Manchester Buses - A Retrospective - Part One

Manchester Buses - A Retrospective - Part One

In 1958 MCTD was working closely with MCW, its "preferred" body supplier, to overcome its objections to and problems with MCW's Orion body. Albert Neal, General Manager, whilst always looking to keep costs down, could not do with the Orion in its original and early forms and the "improved" bodies he had taken into stock on Leyland PD2/12 and Daimler CVG5K and CVG6K chassis hadn't impressed.

Not being in a financial position to order specifically designed bodies as the Department had done in former days, he was looking to take a manufacturer's standard product, tweak it to Manchester's requirements and have a new "Standard" that would be obviously a Manchester bus whilst keeping down the cost of manufacture and spares.

Having bought from Northern Counties and Burlingham, both of whom had modified their designs, in order to maintain his vehicle replacement programme, he was looking to the Elmdon based company for a moderate weight but substantial body with more passenger space than the normal 27ft 6ins Orion but within that length.

It's perhaps worth taking the time to look at standardisation - the height of which in British bus terms was achieved by London Transport with the Park Royal produced Routemaster though LT ordered four production versions of the body with, originally, two engine types (AEC and Leyland). Prior to that the RT had been produced using AEC and Leyland chassis with five bodybuilders producing seven foot six wide examples and an eight foot wide Leyland bodied version to very precise standards.

London had the purchasing power and capacity needs to order in thousands of units and thus specify vehicles to very stringent standards from the ground up. With the BET group unable to bring in effective standardisation, apart from the Hermes single deck body, and the Tilling Group wedded to the Bristol/ECW combination, by the late 1950s only Midland Red (which until the 1960s built almost all its own chassis and bodies) Birmingham and Manchester had the size of potential orders to persuade chassis and body builders to produce something adapted for themselves - with all the benefits commonality brings.

Those two cities, even at the height of their post war standardisation policies, had been reluctant to put all their eggs in one body manufacturer's basket, and neither was big enough to have a vehicle built specifically and uniquely to its needs as London could.

What had happened in both cities was that a decision was made on chassis manufacturers who could be persuaded to amend their standard designs here and there to the customer's needs - for instance until 1961 all chassis delivered to Manchester had nearside fuel tanks rather than the industry standard offside, to suit the position of refuelling pumps in the depots and Leyland supplied chromed radiator shells instead of its standard cast aluminium from 1953 onwards - a uniquely Manchester feature.

Body builders were more amenable to operator specific bodies and, whilst both cities used a number of builders for their immediate post war "Standard" bodies, each had very exacting rules to ensure as much commonality as possible. Few would be able to distinguish who built any example of a Birmingham or Manchester post war "Standard" body if it was stripped of its fleet number and taken off its chassis. Of course Birmingham only placed five new vehicles in service between 1954 and 1963 so Manchester was really on its own in the mid 1950s in seeking substantial numbers of a standardised design of its own.

Manchester had first standardised in the 1930s with the aptly named "Standard" body designed under Stuart Pilcher on a metal, as opposed to a wooden, frame. Based on an MCW design the bodies were, apart from the first few, delivered as frames to Manchester and finished in the Car Works or by Crossley. Crossley also built frames which they finished or were finished by the Car Works alongside the Fenian Arch on Hyde Rd.

The "Standards" formed the bulk of double deck deliveries between 1933 and 1936, and the design was used for a good number of bodies placed on chassis that had formerly carried wood framed bodies. New deliveries were, barring a few Leylands, all on Crossley chassis starting with the last of the Condors to be delivered and then on the Crossley Mancunian chassis.

Whilst these vehicles were being assembled Stuart Pilcher was working on something much more exciting and this appeared in November 1936 in time for the Commercial Motor Show. The "Streamliner" was very much of the time - a time of streamlined cars and trains - and many of its features were to last until the very end of front engined bus operation on Manchester's streets over forty years later.

Initially designed to fit the Mancunian chassis the body, for which Crossley designed a new radiator shell, was based on MCW frames which Crossley completed. With gentle curves to the lower edges of the upper deck window lines at front and rear sides, duplicated on the rear lower deck windows and with curved lower edges to the two front upper deck windows and a gently sloping front profile, the design was finished inside with polished wood, rexine panelling and a host of state of the art features to make operating and riding in the vehicle more attractive.

