Old Bus Photos

Aldershot & District – Dennis Lancet – LAA 228 – 193

LAA 228

Aldershot & District Traction Co
Dennis Lancet III J10C
Strachan FC38R

In 1948, Aldershot & District took delivery of fifteen Dennis Lancet J3 coaches with Strachans C32R bodies. These replaced the externally very similar Lancet II/Strachans C32R vehicles of 1937-38, the main difference being the longer bonnet of the Lancet III which housed the 7.58 litre O6 in place of the 6.5 litre O4 in the pre war model. These post war machines were very fine coaches giving a high standard of refinement. The 24 valve, wet liner, O6 engine was probably the smoothest running diesel engine of all time, and, coupled with the Dennis ‘O’ type five speed gearbox, it was capable of excellent performance on the road. However, by the early 1950s, the traditional half cab, heavy duty, front engined coach was regarded as passé in major fleets, having been supplanted by the fashionably new underfloor engined machine. Even small independents had begun taking the superficially more modern Bedford SB. In 1950, Aldershot & District bought one of the only two Dennis Dominants ever completed (a third was constructed in chassis form only and subsequently dismantled), but had been obliged to look elsewhere for an underfloor engined chassis when Dennis decided not to produce that model in quantity. In 1953, wishing to upgrade its image, but still undecided about the underfloor configuration, Aldershot & District tried out a number of underfloor engined machines from a variety of manufacturers – Guy (Arab LUF), Atkinson (PM 744 & 745), Leyland (Tiger Cub) and Dennis (Lancet UF). Surprisingly, in view of later developments, AEC was not represented in these trials. The story of the Aldershot and District demonstrators may be found at this link.
Instead the company sought to update the coach fleet with 15 full fronted examples of the 30 feet long and 8 feet wide J10C Lancet, with Strachan FC38R bodywork, Nos.188-202, LAA 223-237. These were attractive coaches of traditional appearance, though the effect was spoiled slightly by the cheap looking wire mesh grille, the apparent frailty of which seemed to to be endorsed by the dents that it soon acquired in service. Like all Lancets, these coaches were excellent, smooth running, reliable machines, though the drivers’ cabs reputedly became unpleasantly hot, particularly so in the summer months. Aware that these coaches presented an outdated image in a world increasingly dominated by modern, underfloor engined vehicles, Aldershot & District succumbed in 1954 to the lure of the AEC Reliance, purchasing twenty-five examples of the MU3RV model with the 6.75 litre AH410 engine. Angular Strachans Everest C41C bodies were fitted with a high floor level and corresponding waistline. The arrival of the Reliances resulted in the relegation of the full fronted Lancets from regular express work to other duties, and they were all withdrawn in 1963 after a relatively short life of ten years. In the photograph, taken at Victoria in 1960, No.193, LAA 228, its windscreen significantly open wide, is laying over in the company of one of the Strachans bodied Reliances. Behind is LCD 857, one of Southdown’s Beadle rebuilds with FC35C bodywork, 30ft long and 8ft wide on 7ft 6ins chassis sections. This coach was constructed using the units of pre war Leyland Tiger TS8 EUF 96, and retained the 8.6 litre oil engine. Like the full fronted Aldershot & District Lancets, this vehicle (and its fellows) was sold in 1963.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

04/11/19 – 06:15

How surprising in 1953 for such buses/coaches to be delivered to a "substantial" company? Times had already moved on e.g. Ribble with its Leyland/Leyland coaches in 1951 and Tilling with the LS/ECW "beauties" in 1952. A nice story Roger, thank you.

Stuart Emmett

05/11/19 – 06:12

SOU 446

This picture, taken in 1961 in The Grove alongside Aldershot Bus Station – now long gone, the current bus station is a pitiful apology of a facility – shows the Winchester outstation based 1958 Dennis Loline I 338, SOU 446, with East Lancashire H37/31RD body, passing a pair of the fine 1948 Lancet III coaches with Strachans C32R bodies; these were displaced by the 1953 full fronted machines from express duties to private hire and excursion work. 984 GAA 620 and its fellow fourteen coaches were all withdrawn in the year of the photograph, 1961; the Loline survived in A&D service for a further ten years.

