Western Scottish Motor Traction Co. Limited
The above photograph (from the Dave Jones Collection) is of a Gilford Zeus outside the Bellfield Works in High Wycombe. This was Gilford’s third attempt to get into double decker vehicle market after the 168DOT and the failed front wheel drive double decker which was later converted into a trolleybus. Two were built, the first appearing at the Glasgow Show of 1932 before being registered in 1933 for use as a Gilford demonstrator before passing to Western S.M.T (Fleet number 723), and the second being sold direct to Western S.M.T (Fleet number 722). The two vehicles were originally fitted with different engines, the demonstrator a Vulcan Juno and the later one a Tangye VM6, but both are believed to have had Leyland oil engines fitted before entering service.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Andrew Stevens
22/04/12 – 16:42
A very smart modern-looking bus for its time, apart from the rather scrunched-up windscreen. The radiator suits the body style very well. I always had a soft spot for Gilford and was sorry it failed, partly due to the takeover of independents by newly-formed London Transport. Western SMT were staunch supporters of the marque at this time, taking quite a few coaches for their long-distance services. I wonder how long they lasted and their histories until scrapping. I was never good company at funfairs: a stomach not suited to revolving at high speed, restricted me to dodgems, big dippers, but certainly not waltzers! Thus, I tended to walk around the showmens’ vehicles and enjoy the fare on display there. I always remember seeing a Gilford Hera on one occasion, the only Gilford I ever saw.
23/04/12 – 05:35
Don’t know when, but 723 transferred to Sandersons of Glasgow and I don’t know any history after that. 722 was withdrawn from service in 1944 and also transferred to Sandersons with no subsequent history.
23/04/12 – 05:36
I have never come across a Gilford myself but every mention of them is always in a positive light – always said to be superb vehicles. As Chris says, circumstances – the customer base disappearing – overtook the firm with disastrous effects.
I lived in High Wycombe for fifteen years and know Bellfield well – never realised that Gilford were based there. I don’t think they left a trace when they moved back to London.
23/04/12 – 05:51
The very interesting subject of Gilfords reminds me that a group are restoring a single decker that started in life with Fred Oade of Heckmondwike. The company is still in business although nowadays they are undertakers the coaching side of the business was sold to Yorkshire Woollen in 1960. The vehicle is WX 3567 and was new in 1930. Oades sold it in 1934 and according to The PSV Circle it passed through several different owners and allegedly was sold for scrap in 1938 although obviously this never happened as I believe it was found in a barn.
24/04/12 – 06:53
I actually saw ‘WX’ last week and it’s coming along. The survivor list may take some by surprise, with two vehicles, a DF6 and an AS6 I believe road-worthy, along with an AS6, a 166SD, two 168SD’s (one converted to OT) and a 168OT currently under restoration. There is also a Hera chassis at the SVBM. Would be nice to get them all roadworthy and together in the future – here’s hoping. Unfortunately Bellfield works has now been demolished so there certainly is no trace left of the company, and few people in Wycombe seem to know of their existence, something I hope to put right somehow.