Old Bus Photos

Eastern Counties – Bristol SC4LK – VVF 540 – LC540

Eastern Counties - Bristol SC4LK - VVF 540 - LC540

Eastern Counties Omnibus Company
Bristol SC4LK

Before researching the facts about the Bristol SC for this caption, I had somehow presumed that Crosville would have been the largest customer for the type. In fact I was surprised to find that they were only the third largest, having bought a total of 79. 323 were built altogether between 1954 and 1961, being supplied to nine BTC operators. Lincolnshire Road Car had the most with an amazing 113, and Eastern Counties was in second place having bought 88.
One of the latter’s examples is shown here preparing to depart the former Drummer Street Bus Station in Cambridge on 11th July 1970. LC540 (VVF 540) was an SC4LK with E.C.W. B35F body, new in 1957 and withdrawn in 1971.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

06/10/13 – 08:10

Memories of childhood visits to Skeggie, Ingoldmills and Cleethorpes. I think they were pretty little rural buses – but the puny 4 cylinder engines did nothing for me.

David Oldfield

06/10/13 – 11:35

Geographically, United must have been one of the biggest of the Tilling group companies, and I imagine the fleet went well into four figures. Several rural depots would only have two or three vehicles, but I don’t ever remember seeing one of this type in the Newcastle area. But that’s not to say they didn’t have any, can anyone enlighten us?

Ronnie Hoye

06/10/13 – 14:31

As David says, the SC’s were bonny looking little buses, but their looks betrayed the reality !
Despite serving many and widespread rural areas United sensibly stayed well clear of the model – imagine an SC with a full load of happy holidaymakers climbing Lythe Bank out of Sandsend. They wouldn’t have been so happy for long, nor been able to hold much of a conversation !

John Stringer

06/10/13 – 17:44

Another trip to the best served destination in East Anglia, the mythical town of SERVICE!

Nigel Turner

06/10/13 – 18:01

I recall trying one of Lincolnshire Road Car’s SC4LKs on the town service during my time working in Goole between 1966 and 1969. It is a long time ago now but I remember thinking they did not bear comparison with the "proper" buses I had become used to in Sheffield!

Stan Zapiec

06/10/13 – 18:23

"Service" may well have been the best served destination in East Anglia but "Duplicate" was equally well served in Crosville’s bailiwick during the 1950s – and often without a route number!
Whilst on the subject of "helpful" destinations. Can anyone enlighten me on the difference between "Reserved", "Special" and "Private", all three of which appeared together on the blinds of many North West municipality vehicles. I can see reasons for each but a vehicle reserved for a special trip for a private party would probably cause some head scratching for the crew as to which blind to set!

Phil Blinkhorn

06/10/13 – 18:24

I don’t think I’ve ever before seen a picture of one of these buses in red and cream, and they appear even prettier when dressed thus. This is no reflection of course on their many sisters who seemed to prefer green frocks.

Chris Youhill

07/10/13 – 08:25

I have many happy memories of rides on SC4LK’s, mostly with Crosville, but also Cumberland, Vaggs of Knockin Heath and Silver Star of Caernarfon. They were incredibly characterful, with enjoyable sounds and at times a lively performance, although they struggled on hills. The only down side was the lack of forward vision, with partitions and handrails round the forward entrance.
United didn’t have any SC’s, but if they had it is unlikely that they would have been used to climb Lythe Bank the SC4LK was a "niche model" used on minor, lightly loaded rural routes, usually on narrow lanes.
The SC4LK was reputed to do 20 – 25 mpg in service. This is probably the main reason they were so popular among the North Wales independent operators.

Don McKeown

07/10/13 – 08:26

Apart from the 88 which went to Eastern Counties, only 15 SCs were built for "red" operators. So just under a third of the total built were red.
Three Eastern Counties SCs are preserved, but the other 17 known survivors are all green.

Geoff Kerr

07/10/13 – 09:32

Thanks Geoff, I’ve never actually travelled on one of these buses and would like to do so sometime – maybe I’ll come across one at a rally, and red or green wouldn’t matter for a "test ride."

Chris Youhill

07/10/13 – 13:58

…..but at least they were lighter, and therefore better, than the other Eastern Counties specials; 4LW powered Ls, let alone the LS4LW!

David Oldfield

07/10/13 – 13:59

Don’t think I ever rode on one. Of course, the SC was the only Bristol type never to have been operated by Bristol Tramways/Omnibus!

Geoff Kerr

07/10/13 – 14:00

They were quite adequate for many parts of Lincolnshire, where gradients are unknown, and spot-heights on old ordnance survey maps only occasionally rose to the dizzy height of 20 feet above sea level! Lincolnshire RCC had a network of rather infrequent routes serving these fenlands, where, no doubt, they served adequately and economically. However I remember encountering one on a Winter Sunday evening about 1958, on route 3 from Cleethorpes to Lincoln. This service crossed the ridge of the Lincolnshire wolds, and in the region of Binbrook where there were gradients as steep as 1 in 6. The almost full SC4LK made very heavy weather of it – walking pace, and a deafening scream in first gear.

Stephen Ford

07/10/13 – 14:01

The best served ‘place’ these days is surely
A lady passenger once complaining to me about the lack of service said she was going to move there, as all the buses seemed to go to it.

Stephen Howarth

07/10/13 – 17:42

Was it the SC that was known as the Tilling Bedford? The niche in the market and engine output were similar to the SB but, more to the point, the axles were supplied by Bedford.

