Old Bus Photos

Highland Omnibuses – Guy Arab – HGC 147 – E8

Highland Omnibuses - Guy Arab - HGC 147 - E8

Highland Omnibuses Ltd
Guy Arab II
Alexander L27/26RD (1952)

In July 1965 I did a tour of Scotland on a railrover – I think one week though it may have been two – the object of which was to cover as much of the existing passenger rail network as possible, many of the lines being threatened with closure at that time. There was little time to do any bus photography, as arrival in a town at the end of daylight with no booked accommodation meant that finding this was first priority. Then it would be up in the morning for the earliest appropriate departure.
One of the very few occasions where leisure was enforced was near the beginning of the adventure, on my arrival in the far north of Scotland. The railway timetable simply didn’t allow the Thurso and Wick branches to be covered exclusively by rail without an inordinate waste of time. Having arrived at Thurso around 4 pm, it was then a matter of finding a bus to take me to Wick, from where I would catch the early train back to Inverness.
Highland was very much the ‘Second-hand Rose’ of the Scottish Bus Group, particularly as far as double-deck buses were concerned. As far as I can make out, none were bought new between a Guy Arab IV in 1950 and a batch of Fleetlines in 1978.
Having observed (and photographed) a ‘new’ (1963) Lowlander – recently transferred from Central – on the Scrabster service, and a venerable former Scottish Omnibuses Arab II – still with utility body – on the town service to Mount Vernon, I was quite happy to see E8 as seen above turn into the High Street with its destination showing Wick.
HGC 147 began life as London Transport G368, a Guy Arab II with Massey H30/26R utility bodywork. LT’s Guys were always odd-men-out, so had a short life, being withdrawn with the expectation of sale for further use in the early 1950s. The Scottish Bus Group took a number of them, and 19 found their way to Western SMT who in 1952 replaced the utility bodies with smart new Alexander low-bridge bodies in their domed style. HGC 147 took WSMT fleet number 1005. 13 years later, the chassis now fully 20 years old, E8 was still looking smart.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Alan Murray-Rust

20/05/19 – 07:24

These Massey G’s were delivered in the second half of 1945 and probably had the weakest, certainly the most ugly, utility bodies of all LT’s vehicles of this type. ‘Ian’s Bus Stop’ website states that she was acquired for use on Dounray work. She certainly looks smart here and was finally retired in May 1967.

Chris Hebbron

23/05/19 – 06:57

As an afterthought, Alan, I’d hazard a guess that the drivers (and probably conductors) of these venerable vehicles, with austerity bodies or not, would have rued the day that they were ousted by the truly awful Albion Lowlander.

Chris Hebbron

09/06/19 – 10:51

The Guy Arab in its well known guise evolved entirely from the advent of the Second World War, and had it not done so, then, as respected author Robin Hannay confirms, the Guy company would probably have disappeared entirely by 1950. The original Arab FD model (the code stood for forward control type ‘D’, as the previous Guy buses had carried the letter ‘˜C’ – the ‘D’ did not, as often stated, stand for ‘diesel’) came on the market in 1933, carrying forward much of the design philosophy from the FC Invincible that preceded it, and, indeed, an FC demonstrator was rebuilt by Guy as an Arab. This early Arab design was conceived within the Leyland TD1 school of thought, with the engine, driving position and front bulkhead set back from the front axle; this enabled the accommodation of the Gardner 6LW engine, though the 5LW was the usual power unit. The neater front end structure of the AEC Regent had already arrived in 1929 and, strangely, the contemporary Guy trolleybuses did have a tidy frontal design. 1933 also heralded the appearance of the Leyland TD3 with a compact front end but the somewhat autocratic Sidney Guy maintained his own strong beliefs on the subject of bus design. The production run run of the original double deck Arab lasted until 1936, during which period about 50 were made, though Burton on Trent Corporation Transport, a confirmed user of the 4LW powered Arab in its single deck guise, took six more in 1940 and a further six in 1941. Between 1936 and the early years of the war Guy produced vehicles for the military, but even this activity trailed off when the orders for searchlight vehicles were cancelled as radar played a greater role in detecting enemy aircraft. With the outbreak of war all new bus production was halted, being slightly relaxed subsequently to permit the assembly of ‘unfrozen’ chassis. It soon became clear that something had to be done to meet the urgent need for new buses, and, in 1941, officialdom turned first to Leyland, but also (to general astonishment, since it had not been a significant double deck manufacturer for five years) to Guy. When Leyland withdrew due to the pressures of other wartime work, operator astonishment turned to apprehension that the industry’s needs were to be met solely by the Guy company. The original Arab design was clearly outdated and Major Chapple of Bristol offered Sidney Guy the drawings for the K5G, but Mr Guy was having none of it. His new bus would be a Guy, but the shape of the redesigned chassis showed very close similarities with that of that of the Leyland TD7 (a wartime version of which was originally expected to be supplied also), though established Guy transmission units were incorporated. The subsequent history of the Arab Utility is well documented, and its rugged dependability became legendary, even though the ‘˜back to front’ selector positions of the original crash gearbox was not a universally popular feature. However, London Transport drivers did not like the Arab, and the members of the G class were disposed of as soon as the new London Transport Executive could get rid of them, even though they were mechanically sound with years of life potentially ahead. In the booming post war public transport period there was a somewhat paranoid attitude by the Labour government about the disposal of nationalised undertakings’ assets to companies within the UK but outside the state fold, and very many of these Arabs were sold abroad instead. Even Edinburgh Corporation had a mighty struggle to get sixty surplus Arabs from LT. However, the Scottish Motor Traction group was nationalised in 1949 and thus became an acceptable recipient for former London machinery which, like HGC 147, then went on to give sterling service for very many years.

