Old Bus Photos

United Services – Dennis Loline Mk I – SOU 473

United Service - Dennis Loline Mk I - SOU 473
Copyright John Stringer

United Services
Dennis Loline MkI 6LW
East Lancs. H37/31RD

One of a batch of 34 Lolines delivered to Aldershot & District in 1958 numbered 336-369 (SOU 445-477), SOU 473 was withdrawn by them in 1969. It was then bought by W. R. & P. Bingley of Kinsley, who along with Cooper’s of South Elmsall and Everett’s of South Kirkby traded under the name ‘United Services’. It is pictured here resting at Bingley’s Upton depot in April 1973.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

13/02/13 – 04:47

SOU 473_2

Here is a photograph of this bus when in service with its original owner, Aldershot and District. It is seen in Farnham Road bus station, Guildford in 1961. The Aldershot fleet was generally impeccably turned out, so that the tree damage to the front dome is surprising. The Loline I was a close copy of the Bristol LD Lodekka, but axles, clutch and gearbox were all of Dennis design. Unlike the Lodekka, the Loline always had a full air braking system. These Lolines were thoroughbreds to drive, better in every respect, in my estimation, to the Leyland PD2 and PD3, and the AEC Regent V machines that I had encountered at Halifax. Though equipped with the modestly powerful Gardner 6LW, which A&D rated at the full manufacturer’s setting, they were good performers, and, with a top speed touching 50 mph, quite fast for the time (1958) when they were introduced (and when the legal maximum speed for a PSV was 30 mph). The high quality East Lancs bodywork completed the specification of a supremely capable and reliable bus.

Roger Cox

13/02/13 – 04:50

Just between duties or withdrawn? Certainly not the pristine condition one normally associated with her original owner!

Pete Davies

13/02/13 – 14:43

I suppose that replacing a dented panel or wing to maintain standards of presentation was one thing, but straightening out a roof dome once battered by trees would be rather a big job – time consuming and therefore expensive, and the chances were that once done there was a distinct likely hood of it returning again with the same problem soon after.

John Stringer

15/02/13 – 12:06

Good to see these pictures of a superbly well-proportioned bus with, as Roger points out, first-rate innards to match. And if the 6LW was modestly-powered on paper, 112GHP (Gardner horsepower) was worth 125 of anyone else’s. Two of this batch fortunately survive: SOU 465, a regular attender at events, and SOU 456, still under restoration.
I prefer the Loline I radiator-grille shape to the later square-with-rounded-corners design.
I’ve got a Loline maintenance manual with sectional drawings of a bewildering variety of alternative gearboxes. Apparently they even offered a six-speed version, which I’m sure was never fitted to a production bus. I’ll post them here soon.

Ian Thompson

15/02/13 – 17:07

Ian, your extensive knowledge of, and fellow enthusiasm for Dennis machinery is very welcome on this site. I certainly never knew that a six speed option was available for the Loline. That would have given a 6LX powered bus an extraordinary performance. The generally accepted view is that the Loline was little more than a licence built Lodekka, but this is an over simplification, particularly in the case of the Loline III. I think I am right in believing that even the Loline I had a gearbox (the ‘V’ type?) that lowered the transmission line without the need for transfer gears as fitted to the Lodekka. The Loline transmission would have thus been more positive and efficient than the Bristol equivalent. The pre Hestair Dennis company had a high level of engineering expertise, but its commercial policies were very indecisive and often misguided. The firm nearly fell victim to a takeover by Seddon before Hestair became interested. Had that happened, or had Leyland made a move to gobble up the Guildford manufacturer, the outcome would surely have been oblivion. ADL may be a different animal from the Dennis of fond memory, and, alas, the superb fire engine business is no more, but it is the only significant bus chassis manufacturer now left in the UK.

