Old Bus Photos

East Midland – Guy Arab – GNN 136/437 – D36/7

East Midland - Guy Arab - GNN 136/437 - D36/7
Copyright R H G Simpson

East Midland Motor Services
1945
Guy Arab
Roe L27/28

At first glance, this pair are identical, but not so. See the differing sizes, and positioning, of the headlamps, and also the deeper edge of the canopy on D37 (far Vehicle).
These were delivered in 1945, then rebodied by Roe in 1954. I cannot be certain, but think that the seating capacity was L27/28R, both before and after. See also the paper stickers inside the lower saloon, perhaps telling of timetable changes, or advertising EMMS’ other services, sometimes advertising for drivers/conductors.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson


14/04/13 – 08:23

Incredible, Les. Never seen these in original guise but have seen the rebodies. As usual, the new bodies were beautiful and beautifully made – but interestingly, they were quoted as being 26′ 9" long. [Was this done simply by building the body longer, or was the chassis extended?] Roe rebuilt literally hundreds of war-time Guys and Daimlers but the sad thing is that few, if any, lasted more than ten years with their new bodies. East Midland, Tracky, County and Woolen spring readily to mind as do the, penny numbers of AECs and Daimlers for Sheffield A fleet.

David Oldfield


14/04/13 – 18:39

and of course, Sheffield Guy 45 David, rebuilt by Roe for the B fleet.

John Darwent


14/04/13 – 18:39

During the war official dispensation was given for the current 26ft. length limit for two-axle double deckers to be increased to 26ft. 9in. in the case of Guy Arabs, in order for the optional long Gardner 6LW engine to be fitted, by allowing it to project forwards in a ‘snout’ rather than have to move the front bulkhead back.
As it happened, the majority of Arab II’s continued to be fitted with the shorter 5LW, but the elongated bonnet was used irrespective of which engine was fitted. All East Midland’s Arabs had the 5LW, so there would probably have been a lot of spare space behind those radiators.

John Stringer


14/04/13 – 18:41

They would be Arab I’s, but were they 5LW’s or 6LW’s? And Roe’s part in building austerity bus bodies was something I’d only recently discovered. Few of them ever seem to have made their way south of the Midlands. I certainly never saw one and it’s very much a recent discovery that they built any. Duple, Brush and Massey seemed the dominant builders and their quality was in that order, too, I’d hazard.

Chris Hebbron


15/04/13 – 07:44

East Midland took only twelve utilities during the war. The first, in 1941, was a Bristol K5G which went to North Western in 1946 in exchange for an Arab I/Roe. Next came two Arab I’s with Brush bodies, the remainder were all Arab II’s with Roe bodies. Interestingly, East Midland managed to obtain consecutive last numbers for the registrations throughout the war. Five of the Arab II’s received new Roe lowbridge bodies in 1954. There was a further Arab II which was taken over from Baker Brothers of Warsop in 1953 and also rebodied by Roe. All of them went in 1960 and six years does seem a sadly short life for a vehicle with a new body but of course the Atlantean was no doubt responsible for that.
The question of the wartime length dispensation for the Guy Arab is an interesting one, production continued after the war with the Arab II, then the Arab III, all built to the extended length before the maximum dimension was increased to 27ft. So if it was an emergency wartime measure, how come the dispensation was never rescinded after the war, was it quietly forgotten about? It’s surprising someone didn’t ask, if Bristol and Daimler can accommodate the Gardner 6LW, why can’t Guy!

Chris Barker


15/04/13 – 07:44

Chris H: Jasper Pettie’s "Guy Buses in Camera" states the following:
"[the first] 500 were known as the Arab MkI. Thereafter the Arab MkII was introduced, and all had the longer bonnet and outswept front mudguards which had featured only on the 6LW-engined MkI examples".
On that basis, if they are definitely MkI chassis, they must have had 6LW engines. If as John Stringer states all the East Midland Arabs had 5LW, then these are MkIIs.
Caerphilly had at least one Roe utility ArabII, which survived as training bus until at least 1966. It has curved valances to the canopy and platform rather than the straight ones on the EM view, but this could have been a subsequent modification. BBF records it as rebuilt 1957, but the only obvious difference is that the front top deck windows are rubber-mounted, and there are two sliding windows per side on the lower and three on the upper deck.

Alan Murray-Rust


15/04/13 – 07:45

Chris… If you check Peter Gould’s lists, it was Doncaster’s wartime Roe bodied Regents that seemed to survive longest- Does anyone know why?

Joe


16/04/13 – 07:29

Joe At least three of the Doncaster Regents were to full peacetime standards being delivered in 1941 all of the Roe bus output for that year were to the same pre war spec. It is possible that the 1942 Doncaster Regent was also built to this standard using sored parts. Certainly Roe produced a full utility body by January 1942 albeit on so called unfrozen chassis for Yorkshire Woollen and Yorkshire Traction.
As well as building utility bodies on Guy and Daimler chassis they also built a number of trolleybuses building 63 of the 438 buses produced.

Chris Hough


16/04/13 – 10:50

Thanks Chris. I recall that the survivors mostly had proper domes and smelt rather funny. The lists suggest that Doncaster took very few buses during the war and got rid of the Guys fairly quickly: anything with an AEC engine (Bristol, Daimler, AEC) hung on, and were usually Roe bodied. The trolley story is even thinner: a very few utilities, rebodied by Roe after the war (presumably the same bodies that found their way on to the post war Titans.)

Joe


19/10/13 – 18:00

East Midland Motor Services took over Baker Brothers in Warsop who run the Mansfield to Church Warsop service I am not sure if it went to Shirebrooke the garage was at the side of the Hare & Hounds pub, the relief road in Warsop as gone through the garage. They took over Trumans at Shirebrooke and built a larger garage which is now a furniture shop.

Arthur Williams


16/05/16 – 17:53

East Midland Motor Services had 6 depots in North Derbys and North Notts, Chesterfield, Shirebrook, Clowne,Worksop, Retford and a shared garage at Mansfield with Trent, they covered quite a large area going as far as Doncaster, in the 70s they changed colour from red to lime green, the Chesterfield depot is now a car sales, the Shirebrook depot is a furniture w/house Clowne is a car repair place, Worksop still survives. Mansfields is a car repair and petrol station, Retford I am not sure,

Mr Anon


19/05/16 – 06:22

New Street, Chesterfield, is car body repairs rather than car sales, although Stagecoach East Midlands retained offices there for quite a while after the buses had moved out.

Peter Williamson


19/08/16 – 14:12

I have seen photos of East Midland’s Albion Lowlanders in two liveries, red with a cream waistband and red with cream lower deck window surrounds. Can someone enlighten me on when these versions were in use?

Tim


20/08/16 – 05:52

Tim asked about the colour schemes of EM’s Lowlanders. I am not able to recall the timescales but can tell him that they were delivered in the maroon colour with a broad white band above the lower-deck windows.The fronts as I recall were unrelieved maroon. They also went through a period wearing what I think was the NBC leaf-green and white as well as the two red/cream options as described by Tim.

Les Dickinson


20/08/16 – 05:52

After Tim’s question about East Midland’s Lowlanders appeared under this heading I checked my picture collection but sadly do not have any of this subject, however Classic Bus No63 carried a four-page article all about them and in which there is a section headed ‘Transformations’ of which the following is an extract "Over the years, East Midland’s Lowlanders were subject to several transformations of their appearance. They entered service in the company’s dark red with single cream band…" and goes on to say that changes were made to include cream window surrounds and later still their appearance in NBC green was in 1973. The article contains five pictures though none showing the period with the greater use of cream relief. Despite the piece saying they entered service with a bold cream band, my own memory is of a white, not cream band. It could be my old grey cells playing tricks but I frequently travelled on these on East Midland’s route 3.

Les Dickinson


25/08/16 – 15:23

Thanks, Les. Most helpful and interesting. Tim.

Tim


 

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Samuel Ledgard – Guy Arab I – JUA 762

Samuel Ledgard – Guy Arab I – JUA 762

Samuel Ledgard – Guy Arab I – JUA 763
Photographs by ‘unknown’ if you took these photos please go to the copyright page.

