Old Bus Photos

R & R Coaches t/a Beeline – Bristol SC4 – NFW 655

NFW 655

R & R Coaches t/a Beeline
Bristol Bristol SC4LK

The lightweight SC (small capacity) vehicle emerged in 1954 and was the Bristol/ECW offering for BTC lightly trafficked rural bus routes. Every opportunity was taken to save weight. The chassis longitudinal members were simple straight lengths of channel lacking intermediate transverse sections, and the body was sheeted in fairly thin aluminium. The axles were reputedly sourced from Bedford, and the five speed gearbox, with its idiosyncratic selector positioning between third and fourth, came from the David Brown company. Three prototypes were constructed, the first, 724 APU, fitted with the Gardner 4LK engine and classified SCX4G, was delivered to Eastern National in November 1954. This was followed by 725 APU in December 1954, but this had the Perkins P6 engine and was called the SCX6P. This bus later received a 4LK engine in 1958. The third prototype, another 4LK powered SCX4G, went to Eastern Counties in December 1955, and as all subsequent SCs were powered by the 4LK engine, the classification thereafter was amended to the familiar SC4LK. Production, including the prototypes, totalled 323, Lincolnshire being the greatest user with 113 examples, followed by Eastern Counties with 88, Crosville 79, and Eastern National 22. The other BTC companies took the SC in penny numbers only – United Counties 6, Cumberland and Thames Valley 5 each, Red & White 4, and United Welsh just 1. The little 3.8 litre 57 bhp 4LK had to work hard in the SC, a duty not helped by the curious ratios of the David Brown gearbox. The gap between second and third has been noted by a number of commentators, but, in my experience of driving the type, it was the gap between third and fourth that truly restricted progress. This necessitated the revving of the engine to its absolute maximum before attempting to change up, a move that frequently proved abortive so that a change back down again was immediately required. Thus the engine spent much of its time at its 2100 maximum revolutions with a deleterious effect upon the eardrums of driver and passengers alike. The gearbox offered a fifth gear that was only of feasible use downhill or on the level with a following wind. The SC remained in production until 1961, during which time Dennis had been collaborating with Bristol in respect of the Loline, and one wonders if the Guildford company could not have offered the Falcon gearbox, available in four and five speed versions, for the SC instead of the impractical David Brown unit. The picture shows former Lincolnshire Road Car No. 2414 NFW 655, delivered new in May 1956 and sold on in 1969. I photographed it in service in July 1970 with R & R Coaches, Bishopstrowe, Wilts, trading as Beeline. The location is New Canal, Salisbury, formerly a section of the long defunct Salisbury and Southampton Canal which was closed in 1806. This bus was withdrawn by Beeline in May 1972 and its subsequent fate is not recorded. R & R Coaches still exists but it would seem that the company was reconstituted in 1971.
I acknowledge the detailed Bristol Vehicles Website as the source of much information:- //www.bristolsu.co.uk

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

08/02/21 – 06:41

I once rode on a Lincolnshire SC4LK from Goole town centre to my lodgings in the town and my abiding memory is that I was glad it was only a short ride on such a noisy and uncomfortable bus.

Stan Zapiec

08/02/21 – 11:57

I’m a dinosaur, Stan, and still think that there is no substitute for cc. Many BTC/THC companies thought the same and, where possible, used an LS5 or MW5 in preference. SC and SU only made sense in the flat lands of Lincolnshire and the Fens – and yet Crosville, United and Western National used them in the Hill Country. There is sometimes no accounting.

David Oldfield

09/02/21 – 06:08

I think it must have been about 1958/59 that I travelled on an SC4LK on Lincolnshire’s route 3 from Cleethorpes to Lincoln on a cold wet January Sunday evening. (No train service on Sundays). The wolds section Ravendale, Binbrook, Kirmond-le-Mire, Tealby is seriously hilly – not your typical Lincolnshire flat lands. The whole trip was a growling/ screaming assault on the ears – about an hour and 40 minutes of it if I remember rightly.

Stephen Ford

09/02/21 – 13:36

We hated these on Eastern Counties. They were very noisy, and rattled everywhere. Plus, to take fares the driver had to swivel right round to the left, and work through the central gap behind. As luck would have it, I joined the Cambridge depot in 1970, and they were soon to be withdrawn.

Norman Long

10/02/21 – 06:19

I’m struggling to visualise how the chassis would work without any intermediate transverse sections, does that mean there were some but only at the front and rear? Presumably the bodywork played some part in keeping the whole thing together but I don’t think these were semi-integral were they?
How would the completed chassis be sent from Bristol to Lowestoft? Would some temporary spacers be inserted?