Roger Cox

16/02/13 – 07:16

I think SOU 473 was bought by Everett’s in spring 1969, and later passed to Bingleys when Everett’s ceased to operate. I have no record of the takeover date or SOU’s withdrawal date, if anyone knows, please tell me! This was a superb bus to travel in, very speedy and much more spacious than any previous United Services vehicle. The rear door was air-powered, sliding forward into a pocket – when opened whilst decelerating for a stop, it crashed heavily onto the front of the pocket, no chance of dozing off despite the comfortable seats.

Roger Townend

16/02/13 – 07:17

I have a Loline sales brochure from about 1960 and this shows that the standard gearbox offering was the 5 speed V type. Interestingly a 4 speed SCG epicyclic was also offered but I have no knowledge of it ever being fitted. In 1967 Halifax took 5 Lolines with 6LX engines and a five speed overdrive epicyclic gearbox. The GM at the time, Geoffrey Hilditch, described them as having "a useful turn of speed". I believe he meant that it went like the wind!


16/02/13 – 10:15

Were these Halifax Lolines not the same ones which they sold to West Riding when they were only two to three years old.

They must have run out of wind rather quickly.

Andrew Beever

16/02/13 – 13:38

Andrew, I recall reading some years ago that the Halifax batch were bought for a specific purpose, namely a specialised route needing vehicles of this specification for the best performance. This, I believe, they did well. However, once the PTE came into existence, my memory is that the route or the perceived needs changed, and the batch ended up on local routes. They weren’t suited to this role at all! This meant that their early sale to West Riding was convenient for both PTE and W. Riding. I am only going on memories of what I have read, not local experience, but others may have more specific details. In the early days of Classic Bus magazine, there was a three-bus test drive including an AEC Renown (King Alfred), a Bristol Lodekka(Hants & Dorset) and a Dennis Loline (Aldershot & District. The drivers were expecting Lodekka or Renown to win out, but the Loline beat the others into the corner!

Michael Hampton

16/02/13 – 14:42

In 1962, on two occasions, I took a bus from Southsea to Milford (Surrey). I can’t recall the Southdown vehicle to/from Petersfield, but do recall the A&D Lolines north of Petersfield on the challenging A3 route. They were comfortable, quiet and performed very well.

Chris Hebbron

16/02/13 – 17:00

Remember that West Riding were in a pretty bad way with their Wulfrunians and acquired a lot of second hand Lodekkas to keep them going…so a few Lolines added a certain standardisation. …. the other story (SCT61) is that the Lolines were for the Calder Valley and when Tod came on board, even they couldn’t get in the newly integrated garage.


16/02/13 – 18:10

By their very nature, the Halifax Lolines were best suited to lengthy, high speed runs, which were not characteristic features of the local Halifax topography. Whilst they were suitable for the inter urban ‘B’ services such as the 43 to Huddersfield or the 48/49 Brighouse – Hebden Bridge, these busy routes were well within the capabilities of the PD2s, PD3s, Regent Vs and Fleetlines in the fleet. The Lolines migrated to the Meredith and Drew contracts where their remarkable road performance (GGH admits to these machines being capable of 55 mph plus) proved entirely suitable to the task, but, of necessity, a conductor had to be carried on what was essentially a coach service. When West Riding, desperate for Wulfrunian replacement stock, made an enticing offer, they were sold on in 1970. However, Geoff Hilditch, in his book "Steel Wheels and Rubber Tyres" (Vol 2) states that "this would not have happened had we then known of the Millwood (i.e,Todmorden) garage problem that would face us in 1971 They would have been ideal for the Halifax – Todmorden – Burnley service." There was nothing wrong with the buses. They were just unsuited to much of the tortuous route system that was indigenous to the Halifax area.

Roger Cox

17/02/13 – 07:27

…..and, of course, the North Western Lolines – along with the Renowns – were for long distance routes rather than urban stop/start.

