Old Bus Photos

West Riding – Bristol Lodekka – HHY 183D – 452

West Riding - Bristol Lodekka - HHY 183D - 452

West Riding Automobile
1966
Bristol Lodekka FLF6G
ECW H38/32F

Proceeding on a very wet day into Leeds city centre is West Riding No. 452, Bristol FLF6G HHY 183D with ECW H38/32F bodywork, originally delivered to Bristol Omnibus as C7280 in October 1966. When, in 1967, West Riding sold out to the Transport Holding Company, which became the National Bus Company in 1969, steps were taken to withdraw the very troublesome Guy Wulfrunian fleet, and to secure this end as quickly as possible, buses were transferred from various parts of the NBC empire. This FLF6G was sent from Bristol Omnibus to West Riding in February 1970, so it had not been there very long when I took this picture in April of that year. In November 1971 it was renumbered 544 and stayed with West Riding until 1980, during which period it acquired the abysmal NBC poppy red livery. It was then sold to Top Deck Travel of Horsell Common with whom it spent several years in the USA up to 1986 before finally being consigned to the scrapyard in 1989.
I acknowledge this very informative website as the source of much of the foregoing information:– http://bcv.robsly.com/lodekka.html

A complete West Riding fleet list may be found at this link

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


01/10/20 – 06:33

If it’s not my imagination, this bus appears to have hub caps on the rear wheels. If this is the case, was this a West Riding feature carried forward to this hotchpotch of foreign incomers!

Chris Hebbron


02/10/20 – 06:41

This is a good point, Chris. I have blown up the picture on my computer screen, and you are right. I hadn’t noticed the rear wheel trims, rather similar to those on London Transport RT/RTL/RM/RF types. I have looked at my own pictures of other West Riding buses – Guy Arabs and Wulfrunians, Daimler Fleetlines, AEC Reliances, and other’ imports’ brought in to ease the Wulfrunian crisis, and none have these wheel trims. Perhaps an OBP expert can enlighten us.

Roger Cox


02/10/20 – 06:42

The black fibreglass rear wheel trims were introduced as standard NBC spec. mid 1960s to all Bristol chassis. Somebody must have thought it looked smart and perhaps would aid mechanical vehicle washing without asking the operating engineers. The need to remove the covers for every tyre pressure check and wheel nut tightening led to depots under pressure (pun not intended!) leaving them off and then taking off the fixing brackets which incorporated a spring loaded catch and became a bit of a danger as they stuck out, being bolted to the axle shaft hub. Few Chief Engineers insisted on re-instatement because the newer vehicles then looked the same as the earlier deliveries and weren’t noticed! No doubt there were enthusiast depot engineers (usually at smaller and remote locations) around the country who took pride in retaining the wheel covers in good condition.

Geoff Pullin


02/10/20 – 06:44

I wonder (suppose, really) that I’m the only person who thinks the ECW Lodekkas are amongst the best looking double deckers ever to enter service.
Angular, functional, almost minimalist design which was of its age, no doubt, but which still looks perfect for the job it was designed to do.
Or is it my age and I haven’t moved on – old buses are as much a part of me in the same way I still look at TV actresses from that era and think that Jan Francis, Paula Wilcox, Felicity Kendall etc, etc haven’t really been improved upon 50 years later??

Stuart C


03/10/20 – 06:33

No Stuart C, you’re not the only one who considers the Lodekka to have been among the best looking double deckers. I must admit to a slight preference for the rear entrance variety, with their more raked fronts. Having been a conductor for a brief period, I also appreciated the extra space on the platform – on an FLF, I always seemed to be in the way!

Nigel Frampton


03/10/20 – 06:34

It’s nice that these vehicles arrived in time to wear the traditional West Riding livery and fleetname, if only for a couple of years. As Roger says, the adoption of NBC poppy red was regrettable and something of a mystery when every other NBC fleet for miles around was also red, the nearest fleet to opt for green was perhaps East Midland, a considerable distance away.
It’s also good to see that WR went to the trouble of having non-standard destination blinds made to fit the aperture which was nothing like their own standard display. Dare I say, some may have been content to simply show the word ‘Service’.

