Old Bus Photos

Grayline Bicester – Bristol LHL6L – UBW 625H

UBW 625H

Grayline Bicester
1969
Bristol LHL6L
Plaxton C53F

Photographed during the British Coach Rally of 1970, UBW 625H was one of two Bristol LHL6L coaches bought by Grayline of Bicester. According to BLOTW, 174 examples were constructed of the LHL6L, the extended version of the LH for 36ft long bodywork, though eleven were fitted with specialist van bodies. Of the remaining 163, all received Plaxton coach bodies except for two that were bodied by Duple. The LH6L was powered by the Leyland O400 engine which was fitted to the majority of LH and LHS orders, the alternative being the Perkins H6.354. No examples of the LHL had the raucous (I speak from experience) Perkins engine, but the Leyland power unit was no paragon of quietness either. Apart from the London Transport deliveries that had either six speed manual or automatic gearboxes, the standard fitment was the Turner Clarke five speed synchromesh. At least one, KRE 345K, had a semi auto gearbox, but this might have been retro fitted. The O400 engine proved to be of suspect reliability and was supplanted by the O401 in the last production LH variants. The LH, and the short LHS in particular, soon gained reputations for bad riding, which might well have been ameliorated in the longer LHL, though no variants of the LH model were regarded as being among Bristol’s most reliable or inspired engineering achievements. UBW 625H was delivered to Grayline in August 1969, its stablemate UBW 626H arriving in the following month. Both had Plaxton C53F bodywork. UBW 625H passed from Bicester to the Gosport arm of Grayline, formerly Hutfields, in December1970 and was sold by Grayline in September 1974 to Eagle Coaches of Bristol.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


31/01/22 – 06:19

According to the PSV Circle Bristol LH chassis list, there was one LHL fitted with a Perkins engine – YMD990H supplied to Wilder, Feltham (chassis LHL-143). Whether that is correct, I am not sure – Wilder purchased several LH models, with a mix of Leyland and Prerkins engines.
Chassis LHL-168 had a Leyland engine and a Plaxton body, but it was a Derwent bus body, B55F, for Coity Motors (ATG459H).
Chassis LHL-206 is shown as having a Plaxton DP49F body, for the Irish Army, but I have never seen a photograph of this vehicle, so I am not sure of the body style.
Roger also says: "Apart from the London Transport deliveries that had either six speed manual or automatic gearboxes, the standard fitment was the Turner Clarke five speed synchromesh." London Transport did not have any LHL chassis, only LH and LHS models. As I understand it some LH models for NBC subsidiaries were fitted with semi-automatic gearboxes – Midland General and United Counties, as far as I am aware. I believe that the first 6 vehicles supplied to Bristol OC were also fitted with semi-automatic boxes. However, the PSV Circle book only mentions the LT vehicles, as per Roger’s comment.

Nigel Frampton


01/02/22 – 09:21

Sorry if my text was unclear, Nigel, but my comment about transmissions was meant to cover all the LH variants, not just the long version. I did not know that some of the LH/LHS deliveries to NBC had semi auto boxes. Certainly London Country for whom I worked in an admin capacity had synchromesh boxes in their LH buses, though I think that they were four speeders, and one might have expected LCBS to have taken semi auto if that option had been available. I do recall the engineering department expressing general dissatisfaction with the LH model, and particularly with the synchro boxes, though the latter may well have arisen from the unfamiliarity of most LCBS drivers with manual transmissions. As for some LHL coach operators specifying the Perkins engine, what on earth were they thinking about?

Roger Cox


02/02/22 – 06:09

Taking up the points mentioned by Nigel:-
LHL-206 for the Irish Army can be identified by the body number, 733170, as being a Plaxton Panorama Elite II coach body.
Wilder, Feltham:- From P.S.V. Circle News Sheets
364-EDIT-27:- Brighton Rally entries:
Wilder, Feltham YMD 990H Bl LHL6P  LHL-143, and YLY 594H Bl LHL6L   LHL-144
365-MET-59:- YMD 990H new 4/70 – Bl LHL6L LHL143
380-MET-128:- YMD 990H quoted variously as LHL6L and LHL6P, is LHL6P.
Since the data in the Rally Report pre-dated its appearance in the News Sheet, there can be no doubt that the LHL6P and LHL6L for the Rally entrants was taken from the relevant chassis plates.

