Old Bus Photos

United Automobile – Bristol LS6B – XHN 402 – BUE2

United Automobile - Bristol LS6B - XHN 402 - BUE2

United Automobile Services
Bristol LS6B

Waiting in Glasgow, exact location unknown, BUE2 is being prepared for departure on the service 14 (later 515) to Whitley Bay. The service ran once a day in winter, and twice a day in summer months. It was a long drawn out affair with a total running time of about 9 hours. A joint operation between SMT and United, vehicles from either end of the route would meet at Galashiels where a refreshment stop was taken, the crews would then swap vehicles and return to their own depot, the vehicles would carry on and return the following day. An Express service also operated via a shorter route, the running time on that was about 5 hours, and generally, the crews worked the whole route returning the same day.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

29/05/14 – 07:5129/05/14 – 07:51

The location looks like Port Dundas Rd once the terminus for many long distance services to Glasgow.

Phil Blinkhorn

30/05/14 – 13:11

Is that and ECW bodied Daimler owned by Alexanders at the top left hand corner of the picture and an S.M.T. A.E.C Regent to the right of the picture?

Stephen Bloomfield

02/06/14 – 10:40

These were beautiful vehicles, good looking, great livery (an example here) and comfortable seats. They also looked good in later life in red livery. The only disappointment was that to me the sound of the Bristol engine never seemed right in an LS, the majority having Gardner engines, which sounded wonderful.

Don McKeown


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Southern National – Bristol LS – OTT 98 – 1299

Southern National - Bristol LS - OTT 98 - 1299

Southern National Omnibus Company
Bristol LS6G

Seen heading along York Place, Harrogate at the end of a Trans-Pennine run is Southern National 1299 (OTT 98), a 1953 Bristol LS6G with ECW C41F coachwork. Resplendent in iconic Royal Blue livery, this coach was part of the last batch to be built with the traditional Royal Blue roof-mounted luggage rack, which was accessed by a set of foldaway steps at the rear of the vehicle. It is a fine example of the underfloor-engined Royal Blue fleet operational in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and it is good to see 1299 wearing its original ‘dark roof’ version of the livery once again. (In 1958, with the arrival of the MW coaches, the livery was altered to a half blue/half cream layout, with dark blue up to waist rail level, and cream above). The 1953 batch of coaches for operation on Royal Blue services were also the last to display ‘Royal Blue Coach Service’ illuminated panels above the side windows. Subsequent deliveries of LS and MW coaches sported the more usual curved roof glasses in the cant rail panels instead.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Brendan Smith

12/01/14 – 07:47

Despite the registration there was nothing OTT about this. Rather understated luxury and quality with the 6LW offering a long legged, relaxed, lope in the pre motorway era.

David Oldfield

12/01/14 – 11:12

Thanks for posting, Brendan. I have read in different places of the shape caused by the presence of the rooftop luggage rack as being "Camel Back". Rather flattering to a camel, perhaps!

Pete Davies

12/01/14 – 13:04

There was always something special about Royal Blue coaches and these last-gasp versions of the traditional style are no exception. One point, were the roof racks ever used?

Chris Hebbron

13/01/14 – 08:44

OTT 43

I thought you might like to add this picture to the current OTT 98 thread as it shows a similar preserved vehicle but in the cream roof colours.

Ken Jones

13/01/14 – 08:44

The roof luggage carriers were used – I have a copy of a picture (not my copyright though!) of the driver loading luggage on LS car 1292 – in the ‘cream roof’ era, so post 1958.
The reason for the livery change was not ‘cosmetic’ but a practical one – I will look out the exact details in next day or two !

Peter Delaney

13/01/14 – 09:46

I’m wondering whether this is 1297, OTT 96. Both 1297 and 1299 are preserved but 1297 went to the Netherlands at some stage.

Geoff Kerr

OTT 98_2

Close up of registration and fleet number of posted shot.

13/01/14 – 11:25

OTT 98_3

I thought this photo may be of interest. It is OTT 98 after sale to the dealer W. North, Sherburn-in-Elmet, seen at their premises during the Summer of 1970.
It was quite a shock to see this here, as I had shortly before been on holiday in North Devon and seen these LS’s still working hard for a living. It was still in splendid condition here and I remember hoping that it would find a suitable. sympathetic new owner. At the time it seemed far too modern to be considered for preservation. Fortunately OTT 96 is still with us.

