Old Bus Photos

Bristol Omnibus – Bristol Lodekka – 961 EHW – GL8507

961 EHW

Bristol Omnibus
1959
Bristol Lodekka LD6G
ECW H33/27R

Here is Bristol Omnibus Bristol LD6G – 961 EHW – GL8507, new in July 1959, waiting in Gloucester King’s Square for a driver to take out the bus on the short 50B service to York Road (The Cathedrals). Note the Gloucester Coat of Arms and GLOUCESTER on side, applied to about 25 vehicles, part of the agreement when Gloucester City Council leased out its bus services to Bristol Omnibus in 1935 and which continued uninterrupted until Stagecoach took over the services from Western Travel, the privatised company created by NBC. Bristol Omnibus and Gloucester City Council operated these services, overseen by a joint committee. The bus itself was scrapped in Sept 1976.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron


22/05/17 – 07:45

Interestingly Bristol Omnibus and Gloucester Corporation both held their own Road Service Licences for the city (joint) routes. Applications in N&P were listed separately.
In York and Bristol, where similar arrangements applied, Road Service Licences were in the joint names of the Corporation and company. N&P listings read "Bristol Omnibus Co. and Bristol Corporation" and "West Yorkshire Road Car Co. and York Corporation".
Incidentally the bus is working service 508, formerly 8.

Geoff Kerr


22/05/17 – 07:46

A very interesting post Chris. Major Chapple had just left West Yorkshire to take control of the Bristol enterprise, and his experience with the Keighley and York organisational set-up must have proved of great value. Was the Bath situation set up in a similar fashion, or was that a direct acquisition, with it being a company and not a municipality?
I am not aware of the BET organisations making similar agreements with municipal fleets, but perhaps someone will be able to tell us if that were the case?

John Whitaker


22/05/17 – 07:48

Scrapped after only 17 years…What a waste of a thoroughly sound, ideal-for-the-job bus.
Or did the Cave-Brown-Cave equipment hasten its demise?

Ian Thompson


23/05/17 – 05:13

My recollection, John W, is that Bristol Omnibus bought, outright, both Bath Electric Tramways Ltd and Bath Tramways Motor Co.. Whether these were municipal or private companies, I don’t know. Again, this was about 1935/36.

Southdown and Portsmouth Corporation entered into a fare-sharing operation after the war, having toyed with the idea pre-war.This agreement involved route-balancing at the end of each financial year, a fascinating sight to see for bus enthusiasts. Buses were swapped, but not drivers/conductors. Thus, Southdown buses, staffed by Corporation staff, appeared some years on Corporation routes and vice versa. PD2’s were common to both organisations for some years and usually swapped, but this was not always so, and I recall a Southdown Guy Arab II performing its task one year.

Chris Hebbron


23/05/17 – 05:14

The Cave-Brown-Cave heating system, which consisted of the relocation of the engine radiator in two sections to each side of the front of the upper deck, was fitted to quite a number of Lodekkas before the inadequacies of the system led to its abandonment by about 1966. Not only did the efficacy of engine cooling suffer, but the very concept of hot water continually sloshing around at the front of the upper saloon meant that the vehicle interior continued to heat up in the hottest of weather. The early Cave-Brown-Cave Lodekkas had a completely blank front panel with no conventional radiator grille, but these were soon fitted with a front radiator to ease some of the problems. I think that many had the C-B-C completely disconnected, but the equipment each side of the destination indicator remained in situ. I, too, am surprised that this bus should have gone to the scrappers so early, not least because it had a Gardner engine. The ‘in house’ Bristol BVW option was a pretty poor alternative that gave endless trouble from failure of its wet cylinder liners – AEC was not alone in suffering this problem, but Dennis used wet liners successfully from the 1930s, so it could be done.

Roger Cox


24/05/17 – 06:43

There was no municipal involvement at Bath (or Cheltenham). Bath Electric Tramways and Bath Tramways Motor Co. ceased trading at the end of 1969, their assets transferred to Bristol Omnibus Co., while Cheltenham District Traction was wound up in 1980, 30 years after passing to Bristol control.
When the EHW series of Lodekkas appeared in 1959, with CBC heating and hopper vents, there was a heatwave and reports of passengers passing out.