Chris Barker


03/10/20 – 10:26

This photo also illustrates how the cream glazing strip that ECW used for a few years made the destination aperture look smaller. In this case it looks as if the already small lettering is too big, yet with black glazing strip it would look fine!
If I remember rightly, the cream rubber coincided with complaints that the older green leathercloth interior side panels and green criss-cross Formica on seat backs looked a bit dull. It always looked to me that the response was that of an engineer looking through the pattern books (and certainly not an interior designer) – and choosing golden leaves cream Formica instead.
The radiator cap also looks to be painted red. That was most probably part of the necessary operation in those days of using antifreeze only during the winter and the cap would have been painted red (or a different colour each year) for drivers to know that it needed topping up with antifreeze mix and not water. Happy days!
Did anyone else feel vulnerable sitting at the back downstairs of an FLF? I always avoided those seats!

Geoff Pullin


08/10/20 – 06:50

Chris. This isn’t the "traditional" West Riding livery – it is Tilling green which West Riding adopted after it sold out to the THC, the traditional West Riding green was a shade lighter/brighter. I understand that the decision of West Riding to adopt NBC poppy red was driven by the Regional Director who wanted an "all red" Region; I suspect that the West Riding Group GM, Fred Dark, who had come from Yorkshire, didn’t put up too much resistance given that if West Riding had adopted leaf green then Yorkshire would probably have had to do the same under NBC’s rationalist policies.

Philip Rushworth


09/10/20 – 16:13

Presumably this bus, being quite new on its transfer to West Riding, simply retained its Bristol Omnibus Tilling Green.

Roger Cox


10/10/20 – 06:56

As I understand it, West Riding adopted NBC red because the regional management wanted an "all-red" area as Philip says, but that wasn’t universal across all areas of NBC. In the south, Western National used green, but Devon General (which was by then under common management with WN) used red. A similar situation applied to Provincial (green) which was managed by Hants & Dorset (red); and Cheltenham (red) was a subsidiary of Bristol OC (green).

Nigel Frampton


21/10/20 – 06:46

West Riding were a partially red fleet for many years as the former tram routes were run with red vehicles West Riding had actually begun to change from their traditional green to Tilling green before the Lodekkas began to arrive.
On the subject of the use of NBC red there is an apocryphal story that Yorkshire Woollen and West Riding tossed a coin and West Riding lost!

Chris Hough


14/11/20 – 07:38

I am coming to this a bit late, but I have been very interested to read all the comments in the string above. I have not worked on buses, as Nigel Frampton has, but purely from a user point of view, I loved the Bristol Lodekkas. When I was a boy in York I would try to get my mother to take us home from Exhibition Square, where the routes 2, 8 and 12 home were all Lodekkas, rather than from Stonebow (mostly VRs – which I also am now very fond of).
I read a very good book about the Routemaster, in which the author referred to the Lodekka as a Behemoth. I think that was unfair! When I moved down to London in 1989 I enjoyed being able to step back in time to use the Routemasters, but they did seem very narrow and rickety compared with the Lodekkas.

Henry Arthurs


 

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Potteries Motor Traction – Bristol FS6G – DPM67C – T2

DPM 67C

Potteries Motor Traction
1965
Bristol FS6G
ECW H33/27RD

New to Brighton Hove and District as fleet number 67 this was one of a pair of these Lodekkas acquired by PMT in NBC days as Driver Training vehicles. The yellow NBC style livery is rather attractive. Seems a strange vehicle type to transfer to an ex BET fleet with no previous experience of this model.
Photo taken at Woodhouse Street, Stoke outside the main works in July 1978

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild


22/04/20 – 06:46

These two buses were added to the PMT fleet at the end of 1976 and if my memory serves me right one was received in NBC green whilst the other had traditional Southdown livery. These buses were newer than all of the Leyland Atlanteans and most of the Daimler Fleetlines still in operation at that time, but these were not suitable for Driver Traning duties by virtue of having semi-automatic transmission. At that time to obtain a licence to drive all type of PSV a driver had to have undertaken at least part of the PSV training on a bus with fully transmission.

