This gallery was prompted by the appearance of John Stringer's gallery A Tour of Shropshire and North East Wales which coincided with me doing some investigations to fill out details of slides I had been scanning which covered some other independents in the area.
Until I was doing the latter, because of the way my slide collection is organised, I had not really appreciated quite what an amazing variety of interesting vehicles had come my way on just a single day out. From the information that came my way during the investigations, I am sure that the impetus for the trip was the article that appeared in the October 1969 issue of Buses Illustrated by R. A. Ward. Anyway, I and a couple of student colleagues from Liverpool University set off early on the morning of Saturday 18 October to see what we could find, and this gallery is the result. As can be seen we were amazingly lucky with the weather once the morning mists of our first port of call had disappeared. The mix of colour and monochrome is due to the fact that as a student, budget for colour film was distinctly limited, to be reserved for what appeared to be the most interesting subjects. Black and white film could be bought in bulk and home processed, so could be used a bit more lavishly.
Our first stop dovetails neatly with the end of John's gallery, being at Holywell. First found was Phillips' Seddon TDM 855, which was waiting on the bus stand to depart for Mold. As John's view shows, this is definitely a contender for the Ugly Bus Page. We then moved on to the Phillips depot, where we found former Wallasey PD2 CHF 565, Bedford SB8 103 FDM and Seddon Pennine 4 XDM 872H.
The latter was just 2 months old at the time, and it is surprising that the older Seddon was in service rather than it. The two other vehicles both have interesting histories. The PD2 traces its line back to 1936 when Wallasey took delivery of a batch of TD4c chassis with English Electric double-deck bodies. Six of these were rebodied by Burlingham in 1949, but when the chassis were scrapped in 1955, the bodies were too good to throw away, and new PD2/10 chassis were purchased to fit the bodies. When withdrawn in 1965, the chassis were barely 10 years old, so Phillips would have had a pretty good workhorse. It may well have been this visit which gave my former student flatmate, Mick Uden, (not with us on the trip) the idea of purchasing this bus for preservation. On his untimely death in the mid 1970s, his executors were fortunately sufficiently informed to ensure that the bus stayed in preservation and was not scrapped, and after various moves it ended up at the Wirral Transport Museum in Birkenhead. The Bedford passed to Jones of Flint, where at some stage it was reregistered ACA 829A, (the original registration passing to a series of later Jones Coaches) and after an eventful life in a variety of guises was finally scrapped in 1990.
Our next scheduled stop was at Blythin of St. Asaph, where we found exBirkenhead PD2/Leyland, in a not very photogenic location in the yard; still in full Birkenhead livery, and not clear whether it had actually been in service.
Continuing along the A55 - not the great dual carriageway that today bypasses everywhere - we next had an unexpected encounter.
Parked outside the Wayside Café at Bodelwyddan - clearly a regular coach stop in those days - was a pair of coaches belonging to Ellis of Llangefni (Anglesey). I have always been basically a bus and not a coach enthusiast, but occasionally there were coaches that stirred the feelings. This fine Beadle Rochester, ex Grey Cars, was certainly of more than passing interest. The Bedford behind was 'ordinary' and not worth noting details, so remains anonymous!
After negotiating the potential bottleneck of Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction and Conwy, all solid Crosville territory with nothing particular to stop for, we reached Penmaenmawr. Whether by luck or judgment - probably the former - we found the Penmaenmawr Motor Company's little Albion Nimbus on its stand waiting to depart for the neighbouring village of Dwygyfylchi.
Presumably no-one except locals ever used the service, as no destination was shown, the paper in the display simply carrying the company name. There was only the single route, so there was clearly only one place it could be going to! A mystery remains as to why this bus, apparently bought new, has Cheshire, not Carnarvonshire registration
Carrying on, we now got to the main course of the day, the area around Bangor and Caernarfon.
Making for Bethesda we were fortunate to catch up with Purple Motors' service from Bangor as it passed Halfway House. This took the form of the former Yorkshire Woollen District Reliance/ Park Royal, which had joined Purple after a mere 9 years with its original owner. It was now just a short run up to the Purple Motors yard at the old station yard in Bethesda. Here we were regaled by the presence of the Deiniolen Motors superb Crossley decker, which a member of the garage staff was quite happy to manoeuvre into best position in the sunshine.
Although formally owned by Deiniolen, the Crossley was effectively a Purple vehicle, being principally used on the Bethesda service. The link between the two companies was the result of the owner of Deiniolen Motors managing Purple Motors for the estate of the original owner of the latter in return for making use of Purple's superior maintenance facilities. The manoeuvrings of the Crossley were followed by a similar set involving the remaining serviceable, and equally resplendent, former Stratford Blue PS1, GUE 247.
This was a Purple vehicle, its sadly derelict twin sister GUE 252 belonging to Deiniolen. Neither carried fleet names. GUE 247 survives in preservation with BAMMOT, although as far as I am aware not yet in restoration.
Also sparkling in the yard was the former Gliderways PS1 of 1947, still going after more than 20 years, but displaying the Duple Super Vega body with which Purple had replaced the original Harrington dorsal fin body in 1957.
Our next stage was to move on to Anglesey. Potential finds were The Bedford TK coach of Jones, Menai Bridge and the pre-war Leyland Cub of Pritchard, Newborough. However, having got only as far as the edge of Bangor, we came across another unexpected find.
Parked up on part of the old road into Bangor was former Southdown TD5 with post-war Park Royal body, now belonging the Johnstone's, the contractor. It appears that they were involved with a major local construction project.