Eventually the design was built by both Crossley and the Car Works on MCW frames and by English Electric and Leyland on a range of Crossley Mancunian, Leyland TD and Daimler COG chassis. In addition Crossley and English Electric built bodies on Crossley and Leyland trolleybus chassis and there was a single deck version by Crossley on Leyland TS chassis.

To go with the new shape a "streamline" colour scheme with "flashes" and "swoops" was designed - the first version of which was the most staid - some versions affected by wartime painting restrictions were quite bizarre once the bodies had passed through war time maintenance.

Up to the "Streamliner", under orders from the Transport Committee, MCTD had for some years standardised on Crossley chassis but delays at the factory meant Pilcher, who would have preferred AECs, had to shop elsewhere and this led to the eventual, and sensible, arrangement where Leyland became the second string supplier - eventually to be joined by Daimler as more delays ensued, though many Daimler chassis were either destroyed in production by German bombs or diverted to other operators under wartime directives.

Had all the vehicles ordered up to the outbreak of war been delivered some eight hundred and twenty five vehicles would have been to the "Streamline" design by 1942 - and no doubt more would have followed as it was Pilcher's aim to get rid of the trams as soon as possible.

With four construction sites and the lack of modern design techniques it was impossible to have all vehicles of each type (double decker motorbus, single decker motor bus and trolleybus) identical but the vehicles were essentially to one design and the range of differences was small by the standards of the day. The vehicles produced were rugged, stood up well to wartime conditions and the last of the breed did not disappear until 1962 (1963 if we count the body on the post war Crossley DD42 chassis).

1945 saw Stuart Pilcher still determined to rid the city of trams, which had been retained as a valuable if somewhat ramshackle wartime resource and, given the new range of chassis on the horizon, determined to produce a truly standard modern vehicle, albeit on three chassis types. Thus the "Post War Standard" was born, first appearing in 1946, the last of the 710 vehicles to the design being withdrawn by SELNEC in 1971.

Appearing first on a Crossley 7 foot 6 inch wide chassis with a Crossley built body, the body style was built by Brush - exclusively on a batch of fifty Daimlers, MCW exclusively on Leyland, and Crossley on Daimler and Crossley diesel chassis plus on Crossley trolleybus chassis.

In 1946 8 foot wide vehicles became permissible and all uncompleted orders were changed to the new standard - even though this entailed some delays in delivery. The body style retained and improved many of the interior features of the "Streamliners" whilst externally retaining the window shapes at the front upper deck. At the rear of the bus, things were a bit different.

In 1945 the Car Works had rebuilt a Leyland TD5 that had suffered a rear end collision. The platform area on double deckers was normally supported on bearers bolted on as extensions to the chassis frame. Rear end collisions would often destroy these and could cause twisting to the main chassis frame which was expensive to repair. The TD5 rebuild incorporated an MCW registered design - a bearer-less platform which was cantilevered from the side frames of the body. This had the distinct advantage of being cheaper to repair and a rear end shunt would not, normally, transmit damage to the chassis.

A very similar design was incorporated by London Transport on the RT - Manchester had borrowed RT19 in 1941 - and Manchester was impressed enough to use it on the TD5 rebuild and, after real experience with the idea, use it for all the "Post War Standards".

Unlike the RT which had all top deck windows of the same depth, the framing used on Manchester's vehicles was designed in such a way as the last two upper deck windows on each side were shallower, giving a stepped look which, purely for reasons of balanced looks, were matched by the last two lower deck windows being to the same shallow depth.

Designed by the MCTD Engineering Department and MCW, the body desiqn was adopted by Crossley as its standard leading to many wrongly thinking it was their design. The arrangements between MCTD, MCW and Crossley regarding patents are the subject of much debate but my perusal of the archives in the late 1970s and early 1980s leads me to believe the patent for the cantilevered platform and stepped windows was MCW's, MCTD being acknowledged as the author of the overall "Post War Standard" design.

I was not been able to unearth what the arrangement was with Crossley but, as they sold the design widely as their own, it is hardly credible that they didn't have to pay royalties to either MCW or MCTD, or both, though the frames on their bodies were their own.