Roger Cox

10/06/19 – 07:41

I believe all London Transport’s Guy Utilities had the 5LW engine and this one, despite having the protruding radiator, appears to have had it’s upturned front wings cut back. It also retains the Arab II high bonnet line although I understand a conversion kit was available to achieve the lower bonnet line of the Arab III, perhaps Western thought the extra expense was unjustified – a shame really because it would have made a nice looking bus even better.

Chris Barker


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Premier Travel – Guy Arab II – CDR 750 – 110

Premier Travel - Guy Arab II - CDR 750 - 110

Premier Travel (Cambridge)
Guy Arab II 5LW
Roe L27/28R

By 1957, Premier Travel of Cambridge was looking to replace the remainder of its rather tired ex LPTB STLs and the second hand utility CWA6s from Huddersfield, Glasgow and Mansfield. It turned to the rugged Gardner 5LW powered Guy Arab II, choosing seven ex Southdown highbridge examples with the well constructed Northern Counties UH30/26R bodywork, and these were supplemented by three lowbridge machines from Plymouth Corporation with rebuilt Roe UL27/28R bodies. Allocated the fleet numbers from 102 to 111 inclusive, these became the only Guy buses ever to enter the Premier fleet. The Guys proved to be very economical and reliable, but the Plymouth examples had severely governed engines that limited road performance, even in the relatively flat lands of their operating territory. Given its sparsely populated rural network, Premier ran very close to the breadline. Nonetheless, one wonders why the company did not simply get the fuel pumps recalibrated to the manufacturer’s standard setting, but this apparently never happened. The Guys lasted with Premier for some four to five years before being replaced by “White Lady” Leyland PD2s from Ribble. The picture shows the crew of No. 110, ex Plymouth Arab II CDR 750, taking a layover break in Cambridge Drummer Street Bus Station on 26 August 1959.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

31/05/16 – 09:35

The conductress appears to be taking the term "layover just a bit too literally!!

Chris Youhill

01/06/16 – 06:54

The Premier Travel company has a curious link with the present day state of the bus industry. In 1950, a certain John Alfred Blythe Hibbs, after working for the company in his second year as part of his degree studies at Birmingham (Woodbrooke) University, was appointed in 1950 as Personal Assistant to Arthur Lainson, the boss of Premier Travel. The precarious financial state of the company saw the departure of Hibbs in 1952, whereupon he became a ‘transport consultant’. In 1954 he completed a Masters degree thesis on the shortcomings (as he saw them) of the Road Service Licensing system. Then, in 1956, he and a partner bought Corona Coaches of Acton, near Sudbury, Suffolk, and then purchased the nearby business of A. J. Long of Glemsford in 1958. Almost exactly one year later, in August 1959, the entire business failed, and Hibbs once again became a consultant cum journalist until he found a job with British Railways in 1961 as Traffic Survey Officer, Eastern Region, at Liverpool Street. After several job reclassifications, he left BR in 1967 for the academic world where he thereafter remained, loudly proclaiming his views, until retirement. Thus, his entire practical knowledge of bus operation was gained with Premier Travel for two to three years, and then for a further three years with his disastrous Corona venture. This, then, was the "expert" whose "experience" saw him recruited by Ridley to give a cover of academic justification to the industry death knell called deregulation. You couldn’t make it up. Then, with the ‘success’ of deregulation behind him, Hibbs was then involved in the equally catastrophic privatisation of the railway system, yet another industry in which his experience was minimal. As George Bernard Shaw said, "Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach".

