English Electric Bus Bodies

English Electric Bus Bodies

The English Electric Company, and its predecessors in the Dick Kerr group, were the largest producers of tramcar bodies in the UK, and had established a sound business platform in the successor business of bus and trolleybus bodies by 1932. In 1932, a standard 6 bay composite double deck body was produced with considerable success, and these vehicles were built on most chassis makes, and supplied to operators throughout the UK. The design was 6 bay, with a fashionable V shaped pattern of “piano front”.

In order to protect and develop this market, EEC offered alternative metal framed designs from 1934. I believe, but am not certain, that these were all of 5 bay construction. Certainly, most were. Competition in this field was severe, as manufacturers attempted to emulate the MCW success story, but English Electric`s early deliveries caused all sorts of problems! Bradford had to rebody all 36 of its 1934/5 trolleybuses, and 7 of its 10 1935/6 motorbuses from 1944. Leeds had a trial batch on AEC Regent chassis in 1935, and these had to be rebodied in 1945 by Roe, but perhaps the biggest problem was with a batch of 40 Leyland TD3 chassis supplied to Burnley, Colne and Nelson JTC. These were, I believe, the first EEC all metal bodies, and 28 of them had to be reframed on the lower deck by East Lancs in 1937/8. See the Leyland Society publication on this fleet for full details.

The metal bus bodies reverted to a flat “piano front” style for the first deliveries, but a more modern bow front style evolved for motorbuses in 1936. All metal trolleybus bodies were bow fronted from the start, and were supplied to Portsmouth and Bradford on AEC chassis, and Ashton on Leyland TB4, LPTB No63 was the first metal trolleybus body built.

Because of these problems, EEC offered a redesign in 1937, but there were not many takers. I can only think of Southend and Barrow, apart from Bradford, but there were probably others. Previously loyal customers for the composite product, such as Lancaster and Wallasey, switched to alternative suppliers, and the decline of EEC is most noticeable. They were not helped by the success of Leyland after the introduction of the 1936 “Colin Bailey” type body, and the growing base of other alternative suppliers. Neither were they helped by the failure to gain access to the lucrative London trolleybus market. One chassisless type vehicle, No.1670 was supplied in 1939, which proved a total failure.

English Electric did try to diversify into the coach market, and gained some success with Ribble (and Ledgards), and they also supplied considerable numbers of Manchester type bodies to that undertaking in the 1939/40 period, but they were not the force they once were in this field. One wonders if an earlier decision to diversify away from bus work had been taken, as they did not recommence bus building in the post war years.

I would be very interested to learn from other enthusiasts of any other detail in this story, and especially to see as many photographs of EEC bodies as possible from the 1932 to 1940 period. There are certainly some exceptions to the general impression which I have given above. For example, Portsmouth obtained a good life span from its 1935 EEC bodied Leyland TD4s, but they did not return to EEC for further orders. I would also be interested to receive clarification on the framing of certain vehicles with bow front bodies, such as the 5 bay bodies on Daimler COG5 chassis supplied to Lancaster.

My Bradford connections make this an interesting subject for me, as BCPT persevered with EEC bodies on AEC trolleybus, and Daimler COG6 motorbus chassis up to 1939, without, I suspect, the earlier problems.

I am by no means an authority on the subject, and will now throw the subject open to you all in the hope that some response is generated. It seems to be a subject on which any sort of publication is very conspicuous by its absence!

John Whitaker
01/2011

———

John. Fascinating. I did not know anything about EE and didn't realise the Dick Kerr connection. Rather like Crossley never seeming to get things right, it is sad that a one time decision - like introducing metal frames - should turn things sour and apparently sink the firm without trace, especially as neighbour Leyland managed to salvage a similar situation.