Roger Cox

08/11/19 – 10:27

Full-fronted Lancet J10C has thankfully been in preservation for some years. There remains work to be done before we see its welcome appearance at rallies. Thanks, Roger, for the mid-’50s demonstrators link: before reading Eric Nixon’s piece I had no idea how many types had been assessed. The Atkinson is my biggest surprise! But I still can’t help wishing that, like East Kent, they had gone for underfloor Lancets.

Ian Thompson

11/11/19 – 07:09

I think the half cab Lancet III in Roger’s second photo looks much better than this last fling from 1953. Obviously an additional window bay has been inserted to achieve the extra length but it causes the body to droop excessively towards the rear giving a strangely unbalanced look. The side flash doesn’t help either!

Chris Barker


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S Bingley – Dennis Lancet – CRE 938

CRE 938
Copyright Unknown

S Bingley (Hemsworth)
Dennis Lancet I
Willowbrook C37F

Dennis Lancet I, chassis number 171027, was bodied by Willowbrook (2830) and seated thirty-seven passengers. It was new in 1935 and was operated by Associated Bus Companies Ltd (formed in 1928 of several local independents) prior to the acquisition of that company by Potteries Motor Traction in 1944. PMT withdrew it from service in 1946 and in April that year it was with S.Bingley, Hemsworth, eventually scrapped by Crossroads Commercials of Leeds in May 1956.
Did S Bingley have any connection with W R & P Bingley of United Services?

Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson

13/07/15 – 06:23

Given that the most common capacities of the time seem to have been 33 seats in coaches and 35 in single deck buses, 37 coach seats must have been very cramped!

Chris Barker

13/07/15 – 17:01

These Lancet I’s suffered from very heavy-looking radiator shells, unlike the equivalent 1935 Lance rads. It rather spolit the look of them.

Chris Hebbron

13/07/15 – 17:01

Perhaps the cramped seating was one reason why Potteries withdrew an eleven year-old vehicle at a time of severe post-war vehicle shortages? The driving cab also looks very fore-shortened leaving the front of the bonnet some way ahead of it.

David Wragg

15/07/15 – 05:59

I, too, am surprised by the large seating capacity. The Lancet I, which appeared on the market in 1931, had a very bulky and deep radiator shell that was shared by the heavier Dennis haulage models of that time, and the cab front was set behind this cowl. The front wings were swept forward in a manner later adopted by wartime Guy Arabs, and these ‘extensions’ were joined across the front by a kind of bumper bar. All this space inefficient front end had to be accommodated within the overall length of 27ft 6ins, which did not allow for a great capacity within the rest of the bodywork. The later Lancet II of 1935 remedied this shortcoming by having a very slim radiator shell mounted at the extreme front, and this was offset to the nearside to maximise driving cab space. Lancet IIs could be fitted with bodywork seating up to 39 passengers. The Lancet I and II were powered by the Dennis 6.79 litre ‘Big Four’ petrol engine that could be rated up to 97 bhp, a very compact and reliable design employing wet cylinder liners. Versions fitted with the ‘O’ type five speed gearbox could attain 58 mph, so the petrol Lancet was no sluggard. From 1934 the advanced O4 diesel was offered as an option in the Lancet II.

Roger Cox

15/07/15 – 15:25

I’d noticed to ‘Guy’ likeness to the wings, myself, Roger.
Pre-war wet-liner engines never seemed to suffer from the same problems as post-war ones did.