In 1946 A F Neal took over from Stuart Pilcher and, given the engine problems at Crossley, in 1949 persuaded the Transport Committee that all future orders would be split between Daimler and Leyland chassis with MCW being the preferred body builder.

The last "Post War Standards" arrived in early 1952 and the next vehicles ordered were the MCW Phoenix bodied Daimlers followed by Daimlers with the interim Phoenix/Orion cross bodies (4400 onwards) which were unique to Manchester.

The MCW preferred body policy was necessarily deviated from with the arrival of Leyland chassis with Leyland and Northern Counties bodies between 1951 and 1953 due to delivery problems at MCW and a distinct disinclination to buy the original Orion offering. Order wasn't restored until 1955/6 when the first Orion bodies with some of the changes demanded by Manchester arrived on Daimlers and Leylands.

However, dissatisfaction with these bodies led to the further Northern Counties and Burlingham orders and then, in July 1958, the first of the Manchester version of the Orions arrived on Leyland PD2/40 chassis, of which more later.

Before that, however, we need to go back to the Burlingham vehicles, the last six on Leyland chassis being very much experimental in as much as the way power was transmitted from the engine to the wheels was concerned.

Phil Blinkhorn


To view Part Two Click Here


31/05/13 - 06:34

I only visited Manchester once prior to SELNEC and was very impressed with Manchester's PD2s and CVG6s with the later style, fibre glass, enclosed radiator. I particularly liked the PD2s with the modified Orion body with its 'upright' upper deck front.
Were Manchester's Orions on the Leyland PD2 27 feet 6 inches long rather that the normal length of 27 feet for the PD2 of this period?

Michael Elliott

31/05/13 - 06:35

A fascinating description of the supply situation and bodywork designs for Manchester, also comparing with Birmingham. I had not realised that the stepped waistline body which Crossley adopted as standard for most deliveries in the UK came originally from MCCW. I had always assumed that Crossley designed it at Manchester's behest - particularly for Manchester's stated need to avoid use of the rear chassis extension to support the platform. I can quite understand that MCCW or Manchester might have expected a royalty payment for it's use elsewhere, but did this actually happen? I recall no mention of it in the well-researched Crossley book. Also, the Crossley attitude to the Saurer request for a royalty payment re the original DD42 (HOE) engine design was a clear refusal to pay anything, and redesign the engine with the results most of us know about! Perhaps further research or knowledge about the body design is still available on this topic. It would be good to know.

Michael Hampton

31/05/13 - 17:54

Michael E - You raise a point re length which has made me go back and check where that information came from.
This and the other articles which have appeared over the last few months were originally written between 2006 and 2010 for a Manchester local interest and history forum. Whilst they contained a great deal of information they were aimed at a more general audience than the visitors this forum so some re-writing was done, some information was corrected and updated where new sources had been found and my own notes and library sources were checked if I was unhappy with anything I had previously written.
The length of the Orion bodies was left as originally written as I had no cause to query it.
Having now checked I find that "The Leyland Bus" gives the standard body length of the PD2/40 as 27 feet. "The Manchester Bus" makes no mention of body length. My own notes date from the period 1960 to 1970 and were garnered from published information at the time and discussions with both professionals and enthusiasts.
The length of the PD2 Orion body comes from those notes, in this case compiled in 1960, though I don't have a note of the original source.
The top deck length was basically increased by reducing the slope of the front of the body design to an almost upright profile. Was the length of the body increased overall? My contemporaneous notes say "yes" and I always understood that a 27 foot 6 inch Orion body was a standard offer, though normally with the original front profile slope.
Obviously as a teenage schoolboy I didn't take a tape measure to the vehicles and took what I was told or read on trust. Can anyone confirm the facts? I also have the Burlingham bodied Daimlers and Leylands in the fleet as 27 foot 6 inches.