David Oldfield

17/02/13 – 07:28

A "cartoon-style" line-drawing of one of the Halifax Lolines was used as the basis for a recruitment poster during the early 1970s: "I’m blue because I have no driver" – featuring blue Loline with weeping eyes/headlights. This was painted onto a blank window panel in Crossfield Bus Station near the 76 (Bradford v Queensbury) stand. I remember, as my 6/7 year-old self, thinking why didn’t they picture a Regent/Titan/Fleetline instead of a "made-up" double-decker – of course by then (post Hebble-Halifax JOC merger) the Lolines had moved on, and I’d never noticed/come across them. But what made the artist/HPT choose one of their most un-typical buses? Other similar advertisements included one for the 68/X68 to Sheffield featuring one of the Seddon Pennine RU DPs, and one for private hire featuring – I think! – one of the ex-Timpsons Park Royal Royalist Reliances . . . I said "I think", perhaps it was just a Panorama Elite.

Philip Rushworth

17/02/13 – 07:29

SOU 465

Ian mentions above that one of the two surviving Aldershot and District Loline I machines is SOU 465. Here is a picture of this bus taken on 25 June 1967 in Petersfield. It is operating the lengthy 24 route to Guildford on which Chris would have travelled to reach Milford. I, too frequently sampled this route and its Loline Mk.Is in the days before I acquired a PSV Licence. Later, as driver with A&D at Aldershot circa 1966-68, I did drive on the parallel route 6 between Aldershot and Petersfield (Steep village), though Loline IIIs had taken over by that time. Interestingly, the only joint operation into Aldershot was Route 12 to Reading, which was shared with Thames Valley. When an Lodekka suffered a defect or failure at the Hampshire end of the service, it was replaced by a Loline, and very often the Thames Valley driver was reluctant to hand it back again later in return for the repaired Lodekka. I genuinely cannot recall any instances of a Loline failing at the Reading end of the route though I expect this must have happened now and again. Aldershot & District had much higher engineering standards than Thames Valley.

Roger Cox

17/02/13 – 08:50

That’s a lovely photo which brings back lots of memories, Roger. I recognise the place well. Thx. It was a long route – the better part of 30 miles in total, hilly and twisting in places, all taken with panache. I worked in Guildford and had a soft spot for the old ‘All Aboard & Risk it’, as it was nicknamed! And an Aunt-in-Law was once a clippie with them during the war, around Woking.

Chris Hebbron

17/02/13 – 08:51

I think you may be right about engineering standards, Roger.

David Oldfield

17/02/13 – 12:23

Your mention of "I’m blue because I have no driver",Phlip, reminded me of a quiz a couple of years ago on a blog I follow. I’ve found it here. I did badly! See HERE: //tinyurl.com/c97j9kf

Chris Hebbron

18/02/13 – 08:26

Roger’s comments about engineering standards at Thames Valley remind me of the set of pictures I have of a whole variety of other operators’ vehicles which had to be drafted into Reading to help out because of vehicles off the road, firstly in May and September 1973 (London Country RTs and some Royal Blue MWs) and then again in April 1974 and August/September 1974, when a variety of buses came from Ensign Bus, (ex Portsmouth, Swindon, S&M of Hadleigh, LT) together with a couple of Reliances and a couple of Lolines from Reading Transport. It appears that the merger with A&D didn’t result in a migration of engineering standards to Reading!

Alan Murray-Rust

18/02/13 – 10:57

It may have been coincidence, or simply made the situation worse: it was that period in the early seventies which was also the period of (British) Leyland’s worst "hour" – not only take it or leave it but you can’t get it (spares) and we won’t make/supply it (Bristol RE). Thames Valley were not the only operator in that position. Leyland disease – oh I’d forgotten late deliveries as well – certainly affected Sheffield/SYPTE and others as well.

David Oldfield

SOU 473 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

20/02/13 – 05:57

Those six Halifax Lolines may have contributed to Dennis’ survival as a manufacturer today (even if in a different form). Mr GGH (as he is referred to above) was impressed by his contacts with Dennis, and on moving to Leicester a few years later, encouraged Dennis to develop the Dominator double-decker as an antidote to the "leylandisation" of the British bus manufacturing industry. Dennis had only dabbled in the bus market from c. 1950 until then, but from the mid/late 1970s developed new ranges to suit the new challenges. And the rest, as they say, is history. I guess "Mr GGH" was embarking on a wider plan than he realised, thus making it still possible to buy a British-made bus today.

