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ENGLISH INDEPENDENTS

 

 

Chambers of Bures 1945 Guy Arab GV9614 at Colchester 1964. I liked this bus so much I returned to Colchester twice to ride on it, once all the way to Bury St Edmunds! They still operate this route today though I'm not sure whether you can go all the way without changing - it's only going as far as Sudbury here. If memory serves me correctly the journey took around two hours. In 1964 I wrote to the operator to enquire what engine was fitted and was told Gardner 5LW, however when I look at this photo it seems as if it may have had a 6LW at some time - there's seems to be room under that extended bonnet.

 

 

 

At Bury St Edmunds in 1965 was this smartly turned out all-Leyland PD1 that probably started life with Ribble MS. It was probably then at least seventeen or eighteen years old, and the Guy Arab above almost twenty. Today they operate Volvo Olympians - I wonder whether they will last as long?

 

Despite not liking what legislative fiddling was doing to this sector I must admit I seldom went very far out of my way to photograph them. They most certainly deserved more effort and attention than I ever gave them.

In most towns and cities I went to however they seemed ever present in varying degrees - Colchester was a particular favourite, so inevitably some most interesting vehicles, so often cast-offs from bigger fleets, were seen and captured on film. Sometimes using this type of service seemed to place you in a kind of time warp. I distinctly recall, as late as the mid-1960s, occasional pre-war vehicles, one man operation where the driver left his seat at stops to collect your fare ( where vehicles had no separate cab i.e. Bedford OB), and being issued on journeys with Bell-Punch and Bellgraphic tickets!  Here's a few for starters from different parts south of the border.

 

 

 

 

 

Rover Bus Srvices of Hemel Hempstead was an established operator with several local services over many years. In the 1990s it lost a number of its services at the tendering stage due to its inability to satisfy Herts County Council's requirement for new vehicles to operate them. Above views are at Hemel Hempstead Bus station in the 1970s and (photo 3) the 1960s.

....................and in the same area 1963

Two views of Bream Coaches on their Long Chaulden service - 1963

 

 

A GLANCE AT PROVINCIAL (GOSPORT & FAREHAM OMNIBUS COMPANY)  1964

 

 

Guy Arabs were a company favourite  for post-war renewals

 

 

  

 

 

Lurking under that modern replacement body built by the operator was a very elderly AEC Regal of about 1934. I think this vehicle is now preserved.

 

  

 

 

 

Several elderly AEC Regents dating from 1936-38 were operational at this time. This one had a Park Royal body.

  

 

 

 

Here's another. One of the batch, not shown here, has been preserved for some forty years now - its registration is BOR767

 

 

 

 

 

  

Experiments were carried out re-building a pair of these presumably former utility bodied Guy Arabs with new full-front bodies and installing German Deutz air-cooled engines. They were acquired from Lloyds of Nuneaton in 1961. The re-building was evidently such as to require re-registration. Provincial's origins as an operator of trams are in evidence here.

 

 

 

Here's another AEC Regent, but it is interesting because it is a 1947 MkII with an older (1944) body by Reading. 

 

 

 

 This Guy Arab was actually a Mk IV new in 1958, not a re-build. It had the more conventional Gardner 5LW under the bonnet. The bodies were constructed by the local firm of Readings.

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a number of Guys were acquired at this time from nearby Southampton Corporation. Formerly maroon & cream the Provincial colours suited them well

 

  

 

 

 

 

The bodywork on this one looks as if it was built to a relaxed utility specification

 

 

  

 

 

 

These two elderly AEC's had obviously carried their last passengers. They had FT registrations indicating that they were acquired from the Tyneside area. They were, I believe, part of an intake of several vehicles in 1957 after a bad fire at the Hoeford Depot destroyed many of the existing fleet.  I do hope somebody rescued the car!

 

 

THE INDEPENDENTS SCENE AT COLCHESTER AND OTHER ESSEX/SUFFOLK LOCATIONS  - 1962/64

 

 

Blackwells of Earls Colne

 

 

 

Also operated by Blackwells at this time was this Leyland TD5/ECW that had been new to Eastern National. The body was a post-war ECW replacement.The opening window on only one side of the upper deck front was rather odd. Perhaps a low tree branch had previously damaged the other side and it was more cost-effective on such a senior vehicle to simply replace it with plain glass?

 I believe that sister to this bus FEV178 is preserved.

