Rebodying in Bradford

Rebodying in Bradford

We are all well aware that Bradford followed a “Sow's Ear to Silk Purse” policy by rebodying trolleybuses, but a lesser known fact is that they also rebodied some motorbuses during WW2.

“Not a lot of people know that”, to quote a well known “Cockney” film star.

Like the “Regen” trolleybuses, BCPT (Bradford Corporation Passenger Transport Dept.) had 2 batches of AEC “Regents”, delivered in 1935 and 1936, with metal framed English Electric bodies. The problems associated with the trolleybus bodies are well documented, and problems indeed they were!

The “Regents” would seem to have been no different in this respect!

The 2 batches were :-

1935. 415-419 KY 9120-9124 8.8 litre oil engine AEC Regent, known in Bradford as “Heavy Sixes”

1936 426-430 AKW 426-430 7.7 litre oil engined AEC Regent. Known in Bradford as “Light Sixes”

Photographs of these buses are to be seen on David Beilby's gallery, and what wonderful photos they are, including much interior detail.

BCPT were obviously experiencing some difficulty in keeping these buses on the road. Perhaps, like the Regens, their body framing was coming apart, not helped by trying wartime circumstances, and 419, 426 and 427 appear to have had major surgery to the bodywork by 1944.

In 1944, permission was granted for the remainder to be rebodied, and the contract for the 7 new bodies was awarded to East Lancs, an organisation designated for this type of work under the wartime auspices..

The rebodied vehicles were quite attractive, with well rounded lines, but did not survive too long into the post war era, being withdrawn between 1950, and 1953.

426 and 427, with original bodies, were withdrawn in 1949, but 419, my favourite pre-war Bradford bus, survived until October 1951, latterly repainted in surplus wartime grey paint! She was then converted into a removal van by Olivers in York. Well Done Thornbury Body Shop!

Leeds also had a batch of Regents with metal EEC bodies, again viewable on David's gallery, and these, too, were rebodied, in this case by Roe, or else suffered early withdrawal.

I have difficulty in finding a photo of the East Lancs rebodied buses, except for the one on the left in this photo at Bowling Depot, but 419 is shown below, towards the end of its career, in wartime grey.

Both these photos were by Jim Copeland, the well known Bradford transport photographer, who provided so many other delights for us Bradfordian enthusiasts.

At the risk of repeating myself, if only we could turn back the clock!

John Whitaker

26/09/12 - 11:22

Thanks, John, for your (typically) fascinating article. In, (also typically), OBP fashion, may I digress by saying how nostalgic I found your reference to the removal company Olivers.
Whitby C Oliver - slogan 'Across the Street or Across the World' - were once a most familiar sight in York. Their lovely maroon and cream livery would have done credit to any bus operator, so they were worthy recipients of the ex-Bradford AEC. I remember while I was a conductor with York-West Yorkshire having a very warm discussion with a former school mate who worked for Olivers about the relative merits of their AEC, (presumably 419?) and Y-WY's Gardner-engined Bristols.

Roy Burke



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