THE PRESERVATION SCENE
MUSEUMS, RALLIES AND ROAD RUNS
An evocative view of the fourth BUS OF YESTERYEAR gathering, at St. Pancras in 1973. Over sixty buses and coaches can be counted on the original print here! Among London vehicles in their earlier days of preservation can be seen G351, RTL1323, RF10, T792, TD95 and RT1431 in the company of entries from Birmingham, Midland Red, Royal Blue, Blue Bus, West Bromwich, Barton, Aldershot & District, Bournemouth and Halifax plus a good Tilling Group contingent. The Leyland TD1 in the foreground was part of the BTC collection then entrusted to the care of the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club. It iremains today part of the National collection and now resides at Wroughton I believe. I daresay this site has long been commercially developed - can't remember where I was to capture this shot, probably the balcony of a block of flats.
In the autumn of 1966 as a somewhat niaive 22 year old, I joined that brave (some might say foolhardy) band of impecunious* individuals willing to sacrifice their hard-earned money, their weekends, their girlfriends and sometimes their very sanity to be a bus preservationist. In a joint venture with my late friend Bill Cottrell, Ian Sargent and Pete Nichols I purchased London Transport single-decker Q83 of 1935 and maintained an involvement with it for some thirteen years. Around this early/mid-1960s time three very important and irreplaceable types were lost forever to the London preservation movement, namely all-Leyland STD90, 'tunnel' STL1871 through lack of finance/secure accommodation and/or vandalism and the unique RTC1 (ex-RT97) through commercial indifference, it being sold for scrap by Vernons Pools despite strong interest in it by preservationists, so we were happy to be keeping a pre-war capital fleet vehicle alive, even though not knowing what lay ahead and whether we would succeed or fail.
This created a major shift in my transport enthusiast priorities,for much of the time energy and money I might have spent chasing and photographing operational vehicles was channelled, week in, week out, into all the problems associated with trying, with limited funds and not enough knowledge, to safeguard and restore this historically important vehicle. Inevitably I went to a lot of rallies though and saw and photographed many preserved buses. Now, four decades plus down the line, as I look at my trannies, I often wonder what has become of some of the subjects. There are a good few that you still see going strong today forty plus years into preservation and I'm so glad that this applies to Q83, which thankfully passed into the safe ownership of the London Bus Preservation Trust before Bill's untimely death at just 55 early in 2004. He had become by mutual agreement the sole owner after 1979 and went on to nurture it (mostly single-handed) for a remarkable 36 years in total - I know, too, that he spent a kings ransom over the years after 1979 on some of the difficult technical and mechanical restoration aspects.- those damned brakes were a nightmare, only eventually cured by his sizeable investment in new made parts I believe. Eventually,following protracted negotiation that had gone on for around thirty years, he at last acquired the unloved hulk of similar Q69 that had been preserved and occasionally rallied in the earlier 1960s. Its owner always said he'd swap it with us for a short wheelbase AEC Regent chassis but we never did find one of those! It provided many useful spares including a better engine that I believe is now fitted. Mechanical parts for the Q type are often unique and consequently rare. This remarkable old lady is now getting quite close to the status of an octogenerian having first hit the road in October 1935. It is still capable of being confused with a modern bus! A few recent minor mechanical problems aside that I understand have now been put right kept her in 2012 as a static exhibit only at her new prestigious London Bus Museum home at Brooklands. She put in a welcome and (for me) surprise appearance at the recent Staines Transport Fair creating rather a lot of smoke on departure, but this, I recall, was always a feature of her cold starts. I very much hope that this wonderful survivor has regained its previous capability of attaining good speed on the A3 (albeit rather noisily). This amply evidences a lasting testimony to his dedication. I was privileged to know Bill, and to count him as a friend for not far short of forty years so it was a privilege to be invited to renew my acquaintance with Q83 and to take a ride, saddened by the realisation that he was not to be at the wheel, on its seventieth birthday outing in October 2005. I'm looking forward to my next trip! *The asking price was £100 and each of us laid out £25 