Michael H - the "who designed and owned the patent" debate regarding Manchester's post war standards has been the subject of argument and discussion ever since I first became interested in buses over 60 years ago.
Up until 1958, when I regularly began to ride on the Parrs Wood PD1/3s of the 3100 class, I had believed the design to be Crossley's own, particularly as the vehicles I had regularly seen and ridden on in Ashton and Stockport had come from that source.
The 3100 class carried MCW makers badges, so I started to try to find more information - a quest that was eventually to become more detailed and to last until now.
In "The Manchester Bus" Eyre and Heaps give a very similar recounting of the detail I have stated in the article regarding the cantilever system and how Manchester came to use the system. When I eventually gained access to the archive I found that the general outline of the body was inspired by Pilcher and was drawn up within 55 Piccadilly.
The first order was split between MCW on Leyland PD1/1 and Crossley on DD42/3 - both 7 foot 6 ins wide. The Crossleys arrived over a 12 month period from March 1946 whilst the first Leyland didn't arrive until February 1947. I just wonder if the earlier arrival of the all Crossley vehicles and then Crossley adopting the design for the home market led to the misapprehension that it was their design.
There is no doubt that the platform design was MCW's.
As I state in the article, I wasn't able to find any information on the financial relationship between the parties regarding the overall design. Given the almost incestuous arrangements that had been in being between the parties from the adoption of metal framed bodies by Manchester in the 1930s, there must have been some form of deal done but what it was looks likely to remain a mystery.

Phil Blinkhorn

31/05/13 - 17:58

Phil. Maximum length for a single deck half cab was 27'6" and went up to 30'0" in 1950. At the same time double deckers went from 26'0" to 27'0" (with no extra inches). 1956 legislation allowed 30'0" double deckers - but as far as I know, only the RM made use of the wriggle room by having the radiator proud of the bonnet - and therefore over the 27'0" limit. I don't think the Manchester Orion was longer - just made better use of the upper deck. [After the 1961 legislation allowed 36'0" length, a lot of erstwhile 30'0" single decks crept up to approximately 31'2".

David Oldfield

08/06/13 - 14:11

I have often thought what a pity it was that MCTD could not continue to buy Crossley bodywork after abandoning the DD42. I'm guessing that the "falling-out" over Crossley's engine problems made it impossible to do further business, and so nothing could be more natural than to declare MCW as the preferred supplier in view of their existing and long-standing relationship. But Crossley showed a great deal of flexibility in tailoring its bodies to customers' requirements from the first Liverpool bodies until Park Royal design took over in the mid-1950s. If MCTD wanted to design its own bodywork but could no longer afford to do so, Crossley would have provided a far better compromise than the stuttering start of MCTD's love affair with the MCW Orion.

Peter Williamson

08/06/13 - 17:21

Peter that's an interesting and very sensible observation regarding Crossley bodies. Whilst I personally loathed many of the bodies produced by various builders for Liverpool in the 1950s - not helped by their colour schemes - I'm sure Crossley, guided by 55 Piccadilly, could have made a good fist of it and the re-trimmed Crossley bodies on 2161-2219 were every bit as good, and often better, than some of the MCW offerings which followed them and deserved a much longer life than they eventually achieved due to ACV's withdrawal of Crossley spares.

Phil Blinkhorn

09/06/13 - 06:34

I've now been thinking about the question of Crossley's use of the Manchester design, with the possible inclusion of MCW's platform support structure, for their other customers.
Firstly, MCTD's trading powers were conferred and limited by statute, and I should be very surprised if these encompassed trading in intellectual property. So, if I'm right, while they could produce designs for their own use, they would not be able to sell or license them to anyone else. Neither would they have any grounds for objection if anyone else wanted to use their designs, since there is no sense - in law or in fact - in which such use could be said to threaten their trading position.
Secondly, David Beilby has revealed that, perhaps surprisingly, Oldham's stepped-waist Crossleys did not have cantilevered platforms, and I am wondering if the same was true of Crossley's other customers outside Manchester. Could it be that, when Crossley was tooled up for building Manchester bodies, it was quicker and cheaper to use the same outline for other customers, but omitting the load-bearing structure for the platform, rather than modifying the window line as well, as was done later? If so, these bodies would probably not require the approval of MCW, whose patent would be confined to the structure rather than the cosmetics.