Leekensian


23/04/20 – 06:40

Thanks for the comment. In 1976 PMT would still have Ford coaches with manual transmission (and maybe Reliances 986-991 and 1041 -1043, possibly some Reliance service buses still with manual transmission). Most BET fleets had gone over to forward entrances for their later half cab deliveries and rear entrance buses were easier (and cheaper) to adapt for driver training. An interesting interlude and interesting comment about liveries as received.

Ian Wild


23/04/20 – 08:27

I agree that the livery is quite attractive, probably aided by how impeccable the bus looks.
Is it still or no longer the case that PSV drivers must have some experience of manual transmission? The Stagecoach learner buses I see around locally (all single deckers, although the fleet has double deckers, too) are so old as to suggest that they have manual gearboxes. They are of the high-floored variety coach type with steep steps into the vehicles.

Chris Hebbron


24/04/20 – 06:08

In 1976 PMT still had a large number of Leyland Leopards and AEC Reliances from the batches delivered between 1962 and 1965 – 921 to 950, 976 to 985 and 1036 to 1040. One of 1963 Leopards (927) was converted to a Driver Trainer in 1977 and carried the same livery as the two Bristol FS6G. Unfortunately all of the heavy weight(some might say decent) coaches had been withdrawn by PMT in 1973 to be replaced by twenty Ford coaches with Duple Dominant Express bodywork. I have often wondered if the coaches were withdrawn prematurely to take advantage of the bus grant scheme or in order to improve the profile of the coach fleet. A further link between PMT and Southdown also took place in 1976 when six 1965 Leyland Leopards coaches were purchased and carried PMT fleet numbers 10 to 15.

Leekensian


24/04/20 – 06:09

Chris-so far as I am aware the use of high floor coaches is more to do with a requirement that buses used for PCV licence testing (and hence training) are fitted with ABS brakes. Modern coaches are so fitted (again by law) hence meet the required standard.

Ian Wild


25/04/20 – 06:29

Ian; When this came into force my local operator, First Eastern Counties, had to use the newest Volvo coaches (R reg) for driver training and the N&P reg ones for revenue earning services.
Shortly before the ABS requirement I had passed my class D driving test in a 26 year old Bedford YMT which obviously did not have ABS.

Nick Dasey


26/04/20 – 06:10

Even when delivered in 1966, the FS did not appear to be the bus for the future of the industry! Several of the last batch went to Tilling companies that already used FLF forward entrance deckers. So why revert? I recall United Counties had several of this last batch, with the reliable 6LW Gardner engine and without CBC radiators and thus engineering-wise were very reliable vehicles. But not much use when one man operation of double deckers came to the industry within two years of the delivery. United Counties carried out careful conversions of four of their last FS6G into Driver Trainers and, in at least one case, combined with tree lopping duties, complete with trailer for carrying the cuttings. They were out-shopped from Northampton similarly to the PMT version in an immaculate yellow version of the NBC livery. I think samples are still running and there are photos on Flickr. PS: I remember collecting Eastern Counties last FS5G from Lowestoft in 1966!

Geoff Pullin


26/04/20 – 06:12

Nick, I really admire your gall to go public on this site to say that you passed your test in a Bedford!
Perhaps our illustrious ‘blogmaster’ could start a separate topic heading, so that we might be able to regale tales of what we passed our PSV test with?
just an idea? (Tin hat time from our beloved Bedford fans, I fear )

Mike Norris


27/04/20 – 07:25

Mike, you think that admitting to passing a test in a Bedford is bad, it get’s worse. I also passed my class 3 & 1 HGV tests in Bedfords and worst of all, I still own the coach.

Nick Dasey


27/04/20 – 07:25

Well, I learned and passed my test in a magnificent (6 speed) 6U3ZR. Of course, purists might (justifiably?) say that learning and passing on a constant mesh decker is something of which to be more proud.

David Oldfield


27/04/20 – 07:27

I passed my PSV test on either DPM66C or DPM67C I don’t recall which one, having trained on both of these buses whilst at PMT in 1978. My assessment was undertaken on the aforementioned Leyland Leopard 927 (927 UVT).

