Old Bus Photos

Blue Motors – Leyland Cheetah – EYA 923

Blue Motors - Leyland Cheetah - EYA 923

Blue Motors - Leyland Cheetah - EYA 923

Blue Motors
Leyland Cheetah LZ5
Harrington C31F

EYA 923 was new in 1939. She is a Leyland Cheetah LZ5, with Harrington C31F body, complete with the tailfin, and we see her at Amberley during the Harrington Gathering on 3 June 2012. Some confusion creeps in about her origins, as I have seen mentions in different places of Blue Motors of Minehead, Blue Motors of Porlock, and others, but the rear view of this magnificent vehicle should settle that!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

09/11/15 – 06:52

Harringtons were one of those coachbuilders who produced bodywork with a curved waistrail which fell away sharply towards the rear end, as amply demonstrated here. Am I correct in thinking I’ve read somewhere that one of the functions of the dorsal fin, if not it’s main purpose, was to provide a little extra headroom for passengers who wished to access the rear seats?

Chris Barker

09/11/15 – 08:54

You may be right, Chris, and thank you for your comment. My understanding has always been that it was associated with ventilation.

Pete Davies

10/11/15 – 07:38

Yes, that is my understanding too.. Not apparent here, it widens out as it joins the roofline providing space for a head! Ventilation is a secondary function. Porlock Weir, Blue Motors base, is just outside mine head, so it would appear that Minehead, out of which excursions were operated aids those without detailed geographical knowledge! Unusually there is no phone no, but when the coach first entered service, there weren’t many phones . . .

Philip Lamb

10/11/15 – 07:39

Thomas Harrington applied for a patent on 5th November 1935, granted as 461026 in February 1937, for which the preamble said "It is usual nowadays to streamline motor coaches and one result of this is that difficulties are experienced in providing sufficient headroom along the central gangway, and an even more important consideration is the provision of adequate ventilation of motor road coaches which presents its special difficulties. The object of our inventor is to provide a motor coach of pleasing appearance which will also have more adequate ventilation and improved headroom and which will moreover lead itself to more effective internal lighting".
The detailed specification went on describe how this was accomplished, and the diagram shows the familiar dorsal fin. So, Chris and Peter are both right !!

Peter Delaney

10/11/15 – 07:40

Those louvers would create a low pressure area thus drawing the stale air out from the back of the coach with fresh air entering from further forward (open windows or vents)

John Lomas

10/11/15 – 07:40

The Harrington Dorsal Fin was patented as a ventilation device but it also added headroom in mid gangway on designs such as this one. Nice to see it in such good condition.

Stephen Allcroft

10/11/15 – 15:39

I wonder just how suitable the Lynx chassis was for coach operations, normally well-filled with passengers, especially in the challenging byeways of North Devon. The TS8 would surely have been a better choice.

Chris Hebbron

11/11/15 – 07:17

Chris, various Bedfords and Fords (and other "lightweight" models) were the choice of many independent (and some "combine") tour operators in later years. No doubt tour coaches were subject to less "stresses-and-strains" as they didn’t have to stop/start as frequently as service buses, nor were they subject to such prolonged "hammering" as express coaches. True, a Tiger might have romped up the Devon hills quicker – but is that what the punters would have paid their money for? And no doubt a Cheetah cost less up-front than a Tiger, and so could be replaced earlier in its life.

Philip Rushworth

11/11/15 – 16:27

With reference to what Chris and Philip were saying the worry for me would be going _down_ the Devon hills in a Cheetah. However it was fairly successful as a lightweight full-size coach within its limits, much more so than the AEC Regal II.

Stephen Allcroft

13/11/15 – 06:31

My chief fear would be to be going down the Devon hills pursued by a Cheetah…..

Rob McCaffery

13/11/15 – 13:29

Rob’s comment reminds me of the look on the face of one of the St Andrew’s Ambulance crew on the Sunday of Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust’s open weekend when I said I had to run as I had a Western Leopard to catch.

Stephen Allcroft

16/11/15 – 05:32

It is worth noting that the term "observation Coach" painted on the rear display of EYA 923 refers to another Harrington patented feature – a floor-line rising in steps towards the rear of the vehicle allowing passengers improved vision over the heads of those in forward seats. All coachwork styles with this feature were officially called called Observation Coach, while the style illustrated tended to be called a "Torpedo" to differentiate it from others. This attractive swooping waist rail design was not the most numerous of the immediate pre-war Harrington production and it strikes me was probably lighter, for although it was available on heavyweight chassis such as the AEC Regal, was most likely to be found on lighter ones, such as Leyland Cheetahs and Cubs.

Nick Webster

14/08/16 – 06:04

Blue Motors HQ and main garage was in North Road at Minehead, under what is now a block of flats. A small sub-depot existed at Porlock Weir, some 8 miles from Minehead and this building (which still stands) was capable of holding two of their vehicles. For a long period Blue Motors operated the Porlock Weir – Porlock – Minehead bus service hence the out-station.


16/01/19 – 07:33

I was put on a coach as a young lad with a tail-fin… at ‘The Bakers Arms’ Stratford in East London in the early fifties.
I don’t know where the Journey began but it stopped at the Bakers Arms above…then in Saffron Walden in Essex and I guess finished in Haverhill Suffolk.
I’m wondering if any other manufacture made a coach with a tail-fin as I always had the impression it was a Bedford coach.
Also have to say I think I thought it quite disappointing inside, not modern at all, also I’m sure the clock inside was Art Deco!! only a kids impression as it was about 67 years ago.