to acquire Q83, which was more money then than can perhaps be easily imagined today (about half my monthly nett salary at the time)..To put inflation over the past four+ decades more into perspective,you could then, if you were a smoker, buy some 9,000 cigarettes for £100 (todays cost £2000+). It's interesting to recall too that just to get hold of a copy of the excellent OOC model of it in 2003 cost me nearly £20, and they were on offer in other places for the full £25! For an opening selection I have, inevitably, as a small tribute to Bill, given pride of place to Q83 and other preserved London buses many of which he had a hand in restoring,or maintaining in later years. Following this is a paragraph showing the sterling work done over the years to preserve and operate trolleybuses, then a starting selection of preserved provincial buses and coaches. I fully expect that most are safe and sound somewhere but am not at all sure what has become of some of those shown. Q83 at St Albans - looking a bit down at heel during its stay at that garage c1948/9. It ran in operational service until mid 1953 Smile please! - October 1966 and we are taking ownership of Q83 at the Sutton Coldfield AEC Service Depot. Ian shakes hands with Harry Pick while the rest of us look pleased with ourselves. Pete is leaning on the sidelight, Bill looks over Harry's shoulder and I am extreme right. If I look a bit unsteady on my feet it's because I was recovering from picking ( and convincingly losing!)a middle of the road fight with a speeding Ford Anglia on August 2nd and a huge plaster cast had not long been removed from my left leg! I still needed crutches but hid them from view on board for this record shot. Extreme left is our willing mechanical expert and driver for the day John Warner. The photo was taken by another member of our party using a rather basic 1930s Agfa Billy folding camera that I had recently bought for 97/6d (approx £4.90) - I still have it today!
This created a major shift in my transport enthusiast priorities,for much of the time energy and money I might have spent chasing and photographing operational vehicles was channelled, week in, week out, into all the problems associated with trying, with limited funds and not enough knowledge, to safeguard and restore this historically important vehicle. Inevitably I went to a lot of rallies though and saw and photographed many preserved buses. Now, four decades plus down the line, as I look at my trannies, I often wonder what has become of some of the subjects.
There are a good few that you still see going strong today forty plus years into preservation and I'm so glad that this applies to Q83, which thankfully passed into the safe ownership of the London Bus Preservation Trust before Bill's untimely death at just 55 early in 2004. He had become by mutual agreement the sole owner after 1979 and went on to nurture it (mostly single-handed) for a remarkable 36 years in total - I know, too, that he spent a kings ransom over the years after 1979 on some of the difficult technical and mechanical restoration aspects.- those damned brakes were a nightmare, only eventually cured by his sizeable investment in new made parts I believe. Eventually,following protracted negotiation that had gone on for around thirty years, he at last acquired the unloved hulk of similar Q69 that had been preserved and occasionally rallied in the earlier 1960s. Its owner always said he'd swap it with us for a short wheelbase AEC Regent chassis but we never did find one of those! It provided many useful spares including a better engine that I believe is now fitted. Mechanical parts for the Q type are often unique and consequently rare.
This remarkable old lady is now getting quite close to the status of an octogenerian having first hit the road in October 1935. It is still capable of being confused with a modern bus! A few recent minor mechanical problems aside that I understand have now been put right kept her in 2012 as a static exhibit only at her new prestigious London Bus Museum home at Brooklands. She put in a welcome and (for me) surprise appearance at the recent Staines Transport Fair creating rather a lot of smoke on departure, but this, I recall, was always a feature of her cold starts. I very much hope that this wonderful survivor has regained its previous capability of attaining good speed on the A3 (albeit rather noisily).
This amply evidences a lasting testimony to his dedication. I was privileged to know Bill, and to count him as a friend for not far short of forty years so it was a privilege to be invited to renew my acquaintance with Q83 and to take a ride, saddened by the realisation that he was not to be at the wheel, on its seventieth birthday outing in October 2005. I'm looking forward to my next trip!