Samuel Ledgard
Guy Arab I
1943
Pickering H30/26R
Re-bodied 1953 Roe H31/25R

Much has been widely written about World War II utility bodywork and the appearance and durability of the various makes. Possibly the least numerous were the bodies by Pickering of Wishaw, the uppermost shot of one of the two Samuel Ledgard examples been shown here. JUA 762 was an Arab FD1 with the flush bonnet and Gardner 5LW engine. It has to be said that the Pickering bodies quickly deteriorated structurally and soon became a very sad sight. This picture clearly shows the most unusual, and extravagant in the circumstances, upper saloon emergency exit with three large glass panes. This bus and its FD2 twin were new in 1943 and in 1951 they were rebodied by Roe as shown in the lower view, and initially retained their 5LW engines. In 1956 they received 6LW units which necessitated the lengthening of the bonnet for JUA 762 – JUA 763 (lower picture) being an FD2 model was of course all ready for the longer engine without such a modification. There were many anomalies in the allocation of vehicles by the Ministry of Supply in those dark days and here we have a classic example – one of each model delivered together. On the theme of utility bodies in general I have to say that I thought that the Duple offering was of very pleasing appearance and, from my experience of working on them, possibly the soundest and most durable in construction. The shapely Northern Counties bodies were, of course, a most pleasing exception to the rule in their own right.

Photographs and Copy contributed by Chris Youhill

Bus tickets issued by this operator can be viewed here.

———

Go on Chris- explain about the Emergency Exit: I always take it as a door at the upstairs back from which some unfortunate youth occasionally drops: (in my day we would not have dared to annoy the conductor by even touching it and would ever after have to sit downstairs) was that non-utility? Were there 3 kickout panes – presumably on each side?
I would also like someone to tell me why these 6 cylinder Guys had to have snout extensions, sometimes if I recall with a radiator shrouded in leather? Were Gardner engines longer than say Daimler or Leyland?

Joe

———

I don’t think Joe that there is anything dramatic about the emergency exits on the utility Pickering bodies. Presumably it was simply their own design but seemed rather extravagant under the Wartime shortages. The two vertical dividing pieces can just be made out in the picture and the total glazed area is quite enormous.
I have spoken to a very knowledgeable friend about your second question which had me foxed. Seemingly there was no excessive length in the Gardner 6LW engines and the reason for the "snouts" is quite fascinating. The wartime Arabs were seemingly designed with consideration being given to the Ministry orders that they were all to be fitted with 5LW engines in the interests of fuel economy. After early deliveries it appears that operators in hilly districts complained that performance was not adequate and therefore the FD2 was introduced with space for the longer six cylinder unit in a few cases where "hilly hardship" could be proved. As the chassis had been designed with transmission components arranged to suit the shorter engine the only practicable course was to provide "the snout" and the somewhat untidy but fascinating leather "filler." Presumably the bonnet itself remained the same for each version, and my informant believes that a dispensation was granted as the alteration caused the vehicle length to slightly exceed the 26 foot maximum of the time.

Chris Youhill

———

Sorry- I’ve seen it: the two glazing bars at the back. Perhaps they had three long pieces of glass in the shed left over from a carriage contract- doors? (that’s a wild guess!). I thought you meant those three plain windows at the rear- but then you had privileged access to the back!

Joe

———

I wish someone would produce, like magic, a full rear view of the Pickering bodies – nobody seems to have one – and I was really glad when this nearside view turned up quite recently as the strange emergency door glazing can at least just be seen – I was beginning to fear that my memories of teenage years was perhaps playing tricks on me.

Chris Youhill

———

Obviously, everyone goes for the standard 3/4 front view picture, and I have no dispute with that. Very few people seemed to take the equally characterful rear 3/4 shots, and even less managed to capture the interior atmosphere – the different designs of seats, light fittings, bell-pushes, framing etc. Of course, interior shots in the pre-digital era meant extra expense on flash, and not entirely satisfactory results because of glare from glazed surfaces and so on. But the interior (and of course the sound) was THE bus travel experience. Any interior and/or rear shots out there?

Stephen Ford

———

The ‘snout’ was a means of accommodating the extra length of the six-cylinder (6LW) Gardner engine when it replaced the five-cylinder (5LW) unit. Gardners were generally quite long engines for their capacity. This was due them having a ‘timing case’ of generous proportions, housing a triplex timing chain, and also due to the arrangement of the cylinder blocks. The latter were split into pairs, so a 4LW would have two 2-cylinder blocks, a 6LW two 3-cylinder blocks and a 5LW would have a 3-cylinder plus a 2-cylinder block (no doubt today this would be termed ‘modular construction’!). This arrangement added to engine length as the water jacket had to extend around both ends of each block, and there was a gap between each block as well.
The original Guy Arab utility ‘decker was built to the 26ft overall length of the period. By the time Sammie’s ‘twins’ were re-bodied, double-decker dimensions had been increased to 27ft. Thus a more powerful, but longer 6LW could be fitted by extending the bonnet and moving the radiator forward to accommodate it. The alternative would have been to have the rear of engine protrude into the lower saloon, no doubt entailing modifying the front bulkhead, shortening the prop shaft and altering the gearchange linkages. Possibly the chassis cross member behind the engine would require attention as well. Moving things in a forward direction was much simpler!
Apparently after production of the first 500 utility Guy Arabs, the bonnets were lengthened in order to accommodate 6LW engines, should operators require them. Special dispensation was authorised to allow for their slightly increased overall length. These became known as Arab Mark IIs, with the original design, unofficially I believe, becoming the MkI. As you say Chris, one of those anomalies of the time – the two buses must have been ‘on the cusp’ in production as it were, hence an FD1 and an FD2 delivered together. Interesting stuff!

Brendan Smith

———

Thanks indeed Brendan for those most interesting facts about Gardner engines. While I’ve always been aware of the method of producing 4, 5, or 6 cylinder units by combining two blocks as necessary, I certainly never suspected the extra problems of multiple cooling jackets and intermediate gaps !! I have just looked up the records and am amazed to discover that JUA 762 and 763 were, despite the consecutive registration numbers, delivered and entered service five months apart – and there is a gap of 69 between the two chassis numbers. This seems to suggest that there was perhaps a "holding back" of some vehicles by The Ministry of Supply while they decided which operators could prove the greatest need at a particular time.

Chris Youhill

———

Some of the most attractive buses which LGOC/LT had in the Thirties/Forties were the 6-wheeler AEC Renown ‘Bluebirds’ LT Class, which were the last of the breed. The last 20, however, were fitted with Gardner 6LW engines which made the bonnets so long that the bodywork design had to be shortened (at the back) to keep them within the legal length! It showed in the upstairs side rear windows and the platform side opening being shorter! And they looked like pigs with their snouts!

Chris Hebbron

———

03/06/11 – 17:12

Can anyone remember Nudd Brothers and Lockyer of Kegworth Nottm., who rebuilt utility bodied ex London Transport Guy Arabs for Edinburgh in the early Fifties, which had a full front but open to the near side, very smart looking buses.

Roger Broughton

———

04/06/11 – 06:43

I agree Chris H that the "Bluebirds" were magnificent looking vehicles, and incredibly sleek and of tidy design for the early 1930s – and actually I could also forgive the appearance of the "long bonnet" Gardner powered ones – I was once told that they were fitted with special horns which went "oink oink", and if you’ll believe that you’ll believe anything !!

Chris Youhill

———

04/06/11 – 06:46

Yes, the Edinburgh Nudd rebuilds were very attractive, and it wasn’t just the side that was open: there was no glass in the nearside ‘windscreen’ either. They were in fact halfcabs disguised as full fronts. They were built just after the company was taken over by Duple, and based on a Duple design.
By coincidence we have just been discussing Nudd Bros & Lockyer in another context. Click on this quick link, wait a second or two to view.

Peter Williamson

———

05/06/11 – 14:19

As for pigs, Chris Y, I thought the only buses which oink-oink’ed were the Dennis ‘pigs’, the pre-war Dennis Aces and Maces!

I do recall reading somewhere that the Nudd Edinburgh Guy bodies were somewhat frail. They were designed to be lightweight, maybe they were too lightweight!

Chris Hebbron

———

05/06/11 – 14:22

When first delivered the rebuilt Edinburgh Guys had a very flamboyant "grille: this was later replaced by Edinburgh’s own version of the Leyland BMMO inspired tin front.
Preserved 314 JWS594 has had the original flamboyant front restored and is now resident at the Scottish Bus Museum at Lathalmond.

Chris Hough

———

05/06/11 – 14:23

I tend to think that the Edinburgh Guy’s were the only complete bodies ever produced by Nudd Bros & Lockyer. I believe all of their other production were re-builds.

Chris Barker

———

07/06/11 – 09:36

They were certainly attractive buses, even with the flamboyant front! See here:

Chris Hebbron

———

10/07/11 – 07:47

Pickering of Wishaw was set up in 1864, and was mainly a constructor of railway rolling stock. It seems that only about 37 Pickering utility bodies, all of them highbridge, were built in 1943, and no further bodies by this firm appeared during the war. They quickly became known for shoddy workmanship, and, notwithstanding official exhortations such as "Walls have Ears", "Be like Dad, keep Mum" and "Careless Talk costs Lives", this appalling reputation spread throughout the bus industry. It is surely certain that this also came to the knowledge of The Ministry of Supply, and was the reason for no further utility bodies being sought from the Pickering company.