Ken Bradley

18/01/19 – 06:35

Looking at the Harrington Body numbers I can find no Dorsal Fins with a Bedford Chassis. They appear to be Leyland AEC Foden and Commer.

Roger Burdett


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Portsmouth Corporation – Leyland Cheetah – BTP 946 – 46

BTP 946_lr
Copyright P J Marshall

Portsmouth Corporation
Leyland Cheetah LZ4
Wadham B32R

Portsmouth Corporations fleet number 46 was the last of a batch of 6 Leyland LZ4 Cheetahs, 41-46 (BTP 941-946), with locally-built Wadham bodywork, new in 1939. 41 and 42 were withdrawn in 1941, after suffering war damage. This view of 46 at Eastney Depot was taken about 1954 when the remaining four of them were withdrawn from service and were awaiting disposal. Note the sad appearance, bald front tyres and single wheels only on the rear! Although I only holidayed in Portsmouth and Southsea from 1949-1956, I never recall ever seeing these buses in service.
Note the bus is surrounded by some of the nine 1944 Duple-bodied utility Daimler CWA6’s of which virtually no photos seem to exist. In 1959, the chassis were thoroughly overhauled and they were despatched to be re-fitted with Crossley bodies, some of the last Crossley bodies built, only to be scrapped in 1965! With only nine pre-selective gear change vehicles in the fleet, they were greatly abused, with inexperienced drivers using the gear change pedal as a clutch pedal, with lots of juddering. As a visiting Londoner, living in the Daimlerland Merton/Sutton area, it made me cringe!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron


The Cheetahs were bought for the Southsea Sea Front Service, but of course this ceased in September 1939. The bodies had sunshine roofs and a total of six destination screens to inform the tourists of the attractions on the route. The bodies were reportedly heavy for the lightweight chassis, which was fine for a ride down the promenade, but a problem on normal services.After the war they were used on peak time specials when the fleet was understrength, but very little else. Interestingly there is a record of No.43 running on mileage equalisation duties on Southdown Service 138 from Fareham to Cosham over Portsdown Hill. That would have tested its Leyland 4.7 litre engine.

Pat Jennings


It’s true the bus behind is one of the CWA6/Duples, as all nine were withdrawn in 1954 to go to Crossley for new bodies, being returned in 1955. Thus they did 11 years with original, and 11 years as rebodied, being withdrawn in 1965/66. But those at the side of the Cheetah are Craven-bodied TD4s of the 131-160 batch. These would be either early withdrawals, or set aside for a work-shop rebuild. CPPTD carried out a lot of rebuilding work on the Cravens bodied TD4s and the trolleybuses from c. 1949-1957/58, although not every member of these batches received such work.

Michael Hampton


I agree with ‘Michael Hampton’ with regards to the re-bodying of the ‘Daimler CWA6’. A rather elderly Bus Book I have from 1963 states that they were re-bodied in 1955 by Crossley.
I think it would have been a lot to ask, that a Double Deck ‘Utility’ body last fifteen years, (unless heavily rebuilt), with the dreadful quality Wartime materials allowed by the ‘Ministry of Supplies’ for Bus Bodies. Even the paint allowed was little better than ‘coloured water’!!
Credit must be give to ‘C.P.P.T.D’ for managing to keep the Utility bodies in service for eleven years. Before the eventual & inevitable – re-bodying process.



Does anyone have a photo of the CWA6’s as re-bodied? I can’t think of any Crossley bodied Daimlers (with exposed radiators that is).

Chris Barker


Oldham had fifteen Crossley-bodied CVD6 (322-336) and Manchester had fifty CVG5 with their characteristic body (4000-4049). Also Lancaster had a solitary (I think) CWG5 rebodied by Crossley.
However, it is possible you are thinking of the later Park Royal-designed Crossley body and I have to say I can’t think of any other examples.

David Beilby


No, actually I was thinking of the earlier type of Crossley body of the style with the stepped rear windows, which may be called ‘true’ Crossley bodies. The Portsmouth fleet list on Classic Bus Links states that they were re-bodied in 1959, very late for a wartime chassis to be treated, I thought that T Burrows ex London Daimlers were the last to receive new bodies in 1957. Anyone know which date is correct? If it was 1959 as stated by Chris Hebbron above, they would of course have had the Park Royal style of body, still worth seeing with the exposed radiator and strange if they only lasted six years as such.

Chris Barker


Chris Barker – I will post a photo of a re-bodied Daimler shortly. They were pleasant enough, but nothing like any other Crossley bodies I’ve seen. What I’m actually after is a photo of one of them BEFORE they were re-bodied! Such photos are be very rare. Any holders of one out there?

Chris Hebbron


The date of 1959 cannot be correct for the rebodying as the Crossley factory had been closed over a year by then. In fact they entered service in September and October 1955.
It turns out there were not many batches of Daimlers bodied postwar by Crossley. In addition to those I listed the remaining ones were the nine Portsmouth examples, 250 for Birmingham (2776-2900 and 3103 to 3227) and 35 for Aberdeen (175-204 and 210-214).

David Beilby


Thank you, David, for clarifying the revised date to 1955. I, too, took the Classic Bus Link date of 1959.
I notice that Birmingham’s Daimler CVG6 3225 survives and the Crossley bodywork gives only the merest nod to their standard Corporation design!

Chris Hebbron


Chris Hebbron has actually sent me a shot of a Portsmouth Crossley rebodied exposed radiator Daimler CWA6 it will be posted in its own right Wednesday 19th January.


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