Old Bus Photos

Ellen Smith Tours – Leyland Leopard – CDK 448C

Ellen Smith Tours - Leyland Leopard - CDK 448C

CDK 448C_2

Ellen Smith’s Tours (Rochdale)
Leyland Leopard PSU3/3R
Harrington C49F

CDK 448C is quite clearly a 1965 Leyland Leopard with Harrington body, as seen in the first view. She is of the PSU3/3R variety although some sources have her as a PSU3/3RT, while the seating is of the C49F layout. She is seen at the Harrington Event at Amberley on 3 June 2012. There has been some discussion in these pages about the resemblance of the leaping cat badge seen in the second view to the Royal Tiger badge on the front of Leyland’s product. Indeed, the company history, as set out by Eric Ogden, comments thus:
"The striking Leaping Tiger crest applied to the sides of the coaches, first in a triangle and then in a circle, appeared in the early 1930s on the Leyland Tigers. It is said that the first hand-painted image was copied from a cigarette card. This skilful freehand painting was carried out by Jack Mills who was trained as a professional painter. The design was used by Leyland as the badge for the Royal Tiger coach from 1949. The same design was used as the sign for the Royal Tiger pub in Leyland."
The device faces forward on both sides, so Leyland must have used that on the offside of the Ellen Smith vehicles.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies

10/01/16 – 10:54

CDK 448C_3

Thanks to Pete Davies for his posting. I had wondered about the side logo since taking a few shots of this splendid vehicle at the Bus Meet-Bewdley 2013. I would be very interested in future posts relating to its history.

Nigel Edwards

11/01/16 – 06:51

What a great coach of the era, they were far better built and did not rattle in later life.


11/01/16 – 09:24

Thank you, Nigel and Mike. I’ve wondered at intervals over the years which were the better-built vehicles, Duple, Harrington or Plaxton. Of course, I know that will provoke some comment on here!!!!!

Pete Davies

11/01/16 – 13:39

There were a couple of glimpses of an Ellen Smith coach at the end of Endeavour last night. Is this the only one in livery? And would it have worked in the Oxford area in period?

John Lomas

11/01/16 – 13:40

This lovely coach appeared towards the end of an episode of ‘Endeavour’ on ITV Sunday 10 January 2015.
Note that in the photograph the coach carries an ‘On hire to Yelloway’ window label. I have seen various photographs of the coach with this addition. However, it is perhaps the strangest item in respect of 1960s/1970s authenticity one can have on an Ellen Smith’s coach. Both Ellen Smith and Yelloway heralded from the Lancashire town of Rochdale and were great competitors. Hubert Allen and Harry Smith got together to discuss matters of mutual benefit or business interest but that was the extent of it. During my time at Yelloway in the late 1960s/early 1970s there was never any inter-hiring as far as I can recall. They did, in later years, participate in a joint service to Morecambe.
I recall on a number of occasions when I worked at Yelloway being sent over to Newgate to furtively spy on Ellen’s excursion departures see if their loadings looked better than ours. What was a little irritating to me as I did my absolute best at playing an undercover spy was that most of the passengers recognised me and gave me a wave as they went by!

David Slater

11/01/16 – 13:40

Pete. You have to factor in chassis as well. Flexing chassis can distort even the best built body. I have a Harrington on a PS1 which while sumptuous is quite a rattlebox yet my friend has same body on a PS2 and it is rock solid

Roger Burdett

11/01/16 – 16:03

Even Mrs B noticed the coach on the TV last night. Whilst an excursion may have taken one of Smith’s coaches into Morse territory, the use of the coach in the context of the programme’s plot did not fit.
A shame really as the previous week the use of two preserved Oxford double deckers was very much in context.

Phil Blinkhorn

11/01/16 – 16:05

You noticed, David! I wondered who would be first. I thought it a bit of an oddity when I saw the sticker. I can’t tell from Nigel’s view whether it appears there or not.
Interesting comment, Roger! I’d have thought there might be a difference between, say, AEC and Guy affecting the way the body moved or didn’t, but I wouldn’t have expected it between models from the same line. Ah well, We live and learn!

Pete Davies

11/01/16 – 16:06

For me Pete, all through my driving days I aspired to one day having charge of a Harrington, be it AEC or Leyland no matter! It never happened . .
I agree with Roger, the rattles depend a great deal on Chassis, a Duple on a R226 SO different to an AEC or Leyland. My personal pet hate was a Yeates – always seemed to leak around the myriad rubber window seals.