Chris Barker

14/02/21 – 07:04

Chris, I cannot now recall where I first learned of the simple layout of the SC chassis, but the body structure definitely contributed to the integrity of the entire vehicle. My long held belief was endorsed by Peter Cook’s comment of 02/11/2019 under Eastern Counties – Bristol SC4LK – VVF 540 – 540, and Peter owns one of the type.

Roger Cox

28/03/21 – 07:57

Further to David Oldfield (8/2/21) Western National’s SC lookalikes were actually rebuilt and rebodied L6Bs, which should explain their hill-climbing ability. United didn’t have any SCs, but they did have five SUs.

David Call

29/11/21 – 06:27

Interesting to read the comments here, and mine are similar. We moved to the county of Merioneth in 1971 when I was 9, and our Crosville service was Dolgellau – Machynlleth and return three times a day and none on Sundays. Usual fayre was MW5s which as a young boy I liked. SC4LKs were occasional visitors and I assume one was kept as a standby bus at Machynlleth.
The journey to school was on the Aberllefenni – Tywyn school bus which was contracted to Crosville until probably 1975. Out of season we were treated to a coach, mostly CMG 523 as I remember, but come the summer we had whatever was available at Machynlleth garage – an MW5 or an SC4.The latter were awful particularly when climbing. The return from school involved a hill climb between Abergynolwyn and Talyllyn, then the main climb from the Cader Idris junction up to Upper Corris. Noisy, rattley and generally lacking in stamina are three attributes, but the informative piece explains it all.
I have recently bought an Anbrico whitemetal model and intend to repaint it in Crosville livery as a childhood reminder.

Phil Bartlett


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Crosville – Bristol SC – 782 EFM – SC 12

Crosville - Bristol SC - 782 EFM - SSG 612

Crosville Motor Services
Bristol SC4LK

Crosville was one of the main users of the Bristol SC4LK model, with a total of seventy nine examples, of which fifty five were buses and twenty four were coaches, although the latter were soon downgraded to bus status, without being greatly modified. The first batch were new in 1957, numbered SC1 – 16. but in May 1958 they were renumbered SSG 601 – 616. These vehicles were a familiar sight in most of the Company’s Welsh areas, with their small size making them ideal for running along single-track roads. The Gardner 4LK engine resulted in extremely good fuel consumption (over 20mpg) but limited their speed capability. It was often said that they could climb any gradient, but might take all day to do it!
After withdrawal, SSG 612 was used as a maintenance vehicle for the Runcorn Busway, numbered G612. This enabled it to be bought for preservation and restored to its present superb condition. In April this year, the bus, now carrying its original number SC12, was used for a Crosville Enthusiasts Club outing, revisiting some of the routes which used to be operated by this type. it is seen here at Cwm Swch, having just left Cwm Penmachno, the terminus of Crosville’s route from Llanrwst and Betws-y-Coed. This route is nowadays covered by Llew Jones using Optare Solos – a very poor comparison, although it can perhaps be said that the Solo is a modern day equivalent of the SC!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Don McKeown

16/06/16 – 05:52

Arguably, United must have covered the largest geographical area of any Tilling/BTH group company. I don’t know how many vehicles or depots they had, but numbers at each varied from a handful up to a hundred or more. Many operating areas were similar to those of Crosville, but so far as I am aware, United avoided this particular Bristol/ECW offering like the plague

Ronnie Hoye

16/06/16 – 05:52

Nice view, Don, and not just of the bus! Thanks for posting. Here’s a silly question. It’s clearly a full-fronted vehicle which, in most circumstances, would be recorded as ‘FB’ or ‘FC’, so what was it about the SC series that it was felt B or C alone would suffice?

Pete Davies

16/06/16 – 09:41

349 MFM

By way of comparison, I attach an image from a slide of a standard Bristol MW6G bus SMG 373 taken in the early 1970s on service M3 seen returning to Llanrwst – the driver kindly stopped to permit the photo. At the time the SC and MW types were the regular vehicles on the Llanrwst country routes – those were the days.

Keith Newton

16/06/16 – 10:18

The Bristol SC series was designed and always built as a full front vehicles, never as a half-cab. Therefore the decision makers in the PSVC decided that a plain B or C would suffice. The same rule is applied to Bedford SB, Ford 570E and Commer Avenger coaches. I don’t think I have ever travelled on an SC4LK. From the descriptions here and elsewhere, I’m glad I didn’t do so in their hey-day, but curiosity today might just make me try one at a running day!

