Old Bus Photos

Hants & Dorset – Bristol LL5G – KRU 993 – 787

Hants & Dorset - Bristol LL5G - KRU 993 - 787

Hants & Dorset Motor Services
Bristol LL5G

KRU 993 came to Hants & Dorset in February 1952 as a standard half cab LL6B with an ECW B39R body, one of a batch of seven similar vehicles, KRU 988-994, fleet nos. 782-788, delivered between September 1951 and February 1952. In June 1955 the Bristol AVW engine in KRU 993 was replaced by a Gardner 5LW, making the vehicle an LL5G, a conversion that had happened surprisingly earlier in October 1952 to KRU 990, and to KRU 991 in February 1953. It would seem that the other four retained their Bristol engines. Between September 1959 and July 1960 six of these buses were rebuilt by the operator to full fronted FB39F configuration for OPO operation, with KRU 992 being the last to be so treated in January 1962, but this had the lesser capacity of FB37F. All the others had their seating reduced to 37 in the years 1961 to 1966. The frontal treatment of the conversions ranged considerably from the plain appearance illustrated by KRU 993 through a variety of front panel designs, some bearing the more flamboyant ECW ‘coach’ style radiator grille. KRU 993 is pictured in Southampton in 1962 when it was still a 39 seater, the reduction by two seats occurring in November 1964. 787 was was the first of the batch to be withdrawn in January 1967 when it passed to a dealer. The rest were sold out of service in the following year. I acknowledge the //www.bristolsu.co.uk and the Local Transport History Library websites as sources for much of this history.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

03/05/21 – 07:11

I assume the motive behind these engine swaps was to obtain 6-cylinder units for use in 5LW-engined K-types. The problem which BT&CC and presumably H&D found with the arrival of the KSWs with their higher power was that where older lower powered vehicles were mixed in with them they had difficulty keeping to time – hence taking 6-cylinder engines out of single deckers to use in the double deckers.
Various other interesting features on H&D 787; the kerb view window similar to the SC type, the usual H&D sun-visor. This would also have had the pedestal type drivers seat with a catch released by a foot pedal allowing the seat to rotate so the driver could face the passengers to issue tickets. I always wondered about the safety aspects of these; what was to stop the seat going walkabout while on the move if it failed to catch when returned to the driving position?

Peter Cook

29/05/21 – 07:39

Far better looking than the leering toothy-grin radiator grille that marred so many other L rebuilds.

Ian Thompson


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R & R Coaches t/a Beeline – Bristol SC4 – NFW 655

NFW 655

R & R Coaches t/a Beeline
Bristol Bristol SC4LK

The lightweight SC (small capacity) vehicle emerged in 1954 and was the Bristol/ECW offering for BTC lightly trafficked rural bus routes. Every opportunity was taken to save weight. The chassis longitudinal members were simple straight lengths of channel lacking intermediate transverse sections, and the body was sheeted in fairly thin aluminium. The axles were reputedly sourced from Bedford, and the five speed gearbox, with its idiosyncratic selector positioning between third and fourth, came from the David Brown company. Three prototypes were constructed, the first, 724 APU, fitted with the Gardner 4LK engine and classified SCX4G, was delivered to Eastern National in November 1954. This was followed by 725 APU in December 1954, but this had the Perkins P6 engine and was called the SCX6P. This bus later received a 4LK engine in 1958. The third prototype, another 4LK powered SCX4G, went to Eastern Counties in December 1955, and as all subsequent SCs were powered by the 4LK engine, the classification thereafter was amended to the familiar SC4LK. Production, including the prototypes, totalled 323, Lincolnshire being the greatest user with 113 examples, followed by Eastern Counties with 88, Crosville 79, and Eastern National 22. The other BTC companies took the SC in penny numbers only – United Counties 6, Cumberland and Thames Valley 5 each, Red & White 4, and United Welsh just 1. The little 3.8 litre 57 bhp 4LK had to work hard in the SC, a duty not helped by the curious ratios of the David Brown gearbox. The gap between second and third has been noted by a number of commentators, but, in my experience of driving the type, it was the gap between third and fourth that truly restricted progress. This necessitated the revving of the engine to its absolute maximum before attempting to change up, a move that frequently proved abortive so that a change back down again was immediately required. Thus the engine spent much of its time at its 2100 maximum revolutions with a deleterious effect upon the eardrums of driver and passengers alike. The gearbox offered a fifth gear that was only of feasible use downhill or on the level with a following wind. The SC remained in production until 1961, during which time Dennis had been collaborating with Bristol in respect of the Loline, and one wonders if the Guildford company could not have offered the Falcon gearbox, available in four and five speed versions, for the SC instead of the impractical David Brown unit. The picture shows former Lincolnshire Road Car No. 2414 NFW 655, delivered new in May 1956 and sold on in 1969. I photographed it in service in July 1970 with R & R Coaches, Bishopstrowe, Wilts, trading as Beeline. The location is New Canal, Salisbury, formerly a section of the long defunct Salisbury and Southampton Canal which was closed in 1806. This bus was withdrawn by Beeline in May 1972 and its subsequent fate is not recorded. R & R Coaches still exists but it would seem that the company was reconstituted in 1971.
I acknowledge the detailed Bristol Vehicles Website as the source of much information:- //www.bristolsu.co.uk

