Blue Bus Services
Daimler Freeline CD650H
Burlingham Seagull C37F
The above photograph was given to me by the ex Blue Bus Inspector the late Ken Baker, when I worked for Derby Borough Transport, and was in charge of the Blue Bus operation at Willington, before the fire.
He had no idea where it was taken, but he thought it was in the Derbyshire Peak District somewhere, where as I thought it was in Yorkshire. Perhaps somebody will be able to identify the location?
120 JRB was unusual for a 30ft – long coach in that it was only fitted with 37 seats, the usual maximum being 41. Contemporary reports state that it was fitted with translucent panelling which could be lifted for ventilation. It was also fitted with an air operated pre-selector gearbox, and it was reported that it could travel at 55mph.
This coach was the first vehicle to carry the “Wings” emblem in place of the “Blue Bus Services” fleet name. If anybody is interested I have a Blue Bus Services page on my website, which can be found at this link.
I hope someone comes up with the location of 120 JRB.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Stephen Howarth
19/12/11 – 11:06
Good picture, possibly taken in Wirksworth, Derbyshire.
19/12/11 – 14:21
You have set us a teaser as to where this is! The pale grey stone suggests that it is in the southern part of the Peak District- but where is/was there a Natwest Bank? Wirksworth doesn’t look right on Google Earth- goldish stone & brick- & has a big Natwest: this is/was a part time branch. I wondered about Youlgreave…..
19/12/11 – 17:19
Joe, Youlgeave (Pommy) hasn’t had a Natwest Bank, the stone is similar to both in fact all of the Peak District.
20/12/11 – 06:50
Well the few bits that I can add having worked for National Provincial and later National Westminster Bank are that the picture was taken after February 1971 and the size of the Branch would suggest that it was an "Agency" open one/two days per week. These were attached to and run by much larger Branches so that would seem to indicate that it is not too far from a large town or city. Oh that I had my old Sorting Code book because with a bit of work you could eliminate possibilities using Google Earth! Sadly, we always had to destroy them.
I’ve just researched Pateley Bridge because the road layout at the top of the hill is similar but the Bank is Barclays and too far around the bend. So not much help but any old Yorkshire/Derbyshire Bankers out there might get closer.
20/12/11 – 06:51
A flash of inspiration suggested Bonsall. Have a look at Google maps. I think the picture was taken from an upstairs window of the Kings Head, looking down Yeoman Street. The end of the cottage in the distance is fairly distinctive.
20/12/11 – 09:29
Well done Stephen- it is indeed: Yeoman St Bonsall. The shops have been prettified into houses and the bank is no more but looks much the same. The pub car park, probably once some cottages, has been improved: in fact the whole place looks smarter. It is possible that the pic was taken from the memorial plinth, but it was probably higher.
I’ll stick to my guns, though, Roger, on the stone: it was always noticeable that the stone changed going south from squarish often goldish stones to this pale grey rubbley stuff, often found around those tiny sheep fields/pens. Compare say Baslow with here.
20/12/11 – 10:21
I wonder were the coach is heading as the road out of Bonsal towards Brightgate is very narrow.
20/12/11 – 11:24
My guess would be that it was either a trip to view the well-dressings (July) or a pub visit at the end of an organised sightseeing tour. Roger is right, Bonsall was the end of the line for buses (and still is). At the time it was North Western territory with a fairly regular service from Matlock, nowadays G & J Holmes and an hourly service during the day on weekdays.
20/12/11 – 12:27
An amazing flash of inspiration, Stephen; I can’t fault it. Think of the chances that, from such a small group as us, someone would triumph! You shall have a gold star!
20/12/11 – 14:24
O come on, Chris. There’s some shared brain power among us – and we’re probably all getting on a little bit now!
Coming from the Peak District end of Sheffield, the whole PD is my (favoured) stomping ground. Now exiled in the south, Bonsall was a regular part of run out in the car I did when visiting aged (now dead) parents. I only ever went UP hill from Cromford and never had the perspective of this photo – looking down.
21/12/11 – 07:21
While it’s true that there are some widely-travelled folk amongst us, it still surprises me how many questions thrown at the website are answered. I’ll compromise by awarding Stephen only a silver star, then – okay?
21/12/11 – 07:22
I’ve played around on Streetview, and if you paste this link into your browser, you can see the scene as it is today when map loades drag and drop the little orange man to the Kings head at this Google maps link.