Roger Cox

01/06/16 – 09:13

Wonderful comments there Roger, and I fear that virtually everyone has now forgotten the scandalous Hereford and Worcester trial of 1985 – a handful of rural bus routes were allowed to be operated by "competent" small coach companies in order to prove that de-regulation would be in the interests of healthy competition and passenger benefit. Breaches of the embryo stern measures proposed were rife, but still the move went through and that’s where we are today !! A classic lesson in the need to stamp out a fresh virus before it it becomes a Nationwide uncontrollable epidemic.

Chris Youhill

01/06/16 – 17:24

My views on Ridiculous Nicolas have been aired here and elsewhere before. The man had one of the brownest noses of any of Thatcher’s sycophants and Roger’s comments come as no surprise. Having spent many years organising and operating conferences around the world for many disciplines in both academia and industry and having seen how the two interface, whenever an academic "expert" is asked to spout on television or in the press on how industry or the economy should deal with a problem, or should be run, unless I know they have years of practical experience alongside, or before, their being closeted in some think tank or hall of academe, I mentally switch off. Time after time these experts have been relied on to give their dubious weight to politicians’ hairbrained schemes, not just in the UK. The "reasoning" seems to be that the brightest brains are academics. That’s as maybe but translating theories into practice in established and sometimes in need of help industries needs real time, hands on, knowledge as well as hours sitting thinking and theorising.

Phil Blinkhorn

01/06/16 – 17:26

And back to the bus CDR 750 ended up next on a farm in Essex as a lorry and there was a article in a old Buses Annual and is now rebuilt back to a utility bus at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum.

Ken Wragg

12/06/16 – 06:48

Something has been sticking in my mind…the company replaced its "preowned" utility Daimlers with some dependable and snouty Guys: and what did we get? proudly named "Premier", a presumably solvent and possibly affordable local bus service on a shoestring, as were a number of municipalities: no leased leviathans then with their dodgem transmissions and (often) miserable drivers… right, back to reality….


12/06/16 – 09:11

Blame ‘Economics’, Joe, manifest in the form of One Person Operation. Back then, a driver was just that, able to concentrate on the job, and a conductor spent the whole time with passengers. Realistically, in modern road conditions, something like the sedate 5LW Arab would struggle to keep time, though some of the present day bus timings are absurdly fast. Even so, the operating costs of modern buses are much higher than those of the Arabs, PD2s et al of the past, yet the reliability is far lower. Years ago, a bus ride was a pleasant experience. I don’t find that to be true today.

Roger Cox


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London Transport – Guy Arab II – HGC 130 – G351

London Transport - Guy Arab II - HGC 130 - G351

London Transport
Guy Arab II 5LW
Park Royal H30/26R

Here we have a Guy Arab II with a Park Royal H56R body, new to London Transport. This vehicle is part of the London Bus Preservation Trust collection, formerly at Cobham but now at Brooklands. Once more, we have a difference of information between Jenkinson and PSVC2012. Jenkinson says it has a UH56R body and dates from 1945, while the PSVC does not mention the utility element and says it dates from 1946. I’m sure that they cannot both be right, unless it was built in 1945 but did not enter service until 1946. Someone out there will know no doubt!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

03/03/16 – 15:02

It looks like a utility to me,although possibly one of the ‘relaxed’ utility batch judging by the number of opening windows.

David Wragg

03/03/16 – 15:04

According to Ken Glazier’s London Bus File, G351 was taken into stock on 5 January 1946. Bodies constructed in 1945 were to relaxed Austerity specification with rounded front and rear domes.

John Gibson

03/03/16 – 15:05

Pete, according to the excellent Ian’s Bus Stop website, many of these Park Royal/NCB Utility-specification buses (G319-G357) didn’t enter service until January/February/March 1946. G351 is documented as entering service in February 1946. There can be little doubt that they were in fact built in late 1945 to wartime specifications, but it depends on which date we prefer to use.