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

08/02/21 – 06:41

I once rode on a Lincolnshire SC4LK from Goole town centre to my lodgings in the town and my abiding memory is that I was glad it was only a short ride on such a noisy and uncomfortable bus.

Stan Zapiec

08/02/21 – 11:57

I’m a dinosaur, Stan, and still think that there is no substitute for cc. Many BTC/THC companies thought the same and, where possible, used an LS5 or MW5 in preference. SC and SU only made sense in the flat lands of Lincolnshire and the Fens – and yet Crosville, United and Western National used them in the Hill Country. There is sometimes no accounting.

David Oldfield

09/02/21 – 06:08

I think it must have been about 1958/59 that I travelled on an SC4LK on Lincolnshire’s route 3 from Cleethorpes to Lincoln on a cold wet January Sunday evening. (No train service on Sundays). The wolds section Ravendale, Binbrook, Kirmond-le-Mire, Tealby is seriously hilly – not your typical Lincolnshire flat lands. The whole trip was a growling/ screaming assault on the ears – about an hour and 40 minutes of it if I remember rightly.

Stephen Ford

09/02/21 – 13:36

We hated these on Eastern Counties. They were very noisy, and rattled everywhere. Plus, to take fares the driver had to swivel right round to the left, and work through the central gap behind. As luck would have it, I joined the Cambridge depot in 1970, and they were soon to be withdrawn.

Norman Long

10/02/21 – 06:19

I’m struggling to visualise how the chassis would work without any intermediate transverse sections, does that mean there were some but only at the front and rear? Presumably the bodywork played some part in keeping the whole thing together but I don’t think these were semi-integral were they?
How would the completed chassis be sent from Bristol to Lowestoft? Would some temporary spacers be inserted?

Chris Barker

14/02/21 – 07:04

Chris, I cannot now recall where I first learned of the simple layout of the SC chassis, but the body structure definitely contributed to the integrity of the entire vehicle. My long held belief was endorsed by Peter Cook’s comment of 02/11/2019 under Eastern Counties – Bristol SC4LK – VVF 540 – 540, and Peter owns one of the type.

Roger Cox

28/03/21 – 07:57

Further to David Oldfield (8/2/21) Western National’s SC lookalikes were actually rebuilt and rebodied L6Bs, which should explain their hill-climbing ability. United didn’t have any SCs, but they did have five SUs.