Peter Williamson

09/06/13 - 11:35

Peter, you raise some interesting points.
On the subject of intellectual property I can't comment regarding MCTD but in 1981 one of my GMC Conference Office logos was slightly amended and then used, without permission, by a private company trading in the meetings industry outside of the GMC area but within the North West. I made an allegation of them using the logo to pass off their business as linked to the Conference Office set up with venues and services which were subscribing members of our organisation.
I was able to defend the intellectual property rights. The case was handled by the county's in house legal department and we won our case - perhaps the metropolitan authorities had different statutes.
Your observations regarding Crossley's use of the design would certainly answer why I, and presumably a number of published authors, have been unable to find any reference to an arrangement between the parties, financial or otherwise.
If you are correct,and the observation is the best alternative to a financial arrangement I've heard, there are still two questions left hanging.
Firstly Manchester's post war Crossley bodies certainly did have suspended platforms so what was the arrangement between the parties? Given your idea, perhaps the design incorporating the suspended platform was acknowledged as an MCTD/MCW design and the construction of bodies by Crossley for Manchester was regarded as an assignment of a contract to Crossley from MCTD Car Works/MCW as an entity, the latter parties having their own financial arrangement.
The second question is regarding the Brush bodied Daimlers. They also had the cantilevered platform but, again, no information on royalties seems to exist so was this another assignment arrangement?

Phil Blinkhorn

09/06/13 - 17:03

The development and proving work on the platform structure was done jointly by MCTD and MCW. Presumably there would have been a contract for this, which would have included some payment, and some definition of the ownership of the finished design. If I were MCTD, I would want to build into that an agreement whereby, having effectively paid for the development, I could then incorporate it into the specification given to other builders without the need for further royalty payments. Also, since no MCW bodies were produced for other operators using the same structure, there is no evidence that MCW had any further interest in it.

Peter Williamson

09/06/13 - 18:06

Looks like we may have found the answer.
To summarise:
MCTD design the body, MCW the platform system and some sort of payment is made to MCW.
MCTD have the right from MCW to put out to tender to any bodybuilder to build the body without further payment to MCW from either MCTD or the bodybuilder.
As MCTD are statute limited re intellectual copyright and by extension patent rights, Crossley adopt the overall design outline as their own (it is to be hoped they asked first!!), seemingly without the cantilever platform although it built similar bodies without the curved and stepped window lines for some operators at least from 1947.
Actually this has further credence given Crossley's attitude to royalty payments regarding the Saurer patents. This at least was one time they could filch a design for free and also charge the originator for vehicles it had ordered. Perhaps they didn't ask after all!

Phil Blinkhorn

11/06/13 - 06:55

A similar piece of intellectual property rights surrounds the Roe safety staircase. This was actually a joint design between Roe and the then Leeds manager W Vane Morland so although Roe used the design it was also a possible source of income for Vane Morland rather than LCT.

Chris Hough

28/12/13 - 08:25

Returning to the subject of Crossley using the Manchester postwar standard design for other customers, there was apparently a precedent for this which I didn't know about - a pair of Crossley Mancunians for Stockport with Manchester Streamliner bodies. see one here - rather nice! Did anyone else have anything similar?