John Stringer

13/01/14 – 13:45

Thanks – it does look a bit like 96 though!

Geoff Kerr

I must admit I did have to go back to the original shot to be sure.

13/01/14 – 15:17

Both 1297 (OTT 96) and 1299 (OTT 98) are still with us. The former is in The Netherlands as part of the Leek collection at Monickendam, and OTT 98 is now part of the West Country Historic Omnibus and Transport Trust collection, having had a complete engine rebuild in 2007 and was hand painted back into original 1953 livery in 2009. I am delighted to be 1299’s current custodian and sponsor.
I look forward to reading Peter’s explanation as to the reasons for the change in roof colour in 1957.
Incidentally all this 1953 batch, 1293-9 and 2200-2, were down-seated to C39F following mid-life refurbishment at ECW Lowestoft, in 1961, and 1299 remains so.

John Grigg

13/01/14 – 16:42

Just a reminder you can see a picture of OTT 98 and one of OTT 43 from 2012 on this site at the Royal Blue Run gallery.

Ken Jones

13/01/14 – 17:40

OTT 98_4

I attach a photo of 1299 taken in the early 70’s which was taken on Madeira Drive Brighton following a HCVC London-Brighton run. This shows it with a blue roof as it is now preserved so it seems that the roof has changed colour a number of times over the years, I agree that the blue roof looks better but this is purely a personal preference I know.

Diesel Dave

14/01/14 – 08:22

The ‘incident’ which led to the change in colour of the roof of Royal Blue cars was as below:-
On August 2nd 1957, the 2.35 pm summer only service from Plymouth to Bournemouth, was a Bristol L coach – probably car 1239 – being driven John Whitlock when its roof was grazed by a plane landing at Exeter Airport. The undercarriage hit the top of the coach, breaking both skylights. He drove to the control tower, with the somewhat shaken passengers on board, and reported the incident. The pilot apparently had not seen a coach, and following his reporting the incident, there was an official enquiry, which John was asked to attend.
The incident was reported in the local Exeter newspaper, the ‘Express and Echo’, on 3rd August 1957, under the heading "Bus roof ‘skimmed’ by plane" and "Observers ‘saw nothing unusual’". From the newspaper account we learn that the coach was going along the Exeter – Honiton road, when the roof was "’skimmed’ by a twin engined Mosquito going in to land at Exeter Airport. The plane landed without a mark on it and the coach had a slight dent in the roof. The bus driver felt a slight bump. As there were no other cars on the road at the time he assumed it must have something to do with a plane that had passed low over him. Wing Cmdr. R J B Pearse, manager of the airport, said that a slight dent was found in the roof of the bus, but when an inspection was made of the Mosquito there was not a mark to be found, either on the tyres or the paintwork. The pilot said he had felt nothing at all. ‘We can only assume that the plane did touch the bus’ said Wing Cmdr Pearse. The pilot’s name was withheld".
The subsequent enquiry resulted in an accident report card being filed with the RAF, and that adds further information. The aircraft was a Mosquito Mk 35, number TA724, of the 3/4 CAACU, part of 61 Group, Home Command. The accident occurred at 16.55 on 2nd August 1957, at the end of a 2 hour 10 minute flight out and back from Exeter. This particular flight had been for Army firing practice. The pilot, 35 year old Flt Lt K Munson, was experienced, with 195 flying hours on Mosquitos, and 1567 flying hours overall. The lighting conditions were described as ‘dull’. At the end of the exercise, the pilot had joined the circuit and landed, but he was totally "unaware that his aircraft had struck the single decker bus (sic) travelling on the A30 road which runs adjacent to the airport". The report also records that "damage was caused to the roof of the bus. No damage was sustained to the aircraft."
It was considered that the organisation ‘at station level’ was at fault, as they knew of the danger of a collision between aircraft and vehicles, but had "made inadequate efforts to have remedial action taken." The A30 passed across the approach to runway 13, at a distance of 50 yards. There were no traffic signals or warning notices on the road, and there was a tall hedge bounding the road which "would effectively prevent the pilot seeing the bus and vice versa". No blame was attached to the pilot (who was making a low approach in order to touch down early on a short runway) or the driver.
As a result, 150 yards of the runway 13/31 were ‘sterilized’, and a local flying order issued to warn pilots of the dangers likely to be met on the approach to runway 13, whilst the roof of Royal Blue coaches was changed from dark blue to cream, to make them more conspicuous from the air.