Geoff Kerr


24/05/17 – 06:44

Bath Electric Tramways and its motor bus associate business, Bath Tramways Motor Company, were BET companies dating from 1904 that were sold to the Bristol Omnibus Company in 1936.

Roger Cox


24/05/17 – 06:46

I’m a bit puzzled by the comments expressing surprise that this bus only lasted 17 years.
I would have thought 17 years was a reasonable innings for a bus of this period.
No doubt its 6LW engine would go on to give many more years service ploughing across the South China Sea!

Eric Bawden


25/05/17 – 10:57

Taking up Roger’s comments on the shortcomings of the Bristol engines I have always wondered if these engines were foisted on the Tilling companies who would have logically chosen the reliable and fuel efficient Gardener given a free hand. Was it that Gardner could not keep up with demands or was it a face saver for Bristol to have at least some Lodekkas with their own engines?

Philip Halstead


26/05/17 – 06:47

The AVW had an equivalent power output to the Gardner 6LW but dimensionally was roughly the same size as a 5LW and an AEC 7.7L. From that you can immediately think that given 40s/50s materials something had to give ie AVW longevity given the close positioning of the 6 bores and higher temperatures.
When running well the AVW was a good engine but unlike Gardners which just go on and on even with reduced performance AVW bottom ends tended to go bang with no warning.
The BVW coming out at a time of heavier vehicles was never up to the job.

Roger Burdett


28/05/17 – 08:09

I always thought of BT&CC/BOC as a ‘wealthy’ operator. The policy was that most vehicles were replaced at between 12 and 17 years. This compared with the ‘poor’ companies in the same group such as Western National and Thames Valley who kept buses for a lot longer. Remember who was operating the last K & L types in service. I think the reason was competition. Bristol had no competition whatever on urban services in Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, Cheltenham or Weston. The ‘poorer’ companies had less urban routes, large areas of rural routes and faced a certain amount of competition in places.

Peter Cook


29/05/17 – 06:58

Philip, Bristol had a history of building its own engines right from the outset. Gardner’s economical Diesel engines came onto the scene in the 1930’s and Bristol decided to offer them as an alternative to its own MW and NW petrol engines at that time. However, by the end of the ‘thirties large petrol engines in buses and heavy lorries were in decline as the benefits of Diesel economy and reliability came to the fore, so Bristol’s decision to build its own Diesel engine would have been a quite logical development. The first of a handful of experimental units was fitted to a Bristol T&CC Bristol K5G in 1939 and designated XOW (eXperimental Oil engine – W signifying an engine under Bristol’s system of using letter designations for major units). A dozen engines were then produced in 1946 incorporating various modifications (becoming the VW engine), before production started in earnest, with the engine becoming the more familiar AVW, a 6-cylinder 8.1 litre direct injection engine developing 100bhp @ 1700rpm.
The 8.9 litre BVW engine went into production in 1958/59, following trials with a handful of prototypes in 1957. It developed up to 115bhp@1700rpm, although operators could have the unit derated to give 105bhp@1700rpm if required. Unlike the AVW, which had an aluminium crankcase mated to a cast iron cylinder block with dry liners, the BVW had a one-piece cast iron crankcase/cylinder block assembly and wet liners. West Yorkshire’s BVW engines generally proved reliable workhorses, with many achieving over 300,000 miles between overhauls. True the wet liners did require attention from time to time, as the neoprene sealing rings started to perish with age. The usual giveaway was water weeping out of small ‘tell-tale’ holes on the side of the cylinder block – each cylinder having its own set of holes. It was advisable to replace sealing rings on all six cylinder liners even if only one was weeping, as the others being of similar age, would no doubt soon follow suit. As such things as cylinder heads, sump, inlet and exhaust manifolds, water rails, hoses etc had to be removed in order to remove one liner (plus its piston and conrod), it was certainly more expedient to only have to remove these items once rather than up to six times as each cylinder’s rings failed in turn! (Yes it does sound like common sense but…….!). The liners could be removed and replaced using a hand-operated hydraulic pump, with the engine remaining in situ, and piston ring and bore wear never seemed to be a real issue on WY’s BVWs, whether the Lodekkas so fitted had CBC or conventional radiators.
Relating to the supply of Gardner engines, I think it is often forgotten that although Gardner was a premium engine builder, it did not only supply much of the bus and truck industry, but also supplied a sizeable section of the marine market as well. This not only included manufacture of marine engines of various sizes, but also the manufacture of the reversing gear to go with them. Gardner at one point also had healthy orders for the supply of engines for mobile compressors and mechanical excavators. Although Gardner did increase engine production over the years, I often wondered if maybe they just did not physically have the room for expansion at their Patricroft works. This was already quite large, and incorporated aluminium, iron and brass foundries, pattern shops, castings stores and machine shops, drawing offices, engine building/testing shops, various stores and service departments, a power house, and a R&D department. Most importantly there was a large canteen on the site, which I remember using on my first visit there as a WY apprentice more years ago now than I care to remember. The apple pie and custard was beautiful!