Peter Williamson

I well remember riding on those two Peter, they lasted until just after the last of the 1958 batch of PD2/30s arrived so one of my very first journeys to grammar school was made on one on the 9X to Parrs Wood followed by a trip on a Manchester Leyland Streamliner on the 40X. A few weeks later the Stockport examples were gone. There should have been three but 207 was frustrated by Crossley's concentration on wartime output. The order was fulfilled in 1946 by a DD42/3 with an early Manchester style post war body, always easily picked out from the rear as it was the only one of the many that eventually were bought that had a rear destination indicator which was eventually painted over.
As a result of the bombing of the Daimler factory in Coventry, Manchester had parts for Streamliner bodies awaiting assembly by English Electric's Bradford works. After receiving permission to have the bodies completed for a number of Daimler chassis that had been salvaged, Manchester also obtained permission for the remainder of the bodies to be built and delivered to the Car Works where they stood on trestles.The last three were actually completed at the car works and I've not found a reference how any of the bodies reached Manchester but presumably one or more chassis were used as "mules". Some of the bodies were used to replace damaged bodies on other Streamliners but 23 bodies were eventually spare. These were offered to Sheffield, Birmingham, and Bradford but only Birmingham had suitable chassis and eventually took 20 which were fitted on Daimler and Leyland chassis. The Birmingham Daimlers were 727, 765, 814, 820, 824,918, 1018 and 1133. The Leylands were 214,215, 217, 228, 231, 235, 237, 241, 249, 259, 273 and 293.
Metro Cammell had completed frames for a number of Crossleys and Daimlers to be finished by Crossley but 10 were spare due to the bombing of Daimler. Theses did not become Manchester's property but were directed to Addlestone where Weymann finished them. Coventry received 302 to 305 which were Guy Arab 1s, Sheffield received 578, 582,and 679-681 (would our Sheffield correspondent please supply details? Newport received two, registered DDW33 and DDW34 details of which I don't have. Midland General received HRA815 and HRA 924 and Midland Red GHA923 and GHA 924. As these operators are outside of my area of knowledge details would be welcome.
All the above allocations were a case of force majeure with the body style ending up with operators which otherwise would not have used the design. Apart from these the Mancunian chassis was produced before the Streamliner body, from 1933, and was supplied to other operators but I can't recall any others ordering the Streamliner body.

Phil Blinkhorn

30/12/13 - 08:02

In view of the discussion about Manchester buses, I thought I would put this one in. It's a photograph which I took over 40 years ago. The rather forlorn-looking ex-Manchester Leyland is outside the premises which we knew as Bingley Autowreckers, or at other times Bingley Brick Kilns. I believe it was later referred to as Bingley Autospares. My friend and I used to pedal, or rather push, our bikes over the hills to where the breaker's yard was. It was right on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere, so the Manchester bus here was incongruous. I remember seeing the fuselages of early jets, possibly vampires, sitting there like huge cigar tubes. I also recall seeing Rotherham trolleys and at one time the centre entrance Leyland (pre-war) which at the time I thought was from Stockport. With hindsight I wish I'd made notes of all these vehicles, but at the age of 13 you don't think of such things. Anyway, back to the photo. I know nothing much about Manchester buses. For some reason I thought this was a Metro Cammell body, yet it looks like the Crossley style. No doubt the experts will enlighten us!

David Rhodes

30/12/13 - 09:29

David, your photo is of Manchester's PD1/1 which was 3001 in the Manchester fleet, the second post war Leyland delivered to Manchester. The design is the Manchester post war Standard, developed by the Transport Department and built by Metro Cammell, as in this case, Brush and Crossley. Crossley adopted the design as its own, and there is plenty of reference to this on this Forum. Just how they did this is an unexplained part of the incestuous relationship which existed between Crossley and the Council - based on helping local employment - between the early 1930s and 1948 when Crossley crossed the border to Stockport.
This batch of 50 PD1s was the last 7ft 6in Leylands delivered to Manchester. 3000 arrived in February 1947, 3001 in March. The last came in July 1947 and the last of the batch was retired in June 1966. 3001 lasted until September 1963 but there is a question raised by your picture. According to "The Manchester Bus" 3001 was bought by Shaws breakers at Manchester Docks. Manchester was almost paranoid about its withdrawals not ending up in other operator's hands so breakers had to sign a contract to break up the vehicles, the only exceptions being to sell to fairground showmen as either generator or towing vehicles in a cut down form. The only buses from the batch shown as going to Bingley are 3002 (GVR204), 3007 (GVR209), 3012 (GVR214), 3015 (GVR217), 3020 (GVR222), 3030 (GVR232), 3038 (GVR240), 3042 (GVR244), 3043 (GVR245) and 3047 (GVR249). As there is no record of any registration/fleet number swaps either Eyre and Heaps have got it wrong or Shaws broke there contract or had leave to sell the bus on to another breaker. Your Stockport centre entrance vehicle would be the English Electric bodied Leyland Tiger TS7 or TS8 of either 1936 or 1937.
I could possibly help with the aircraft but that's not for this Forum