David Oldfield

07/10/13 – 17:44

The bus in this photo should be showing "WATERBEACH" for service 150, from Drummer St., it travelled along Newmarket Rd., and via Clayhithe.
I used to ride home on these vehicles from school at Soham to Ely service 116, and only nine years later I was driving them. They were OK in the fens, but I didn’t like them as they were noisy and rattled a lot, plus having to twist round in one’s seat to issue tickets. The gear positions were different as well and it was a real disappointment to get one allocated for a duty, usually as a replacement bus after a breakdown.

Norman Long

08/10/13 – 07:44

The figures in the caption are interesting; 323 built of which a total of 280 were purchased by the three mentioned companies, only leaving 43 for the rest!
In the 1960s my sister lived in various locations in the Barmouth area and I’m fairly sure I will have had one or two trips on these. From recollection the services north of Barmouth were in the hands of firstly Bristol Ks and later a Lodekka (for many years DLB 911) but an SC could sometimes be found on the S34 to Dolgellau.

Dave Towers

09/10/13 – 08:25

Ever plagued by if-only-osis, I can’t help wishing that Gardner had been able to offer a 4LK with an extra half inch on the bores, ie 4.25" instead of 3.75", which would have boosted the capacity from 3.8 to nearly 4.9 litres. The extra torque would have improved acceleration and hill-climbing enormously, and with the engine running at lower revs for much of the time things would have been quieter too. The SC4LK’s excellent fuel consumption probably wouldn’t have suffered either. Even more exciting: there’s a YouTube of a turbo-charged 4LK (definitely NOT a Gardner option) in some vehicle or other. Considering the difficulty of fitting an off-the-peg turbocharger to any engine not designed to take one, it would be interesting to hear how this owner’s engine fares over the long term.
All that aside, an "official" 4LKTC would have transformed the Bristol SC.
A question to Norman Long, with his SC driving experience:
Was the steering as nice as on heavyweight Bristols, or did it all feel a bit Bedfordish?

Ian Thompson

09/10/13 – 17:41

Reply to Ian…
I seem to remember that SC’s, which we all referred to as LC’s, were not at all heavy to drive, certainly not when compared with MW’s (to us LM’s). I have driven a few Bedford Coaches (again, to us CB’s), and I think they were heavier. I didn’t like the thinness of the steering wheels on the early Bedfords (same as the TK lorry) and much preferred a nice fat wheel that one can haul round on a slow corner much more comfortably, especially if there is no power steering fitted. Another thing about the SC’s was that they were very draughty in the winter and you really would need an overcoat!!!

Norman Long

11/10/13 – 06:59

TVF 533

Here are two more photos of Eastern Counties Bristol SC4LKs. TVF 533 (ECOC LC533) is seen in Cambridge, Drummer Street Bus Station on 26 August 1959 on yet another timetabled journey to the intensely bussed destination of "Service". It is, in fact, on one of the rural routes out towards Ely. This bus was delivered to the operator in January 1957.

6559 AH

6559 AH (LC 559), dating from September 1959, is pictured (if my recollections are correct) near RAF Watton in August 1960. Remarkably, it is displaying its correct destination ‘Norwich’. Much of the old Watton airfield has now been obliterated by new housing development.

Tillingbourne had three SCs in 1971, two of which (TVF 537 and 6560 AH) began life with ECOC, whilst the third (790 EFM) came from Crosville. As other contributors have pointed out, the David Brown gearbox had a curious selector sequence. R/1/2&3 were in the logical positions popularised by the AEC Reliance, with R&1 protected by a detente spring from accidental engagement. Sadly, this spring became very weak over time, and one had to watch out not to pull away in reverse rather than second gear. From third gear, the stick had to be manoeuvred in an inverted ‘U’ fashion back again to engage fourth, and fifth lay immediately forward of fourth. The Tillingbourne SCs were often used on the hilly Guildford – Peaslake service which included a long climb up the scarp face of the North Downs from Shere to Newlands Corner, and, in the opposite direction, the lengthy drag up the dip slope from Merrow to Newlands Corner. This topography was very different from the flat lands of East Anglia and Lincolnshire, though the Crosville examples would probably have met some hills in their lives. The 3.8 litre Gardner 4LK developed 57 bhp at 2100 rpm, and it certainly spent much of its life at those revs in the SC, with deleterious effects upon one’s hearing. Later production 4LKs were rated at 60 bhp, though I cannot believe that this would have made any material difference. The gaps between the gears meant that the engine had to be taken to high revs to change up, but, on the rare occasions when fifth could be engaged (downhill or with a following wind on the flat) this little bus could fly. The 4LK certainly had to work hard in the SC, but its reputation for reliability was always exemplary. I believe that only the axles for the SC were sourced from Bedford. As far as I can now recall, the steering was entirely positive in action.

Roger Cox

11/10/13 – 16:05

By the time I started working for E.C.O.C. in 1970, the Bristol SC’s were on their last legs, and we were enjoying the comparative luxury of driving RLE’s etc.. although a town duty was almost always a Bristol LKH or LKD/LFS; the North Arbury route (130) was allocated the more powerful 6cyl FLF’s with more seats available. The LKH’s were withdrawn around 1971 I think…such a long time ago!
A very nice photo of TVF 533 leaving Drummer Street, Cambridge. It’s correct destination should read— 120 Gt Eversden, travelling through Grantchester and Barton which is to the south west of the city.