Nigel Edwards

12/01/16 – 05:51

I doubt that Ellen Smith vehicles would have visited the Oxford area on any regular basis as most of their operations were in the north west. They did a good deal of business in the winter months running supporter’s coaches for the away games of Rochdale Hornets. They also provided the team coach, complete with distinctive headboard for many years. Many’s the trip I made across Lancashire and Yorkshire to far flung destinations such as Dewsbury, Batley, Leigh, Widnes and numerous other rugby league playing towns. It was usually on one of the earlier Cavalier bodied 36ft Leopards. The fleet was always immaculately turned out and the fares were always very reasonable. A truly quality operation.

Philip Halstead

12/01/16 – 08:22

I made a day trip with Ellen Smith from Rochdale to the 1974 Commercial Motor Show at Earl’s Court. The transport was a Plaxton Panorama Elite-bodied Leyland Leopard. The main thing I remember is the rather low back seats which were a bit of a surprise for such a long trip, although they were more than bus seats.

David Beilby

20/01/16 – 09:21

The latest episode of Endevour had a Burlingham Seagull coach in a red and blue livery dropping a character off in central Oxford. Sadly it was too far away to see what it was.

Chris Hough

20/01/16 – 17:13

The Seagull was the preserved Whittles of Kidderminster Seagull on a Leyland Tiger Cub chassis owned by Bernard Rodgers of Bewdley. His standard of presentation is always top class and it could be argued looked too good for the role of delivering passengers back from holidays.

Roger Burdett


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West Yorkshire PTE – Leyland Leopard – SCX 22 – 4022

SCX 22

West Yorkshire PTE
Leyland Leopard L1
Roe B44F

Huddersfield JOC purchased a quartet of Roe bodied single deckers in 1961, two on Reliance 2MU2R chassis and two on Leyland Leopard L1, only available at that time with manual gearbox. This was against the run of play for Huddersfield who had standardised on pre select / semi automatic transmission for many years. In fact it was only with the acquisition of Hansons later in the 1960s that a few more manual gearbox buses entered the fleet. I remember journeys home from work on what is a pretty hilly route on one of the Leopard pair where the drivers really struggled with the heavy clutch and ponderous gearchange. Considering that Sheffield operated a reasonable number of similar buses on equally hilly duties apparently without undue difficulty, it does emphasise the unsuitability of the inclusion of these buses within the Huddersfield fleet. I wonder what inducements Leyland offered to encourage their purchase?
By 1974, the bus had become part of the PTE fleet and as an aid to standardisation (both of buses and drivers) I transferred the pair to Todmorden Depot where they joined similar East Lancs and Willowbrook bodied machines. They were only marginally more popular there as Huddersfield had specified an enclosed driver’s cab with access from an offside door rather than the more open aspect of the Todmorden machines but we eked out a few more years service before they could be gracefully retired.
The photo is taken outside Todmorden Depot on a typically murky day in January 1977. I refrain from making any comment about the livery!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

13/04/15 – 07:43

Interesting thought about the livery, Ian! Of course, were the vehicle a few years newer, it might have been called upon to masquerade as a doll and that, I’m sure, would have would have been even more unwelcome in these columns.

Pete Davies

14/04/15 – 07:04

Ian and Pete, you beat me to it as regards commenting on the colour scheme – I was about to say that at least it could claim to BE a livery and, oh, if only West Yorkshire and the rest of the Country could still be served by such civilised looking vehicles today instead of the notorious and meaningless funereal white, lilac and purple of you know who. Also this bus has another advantage – windows which can be seen out of.
I think I recall correctly that these initial PTE colours were "buttermilk and emerald."

Chris Youhill

14/04/15 – 07:05

You must explain the doll! I don’t think that this livery looked all that bad and was fairly traditional. It was all downhill after that.


14/04/15 – 07:05

Can anyone confirm that Todmorden (Millwood) bus garage is the oldest in the country in continuous use (since 1907)?

Geoff Kerr

14/04/15 – 07:06

Following withdrawal it was used for a number of years by Kenedy’s Film Services of Morely as a catering vehicle along with the very first Leeds Swift and an ex Morecambe example with Pennine bodywork. A picture of 4022 in this guise can be found on www.sct61.org.uk

Chris Hough

14/04/15 – 10:29

Chris I think the green was officially called Verona green When the PTE adopted Metrobus as a fleet name the green was extended to below the windows and the roof changed from green to buttermilk.

Chris Hough

14/04/15 – 10:30

I seem to remember reading somewhere that the purchase of these two vehicles with manual gearboxes was a ‘mistake’. Around the same time Huddersfield had bought Titans with semi-automatic transmission and perhaps thought the Leopards would be similarly equipped. The later PSU Leopards were of course offered with semi-automatic transmission as an option to manual.

