The Mystery of the Second Sheffield No 12

The Mystery of the Second Sheffield No 12

This is a tale of coincidence and collaboration that shows how shared research between enthusiasts can solve mysteries.

In July 1997 I began what was to become a fascinating exchange of letters with the late Charles C Hall of Sheffield. It began simply enough with a request from me for a copy of his photograph in 'Buses 81' of the ex-G Crosby of Hunmanby, Bedford OB, ex-East Yorkshire Motor Services which passed to Mexborough & Swinton Traction Co. (EBT 240). His original negative had disappeared so he kindly gave consent to use a scan of the picture he provided for my files. Charles realised my East Riding interest so his next letter to me held a photocopy of an ADC 426 type of Archer Robinson’s Bridlington & District fleet. I wrote back confirming that this was the ‘Robinson’ of Bridlington not ‘Robinson’ of Scarborough.

This confirmation was thanks to the late Mike Heard he helped me trace vehicles used in Scarborough Summer Seasons from Bridlington and elsewhere. Mike sent details of his Scarborough notes which included some Sheffield Charabanc owners names and registrations of their vehicles. These out of town operators saw the benefits of the summertime trade at Scarborough. By registering a vehicle jointly with other Scarborough firms, they provided transport to the resort and within it eg Northern Motor Utilities (York) - H & E Seaton (Scarborough).

Another such joint operator was J Grocock of Sheffield, I sent details of the registrations to Charles some of these were ‘new’ to his Grocock fleet list, probably due to them being registered and licensed to partners for use in Scarborough.

By now it’s February 1998, I sent Charles a copy of a photograph of a Leyland double deck bus with open-top bodywork originally taken in Queen Street Bridlington, and I asked Charles if he could identify the maker of the strange looking Bodywork.

Leyland N chassis 1912300 Blue Bus Service Bridlington
c July 1926.

I Gibbs Collection
per H Robinson

His reply letter expressed great interest in the picture, and had I any other information on this? I remembered that a photograph of a GMC ‘K’ type with ‘Ramsden’ body had come from the same source as the Leyland that too taken in Bridlington. A study of this revealed that in the background of the photograph was the rear of a double deck bus open staircase.
It had ‘No 12’ painted on it with plate WA 4867 just visible at right.

Blue Bus Service GMC ‘K’
BT 8626, with rear of ex-Sheffield No 12 Leyland ‘N’ with Sheffield City Transport ‘Allen’ bodywork

I Gibbs Collection
per H Robinson

The reply from Charles expressed great interest in this picture and proved crucial to solving the mystery of the second No 12 of Sheffield City Transport.

The Bus was the second No 12 at Sheffield City Transport, a Leyland ‘N’ 1912300, in service on 24th January 1921, Charles Hall kept detailed records.

On going into service this Leyland chassis was fitted with a second hand ex-Northern General double deck body purchased during the First World War. This had come from an earlier Sheffield Daimler chassis!
On the 21st March 1922 this body was exchanged for another Open Top double deck body this time ex-Coventry Corporation.
This Leyland had a further body change in January 1925, though which body was fitted had not been recorded at the time, just a re-registered weight-change was noted in the SCT records, of 4T 1C 1Q to 5T 3C 2Q.
The Leyland was withdrawn and sold leaving Sheffield 14th July 1926. No details of disposal were noted in fact SCT had no record of its later life until the exchange of these letters in 1998!

Second version SCT 'Allen' body (the raised panel rear of saloon is omitted in construction)

Through our letters we had solved the mystery of the disposal and later life of the second SCT No.12. I had also learned much about W P Allen and his bus design which had found favour in both Sheffield and Bridlington. So the bodywork on the Bridlington Leyland ‘N’ type was one of the Sheffield City Transport reproductions to the design by W P Allen. (I have added a short note for W P Allen as an appendix).

Upon reading in the 1913 Trade Press a review of the new body design by William Percy Allen (for his ‘Allen’ Bus Co) Sheffield City Transport decided to purchase one from body builders Christopher Dodson’s for evaluation. It was fitted to a Daimler chassis to become SCT bus No 10, registered W 3950 and entered service 26th December 1913.

Sheffields first No 12. Daimler/SCT Allen body - original version

Charles Hall Collection/I C Gibbs

The ‘Allen’ body was delivered to the Sheffield engineering staff at a cost of £205 per body, compared with £150 for the LGOC style body, quite a variation in cost. So impressed were the engineers at Sheffield City Transport it was decided to make four or five reproduction ‘Allen’ bodies in their Sheffield workshops.

The first two of these were exact copies, having the raised panel at the rear of the lower Saloon, however for ease of construction the next bodies were constructed without the slightly raised body panel below the two rear windows changing into a straight through' profile. Thus Allen bodies were being fitted to new chassis on arrival during 1914 in place of the earlier Dodson ‘LGOC’ types opted for in 1913.