Chris Hebbron

15/07/15 – 19:07

You’re referring to the AEC wet liner debacle, Chris. AEC never did solve its wet liner problems, but the responsibility lay with the Southall firm, not with the wet liner concept. Dennis were engineers of a very high order, and knew how to get it right. The post war Dennis O6 diesel, like the earlier O4, was a wet liner engine with the timing gears situated at the rear of the crankcase, yet both of these design features were regarded with disfavour in some quarters following the shortcomings of AEC (wet liners) and Daimler and Meadows (rear timing gears). The Dennis O4 and O6 also employed four valves per cylinder, the only British production engines to be so equipped. The O6 was an outstanding engine, and installed in the Lancet III, was taken up enthusiastically by many small independent operators who valued its total dependability, notwithstanding its advanced specification.

Roger Cox

16/07/15 – 05:38

Amazing that AEC never cured the liner problem.
Renault cars in the 60/70’s had wet liners and I had two cars with them, as did a friend. They were no problem, but the timing chains were another thing. Poor tensioners and these were rear engines put at the front, so that the timing chains were then at the back. My friend with a Renault 16 cut a hole in the front bulkhead to sort out his, then put a plate back over the hole! Post-war Daimler bus also had rear timing chains, difficult to access without removing the engine. The few D’s with them were removed and replaced by surplus AEC 7.7’s within five years.

Chris Hebbron

18/07/15 – 06:23

An early Lancet I, albeit a Short B32F bodied bus rather than a coach, has, thankfully, been preserved. It was new, probably in 1932, to Smith’s of Westoning in Bedfordshire, a firm taken over by Seamarks of Dunstable. In June 1937 it was sold to K W Services, Daventry who ran it until 1944. In 1946 it became a caravan at Snodland in Kent until 1974 when it was bought for preservation. Apparently, this bus still has no electric starter, and has to be swung by hand! A picture may be found here:- https://www.flikr.com/photos/cheltonian1966/19456538949/

Roger Cox

18/07/15 – 06:24

It would appear that S Bingley died in 1968 and the firm was taken over by Pembertons coaches. There seems to have been an approach by W. R & P Bingley for a license to run some of the coach excursions. However the Traffic Commisioners refused the application due to the fact Pembertons were in final talks with Mr Bingleys widow to take over the coach company. Further information is listed on: http://archive.commercialmotor.com/
Pemberton who were based at Upton nr Pontefract I think were absorbed into Welsh’s Coaches who operate from the same depot.

Brian Lunn

20/07/15 – 09:48

Thanks for that link Brian. I guess there was no existing family link or Pembertons would not have got a foot in the door in the first place.

Les Dickinson

16/12/15 – 07:27

Further to Chris Hebbron’s reference to timing chains at the rear of the Daimler CD6 and CD650 engines, that’s not the case, like the Dennis O6 and I believe the Meadows 6DC630 the timing was supplied by a gear train, there is further detail in ‘A Further Look At Buses’ by G. G.Hillditch.

Stephen Allcroft

17/12/15 – 07:39

Gardner’s 15.5 litre 6LYT engine broke new ground for the Company in having a rear-mounted timing gear train, rather than Gardner’s traditional triplex timing chain mounted at the front. The Leyland 500-Series engines as fitted to the Leyland National I, New Zealand Bristol RELLs and quite a number of Bristol VRT3s also had rear-mounted timing gear trains.

Brendan Smith

The preserved Smith’s of Westoning Lancet is now fitted with an electric starter. My 1935 ex-Southern Vectis one was always fitted with a starter but one should not over-estimate their effectiveness. They would start a vehicle with a warm engine, maybe even one that had had been garaged overnight, but were never suitable for a completely cold start. For that you needed somebody in the cab and somebody helping on the handle. I have seen other marques of vehicle that were similar.
For the record there is of course no such thing as a "Lancet 1" – in their time they were just "Lancet". The assumed designation only came about when the Mk2 arrived.