*The asking price was £100 and each of us laid out £25 to acquire Q83, which was more money then than can perhaps be easily imagined today (about half my monthly nett salary at the time)..To put inflation over the past four+ decades more into perspective,you could then, if you were a smoker, buy some 9,000 cigarettes for £100 (todays cost £2000+). It's interesting to recall too that just to get hold of a copy of the excellent OOC model of it in 2003 cost me nearly £20, and they were on offer in other places for the full £25!
For an opening selection I have, inevitably, as a small tribute to Bill, given pride of place to Q83 and other preserved London buses many of which he had a hand in restoring,or maintaining in later years. Following this is a paragraph showing the sterling work done over the years to preserve and operate trolleybuses, then a starting selection of preserved provincial buses and coaches. I fully expect that most are safe and sound somewhere but am not at all sure what has become of some of those shown.
Q83 at St Albans - looking a bit down at heel during its stay at that garage c1948/9. It ran in operational service until mid 1953
Smile please! - October 1966 and we are taking ownership of Q83 at the Sutton Coldfield AEC Service Depot. Ian shakes hands with Harry Pick while the rest of us look pleased with ourselves. Pete is leaning on the sidelight, Bill looks over Harry's shoulder and I am extreme right. If I look a bit unsteady on my feet it's because I was recovering from picking ( and convincingly losing!)a middle of the road fight with a speeding Ford Anglia on August 2nd and a huge plaster cast had not long been removed from my left leg! I still needed crutches but hid them from view on board for this record shot.
Extreme left is our willing mechanical expert and driver for the day John Warner. The photo was taken by another member of our party using a rather basic 1930s Agfa Billy folding camera that I had recently bought for 97/6d (approx £4.90) - I still have it today!
These colour views by Ian Sargent
We acquired Q83 from Harry Pick, the Manager of the AEC service depot at.Sutton Coldfield. Harry had been an apprentice at AEC when the Q type was in production. The local Old People's Welfare Committee had owned and used it for several years but strangely did not go to Harry, or AEC to keep it maintained, this being done over several years by the local Midland Red company in whose legendary innovative engineering skills its odd design no doubt found safe hands. The OPWC heavily adapted it and had put a ramp for wheelchairs in the rear and cut a door. For good measure they also left us the loo on the off-side! Having just performed surprisingly well down the M1 and on into pre-M25 Surrey, Q83 is seen immediately on arrival at temporary accommodation at Horley in October 1966.
This photo was taken about 1959 by a serviceman based in Malta. This is an unidentified 4Q4, somewhat altered in appearance by its chrome front bumper, and the Bedford radiator grille. Not sure whether this was (in pure Maltese tradition) just for decoration or whether a front radiator had actually been fitted. it was apparently still complete and not long out of use when we got Q83 but none of us could afford to go there or contemplate buying it so I don't know when it was scrapped. When we got Q83 it was rather a mess internally and we might have been able to speed refurbishment up a bit in this area if we could have had some seats and stanchions from it.
By 1969-70 we had secured restricted (no work allowed) permission to park at the rear of Stonebridge Garage along with TD95 and RT1431. To make us feel as if something was being achieved around this time a none too professional attempt at representing LT country area livery was made. This was possible thanks to the kind help of Valliant Coaches of Ealing who allowed the use on a few occasions of their undercover facilities and pit on Sundays where it is here seen. LOTS Craven RT1431 also received its first red coats of paint here. At other times Bill and I took Q83 out on Sundays to an industrial site in the Hanwell area where some other enthusiasts were working on a WWII Fire Tender. They had a small garage into which it was just possible to drive 75% of her length if we needed cover to work
This is what we achieved by 1973. Seen waiting for the 'off' at a rainy Crawley mid way point for the Brighton HCVC run of that year. There was however still much internal work to do. Parked behind is STL2093, which was bought for preservation in about 1958 from its second operator Reliance of Newbury.