Norman Long

12/10/13 – 07:52

Thanks for your correction about route 120, Norman. I was working from memory (a decidedly risky procedure at my time of life) and did not check my recollections with Paul Carter’s comprehensive volume "Cambridge 2".

Roger Cox

13/10/13 – 08:01

The suggestion made by Ian Thompson of a 4LK with the increased 4¼ bore of the LW is, in fact, more than a pipedream. Latil in France were Gardner agents, and they did make such an engine, which proved to be powerful and reliable. Quite what became of the project later is lost in the mists of time, but one can imagine the response of the somewhat megalomaniac Hugh Gardner towards an engine that he could not claim as his own entire creation.

Roger Cox

13/10/13 – 08:02

Can "Cambridge 2" still be obtained Roger?…and is it a book about Cambridge in general, or about the city buses…If so, I would very much like to own a copy.

Norman Long

13/10/13 – 09:56

Norman, There are two books on this subject by Paul Carter. ‘Cambridge 1’ covers the period up to around 1950, and ‘Cambridge 2’ from that time up to deregulation. They are published by Venture Publications of 128 Pike’s Lane, Glossop, Derbyshire SK13 8EH (tel. 01457 861508) who should be able to help you find copies. This publisher does not have a web page. Paul Carter has also written a comprehensive history of Premier Travel.

Roger Cox

P.S. The Premier Travel book is published by Capital Transport:- www.capitaltransport.com/

13/10/13 – 11:53

Venture Publications may not have a website, but the associated MDS Books at the same address has a very extensive one at www.mdsbooks.co.uk Presently both Venture’s ‘Cambridge 1’ and ‘Cambridge 2’ are on special offer at £8 each.

John Stringer

13/10/13 – 12:08

The Cambridge 2 book is currently available as a clearance item at reduced price in the Ian Allan bookshop in Manchester, or at least it was on Friday.

David Beilby

13/10/13 – 16:37

Thank you all very much…I have now ordered a copy of Cambridge 2, as it covers the time I worked for Eastern Counties,…very much looking forward to it’s arrival.

Norman Long

15/10/13 – 07:10

Norman: many thanks for your comments on the steering, and I agree all the way about steering wheels and controls in general: a decently-equipped cab inspires confidence. I’ve never driven an SC or an SU, but the very look of the controls on both suggests that what lies beneath is also solidly made. At Warminster yesterday (Sun 13 Oct) I thoroughly enjoyed a ride on 270 KTA, a lively ex-Western National coach-seated SUL4A, driven with great verve and understanding, but that little engine makes no secret of the hard work it has to do.
Congratulations and thanks, by the way, to everyone responsible for the Warminster event, especially on such a soggy day.
Roger: I was so interested to hear from you that my fictitious bored-out 4LK had actually been tried that I found a "moteurs Latil" site that lists (almost) all the engines fitted to Latil timber tractors. It seems that the company was a great user of the 4LW (as Unipower was for similar work in Britain) and later also of the 6LW.
I couldn’t find the doctored 4LK in question, but I did discover a tractor model H12 of 1949 with a 9.3-litre engine of 114mm (4.488") bore and 6" stroke, which must surely have been a modified 6LW—otherwise why the imperial-dimensioned stroke?
They also did a model M14 between 1949 and 1955, which had a PETROL version of the 4LW!
I realise that I’m way off the bus route, but I greatly enjoyed Chris Y’s Onibury/Stokesay diversion and all those other fascinating spin-offs that have appeared on OBP, just as the background in old photos is often no less interesting than the subject.

Ian Thompson

16/10/13 – 06:47

Ian, the reference to the "big bore 4LK" appears in the book ‘Gardner’ by Graham Edge. This book is now out of print, but I understand that it is to be reprinted by Old Pond Publishing to whom Graham Edge has sold his publishing business. Incidentally, Graham Edge (aka Gingerfold) is a contributor to a discussion forum on Gardner engines, mainly lorry orientated, that runs to no less than 52 pages. www.trucknetuk.com/phpBB/  The differing views of contributors become heated to the point of vitriolic personal abuse in places, but some facts do emerge. For example, the well known external oiliness of Gardners lay with Hugh Gardner’s aversion to the use of gaskets on many external mating surfaces. When rebuilt by operators with jointing compound, much of the problem was resolved. (I wouldn’t recommend trawling through the whole 52 pages in one go; the thing gets very, very repetitive.)

Roger Cox

16/10/13 – 06:48

Ian, with regard to Roger’s comments, the French Latil and Bernard concerns built Gardner engines under licence, paying royalties to Gardner in the process. Both vehicle builders increased the bore size (and in some cases the rpm) of the Gardners in pursuit of more power, and Latil carried out this modification on ‘le 4LK’ as well as ‘les 4LW et 6LW’ engines. This could explain the 114mm (4.488") bore and 9.3 litres capacity you mentioned, which I presume would have been a Latil modification of the 6LW design. What the top brass at Patricroft thought of this can only be imagined, but no doubt ‘Mr Hugh’ may well have thrown his hands up in the air, spun around three times and locked himself in the nearest cupboard.