Peter Delaney

14/01/14 – 11:48

I’ve just checked my original his-res image, and it definitely is OTT 98, confirmed by my notes taken at the time I wasn’t aware that it was also preserved – that’s nice to know.

John Stringer

14/01/14 – 12:27

OTT 98_5

The give away in the photo that it can only be OTT 98 is that the words "Dorset Transport Circle" are shown in the "via" part of the destination display. DTC owned this coach for well over 30 years and rallied it extensively for most of that time before generously donating it to WHOTT in 2006.

John Grigg


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Mansfield District – Bristol LS6G – PNN 774 – 205

Mansfield District - Bristol LS6G - PNN 774 - 205

Mansfield District Traction Company Limited
Bristol LS6G

This shot is a touch on the yellow side but I think it is worth posting as this vehicle had quite a history having had six owners in its lifetime that I have been able to find out about.

Thanks to the Bristol SU website for the following information.

06/54 -  Mansfield District Traction fleet no 205

01/68 -  Eastern Counties Omnibus fleet no LS998

02/72 -  Gosport & Fareham Omnibus fleet no 33

02/74 -  North Downs Rural Transport

07/74 -  Ives Weston-on-Trent

02/75 -  Kingfisher Weston-on-Trent

02/76 -  Out of service I presume it went to scrap at this point although I could be wrong, if I am please leave a comment.
Either way just short of 22 years service was a good innings, just goes to show how well built buses were back then “they don’t build them like that anymore I’m afraid”. It would be interesting to know how many miles were on the clock and whether it still had its original engine even if it had been rebuilt a few times.

To view a list of Bristol vehicle abbreviations click here.


The longevity of a PSV of this era was of course determined by the willingness and capability of the operator to prepare the vehicle for its’ CoF examination.
Buses didn’t have a conventional MoT as they now do, instead the bus came new with a 7 year CoF at the expiry of which a recertification was required. The length of the next CoF was determined by the work done to the bus in preparation for the inspection.
Most big operators brought the buses into their central works and overhauled them leading to the issue of a long second ticket after which the cycle was repeated with the tickets getting shorter each time.
The introduction of freedom from defect type MoT’s made this system obsolete



12/11/11 – 06:17

I was the Managing Director of Kingfisher Coaches Ltd, and feel most embarrassed to confirm that Bristol MW PNN 774 was sent for scrap on my orders. If only I  had realised that it was so interesting to so many enthusiasts I would have donated it gladly. It was running perfectly well and had given us outstanding service, but it was almost out of C.O.F. and the upholstery was very shabby. But the reason for quick disposal was the D.O.E. examiner was on my back wanting to inspect it and not being very popular with him he did not approve of any bus or coach over 10 years old.
Sorry folks.

Robert K. Walker


12/11/11 – 14:47

In an old British Transport production ‘A Ticket to Ride’ made in 1953, one of the films is about visiting the Peak District, does anyone know if the MW coach shown a few times around Ladybower Reservoir and at the start leaving Grindleford for Hathersage is a Midland General or a Mansfield District vehicle, there are also some other shots of North Western saloons both in Matlock, then passing the winking man rock above Leek and in Buxton, quite a good film.

Roger Broughton


13/11/11 – 07:56

One unusual feature about Mansfield District was that they took over an independent in 1958 which gave them three Duple bodied AEC Reliances which had originated with Creamline of Bordon. I believe that these may have been the first Reliances to enter a Tilling fleet. Even though Mansfield District was a majority AEC fleet at the time, they didn’t last that long, I’ve often thought they must have been superior to the LS’s as coaches, but perhaps MDT didn’t like the thought of having third hand vehicles in the fleet!

Chris Barker


13/11/11 – 10:52

Shrug off your guilt, Robert, you weren’t to know. Preserved buses, like all memorabilia, often survive as much on pure luck as planning. But don’t go out alone on dark nights for a few weeks!

Chris Hebbron


14/11/11 – 07:58

In the early to mid 1970s I used to work for North Downs at weekends, and drove this LS from time to time. I recall that it was quite a nice machine, and tackled the climb on the A25 up to Newlands Corner in fine style. I don’t agree that the Reliance with the AH470 would have been a better coach – the Gardner had much better torque characteristics than the AEC, which permitted higher gearing to offset the limited 1700rpm governed engine speed, and both types had five speed synchromesh gearboxes.