John H

25/06/17 – 09:26

Yes, the original Lancet was just that, like the original Arab, Regent and Regal, and, in the private car world, the Cortina amongst many others. The retrospective application of the appellation ‘1’ or ‘Mark 1’ does clarify the model being discussed. I suppose that, if one wished to be totally accurate, the term ‘1935 Lancet’ should be employed here, but that wouldn’t work either because the Lancet II came out in that same year. Adopting the form Lancet (1), Regal (1) etc seems unnecessarily pedantic to my mind. I should think that only in the military aircraft field would ‘Mark 1’ be used from the start, and then not always.

Roger Cox


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East Kent – Dennis Lancet UF – HJG 3

East Kent - Dennis Lancet UF - HJG 3

East Kent Road Car Co Ltd
Dennis Lancet UF
Duple C41C

This photo taken on Margate seafront in about 1966 shows HJG 3 numerically the first of a batch of 30 Dennis Lancet UF’s fitted with Duple Ambassador C41C bodies delivered to East Kent in 1954 these made up the largest fleet of Lancet UF’s in the country. Looking at this photo again recently I thought how the elegant simplicity of both the coachwork and the superb East Kent livery set one another off beautifully, on the Lancet the windscreens were set lower than on the contemporary Royal Tiger’s and Regal IV’s due to the Lancet’s lower driving position which also made the skylights above the screens more upright also the cab windows and the pillar behind the cab was a different shape.
I feel that the Lancet UF deserved more success than it achieved but obviously it did not appeal to those then all powerful figures the Fleet Engineers who didn’t like some aspects of the specification.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

31/10/13 – 07:31

Rather like Leyland in the dark, dark days of British Leyland you feel in your guts that you ought to, that you want to like/support Dennis. Many the reputable operator ran Lances, Lancet(tte)s and, of course, Lolines. Glenton ran the last "batch" of Lancet UFs with Plaxton Panorama bodywork – another class act. Often, specifications were good – just quirky and unproven (not necessarily bad and unreliable). Fodens had this problem. I’m no great lover of the Javelin – I prefer heavyweights – but it was a solid workhorse in the style of Bedford and Ford. I did, however, take a Dennis R420 to the South of France one summer. With its ZF AStronic gearbox (and a bit of imagination!) you could call it a cheap GB Setra. Being very much a Setra man, I can say that the R420 was one of the best/nicest coaches I have ever driven. It never took off because it didn’t have Volvo Assist to back it up if it broke down. [My experience of Volvo Assist is that it wasn’t missing much.] So I can support Roger to the hilt. The R series should have been a success, it wasn’t Dennis’s fault it wasn’t – and I’m sure the same was true of the Lancet UF.

David Oldfield

31/10/13 – 15:52

Newport Corporation ran some Lancet UFs but most were bodied as coaches, weren’t they?

Geoff Kerr

01/11/13 – 08:18

Newport Corporation took 12 Lancet UF in two batches. In his book "Dennis Buses in Camera" Robin Hannay says that the first 4 had bus bodies but makes no comment about the second batch although in the picture it appears that they have bus seating. All bodies were built by D J Davies a local coach operator and Dennis agent.


