Old Bus Photos

Birkenhead Corporation – Guy Arab II – BG 8557 – 242

BG 8557

Birkenhead Corporation
1944
Guy Arab II
Massey H31/28R

From the mid 1920s up to the outbreak of WW2, Birkenhead Corporation had been a confirmed Leyland aficionado, specifying Massey bodywork for a significant proportion of the fleet since 1931. With the advent of WW2 and the utility bus era, Birkenhead was allocated the Guy Arab II, hitherto unknown in its fleet, the first two arriving in 1943 with Weymann H30/26R bodywork. Thereafter Birkenhead managed to have most of their Arabs fitted with Massey H30/26R bodies of that company’s severe utility outline. BG 8557 was one of Birkenhead’s second batch of Arabs totalling twenty two, that arrived in 1944, all of which had Massey bodywork. A further twelve Arab IIs arrived in 1946 with bodywork shared between Massey, Park Royal and Northern Counties. The robust and dependable Arab clearly impressed the Corporation, for Guys featured in its order book at times right up to 1956. BG 8557 was originally numbered 324, but, in 1953, it was one of fifteen selected for rebodying with new Massey H31/28R bodywork when it received the new number 242. This bus was withdrawn in 1969 before becoming part of the new Merseyside PTE, and went into private preservation. It is seen at Brighton on the occasion of the May 1970 HCVC Rally, and now resides with the Wirral Transport Museum.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


18/10/21 – 07:09

Fine, distinctive vehicle! Many thanks to those that saved it and brought it to this superb condition. Seeing the lower-deck seating capacity of 28 I assumed that the new body must have been over 26′ long, but even allowing for the angle of the photograph the rear overhang doesn’t look excessive. A google search then revealed that the original 5LW engine had been replaced by the longer 6LW, but of course Arab IIs were built with the snout whichever engine was installed. I still wonder whether the "new" length may be 26’6" or thereabouts. Would love to see and hear it in the flesh!

Ian Thompson


19/10/21 – 05:42

Ian, it is possible that the length may be as you surmise, because the body was built to a width of 7ft 9ins for weight constraint reasons. The wartime Arab, like other Utilities, had a relatively heavy chassis because lighter metals formerly employed for certain components were diverted to military needs.

Roger Cox


19/10/21 – 05:45

The seating capacity seems to be an error – see lettering on this photo
There is actually a way of getting 28 seats into the lower deck of a 26-footer. By reducing the longitudinal seats over the wheel arches to 2-seaters, it is possible to fit an extra pair of lateral seats, with the seat backs sitting directly on the front of the wheel arches. But that is not the case here.

Peter Williamson


20/10/21 – 06:27

Thanks for that picture, Peter, which corrects a widely misquoted error. Even Bus Lists On The Web gives the incorrect lower deck figure of 28 for all the Birkenhead 1953 rebodied Arabs.

Roger Cox


28/10/21 – 06:54

As a tall person, I was very conscious of how stingy Birkenhead was with legroom, notably the H36/30R layout on the final batches of PD2s. (6 rows of laterals plus 2×3 longitudinal). Although I have no memories of twin seats over the wheel arches on any vehicles, I wonder whether the quoted 28 was originally intended in the way Peter Williamson suggests, and either not implemented or changed at a relatively early point in their new life. The Venture volume on Massey Bros quotes the H31/28R figure, but of course this may still be derived from the same source as the BLOTW entries. Inexplicably I don’t have a copy of T B Maund’s (definitive) volume on the Birkenhead Bus, but it would be interesting to know if there is any comment there.

Alan Murray-Rust


28/10/21 – 07:07

But is that how it was back in 1953? Southend’s contemporary Massey-rebodied CWA6s had 28 down with 4s on the longitudinal seats. Weren’t they the same length and floorplan?
//www.sct61.org.uk/gallery/gallery1/ss268a
https://www.na3t.org/road/photo/RS00836

Martin


 

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East Kent – Dennis Lancet – HJG 6

East Kent - Dennis Lancet - HJG 6

East Kent Road Car Co. Ltd.
1954 – 1957
Dennis Lancet UF – Guy Arab IV
Duple C41C – Park Royal H33/28RD