 

 

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Norfolks of Nayland

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOORE'S OF KELVEDON

 

 

 

 

 

 

An established and well respected operator for much of the first half of the twentieth century, Moore's sold out to Eastern National the year after this shot was taken in 1962. Surprisingly this odd Guy Arab actually joined the ENOC operational fleet for a while. I snapped it again here in 1964 with new fleetnames

Perhaps one of their last new vehicles, a Massey bodied Guy Arab IV.

 

 

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OSBORNE'S OF TOLLESBURY

 

 

 

 

Osbornes of Tollesbury knew they were on to a good thing when they clinched deals with AEC to buy three of their modern demonstrators in the early 1960s. Picture 1 shows RENOWN 8071ML which had briefly operated for London Transport as RX1. Picture 2 is of BRIDGEMASTER 80WMH and Picture 3 is of 2211MK, also a BRIDGEMASTER. These latter two differed in their transmission specification.

 

.......................AND HERE'S A TRIO OF OLDER MEMBERS OF THE FLEET

 

 

AEC Regent PPU982 at Tollesbury.

 

 

 

Also seen at the Tollesbury base in 1965 was the former LT 'private hire' RF10. This vehicle went on to be bought for preservation and was later nicely restored. In the same ownership for nearly forty years it is  currently in need of a little TLC. Another from th same batch is currently undergoing a thorough restoration at the Londo Bus Museum at Brooklands.

 

 

PPU 982 and 80 WMH are seen again alongside former LT RT 317.

 

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Seen at Bury St. Edmunds in 1965 this Thobalds of  Long Melford Bedford appears to have started life on the Isle of Wight.

 

 

 

MULLEY'S MOTORWAYS

 

Many older enthusiasts will have cause to remember the original incarnation (1937-1980) of the Suffolk independent Mulleys of Ixworth, not least because of its characterful owner Jack Mulley, a vintage transport enthusiast and preservationist of note. Jack always maintained a varied and fascinating fleet and never seemed to throw anything away. His large garage premises and adjoining land were, in the 1960s, littered with many vehicles that he had finished with. Perhaps he hoped that they would be snapped up for preservation. Indeed, apart from a couple of rarities he kept for himself, many were, including two former London STL's, sadly only one of which survives today. In the late 1950s and right through 1960s a number of Suffolk/Norfolk independents were falling by the wayside, or at least withdrawing significantly from the rural stage carriage service business, and Mulleys acquired some added variety to his fleet in this way although I'm not sure of the extent to which he acquired any of their operating licences.

 

 

A number of  fine Leyland PS2's were operated including this one which was apparently the one he always personally drove. One of his drivers told me that they always knew when the boss was coming as they could see the distinctive MM on the radiator!

 

 

 

A number of  Guy utilities were snapped up in the fifties. On the left is, I think, an ex Plymouth Corporation lowbridge example, and on the right a Great Yarmouth highbridge.

 

 

An ex City of Oxford AEC Regent formerly with Theobalds of Long Melford.

 

 

These two London registered former luxury coaches came from Corona Coaches of Sudbury. I think they may have  originally  been in the fleet of  

Grey-Green Coaches.

 

 

......and this ex LT Craven bodied RT from Longlands of Crowland. Another operator who put an interesting vehicle his way was Jolly's of Norton whose fine half-cab AEC Regal was over the pits at this time and I could not photograph it.

 

 

.........seen here at Bury St Edmunds are a pair of ex Great Yarmouth Corporation Leyland PD1s with curvy Massey bodies still substantially in their old fancy blue & cream municipal livery. Several of this batch were acquired but were never repainted orange & cream.

 

 

Other utilities were simply put out to grass! There's a lowbridge and highbridge example here. I believe these were ex East Kent or Maidstone & District.

 

 

 

Little needs to be said here - the 'rags to riches' story of former London STL2377 is well documented and she is today superbly restored in the keeping of the London Bus Museum at Brooklands.

 

 

Not sure about this one - Looks vaguely Roe bodied and perhaps ex-Leeds City Transport. Does anyone know - did it survive?

 

I believe that a  book has  been published about the Mulleys Motorways operation - fascinating reading I'm sure.