On reaching Anglesey we had clearly failed to take note of the information in the Buses Illustrated article that Pritchard's Cub had moved on to Hollis as a preservation project, and the Jones TK was either not on the premises or in an unphotographable location, so avoided being recorded. Nevertheless we were somewhat compensated by the sight of Jones's smart OB sandwiched between two the TK removals vans.
We were then led up the yard to see two other particularly interesting, if less easily photographed, vehicles.
First was the rare and very distinctive Crossley SD42 with Gurney Nutting coach body. This was a replacement body for the original pre-war body from a 1933 Thornycroft. This coach is preserved.
Lurking behind this, and becoming overgrown, was the Thornycroft Lightning, new to Jones and with their own body. Gratifyingly, this fine vehicle has also found its way into preservation and restoration at Milestones in Basingstoke. (Both these vehicles were accorded a colour view, but the lighting conditions mean that the monochrome versions are of better quality).
Continuing into Anglesey we made our way to Newborough and Pritchard's small garage in the village. Outside we found Bedford OB EY 7786.
This bus started life with neighbouring Jones of Menai Bridge before being sold to the Army. Although a bus body, it is fitted with coach seats, hence my DP classification. My recollection was that there was no-one around at the garage, but we seem to have been lucky with our timing, as a few minutes later we were presented with the sight of the service bus passing through the village.
At first sight it could be mistaken for one of the rather mundane Western Welsh Tiger Cubs with Weymann bodies, but this is definitely better than that, being a Guy LUF originally with Northern General. As with the Penmaenmawr Nimbus, the destination display simply contains a piece of paper with the operator's name, although in this case superfluous as the name is well emblazoned on the front of the bus. Once again it was the operator's only route, so the passengers would again know where it was going without reference to a destination display.
I am particularly indebted to Neville Mercer for providing me with information that has enabled all the question marks that appeared in captions in my original draft to be removed. Even so, there are a couple of items that we have been unable to resolve fully, and any light that can be shed on them will be much appreciated. These will appear as a DYK once the second part of the gallery has been posted.
In part two I will be covering what we found in the Caernarfon area, with some more of Bangor.
To read Part Two Click here
18/01/13 - 12:40
Many thanks for sharing these views. I have long had the idea that colour photographs are better than black and whites - usually, anyway. The black and whites in this view seem more atmospheric, somehow.
Regarding the view which is alleged to be of XTA 848, is our photographer sure the young lady wasn't the target, and the coach just got in the way?
JC 9795 is certainly a gem! What a pity she doesn't appear in the PSVC list of preserved vehicles!
19/01/13 - 12:57
Re the young lady - It's noticeable how few enthusiast bus photos include the very reason for their existence, i.e. the passengers. I was as guilty as the rest in this respect, which is why in retrospect I particularly like the Pritchard shot with all the lads who seem simply to want to chat to the driver. It's sad to think that trying to repeat this view today would probably result in a horde of hostile mums sending for the police.
21/08/13 - 06:37
At last, a pic of the almost mythical Nimbus of The Penmaenmawr Motor Co.! What made it unique was the fact that the owners extended it by an extra bay which must have made it an interesting drive, especially with a full load, if it ever had one.
22/08/13 - 05:18
If, as you say, it was extended (and I've no reason to dispute this) I wonder if it was done by Les Gleave? They did several Royal Tigers which then received LG registrations. Just a thought.
22/08/13 - 05:22
EY 7786 is shown in the PSV Circle's Bedford OWB chassis list as having a Duple B32F body (no. 41464), supplied new to T. Jones & Sons, Menai Bridge in 11/45. The chassis (no. 32431) was amongst the very last OWB's built before the OB resumed. Even some of the early OB service buses had the wartime utility outline, so presumably this one had been rebodied at some point - either with a new Duple Mark II or Mulliner body (they were pretty much identical), or later in life had a secondhand one transferred from another vehicle. The PSVC book does not list any such rebodying, so I wonder what happened.
22/08/13 - 17:31
The Nimbus was extended "in house" by the Penmaenmawr Motor Co, and it had its Cheshire registration from new, so the latter remains a mystery. Photo's of the Nimbus at both lengths are in my book "Independent Buses in North Wales" along with a potted history of this fascinating operator. This isn't meant as a plug by the way, the book's almost sold out!
08/09/13 - 15:00
In Alan Murray-Rust's gallery above he makes mention of Deiniolen Motors and Purple Motors being linked.
In January 1975 Deiniolen Motors was advertised for sale through the pages of Commercial Motor. Thinking I would like to own and run my own bus company, and being unsettled in my present position with SELNEC, I sent off for the details.
The attached documents are what I received along with a 1948 Timetable, which, with a couple of amendments was still being operated.
As you can see the 'Premises' included a "Large out-door pit". This must have been the total maintenance facilities, no wonder they used Purple Motors. I wonder what it was like working in that pit in the depths of a North Wales winter? Would Health and Safety allow that today? I think not.
Another interesting point made is that the Drivers Basic rate of pay was £28.50 increasing to £35.00 in the March. That was not a bad % increase, or for that matter a bad wage in 1975.
Some of you may ask if I bought the Company?
The answer of course is NO.
I did leave SELNEC in March 1975 and got a post with Derby Borough Transport as Assistant Traffic Superintendent. That was a good move because one of my responsibilities was the operations of Blue Bus Services of Willington.
So in some respects I did get to run my own Bus business, without the need to find the money.
14/09/13 - 08:00
Stephen. Many thanks for the fascinating information about Deiniolen Motors. It's a great insight into the way small operators like this survived, even to the owner having to do his own typing (I suspect). (One wonders how much knowledge a Free Lance fitter might have had of Dennis vehicles!)
I also wonder how many other operators would have been operating in the mid 70s a timetable dated 1948 until further notice!
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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 8th March 2014