Brendan Smith


29/05/17 – 16:58

Thank you, Brendan, for your contribution on the BVW from someone with actual hands-on experience. These are always useful, informative and welcome.
My observation is that Crosville used the BVW on all except the last (F-reg) FLFs, and non were ever changed for Gardners, so the BVW must have had something going for it. For me, the combination of BVW engine and Bristol 5-speed gearbox made the most pleasing and harmonious sound of any PSV.

Allan White


31/05/17 – 06:33

I would like to endorse what Alan W has said about the excellent contribution made by Brendan. I was a regular user of the West Yorkshire Road Car Company services in the fifties and early sixties and know what an excellent bus fleet they operated with tight control from Harrogate. They operated over avery wide area including urban routes in Harrogate, Bradford, Leeds, Keighley and York as well as many rural routes such as to the East Coast and Yorkshire Dales. I always regarded WYRCC as an ex Tilling flagship company with an intention to always have a modern image efficient fleet, so bus life generally was no more than 16 years. Sadly all these wonderful attributes changed in 1968 with the imposition of the National Bus Company and later the demise of the Bristol Commercial Vehicle Company and Eastern Coach Works in the eighties was the final nail in the coffin.

Richard Fieldhouse


31/05/17 – 11:18

Richard, obviously some were better than others, but in general the same could be said about most of the former Tilling Group companies, it certainly applied to United Automobile Services in this area.
The vast majority of BET companies were also well run, but that all went out the window post 1968 when NBC ‘No Body Cares’ sorry, National Bus Company took control. A few choice ones that are not fit for publication, but its strange how nobody seems to have a good word to say about that particular government folly.
As for the demise on Bristol and ECW?
The same thing happened to AEC, Daimler and GUY when they were all lumped together under the control of British Leyland, not to be confused with Leyland Motors. After several years of development the end result was the Leyland National. The later ones were actually quite a good vehicle, but the early versions were an absolute abortion that would never have survived healthy competition had there been any, but operators were given two choices, take it or leave it, because there isn’t anything else. How could they have spent so much time and money on development and got it so wrong.
This is only my opinion. However, at the time I was a driver for NGT at their Percy Main Depot, although running at a profit was essential for the survival of the company, it was run by people who knew the bus industry, and our vehicles were well turned out and maintained to a very high standard. Enter the new regime of NBC, they are run by government appointed accountants, most of whom have never been on a bus since they left school, but they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. They apply the principle of find the lowest common denominator, as a result, pride in fleets is destroyed, standards drop, and once well turned out fleets now just look shabby and neglected.

Ronnie Hoye


01/06/17 – 07:20

The suffocating hand of NBC didn’t happen until the Tory government of Edward Heath appointed Croda industrialist (and twice failed Conservative parliamentary candidate) Freddie Wood in 1972. Croda was a company supplying chemical products to the beauty products industry, and Wood was a believer in extracting high margins from modest sales volumes. He brought the Croda creed to an industry of which he was totally ignorant, believing that those backward bus passengers required a bland, countrywide brand to become aware of the services on offer. Buses should be sold like supermarket baked beans by inventing a new, uniform, national identity. A public transport user in Aldershot could only then appreciate the "products" on offer if a bus passenger in Bristol or Buxton was given identical branding and operating standards. Crucially also, not just profitability but notably good margins to satisfy his political overlords were the prime objectives. Cost control (and corner cutting) became paramount. The rest is history.

