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 This bus was withdrawn in 1969 before becoming part of the new Merseyside PTE, and went into private preservation.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 A google search then revealed that the original 5LW engine had been replaced by the longer 6LW, but of course Arab IIs were built with the snout whichever engine was installed.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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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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Premier Travel – Guy Arab II – CDR 750 – 110

Premier Travel - Guy Arab II - CDR 750 - 110

Premier Travel (Cambridge)
1944
Guy Arab II 5LW
Roe L27/28R

By 1957, Premier Travel of Cambridge was looking to replace the remainder of its rather tired ex LPTB STLs and the second hand utility CWA6s from Huddersfield, Glasgow and Mansfield. It turned to the rugged Gardner 5LW powered Guy Arab II, choosing seven ex Southdown highbridge examples with the well constructed Northern Counties UH30/26R bodywork, and these were supplemented by three lowbridge machines from Plymouth Corporation with rebuilt Roe UL27/28R bodies. Allocated the fleet numbers from 102 to 111 inclusive, these became the only Guy buses ever to enter the Premier fleet. The Guys proved to be very economical and reliable, but the Plymouth examples had severely governed engines that limited road performance, even in the relatively flat lands of their operating territory. Given its sparsely populated rural network, Premier ran very close to the breadline. Nonetheless, one wonders why the company did not simply get the fuel pumps recalibrated to the manufacturer’s standard setting, but this apparently never happened. The Guys lasted with Premier for some four to five years before being replaced by “White Lady” Leyland PD2s from Ribble. The picture shows the crew of No. 110, ex Plymouth Arab II CDR 750, taking a layover break in Cambridge Drummer Street Bus Station on 26 August 1959.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


31/05/16 – 09:35

The conductress appears to be taking the term "layover just a bit too literally!!

Chris Youhill


01/06/16 – 06:54

The Premier Travel company has a curious link with the present day state of the bus industry. In 1950, a certain John Alfred Blythe Hibbs, after working for the company in his second year as part of his degree studies at Birmingham (Woodbrooke) University, was appointed in 1950 as Personal Assistant to Arthur Lainson, the boss of Premier Travel. The precarious financial state of the company saw the departure of Hibbs in 1952, whereupon he became a ‘transport consultant’. In 1954 he completed a Masters degree thesis on the shortcomings (as he saw them) of the Road Service Licensing system. Then, in 1956, he and a partner bought Corona Coaches of Acton, near Sudbury, Suffolk, and then purchased the nearby business of A. J. Long of Glemsford in 1958. Almost exactly one year later, in August 1959, the entire business failed, and Hibbs once again became a consultant cum journalist until he found a job with British Railways in 1961 as Traffic Survey Officer, Eastern Region, at Liverpool Street. After several job reclassifications, he left BR in 1967 for the academic world where he thereafter remained, loudly proclaiming his views, until retirement. Thus, his entire practical knowledge of bus operation was gained with Premier Travel for two to three years, and then for a further three years with his disastrous Corona venture. This, then, was the "expert" whose "experience" saw him recruited by Ridley to give a cover of academic justification to the industry death knell called deregulation. You couldn’t make it up. Then, with the ‘success’ of deregulation behind him, Hibbs was then involved in the equally catastrophic privatisation of the railway system, yet another industry in which his experience was minimal. As George Bernard Shaw said, "Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach".

Roger Cox


01/06/16 – 09:13

Wonderful comments there Roger, and I fear that virtually everyone has now forgotten the scandalous Hereford and Worcester trial of 1985 – a handful of rural bus routes were allowed to be operated by "competent" small coach companies in order to prove that de-regulation would be in the interests of healthy competition and passenger benefit. Breaches of the embryo stern measures proposed were rife, but still the move went through and that’s where we are today !! A classic lesson in the need to stamp out a fresh virus before it it becomes a Nationwide uncontrollable epidemic.

Chris Youhill


01/06/16 – 17:24

My views on Ridiculous Nicolas have been aired here and elsewhere before. The man had one of the brownest noses of any of Thatcher’s sycophants and Roger’s comments come as no surprise. Having spent many years organising and operating conferences around the world for many disciplines in both academia and industry and having seen how the two interface, whenever an academic "expert" is asked to spout on television or in the press on how industry or the economy should deal with a problem, or should be run, unless I know they have years of practical experience alongside, or before, their being closeted in some think tank or hall of academe, I mentally switch off. Time after time these experts have been relied on to give their dubious weight to politicians’ hairbrained schemes, not just in the UK. The "reasoning" seems to be that the brightest brains are academics. That’s as maybe but translating theories into practice in established and sometimes in need of help industries needs real time, hands on, knowledge as well as hours sitting thinking and theorising.

Phil Blinkhorn


01/06/16 – 17:26

And back to the bus CDR 750 ended up next on a farm in Essex as a lorry and there was a article in a old Buses Annual and is now rebuilt back to a utility bus at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum.

Ken Wragg


12/06/16 – 06:48

Something has been sticking in my mind…the company replaced its "preowned" utility Daimlers with some dependable and snouty Guys: and what did we get? proudly named "Premier", a presumably solvent and possibly affordable local bus service on a shoestring, as were a number of municipalities: no leased leviathans then with their dodgem transmissions and (often) miserable drivers… right, back to reality….

Joe


12/06/16 – 09:11

Blame ‘Economics’, Joe, manifest in the form of One Person Operation. Back then, a driver was just that, able to concentrate on the job, and a conductor spent the whole time with passengers. Realistically, in modern road conditions, something like the sedate 5LW Arab would struggle to keep time, though some of the present day bus timings are absurdly fast. Even so, the operating costs of modern buses are much higher than those of the Arabs, PD2s et al of the past, yet the reliability is far lower. Years ago, a bus ride was a pleasant experience. I don’t find that to be true today.

Roger Cox


 

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