East Kent’s first foray into underfloor engined vehicles occurred in 1951 when six Leyland Royal Tigers with ornate but rather uncertainly styled Park Royal coach bodies arrived in 1951. In 1953 came two more Royal Tigers, this time with well proportioned Duple C32C Ambassador bodies. Thirty more similar Duple coach bodies, the first six being C32C, the rest C41C, arrived in the following year, but this time mounted on Dennis Lancet UF LU2 chassis, East Kent having been an enthusiastic customer for the front engined Lancet in pre and early post war years. These coaches were registered HJG3 to 32 – East Kent did not use fleet numbers, but duplication of the number element of the registrations was always avoided. This Lancet UF order was the largest Dennis ever received, and the total production figure for the model was a mere 71. Factors influencing this outcome were the low driving position, the high pressure hydraulic braking system and the idiosyncratic Dennis ‘O’ type gearbox, a four speed crash unit with a preselective overdrive fifth. That gearbox had been a feature of the vertical engined Lancet and East Kent drivers were fully familiar with it, but, in the UF model, its remote location together with the engine halfway long the chassis made clean changes by ear difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, these Lancet UF coaches were very refined, fast and reliable, achieving a service life of up to 17 years.
East Kent’s pre war standard double decker was the Leyland Titan TD4 and then the TD5. During the war East Kent was effectively in the front line, and the fleet suffered extensive damage through enemy action in the air and from artillery firing across the Channel from the French coast. Utility Guy Arabs were allocated to East Kent to meet vehicle losses and the rugged dependability of the marque so impressed the company that the Arab became the standard post war double deck chassis up to 1957. The BET preferred supplier system then oversaw the transfer of subsequent orders to the AEC Regent V, though three Bridgemasters were also bought, all with Park Royal bodywork. Thenceforward the melodious murmur of Gardner engine and Guy gearbox was supplemented by the atonal scream of the AEC transmission. MFN 896 was an example of the last batch of Guys, one of 20 Arab IVs of 1957 with Park Royal H33/28RD bodywork of outstandingly classic proportions. The first AEC Regent Vs that followed in 1959 were the PFN registered ‘Puffins’ which wore a full fronted version of the traditional Park Royal design, but thereafter the Regent body deliveries witnessed a decline from the sublime to the ridiculous by carrying the hideous Bridgemaster derived highbridge design that so offended Southampton Corporation that it quickly transferred its long standing patronage from Park Royal to East Lancashire. The ugliness of the design was accentuated later when these Regents were turned out in NBC poppy red.
The picture was taken in Canterbury in 1967 when East Kent was still a BET company, and shows 1954 Lancet UF HJG 6, by then reseated to C41C, alongside 1957 Arab IV MFN 896, with another Arab of the same type to its right. These Arabs originally presented a full destination blind display, but by 1967 the aperture had been reduced to a single line. On the right hand edge of the photo are two of the ugly duckling Park Royal Regent Vs of 1961 onwards that eventually totalled 121 in the fleet.

More details of the Dennis Lancet UF and the earlier Dominant may be found here:- https://www.dennissociety.org.uk/nl/dandl.html.

A detailed article covering EKRCC operations, principally in the Dover area, is here:- https://doverhistorian.com/2016/12/16/east-kent-road-car

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


21/01/21 – 06:24

I’m so pleased to see someone saying what I’ve long thought about the the later Regent Vs. I was a schoolboy in Folkestone in the early ‘60s, and whereas the MFN Guys were my favourites and I quite liked the PFN Regents, I thought the later Regents were freaky and designed by somebody who would probably have done well in some other occupation. On the other hand I was pleased to see the back of the lowbridge PD1As; travelling upstairs on one of those could be a depressing experience.

Don


22/01/21 – 07:38

If it wasn’t for the Duple single decker I was all ready to say "Edinburgh Corporation". What a similarity of livery colours, livery application, double decker bodywork, etc.

Bill


01/02/21 – 06:34

Just to say that this photo is taken at ‘The Garth’ in St Stephens Rd Canterbury.

Clive Bowley


 

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Highland Omnibuses – Guy Arab – HGC 147 – E8

Highland Omnibuses - Guy Arab - HGC 147 - E8

Highland Omnibuses Ltd
1945
Guy Arab II
Alexander L27/26RD (1952)

In July 1965 I did a tour of Scotland on a railrover – I think one week though it may have been two – the object of which was to cover as much of the existing passenger rail network as possible, many of the lines being threatened with closure at that time. There was little time to do any bus photography, as arrival in a town at the end of daylight with no booked accommodation meant that finding this was first priority. Then it would be up in the morning for the earliest appropriate departure.
One of the very few occasions where leisure was enforced was near the beginning of the adventure, on my arrival in the far north of Scotland. The railway timetable simply didn’t allow the Thurso and Wick branches to be covered exclusively by rail without an inordinate waste of time. Having arrived at Thurso around 4 pm, it was then a matter of finding a bus to take me to Wick, from where I would catch the early train back to Inverness.
Highland was very much the ‘Second-hand Rose’ of the Scottish Bus Group, particularly as far as double-deck buses were concerned. As far as I can make out, none were bought new between a Guy Arab IV in 1950 and a batch of Fleetlines in 1978.
Having observed (and photographed) a ‘new’ (1963) Lowlander – recently transferred from Central – on the Scrabster service, and a venerable former Scottish Omnibuses Arab II – still with utility body – on the town service to Mount Vernon, I was quite happy to see E8 as seen above turn into the High Street with its destination showing Wick.
HGC 147 began life as London Transport G368, a Guy Arab II with Massey H30/26R utility bodywork. LT’s Guys were always odd-men-out, so had a short life, being withdrawn with the expectation of sale for further use in the early 1950s. The Scottish Bus Group took a number of them, and 19 found their way to Western SMT who in 1952 replaced the utility bodies with smart new Alexander low-bridge bodies in their domed style. HGC 147 took WSMT fleet number 1005. 13 years later, the chassis now fully 20 years old, E8 was still looking smart.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Alan Murray-Rust