Michael Hampton

16/06/16 – 12:37

643 LFM

The attached photo was taken from the bridge looking to the terminus at Cwm Penmachno again in the early 1970s and again the driver had kindly stopped. The running times in those days were very generous even for an SC and the Llanrwst drivers were always very friendly towards a young English enthusiast riding into deepest Wales. With grateful thanks to them.

Keith Newton

16/06/16 – 13:22

Thank you Michael.

Pete Davies

17/06/16 – 15:55

In answer to Ronnie’s query my 1967 Crosville Company Fleet List shows there were 1,173 buses + coaches plus 15 service vehicles in the fleet in an ’empire’ stretching from Newcastle-under-Lyme in the east to Aberaeron in the west. That’s throughout England and Wales of course, and 32 Depots plus 3 sub-depots (outstations) ranging from 1 vehicle at Barmouth to 123 vehicles at Wrexham.
Referring to the Bristol SC4LK I agree with all the comments about them, but nevertheless have a soft spot for them, I suppose because they were such a nostalgic part of my summer holiday bus riding in North Wales. The cacophony of the engine noise and the vibration on a long uphill gradient such as ascending the Crimea Pass could likely induce a nosebleed in those susceptible, and combined with the competing din of twenty-odd housewives chattering in Welsh on a returning market day service from Llanrwst to Blaenau Ffestiniog would ensure your ears not just popping but actually ringing for ages after you hurriedly made your exit in Duffwys Square! That was the R34 service from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llanrwst taking all of 1 hour and 10 minutes. I think the reason why the smaller vehicle was chosen in preference to an MW was that between Betws-y-Coed and Llanrwst, unlike any of the other services linking those towns, it operated down the western side of the Conway Valley, i.e. via Cwmlanerch and then had a tight turn onto the river bridge at Llanrwst.
It operated two return journeys from Blaenau Ffestiniog throughout the year, although I should think that it was occasionally suspended in winter when snow afflicted the Crimea Pass!
Those two journeys were denoted in the timetable by L, indicating Llanrwst Market and Fair Day.
It then helpfully mentioned that Lanrwst M.D. was Tuesda , but would not operate in the week of Fair Day (Wednesday following the first Tuesday of the month) when it would operate on the Wednesday instead! Such operational trivia used to be common in rural area timetables all over Britain. In North Wales other Market Day/Fair Day footnotes were necessary for Denbigh and Ruthin. To digress a little I used to live near Lancaster and the Ribble timetable for service 79/80 between Lancaster and Knott End on Sea had amongst the various codes the footnote: ‘On the occasions when the tide renders the direct route between Conder Green and Glasson Dock impassable, the route will be diverted via Upper Thurnham’. Today, a ‘dyke’ has been constructed making such interesting diversions away from the cold muddy River Lune estuary well and truly a thing of the past.
Back to the SC’s.
The subject of Dan’s article SSG 612 was perhaps in Dan’s photo of the late 50’s, allocated to Llanrwst. In 1967 it had migrated to Pwllheli, or Porthmadoc outstation, maybe for the Borth-y-Gest /Morfa Bychan service.
The other allocations, including the downgraded 33 seater ‘coach-seated versions (CSG’s) were:
AN Aberaeron                        1
AYH Aberystwyth                  4
AMH Amlwch                         2
BR Bangor                             8
BF Blaenau Ffestiniog            2
CFN Caernarfon                     9
CR Chester                           3
CWN Corwen                        3
DH Denbigh                          6
DU Dolgellau                         2
HD Holyhead                         2
JT Johnstown                        5
LL/T Llandudno Town            4
LJN Llandudno Junction         5
LT Llanrwst                           6
MYH Machynlleth                   3
OY Oswestry                         2
PI Pwllheli                             5
Incl. Porthmadog O/S)
RL                                        5
WXM                                    2                  (Total = 79)

SSG 612 and sister SSG 613 were eventually preserved,even appearing on Crosville Wales heritage services in the mid 90’s. Perhaps someone else will be able to continue that story.

David J. Smith

25/06/16 – 06:32

Thanks David for the garage allocation. My sister lived in Wales for much of the 1960s, in various locations between Barmouth and Harlech and I had a vague memory of seeing a Bristol SC in Barmouth. The allocation list shows a couple at Dolgellau, so no doubt I will have seen them –and ridden on them – on the S34 service between the two towns.
I reckon all enthusiasts will have some regret about disposing of items many years ago which they wish they had kept. Mine would have to be a complete set of Crosville timetables, five volumes I think, from the late 1960s. I would give my right arm to still have them. There must be dozens and dozens of small Welsh villages which no longer have a bus service and it would be fascinating to read them.