Roger Cox


01/06/17 – 07:21

For whatever reason though Bristol engines were never made in large quantities so operators were either ultra conservative or whole life costs were higher than Gardner/Leyland.
I have more knowledge of Gardner-Daimler comparisons and whole life costs definitely favoured the former despite the inherent smoothness of the Daimler unit

Roger Burdett


02/06/17 – 07:10

Allan and Richard, thank you for your kind comments. I enjoyed every minute of my eighteen years working for West Yorkshire (fourteen of those in the engine shop), and even in its NBC corporate days the Company tried its best to maintain certain standards. Much of this was no doubt due to the people in charge, including in later years Brian Horner, the general manager and Tom Fox, the chief engineer. The Company did fall short at times when circumstances seemed to conspire against it, and there were periods when buses had to be hired from other NBC subsidiaries just to keep the show on the road, but such situations were not peculiar to just West Yorkshire at the time.
Ronnie and Roger (C), you have both raised very valid points about NBC, the corporate identity and the bone paring thrust upon it by Freddie Wood, and I tend to agree with much of what you have both said. In the ‘seventies the mantra was often "big is beautiful", and any large company worth it’s salt ‘had’ to have a corporate identity and a logo, which presumably wooed Freddie Wood. British Leyland was another case in point, and following all the various takeovers and mergers "became too big to be allowed to fail" as the modern saying goes. So when it eventually did in 1974, it was taken into state ownership to protect thousands of jobs. A shame then that this was not appreciated by certain sections of the workforce, and in the bus and truck world the arrogant attitude of some members of British Leyland’s senior management towards its customers probably did not help matters either.
Roger (B), probably the main reason that Bristol engines were not made in such large quantities was to do with the ‘closed market’ within which Bristol was required to operate. There was an expectation for it (and ECW) to operate at a profit, despite being denied the potential to expand its market by the private sector, so maybe Bristol endeavoured to produce as much ‘in-house’ as it possibly could. On the subject of engines, it is interesting to note that while Bristol chose not to offer Leyland engines in its buses and coaches through the ‘fifties until the mid-sixties, it did do so with its lorries of the period. Could it have been that the Bristol AVW and BVW engines could not provide the extra power required for road haulage operations? From a purely selfish point of view, what a pity we were denied the opportunity to savour such delights as a Leyland-engined Bristol K, L, LS, or Lodekka LD. It has also deprived Roger of carrying out one of his beautiful restorations on such a beast. Unless the opportunity arises for a conversion Roger…..?!

Brendan Smith


03/06/17 – 07:20

Roger (Cox) has hit the nail on the head. NBC gets a lot of flack for happenings which were not of NBC’ s making. I worked for NBC in the early years. People should remember that "local" management was still staffed by exactly the same people who had managed the companies in Tilling and BET days, and who were "bus men" through and through. The "bean counters" and those who acted as middle men between NBC and the Government were the problem,together with those who refused to see that the prime object of business is to make a profit and not sponge off the public purse.
There was nothing wrong with NBC as concept, and there was certainly nothing wrong with the Leyland National (as a concept) – it should have been the finest bus ever built. However changes in political thought and undue interference from those "on a power trip" is always a recipe for disaster.
NBC was conceived as a much enlarged THC, and Central Activities could have been a highly profitable coach operation, but their potentials were never realised.
The only saving grace was that the PTE s and deregulation/privatisation were even bigger disasters (financially) than NBC !

Malcolm Hirst


 

Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page

 


 

Wilts & Dorset – Bristol Lodekka – OHR 919 – 628

Wilts & Dorset - Bristol Lodekka - OHR 919 - 628

Wilts & Dorset Motor Services
1956
Bristol Lodekka LD6G
ECW H33/27R

OHR 919 is a Bristol LD6G with ECW H60RD body, new to Wilts & Dorset in 1956. In October 1972, under NBC direction, Wilts & Dorset was absorbed into the neighbouring Hants & Dorset, with both fleets adopting the (poppy) red livery. After withdrawal from normal service, it was converted for use as a driver training vehicle, in yellow livery.