Leekensian


28/04/20 – 06:27

I did my initial PSV training at PMT on dual control (and Metalastik toggle link suspension fitted) AEC Reliance 470 5596. I progressed to PD2 L466 (which suited me as it had a sliding cab door) and finally PD2 L337 which I wasn’t keen on. The Instructors were Gerry, Sam And George Clews who was the Examiner. He somewhat reluctantly advised me that I had passed my test. Something about being an Engineer, I wouldn’t have to drive a bus in anger!!! Happy days

Ian Wild


29/04/20 – 06:24

I recall that the primary use of T5596 was to train Conductors in order to obtain a Car licence.
George Clews took me on an assessment to drive a Company car but my PSV test was undertaken by a Ministry Examiner. The man in charge of the PMT car pool was an affable man, Bill Corden who I remember was also the Chauffeur to the General Manager. His initial greeting when encountering him was ‘haven’t we got good jobs’. Indeed happy days.
There is a link on the SCT’61 site regarding T5596.

Leekensian


30/04/20 – 05:54

I remember Bill Corden, great bloke in charge of the private car garage. Bill was very helpful and encouraging to me. His usual greeting to me was ‘How’s the fleet!"
Characters!!

Ian Wild


 

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Midland General – Bristol Lodekka – 972 ARA – 453

972 ARA

Midland General Omnibus Company
1956
Bristol Lodekka LD6G
ECW H33/25RD

Photographed in Nottingham in August 1961 is Midland General 453, 972 ARA, a Bristol LD6G Lodekka with ECW H33/25RD bodywork, delivered to the operator in October 1956. This vehicle, together with other buses from across the NBC, went to West Riding in April 1970 to expedite the withdrawal of the troublesome Guy Wulfrunian fleet. Sadly, 453 didn’t last very long in the care of West Riding as it went to the scrapyard in December 1971 having, rather pointlessly, been renumbered No. 408 just one month earlier.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


09/04/18 – 07:39

Such a pity the BTC had such a rigid livery policy with most Loddekkas being in wall to wall red or green. We were denied the opportunity to see such attractive vehicles in attractive liveries such as this one on a wider scale. The Midland General livery seemed to slip through the livery police net somehow but the loophole was soon spotted by the dreaded NBC and the even more dreaded poppy red was soon inflicted.

Philip Halstead


10/04/18 – 05:39

I agree – the only other attractive exception was BH&D, who had cream roofs and a much deeper band of crew around the lower deck windows – oh, and I think that either Notts & Derby or Mansfield District did something similar with Tilling Green and cream. Pity as the ECW body was beautifully proportioned, although too Spartan inside for my taste.

David Wragg


10/04/18 – 05:40

Some Midland General vehicles were initially painted dark blue with a white band and the fleetname in NBC style.

Stephen Bloomfield


10/04/18 – 05:41

Midland General never was a Tilling company but throughout it’s existence as a BTC and THC operator, it’s vehicles were always immaculately turned out, regardless of age and always sported comprehensive, fully working blind displays with via points shown, right until the later FLFs and VRs which had provision for ultimate destination and service number only. It was strict company policy that they must be correctly set too, the word ‘SERVICE’ would never have been allowed, in fact it wasn’t even on the blinds as an option.

Chris Barker


11/04/18 – 06:00

What is often overlooked regarding the BTC’s standard red and cream/green and cream ‘Tilling’ liveries is that when they were first introduced, the Tilling Group was in private hands. For many years the Group had operated a policy of centralised control and one of its aims, post-World War II, was to standardise on its ‘in house’ Bristol-ECW products – namely the K type double-decker in highbridge or lowbridge form, and the L type single-decker in bus or express form. Standard liveries for its bus fleets were also being pursued. When the Tilling Group was nationalised in 1948, outwardly it would probably have looked like ‘business as usual’ to the general public, as the old Tilling liveries remained. Interestingly, when the Balfour Beatty Group came under state control, Midland General, Notts & Derby Traction and Mansfield District retained their original liveries. Later, when the Red & White Group was acquired, Cheltenham District continued with its dark red and cream livery, applied in its distinctive fashion. The BTC did not seem to be as obsessed with rigid standardisation as perhaps the privately owned Tilling Group had been.
Although many of the coaches in the BTC fleets donned cream with either green or red/maroon relief, some distinctive and well respected coach liveries continued – those of United, Royal Blue, South Midland, Bristol-Greyhound, and Crosville spring to mind. Presumably prestige and local good will still counted for something, even under state control.
When the THC and BET Group were combined to form the state owned NBC in 1969, with the well-intentioned objective of halting the decline in bus use, for the first few years it appeared once again to be ‘business as usual’ regarding liveries. Ironically, it was someone from the private sector – one Freddie Wood – at the behest of the Heath government, who was responsible for the corporate liveries inflicted on the constituent companies in 1972. The standardised poppy red and white, or leaf green and white liveries for buses and ‘local coaches’ and the allover white National coach livery were not a patch on the liveries they replaced. In fairness, the introduction of the ‘National white coach network’ did improve public awareness of express travel and business did increase as a result, but why such an impractical colour was chosen for such hard working vehicles operating over long distances in all weathers remains a mystery.