Paul Haywood

03/03/16 – 15:06

I seem to have omitted the location and date when I submitted this to Peter for consideration: Wisley Airfield, on 5 April 2009.

Pete Davies

04/03/16 – 05:53

The unimpeachable authority on this subject is Ken Blacker’s book ‘London’s Utility Buses’. The final LT consignment of Park Royal H30/26R bodies on Guy Arab II chassis was delivered in two batches. G319 to 357 arrived at Chiswick between 17 November 1945 and 3 March 1946. G351 itself was accepted into stock on 3 January 1946, which certainly means that it was constructed in the last weeks of 1945. G431 to 435, the final batch of these buses and London Transport’s very last utility Guys, were accepted between 18 and 30 March 1946, and probably were built earlier in that year. G319 to 339 retained the old sliding mesh gearbox with ‘back to front’ gear lever positions and the two plate clutch inherited from the pre war Arab model. Those from G340 onwards had the new constant mesh gearbox with conventional selector positions coupled with a single plate clutch, a specification that was carried forward into the postwar Arab III. The Park Royal bodies on these last LPTB Guys made no concessions in appearance whatsoever towards the relaxed utility specifications by then prevailing. Even the stark upper deck front ventilators were retained after Weymann and Northern Counties had abandoned this feature. In fact the only ‘relaxations’ incorporated were tubular framed (cushioned) seats and winding windows. The complete vehicle with its composite construction bodywork weighed 7 tons 5 cwts, compared with 7 tons 6 cwts for the last Weymann bodied London Guy utilities and 7 tons 13 cwts for the excellent metal framed Northern Counties Arabs. All the London Transport Arabs had been withdrawn by December 1952, the newest then being just over six years old, though the indifferent quality of construction materials was evident in bodywork deterioration. Upon its sale by LT, HGC 130, the former G351, went in 1953 to the very satisfied Guy Arab operator, Burton-on-Trent Corporation who had the bodywork refurbished by Roe. Burton then ran it until withdrawal in 1967, after which it thankfully found its way into preservation.

HGC 130_2

HGC 130_3

Here are some pictures of this bus taken during the HCVC Brighton runs between 1969 and 1972 by which time some sag in the body waistrail was beginning to become evident.

Roger Cox

04/03/16 – 06:44

Thank you, gents, for your thoughts on the true date of this bus.

Pete Davies

07/03/16 – 06:23

Age apart, it is one of the most attractive utilities I have seen, only those from Southdown come anywhere near. It just shows that a good livery can lift even a mundane design.

David Wragg

27/08/17 – 09:08

I was the very lucky person who purchased G351, or Burton 70 as it was then, in 1967. I met Reg Stack a former Park Royal employee and he stated that the body was built in October 1945 and it was delivered to London Transport in November 1945, thus to my mind it is a 1945 vehicle but of course some of the ‘anoraks’ would insist that it was a 1946 vehicle. I presently own two Guy Arabs that were first licensed on the 1st January 1956 and again the ‘anoraks’ insist that they are 1956 vehicles. All I can say is that Guy Motors and Park Royal were very clever in constructing two chassis and bodies in one day and delivering to their operator!!!

John Lines

13/02/21 – 07:23

As an old Burtonian I remember HGC 130 shortly after it was integrated into the Burton Corporation fleet. It was purchased from LT along with five other utility 5LW Arab IIs, probably in 1953, and added to Burton’s modest fleet of utility Arab IIs and immediate post war Arab IIIs, all 5LW. The ex LT buses were numbered 65-70 in the Burton fleet, and were slightly different from the Burton Arab IIs in that they had smaller headlights and rails along the underside of the body, which the Burton buses didn’t have. All had Park Royal bodies except 66 which was Weymann. All the ex-LT buses were refurbished before being put out to service, and I read somewhere that the refurbishment costs exceeded the purchase cost of the original buses. They all mostly kept their utility look throughout their life, except 68 which was alleged to have collided with a low bridge not long after it arrived in Burton, and this may explain why it acquired a more modern looking front upper deck section compared to earlier. Nearly all the ex-LT buses lasted longer than the original Burton utility Arab IIs and were withdrawn 1964 to 1967. Finally as far as HGC130 or Burton 70 as I knew it, I travelled on it many times in service, and probably thought nothing much of it at the time, it was just another old bus, but would never have imagined that over 50 years on it would be preserved, and certainly in better condition than when I used it.

Old Burtonian


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