Roger Cox

———

11/07/11 – 07:22

That is most interesting Roger and, while I knew that there weren’t many Pickering utilities around, I had no idea that there were as few as that – regardless of censorship one might be forgiven for saying that there were approximately 37 too many. On the bright side, however, their awful quality and very early demise caused the excellent Roe rebodying of the two Ledgard examples and brought to my career one of the most delightful and characterful vehicles (JUA 763) that I ever conducted and drove. RIP "T’Guy."

Chris Youhill

———

11/07/11 – 11:18

I recently discovered that Nottingham City Transport were "blessed" with 5 Pickering-bodied Guy Arab I’s in 1943. They were No.s 89-93 (GTV409-413?). In the published Geoff Atkins photo the 3-piece window to the emergency door is also discernible. Nottingham’s Utility fleet eventually had a total of 16 Arabs, the remaining 12 being Massey or Weymann, plus 27 Daimler CWA6s with Northern Counties, Brush or Duple. Apparently the first Utilities were not withdrawn until 1956, so it seems that even the wretched Pickering bodies must have lasted at least 13 years.

Stephen Ford

———

12/07/11 – 05:40

The Pickering story is indeed an interesting one and I have done a little research and it seems there are a few inconsistencies. In an article in Classic Bus in 1993 about Pickering’s link with Northern General, a figure of around 65 double deck utilities is given, mostly on Guy Arabs but also some Leyland TD7’s and some re-bodies of older chassis. Some of the Guys went to Sunderland District and Sunderland Corporation purchased two from Blackburn Corporation in 1948 (so they had a re-sale value!) These clearly did not have the three pane upper deck emergency exit but the Nottingham ones did.
Turning to single deckers, it is recorded that Pickering bodied 54 Albion CX13’s to MoS specification in 1946, 30 of which went to Red and White, others to Economic of Sunderland and South Yorkshire. In fact Red and White had 22 more Albion/Pickerings in 1947 but by this date, presumably there would have been no MoS involvement. Most but not all R & W vehicles were re-bodied by BBW after 5 or 6 years and Ledgard’s purchase of five in 1959 were ex Pickering re-bodies (perhaps Chris Y knows if the BBW bodies were much better?) Apparently Northern General had around a hundred vehicles re-bodied by Pickering, on AEC and SOS chassis and the average further life was about nine years, presumably by the end of the 1950’s they had become distinctly archaic! There were also ten Meadows engined Guy Arab III double deckers for Tynemouth in 1949 and these were of very pleasing appearance, they appeared to be of substantial construction and I know nothing about them but I wonder if they went any way towards making amends for what had been produced earlier.

Chris Barker

———

12/07/11 – 14:47

According to Alan Townsin`s book, "The Utilities" in the Best of British Buses series, Pickering produced 18 utility bodies on Mk.1 Arabs, and 37 on Mk.2 in 1943. There is no mention of any other bus build until the Albion contract of 1946, and I am not aware of any Pickering bodies on CWG5 chassis.
Perhaps they were busy with other wartime contracts, as the whole bus building business was under the strict control of the MOWT, and based on a contract system.
I suspect that Pickering was no worse than most other utility bus builders of that time, as most makes demonstrated severe problems with the use of unseasoned timber, and the lack of alloy metals. I cannot comment on the 1946 Albion single deck contract, which was largely allocated to the Scottish Bus Group, but there was certainly nothing wrong with the post war Aberdeen streamlined trams, which exuded quality!

John Whitaker

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13/07/11 – 07:33

Your research is interesting Chris, as I have since realised that there were some Pickering bodies on unfrozen TD7, which would probably account for the difference between Alan Townsin`s 55 Guys, and your total of 65. Certainly Leicester had a Pickering TD7.
I cannot think of any rebodies at the moment, but there probably were some, but definitely none on Daimler wartime chassis. CWG5 chassis were only bodied by Duple and Massey (High) and Brush (low).
Glasgow received several batches of post war Pickering bodies which had reasonable lives I believe.
Regarding the triple rear window, was this a unique feature, or am I correct in thinking that a very early Duple bodied Arab 1 for Maidstone had a similar feature? Was the triple window even carried on after the first few bodies, or did Pickering comply with the utility directive at that time, and panel over the whole thing?

John Whitaker

———

13/07/11 – 08:47

Re. Pickering utility bodies, I have re-read Alan Townsin’s Utility book. If I read correctly, Pickering would not have built any utility bodies on reconditioned chassis, as "rebodying" was also controlled by the MOWT, and firms were allocated this function, Pickering not being one of them. East Lancs and NCB were the principle firms here, with Croft also involved in Scotland.
The whole utility chapter is absolutely fascinating!
I personally find as many differences in design amongst utility bodies as existed in peacetime. Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder, and they have a fascination and charm of their own to me!

John Whitaker

———

13/07/11 – 11:57

Hanson of Huddersfield received four Pickering bodied Albion CX13’s in late 1945, 186-189 (CCX 880-3) and a further four, 196-9 (CVH 226-9) in 1946. All had been withdrawn by 1950. 186-9 were sold to Carmichael of Glenboig (a photo exists of 186 with Carmichael with the body apparently heavily rebuilt) and 196-9 were sold to Birkenshaw Mills for staff transport, suggesting that these bodies were perhaps considered to be too badly deteriorated for further psv use.
Incidentally, a further four Albions were taken into stock in 1947/48 two with Burlingham and two with Duple bus bodies and these remained in service till 1958-62

Eric

———

14/07/11 – 06:33

Opinions, respected naturally, seem to vary on the quality of the Pickering utility double deckers and I can only speak from personal experience as a youthful passenger in two of them on Guy Arab chassis. Sadly I have to say that they very rapidly deteriorated into a sorry state and were also I think far from handsome. While I appreciate that unseasoned timber and other unsatisfactory materials caused problems in most makes I have to say that, again from personal experience this time including driving and conducting, we had no significant trouble with the Duple and Roe versions, both of which were tidy looking and attractive in their "utility" way and many examples of ours gave very long service. Oddly the Park Royal "relaxed" vehicles (London Transport D182 – 281) which didn’t enter service until May 1946 onwards did involve very serious timber problems and much rebuilding was often needed. Despite this however, once "fettled" they too gave long and extremely reliable service on arduous and busy routes and I admired and delighted in them – their various "London" features adding to the magic – we had twenty two out of the hundred, quite an impressive proportion I think.
Regarding the Albions, rebodied from Pickering to BBW. I had experience only of the Ledgard five and they were splendid machines. The BBW bodies appeared sound and of course bore a close resemblance to their attractive Lowestoft ECW cousins. The Albion chassis were a potent delight with one of the quietest and smoothest diesel engines to be found – and the gearbox gave a creditable impersonation of prewar Leyland TS and TD models – altogether a fascinating package !!

Chris Youhill

———

14/07/11 – 06:36

Certainly the wartime utility bodies suffered from the use of unseasoned ash, and materials were strictly allocated to manufacturers who had to take what they were given. Even so, some body manufacturers had better construction standards than others, and generally did a good job in difficult circumstances. In such worthy company, Pickering did not measure up too well. Didn’t one municipality cancel its order for Guys when it learned that they would be bodied by Pickering? Nowadays, railway stock design requires the entire vehicle to bear the stresses. Traditionally, in the past, railway and tram bodies relied on substantial under frames to carry the main loads, and rail borne vehicles are not subject to the same level of shocks and jolts as a road vehicle. Perhaps the bus body designs of the railway orientated Pickering concern did not take such factors sufficiently into account.

Roger Cox

———

14/07/11 – 09:51

It has to be remembered, too, that each bodybuilder, bizarrely, was able to design its own body; thus some designs were probably structurally sounder, to start with, than others. And I recall that at least one bodybuilder rejected some timber as being, even for those dark times, beyond the pale! London Transport were always impressed with the Duple product, even though they never used them in normal times. But even they gave up on overhauling the bodies as part of their normal high standards, opting to dispose of them prematurely. Since many of them then went to humid Far East climes, I wonder how they fared there! As for the escape upstairs rear windows, although many of London’s Guys had them steel-sheeted over, I don’t recall any of the 181 earlier Daimlers being so treated.