21/12/11 – 08:56
Hy Hulley, now there’s a name from the Peak District, nearly had the variety of vehicles of Barton, some out of COF vehicles would be parked on open land opposite the garage in Baslow, now luxury flats are parked there ! The business is still operating as Hulley under the Woolicrofts ownership ex Silver Service of Darley Dale. In the 1978 Busus annual there is a good article on Peak District operators from the 30’s.
21/12/11 – 08:57
Scrooge! I didn’t mean that Stephen didn’t deserve the Gold Star – I’ll reinstate it and take this opportunity to say Happy Christmas to ALL friends on this wonderful site.
21/12/11 – 11:41
………and I’ll second that, a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all.
21/12/11 – 12:03
That must have been one of the last Freelines built – also one of the last Daimler 10.6 litre engines. Wonder if Blue Bus managed to acquire a stock chassis at a knock down price for being a loyal Daimler customer? The steering wheel position in the Freeline always looks too high although presumably the drivers seat was similarly raised to achieve the required min 6"/max 10" clearance between the top of the seat cushion and the underside of the steering wheel rim required by the Conditions of Fitness Regulations.
21/12/11 – 13:50
When I said inspiration, I didn’t mean the miraculous sort (or sticking a pin in a map at random either)! I was just thinking of places I have visited that might fit, then checking them in Google. Roger mentioned Brightgate just to the north of Bonsall, and we have in fact camped in a very old static caravan at Brightgate farm a few times. Even in the prettified state that Joe referred to, Bonsall is a grey village and can look a bit dreary in anything less than brilliant sunshine. I think my inspiration was along the lines of "it looks grey enough to be Bonsall!"
21/12/11 – 14:55
Stephen, The Barley Mow on the Slaley Rd out of Bonsall is a very good watering hole which has recently changed hands, good beer and food.
22/12/11 – 06:32
It certainly wasn’t one of the last Freelines, I’m not sure when production officially ceased but Great Yarmouth took some in 1964 with ‘B’ registrations. It would have been, however, one of the very last Burlingham Seagull’s to the original design. By no means a unique combination and yes, all of them appeared to have very high steering wheel positions, what is not immediately apparent is that this one had three long panoramic windows on each side and one piece windscreens, not the horizontally divided opening type. I think Yelloway had some to this diagram also. Delivered in June 1959 only just in time for that years summer, I think that was the last season of this particular shape. If Blue Bus had waited till the following year, they could have had the Seagull 70 body, now that would have been a unique combination!
22/12/11 – 06:33
With Streetview you can actually get a link for the exact view you want rather than the map. Here it is: http://g.co/maps/gysy4
Hulleys are indeed still operating, but I’ll have to look up their history. I think the link with Wooliscroft/Silver Service was short-lived and they had to be rescued by someone else.
22/12/11 – 07:46
If what Chris says is true, then that would indeed make it the Seagull VII and 1959 was about as late as you could get.
I know Hulley’s became independent of Wooliscroft but have no idea of the eventual (current) ownership. Some hazy reflection puts them back into the Hulley family but I could never swear to this.
23/12/11 – 06:52
There is a history of Hulleys on their website http://www.hulleys-of-baslow.co.uk/ which explains everything. The fleet now looks very smart in a dignified blue and cream livery which was originally inspired by second hand purchases from South Notts.
23/12/11 – 06:53
I am pretty sure the Great Yarmouth Freelines were the last, certainly for the home market. They were bought while Geoffrey Hilditch was the General Manager, a man who had very firm ideas on bus purchasing and as an engineer tended to go for high specification designs on the grounds they gave better pay-back in the long term. He took these principles to Halifax and then Leicester where he subsequently held the GM posts.
It always seemed strange to me that while Daimler were very successful with their double deck designs, eg the CVG and the Fleetline, they were never as successful with single deckers. The Freeline was a well engineered chassis but on the heavy and expensive side at a time when the industry was moving to lighter weight and lower cost. The subsequent Roadliner seemed to be a disaster from the start.