Brendan Smith

16/10/13 – 12:02

Thanks for the information about Gardner Roger. I have always had the utmost respect for Gardner products, but must admit they did, as you say, have an external oiliness about them in certain areas. The castings were of excellent quality, but many of us couldn’t understand why joints/gaskets were fitted to some components and not others. Sumps for example did not have gaskets, and tended to be one of the areas prone to oiliness. At West Yorkshire, engineering staff used jointing compounds which usually did the trick. In the main we used Good Year gasket shellac (which was a rich brown colour and smelled pleasantly sweet) or ‘Hylomar’ jointing compound (apparently formulated for Rolls-Royce. This was dark blue and didn’t smell as nice!) Quite why Gardner did not fit even simple cardboard sump joints in the first place is a good question, but I’m sure Hugh Gardner would have given an equally good answer…. They were still fine engines though and no mistake.

Brendan Smith

10/04/14 – 07:25

I remember the SC’S well as a few for Eastern Counties ran around the Yarmouth area during the 60’s and one in particular LC553 a resident at Yarmouth Depot for a number of years.They operated to my knowledge the 6A to Martham, with a few journeys to Hickling, Stalham and Thurne (village no longer served at all by any Company). Also the 19A to Belton, Haddiscoe and Loddon and probably other lightly loaded routes. Only managed to catch one once. Felt sorry for the driver who had to twist round in his seat every stop to collect fares. One example preserved by the Eastern Transport Collection near Norwich.


26/05/14 – 17:31

ECOC also operated a small number of 33str coach versions of the LC (LSC). In 1968 I bought WAH 875 (LSC 875) from Victoria Coaches, S’end for use in the Bickers of Coddenham fleet. It gave several years of good service. Ipswich Transport Society used it for the last day of Bradford trolleys. Flat out from Ipswich up the A1 overnight – filled up in Bradford with 7 gals! Axles were Austin / BMC, not Bedford.

Eric Mouser

22/03/18 – 06:39

I well remember the SC4LK operating for a while when I went up to Cambridge as my girlfriend at the time was at Girton College and if I felt lazy or drank too much the 129 route proved useful in getting back to my digs in central Cambridge, I used to love these vehicles and eventually made a model of the bus from an Anbrico white metal kit which I still have in my model bus collection! Oh those really were the days!

David Kerr

24/03/18 – 08:33

XAO 610

A reminder that Cumberland also had some SC buses for use on lightly loaded country services. Taken in 1970 I think the location is Carlisle – I know I was about to board 202 for a scenic ride to somewhere but I no longer have any maps for the area.

Ken Newton

13/12/18 – 06:18

6560 AH

Tillingbourne of Chilworth bought this former Eastern Counties SC4LK of 1959, 6560 AH, former fleet number LC 560, in February 1971 and it is seen here ascending the bottom of Guildford High Street on Saturday 29 May 1971 en route to Warren Road. I drove this bus several times myself over the taxing route across the North Downs (at high decibels) to Peaslake until its disposal to Sykes (dealer) at Barnsley after May 1972. There is no further record of it being used as a psv, and by February 1974 it appears to have been sold to another dealer, Carlton, for scrap.

Roger Cox

14/12/18 – 06:16

Roger; I can’t remember any buses climbing the High St other than the short length up as far as Quarry St before turning right towards Shalford. But that wouldn’t lead towards Warren Rd.
I suspect that this has just turned right out of Farnham Rd bus station and will then turn right again before going round the loop to Bridge St- Onslow St and North St, in order to get to the top of the town.

John Lomas

14/12/18 – 09:17

John, yes, you are right. The Old Town Bridge is behind the bus in the right hand top corner. I was (totally unaccountably – my wife comes from Guildford) thinking of the Farley Green route that that I often worked on Saturdays; this did follow High Street/Quarry Street on the way to Shalford. The Warren Road service lasted only a few months longer after this picture was taken as it was withdrawn on 16 October 1971.

Roger Cox

23/09/19 – 05:56

I attach a link to a page I created, with a hope to get one dearly named Elise transported from one end of Ireland to other… as a temporary living space. It has been converted inside. She does not drive anymore but it all kitted out. I did not get any support unfortunately… mostly people do not seem to care for these types of campaigns… oh well. I have not given up. She needs a low loader to do the 400KM journey. I need to give the potential driver the tonnage.
Can anyone help with that? She is a 1957 model, Bristol SC reg no. VVF 551 fleet no. LC551, LC is where she got her nickname from ELSIE.
Be grateful for advise on the weight.
I will keep putting the pennies in the savings pot.
The attached link:- is here

Tanya Bryan

26/09/19 – 05:47

I don’t know the answer but I suggest that you contact Patrick Burnside who can definitely answer. His e-mail address can be obtained from his web site www.easterncountiesomnibusco.com

Nigel Turner

VVF 540 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

02/11/19 – 05:50

In response to Tanya Brian’s request for the weight, I can give an indication of the weight as built because the SC was designed as a lightweight vehicle and clocked in at just under 4 tons – that’s British Imperial tons by the way; not metric tonnes. Of course, that may not be Elsie’s current weight as, looking at the picture on the website in the link there looks to be a lot of stuff in there which wasn’t part of the original bus.
The lengths they went to in order to save every last ounce was quite incredible. Instead of the usual pressed steel channels shaped to clear the rear axle, on the SC the main chassis members are simply two lengths of straight channel which I think is aluminium. Most bus floors are longitudinal floorboards on transverse joists. On the SC there are no joists and the boards are fitted across the chassis members. In addition, the boards are 5/8" instead of ECW’s usual 7/8". The seat cushions are an inch thinner than normal service bus seats. Restoring ONV 425 in recent years, I wondered who was apparently damaging the side of the roof. It turned out that another way they saved weight was in the thickness of the aluminium used to sheet the vehicle up. When a ladder was rested against it it produced quite sizeable dents!


