A Potteries Motor Traction Coach in a spot of bother - or how strong is a hawthorn hedge?

A Potteries Motor Traction Coach in a spot of bother
or how strong is a Hawthorn hedge?

Potteries Motor Traction operated a number of contract duties each day providing staff transport to the Ministry of Defence 16MU site in deepest Staffordshire. These provided useful out of season employment for coaches.

On 13th April 1972 AEC Reliance 590 fleet number 987 (4987 VT) with a Duple Commander C49F body was operating one of these duties when on the fairly narrow road approaching the site, the driver moved too far over to allow an approaching vehicle to pass and the bus slipped off the edge of the road. There was a hawthorn hedge along the side of the road and this was fortunately strong enough to support the weight of the coach and prevent it slipping into the adjacent, lower level field.

When we arrived on site the first thing to do was to support the nearside of the coach with timbers to assist the hawthorn hedge and then think about how to recover it!

Clearly recovery was more than we could attempt using the winch on the Matador recovery vehicle. The coach needed to be lifted back on to the road with a crane. But the problem was how to lift it in safety and without causing undue damage to either the chassis or bodywork?
Our Chief Engineer, John Mundella (he is next to the crane in the third photo) came up with a plan. The coach was fitted with 10 stud wheel rims. What if we got a couple of scrap rims and burnt out alternate holes so that they would pass over the wheel nuts? Then we could then remove alternate wheel nuts from the front wheels of the coach and fit the modified rims back
to back with the coach rims thus creating a slinging point on the front axle for the crane.

The following day we set out again from Stoke Depot complete with the modified wheel rims, a wheelbrace and a large lorry mounted crane from Longton Transport Equipment Ltd. We fitted the extra rims, and using a spreader beam on the crane, attached the lifting ropes to the front wheels of the coach. One careful lift later and we had achieved our objective one undamaged coach back on the carriageway. The two photographs below show the progress of the recovery.

Ian Wild

26/02/15 - 08:50

For some reason I missed Ian Wild's gallery of the righting of the Potteries Reliance coach, and I'm glad it has resurfaced. What an ingenious solution---and how lucky that the studs had enough spare length to accommodate the thickness of the second wheel!

Ian T

26/02/15 - 12:39

An amazing example of thinking outside the box, Ian. Thx for posting it.
Coincidentally, I was based at RAF Stafford (16MU) during my National Service in the mid 1950's. It was only on the absolute outskirts of Stafford, yet on bleak and featureless terrain. And like most RAF stations, seemingly 10 degrees colder than its surroundings! Low-lying and damp was usually the reason.

Chris Hebbron



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