Phil Blinkhorn

30/12/13 - 11:19

Now for a bit of classic "subject bending"!
David`s mention of the Autospares location at Bingley was just too evocative to ignore. I spent whole days exploring that area for old Bradford tram bodies, and then Autospares came along, and many of our well loved Bradford trolleys completed their expiry in that "hole in the ground", as did, it seemed at one time, the entire Hull fleet amongst others!
From my earliest days, I was always fascinated by scrapyards, and have vivid memories of Norths at Whinmoor, where a whole field seemed to be full of WY Gs and Js, as well as oval rear window EYMS single deckers!
I am reminded by my children of the frequent holiday diversions made to view obscure scrapyards or bus depots! As a youngster, when first interested in buses, I would have given a months spending money to visit Birds of Stratford, or Rhodes of Nottingham, the final resting place of so many of Bradfords pre war fleet. As it happens, I did locate Autowrex, and later, Blamires of Bradford. Then, there was that wonderful place near Otley, just below the Fox and Hounds, where some real Sammy Ledgard relics could be seen.
It takes all sorts! Anyone else out there with such romanticised memories of bus scrap yards?
Sorry for the diversion Phil!

John Whitaker

30/12/13 - 17:08

Phil. In one of your posts above, you refer to the English Electric works at BRADFORD building Manchester streamliner bodies.
Not wishing to be pedantic, but as a Bradfordian, and a fan of English Electric bodywork, I think you may be mistaken here. If not, I am only too keen to learn, but the "Phoenix Works" of English Electric at Bradford were always used for the manufacture of traction equipment. Preston was always the bodywork location. Perhaps they were stored at Bradford, or the Bradford works was used in some related connection, but I would be very interested to know the truth in this matter.

John Whitaker

30/12/13 - 17:56

Good question John. I always thought that bus body building by English Electric was a Preston based activity until, quite some years ago now, I got my copy of "The Manchester Bus".
To quote page 138/9 "...Manchester managed to negotiate permission for the completion of all the Daimlers on which work had commenced; English Electric's Phoenix works at Bradford had most of the body components and they, too, were authorised to complete their contract for the bodies. When their supply of chassis ran out, they delivered bodies without chassis to the Car Works where they were stored on trestles. English Electric did not have all the parts for the last three. These they completed as far as they were able and then delivered them to Hyde Rd."
Yet again there is a question regarding the truth, or at least the meaning of the quotation. I have a theory that at the outbreak of war the Preston works may well have been turned over to war work or, alternatively, Preston as a town with its docks was considered more of a target than Bradford. Whichever, if the parts were in Bradford, it would not have been logical in wartime to move them back to Preston for construction.

Phil Blinkhorn

31/12/13 - 07:18

The English Electric bodies for Manchester were built at Preston. There is a picture of one of the finished bodies in the background of this Aberdeen tram photo at this link
Bradford was a traction equipment factory and just would not have been set up for coachbuilding, both in terms of labour force and infrastructure. However, it is quite likely that the commercial function was based there and that the order was therefore placed with the Bradford office, but the end product would be assembled in Preston.

David Beilby

31/12/13 - 09:31

David, the quote I wrote is, apart from the deletion of the fleet numbers of the last three which, for the record were 1343, 1348 and 1350, is verbatim.
What you are saying and your photo seems to confirm is that information in "The Manchester Bus", which is widely regarded as The Bible for the history of MCTD and has been compiled from a range of sources foremost of which is the archive and records of MCTD, has seemingly proved to be wrong by means of photographic evidence and this has now shown up twice in a matter of days on this topic.
The original publication date was 1989 and I have corrections produced by the authors up until 1999.
Perhaps it is time for a new edition.

Phil Blinkhorn

09/01/14 - 07:15

Back to the subject of Crossley's use of the Manchester post war Standard design, I'm just re-reading Geoffrey Hilditch's Steel Wheels and Rubber Tyres Volume 2. Now I have always understood that the reason for the step up in the upper deck window line was due to the method used to suspend the platform as per the MCW patent and the lower deck window line followed for the sake of a balanced design.
In the chapter dealing with his time at Plymouth GH includes a picture of one of that department's all Crossley lowbridge DD42s. Here is one from the same batch:
So what is going on here. Does this vehicle have a cantilevered platform? If so why is the step up in the window line only vestigal? If not, why is there only a tiny step up at all as this is very much non standard and can't beto do with using standard parts - and why bother with the lower deck window line step up?