Roger Cox


14/11/11 – 17:51

That is a very interesting list Stephen, because I believe that the original routes were simply 100 up for town services and 200 up for ‘country area’ routes. The others were a result of takeovers, 1&7, 2 and 3 were ex Ebor, who used these numbers, 4 was ex Bevan and Barker, who didn’t. Some time after this list, some numbers in the 70’s were added as a result of an agreement with East Midland to co-ordinate services on the Mansfield – Warsop – Shirebrook road, hence 4 disappeared.
One thing I found recently among my possessions was a complete list of destinations from an MDT blind and also a complete list of via points which I achieved (from a Lodekka) by stepping up, turning the handle, stepping down to write, then repeating the process one display at a time! Unfortunately I wasn’t quite sure which routes some of them appertained to although some town services were so short, they didn’t warrant a via point.

Chris Barker


15/11/11 – 07:10

Picking up on Roger’s point, here is a widespread belief that Gardner engines didn’t make good coaches, but I wonder if it’s more that both designing them and driving them required a different mindset. Most coaches get into top gear relatively early and then achieve high speed by revving the engine faster than they would in the intermediate gears. But I recently had a ride on the preserved ex-Eastern Scottish Alexander M type Seddon Pennine 7, which was a revelation. The 6HLXB engine is governed at 1850rpm. Top gear (6th) came in at what seemed to be about 62mph, and according to Wikipedia the theoretical top speed of these was 87!

Peter Williamson


15/11/11 – 15:59

Although I personally prefer the RELH6L the RELH6G was a superb beast. I have ploughed the motorways as a passenger of many RELH6Gs and they were always man enough for the job.

David Oldfield


16/11/11 – 07:27

On the subject of Gardner engines, Cambus/Viscount (now part of Stagecoach) where I worked for a while in the 1990s, had a trio of 1988 vintage Optare bodied Olympians powered by the turbocharged 6LXCT engine. One, E502 LFL, was allocated to Oundle depot for the X65 Peterborough – Northampton service, but when it went into Peterborough for overhaul, it occasionally found its way on to other services in that city before it went back to its proper home. I well recollect a few occasions of driving this bus on the 351 service between Peterborough and Huntingdon, which followed the old dual carriageway A1 (now obliterated by the four lane A1M). This vehicle, which had the Leyland G2 gearbox, could reach an indicated speed of 70mph without great difficulty, though stopping the thing was altogether another matter in which prayer played a part!

Roger Cox


16/11/11 – 07:27

I should point out that my comment about MDT’s acquired Reliances was more in relation to their internal appeal rather than their mechanical propensities! However, since the discussion has moved this way, it would seem appropriate to mention that Mansfield’s sister company, Midland General took three RELH6G’s in 1964, registered 1384 -1386 R. I think there has been confusion about their classification ever since which I will attempt to put right. 1385/1386 R had dual purpose seats identical to their DP bus shell MW’s, also a mixture of sliding and hopper ventilators on each side window and semi-automatic transmission, they were officially DP51F. 1384 R, however was a very different machine, it had 49 coach seats, fixed side windows and forced air ventilation and a manual gearbox. Now they may have been delivered all same and this one altered later by MGO, I don’t know, but I was fortunate enough to travel on it a couple of times and boy could it go! The ride was exhilarating to say the least and amazingly quiet too! Does anyone know if there were many other manual box RE’s? In my humble opinion, the ECW coach bodied Bristol RE, when fitted with it’s very ample destination display, electric two piece doors and wrap-around screens was one of the finest vehicles ever to run on British roads, leaving out top link coaching work but for motorway express duties, never bettered even to this day!

Chris Barker


16/11/11 – 16:07

All early REs were manual, semi-autos only came in with the Series 2 (allowing for a few at the changeover). The early RELH/ECW (most of which were Gardners) were unassailable for their quiet, smooth ride – a perfect long distance coach.

David Oldfield


14/06/12 – 18:22

Roger Broughton asks about the bus in the British Transport Film. It’s Mansfield District 201 (PNN 770) from the same 1954 batch as the above vehicle.

Berisford Jones


I can see a rather good question coming in here.


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