Philip Halstead

14/04/15 – 11:10

I can come up with at least a couple of London garages with longer lives than Todmorden, Geoff.
HL (Hanwell) Garage has been continuously open since 1901, originally being a London United tram depot, then an LT trolleybus, then bus garage.
WH (West Ham) Garage has been continuously open since 1905, originally being West Ham Corp’n’s tram depot, then an LT trolleybus, then bus garage.

Chris Hebbron

14/04/15 – 16:21

I know there is the wellknown tale of Western SMT buying some Daimler halfcab coaches assuming they would have Gardner engines only to find they arrived as CVD6’s, then when Daimler refused to swap them they sold them off straight away, but otherwise I must say that I find it very difficult to imagine that a major operator could buy something by mistake – particularly in the case of a municipality.
I have somewhere deep in my collection some tender documents for new halfcab chassis and bodies drawn up by Salford City Transport for consideration by prospective bidders in the 1960’s. Their required specification went into the most minute detail, and must have taken their Chief Engineer a considerable amount of time and effort to produce, as well as giving the bodybuilders in particular quite a headache working out how to modify their standard model in order to comply and win the bid.

John Stringer

14/04/15 – 16:21

Chris – yes, but I really meant to say "in continuous use by buses". Those you mention started life as tram depots. Millwood was of course used by buses from the outset as Todmorden never had trams.
(I don’t understand the doll reference either!)

Geoff Kerr

14/04/15 – 16:22

I was referring to the Worst Bus "Barbie" livery. On some former Yorkshire Rider vehicles which came to Southampton, this supposed livery was on vinyl sheets, rather than painted on.

Pete Davies

15/04/15 – 05:56

Hello again John, Would love to see those Salford tender documents, if you can post them. The Fleet Engineer at Frederick Road, was a Mr Brougham, who I came to know in the mid 60’s when I started working in the offices for SCT. He was known as a ‘stickler’ and things had to be just right. However, as is history tells, Daimler got the order, 45 CVG6’s and 2 CRG6Lx’s with AEC the 10 saloons and Leyland, just 2 PDR1’s But Leyland then went on to supply the fleet pretty well exclusively excepting 3 more CRG6LX’s and the 2 infamous CCG6s (which along with Manchester’s – have their own story)

Mike Norris

19/04/15 – 07:40

The answer may indeed lie in London here are two not former tram depots.
Chelverton Road, Putney opened in 1888 with Horse buses and must have been one of the first,still open operated by Go Ahead London. Cricklewood, opened 1898 with horse buses and was the LGOCs first motor bus garage, still open operated by Metroline.

Patrick Armstrong


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United Automobile – Leyland Leopard – 7462 PT – W 5 ?

7462 PT

United Automobile Services
Leyland Leopard L2
Plaxton C43F

Established in the early 1920‘s, Wilkinson Motor Services were an independent based in the Durham Mining Village of Sedgefield. They had a well-maintained fleet of quality vehicles, which to the best of my knowledge were all single deck, and mostly AEC and Leyland with a couple of Bedford’s thrown in for good measure. Their livery was red and cream, with cream being the dominant colour. Other than that, I don’ t know a great deal about them. Wilkinson became part of United in 1967; when United gained control of the independent, their usual practice was that any none standard BTH vehicles acquired in the process either became part of the Durham District fleet, or were disposed of as quickly as possible, however, this was not the case with Wilkinson’s fleet. The vehicles were repainted and numbered with a ‘W’ prefix, however, this was 1967, and the new Government were about to start the formation of NBC, and is probably the reason the Wilkinson fleet survived into the new era. As we know the newly created NBC, promptly set about destroying, sorry, ‘redistributing’ long established fleets, and scattering them all over the place. The Wilkinson depot closed, but this is one of four C43F Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopard L2 coaches, 7462&3 PT from 1962 and 3564&5 UP from 1963; which stayed with United, but I’m not entirely sure where the remainder of the fleet ended up. Both Wilkinson and United, had very high standards, but for some reason ‘unless its just happened’ this one has some damage around the grill, and one of the foglights.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ronnie Hoye

22/12/14 – 07:43

The 30ft model is in my top 5 good looking coaches of all time.

Andy Fisher

23/12/14 – 09:38

I completely agree as long as you mean the 1963/64 version with the improved back end. If you saw this Wilkinsons machine from behind I think that you’d be hard pushed to describe it as a classic! Nearly 50 years on I still remain undecided about the Ogle design which replaced this model in 1965. In some liveries it looked quite futuristic and imaginative, in others weird for the sake of it. I always thought that the ex-Wilkinson coaches looked very nice in the olive green and cream United livery. Wilky’s livery was a bit bland.