David Oldfield

———

Thank you for your interesting article.
My particular interest lies with Portsmouth Corporation vehicles, and the service lives of their fleet. Many of the EEC bodied batch of TD4s did have a long life, but their bodies were extensively rebuilt in the 40/50s in the workshops at Eastney depot which undoubtedly helped, but Portsmouth always looked after their fleet well and expected a long life from all vehicles. Remember the four open top TD4/EEC's that ran until 1971, and are all still preserved.
Having used EEC for virtually all their double deck orders from 1931, they changed to Craven in 1937 for the large orders of 76 trolleybuses, and 30 motor buses, but I understood this was to delivery in the timescale required. Incidentally the Craven bodies were similarly rebuilt after the war.

Pat Jennings

———

London Transport usually built all its own bodies, but bought in a lot of Park Royal metal-framed bodies for a large STL building programme in about 1937. Because of interaction between metal and glues used, these bodies rapidly deteriorated. 20 of them were scrapped as early as 1942 and refitted with new (unfrozen) bodies and many others were kept going until about 1948-9, when the bodies from later STL's earmarked for conversion to SRT's (modified STL chassis/new RT body) were taken off and transferred over. BTW: The pedant in me can't resist mentioning that the company's name was actually Dick, Kerr and not Dick Kerr!

Chris Hebbron

———

I can speak from personal experience of the six Leyland TS7s bought by Ledgard in 1936, CUG 841 -5 and AKW 849) - these had coach bodies inspired by the Ribble pattern. They were extremely well built bodies indeed and had a long and hard working life, needing minimal structural attention. Five of the six lasted in service for twenty or twenty one years and only one (CUG 844) was withdrawn early in 1949 but this was due to a seriously cracked chassis. The other five spent their later years like many Ledgard coaches - on extremely heavy service work from Yeadon Depot on the two Horsforth to Otley services. Some then did more work for showmen in fairgrounds. They were characterful machines, and handsome in a simple and unpretentious way, and I remember them with great affection. They were an extremely good value purchase and, to use a lovely old Yorkshire expression, "they owed the Firm nowt." !!

Chris Youhill


Thank you John for the article on EEC bodywork. Portsmouth standardised on this make from 1932 to 1935, taking into stock 90 double-deckers and trolleybuses, of which 82 had EEC bodies. (The exceptions were the 4 Leyland vee-fronted TD4s, and 4 of the experimental trolleybuses which had Metro-Cammell bodywork, all on different chassis).
I had not realised the distinction between the earlier 6-bay bodies being wooden-framed and the later 5-bay bodies being metal-framed. The four EEC-bodied (five-bay) TD4s converted to open-top had a nice display of polished woodwork internally, but presumably this was finishing or covering of the basic metal structure underneath.
It is interesting that the reason for Portsmouth's change to Cravens for the 1936 order for the 76 AEC 661Ts and the 30 TD4s has always been given as the Sheffield builder being the only one who could supply the large quantity of vehicles in one batch. I don't know the origin of this statement, but presumably it has some official origin, and it has appeared in several publications over the years. I have never heard it said that the change was attributable to dissatisfaction with EEC bodywork as such, but the events are so far away now that any influences current at the time may now be distant or lost memories. But if anyone knows different, it would be interesting to find out.

Michael Hampton


25/10/12 - 07:41

Stockport Corporation had 20 or so centre entrance English Electric bodies on Leyland Tiger TS7/8's obtained in 1936/7. Two are still up and running. One is with the Museum of Transport in Manchester.
The last were withdrawn in 1963 (no body problems there then) but a couple, inc the museum example ran for several more years as corporation welfare buses. There's a couple of pics of them on Mr Armishaws artcle Stockport Corporation 16/07/63 of July this year.

Orla Nutting

 


 

Comments regarding the above are more than welcome please get in touch via the 'Contact Page' or by email at


If you have a bus related article that you would like to appear on this site please get in touch via the 'Contact Page' or by email at


Quick links to  -  Articles  -  Comments  -  Contact  -  Home

All rights to the design and layout of this website are reserved     Old Bus Photos does not set or use Cookies but Google Analytics will set four see this

Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Wednesday 19th June 2019