John Kaye


04/02/22 – 05:48

Just picked this up. This livery is one of my favourites. This stems back to Gliderways Smethwick in my youth, the first company I wrote to and asked for a fleet list, only to be told they did not issue fleet lists. However I did receive a letter beautifully embossed with the crimson Gliderways fleet name. I suppose the element which made the presentation of the coaches stand out was that the grey/crimson colours were the only colours used, including any lettering and the fleet name. A great look in the 60’s. Grey also weathered well in service, not looking too shabby even when dirty

John Rentell


04/02/22 – 05:50

United had quite a number of the short wheelbase versions with Leyland engines.
They were known as ‘Stotty Boxes’
Stott being a Geordie word meaning ‘bounce’ and my word, they certainly did.

Ronnie Hoye


08/02/22 – 06:17

A little surprised that the O.400 was suspect in reliability. Noisy and underpowered it most certainly was, but I thought that otherwise it had quite a good reputation. I would certainly agree with Ronnie about the shorties. I cannot remember the history of the vehicle – but I believe that it had been with ABC Guildford before reaching the operator for whom I drove it. Possibly the worst, and certainly the most bouncy bus or coach that I have ever driven. How can something as dire as an LH come from the same factory, and at the same time, as an RE?

David Oldfield


09/02/22 – 05:57

I recall that the prevailing view after Leyland bought shares in Bristol was that the Transport Holding Company allowed Leyland to take control from a technical standpoint. The THC wanted a successor to the SU, but Leyland wanted a successor to the Tiger Cub. I see from Wikipedia that the LH’s front and rear axles came from Leyland’s Bathgate plant, which suggests to me that it was designed and developed under Leyland’s thumb.

Peter Williamson


 

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Southern Vectis – Bristol LH – NDL 769G – 833

Southern Vectis - Bristol LH - NDL 769G - 833

Southern Vectis Omnibus Company
1969
Bristol LHS6L
Marshall B35F

Seen here in the summer of 1969 when almost new, NDL 769G was one of four Bristol LHS6L buses delivered to Southern Vectis with 7ft 6ins wide Marshall B35F bodies of curiously old fashioned appearance. The flat glass windscreen with angled corner glasses was reproduced at the rear. To my eye the utilitarian result had something of the air of a welfare vehicle or a mobile library. Only nineteen examples of this design were constructed. Twelve similar bodies with 33 seats on LHS6L chassis were supplied to Western National in 1972. Gash of Newark took two, one in 1973 and the other in 1975, but these were 8ft wide. Harvey of Mousehole took a single narrow example in 1977. In all cases the chassis was the LH6L with the 6.54 litre Leyland 400 engine, or, from 1971, the more powerful 401, which was coupled with a Turner five speed synchromesh gearbox. The bus shown above was bought by United in 1977 and is currently in preservation, though the livery it now wears is, in my opinion, an offence to the eye – see what you think at this link.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


25/01/16 – 06:33

Interesting view, Roger, Where was the photo taken, please? I’m guessing Newport. The best that can be said of the "United" livery is that it is at least in what might be described as in patriotic colours although the style of application won’t be very high on most folks’ idea of ‘good taste’. Talking of "United" the captcha for this response is 58HN, a Darlington registration

Pete Davies


25/01/16 – 06:34

I agree entirely, Roger. The current livery is simly awful.

David Wragg


25/01/16 – 09:17

Yes, Pete, the location is Newport. The church in the background is Newport Minster. Please forgive the omission. This style of body has always puzzled me. Marshall constructed a large number of single deck bodies of (what one might call) basically BET appearance with curved glass windscreens, and I supposed that the reason for the flat screens lay in the narrow 7ft 6ins width of the vehicles. However, Gash took two with the same front and rear end design, and these were 8ft wide. The narrow Bristol BN and BS classes of London Country and London Transport respectively had curved front windscreens and flat glass at the rear, though these vehicles were delivered from 1973 onwards. Surely this curved screen was available in 1969. I doubt that the relative costs would have been a factor. The complicated rear screen on the Marshall would have negated any (debatable) cost saving when replacing the various flat glasses at the front. I imagine, also, that this Marshall feature was structurally weaker.

Roger Cox


25/01/16 – 10:50

Marshall also produced a "coach" version mainly for WNOC in particular that had curved glass in the windscreen.

Chris Hough


25/01/16 – 14:00

David W – I couldn’t agree more, Except that I would not use the word "livery" – rather a freelance graffiti exercise, and a bitter disappointment compared with even the NBC version of United’s livery.