I have attached a picture of ONV 425 taken in May this year in Usk, having just driven from Winkleigh (Devon), not I hasten to add, on the motorway.

Peter Cook

11/11/19 – 07:04

Without going to the SC4LK’s lengths in the quest for lightness, I wish the buses and especially coaches of today could shed a ton or two. I do accept that today’s disappointing fuel consumption is due largely to traffic congestion, the need for right-boot-down driving to make up lost time and the use of automatic transmissions, but vehicle unladen weight must also play a part. Of course, the lighter the vehicle itself gets while still carrying the same human tonnage, the cleverer the suspension needs to be to deal with the difference between fully-laden and empty, but I’m sure that cunning technology can brush away that little problem.

Ian Thompson

17/11/19 – 08:49

Having ridden on most Wright products technology does not yet seem to have found a way to eliminate rattles caused by weight saving

Roger Burdett

18/11/19 – 05:43

Roger, when I started my driver training at NGT’s Percy Main Depot in January 1967, the oldest buses still in service were the 1954 H32/26R Weymann Orion bodied G5LW GUY Arab III’s. They were withdrawn later that year.
Mechanically, apart from only having a G5LW, they were hard to fault, but far too many corners had been cut to save weight, and the build quality of the bodies was terrible, they were known as rattle traps.
To be fair, the later Orion bodies on the 1958 Leyland PD3’s was superb, but as I said, these were terrible.
For my money, the best buses we ever had were the Alexander ‘A’ type CRG6LX Daimler Fleetlines, they had it all as far as I’m concerned.
I left P/M in 1975, and went to Armstrong Galley, the coaching division of T&W PTE, and only on rare occasions did I ever drive a bus.
In 1982, I left buses altogether, and only ride on them as a passenger, but as you say, the rattles seemed to have returned big time.

Ronnie Hoye

23/11/19 – 06:53

Here in Oxford the 4-cylinder Wright double-deckers (whose performance seems perfectly good despite the modest engine size) seem to suffer from sway rather than rattles. The outright winners in the rattlestakes are the awful Mercedes Citaros, with their grabby brakes, inadequate and inconvenient seating and frequent breakdowns. Admittedly the ADL 400Hs do get electrical problems, but in every other way they’re superb—but then they can boast that distinguished Dennis ancestry!

Ian Thompson


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Booth and Fisher – Bristol SC4LK – 612 JPU

 Booth and Fisher - Bristol SC4LK - 612 JPU
Copyright Ian Wild

Booth and Fisher
Bristol SC4LK

Booth and Fisher operated a selection of stage and works services from their depot at Halfway on the South Eastern outskirts of Sheffield.

Whilst their staple stock for many years were Bedford OBs, they also bought AEC and Leyland single deckers new and amassed quite a collection of Albion Nimbus as well. Relatively unusual second hand purchases were two of these Bristol SC4LK from Eastern National in the late 60s. This one was Eastern National 446, the other ex 451 had the splendid registration 9575F. I suppose a common theme of Bedford OB/Albion Nimbus/Bristol SC was "lightweight" but then they did operate in the flatter areas across towards Worksop. 612 JPU is seen outside their depot in either 1967 or 1968 in company with other members of the fleet.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

08/06/11 – 09:57

Very nice indeed to see a smart but totally unpretentious livery and a very clean and tidy looking depot. I never came into contact with Booth and Fisher, but they appear to have been an operator with the right priorities – too many are just the opposite, employing "spin" with nothing behind it – especially nowadays.

Chris Youhill

09/06/11 – 08:35

Strictly speaking, Booth and Fisher were a Derbyshire operator. Their depot is round the corner from the Halfway Supertram terminus and came inside the Sheffield boundary when the city expanded in 1967. The photograph must have been taken very shortly after this event.
The trunk B & F route (Sheffield to Halfway via Coal Aston and Eckington) became SYPTE 253, briefly operated by "Aston" after deregulation. They were, in turn bought out by Stagecoach (then East Midland at Chesterfield) who run this route to this day as part of their new, expanded, Sheffield network. Stagecoach. of course, now operate out of the former Yorkshire Terrier depot in Holbrook – just up the road from the B & F depot.
The B & F depot passed to SYPTE when they bought out Booth and Fisher and only recently TM Travel (now part of the same group as Trent Barton) moved into this depot – by now abandoned by First Group – from their nearby Stavely HQ.
In latter years, B & F built up a large fleet of AEC service buses (and DPs) and Ford coaches. The last to be bought were a sizeable number of 6MU4R Reliances with Grant specification Panorama Elite III Express bodies – all of which passed to SYPTE.
The featured SC4LK would have fitted in with the fleet at the time, though. It was sometimes known as the Bristol SB – fulfilling that role for Tilling Fleets – and even had propriety Bedford axles and other components. SCs were built in such small numbers that minimal expense was the order of the day for R&D.