We only got it back from the LPC paintshop the Friday before and took it to Cobham Station for this shot. We thought it would make a good period view until someone pointed out the British Railways 'hot dog' on the station sign above! I visited here on 31st October during my attendance at the Cobham Farewell event. The main station building is still as here but the large canopy has now gone
By the early 1980s Bill tired of the pre-war GreenLine guise (some doubt had been expressed that it was quite right anyway) He opted to return it to a version of the post-war country bus livery which we had initially cosmetically restored it to, and something like that in which Q83 finished its LT service in 1953. See the part visible changed station sign here compared to the above shot. This also didn't help with the historical aspect of the view!
...and this is how she is today. Seen a few years ago two ago at the old Cobham premises, her home from 1972 to 2011, and standing where there must now be the approach drive to the prestige care home now on the site, this is how Bill repainted her. Although she never actually was in Central Area guise in her LTE service days a number of others of the class were so treated in the early fifties. I personally hope that a return will be made to post-war country green someday although it presently boosts the Brooklands display of pre-war red single-deckers vis-à-vis their country cousins.
All's well at the rear - actually this was one of the earliest jobs done. Bill's father was a coachbuilder by trade and soon fixed this for us. Getting the new window (laminated glass) in was a different story however - we broke at least two and they were costly and specially cut to shape. (about £6 each I recall - how much would one cost today!!)
OTHER LONDON BUS PRESERVATION SUCCESS STORIES
STL2377 - It's hard to believe that I first saw this bus back in 1965 when LOTS were considering what vehicle to buy before settling on Craven RT1431. It was standing rather forlorn in Mulleys Motorways yard in Suffolk having been retired from use some four years earlier. Considerable rot of the body frame had taken hold in that time. It took more that three decades with a few hiccups and changes of ownership along the way but the magnificent restoratiion it has now had is a sight for sore eyes.
Seen again, this time at a Brighton HCVC Rally circa 1970 is STL2093, It is more or less identical to STL2377 above. Originally bought by teacher Dennis Cowing from Reliance of Newbury, it came much later into the ownership of the London Bus Presrvation Trust but has not been a priority for restoration because its more or less identical STL2377 (EGO 426) has been so treated in recent years. I can only say that a recently heard suggestion that it be done as a post-war country area bus would certainly be on my wish list as it would give the Brooklands museum its first pre-war green double-decker. It was never itself like that but many of the type were 1946-54.
Seen departing Horse Guards Avenue terminus in 1972 during its first week of service on Londons Vintage Bus route 100, former Tilling ST922 underwent major restoration after rescue from a scrapyard in 1965. It's now well over eighty (yes 80!) years since this bus was first licenced, and having undergone a thorough restoration it remains fully roadworthy in the ownership of the LBPT. Look in the ODDS & ENDS page to see what it was like at the time of initial rescue.
Also back on the road in 1972 following restoration was this former London Independent bus based on the Dennis 4-ton chassis built in 1925. Seen at Pimlico terminus of the the then route 24 it was on a commemorative run over one of its former stamping grounds which in 1928/9 was numbered 529. When the bodywork of this was discovered having been used as a store shed for decades it was found that its original interior lightbulbs, marked LGOC, still worked!
Interstation Leyland Cub C111 (1936) at Cobham in the mid-seventies. Its livery was a pale blue and cream with black lining and roof.
A number of Fordson wartime fire emergency vehicles like the one adjacent were released by the Defence Ministry about this time early 1970s) and were auctioned off at bargain prices to preservationists having been in store since the 1940s. I'm not sure whether this was one of them - they reputedly had under fifty miles on their clocks!
There were originally fifteen of these ECW bodied private hire coaches built on the AEC Regal IV chassis (same as the RF) Most were exported to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) when LTE finished with them, but this one (RFW14) must have been one of the pair that stayed to work subsequently for St Thomas's Hospital. London
Seen, I think at the same time as the RFW above, possibly at a Showbus event at Woburn in the mid-1980s. I don't think any GS's were ever painted red but I do recall serious considerations to this effect in about 1967 when prolonged bridge reconstruction at Selsdon was going to split the operation of Route 54 in two, and these lighter vehicles could have been used for a bridge crossing shuttle during the rebuilding work, however it didn't happen.