Wilts & Dorset - Bristol Lodekka - OHR 919 - 628

There is, however, such a thing as life after the ancillary fleet, and we see it, and the original style of fleetname in the Netley rally on 8 June 2008.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies


08/12/16 – 06:03

A lovely example of an LD Lodekka looking its best and unsullied by CBC between decks radiators. This was my favourite style of ECW body on the LD, having the sloping edge to the canopy (mirrored on the offside by the lower edge of the cream band above the cab), push out vents to the front upper deck windows, upper deck cream band carried around the front, horizontal bottom edge to the cab door window, and the ‘whiskers’ above the radiator grille. Just wonderful. Wilts & Dorset 628 reminds me very much of West Yorkshire’s DX44-58 (RWY822-836) delivered in 1956/57. The sound effects were different to 628’s however, as they were LD6Bs with Bristol AVW engines, apart from DX48 (RWY826) which was fitted with a Gardner 6LX engine by West Yorkshire in 1958.
A minor point of interest is that 628 appears to have acquired an early F-Series Lodekka cowl at some point. The giveaway is the registration plate, which is offset to the offside in order to accommodate the elongated hole for the revised step for crews to access the destination winding handles. The LD cowls had a centrally-mounted registration plate with a smaller hole and step either side of it. This minor detail does not detract from the appearance of this beautiful vehicle whatsoever. It’s a credit to its owner.

Brendan Smith


08/12/16 – 06:04

Lovely photo, Pete.
How nice to see a Lodekka in a rich red colour, rather than the green that pervaded most of these vehicles.

Chris Hebbron


08/12/16 – 08:37

Thank you, Brendan & Chris.
I suppose the red, being the standard Tilling, was the same shade as Brighton Hove & District, Cumberland, United, West Yorkshire and one or two more. Certainly more "distinguished" than what followed in NBC days!

Pete Davies


08/12/16 – 09:28

I’m sure that the Wilts & Dorset Tilling red was the same as applied to Cumberland, United, West Yorkshire, as mentioned above by Pete. I’m not so sure that the Brighton Hove & District red was the same. Although it was a Tilling company, the livery was the same as that applied to Brighton Corporation. The different application of the amount of cream (that DOES look a different shade to the others) for that fleet makes the red look a different shade – but this may be a deception. Perhaps someone has a factual knowledge.

Michael Hampton


10/12/16 – 06:37

If United buses weren’t this shade of red, they were only a kick in the proverbial off it.
I don’t know about Wilts and Dorset, but round about the mid 60’s, United changed the wheel colour to red. Only a handful of VR’s were ever in the traditional United livery, but the upper cream band had disappeared.

Ronnie Hoye


10/12/16 – 10:17

Thank you, Michael & Ronnie.