Dave Towers

27/06/16 – 06:40

782 EFM_2

782 EFM_3

To conclude the small gallery of Crosville Bristol SC buses I am attaching two more photos of SC12. This was used in the 1990s along with SC13 on various vintage services by Crosville. It is seen on the service based at Bangor which linked the town with both Beaumaris on Anglesey and Penrhyn Castle which is owned/managed by the National Trust. As far as I am aware this was the first time a bus service had entered the grounds of the castle.

Keith Newton

02/10/16 – 06:00

SC12 was renovated at Crosville Motor Services Sealand road central repairs in Chester in the early 80s. I was an apprentice who along with others worked on the bus.
As it was being completed Enigmas Film Productions hired the bus for a Chanel Four film directed by David Putnam. The film was called “Experience Preferred but not Essential” (look it up on you tube and you will see the film).
My dad Eric Manley was a driving instructor at the time at Crosville and was the driver in the film.
The film was based in Phylleli North Wales in the 60s however it was filmed in Douglass Isle of Mann as in the 80s Phylleli was not as it was in the 60s.

Kevin Manley

24/01/22 – 06:34

783 EFM
Buses Jan 1991

I restored this bus in the 70s and sold it back to Crossville Wales.
It was a strip back and total restoration.
I have pics of every stage of this restoration which answers many of the queries I read in the feedback so far.
I am happy to send these to anyone who can use them.
I heard that SC 12 had been badly damaged in a front end collision?
So she may have been scrapped?
I last saw SC13 at The Llandudno rally in about 2007, now privately owned.

Pat Honey


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Eastern Counties – Bristol SC4LK – 3003 AH – LC 556

3003 AH

Eastern Counties Omnibus Company
Bristol SC4LK

I have the only fully restored red and cream Bristol SC4LK! It is ex Eastern Counties LC 556 (3003 AH). It was new to ECOC in Jan 1959 and served the company for 11 years. Following withdrawal in 1970, it passed via Ben Jordan, the famous Norfolk bus dealer, to Monk Contractors of Warrington as a staff bus. From there it passed to dealer, Martins of Middlewich, who sold the bus on to the Archbishop Sancroft RC High School in Stoke on Trent, where it served as a school bus until 1983. Whilst there, it made the long journey to Brittany in North East France, taking pupils of the school on a field trip. Upon withdrawal by the school, the bus passed to an Oxford bus enthusiast for preservation, but sadly the owner became ill and the bus sat in his garden for a number of years under trees where it slowly adopted an all over green livery! When the enthusiast passed away, his widow sold the bus to Ward Jones, a motor dealer and enthusiast in High Wycombe, together with an Eastern National example (608 JPU) which the Oxford enthusiast also had in his garden. I discovered the bus ‘through the grapevine’ in the summer of 1993 and made an offer for it, which involved salvaging usable parts from the Eastern National one to make the Eastern Counties one complete. The bus was then towed all the way back to her old operating territory and stored on a farm in south Norfolk. Serious preservation then got underway over the next eleven or so years and the restoration was finally completed in Summer 2005. This was my third preservation project, the other two being LM 452 (3014 AH) 1978-84 and LL 711 (KNG 711) 1984-88, both ex Eastern Counties and a 1958 MW5G and a 1950 L5G respectively.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Patrick Burnside

12/03/15 – 16:38

Like Patrick’s other vehicles, this is a superb restoration. It is one of only two SCs that I have ridden on, the other being an Eastern Counties one which was working a crew operated Norwich City service in 1973 at a time of extreme vehicle shortage.

Nigel Turner

12/03/15 – 16:39

Fascinating Patrick, and a creditable restoration. If you have one, could you post a ‘before’ photo?

Chris Hebbron

12/03/15 – 16:40

I used to travel to and from school between Ely and Soham on this type of bus (1960)…maybe even this one, if it ever worked from Ely depot.It would have been nearly new then…Years later, and I found myself driving one or two of them at Cambridge, just before they were withdrawn (1970). They were very noisy…lots of rattles…and that awful gearbox, plus having to turn to the left and issue tickets to passengers boarding behind you. They were referred to by all as LC’s. However, 3003 AH looks really well restored, and the picture brings back happy memories of my time at Hill’s Rd depot, Cambridge.