Chris Hebbron

———

14/07/11 – 18:58

I was delighted to read responses about Pickering utility bodies, and accept that they must have been a bit on the flimsy side, but it is just that I find them, and all utilities, absolutely fascinating!
Leicester had a Pickering TD7 which they cut down to single deck in 1950, and it ran, although rarely, as such until 1955! (No.347) I think it is true to say, though, that all builders in this era had their problems. The Brush CWA6 bodies in Manchester hardly had long lives, and Park Royal trolleybus bodies were withdrawn very early in both Newcastle and Reading. I would agree with Chris Y about Duple, as Alan Townsin also came to that conclusion too, and who better to judge than that?! It was probably due to the wedge shaped stiffener at the front near side canopy area.
Pickering were basically rolling stock (railway) builders, which is probably significant, but so were Roberts, and Hurst Nelson. The latter were the third biggest Tramcar builder in the UK, but only VERY rarely did they venture into the bus field. I believe the panelled emergency exit was a requirement which was relaxed in early 1943.

John Whitaker

———

15/07/11 – 07:29

I believe that the municipal who cancelled their Pickering allocation was Derby, who would have recevied two on Guy Arab I 5LW chassis. The MoWT allocation system usually meant that body buiilders in the north had their products delivered to operators in the north, and similarly for southern builders to southern operators. This was a general rule, I believe. So Derby was "quite southern" for a Pickering build. But where did these two go? – all the way to Brighton, where they entered the Brighton Hove & District fleet! Nos 6364/6365 (GNJ 574-5) lasted there from 1943-1949. Although neighbouring Southdown has 100 Guy utilities, BH&D found this pair non-standard. Their other utilities were Park-Royal bodied Bristol Ks. The two Guys found themselves transferred in 1949 to Western National, where they operated out of Plymouth garage. (This is from a memory of a photo in Buses Illustrated many years ago). I have no information as to how long they stayed there, although WNOC did have other Guy Arab utilities delivered new, so the chassis would have been acceptable. I have read comments elsewhere (I think in "Classic Bus" magazine) that several builders of rail vehicles had a hard time when entering the bus building business. Pickerings is usually quoted as the prime example, and Cravens also get a mention.

One contributor mentioned the post-war streamlined Aberdeen trams, which he said were good products. An article in Classic Bus a while ago recorded that Aberdeen wanted English Electric to build these trams, and placed their order. However, EEC had decided to withdraw from the tram/bus market by then, so would not accept an order. However they had drawings of the design that Aberdeen wanted. The Corporation then placed it’s order with Pickerings, who approached EEC for copies of the drawings. EEC not liking this intrusion, refused the request. What to do? Aberdeen then resubmitted their order to EEC, who then subcontracted the work to Pickerings, and sent them the drawings for the contract!
I hope I have this right – if the Classic Bus contributor or another reader spots an error in this, please send in a correction.

Michael Hampton

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15/07/11 – 10:47

Yes Michael, I believe you have that right! The Aberdeen streamliners were actually an EEC design, as shown by the 4 pre-war almost identical examples (inc. the 2 x 4 wheelers). English Electric withdrew from this business and did not re-enter after the war, so the Aberdeen cars were built by Pickering to the pre war EEC drawings.

John Whitaker

———

15/07/11 – 10:47

Michael H Mentions Cravens in his list of bodybuilders This Sheffield based firm built several batches of vehicles for its home town and also for others as far afield as Portsmouth In post war years they built AECs for Sheffield and RTs for London Their latter were sold on as non standard in the fifties but ran happily for others somewhat in the manner of DMS class buses a decade or too later. I think although this is open to clarification Cravens became part of John Brown engineering as did East Lancs for a time in the sixties East Lancs designed buses were built in Sheffield under the Neepsend name in the old Cravens factory

Chris Hough

———

15/07/11 – 13:59

Yes, I recall Cravens bodied 45 AEC Regents 5 Regals for Nottingham City Transport in 1937. It was the old story – they undercut previous suppliers Metro Cammell and Northern Counties and got the business. Build quality was not up to scratch, and serious rebuilding was necessary – making them actually more expensive in the long run. Two quotes come to mind :
1. "The bitterness of poor quality lives on long after the sweetness of low initial cost has been forgotten"!
2. Reporter’s question to astronaut : "What do you think about when you are waiting for blast-off?" Reply : "I think that every component in this spacecraft went out to competitive tender, and the lowest price won" !

Stephen Ford

———

15/07/11 – 14:01

Strictly speaking, Cravens bought East Lancs directly – as noted in the TPC/Venture book about East Lancs. Cravens then sold out to John Brown. The Neepsend bodies were built in another factory at Neepsend in NE Sheffield, the original factory being in Darnall SE Sheffield where railway rolling stock continued to be built.
The East Lancs workforce feared for their jobs at this time but, apparently, the quality of build in Sheffield was not as good as in Blackburn and when demand dropped in 1967/8 the Neepsend factory was closed.

David Oldfield

———

16/07/11 – 07:04

I think I would agree with John W that perhaps history has been a little hard on Pickerings. Obviously some products would come to be known as better than others but given the circumstances and materials of the utilities plus the fact that Pickerings were relative newcomers, I think allowances should be made and of course operator maintenance was a big factor too, which would explain why a quality operator such as Nottingham City Transport ran theirs for 13 years (that is not to denigrate Ledgard in any way whatever!) I wish someone could post a picture of the Tynemouth Guy’s of 1949 which were very fine looking vehicles!
What excuse, however, could be made in peacetime? I think the dubious epitaph would have to go to Strachan’s who turned out a great many sub standard vehicles over many years after 1945 which had to be heavily rebuilt or withdrawn early, the worst of which and surely the record holders being the Leyland PD1’s supplied to Western SMT in 1949 which fell apart after only three years!

Chris Barker

———

06/09/11 – 07:19

J Laurie`s Chieftain buses of Hamilton had 2 TD1s rebodied with Pickering utility bodies. One had a Sheffield registration, the other had come from Western SMT. Both of these buses had lowbridge bodies.
Central SMT had a substantial number of TS2 single deckers from 1932, originally bodied by Pickering.

Jim Hepburn

———

12/09/11 – 08:43

PS. to the last comment.
I should add that these TD1s had six bay windows as they probably had originally. They are the only utility bodies I’ve seen with six bay windows.

Jim Hepburn

———

13/09/11 – 07:45

Did some of the Croft utility bodies in Scotland not have 6 bay layout Jim? I think also that Pontypridd had some BBW utility bodies also to that layout.

John Whitaker

———

13/09/11 – 07:48

Jim, the Pearson framed bodies were also of six bay utility construction. You can see a picture of a former Crosville TD7 thus bodied on "The People’s League for the Defence of Freedom" gallery.

Roger Cox

———

17/09/11 – 08:08

You may be right, but as I said these were the only 6 bay utilities I had come across. The TD1s had a shorter wheel base than a TD7 so they seemed to be quite a sturdy body.
I could never take to the Duple version.
I thought the Massey highbridge body was pretty smart.

Jim Hepburn

——— Top of this posting ———


 

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Harper Bros – Guy Arab I – HWA 714 – 3

Harper Bros - Guy Arab I - HWA 714 - 3
Copyright Ray Soper

Harper Bros
1943
Guy Arab I
Park Royal H56R rebodied Northern Coachbuilders 1954

This shot is from the Ray Soper gallery contribution titled ‘Harper Brothers of Heath Hayes’ click on the title if you would like to view his Gallery and comments to it.
The shot is shown here for indexing purposes but please feel free to make any comment regarding this vehicle either here or on the gallery.


19/05/12 – 16:40

I would like to know exactly where in Heath Hayes the Harper Brothers garage was if anyone knows it would be much appreciated.

Rod


20/05/12 – 07:36

Don’t know about the depot, but the bus was new to Sheffield in 1943, gone by 1949. It was a solo vehicle.

Les Dickinson


20/05/12 – 07:37

I remember Harpers Bros Buses and Coaches very well in my childhood days as they used to go past my old house in Erdington Road, Aldridge and after I left Aldridge with my parents and sister on Saturday 10th June 1961 to move to Lichfield. As me and my parents and sister used to use them to visit our Aunty and Uncle who used to live in Daniels Lane, off Erdington Road, Aldridge

Andrew Holder


20/05/12 – 09:09

Looking at the Gallery, the poor buses look rather battered and neglected so due for the scrapyard yet are not that old so maybe Harpers were not exactly good on maintenance. It’s a shame that these quite characterful vehicles did not have a better life let alone survive.

Richard Leaman


22/05/12 – 14:46

Hi Rod the garage lay between the Cannock Rd and the Hednesford Rd Heath Hayes approx 100yards from the 5 ways island, other than the 1st photo that was taken inside the garage the other photos were taken on ground opposite the rear of the garage on the Cannock Rd prior to Newlands Lane. I think part of the premises are now a tyre depot. They also had a garage on the Stafford Rd Cannock that housed I think 2 Vehicles, a workshop at High Green Cannock where Fleet 14 in Photo at rear of Heath Hayes Garage was re bodied and a Garage that housed a couple of coaches at Aldridge opposite Portland Rd (town end).
Hi Richard you are right in thinking some of the buses looked neglected in the photo that’s because they were indeed scrap except for Fleet 31 in the middle of the three half cabs, they were old and had come to the end of there safe working serviceable life. The vehicles that were in service were in fact very well maintained.