David Oldfield

09/06/11 – 08:36

If I remember rightly they also had an ex Guy single deck demonstrator with the reg no GUY 2

Roger Broughton

09/06/11 – 08:36

Two of Booth and Fishers more unusual AECs were a pair of Park Royal bodied Monocoaches bought in 1955 These were fitted with a lower profile body than was the norm to pass under the many low bridges in the area One of the pair WRA12 is preserved at the South Yorkshire Transport Museum in Rotherham

Chris Hough

09/06/11 – 08:38

Like you Chris, I never came into contact with this well known operator, but vividly remember the name from the fleet news in Buses Illustrated as a teenager – Booth & Fisher, Halfway – as it always raised a smile. As you say, the livery is indeed smart and unpretentious, and all the better for it in the eyes of many. I’ve never quite understood the trend to dress modern buses up as circus wagons in order to attract motorists out of their vehicles. Most cars are single, or two-tone in colour, as manufacturers wish to convey a ‘perceived quality’ image. How many people would be attracted to a family car with a fancy colour scheme and vinyls covering the windows so only the driver could see out? Amazing how such established concerns such as East Yorkshire and Delaine’s (to name two) manage to retain a dignified traditional livery in a modern style. Ah! Quality!

Brendan Smith

09/06/11 – 08:40

Well Chris Y, Booth and Fisher are long gone but their depot survives and is operational! Their fleet strength was around forty vehicles and when they sold out to South Yorkshire PTE, the garage was used by SYPTE for some time before being deemed surplus to requirements. Today, it houses the fleet of TM Travel, a Wellglade (Trent Barton) subsidiary who have operations in Sheffield and North Derbyshire with around 100 vehicles.

Chris Barker

10/06/11 – 09:49

Roger mentions the ex GUY demonstrator Guy 3 This bus was exhibited at the 1950 Commercial Motor Show In 1957 it was acquired by Ledgards as part of the takeover of Kitchen of Pudsey It ran for Ledgards until they were taken over by West Yorkshire RCC in 1967

Chris Hough

10/06/11 – 09:55

In 1973 B&F bought some 12 year old Reliance service buses from Maidstone and District, and these passed to the PTE in 1976 when they were already 15 years old. You might think that SYPTE would have sent them off to Barnsley for scrap, but they kept them until 1980 when they were resold (as part of a job lot which included a Seddon Pennine IV-236 "midibus") to Silver Star of Upper Llandwrog (Gwynnedd). Repainted into Silver Star’s attractive two-tone blue and cream livery they gave good service for a few more years on the company’s stage services from Caernarfon to Rhosgadfan and Cesarea, suggesting that they had been excellently maintained by both M&D and B&F/SYPTE. Booth & Fisher were indeed a classic independent!

Neville Mercer

13/06/11 – 07:55

I have a record of three ex Maidstone Reliances with Booth and Fisher (but there may have been more).
336 NKT acquired 7/73
334 NKT acquired 8/73
340 NKT acquired 6/74
all with Weymann DP40F bodies.
I can’t be certain now about the accuracy of the acquisition dates, they may be the dates on which I first saw them.

Ian Wild

13/06/11 – 10:48

Check out this link for a comprehensive fleet list of Booth and Fisher.
You missed 332 NKT, Ian, see fleet list. Bought 1975 with the last three 6MU4R, the last ever purchases before selling out to SYPTE. It had slipped past me that the last two were Duple bodied.

David Oldfield

12/01/12 – 09:05

I am looking for people who used to work for Booth & Fisher and knew my husband Ian Fretwell. I am going to give him a surprise party next year for his 65th. So I am trying to find as many of his old mates as I can, if anyone knew him please get in touch with me through this website. Or if anyone has a better idea on how to find ex Booth & Fisher employees please let me know.

Wendy Fretwell

28/04/12 – 07:48

Between 1958 & 1965 I attended Westfield Comp. As I lived in Frecheville I had a school bus. Normally Frecheville, Birley and Base Green pupils were transported by Sharpes of Beighton. Over the years they had SBs augmented later by SC4LKs and LWL6Bs ex Lincs Road Car. When the coaches were off doing coach work then one or more buses would be borrowed from Booth & Fisher. These were always from the large selection of OBs and OWBs. I doubt any-one had a more varied OB fleet than Boothies. Bodies included Allsop, Mulliner, Beadle, Barnaby, Roe, Woodhall-Nicholson and Duple. We never knew what would turn up, but could be sure of the bus having character!!

Les Dickinson

18/05/18 – 06:50

Does anyone know how large the fleet was around 1970, they had an impressive garage which could hold most if not all of the fleet under cover.


23/05/18 – 06:41

Jim, from 1970 the fleet tended to hover around 40. According to "South Yorkshire’s Transport" (Scott Hellewell, Venture, 1996) in 1973 44% revenue came from contracts (mainly NCB), 42% from stage carriage (Dronfield local [jt SCT/CCT]], Killamarsh-Dronfield-Sheffield, Beighton-Killamarsh-Worksop), 12% private hire/E&T, 2% garage business. The premises are still in use to today as the depot of Wellglade subsidiary TM Travel.

Philip Rushworth

17/07/18 – 06:39

Can anyone answer this question that has baffled me for years.
As you drive past Clowne ponds you reach the crossroads of the Worksop to Chesterfield road, driving straight over for about 1/2 mile use to be a lane on the left that led to either 1 or 2 possible railway houses, in the yard was parked about 6 buses red I think, this was in the 70s and 80s,who was this firm, Kirkby Andrews were based in Harthill at that time but this wasn’t actually in the village, anyone know.