The RF type has always been well represented in preservation. A smart RF458 is seen at Woburn
The tendency nowadays to restore buses to a standard befitting them for commercial use can only be a good thing. This is well exemplified by TIMEBUS RLH32 seen a long way from its home ground operating a service during the September annual Heritage Open Days event in Northampton about five years ago. I think this bus is currently exhibiting the blue/grey livery of the Leeds area operator Samual Ledgard who ran some of the se vehicles after sale by London Transport in the 1970s.
RTW467 was the last of its type to run in service and was bought direct from LT for preservation very soon afterwards in 1966. Then too young to be an official entrant it is seen parked up at a late 1960s Brighton HCVC Rally
RT593 is a nice survivor with an early roofbox body
My enthusiasm for photographing the London scene waned somewhat in the seventies and I did virtually nothing to record the changing country area scene. The RTs began to disappear there quite quickly but a couple did get into the National Bus corporate colour scheme and it is good that one is preserved as such. RT604 is seen alongside RT3183 in the'proper' country area livery
RTW29, always immaculately maintained, is here seen at Wisley. Its full set of nicely arranged blinds does it credit though I can't say I ever remember them on the 19 road.
An excellent job of restoration was carried out on Private Hire RF10 in the 1970s. It's been off the road and looking a bit rough in recent years but hopefully it will be put right in the not too distant future. London Bus Museum at Brooklands is however making good progress on restoring identical RF19. It still has its original owner in preservation. A view of RF10 with its independent owner during the 1960s, Osbornes of Tollesbury, can be seen on the ENGLISH INDEPENDENTS page
Another Londoner with a long history of preservation is TD95. This 1948 Leyland PS1 has undergone a major rebuild in the ownership of LBPT. I well remember it and the few other last survivors trotting up and down the 240A route from Edgware Station until September of 1962
In the late 1960's and early 1970s we all marvelled at the re-emergence of a wonderfully reconstructed 1920s London General double-decker in the shape of S454. This is still with us and, following he death of its original restorer and owner remains safely in the UK in new hands.
Smaller sister K502 was also privately rebuilt showing what could be achieved with appropriate private skills funding. Then, in quite quick succession a 9T9 and 10T10 came into LBPT hands followed by rescue and restoration by Prince Marshall of former Independent Dennis D142 and Tilling ST922 ( both now in LBPT ownership) and then the repatriation of STL433 from Holland.
It was perhaps forgivable to assume that the last miracle discoveries of pre-war former London buses had, by the 1970s then been made, but the 1990s and the start of the twenty-first century have heralded the emergence of yet more magnificent London discoveries and restorations - rear-engined Leyland Cub CR16 has been lovingly restored from the ground up having been repatriated from Cyprus a few years ago and the famed EnsignBus organisation have brought back and fully restored RT8 from the USA . They've also well sorted normal control Leyland Cub C6, an RTW and a T from Australia. Waiting in their wings is a Leyland TD decker formerly of Maidstone and District that passed in 1933 to LPTB. The famed Mike Sutcliffe Collection (see separate paragraph) includes two very early examples including a former Chocolate Express Leyland LB5. a London Tilling -Stevens was re-constructed by Michael Banfield some years ago and this now is in the same safe ownership as S454 . Below is seen S433 from the Barry Weatherhead stable, representing a final form of the S type, as used after about 1930 with pneumatic tyres and drivers' cab. Barry is reported to be working on a B type double-decker and the LT Museum has performed a superb job on theirs, now commemorating the WW1 centenary by being presented as a 'battle bus'. Their 'Scooter' AEC Renown LT1076 was magnificently restored a few years ago - pictured below on its first Brighton excursion
Now we must wait for the certain to be breathtaking re-birth at Brooklands of NS174 (body re-construction now apparently well underway) and one day, hopefully not too distant, perhaps the re-emergence of that amazingly re-discovered and repatriated from France T357 and also LT1059. The LBPT also has an RLH repatriated from the USA , The LT Museum has done a nice job on Leyland Cub C94 and also apparently has the remains of early Greenline T252, a photo of which in its derelict state forty years ago can be seen on my 'ODDS & ENDS' page. We are now spoilt for choice in a way that earlier generations of preservationists could not have even dreamed about - of course we all continue to mourn those types that are lost forever don't we? (or are they?) so when will it finally all come to a halt - who can say? If anyone knows of the existence of a pre-war STD please shout out very loudly now!