David Call

29/11/21 – 06:27

Interesting to read the comments here, and mine are similar. We moved to the county of Merioneth in 1971 when I was 9, and our Crosville service was Dolgellau – Machynlleth and return three times a day and none on Sundays. Usual fayre was MW5s which as a young boy I liked. SC4LKs were occasional visitors and I assume one was kept as a standby bus at Machynlleth.
The journey to school was on the Aberllefenni – Tywyn school bus which was contracted to Crosville until probably 1975. Out of season we were treated to a coach, mostly CMG 523 as I remember, but come the summer we had whatever was available at Machynlleth garage – an MW5 or an SC4.The latter were awful particularly when climbing. The return from school involved a hill climb between Abergynolwyn and Talyllyn, then the main climb from the Cader Idris junction up to Upper Corris. Noisy, rattley and generally lacking in stamina are three attributes, but the informative piece explains it all.
I have recently bought an Anbrico whitemetal model and intend to repaint it in Crosville livery as a childhood reminder.

Phil Bartlett


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West Riding – Bristol Lodekka – HHY 183D – 452

West Riding - Bristol Lodekka - HHY 183D - 452

West Riding Automobile
Bristol Lodekka FLF6G
ECW H38/32F

Proceeding on a very wet day into Leeds city centre is West Riding No. 452, Bristol FLF6G HHY 183D with ECW H38/32F bodywork, originally delivered to Bristol Omnibus as C7280 in October 1966. When, in 1967, West Riding sold out to the Transport Holding Company, which became the National Bus Company in 1969, steps were taken to withdraw the very troublesome Guy Wulfrunian fleet, and to secure this end as quickly as possible, buses were transferred from various parts of the NBC empire. This FLF6G was sent from Bristol Omnibus to West Riding in February 1970, so it had not been there very long when I took this picture in April of that year. In November 1971 it was renumbered 544 and stayed with West Riding until 1980, during which period it acquired the abysmal NBC poppy red livery. It was then sold to Top Deck Travel of Horsell Common with whom it spent several years in the USA up to 1986 before finally being consigned to the scrapyard in 1989.
I acknowledge this very informative website as the source of much of the foregoing information:– //bcv.robsly.com/lodekka.html

A complete West Riding fleet list may be found at this link

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

01/10/20 – 06:33

If it’s not my imagination, this bus appears to have hub caps on the rear wheels. If this is the case, was this a West Riding feature carried forward to this hotchpotch of foreign incomers!

Chris Hebbron

02/10/20 – 06:41

This is a good point, Chris. I have blown up the picture on my computer screen, and you are right. I hadn’t noticed the rear wheel trims, rather similar to those on London Transport RT/RTL/RM/RF types. I have looked at my own pictures of other West Riding buses – Guy Arabs and Wulfrunians, Daimler Fleetlines, AEC Reliances, and other’ imports’ brought in to ease the Wulfrunian crisis, and none have these wheel trims. Perhaps an OBP expert can enlighten us.

Roger Cox

02/10/20 – 06:42

The black fibreglass rear wheel trims were introduced as standard NBC spec. mid 1960s to all Bristol chassis. Somebody must have thought it looked smart and perhaps would aid mechanical vehicle washing without asking the operating engineers. The need to remove the covers for every tyre pressure check and wheel nut tightening led to depots under pressure (pun not intended!) leaving them off and then taking off the fixing brackets which incorporated a spring loaded catch and became a bit of a danger as they stuck out, being bolted to the axle shaft hub. Few Chief Engineers insisted on re-instatement because the newer vehicles then looked the same as the earlier deliveries and weren’t noticed! No doubt there were enthusiast depot engineers (usually at smaller and remote locations) around the country who took pride in retaining the wheel covers in good condition.

Geoff Pullin

02/10/20 – 06:44

I wonder (suppose, really) that I’m the only person who thinks the ECW Lodekkas are amongst the best looking double deckers ever to enter service.
Angular, functional, almost minimalist design which was of its age, no doubt, but which still looks perfect for the job it was designed to do.
Or is it my age and I haven’t moved on – old buses are as much a part of me in the same way I still look at TV actresses from that era and think that Jan Francis, Paula Wilcox, Felicity Kendall etc, etc haven’t really been improved upon 50 years later??