Chris Youhill


26/01/16 – 06:52

I have seen a Leyland National with a ‘paint job’ similar to the United one, but I’ll not send you running for a darkened room by offering it for publication.
[Unless someone’s mother in law is threatening a visit, and the reader is suitably desperate!]

Pete Davies


26/01/16 – 06:53

The "current" livery was chosen by United as this bus was used on a "town" service in Newton Aycliffe, which was very successful It was discontinued after a few years…
No doubt someone will come up with more information.
Just for the record I drove for United out of Darlington for 10 years and would possibly had stayed a bit longer but had to leave to care for my wife after she suffered a life changing event….some good memories and some not so good

John Wake


26/01/16 – 06:54

VOD 88K

Photo; VOD 88K Bristol LHS/Marshall of Devon General O&TC.
It is so good to see the oddities and rarities of vehicle styles from the past, as a contrast to the Southern Vectis LHS/Marshall, I offer this Devon General preserved in the pre-National Bus Company red version of the British Transport Commission livery. This view was taken at Yeovil Junction railway station on the border of Somerset and Dorset during July 2010. These narrow Marshall bodied vehicles were ideal for rural routes but were never taken in great numbers by the main transport groups of the time.

Ron Mesure


27/01/16 – 06:20

Devon General only became a Transport Holding Company subsidiary in 1967 on the occasion of British Electric Traction selling its bus interests to the Ministry of Transport. By the time this bus was delivered the company was a subsidiary of the National Bus Company. Prior to late 1972 the NBC had operated without corporate liveries.

Stephen Allcroft


27/01/16 – 06:22

I think we can be reasonably sure that the body order for these LHSs went to Marshall because of the narrow width requirement. ECW were building bodies for LHS around the same time (for Lincolnshire and Luton Corporation), but these were 7′ 10" wide, as were the contemporary bodies on the longer LH chassis at that time.
I am not sure if the narrow version of the BET windscreen was available at that time, but I believe the principal problem was the height, rather than the width. The basic structure of the body looks to be similar to the Marshall Cambrette bodies built on Bedford VAS chassis for Coventry and East Kent a few years earlier. The radiator of the Bristol LH range was set relatively high, so that Marshall would not have had very much scope to extend the aperture for the windscreen downwards, while an enlargement upwards would have intruded into the destination display area. The only other option would have been to use the shallower rear screens of the BET curved variety, but I am reasonably sure they were even shallower, and the aesthetics of the vehicle would have suffered, not to mention the driver’s field of vision! The multi-pane version adopted was already being used for export vehicles, so I suspect the adaptation for these LHSs was a simple and effective solution.
The 10 Bristol LH coaches that Marshall bodied for WN (with mixed BDV-L and NTT-M registrations) had a different body structure with a shallow roof and deeper side windows, which meant that the BET screens could be accommodated. I would hazard a guess that the structure of these was derived from those that Marshall built for the MoD, usually on Bedford SB chassis, though I believe that some later vehicles were built on underfloor-engined chassis.

Nigel Frampton


06/09/17 – 06:52

United acquired both 832/3 NDL768/769G from SVOC and numbered them 1451/2 for demand variable services from Ripon depot in 1977 where they were sparingly used. They were then sent to Darlington depot where they were to be used for a new service serving Newton Aycliffe.
1451 was replaced by a newer ex Trent LHS/ECW also in the distinctive Newtonian colours (as befits a new town) but 1452 survived. NDL769G eventually passed into preservation replaced by, ironically, another ex SV LHS in 838 HDL415N.
The ECW LHS’s continued on the Newtonian until deregulation when Merc minis brought a larger network of services though still with Newtonian fleetnames. Three LHS’s (now joined by HDL414N) were sent to Ripon (again coming full circle) where the livery was amended to Ripon City Bus. The LHS’s were then swapped with Western National though the livery was then applied to some standard LH’s (1705/6) at Ripon depot.
There was ANOTHER similar patriotic livery applied to three vehicles (one was the National) but thankfully not perpetuated!

BW


01/11/19 – 05:54

These narrow bodied LHS Bristols were purchased for service on the Newport to Cowes pontoon service which required drivers to negotiate the narrow arch entrance to the Red Funnel Cowes terminus. Not a favourite among drivers due to the heavy steering and clutch on these vehicles.

Martin Netley


 

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