Sheffield City Transport 'Allen' style bodies showing a side view on a Daimler chassis (above) and a front view on a Leyland chassis (left)

The above shot was obviously taken in summer, as the front pair of large Saloon windows have the Glass Drops opened and above these at each end of the small lights the back and front vents are flipped down to ventilate, this was a feature of Allen's design noted in the Press at the time.

Charles Hall Collection/I C Gibbs

The Bodywork on the Leyland in Bridlington was to a design by W P Alllen though modified at Sheffield City Transport. A close look at the photograph in Bridlington reveals that for safety of the driver 'Blue Bus Service' fitters have added an off-side panel to enclose the Driver’s position preventing entry from the roadway whereas the original bodies are ‘open’ at both sides.

The seating as designed by W P Allen is stated in the press to have seating in the front half of the Lower Saloon to be in singles and pairs (gangway room?) to conform with London police regulations this reduced the usual 34 seating capacity to 32 in the case of the ‘Allen’ design.

The pictures from Charles collection were supplied to me for copying in 1998, with his written permission to use them as I required, so long as he was acknowledged as the source for which I was very grateful.

William Percy Allen set up a Bus service the ‘Allen Motor Omnibus Co’ to ply in London in late 1913 he apparently did not rate the LGOC style of body. The interior was luxuriously appointed, to attract a better class of passenger so he designed this new body style for his small fleet of Straker-Squire vehicles. Painted yellow with black lining out these would brighten the London streets!
The Dodson 'Allen' Open top bodies seated 32 passengers, compare this with the Sheffield City Transport versions which seated 35.
W P Allen had connections to many bus companies including Premier London, Silver Queen, Lincolnshire and East Kent.

The Late Charles C Hall and Mike Heard without whose willingness to share research I could not have put together the various pieces of the mystery surrounding this Sheffield Bus.

Ian Gibbs


I was fascinated to read about the Bridlington Blue Bus Company, and the ex Sheffield No12. Well before my time, but I have always had an interest in the Bridlington independents, and it is very encouraging to see that inter-enthusiast research produces such interesting results. The Allen body to me has a strong resemblance to the Dodson bodies of this period, and, in particular, those on Dennis chassis supplied to West Bridgford in 1913, and which were transferred to Alldays chassis after the Dennis were war service commissioned. Blue Bus were absorbed by EYMS, but when did the other independents appear on the scene, particularly Williamson, and White Bus Service, and is there any photographic evidence of their first fleets? Thanks Ian for a very interesting write up.

John Whitaker


John Wittaker re Sheffield and Blue Bus Bridlington Thank you for the comments.
I am not familiar with West Bridgford transport sounds interesting, (is this an UDC operation?) Dodson possibly sold "Allen" style bodies to customers who wanted that style, however I see what you mean about their own body style it took me a little while to define the Sheffield non-"Allens" with the 1909 normal Dodson body.
Hove Corp had a trial Cedes-Stoll trackless with Allen Body but they sold it off to Keighley.
Re Williamson's they started c1880 with waggonettes graduating to proper horse buses about 10 years later John Williamson after the Crimean War had three sons, two of them were given a share of the trade about 1912 the third son had no interest in the work. An amicable split came when the elder son seems to have gone for the landau trade for locals and visitors also meeting train arrivals leaving Reuben to the Buses proper.
Reuben acquired a Herald with double deck body in 1906 but no trace post 14-18 war. A Republic, one Ex LGOC decker he favoured Daimler chassis fitting the old body on to the latest new chassis. A right old mixture followed usually s/hand, a Morris Commercial and a rash of Barnaby bodied Fords in the mid thirties. (I have never been able to trace one early Daimler Saloon Bus that may have had a Lincolnhsire plate FE?)
The Fords ran on and off schedule during the summer seasons all over the resort, so too did the White bus fleet! Lancia charas at the start, Jack Wilson of WBS had the nickname "Jack Cruise Promenade Wilson" which came about from his reply to Drivers at the end of an excursion run, who asked him 'What shall I do now Mr Wilson?' "Cruise Promenade Lad, Cruise Promenade"
Blue Bus were 'let in' to the Stage Carriage trade as Robinson (Green Bus) did not operate on the Sabbath, the Corporation granting Blue Bus licences in the town, on the Flamborough and North Landing services from, Queen Street Bridlington their first chassis was I think an Atlas, maybe Ken could confirm this one?

Ian Gibbs


Thanks Ian for your very detailed reply which is greatly appreciated! Re. WBUDC. Yes, I am referring to the WB UDC fleet, whose first batch in 1914 were Dodson bodied Dennis with that step window effect. It foreshadowed Crossley by about 50 years! Please contact me if you need a picture of these Dennis buses, or on the Alldays chassis after the Dennis were war commissioned. Thanks again.

John Whitaker



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