Stuart C

03/10/20 – 06:33

No Stuart C, you’re not the only one who considers the Lodekka to have been among the best looking double deckers. I must admit to a slight preference for the rear entrance variety, with their more raked fronts. Having been a conductor for a brief period, I also appreciated the extra space on the platform – on an FLF, I always seemed to be in the way!

Nigel Frampton

03/10/20 – 06:34

It’s nice that these vehicles arrived in time to wear the traditional West Riding livery and fleetname, if only for a couple of years. As Roger says, the adoption of NBC poppy red was regrettable and something of a mystery when every other NBC fleet for miles around was also red, the nearest fleet to opt for green was perhaps East Midland, a considerable distance away.
It’s also good to see that WR went to the trouble of having non-standard destination blinds made to fit the aperture which was nothing like their own standard display. Dare I say, some may have been content to simply show the word ‘Service’.

Chris Barker

03/10/20 – 10:26

This photo also illustrates how the cream glazing strip that ECW used for a few years made the destination aperture look smaller. In this case it looks as if the already small lettering is too big, yet with black glazing strip it would look fine!
If I remember rightly, the cream rubber coincided with complaints that the older green leathercloth interior side panels and green criss-cross Formica on seat backs looked a bit dull. It always looked to me that the response was that of an engineer looking through the pattern books (and certainly not an interior designer) – and choosing golden leaves cream Formica instead.
The radiator cap also looks to be painted red. That was most probably part of the necessary operation in those days of using antifreeze only during the winter and the cap would have been painted red (or a different colour each year) for drivers to know that it needed topping up with antifreeze mix and not water. Happy days!
Did anyone else feel vulnerable sitting at the back downstairs of an FLF? I always avoided those seats!

Geoff Pullin

08/10/20 – 06:50

Chris. This isn’t the "traditional" West Riding livery – it is Tilling green which West Riding adopted after it sold out to the THC, the traditional West Riding green was a shade lighter/brighter. I understand that the decision of West Riding to adopt NBC poppy red was driven by the Regional Director who wanted an "all red" Region; I suspect that the West Riding Group GM, Fred Dark, who had come from Yorkshire, didn’t put up too much resistance given that if West Riding had adopted leaf green then Yorkshire would probably have had to do the same under NBC’s rationalist policies.

Philip Rushworth

09/10/20 – 16:13

Presumably this bus, being quite new on its transfer to West Riding, simply retained its Bristol Omnibus Tilling Green.

Roger Cox

10/10/20 – 06:56

As I understand it, West Riding adopted NBC red because the regional management wanted an "all-red" area as Philip says, but that wasn’t universal across all areas of NBC. In the south, Western National used green, but Devon General (which was by then under common management with WN) used red. A similar situation applied to Provincial (green) which was managed by Hants & Dorset (red); and Cheltenham (red) was a subsidiary of Bristol OC (green).

Nigel Frampton

21/10/20 – 06:46

West Riding were a partially red fleet for many years as the former tram routes were run with red vehicles West Riding had actually begun to change from their traditional green to Tilling green before the Lodekkas began to arrive.
On the subject of the use of NBC red there is an apocryphal story that Yorkshire Woollen and West Riding tossed a coin and West Riding lost!

Chris Hough

14/11/20 – 07:38

I am coming to this a bit late, but I have been very interested to read all the comments in the string above. I have not worked on buses, as Nigel Frampton has, but purely from a user point of view, I loved the Bristol Lodekkas. When I was a boy in York I would try to get my mother to take us home from Exhibition Square, where the routes 2, 8 and 12 home were all Lodekkas, rather than from Stonebow (mostly VRs – which I also am now very fond of).
I read a very good book about the Routemaster, in which the author referred to the Lodekka as a Behemoth. I think that was unfair! When I moved down to London in 1989 I enjoyed being able to step back in time to use the Routemasters, but they did seem very narrow and rickety compared with the Lodekkas.

Henry Arthurs


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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Sunday 14th August 2022