and there. I loved the VALs and remember their plucky character very fondly, and when all’s said and done they came from a very honest "no frills" stable.

Chris Youhill

18/04/14 – 18:20

I have a photo of BFT 942D in cream and blue livery with "Leisureline" in the destination blind in the front bumper.
Does anyone know where this operator was based?

Dave Farrier

10/05/15 – 07:12

The Bedford VAL was produced in Underfloor Engine form for Australia in the early 1970s. Why not for the UK market? Seems odd as the United Kingdom was their main stronghold!


21/05/15 – 06:39

Dave Farrier,
Information re coach reg. BFT 942D.your listing of (18/04/14)
I have a note from another stating Leisureline to be a Blackpool based company. Note States same livery, information is by son of the owner. The era being around 1970’s.

Alan Coulson

26/02/16 – 14:22

Regarding underfloor engined VAL’s in Australia. As both a driver and mechanic which worked on them in Australia, until they were finally retired from service. The VAL’s you mentioned were actually bodied in Australia in 1974 after the YRQ had come out and after the VAL had actually ceased production. As there were chassis left over we continued to be able to buy them after cease of build in the UK. Until supplies of the new chassis became available, in many cases even the latter BLP had the front engine moved back as to meet customers demands. Keeping in mind that Australian design rules never specified ground clearance heights like the UK did. The underfloor engine option was one you used to pay extra for, at the time $250.00 for and the body builder would move the engine back to behind just the front axle. Not as far back as in the factory build YRQ, YLQ.
I myself even moved and engine back in one of my BLP school buses when the engine failed. Bit of a big job.


18/02/20 – 07:27

Priory went into liquidation at the end of 2019. Their website is down and some links redirect to Rothbury Travel Group

Alan Walker

19/02/20 – 06:18

Priory were latterly owned by the same owners as Rothbury Travel. They also own various other coach operators in the North East and other areas of the country.

Tim Presley

20/02/20 – 06:20

I was brought up in Whitley Bay in the fifties. During the summer holidays, my parents would book day trips either with Wakefield’s, a subsidiary of Northern, or with Priory Motors. Although I was too young to be able to identify the coaches provided, it is obvious looking back that the type most commonly used was the Bedford SB.
The last trip that I made with Priory was some years later when I went on a day tour to Buttertubs Pass. For some reason, the coach that should have been provided was not available, and instead of one large coach, we got two small ones. I travelled in the second, A Plaxton Coach-bodied Bedford J2 mini, not perhaps the ideal vehicle for a day tour, and at the opposite end of the scale from the Bedford VAL, nevertheless, I found it an interesting experience.

John Gibson

20/02/20 – 15:34

Another Priory Coaches VAL FJA 990D ended its days derelict in Myalls of Bassingbourn yard. www.flickr.com/photos/

John Wakefield

05/03/20 – 06:46

John, priory Coaches (North Shields) sadly ceased trading in December 2019.
They only ever had one Bedford VAL, that’s the one pictured above, there was however another company based in Coalville, who traded under the name of Priory Coaches UK Ltd & Rigleys Hire Ltd.
As far as I know, they have also ceased trading.

Ronnie Hoye

06/03/20 – 06:29

FJA 990D was with Priory Coaches, Christchurch.
I think there were quite a few Priory Coaches, there was another one in Royal Leamington Spar at 38 High Street

John Wakefield


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