Brendan Smith


11/04/18 – 06:04

Midland General, together with Notts & Derby and Mansfield District, were Balfour Beatty companies. Balfour Beatty initially concentrated upon tramway operation in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, whence it then broadened its activities into electricity generation and supply in those counties. When the electricity supply industry was nationalised in 1948, that aspect of the Balfour Beatty operation was taken over by the government, but the three public transport components of the business, by then using trolleybuses and motor buses, did not automatically follow suit. The disposal of Midland General, Mansfield District and Notts & Derby was a decision taken by Balfour Beatty in the light of the then Labour government’s aspirations for public ownership of the bus industry. Tilling sold out at about the same time, but the BET resisted. I agree with Chris that the standards of Midland General were very high, endorsed by the splendid livery.

Roger Cox


19/04/18 – 06:35

The reason that the Midland General fleet could be so smart was that the services operated were extremely profitable compared with other operators such as Trent.

Nigel Turner


20/04/18 – 06:40

Indeed so Nigel, Midland General had some very lucrative routes and on weekdays they operated many works and colliery services which operated throughout the day to meet changing shift patterns. On Saturdays, when vehicles which had been used on such duties might otherwise have stood idle, many of their principal services were so busy with shoppers, they were doubled in frequency, so the fleet was fully utilised. A blue livery and a blue chip company!

Chris Barker


23/05/18 – 06:47

Roger, the shareholdings of MGOC/NDT/MDT were all held by the Balfour Beatty subsidiary "MIDESCO", the Midland Counties Electricity Supply Company – it was MIDESCO which was nationalised as part of the compulsory nationalisation of the electricity supply industry, becoming part of the British Electricity Authority (BEA). It was because Balfour Beatty chose not to separate out the accounts for MGOC/NDT/MDT from those of the parent (MIDESCO) that they were nationalised (as part of that electricity supply company). Initially the BEA negotiated with a management agreement with Balfour Beatty for "oversight" of MGOC/NDT/MDT, but this lasted only months until the BEA transferred MGOC/NDT/MDT to the BTC.
The Llanelly & District company ended up in state-owned hands for similar reasons, but the outcome then was quite different.

Philip Rushworth


24/05/18 – 07:29

Thanks for that clarification, Philip. An interesting website about the Midland General Group may be found here:- https://midlandgeneralomnibus.weebly.com

Roger Cox


31/08/20 – 06:21

The location of the photo is the old Mount St bus station in Nottingham, a place I was most familiar with, since I lived in Nottingham until 1964, and my bus home (either the Nottingham City Transport 63 or more usually the Midland General F5) left from there. It was a pretty basic facility, and I understand it was actually a genuine wartime utility bus station! Presumably the utility Guy Arabs in the Midland General and Barton fleets, which in the early 1960s were regulars there, felt at home in the place. I believe the place was built to ease overcrowding at Nottingham’s original Huntingdon St bus station, and would also save a bit of mileage for routes from the west,, probably an important consideration during the war. I always found the Midland General buses to be well presented and reliable, but it always seemed strange to me that travelling to and from school on the F5, usually on the same departures each day, you never knew what vehicle would turn up – anything from a utility Guy to a brand new Lodekka. The route was worked by Ilkeston Depot, and they seemed to have no consistency as to what was sent out on what duty. Mount St was replaced by a new smaller facility nearby after I left Nottingham, but that had a fairly short life before closure.

Chris Appleby


 

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