01/11/13 – 08:20

I have always admired these East Kent Lancet UF coaches. East Kent took a total of thirty of these machines, the biggest single order that Dennis received for the Lancet UF. Registered HGF 2 to 32, they all had the stylish Duple Ambassador IV bodywork, the first six being C32C and the remainder C41C. The low driving position of the Lancet UF was incorporated very successfully into the design, and the result was a classic to my eye. East Kent were dedicated Dennis users in the pre and early post WW2 period, and my very first experience as a small boy of the Guildford marque came about in 1947-49 with rides on the Lancet II buses, with their distinctive O4 engines, between Faversham and Herne Bay. Until the advent of the Dart and its derivatives, the vertical engined Lancet was Dennis’s most successful passenger type, and the firm must have hoped that the underfloor engined model would have captured at least some of the market. In fact, the total production of the Lancet UF came to 71, the last being delivered to Glenton Tours in 1961. Several reasons may be offered for this, but reliability was certainly not a factor. East Kent, for example, kept their Lancet UFs for around 17 years. Some of the problems lay with the Dennis design which included features that some bus company engineers viewed with caution. These included the low driving position (the ultimate industry acceptance of which Dennis anticipated by about twenty years) and the high pressure hydraulic braking system that, London Transport’s Routemaster excepted, never became popular. The Dennis ‘O’ type gearbox was an idiosyncratic affair that had sliding mesh (i.e true crash rather than constant mesh) engagement of the four lower gears, fourth being direct drive. To add to the fun, the gearstick operated the "wrong way round", upwards from right to left. Fifth gear was an overdrive with preselective engagement/disengagement using Maybach design principles. To engage fifth, the gear lever was pushed at any time from fourth position to the left and forward, but nothing happened until the accelerator and clutch were released to allow the revs to die. Then, releasing the clutch and applying the throttle would find the overdrive engaged. To disengage fifth, the stick would be moved back into fourth position at any time, and to actuate the system, the clutch had to be dipped and the engine blipped to raise the revs. Releasing the clutch pedal again would find fourth gear engaged. In the front engined Lancet, the proximity of the engine and gearbox to the driver allowed clean gear changes to be made by ear. In the UF, the remote location of the gearbox halfway down the chassis made this rather more difficult. Later models of the Lancet UF had the 8 litre rather than the 7.58 litre version of the O6 engine and a Meadows gearbox. When UF production finally finished, so did the manufacture of the O6, the last engine in the Dennis range to be offered. Thereafter, the firm used proprietary units. In the mid 1950s the BET group concentrated its purchasing upon AEC and Leyland products, and most other manufacturers of entirely acceptable machinery, including Dennis, were excluded from the ‘approved list’. Dennis tried again to enter the underfloor bus/coach market with the Pelican in 1956, which had the Dennis 92 bhp 5.5 litre engine and a conventional Meadows five speed constant mesh gearbox. The prototype made many demonstration tours, but the supremacy of AEC and Leyland in declining market conditions deterred the Guildford company from putting the Pelican into production. Yet again, however, the reliability of this unique machine was unquestionable. It ran for many years, first with Yellow Bus of Guildford, and finally with Chiltern Queens of Woodcote. More about the characteristics of the Lancet UF may be found on this site:- www.dennissociety.org.uk/nl/lancetuf.html

Roger Cox

01/11/13 – 14:02

Paragon – thanks, I meant to say "most others", i.e. other than Newport’s. I know there’s a preserved Brutonian vehicle and Aldershot & District had at least one with a bus body.

Geoff Kerr

01/11/13 – 17:57

As has been stated elsewhere on this site, Dennis Lancet UF KOT 600 was never owned by Aldershot and District. The confusion arises because the vehicle was painted in A&D livery and given the fleet number 187, but it remained the property of the manufacturer. It was operated on hire from Dennis from 1st February to 30 November 1953, after which it was returned to the Guildford factory. It subsequently went to Simmonds of Great Gonerby, near Grantham, and then to Cullings of Norwich who eventually passed it on to Blue Bus of Slough. At some stage in its life its Strachans B41R body was rebuilt with a front entrance. Aldershot and District went over to the AEC Reliance for its single deck requirements.

Roger Cox

03/11/13 – 09:02

"Somerset’s Buses" by Laurie James (Tempus 2004) is the source of much useful information concerning the Lancet UFs belonging to Hutchings and Cornelius of which the Brutonian example mentioned above is one. H&C were Dennis users for many years and in 1957 took 3 UFs YYB 117/8/9.117 was DP40F and the other 2 were B42F. All had full service lives. 118 ended up with Brutonian but the interesting thing is that 119 is shown as passing to a Preservation Group in Guildford in September 1973. Where is it now?