20/05/19 – 07:24

These Massey G’s were delivered in the second half of 1945 and probably had the weakest, certainly the most ugly, utility bodies of all LT’s vehicles of this type. ‘Ian’s Bus Stop’ website states that she was acquired for use on Dounray work. She certainly looks smart here and was finally retired in May 1967.

Chris Hebbron


23/05/19 – 06:57

As an afterthought, Alan, I’d hazard a guess that the drivers (and probably conductors) of these venerable vehicles, with austerity bodies or not, would have rued the day that they were ousted by the truly awful Albion Lowlander.

Chris Hebbron


09/06/19 – 10:51

The Guy Arab in its well known guise evolved entirely from the advent of the Second World War, and had it not done so, then, as respected author Robin Hannay confirms, the Guy company would probably have disappeared entirely by 1950. The original Arab FD model (the code stood for forward control type ‘D’, as the previous Guy buses had carried the letter ‘˜C’ – the ‘D’ did not, as often stated, stand for ‘diesel’) came on the market in 1933, carrying forward much of the design philosophy from the FC Invincible that preceded it, and, indeed, an FC demonstrator was rebuilt by Guy as an Arab. This early Arab design was conceived within the Leyland TD1 school of thought, with the engine, driving position and front bulkhead set back from the front axle; this enabled the accommodation of the Gardner 6LW engine, though the 5LW was the usual power unit. The neater front end structure of the AEC Regent had already arrived in 1929 and, strangely, the contemporary Guy trolleybuses did have a tidy frontal design. 1933 also heralded the appearance of the Leyland TD3 with a compact front end but the somewhat autocratic Sidney Guy maintained his own strong beliefs on the subject of bus design. The production run run of the original double deck Arab lasted until 1936, during which period about 50 were made, though Burton on Trent Corporation Transport, a confirmed user of the 4LW powered Arab in its single deck guise, took six more in 1940 and a further six in 1941. Between 1936 and the early years of the war Guy produced vehicles for the military, but even this activity trailed off when the orders for searchlight vehicles were cancelled as radar played a greater role in detecting enemy aircraft. With the outbreak of war all new bus production was halted, being slightly relaxed subsequently to permit the assembly of ‘unfrozen’ chassis. It soon became clear that something had to be done to meet the urgent need for new buses, and, in 1941, officialdom turned first to Leyland, but also (to general astonishment, since it had not been a significant double deck manufacturer for five years) to Guy. When Leyland withdrew due to the pressures of other wartime work, operator astonishment turned to apprehension that the industry’s needs were to be met solely by the Guy company. The original Arab design was clearly outdated and Major Chapple of Bristol offered Sidney Guy the drawings for the K5G, but Mr Guy was having none of it. His new bus would be a Guy, but the shape of the redesigned chassis showed very close similarities with that of that of the Leyland TD7 (a wartime version of which was originally expected to be supplied also), though established Guy transmission units were incorporated. The subsequent history of the Arab Utility is well documented, and its rugged dependability became legendary, even though the ‘˜back to front’ selector positions of the original crash gearbox was not a universally popular feature. However, London Transport drivers did not like the Arab, and the members of the G class were disposed of as soon as the new London Transport Executive could get rid of them, even though they were mechanically sound with years of life potentially ahead. In the booming post war public transport period there was a somewhat paranoid attitude by the Labour government about the disposal of nationalised undertakings’ assets to companies within the UK but outside the state fold, and very many of these Arabs were sold abroad instead. Even Edinburgh Corporation had a mighty struggle to get sixty surplus Arabs from LT. However, the Scottish Motor Traction group was nationalised in 1949 and thus became an acceptable recipient for former London machinery which, like HGC 147, then went on to give sterling service for very many years.

Roger Cox


10/06/19 – 07:41

I believe all London Transport’s Guy Utilities had the 5LW engine and this one, despite having the protruding radiator, appears to have had it’s upturned front wings cut back. It also retains the Arab II high bonnet line although I understand a conversion kit was available to achieve the lower bonnet line of the Arab III, perhaps Western thought the extra expense was unjustified – a shame really because it would have made a nice looking bus even better.

Chris Barker


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Friday 12th August 2022