23/12/11 – 06:55
Premier Travel and Valliant of Ealing were also customers for the Seagull Mk VII, amongst others. The first Mk VII, on Leyland Tiger Cub chassis, appeared at the 1958 Commercial Motor Show in Seagull Coaches of Blackpool livery, just like the original Seagull at the 1950 show. Several of the Valliant examples plus all four Yelloway examples ended up with Premier Travel, joining the one they bought new, which made Premier Travel the largest operator of the type. Burlingham’s offering for underfloor engined coaches in 1960 remained the Seagull Mk VII, the Seagull 70 only appearing for the 1961 season, ie a year later than the similarly styled Seagull 60 for forward engined chassis appeared.
23/12/11 – 12:15
I made several journeys in the Gt. Yarmouth Freelines in the early seventies when they were on hire to Eastern Counties and they were very pleasant vehicles to ride in – a sort of up market Bristol MW. I believe Yarmouth had a good line in hiring them to coach operators whose vehicles had broken down in the area.
24/12/11 – 06:46
The only time I ever saw the Great Yarmouth Freelines was at Huntingdon St Bus Station, Nottingham in the mid sixties. One would sometimes appear as a summer Saturday extra on Trent’s Great Yarmouth service. At this time, Trent often hired in Norfolk Motor Services coaches as required – presumably the Freeline was part of this arrangement?
11/08/12 – 07:32
Belated update on 120 JRB (have only just discovered your site) – am most impressed by how quickly the location of this shot was nailed down, incidentally! Lovely image of what was – arguably – the final Daimler-engined Freeline (Burwell & District had the other such chassis that could make the same claim to fame). The lack of window-pillars made quite a visual difference, certainly in the flesh.
Stephen asks if anyone knows the whereabouts of Dr 18: am guessing we know of her early years in preservation and subsequent re-emergence in a Barnsley scrapyard (what DID happen, though?) – since then, Dr 18 has covered quite a few miles, changing hands along the way several times, until (last I heard) she was in a barn near Uttoxeter with several other vehicles (so, not far from her Willington home) awaiting her turn for restoration. Somewhere, I have two or three colour shots of her in this location. If and when I find them, I’ll scan and submit.
Would LOVE to meet up with Dr 18 again though, so if anyone has more recent info (I’m going back at least half-a-dozen years, via a contact)…
13/10/15 – 06:20
Some 3 years on since the "turn" comment (11/08/12), the vehicle is still in the same shed in the same condition. Would feel that restoration really quite unlikely now.
07/12/15 – 06:15
Freeline 120 JRB is indeed located near Uttoxeter together with CD650 SRB 425 and is owned by Mr Andy Mould. It is indeed the only ‘complete’ surviving Freeline in GB and is well worthy of restoration. It is mechanically sound but does need a full body restoration. It is now unique.
02/08/16 – 17:27
How nice to hear this coach has been preserved. The last I heard was that it was rotting in a scrapyard in the Bradford area.
I was Youth Club Leader at Stretton Church during the 1960`s (Stretton being on the Blue Bus service route)
We had a"Blackpool Trip" every year in September and would always ask for this coach known as "Daimler 18" because our coach enthusiasts liked the sound of the powerful Daimler engine and the hissing of the air operated clutch.
I have a painting of 120 JRB standing outside Repton Church.
I remember we paid less than £1 per person for the coach (out for 20 hours on a 240 mile round trip) and a ticket to see Cliff Richard in Blackpool plus a tour of the illuminations.
We also asked for "Frank". one of Blue Buses`s young drivers.
Those were the days !!
Vehicle reminder shot for this posting
17/08/16 – 09:56
I was kind of hoping you might shed some light on the whole Seagull Mk7 history as I am the owner of Blue Bus Dr18 120 JRB I can find very little other history on this period of Burlinghams activity and just wondered how many ‘plastic pigs’ were built, the body panelled entirely in fibreglass providing all the outline with a straight framed body must have been a brave step and taken a lot of development, although far from their finest hour, having restored BMS 415 many years ago I can fully appreciate how good they could be and 120 JRB is far from that build quality even evident after many years.
So I would be keen on know just how many were built I am aware of 999 EAE was 7 body numbers apart but I am told two of those numbers were allocated but never used.
Any information would be gratefully received.
18/08/16 – 06:48
Reference comment of Andy Mould 17/08/16. his restored coach BMS 415.
Behind CFK 340 is BMS 415 returning from Manchester Museum 3rd of April 1982 location of photo is unknown any detail be gratefully accepted.