Phil Burton


26/05/12 – 20:38

Many thanks Phil. I had a hunch it was down that road somewhere. My partner says that sounds about right think there are flats there now.

Rod


12/06/12 – 07:30

Heath Hayes has a Walsall post code. Could the Guy’s odd destination refer to West Bromwich Albion football ground, "The Hawthorns"?

Pete Davies


12/06/12 – 11:42

Hi Pete. You are indeed right, the destination did in fact mean West Bromwich Albion. Harpers ran football excursion buses to all the local teams on Saturdays and any night matches. The destinations would be Albion, Villa, Wolves etc. If the Team wasn’t on the destination blind, Football would be put up and a painted or chalked destination board would be displayed in the drivers window or in a purpose made destination board holder.

Phil Burton


13/06/12 – 09:44

Did this bus have a replacement utility body whilst in Sheffield service? Quoted as rebodied by NCB, and obviously not a Park Royal, this would seem to be quite an unusual, and interesting occurrence. If so, where did the NCB utility body come from?

John Whitaker


21/09/12 – 06:58

I have never lived in the West Midlands, so my first-hand experience of Harpers is restricted to a visit to the depot and a ride on a what was then a relatively new Daimler Fleetline on their service from Cannock (via a rather roundabout route) into Birmingham. From these experiences, and from general comments in the enthusiast press, I would say that Harpers were considered one of the leading operators of the day – much better thought of than not only other independents, but many NBC subsidiaries, PTEs, and larger municipalities. The fact that a proportion of the fleet was secondhand did nothing to detract from the fleet’s overall presentation, they always bought quality vehicles and looked after them.

David Call


22/09/12 – 07:05

I think David Call is absolutely right. I visited the depot once and it seemed to me at the time like a very well run company both operationally and maintenance wise. I remember that on the day I went, one of the Royal Tigers with Harpers own bodywork was receiving attention in the depot. I also went on a ‘Farewell to Harpers’ tour when it was known that they were selling out to Midland Red. On that occasion I had the interesting experience of travelling on 888 DUK, the Guy Arab V with the odd looking Strachans body. I believe that by then it had a Leyland 0600 engine.
It was actually a very sad loss when they closed, a substantial operator which had been well respected. I would admit that their unusual livery perhaps didn’t suit every vehicle, but it was certainly distinctive!

Chris Barker


23/09/12 – 06:32

Contemplate, chaps. It seems that Harper’s and Ledgard’s were soul mates. Are there any other mixed operators like this that the rest of you out there would like to nominate? Pennine? Who else?

David Oldfield


24/09/12 – 07:22

Indeed there are David, I’ve always thought the obvious pair were South Yorkshire and South Notts. So many similarities, it’s almost uncanny. To name a few; both had similar size fleets, both operated busy inter-urban services, both had a blue livery, both were mainly stage service operators but with a modest coaching side too, all of their double deckers were lowbridge or low height, all vehicles were bought in two’s or three’s, both bought all-Leyland PD2’s, then turned to other bodybuilders for PD2’s and PD3’s, both had Atlantean PDR1/3’s with Northern Counties bodies, both later turned to the Fleetline with Leyland engine, again with NCME bodies, both ended with the Olympian. I’m sure there were other similarities but you get my drift!

Chris Barker


15/11/12 – 11:15

I heard a guy was writing a book about Harper Bros. Anyone know if it has been completed?

Rod


15/11/12 – 15:02

The book is ‘Harpers Bus Memories in Colour’, published by Irwell Press, which was due to be available in October 2012 price £12.95. It is listed in the latest MDS Books catalogue, reference IR956.

John Stringer


15/11/12 – 15:53

Paul Roberts book ‘Harpers Bus Memories in Colour’ is still awaited.

Philip Lamb


23/11/12 – 08:19

The book is now on the shelf for purchase.

Phil Burton


06/12/12 – 06:55

There is also another long awaited book being written, this is a far more in depth publication. This one will trace the actual history from day one. I would imagine it is not far away now. I will try and get in touch with the author.

Mick Bullock


21/02/13 – 17:38

The Northern Coachworks Body put on Guy Arab I HWA 714 Fleet No 3 in 1954 was a Lowbridge L27/26R. It finished service December 1963.

Phil Burton


18/10/13 – 07:38

In addition to local football trips, Harpers ran to important away matches too – I remember going to watch Wolves in a cup match at Leeds with my grandmother some time in the 70s. Used to catch Harpers buses between Shire Oak and Brownhills, then Walsall Corporation on to Pipe Hill where footballing grandmother lived (non-footballing one at Shire Oak made a convenient stop off on Sunday when the less frequent services left me to wait in the rain ….)

ex ENOC conductor


22/03/14 – 17:15

In the fifties I grew up as neighbour to Felix Harper and to his neighbour sister Mary Harper in the large houses (286 to 280 Cannock rd) that they had built in the thirties. There was a large field next to our houses which gave access to another large field which lay behind our three houses. This was the hidden junkyard for all the old Harpers buses where a handful of those of us kids ‘in the know’ spent many a happy, forbidden and dangerous hour playing and trespassing.

Sheila James Baggaley


20/09/14 – 06:00

Harpers had a small garage at Aldridge as well along from the Avion cinema. My Dad Jack Preston was the Coop chemist in the same road. Anchor Road. From 1957 until 1965 used to go to school in Lichfield every day on a Harpers bus. In 1958 I had an accident coming home when I fell off one of the single deckers with a sliding door at the front and the back wheel of the bus went over the bottom of my leg. Still limping today. Good old Gloria deluxe.

Bryan Preston


08/10/15 – 14:54

It’s sometime since I made a comment on this post has I didn’t have much more to add, however, I don’t remember inspectors being on Harper’s buses, have I got this right?

Jimmie


06/01/16 – 05:37

No Jimmie, Harold Haytree was the inspector, and also at one stage Bob Finch who was ex police joined the company.

Phil Burton


12/01/16 – 14:07

In my student days, back in 1966, I worked with the company as a conductor for about eight weeks in July / August.
Harold Haytree was the Inspector – but his duties didn’t involve any actual inspecting! He was the firm’s ‘presence’ at Cannock Bus Station, and I think he may have had a hand in compiling duty rotas.
The fleet comprised mainly ex London Transport type RT double deckers. I recall the purchase and arrival of a replacement for a crash-damaged vehicle – and the scramble for a trophy in the form of the London Transport radiator badge (replaced by a standard AEC radiator badge).
My other memory was the uniform – emerald green double-breasted dust jackets with cream facings. Very distinctive! Only, they only had one in stock when I joined: it was much MUCH too big!
Having conducted for Liverpool Corporation Passenger Transport the previous summer, I was used to having my own ticket machine (an ‘Ultimate’). At HB, we took any available ‘Setright’ from a hook in the crew room!

Les


13/01/16 – 06:08

Here are a lot of photos of Harper’s vehicles, an amazing assortment which, had they survived, would have made a wonderful museum collection. They had a fair selection of London Transport RT/RTL’s, too. SEE: http://www.heathhayeshistory.co.uk/harpers_buses_1/

Chris Hebbron


14/01/16 – 06:02

Thanks for that link to the Harper fleet, Chris- a fascinating array, even though some of the captions are a bit doubtful (e.g. Cravens RT body built in Anglesey). I am also curious about the single deck Guy Arab JVK 654 with its " back to front gearbox". Did it have one forward gear and four reverse?

Roger Cox


14/01/16 – 06:39

I think that what would be meant by a ‘back to front’ gearbox would be that one or more gears were in a different position to what might be expected. This wasn’t at all unusual with commercial vehicles – Bedford coaches, for instance, up to and including the VAL14 (but not VAL70) had a so-called ‘Chinese’ gearbox.

David Call


14/01/16 – 10:03

A very common feature of Guy Arab gearboxes was that first and second gears were against the driver’s knee, while third and fourth were nearest to the engine. We had just one such at Ledgard’s Otley depot in the form of my beloved JUA 763. It had been new in 1943 with a dreadful Pickering utility body, but in 1950 was rebodied in the finest tradition by Charles H Roe its twin JUA 762 was at Armley depot from new until the end and was treated likewise at the same time. New recruits, fresh from perhaps a lorry driving job, were often "caught out" by the gear positions and either their errors were audibly heard for miles around or they wondered why the bus would not pull away in top gear which they thought was second !!