Norman Long

14/03/15 – 12:54

There is a shot of this bus when it was owned by the Archbishop Sancroft on www.sct61.org.uk

Chris Hough

13/10/15 – 08:48

I only drove an SC (ECOC LC) for a short movement when I was area engineer at ECOC, but the drivers used to tell me that it was the (David Brown off the shelf) gearbox ratios that caused most difficulty with a large ratio jump between 2 and 3 or was it 3 and 4 and hence the need to run the engine to high revs before the up change. Incidentally I saw the prototype SC in service with BT&CC (or was it BOC by then?) – after which they no doubt decided it was not for them. Bristol territory is hilly and I think only one back axle ratio was available for the SC. All Bristol’s Bristol buses had the lowest axle ratio available compared to other operators (In the K, L and MW days it was 6:1 rather than the 5.5:1 – didn’t do much for top speed until the 5th gear appeared on KSWs).

6565 AH

I attach a photo of LC566 – the only one with an all fibreglass body (no panel strapping!) parked at Melton Constable in Autumn 1968 on Service 401 one of the earliest rail-replacement routes that replaced the Gt Yarmouth – Kings Lynn railway.

Geoff Pullin

12/01/17 – 09:10

Responding to Geoff Pullin’s note on the SC, I think the big jump is between 2nd and 3rd. Top speed in 2nd is 15mph, but in 3rd at 15mph the engine struggles. My own reminiscences of the SC as a Bristolian are that I had never even seen one until the opening of the Severn Bridge after which I used to regularly go to such places as the Forest of Dean and Abergavenny where Red & White operated a total of 7. The cab interior is strange, particularly the partition at the rear of the cab and despite seeing them on the road quite a few times in the late 1960’s I don’t think I realised quite what the inside looked like until seeing interior shots on t’internet.

Peter Cook

12/01/17 – 13:56

There was a second fibreglass bodied SC, a "self-coloured" green one for Crosville, 237 SFM, fleet No. SSG 664.

Allan White

13/01/17 – 06:52

Lincolnshire RCC had quite a lot. Fine on the flat lands of South Holland, but contrary to popular opinion, Lincolnshire isn’t ALL flat. I remember travelling on an SC one dark damp Sunday evening about 1959, route 3 from Cleethorpes to Lincoln, and it made heavy weather, very slow and noisy, with lots of 2nd gear, over the Wolds section between Ravendale, Binbrook and Tealby.

Stephen Ford

13/01/17 – 06:53

SC inner

This is a photograph I took on board Patrick’s SC at the Old Buckenham Rally in August 2015. Patrick is at the wheel. I had never ever ridden on one of the type before.

David Slater

13/01/17 – 09:37

I drove the SC type for Tillingbourne – 2 ex ECOC (TVF 537 & 6560 AH) and 1 ex Crosville (790 EFM) – quite often, usually on the hilly Guildford – Peaslake route that had to surmount the North Downs between Merrow and Shere. The gear positions from the left were: forward for reverse gear, back for first, over and forward again in the central gate for second, back for third, then over to the right and back again in a ‘U’ movement for fourth, and forward from there to engage fifth. One normally started off in 2nd gear, but the detent spring protecting the left hand gate was pretty weak and one had to be careful that reverse wasn’t engaged in error. As I recall, the gap in ratios was between 3rd and 4th, and 5th was a feasible option only on the level and downhill. The SC was an idiosyncratic little machine, and keeping time with it was a challenge, but it was a decent enough little bus and I quite enjoyed driving the type. Yes, it was quite noisy, but nowhere near as raucous as the ear splitting Seddon Pennine IV. Those 3.8 litre 4LK engines were tough little workhorses.

Roger Cox

13/01/17 – 10:06

Lovely period interior picture: I assume that the cream colour is a proper Tilling shade as it looks like that rich homely nicotine colour of fond memory. Notice how it also looks as if the ticket machine is totally unprotected and positioned for a quick exit… and not a camera in sight! Happy days…


14/01/17 – 07:02

It may be that the ECOC ones had cream ceiling and upper interior sides. The Red & White ones had Rexine on the insides of the window pillars and luggage racks of a colour which might be charitably described as mushroom or uncharitably as sludge. I can only assume the idea was that it would not show cigarette smoke staining as it was pretty much smoke-stain colour in the first place.(I can post a picture to illustrate the colour if anyone is interested).
Ceilings were (?broken) white when they started apparently. I remember these colours also as being applied in similar places to the BOC MW saloons of the same period.

Peter Cook


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