Neville Mercer

24/12/14 – 06:12

Another non standard United batch were the nine Leyland Royal Tigers which looked simply glorious in the olive green and cream livery – mind you, it would be a sorry vehicle which couldn’t look good in those classic colours !!

Chris Youhill

26/12/14 – 06:47

I wonder if I may offer a few corrections and clarifications to Ronnie’s caption above.
Firstly, Sedgefield was never a mining village; it is situated just outside and to the South East of the edge of the Durham coalfield. Having said that, the closest pits – at Fishburn (closed 1973) and Bishop Middleham (closed 1936) were both only 3 miles away. Sedgefield’s background, though, is purely agricultural.
You’re quite correct, Ronnie, that the fleet was always single-deck although the services, unusually for this part of the county, didn’t pass under any low bridges. There is a mystery surrounding one particular bus (16, UP5438), however, inasmuch as, although this was an all-Leyland Lion which served Wilkie’s for 19 years between 1931 and 1950, an official Leyland photograph exists (and is shown in the Cardno/Hillerby history of Wilkinson’s Motor Services) of a Leyland Titan, apparently in the livery of a Welsh operator (Vanguard) but clearly displaying the same registration number! The distribution of AECs and Bedfords over the years was equal (8 of each) but the fleet, from 1930 onwards, was predominantly Leyland. At the time of the sale to United, however, the fleet was 7 AECs, 6 Leylands and 1 Bedford with 3 Leylands on order.
Wilkie’s ceased to exist on 26 February 1967 but your suggestion that, when United acquired non-BTH standard vehicles from an acquired independent, they were either disposed of quickly or transferred into the Durham District Services fleet is misleading. During the relatively short life of the DDS, United acquired the services of eight independents; of these, Wilkinson’s was the last. Of the others – Heather Motor Services of Robin Hood’s Bay, W.C.Radley & Son (‘Dauntless Motor Service’) of Eldon Lane (a village near Bishop Auckland), James & Mosley of Croft Spa, M Hardy of Darlington, Scott’s Greys of Darlington, Forge Valley Motors of Scarborough and Norfolk’s Motor Service of New Ridley – only Radley’s vehicles were acquired but, of the five owned, four were promptly offered for resale and only one (a Bedford SB) was taken into the fleet; it was never allocated a fleetnumber, however, never actually operated by United and sold within about four months of the takeover. Thus, no acquired vehicles were transferred to the DDS fleet although the DDS company was itself formed from the acquisition of three independents – Darlington Triumph, ABC Motor Service and the Express Omnibus Company.
The entire Wilkie’s fleet of 14 buses (two of which had originated with Scurr’s of Stillington) and coaches was taken into the United fleet as well as the 3 additional vehicles which were on order at the time of takeover and entered the United fleet between June and August of 1967; they were allocated the fleetnumbers W1-W17 rather than being given the appropriate code for their chassis type. The fleetnumber for 7462UP is correct; it was originally Wilkie’s 62, became United W5 on takeover and eventually became 4002 in the January 1969 renumbering, at which time the 17 ex-Wilkinson’s buses were all still operated.
"The Wilkinson depot closed". Well, yes it did, but not for some years after the United takeover. The ‘depot’ at Sedgefield was actually two quite separate premises about half a mile apart. These were the Parkside garage – where W5 is photographed – on the outskirts of the village prior to its recent expansion, where the majority of the fleet was garaged and major servicing carried out, and North End, closer to the centre of the village with garaging for four buses as well as being the location of the offices, crew room and even a small filling station and car repair facility. Sedgefield depot didn’t close until November 1984. Parkside garage was demolished and developed many years ago and, today, it’s impossible to imagine that it was once a bus garage. The premises at 46 North End, however, although now the base of Wright Construction, are little changed and immediately recognisable. Shamefully, although I lived a hundred yards or so further up North End for over 30 years until a few months ago, I never photographed it in its days as a bus garage!

Alan R Hall

25/09/16 – 05:43

As a former YTC mechanic and a summertime week-end PSV driver I well remember smashing my less than a year old ‘gold 21st present watch’ whilst attempting to select gears on 1235 fleet no Leyland Leopard on the Doncaster Barnsley service. Leyland (in their wisdom) had decided to introduce a hydraulic clutch system into their early leopards using a completely new clutch pressure plate. Why? Nobody knows. The old tiger’s clutch was always good enough, and had served the 0600 engine well since c1949. Probably some ‘Whizz Kid’s’ idea straight from some venerable seat of learning. Anyway he cost me a new watch. £35 as I recall a heap of money at the time and almost three weeks wages.

Mr Anon


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