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16/06/20 – 07:07

I was born and brought up in Halfway, my father was a mechanic at Booth and Fisher. Shortly before the two AEC Monocoaches appeared they had a white Sentinel demonstrator on the Sheffield service for a while.
It was the first "flat fronted" bus seen around here. Mid entrance if I remember correctly.

John Hinchliffe


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Crosville – Bristol SC4LK – 803 FFM – CSG 623

Crosville - Bristol SC4LK - 803 FFM - CSG623
Copyright Ian Wild

Bristol SC4LK

Here we have Crosville CSG623 seen outside the small depot in Llanwrst, Conwy, Wales in September 1967. This is one of 24 Bristol SC4LK with Eastern Coachworks DP33F body supplied to Crosville but by the time of this photo it had acquired bus livery and was ending its days as an omo vehicle on rural services. This model in coach form was supplied mainly to Crosville and Lincolnshire Road Car. Unless they had significantly better sound insulation than the bus version, they must have been pretty dreadful vehicles in which to travel any distance.
The other vehicle parked in the depot doorway is another Bristol SC4LK registration 802 FFM fleet number CSG622.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

04/05/11 – 11:47

I used hate driving the type back in the 60’s and early 70’s at Pwllheli’s Crosville depot. Gutless wonders and noisy too boot. Having said that in crawler gear they would easily ,though very slowly, ascend the steepest of hills, reckon one would shin up a telegraph pole too. It was virtually impossible to run early with the type. They were handy when delivering parcels as there was ample stowage room alongside the port side of the 4 cylinder Gardner "power plant" in the cab for bulky items , apart from exhaust pipes from Groom’s Porthmadog. Fare collection was not all that easy either as passengers entered the vehicle behind the driver rather than alongside. Gear changing was fun as they were not selected in the normal H pattern. A case of all over the place and hit and miss operation in the 5 forward box. Now I would give my eye teeth, allbethem false, to have a day behind an SC4 wheel. Never satisfied and ready to grumble, always the driver’s way! Wonder if that’s really true in my case as I passed my PSV back in 1960 and am still engaged driving coaches on a part time basis. If the lottery comes up I’ll buy one. Well we can take that as a never then cant we!

Evan Herbert

07/05/11 – 06:12

Thanks for sharing the experience of driving the SC4LK Evan. My experience of the type is limited to a journey from Llanwrst to Betws y Coed (pretty flat) in genuine SC days and then a trip from Beaumaris to Bangor when Crosville Wales tried them as a bit of a novelty in the 1990s. The route turned right away from the estuary up a fearsome hill, the noise level and vibration in the saloon whilst climbing was excruciating! But the old SC just took it in its stride.

Ian Wild

03/06/11 – 07:27

I remember the service from Beaumris To Penrhyn Castle using SLC12/13 I travelled to the old MOLD depot to pick up one them and then I drove one all day every SATURDAY what fun. I’m Retired now but still watch the Modern Buses go by and I often wonder what these Young drivers that drive along the flat roads of the Fens where I now live would do with the old SLC on a good Welsh Hill

Ieuan Williams

03/06/11 – 17:07

Ieuan, you should meet a friend of mine who is still a driver for First Leeds – he has a wicked mischievous sense of humour !! A few years ago he was involved in the preservation of a Leeds City Transport AEC Regent 1 of 1934, and parked it briefly at a City Centre bus stop. A newly qualified young lady driver was among a few waiting to take buses over, and my mate said to her "Are you waiting for running number **** love ??" "Yes I am" she replied.
"Oh good, this is yours then" said he, and walked away nonchalantly. They reckoned her face was a picture !!

Chris Youhill

08/06/11 – 09:55

Back in the mid 60s as a kid we had family at Llanbedrog who we’d stay with, I’d get out on the local Crosville routes. The R17 Sarn Bach-Abersoch-Pwllheli seemed always to be an SC bus, as were the short workings on the R26 from Pwllheli to Porthmadog.
The SCs seemed to go everywhere. By about 1965 it seemed Pwllheli depot had gone fully OMO with some new MWs for the R26/R27, and now had just 1 seasonal Lodekka on shorts to Butlins.
This was a shame as I was still to experience a ride on a Lodekka. My first ever sight of one, an LD at the tollgate at Boston Lodge had me in awe, it was an R26 heading to Blaenau Ffestiniog, fully blinded with Criccieth, Portmadoc (I think it was referred to at the time) and Maentwrog in the intermediate blind.
I had a few trips on the MWs too, often back to Abersoch as an R19 or R20, with a consequent long walk back along the Warren Beach to Llanbedrog over the cliff.
My last service ride on a Crosville SC was from Wrexham in about 1975, on a short working of the D1 to Acrefair.
I don’t remember much about the noise, but when you put your cash in the tray for the driver it would jingle up and down with the engine vibration. I also remember the occasional crunching gear changes.
In the early 70s the route network around Pwllheli seemed to get cut back and frequencies reduced. I seem to remember there were some of the early Perkins engined Bristol LHs (SLPs) in use there by then? I didn’t ride on them at the time as I had little interest in them, but now wish that I had done!
It was great to read Evan’s first hand experiences of the type, especially so in the context of Pwllheli.