Michael Hampton

20/02/13 – 09:35

In 1963 the magazine Commercial Motor published the results of a road test of 447, an Aldershot and District Mk3 Loline. It produced the best fuel consumption figures of any double decker tested by the magazine since the Second World War.
Fully laden with the equivalent of 68 passengers the testers obtained 12.75 mpg at two stops per mile and 9.25 mpg at six stops per mile. The fleet average for A&D Lolines at that time was 13.5 mpg.
One of the testers was the well known transport author Alan Townsin and he describes travelling on an undulating stretch of the A3 at an average speed of 32.4 mph and obtaining 15.7 mpg. He gives the top speed at about 47mph.
He describes all controls as "very satisfying" and had that "indefinable feel of a thoroughbred vehicle"
Praise indeed.

I think it is Paragon

21/02/13 – 06:22

I drove Loline Is and IIIs from Aldershot Depot in 1966-68, after which I returned to the administrative side of the bus industry. Without doubt, the Loline was a superb bus, predictable, stable and refined. The A&D Loline III was rather livelier than the Mark I by virtue of the lighter bodywork by Alexander or Weymann, and its Dennis gearbox had a modified gate that emulated the Reliance pattern, making the engagement of overdrive rather simpler. Those fuel economy figures are way beyond the reach of "modern" buses, and, I suspect, the reliability statistics for today’s machinery are equally inferior. Progress? What progress?

Roger Cox


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Middlesbrough Corporation – Dennis Loline I – JDC 599 – 99

Middlesbrough Corporation - Dennis Loline I - JDC 599 - 99

Middlesbrough Corporation
Dennis Loline 1
Northern Counties H36/31RD

Photo taken on a trip to the Transporter bridge which I walked across the top of I presume it is still there or did they really sell it to the Red Indians. This bus is actually a preservation vehicle loads of information here. I seem to remember at the time a rumour that the Loline was actually a Bristol Lodekka built by Dennis not sure how true it was, if any body knows leave a comment.

My Group now own and have preserved this Dennis Loline Mk1. The Loline was in fact a licence built Bristol Lodekka, they of course could only be sold to state owned undertakings and Dennis wanted a bus to rejuvenate their sales in the Municipal market. Northern Counties built a one off body for this bus which was exhibited at Earls Court Commercial Vehicle Show in October 1958 before entering service with Middlesbrough Corporation on 5th November 1958.
In the photo above it is seen at Middlesbrough Corporations Parliament Road Depot towards the end of its life, when, because it was a backloader, and all the rest of the fleet were front loaders it only saw light service being used for transporting Councillors from the Councils planning committee on site visits etc. We rebuilt the bus between 1994 and 1998 and took it to Showbus at Duxford for its 40th anniversary where it won the class for "best preserved Dennis". It is now used extensively for running days and rallies, in fact it has now done over 120 events in the past ten years without any major trouble.

David Hunter

I rode on this magnificent vehicle at a Heart of the Pennines Rally back in the 1990s and was highly impressed by its performance on the hills around Halifax. Only Tony Blackman’s souped-up Regent III did better. Best wishes to those who preserve the Loline. Think you’re not quite right in describing the body as unique, though, Lancashire United had two very similar Loline Is. Sadly neither survived into preservation.

Neville Mercer

23/03/11 – 06:58

Barton’s Dennis Loline 111 861 XAL flt no 861 was the lowest British built decker at only 12’6" by NCME and was shown at the 1960 Commercial Motor Show.

