International Progressive Coachline

International Progressive Coachline

After seeing the posting of the ex London Transport STL 2117 owned at the time by Progressive Coaches I thought you may be interested in a few of my snaps that I took whilst driving for them. It's full title at the time was International Progressive Coachline, and their yard, office, and workshop was at Waterbeach, on the northern outskirts of Cambridge. The man who owned it was known as "Paddy" Harris, and his manager was Barry Parsisson. Mr Harris also owned Camtax... a Cambridge taxi firm. I drove for IPC for a while in 1972 when I took a break from Eastern Counties Omnibus Co Ltd at their Cambridge garage. I worked for them on and off from 1970-1975, then moved to London Transport at New Cross Garage after that, down to Kent, working for East Kent Road Car Co.. I finished up on National Express out of Dover Garage until 1993 when I gave up bus driving.

My first three shots may be of interest to your Pompey fraternaty they were taken in 1972 of four ex Portsmouth Corporation Leyland Titans. As far as I can make out the registration numbers are... LRV 993, LRV 998, LRV 999 and GTP 981 but they were painted green and white at the time. I drove for them at that time, and these old double deckers were used mainly for school transport contracts. I doubt if any of these buses still exist but you never know. Staying with buses for contract work IPC I include an ex Eastern Natonal Bristol MW coach. Then its a couple of coaches my regular AEC Reliance and a few shots of two Leopards which I drove on a 31 day round Britain tour. I changed coaches at Preston for operational reasons.

I do hope you can use my photos on your site. I would like to share them with others who may be interested. I think it's a terrible shame when photos end up in landfill.

Lots of happy memories...

Norman Long

Three of the Titans the one on the left GTP 981 this 1952 Titan PD2/10 had a Leyland H56R body and was ex number 64 in the Pompey fleet, the others were two of the Metro Cammell H59R

Two more of the Metro Cammell Titans and a couple of coaches my Regular AEC Reliance is in the foreground registered MRO 136D and I can not read the registration of the far Bedford

One of the Metro Camell Titan PD2/12s new to Pompey
in 1955 as their number 106

New to Eastern National in 1959 fleet number 481 registration 280 NHK a Bristol MW6G with an ECW C39F body. IPC acquired it in November 1970.

My Regular AEC Reliance 2MU4RA Plaxton C34F MRO 136D new to Frames in 1966.

Leyland Leopard PSU3A/4R with a Plaxton C44F new to IPC in 1971 shot at Caernarvon Castle 1972

Leopard on 31 day tour of Britain in the Scottish Highlands 1972

Leopard on the ferry approaching Skye 1972

03/02/12 - 16:00

I can't comment on the buses and coaches in this fleet, Norman, but I was pleased to see mention of your manager - Barry Parsisson. I well remember Barry from around 1967 when we both worked for Wallace Arnold (Traffic Department). I knew he went on to Cambridge, but always assumed it was to Premier (maybe he did at first?). I particularly remember a memorable and epic one-day trip we made in his Hillman Imp from Leeds to South Wales to see and photograph buses in those fascinating valley towns. What a journey that was in those pre-motorway days, particularly for Barry as he did all the driving in that noisy, cramped, but ultimately reliable motor! If you still see him, please remember me to him. If he is interested, many of those photos I took on that trip are on the SCT61 website.

Paul Haywood

03/02/12 - 17:22

It would be great if Barry Parsisson or some of the ex- IPC drivers see it and post some comments
After I had sent the photos to you, I remembered other coaches that the Harris group used. There was a Plaxton bodied Bristol and two or three Harrington Cavaliers, one shorter than the others. Also there were two ex Black and White Motorways Daimler coaches with Cummins engines. They were lovely to drive and had a wonderful exhaust sound. I drove one up to Blackpool overnight on a Premier Travel relief service with a second driver, and on the return journey it unfortunately seized up as we approached Northampton. It was towed back to, and repaired at great expense by V and Inline Diesels of Daventry.
I checked out some bus photos on the internet and immediately recognised Daimler KDD 276E as one of them. I think the other was either 275E or 277E, but can't swear to it.