Keith Jackson

14/09/11 – 07:53

Evan you would like to drive an SC again, where abouts in the country do you live?
In the following post to yours Ian discusses his memories of the SC and the trips from Penrhyn to Beaumaris Castles with SC 12 & 13.
SC 13 has been off the road all of this year with engine problems but I have just managed to re-build the engine and it went back on the road last Friday when it journeyed to Lincoln to have it’s MOT.
Hopefully it will be at Meadowhall this weekend.

Gordon Burkinshaw

16/09/11 – 09:31

Hi Gordon. Still live in former SC territory, Pistyll close to Nefyn on the Lleyn Peninsula. Been doing a bit of casual driving for Clynnog and Trefor Motor Co Ltd. Usually NX dupes and privates using B12M’s. Ugh didgie tachos.

Evan Herbert

18/09/11 – 06:14

Hi Evan,
Nice to hear that you still live in a lovely part of the world.
I will try and get SC13 over to Llandudno next year so perhaps you might manage to meet up if I do.
Will keep you informed.

Gordon Burkinshaw

25/09/11 – 20:40

Glad to hear that SC13 is back on the road Gordon. My memories are of SSG677 and CSG637 at Holyhead around 1970-71. They were the only buses from the Holyhead depot that could be used on the N1 service to Amlwch because of the narrow lanes around Llanfairynghornwy.
I’m now re-living my Bristol SC days as I have a Gardner 4LK in our narrow boat!


20/11/11 – 13:41

Not a bus enthusiast as such, but missed seeing the lovely green buses on a nostalgic return to Abersoch. The green livery fits well with the scenery. Websites like this help to relive happy memories of trips around the Lyn peninsula (we didn’t have a car back then).
Thank you for the photos.

Mr Anon

26/04/12 – 12:13

It’s so good to read about the old buses but what about the drivers who drove them, is there any left out there from the North Wales depots i.e Caernarfon, Bangor and The Isle of Anglesey please let us know.

Ieuan Williams

28/04/12 – 08:02

Just found your site as I recall we used to have a couple of these in Oswestry when I was younger. I was really trying to find out what happened to a bus I use to travel on a great deal, Bristol RE fleet number SRG 208. As for the buses in the photo I think ours in Oswestry had very slow sliding door, but I may have that wrong as it is a good few years ago.

Kevin Young

27/08/12 – 11:17

Kevin, I have photos of former Oswestry RE SRG208 which may be of interest to you. They illustrate where she went after disposal by Crosville Wales and how she met her unfortunate end…
www.flickr.com/photos/crisparmour/  1  
www.flickr.com/photos/crisparmour/  2  
I hope they are not too distressing for you!


02/10/12 – 14:59

Why did the David Brown gearbox on the SC4LK have a strange gear pattern from third to fourth coupled with a large difference in gear ratios? I believe high revs were needed in third before engaging fourth.
Was this box primarily designed for use in other applications?

Nigel Richards

18/04/13 – 07:15

The Bristol SUL4A’s operated by Southern Vectis had the same David Brown box with similarly queer gears, I never did quite get the hang of them, but the men who drove them regularly got used to it and could make those buses fly on the level!

Patrick Hall

14/08/13 – 06:22

I was the last manager at Llanrwst before it was made into an outstation of Llandudno at the end of summer 1969. Mind you I was only 19 at the time and a trainee as they did not want to appoint another permanent manager.
These buses used to go on all the routes and had great fuel consumption in the hands of some drivers. Over 20 mpg I recall.
There was one journey which was very busy during the summer and that was the 15:00hrs to Betws and Cwm Penmachno. There would sometimes be people hanging out of the door leaving Llanrwst.
Some of them later made their way to Liverpool and the drivers used to refer to them having Welsh gearboxes.

Mike Lambden

15/08/13 – 07:00

Re Patrick Hall’s comment (Hi! Pat haven’t spoken for a while) Many years ago I was totally confused by one driver at Minehead, Western National, who referred to the climbing abilities of the ‘David Browns’ they had – and there are some real hills around here!! To me a David Brown was a tractor and it took me some while to fathom out that he was talking about the SU’s, being a clever clogs teenager it was beneath me to ask – oh how I wish I had asked more questions of the old drivers.

David Grimmett

15/08/13 – 11:56

On the subject of David Brown gearboxes, the six speed type used on lorries caught out many a driver until they got used to them. It was a normal left to right ‘H’ layout 1/4, but 5/6 were the other way round, so you went round the gate from 4 to 5, then forward for 6
        1 3 6
    R 2 4 5

Ronnie Hoye

24/04/14 – 09:31

I’ve got many fond memories of Crosville from the early 70s as a teenager spending a weeks camping trip at school near Beddgelert, I distinctly remember after all these years seeing srg1/3 and 5 in the area plus the then new Bristol LH’s, I also sneaked off to Caernarfon to visit the depot but can’t remember what was allocated there as my records have been long lost, also remember seeing a few FLF’s at Rhyl and a few RE’s/MWs? On the road bus spotting at London Victoria I always kept a sharp eye out for any CRL’s, I always thought they looked superb in the Crosville cream/green livery. As a midlander brought up on Midland Red I have to say Crosville was right up there and visiting nth Wales now has a little something missing, still got the great memories tho!


803 FFM_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

24/11/14 – 06:37

I’ve only just caught up with this posting from three years ago. Ieuan Williams asks if there are any old drivers from Crosville in North Wales still out here. I was a driver at Caernarfon Depot from 1977 to 1986 and remember Ieuan very well. I would love to get in touch with him through this site!

Don McKeown


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