Roger Broughton

My fault KC

23/03/11 – 18:35

Further to Roger and Nevilles posts There are shots of the Baton Loline and one of the LUT ones on www.sct61.org.uk. Barton vehicle has been in preservation for many years

Chris Hough

06/12/14 – 07:07

You are correct about ‘ Boro buses route numbers being letters. There were exceptions though, services from the Transporter Bridge were M1 & M2 which had same route for much of the way, splitting on Acklam Road although I cant remember the exact destinations, they were not far from the parting of the route. The other exceptions were the two routes,jointly operated by Stokton corp & M’bro corp Stokton used route numbers. To save face the route along Newport Rd was the O/0 the one via Acklam Rd was the 11/II. Hope this may be of of interest to you.

David Onions

06/12/14 – 08:51

I’ve always considered this bus in the "Borough" livery to be one of the most handsome and well proportioned vehicles I’ve had the pleasure to admire in a long long lifetime of enthusiasm.

Chris Youhill

16/04/15 – 06:43

Read somewhere that the Halifax Lolines were uniquely fitted with Leyland 600 engines. The vast majority were LX Gardner, though Oxford specified AV470’s in their Mk II chassis.

Paul Burgess

16/04/15 – 16:01

No, Paul, the Halifax Lolines had Gardner 6LX engines and five speed semi auto gearboxes.

Roger Cox

16/04/15 – 16:02

I can assure you Paul that the Halifax Lolines were fitted with the Gardner 6LX.

John Stringer

17/04/15 – 06:45

North Western took a batch of 15 Loline IIs in 1960, twelve of which had Leyland O.600 engines, the other three had Gardner 6LX.

Ian Wild

17/04/15 – 06:46

North Western had the Leyland O.600 engined Lolines.

Phil Blinkhorn

17/04/15 – 06:47

Do we know how much the Mk II chassis differed from the Mk I?

Chris Hebbron

17/04/15 – 09:28

The Loline Mk I was the original version with a rear entrance and a conventionally sprung rear axle. The Mk II had a forward entrance and air suspension for the rear axle, and it came on the scene in 1958, before the forward entrance versions of the Bristol Lodekka made their appearances.

Roger Cox

19/04/15 – 07:37

Luton also had two Lolines with Leyland O.600 engines. (Information from "British Double Deckers since 1942", A A Townsin, 1965, four shillings and sixpence and still very useful!).

Peter Williamson

20/04/15 – 07:12

Thx, Roger.

Chris Hebbron

12/12/15 – 07:51

Does anyone have a list of the corporation bus destinations/routes by letter? I used to live in Grove Hill, then Beechwood, so the C , D , Q and R were my routes. I was always fascinated about where all the others went. Especially the S and a very mysterious Belasis!!

Terry Begley

12/12/15 – 13:03

The 500 Group who own/preserve the Middlesbrough Loline will I am sure will be able to help you Terry.
Their Facebook group page is here https://m.facebook.com/500group/

Stephen Howarth

02/05/16 – 13:54

I’ve uploaded a ton of reference images I’d taken as part of my uni project to recreate a 3D model of this classic bus to feature in an animation.
When working on a 3D animation it is vital to gather as much high quality reference material as possible in order to study the subject. I was lucky enough to arrange a private visit of this bus with David (Group 500) who was kind enough to let me take lots of photos in order to capture as much detail as possible for my research.
Please feel free to check out some of these photos in my Flickr album www.flickr.com/gp/johnbriggs


23/10/16 – 05:34

The M bus destinations referred to above in Middlesbrough were Lodore Grove and Levick Crescent. These were displayed as Lodore or Levick on the destination blind. The routes diverged on Acklam Road travelling south where it reached the eastern end of Levick Crescent. One version then travelled along the Crescent and terminated at the junction with Mandale Road, the other continued along Acklam Road until it reached Lodore Grove, slightly further south. Both versions were simply M, distinguished by the destination.

John Butler

24/10/16 – 07:15

Interesting photos, Johnny. I was intrigued by the longditudinal rear seats dividing into two sections with different levels, something I’ve never seen before.
If you put the animation online, let us know where we can find it, will you?

Chris Hebbron


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