Norman Long

05/03/14 - 16:34

It was with interest I saw pictures that you had provided of some of Paddies double deckers. I worked for the firm during the sixties and early seventies. I think I was one of the team that travelled to Portsmouth to pick up these buses. Don't ask the date, I am approaching 80 and dates are not important anymore. We travelled down with spare driver and mechanics Taff Jacobs and Archie Dean. We could only leave the borough by one route which made a long diversion around the town, this due to the low bridges. I spent many happy years with the firm finishing up driving their 10 day Switzerland tour [with a Harveys Continental Tours coach] they had the licence at that time.
I was fortunate not to do much school or contract work, mostly privates and tours away, you could say I was Bob Thorpes blue eyed boy. My employment with them came to an end when I was preparing to leave at the weekend with a party from Trinity colleges Drydon Society [artists that performed Drydons works] we would have left for St. Petersburg in Russia. During those preparations on the Thursday I was rushed into hospital with a burst appendix. I did not return to coach driving after some ten weeks in Addenbrookes.
They were good times, some other names on the firm at the time. Taffy Jacobs, Archie Dean, Cyril [Sarah] Maltby, Maureen in the office, both Pat and his sister, Paddies son and daughter. George Jacobs, always drove United Football coach,
Good memories of Occupation Road and Vinery Road, the City Arms in city Road.

Peter Sanderson

06/03/14 - 16:28

Peter, It was good to read your reminiscences of your involvements with the Portsmouth PD2s. I guess that the date would be around 1972/1974, when these batches were being sold off. I was curious about your route out of Portsmouth, described as a circuitous route to avoid low bridges. Portsmouth did not have any low bridges over the roads. The worst over-bridge was at the Portsmouth Town station, but from the mid-1930s this could handle highbridge trolleybuses. In c.1935 the road under it was lowered to enable them to operate, and they did so daily until the early 1960s. The only other awkward bridge I can think of was the infamous Fareham railway arch. This too could take highbridge double deckers, but only when they came in the middle of the road! (It's now been replaced). But this wouldn't be an obvious route from Portsmouth to Cambridge. Perhaps there was a recommended route for other purposes (traffic flow?) - would the police or traffic commissioners have such a scheme for PSV's leaving town? (Portsmouth people used to comment on the many local traffic signs that were labelled "Out of City" - if you followed them all you'd probably meet yourself coming back!)

Michael Hampton

29/11/14 - 07:35

Further comments with regard to working for "Progressive"...By 1972 the writing really was on the wall, and it seemed that they were having difficulty finding people with the right experience to drive for them. I drove a 31 day tour of the British Isles and Eire, and was told that they lost money on that tour. Some days were extremely long ...7 am school pick ups...wait all day at Feltwell airbase for the American kids to finish lessons then drop them off home... and then from Cambridge to Charing Cross station with students. Late finish and early start again in the morning...very boring and very tiring.
After every job, back to Waterbeach to refuel, only to find the next days job on your bulldog clip...rarely a rest day. It was difficult to keep the coaches clean on the mucky fen roads, and constant cleaning quickly took the lettering off my boot lid.
The fitter/engineer in the garage was moody and unfriendly, and I don't think I ever saw him smile!
The other drivers were a decent bunch, and the tour manager Barry was a really good guy. However, when comparing this line of work with the simplicity of driving for E.C.O.C as a one man bus driver,and being able to pick and choose from the available overtime for better wages, there was no contest. Just to be able to drive into the garage, leave it on the pumps for someone else to clean and refuel, and to know that tomorrow was only 7 and a half hours work ...extra if you wanted it.
"Progressive" was not a happy ship, and I'm not surprised at it's demise .. yes, I have happy memories, but they are when looking back through the 'rose tinted specs'

Norman Long



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