Chris Youhill


14/01/16 – 16:23

Most Atkinson lorries and some ERFs had the "Chinese" gearbox.
My Tilling Stevens Coach has a 6 speed Chinese box on and i leave a diagram on the dash to remind me

Roger Burdett


14/01/16 – 16:25

It’s the same effect as driving a LHD car- not only do you shunt your front seat passenger into the passing traffic, thinking you are next to open space, but 1 is by your right knee and you then move away for 3 & 4 & even 5 & 6. It don’t feel right!
Off (this) topic, Chris- do you know how/why Wallace Arnold had a depot in Royston?

Joe


14/01/16 – 17:32

I’m fairly sure that London Transport’s later deliveries of utility Guy Arabs had a conventional gearbox ‘gate’ and had to cut a couple of inches off the gear levers of one type (probably the non-standard ones) to enable their drivers to distinguish between the two types.

Chris Hebbron


15/01/16 – 06:23

Certainly most, if not all, the "reversed" gearboxes had a maroon knob as a means of distinction – admittedly of little use in the dark !!

Chris Youhill


15/01/16 – 06:24

Yes, I did follow what the caption to the picture was getting at, but my tongue in cheek comment about the gearbox of Guy Arab JVK 654 arose from the fact that this vehicle was an Arab III. The wartime Arab I and earlier batches of Arab II were fitted with the old sliding mesh gearbox with ‘right to left’ upward gear selector positions introduced with the pre war Arab of 1934. Later production Arab IIs had a new design of constant mesh four speed gearbox with the conventional ‘left to right’ gear lever movement. This constant mesh box was the standard fitment to the Arab III – a few had Guy’s own preselector gearbox – so why would JVK 654 have an old crash gearbox installed in place of its original constant mesh unit? Is the caption correct? Perhaps confusion is arising with the Arab I double deckers KRE 849/850, about which no such comment is made. Also, why remark upon this feature in the Guy, but fail to comment similarly about the several Dennis Lancets in the Harper fleet. The Lancet had the Dennis ‘O’ Type gearbox, a four speed sliding mesh unit with a preselected overdrive fifth ratio, and, again, the lever positions were upward from right to left. When in fifth position, the gear stick was well away from the steering column.

Roger Cox


15/01/16 – 14:38

I imagine some contributors will be able to date some of the photographs shown in the ‘Heath Hayes Gallery’ quite accurately, given the vehicles featured. The rear shot of two vehicles in the depot was clearly taken in Midland Red days, since the vehicle on the right is Midland Red 2181 (XUX 417K), the Ford R192/Plaxton B47F acquired by BMMO with the business of Hoggins, Wrockwardine Wood, in 1/74. It was apparently allocated to Heath Hayes depot from 9/74 to 7/75. The shot was presumably taken towards the beginning of that period, since the vehicle on the left, ex-Harper’s 60 (1294 RE),Guy Arab LUF/Burlingham, was ostensibly withdrawn in 10/74. In its brief stay with Midland Red, it would have been fleet number 2260. Did the ex-Harper vehicles not carry MR fleetnumbers, initially? http://www.heathhayeshistory.co.uk/Harpers_9_3.

David Call


15/01/16 – 15:46

The first bus I helped preserve was Burton Corporation 18 a Guy Arab 111 rebodied by Massey. It too had a Chinese box so again may have been a refit from another wartime Arab.

Geoff S


16/01/16 – 06:02

Joe, when John Wilson was GM of NT(SE) he was directed by NBC to accept delivery of some LHD Willowbrook Express bodied AEC Reliances for continental services: there were more accidents with these vehicles on the continent (and, perhaps not surprisingly in the UK [although I think they were only licensed for use between London and Dover]) than with RHD coaches – apparently if one is used to driving an RHD vehicle it’s easier to drive one on the continent that it is an LHD vehicle, presumably because the spatial arrangement of the controls remains the same.

Philip Rushworth


16/01/16 – 11:36

Joe, I forgot to answer your question! Wallace Arnold’s Royston depot came with the purchase of G E Billham in 1942 – I think Billham was largely involved with colliery contracts. Castleford depot, acquired with M Box (Castleford) Ltd in 1946, was another depot largely confined to contract operations (although I think some tours duties might have been operated from Castleford depot after Gillards Tours, Normanton, was taken over in 1966. In 1969 the allocation at Royston depot was 22 coaches; Castleford 16 coaches, including two licenced to Gillards.

Philip Rushworth


16/01/16 – 15:14

Interesting Philip. My own experience with occasional hire of LHD cars on the continent is that I just cannot estimate the clearance from the right hand kerb from a left hand driving seat, as I can the left hand kerb from a right hand driving seat. Accordingly I always tend to drive much farther out into the road than necessary.

Stephen Ford


17/01/16 – 06:31

Further to John W (13/6/12) and Phil B (21/2/13), HWA 714 was apparently acquired by Harper’s, chassis only, from Duncan of Law, then fitted with its second hand NCB body and placed in service 4/54.
The body was reputedly new c.1949 when it was used to rebody DH 9344, a 1932 Burlingham-bodied Leyland TS3 acquired with the business of Reynolds of Cannock in 6/44. However, I have to say that the body doesn’t look 1949 vintage to me, it looks like, as John W commented, a utility body.
They presumably made strong Leyland TS3s in 1932.
I am inclined to suppose that Duncan of Law was ultimately superseded by Irvine’s of Law, but I’ll stand corrected, of course. Irvine’s are still operational.

David Call

Correction – Irvine’s of Law ceased in 2012.
Adam Duncan sold out to prolific bus company purchaser Sam Anderson, who, only a year or two later, sold on the operation to William Irvine.


18/01/16 – 06:05

The comments about the body are most interesting. It has the look of a utility product but there are certain aspects of it which contradict this, the drivers windscreen and the flat front are most utility like but the side windows appear to have radiused bottom corners, the foremost upper deck side windows have rounded corners on the front upper edge which a utility body would not have had. The front upper deck windows have obviously been rebuilt at some point and appear to be pan glazed. The sliding ventilators are not utility style but NCB did produce some bodies with these on unfrozen AEC chassis earlier in the war, around 1942.
If the business of Reynolds was acquired in 6/44 and the body was produced some time after that, there would only have been a short period for it to be regarded as utility because I believe NCB were one of the first bodybuilders to produce a standard post war composite design which I understand appeared in 1945.
In addition, I don’t think they built wartime bodywork in any great numbers, perhaps this was a relaxed utility built at the very end of the war. I suppose a photograph of it when it was on the TS3 would be too much to ask for!

Chris Barker


19/01/16 – 06:04

Thanks Philip….WA must have needed some consistent year round trade… Could never understand how such a totally Leeds company wandered so far south. Their fleet was always so up to date, smart and seemed of such quality, as they set off again for Edinburgh and the Trossachs. Then came cheap flights and all the rest.

Joe


19/01/16 – 09:14

Joe, As WA grew and grew it became anything BUT a totally Leeds company, and they had a thriving "stand alone" operation in Torquay. In view of the lovely rural roads and lanes of Devon and Cornwall some of their brand new otherwise standard coaches were built specially to the largely outdated 7’6" width. Then, at the other end of the UK (sorry Ms Sturgeon), Dicksons of Dundee were taken over, bringing some superb coaches with lovely tartan moquette seating, and a thriving customer base. Some vehicles initially operated from Leeds in Dickson’s smart maroon livery – two lovely Reliances MYJ 764/5 are fondly recalled for instance.

Chris Youhill


20/01/16 – 05:49

Apologies for pushing this thread further in the WA direction, but I’m hoping Chris Youhill will be able to answer something that puzzled me for years. I can see how, with a base in Torquay, WA’s Devon subsidiary could service a programme of extended based in the south west – but how were the programmes based in London (ex Homeland Tours), Northamptonshire (ex United Counties), Bristol (ex Hallens), and the ex-Dicksons Scottish-based tours serviced. And for that after the Glasgow-Skye express service that was taken over fro Skyways? Were coaches and drivers sent out from Leeds on rotation, or were some pick-ups "on line of route"?

Philip Rushworth


21/01/16 – 06:44

I’ve just seen the comments above about "Chinese" gearboxes. I’ve read elsewhere that Guy’s right-to-left gearboxes had maroon gear lever knobs, but I believe this is an error caused by the assumption that an unusual gear arrangement warranted an unusual knob. In fact I’m pretty sure that it was the other way round – the maroon knob was introduced in 1945 to distinguish the new constant-mesh gearbox from its Chinese predecessor. I’m sure I’ve seen some quite late examples, and even UFs or LUFs.
I think there is also confusion over Bedfords. Bedford’s own 4-speed gearbox was perfectly conventional. The early Turner 5-speed unit on the VAL14 (also optional on SBs at that time) was unusual in that 1st (rarely used) was on the extreme right opposite reverse, 2nd and 3rd were over on the left, and 4th and 5th were to the right but back-to-front. However, this does not justify the "Chinese" epithet, which refers strictly to arrangements where ascending through the gears means going from right to left, like Chinese writing. The only Bedfords with that arrangement were the SB coaches with the Plaxton C-type modification, which created extra passenger space by raising the floor and pushing the driving position forward, requiring extra linkage for the gearchange. Both Bedford and Turner gear arrangements were then reversed right-to-left.