Phil Blinkhorn

09/01/14 - 12:24

Re Phil's note on the Plymouth Crossley. I think that the lower deck raised windows on this style were in place because of the platform support design. The upper deck were made to match for aesthetic purposes only. I believe I have read this in a book or article somewhere, but cannot trace it. Not being an engineer, I can only speculate as follows - On highbridge buses, like those in Manchester, Portsmouth, etc, the height raised looks equal. However the Plymouth bus in Phil's link is a lowbridge vehicle, so presumably the lower deck design is similar, but the upper deck is reduced because of the general requirements of that specification. Perhaps others can confirm this?

Michael Hampton

10/01/14 - 08:01

Sorry Michael, you have that the wrong way round. Indeed on a lowbridge vehicle the window step up would have less of an effect, particularly regarding a passenger's view as the seats are on a raised platform, whereas a highbridge bus with the layout obstructs the view. To quote "The Manchester Bus" as I have it to hand, "...unlike the RT , the two rear-most top deck windows had a raised lower edge to permit extra-strong framing and to match this the same treatment was applied to the lower deck windows. In the lower deck it did not matter much but the view out of the rear upper deck seats was impaired and it was never clear why this was necessary in Manchester when London could manage without it." My guess would be that the RT body structure, designed to be regularly exchanged between chassis, was built more rigidly than bodies for MCTD and the strength was built into the body as a whole in a much different way to that designed by Manchester where body swaps were not anticipated and the strength was concentrated in the area above the platform opening. My question therefore remains regarding the Plymouth Crossleys. As an aside, the use of the step up was obviously for a time a visual Crossley trade mark of sorts as it was used on vehicles without cantilevered platforms, including single deckers.

Phil Blinkhorn

10/01/14 - 08:02

Rather than describe I will send a photograph of the framework of the 1950 Crossleys supplied to Oldham. This shows the stepped windows but, particularly on the upper deck, no framework which required it. The stress panels are a little deeper but that would not have made the difference.

The platform was NOT cantilevered and this second photo is of the underside of the platform after I completely rebuilt the rear end - the chassis framing extending to the rear of the bus can be clearly seen. The pillar section running along the centre of the bus is not the original design, it's actually an MCW Orion body pillar which happened to be to hand, unlike Crossley pillar section, which wasn’t!

David Beilby

10/01/14 - 10:53

Many thanks, Phil and David. Sorry to muddy the waters on this topic.

Michael Hampton

10/01/14 - 14:27

No problem Michael. The waters are really muddy on this topic and I've spent years trying to get clarity on the subject ever since as a young boy I realised the MCTD PD1s with Standard bodies weren't built by Crossley as I had been told. There are so many different threads to be investigated regarding the origin of the design, the patents, which vehicles used cantilever platforms and how Crossley evolved the design. So much has happened over the last 70 years, so many mergers, so many who knew the answers departed this life that I doubt the full story will ever see the light of day. It would make a fascinating book on its own as the publications in existence don't cover the full story in anything like the detail we would like. It's a hobby horse of mine but I hope Peter has arrangements to have this site protected and continued for future generations as there is so much first hand and well read knowledge on here, plus a good number of misapprehensions which have been put right.

Phil Blinkhorn

11/01/14 - 17:12

Since not all Crossley bodies of this style had stepped windows, the internal construction of the inverted 'V' beams must have been variable. I recall seeing a 1951 Colchester Corporation DD42/7 Crossley with this style of body on a visit there once, and have found a photo. LINK: - scroll down to East Anglia, then Colchester Corporation (top photo). All the lower windows seem to be the same height as the non-stepped windows on the Oldham style, so no scrunching up.

Chris Hebbron

12/01/14 - 07:30

Chris that version of the Crossley body is the ultimate version with a direct lineage from the MCTD Standard, produced well after the acquisition of Crossley by ACV. Stockport had a batch delivered in 1951, their last Crossleys, and the body, by then built in Stockport - by a matter of yards - was an excellent product which could have lasted well beyond its demise had ACV been willing to continue to supply engine and other spares.

Phil Blinkhorn



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