10/11/13 – 17:17

I had a close relationship with the East Kent UFs when they were used on contract services at Dover Eastern Docks providing a road link from ships and hovercraft to Dover Priory railway station in the 1969 -1971 period. I can vouch for what Roger Cox says about the potential difficulties posed by the remote gearbox, the long linkages and the unconventional gate. I can remember even experienced drivers stirring the long gear lever to find what they were looking for. In spite of being in their late teens at the end at the time they presented a modern image alongside the new hovercraft, and dare I say it they were more reliable than an SRN4! Just worth noting that the East Kent fleet was HJG 3 – HJG 32, slightly different from the numbers in Roger’s comment.

Mike Harvey

11/11/13 – 15:14

Roger – When I was young, about four times a year, I’d get an A&D Lance from Woking to St. Peter’s Hospital, near Chertsey and would try and sit in the nearside/offside downstairs front seat and observe the driver. It was quite some time before I worked out how that Dennis ‘O’ gearbox worked and the strange ‘U’ movement by the driver, with no change in engine note at that moment. I was quite used to preselective methods with the LTE Daimlers around Morden, but a crash gearbox with pre-selective overdrive; egad; that was quite another thing! That whole area was also interesting in that you would have London Country and A&D buses popping in and out of turnings all over. Interesting times.

Chris Hebbron

14/11/13 – 06:00

Paragon enquires what became of YYB 119 once listed as preserved? A previous owner of now preserved YYB 118 told me that circa 1984 he had located 119 laid up behind a pub in the Guildford area. Photographs show that it was in fairly poor order, blocked up with a missing front wheel and a large pile of scaffolding stacked against one side. Despite enquiries no one could be found who knew anything about it and when he returned at a later date it had gone. And as far as I am aware, it has never been seen since. Attemps to trace members of "The Guildford LU2 Group" have been equally negative.

Nick Webster

15/11/13 – 06:25

Chris, the Lance K3 was a remarkable machine, with its free running 7.58 litre 24 valve O6 engine, giving (unlike the optimistic claims of contemporary Crossley and Daimler engines, both of which had a litre greater capacity) a genuine 100 bhp, and this was coupled to the ‘O’ type gearbox with its preselective overdrive fifth gear. It was probably the fastest double decker of its time. In an age when the legal maximum speed for a psv was 30 mph, it always amused me to read the plate on the internal cab bonnet side of the Aldershot and District Lances and Lancets – "Do not engage fifth gear below 30 mph". In my own experience, sadly only as a passenger, the drivers certainly complied, and these machines spent much of their time in overdrive. To the best of my knowledge, the A&D timetables of the 1960s did not differ greatly in terms of running time from those of the late 1950s. One had to drive a Loline pretty hard to get to Petersfield on time from Guildford or Aldershot, so the old 30mph limit must have been regularly observed in the breach.

Roger Cox

16/11/13 – 11:30

About,1963 I took a return journey from Portsmouth to Milford, swapping from Southdown to A&D at Petersfield.
The Southdown, from memory, was one of the East Lancs PD2/12 registration RUF ###’s, but the A&D was a Loline; interesting, but not a Lance, to my eternal regret Roger, on that challenging route.

Chris Hebbron

HJG 3 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

28/07/18 – 06:29

It’s confession time – I was the "Guildford LU2 Group" After my initial attempt at vehicle preservation (OWB GCV 623) failed with the vehicle being vandalised on a farm in Elstead, I tried again with YYB 119 which I bought directly from H & C and drove home. Sadly, after securing a parking space next to a pub in Witley, I tried to get an MOT and needed to replace the kingpins, something which I was unable to do. Having run out of money and enthusiasm, I am ashamed to say that the bus was abandoned and I suspect that the kindly publican probably sold it for scrap. My next foray into bus ownership was the purchase of VCH 172 from Tillingbourne which I operated as KRC Coaches (Later to become Surreyways).

Hans Retallick


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