Peter Williamson


21/01/16 – 15:30

Philip – I’m afraid you’ve caught me on the hop there as I was only very briefly involved in tour coach allocation before returning to driving out of my own choice. I’m pretty sure though that Paul Haywood and Malcolm Hirst will be able to answer that aspect more fully. One driving job though that I did do, just after the Dickson’s takeover, was to travel empty to Dundee one Saturday afternoon and the next morning take a load of tour passengers for their first overnight in Bradford – so that will have been something to do with Dickson’s programme no doubt, although I’m sure that it wasn’t a regular manoeuvre. Around the same time I also had to got to Wetherby (in a company car) to relieve another Leeds driver on a southbound continental tour from Dundee to Southend Airport.

Chris Youhill


03/02/16 – 06:44

A few of you have mentioned names of a few of Harper’s Drivers, I am wondering if anybody would remember my Grandfather, Derek Holden? I’m trying to do at bit of research to surprise my dad and any leads would be fantastic. As far as I am aware he worked for the company durin the 1960’s but could have possibly been earlier than that when he started. Like I said, I have little to go on other than a rough time scale and the fact that my Grandfather was from the Bloxwich/Walsall area.

Rob Holden


14/02/16 – 05:46

Philip Rushworth queries how the Croydon operations of WA were run. I lived in Croydon from 1960 to 1966 and the vehicles were licensed in the Metropolitan Traffic Area and ran from a base effectively on a large traffic island formed by St. James’s Road, Hogarth Crescent and Whitehorse Road.
Departures and arrivals used the car park at the Fairfield Halls in Barclay Road.

John Kaye


15/02/16 – 16:06

David Call,
Irvine of Law have gone but Irvine (Golden Eagle) of Salsburgh are still in business although they sold their bus service to First in the 1990s. One of their Reliances (LHS 479P) famously left Loughborough with a destination blind reading AIRDIRE.

Stephen Allcroft


16/02/16 – 06:02

In the mid 1930s, Frank Flin operated a small coach business between London and Margate from a base in Park Lane, Croydon, and also ran a booking office in George Street. In 1936 he acquired the tour licences of another Croydon firm, Wilson’s Tours, and in 1937 set up Homeland Tours. At the outbreak of WW2 his seven coaches were commandeered for military use, and, at the cessation of hostilities only two were returned. An order was placed for a replacement fleet of Strachans C37F bodied Leyland Comet CPO2 coaches, http://www.na3t.org/road/photo/Hu02356  but securing hotel bookings in the early post war years was very difficult for small tour operators with limited bargaining power. Around this time Leeds based Wallace Arnold was seeking to strengthen its presence in the London area, and opened negotiations with Flin. In 1948 Flin passed his tour licences to Wallace Arnold, but retained his coaches. The travel agency in George Street, though still owned by Frank Flin, then became an agency for Wallace Arnold. The maroon liveried Homeland Leyland Comet coaches continued to run private hire and day excursions, though I believe that they were operated on Flin’s behalf by Wallace Arnold. I used to see them about regularly in the Croydon area of the early 1950s. These operations were sold in 1956 to Bourne and Balmer, by then a Timpson subsidiary, who had a garage and coach station in Dingwall Road. Homeland Tours then became purely a travel agency business. It is now run under the name of Wallace Arnold World Choice by the grandson of Frank Flin in premises in George Street only a short distance from the original shop site. Notwithstanding the name, which is retained with the agreement of Shearings (the current owner of the Wallace Arnold name) it is still an independent business. The site mentioned by John Kaye is in an area known locally as Spurgeon’s Bridge after the adjacent huge Spurgeon’s Tabernacle (aka West Croydon Baptist Church). The bridge itself goes over the railway line from London into West Croydon. I used to cross this junction, then just a straightforward crossroads traversed by the 654 route trolleybuses rather than the convoluted, combined, circulatory systems of today, on my walk to school at Selhurst.

Roger Cox


16/02/16 – 08:38

This seems to be a revealing tale, Roger. The various changes and absorptions seem to have been negotiated with goodwill, and not the pac-man methods more evident today: there seems to be the idea that there could be a living for everyone. WA always seemed a decent outfit, unless others know different…

Joe


16/02/16 – 15:21

I am sure that your reading of the business relationship between Homeland Tours and Wallace Arnold is exactly correct, Joe. One imagines that the representatives of the two firms happened to meet up during tour planning/operations in the early post-war period, and saw the benefits to be accrued from joint working arrangements. That the two businesses held each other in real respect is manifest in the Wallace Arnold trading name that John Flin, the present proprietor of the Homeland Croydon agency, has adopted in the present day.

Roger Cox


17/02/16 – 05:48

Many thanks for replying – just one more thing! WA’s Croydon site was it covered/under-cover? were there maintenance facilities??. The history of London-area coaching operations is fascinating: Tom McLachlan’s "Grey-Green and contemporaries Vol 1" (taking the story to 1960) was published in in 2007 – I’m still waiting for Vol 2. And writing of delayed publication dates, on 06.XII.12 Mick Bullock promised publication of an in depth history of Harpers – now that’s another book I’m eagerly awaiting . . .

Philip Rushworth


18/02/16 – 05:51

wa_fabric

Wallace Arnold lives on in room 136 Burlington Hotel Eastbourne Feb 2016 a little thread bear in places.

Ken Wragg


18/02/16 – 10:19

The WA’s are fairly subtle, Ken, you wouldn’t notice, if you didn’t know!
Why is it there and how did you know it was there?

Chris Hebbron


18/02/16 – 10:20

Ken, an amazing discovery in the weave of the carpet – does it actually refer to the coaching giant, or is it a pure coincidence??
Also, I’m sure I recall that either a TV documentary, or possibly a bought DVD, featured Barbara Flin in her days as a courier on some of the first ambitious Continental tours, to Interlaken in particular. She eventually had a major victory against the snooty Manager of a leading hotel (still there now) in Interlaken when he "banished" her and the driver to a quiet corner of the ballroom to eat, rather than allowing them to dine in style with their passengers. Eventually she won and they were restored to their rightful place in the Dining Room. I may be wrong, time dulls the memory, but I’m sure she was eventually the wife of Francis Flin at Croydon – can anyone confirm please, or shall I "get mi ‘at."

Chris Youhill


18/02/16 – 11:56

wa_fabric_2

This discovery of Wallace Arnold carpet was in the room allocated during a holiday last week at the Burlington Hotel Eastbourne (an old Wallace Arnold hotel). I was happy to see this memento of the past but it does not show the quality I expect of the Holiday Co that owns the hotel. I add the other photo of carpet.

Ken Wragg


19/02/16 – 05:41

Phillip, I am also eagerly awaiting volume 2 of Tom McLachlan’s book. I understand that, although he now has health problems , the final draft was finished some years ago and it is hoped that his son will complete the book.

Nigel Turner


19/02/16 – 05:42

Oh dear Ken – the second photo shows that it high time the carpet was chucked out – I hope that the rest of the hotel and in particular the cleanliness and the food were much fresher !!

Chris Youhill


19/02/16 – 05:43

Thanks for thinking of photographing – I might offer to take it off their hands should they ever get round to re-decorating! "Dear Manager, As a resident of Leeds you will understand my interest in acquiring certain carpets, should they become available . . . "
Latterly WA owned eight hotels: Pentire Hotel, Newquay; County Hotel, Llandudno; Trecarn Hotel, Torquay; Savoy Hotel, Bournemouth; Grand Hotel, Exmouth; Broadway Park Hotel, Sandown; The Fife Arms, Braemar; and the Burlington.
Shearings owned quite a number of hotels, more than WA, at the time of the "merge-over"

Philip Rushworth


19/02/16 – 09:32

Philip – despite the similarity in names with Trecarne didn’t WA also own the Tolcarne Hotel, also I believe in Devon ??