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SMITH'S OF READING

Noted mainly as a coach operator this company also operated schools and business contracts

All of these photographs were taken during 1962. The company livery was a dark blue and deep orange

 

 

 

 

This and 1700DP above were seen at Bournemouth

 

 

Various double-deckers were operated, amongst which were at least two ex-London 2RT2's. The former RT3 here looks quite original though it did then have platform doors fitted.  The other one I recall had some of its windows replaced by modern fitments

 

WEST RIDING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLUE BUS SERVICE (TAILBY & GEORGE) WILLINGTON

 

 

The distinctive large radiator marks this Daimler out as a CD650 model, more often exported than sold on the home market. Blue Bus had at least two. The bodywork on SRB424, which has been preserved, is by Willowbrook.

 

 

 

 

 

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BARTON TRANSPORT LTD

 

 

No.861 was an operator inspired design on a Dennis Loline III chassis which produced an ultra lowbridge double decker as seen here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.....and also in Derbyshire

 

 

 

JTG 280, evidently of Welsh origin was with Silver Service (G.H. Wooliscroft) of Darley Dale in the late 1960s

 

 

 

 

 

......some views at the former bus terminal area Broad Meadow, Nottingham (1964 and 1967)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..............and here's a few colour views circa 1973, all taken on a short visit to the Chilwell premises

 

 

 

 

 

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Barton was quick to get a bargain when it presented itself and made good use of  a number of ex-London Transport RTLs. They were solid workhorses in the fleet for a few years

 

 

 

 

 

 

The foregoing colour views are all scanned from 6x6cm colour transparencies which was an expensive format to work with so I must have chosen my shots carefully and thereby missed several later to be classics from the fleet in the background

 

VARIETY UNLIMITED

 

 

Red Rover of Aylesbury operated a number of exLT RT's. This is a Craven bodied example shorn of its roofbox as happened to so many such buses in subsequent ownership.

 

New buses were occasionally acquired 6616BH was an AEC Bridgemaster.

 

 

Fishwick & Sons of Leyland.

 

 

 

(Another) Silver Service ( this time of Darley Dale, Derbyshire) AEC Regal (1) and Bedford OB (2)

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Trimdon Motor Services AEC Regal (1) and Leyland PD1 (2).

 

 

 

Lancashire United Transport at Bolton 1962.

 

HANSONS BUSES

 

 

 

The front entrance double decker was, by and large, a later favoured type within British bus fleets, and the vast majority that I saw were of the tin-front variety. Hanson exposed radiator AEC Regent 370 (which seems to have lost its AEC triangle badge) was an exception however and was seen in Huddersfield in the summer of 1966. It was set up for a nice three-quarter offside view and I regret now that I did not wait to try and capture a nearside shot as well which would have been far more interesting.

 

 

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Rossie Motors of Rossington operated a service fom that mining village to and from Doncaster for over fifty years. 220AWY was a Daimler with what looks much like a Roe front entrance body. The operator sold out to the South Yorkshire PTE in 1980. With its 'tin-front' radiator cover having a place specially recessed for the conventional in-line number plate it was strange that the owners chose to place the registration where they did. This shot was taken about 1964. I think this bus ended up preserved, at least I saw and photographed it again in, I think, the late seventies at Showbus or something similar.

 

 

Birch Brothers MCW Orion bodied PD2 at Luton in 1964.

 

 

I know nothing about this operator who appeared in Leicester in the late 1970s using this ex-Southdown 'Queen Mary' Leyland PD3 under the unusual name of CONFIDENCE. The bus was smartly turned out in this unusual Black silver and grey scheme and is seen here outside the Haymarket Theatre in the city centre.

 

A London area independent that I was drawn to on more than one occasion in the mid-sixties was Super Coaches of Upminster. They had a varied fleet which included the two ex-Private Hire LTE RFs Nos. 22 & 18) seen above, at least one RTL and a couple of early withdrawal RTs. Non-London interest included an ex-Silver Star (Porton Down) Leyland Atlantean. 

A pair of views now of the important former operator, Moore Bros. of Kelvedon. The operator sold out to Eastern National in 1963. Both photos are at Colchester Bus Station

Somewhat unbelievably this well worn Guy Arab actually made it into the ENOC operating fleet for a while!

This was one of the more modern members of the fleet. A Guy Arab IV

 

 

  

 

In 1989 Applebys was operating another clean and tidy 'Queen Mary', this time cut down to open-top for use on the frequent Scarborough sea-front service. One of the famous Cliff Lifts at this resort can be seen in the background