Pete Davies


14/12/16 – 15:40

Lodekkas by Colour
Dear Chris,
I wondered at your statement that green Lodekkas were in the majority, so I looked through the production table in Martin Curtis’ excellent book.
Of the 25 fleets in BTC”Tilling Group”/|THC ownership that took new Lodekkas, 13 were green; if by the time of the delivery of Westcliff on Sea’s six they wore the same livery as their parent company Eastern National. Thus 11 of the BET/ THC fleets were not green. Two (Midland General/ Notts & Derby) being blue and the others red or (Cheltenham District) maroon.
Within the Scottish Omnibuses group only one fleet took green Lodekkas new, with two using blue and the rest varied shades of red and maroon.
That equates to fourteen green fleets and seventeen not green.
Note this is based on data as new, with one FLF going to Bristol Commercial Vehicles experimental Department, and this was also red.
However, when the figures are totalled for “green” Lodekkas, you are vindicated in that “green” fleets took 2945 and not-green fleets took 2271 (plus one new as a manufacturer’s test bed, giving 2272).
That is 56 per cent to forty four. My perception was skewed by living in the East Midlands when Lodekkas were in service and holidaying with either mother’s family in Norfolk or father’s in Northumberland…
Of the fleets taking the most Lodekkas, first was Crosville with 539, then Bristol OC (including Gloucester, Bath Services and Bath Tramways) with 539. Of course some of Crosville’s were new in cream with black relief, but less than fifty if my guess is right. (I could re- read the whole book now but that seems excessive when I promised Wikipedia a Guy Arab article around a year ago and it just needs citations to finish.)
Eastern National was third with 381, with if memory serves 25 new in mainly cream, so even if we had a recount on that basis it would still be a Brexit sort of majority, rather less than the Scottish Indyref style one the raw figures give. Of course my electoral college would give the result to not-green.
Fourth was Central SMT who took 355, initially LD6Gs then FSF6Gs, FLF6Gs FS6Gs and from 1965-67 FLF6LX’s; of the three Lodekkas at Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust’s Bridgeton Bus Garage, two are ex-Central a 1957 LD6G and a 1968 FLF6LX.
Now of the shades of red used for new deliveries, Central it seems had the darkest, but it may have been the same as Cheltenham District and almost certainly David Lawson. Western, Alexander (Perth City and Kirkcaldy Town services) and Highland (second-hand) had Scottish Bus red which was darker than Tilling red. It may be the greater areas of cream but I think Brighton Hove and District did use a brighter shade of red than ‘Tilling’ red; maybe perversely, this was actually the same red used by Thomas Tilling in Brighton and (pre-LPTB) London. The brightest red on new Lodekkas was that used by Alexander (Fife) after the split of Alexander into three in 1961. The shade was Ayres red, the same as British Road Services used. (In a former home I was able to sell Fife FRD 187 (BXA 452B) from its non-PSV use to preservationists who have restored it.) I do not think that Thames Valley had any of their Lodekkas delivered in the maroon and cream coach livery although some were repainted thus.
Now the English blue fleets were maybe slightly darker than the Scottish but both shades were described as Azure blue. Lothian Green, used by Scottish Omnibuses from 1965 was probably a little darker than Tilling green but under some lighting conditions prints of Eastern Scottish Fleetlines made me think of Mansfield District VRTs. Prior to 1965 a light green and cream was used with dark green mudguards and lining out.
Out of the Alexander Companies post-split, Northern received no Lodekkas, which had been ordered for the Fife and south regions (including Lawson) and only had two forward-entrance half cabs until 1978 when a half-dozen former Eastern National FLFs were transferred to them.
Northern General group were as far as I can recall the only former BET affiliate to get cascaded Lodekkas and it happened twice; both times before the corporate livery era, some were green and some red.
More power to OBP!

Stephen Allcroft


 

Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page

 


 

Hants & Dorset – Bristol Lodekka – SRU 981 – 1368

Hants & Dorset - Bristol Lodekka - SRU 981 - 1368

Hants & Dorset Motor Services
1956
Bristol Lodekka LD6
ECW H33/27R

SRU 981 was new to Hants & Dorset in 1956 as their 1368. It is a Bristol LD6 with ECW body H60R seating  when new. The Bristol engine was replaced by a Gardner in 1961, making it a Bristol LD6G and doors were fitted in that year. In the first view, on Southampton Common on 6 May 1979, it has been sold to the Cotswold Hotel as a mobile dining facility. The occasion is the Southampton City Transport Centenary rally.

Hants & Dorset - Bristol Lodekka - SRU 981 - 1368

In this second view, taken on 2 April 1995, it is in the Southampton Citybus yard in Portswood, in the livery of Hants & Dorset Trim. It was with the ‘new’ Crosville, in Weston Super Mare when the 2012 PSVC list was compiled.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies


11/08/16 – 06:30

Would I be right in thinking that SRU981 would have been one of the first Lodekkas with the squarer front grille as opposed to the deeper front panel on earlier models? Also I notice in the lower picture that Lucas combination tail lights have been fitted. Originally I think that model had a stop/tail bulb on the inside of the body behind the reflectors. This meant that the stop lights were virtually impossible to see in sunny weather, and after a short while when the bulbs & inside of the reflectors got dusty, making them impossible to see in just about any conditions. I think originally indicators were fitted on the sides at the front only (like Southampton Corporation for a while) but later round Lucas indicators were fitted above the reflectors. Saved a lot of money in rear corner panel repairs by doing that!

David Field


 

Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page

 


 

All rights to the design and layout of this website are reserved     Old Bus Photos does not set or use Cookies but Google Analytics will set four see this

Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Thursday 20th July 2017