Chris Youhill


19/02/16 – 15:26

A wonderful story, Chris, and I am sure that your identification of the redoubtable lady who challenged the preposterous social status nonsense of a certain hotel manager is entirely accurate. The spelling of the name ‘Flin’ is unusual, and the likelihood of there being another lady in the tour business with the first name of Barbara must be pretty remote. Frank Flin died in 1962, and the Homeland agency then passed to his son, Francis John Flin, whose wife is Barbara Mary Flin, now in her eighties. Both are still shown as directors of the business. Their son, John Richard Flin, currently runs the firm. (“So you can leave t’ ‘at ‘anging in t’ ‘all.” Apologies if my West Riding dialect is all wrong – my mother came from the East Riding.) Apparently the old close and rewarding relationship with Wallace Arnold was lost with the Shearings takeover, to the detriment of the travel agency business, but matters did recover to some degree subsequently. On the subject of the Wallace Arnold depot at Spurgeon’s Bridge, Croydon, I cannot personally recall much about it. However, the Commercial Motor Archive tells us that around a dozen coaches were drafted in during the summer months, though whether or not this means that the base was only used in summer, or that a smaller winter allocation was augmented for the season, is unclear. I would surmise that the facilities there were pretty basic. Apparently, the depot was closed finally in 1985, whereupon Wallace Arnold then stationed some 30 vehicles at the London Buses Norwood Garage, which was contracted to clean and refuel them. This indicates that mechanical maintenance work was undertaken elsewhere.

Roger Cox


20/02/16 – 05:04

Mention of the Flin family in Croydon reminds me of a brief period when I worked in their office in the winter of 1964/65. At that time I worked in the WA Traffic Office in Leeds and volunteered to spend a week filling and addressing envelopes with tour brochures in the Flin/WA office.
Highlights of the week included travelling down from Leeds to London on a brown/cream Pullman (2nd class of course). For safety (being a snivelling 16 year old) my parents insisted I stay with my aunt rather than in a dubious B&B. This was fine with me as I made the daily commute on red (Central Area) and green (Country Area) RTs from Tolworth to Croydon via Epsom. Sadly, because of the time of year, most of the rides were in the dark, but I felt really grown-up being a London commuter!
A final memory is of the kindness (and tolerance) of the Flin family, one of whom gave me a publicity photo of their Homeland Tours Duplex coach JVB 908 (see www.sct61.org.uk/zzjvb908)

Paul Haywood


21/02/16 – 05:56

Roger and Paul – curiosity has just made me seek out the footage with Barbara Flyn and her account of the stuffy Interlaken Jungfrau Hotel is as I remembered it.
It was a Channel 4 programme called "The golden years of coach travel" or something similar, and is excellent throughout. The links feature Stephen Barber of WA and a fascinating Lancashire chap who was a lifelong passenger with Yelloways of Rochdale.
Paul – I never knew of your little adventure to Croydon – I would gladly have done the same and written a few envelopes to "fund" it.

Chris Youhill


21/02/16 – 15:47

I recall that programme, Chris. It was "The Golden Age Of Coach Travel". I made a DVD copy of it for a former work colleague at Peterborough, who told me about the no holds barred scramble to get away from Cheltenham when the "departure pistol" went off for all coaches to leave at the same time. Drivers who had communed jovially during the break period then jostled mercilessly to get out and away from the queue that quickly formed at the exit. The programme is still available on Youtube and I’ve just watched it again. Notwithstanding a few inconsistencies, it is a fascinating record of a time that, sadly, has totally gone.

Roger Cox


21/02/16 – 15:48

I’ve found "The Golden Age of Coach Travel" on YouTube. It is a BBC production of 2010. There are some wonderful anecdotes about the ‘services’ the drivers’ provided, some dubious! Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrDQ9SNYwyc

Chris Hebbron


22/02/16 – 06:15

Does any one remember the series on TV featuring a driver called Cannonball doing a Devon/Cornwall tour for Wallace Arnold is it still available.

Ken Wragg


22/02/16 – 09:03

‘Cannonball’ certainly appears in the above documentary, but is only one of several drivers saying their piece.

Chris Hebbron


23/02/16 – 05:26

Chris Y. At the time of the brochure from which I copied the hotels list above – mid 1990s? as there were a mix of van Hool/Jonckheere/Plaxton-bodied coaches pictured – there was no mention of the Tolcarne Hotel, but I’ve done a quick Google and there was a Tolcarne Hotel in Newquay . . . "filthy and old-fashioned" according the last TripAdvisor comment in 2008. And whilst I was about that I also Googled "Barbara Flynn" [sic], who apparently has been married to a Jeremy Taylor since 1982/34y-old, so the Homeland Tours connection is looking a bit weak here! Don’t get your coat though – I’d miss your knowledgeable contributions (although I might take any further contributions about the performing arts with a pinch of salt!).

Philip Rushworth


23/02/16 – 10:43

Phillip, you are looking at Barbara Flynn the actress.
She played, along with many other parts, the Milk Lady in ‘Open All Hours’, and appeared with James Bolam in the Beiderbecke Trilogy. The Barbara Flin in the Golden Age of Coaching was a different lady altogether, and was a Courier/Guide with Wallace Arnold.

Stephen Howarth


23/02/16 – 10:46

It’s not Barbara Flynn, it’s Barbara Flin, Philip. This lady is now in her eighties, and, with her husband Francis, is still a director of the Wallace Arnold World Wide agency in Croydon. (Hasn’t this discussion come a long way from a wartime Guy Arab!)

Roger Cox


13/03/16 – 14:48

I was beginning to wonder if I was on the right page here seeing as I’ve had to wade through loads of comments nothing to do with Harper Bros. The Guy JVK 654 was bought as a chassis and was fitted with a Lawton body, nothing in the Heath Hayes History caption says it was a crash box, only that it was back to front which it was. 1st & 2nd gear nearest the driver 3rd & 4th nearest the engine. Regarding the RT’s, All the Leylands were from London and the first two AEC’s with Craven Bodies built in Anglesey as caption states, Fleet No’s 2 & 12 KGK 729 & KGK 738.The other seven RTA’s were from St Helens purchased 61/2.

Phil Burton


14/03/16 – 06:53

All Guy Arab I and the great majority of Arab II chassis were fitted with the Guy four speed sliding mesh gearbox with the ‘right to left’ upward selector positions and the double plate clutch inherited from the early 1934 Arab model. Arab IIs from late 1945 onwards had the new Guy constant mesh box which had a conventional ‘left to right’ selector gate coupled with a single plate clutch. This gearbox/clutch combination then went into the new Arab III that was available from late 1946.

Roger Cox


14/03/16 – 06:53

The assumption that a right-to-left gearbox would be “crash” comes from the fact that the only gearbox Guy built to that pattern was the unit used in wartime Arabs, which was sliding-mesh. The most likely explanation is that the Arab III acquired a gearbox from a defunct utility double-decker later in life.
The point about the Craven bodies on the RTs is that they were built in Sheffield, not Anglesey. It was Saunders bodies that were built in Anglesey.

Peter Williamson


17/03/16 – 15:16

Of course you are right Peter, the Cravens bodies were built in Sheffield as you say, I put it down to c-nile dementia, I’m getting old lol. The Guy JVK 653 was new in 1946 but came to Harpers as just a chassis in 1954 and a Lawton body was fitted. The gear knob was maroon and of a mushroom shape rather than a ball

Phil Burton


28/03/16 – 11:38

blind

I’m an lifelong Villa fan and have just been given a very old bus blind (shown here framed and back lit) by a mate of mine here in New Zealand – he brings in vintage stuff from the UK to sell on in this part of the world – the cloth blind has a sloping font and 7 destinations ‘FOOTBALL’ ‘WOLVES’ ‘VILLA’ ‘ALBION’ ‘TO THE SHOW’ ‘SPECIAL’ and ‘EXCURSION’. He knew, because of the sloping font, that it came off a 40’s / 50’s bus and after hunting around the internet my guess, after reading this page and in particular the post on 12/06/12 by Phil Burton, is that it came of a Harper Bros bus. Looking at the images I can find my guess is that it came off a/the Guy Arab III with Lawton bodywork.

George Shaw


HWA 714_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


10/04/16 – 05:24

Homeland Tours owned a booking office in Park Lane Croydon, on the corner of Park Street in the 1950s. Their fleet of Leyland coaches were kept at the Regal Garage in the Old Kent Road. The owners of the Regal Garage sold it to new owners in 1955, and Homeland Tours were asked to vacate the premises. The Homeland Tours fleet was sold to Bourne and Balmer of Croydon, a subsidiary company of Timpsons since 1953. The two Homeland Tours Leyland Tiger Cubs with underfloor engines MBY 909, MBY 910,were kept by Bourne and Balmer, but the normal control Leyland Comets were sold to dealers. Homeland Tours became an agent for Wallace Arnold, and the Park Lane office traded under the Wallace Arnold name. The building was sold some years later, and they moved around the corner to George Street. At least one of the Leyland Comets went to work for Chiltern Queens in Oxford.

H. Daulby


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Wednesday 29th March 2017