Thames Valley ex Newbury and District Guy Arabs

Thames Valley ex Newbury and District Guy Arabs

In 1950 the Red & White group sold out to the British Transport Commission, and many of its smaller subsidiary companies were transferred to the management of the nearby Tilling operators. One such component company was Newbury & District which fell into the dubious care of Thames Valley, probably the scruffiest and least proud constituent of the Tilling group. At the time of the takeover the Guy Arab III with Duple bodywork was the favoured double decker for Newbury & District new purchases, and three examples of 1950 vintage, two lowbridge and one highbridge, passed into the uncaring hands of Thames Valley. "Rationalisation" of the allocation of former Red & White vehicles saw the transfer in 1951 of four more 1950 Arab III/Duple highbridge 'deckers and two 1944 Arab IIs with 1950 H56R Park Royal bodies from the fleet of Venture of Basingstoke (which had been entirely absorbed by Wilts & Dorset) to Thames Valley at Newbury. Richard Smith's remarkably detailed history together with fleet lists of the Red & White group may be found at:-

The pictures below were taken in Newbury in 1966, just two years before all the Arab IIIs were withdrawn in 1968. The photos are less than ideal because the buses were parked in deep shade on a bright sunny day which rather perplexed my exposure meter, and I was using Agfacolor film rather than my preferred Kodachrome. This means that the results have had to be heavily 'Photoshopped' to be usable.

The line up shows Duple H57R bodied HOT 392 (ex Venture) with similar ex Newbury & District bus FMO 517. Between them is FMO 516 with Duple L53RD body.

FMO 515 gives a view of the rear folding door fitted to the lowbridge vehicles.

Highbridge FMO 517 is pictured again on its own.

The deplorable condition of these buses, particularly around the front domes, especially the highbridge examples (the accompanying Bristol machines were almost as bad) shows the complete lack of presentational pride that characterised the Thames Valley concern. When, from 1st January 1972, NBC in its 'wisdom' decided to merge the smart Aldershot & District fleet with that of Thames Valley, it was the latter that took control of the former, and standards plummeted accordingly.


Roger Cox

17/09/15 - 06:11

Wonderful to see this Guy Arab III lineup---biffed domes and all! Working in the 60s for Smiths Luxury(!) Coaches, Reading, a regular job with JUG 630, or sometimes another JUG or an OFC-reg Oxford Regent III, or just occasionally a Dennis Lancet J3, was to go out to the bus park at AWRE Aldermaston as part of the web of services that radiated from the site towards Wantage, Newbury, Basingstoke, Reading and goodness knows where. I used to look longingly at the N&D Guys, and one night had an odd dream: I was fulfilling my ambition to drive one, but I found myself sitting in the passenger seat behind the bulkhead, looking through the glass into an empty cab. No sense of panic; just puzzlement. Another dream I had more than once was that I'd driven a bus down some steps inside a building and realised that there wouldn't be enough traction to back out. Then there was that dream where you should have picked up some passengers at 8 in the morning but it was already 3 in the afternoon...
Returning to the proper topic, I never saw the Guys in Reading. Did they ever stray there?
Still with the Red & White group, in the 50s I used to pedal out to visit a steam-enthusiast pal living in Aldermaston village, where we'd go outside the door to see Wilts & Dorset ex-Venture Lydney-Weymann-bodied AEC Regent IIIs working route 136 from Basingstoke to Beenham. They looked to my eyes more like an urban bus, curiously out of place in the Berkshire countryside.

Ian Thompson



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