Two examples survive of the 'S' type in its original incarnation as an open topped solid-tyred workhorse of the 1920s but this superb reconstruction by Barry Weatherhead is of a later in the decade development as a pneumatic-tyred saloon - the type remained in service use until about 1933 Seen at rest at Pease Pottage on its way to Brighton about six years ago. This intrepid and well respected preservationist also owns an AEC 'K' type double decker and is apparently working on the rebuild of an even older 'B' type
The existence in (I think) Hertfordshire of a remarkably complete AEC Renown LT1076 was known about for probably well over thirty years and initially its owner who used it as a summer house would not part with it, however it eventually came under the wing of the LT Museum which lavished considerable amounts of money on it with the result seen above. It is captured arriving on its run to Brighton about five years ago.
During my time of involvement at Syon Park and then Covent Garden I often stared at B340 and thought that it had been over-restored. I well remember that the original staircase stringer panels, wings, destination boards and other parts were replaced but had been retained and were really good enough to have been restored and re-used. The Museum of British Transport and the BTC were responsible for this as it made a fine exhibit at Clapham on its raised pedestal. One thing I never thought I would see was it running again, let alone its amazing excursion all the way to Brighton in 2006. All credit is due to the London's Transport Museum staff for making this possible. Next time you see it count the spokes on one front wheel and then do the same with the other!
Superbly re-created Leyland LB5 of pioneering London independent operator Chocolate Express, seen alongside D142 at Cobham a few years ago. Although they have different chassis the bodies on these two are more or less identical products of Dodsons of Willesden London NW10 which supplied many independent (pirate) operators in the capital. That of D142 still has most of its original framing.
It says much for the enlightened attitudes now prevalent amongst the big players in London bus preservation that scenes like this are made possible. Left and right at Cobham are LT Museum's K424 and S742 and in the centre is Barry Weatherhead's privately preserved K type, One day perhaps we shall see this trio together again alongside NS174 to illustrate a remarkable survival story of typical 1920s capital buses. To my knowledge there will soon be as many as six more
open-top double deckers of London origin in preservation - what a sight it would be to have them all together!!
RECENT GOINGS ON - BROOKLANDS 2012-2014
Now that the London Bus Museum is safely re-located to its new premises the opportunity is being taken to stage major events within the Brooklands complex though the opportunity to use Wisley airfield was taken for the last time recently. Here are a few photos from excellent recent gatherings.........................
Live operation of one of the Museum's horse-buses around the Brooklands site is eternally popular, paired as usual by a beautiful pair of horses. In addition to these greys there's a pair of dark brown. Not sure which but one of the pairs is named Laurel & Hardy!
Already recorded elsewhere on this website, here's a different viewpoint on the much reconstructed but nevertheless superb Leyland of London Central, part of the famed Mike Sutcliffe Collection.
Another of Mike Sutcliffe's fleet is this wonderful Leyland of Chocolate Express, the original London 'Pirate'. It is seen here in the company of RT8, skillfully rebuilt and restored after repatriation from America by EnsignBus.
In addition to XU 7498 (above) pre-war (just) Leyland rear-engine Cub CR16, privately owned, and rebuilt after return from Malta, spent some time on display at Cobham Hall
One of only two survivors of the original fleet of 15 RFW AEC Regal IV/ECW (1953) Private Hire Coaches of LTE, RFW 14 put in an appearance. It looks in reasonable fettle though appearances are often deceptive. Certainly the front panel seems to have been in the wars but rectification of this will be relatively straight forward as and when the owner desires it. Apparently in the same (preservation) ownership since 1974. RFW6, the other survivor has recently joined the LBPT 'Brooklands' collection. All but one of the rest were exported to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where they were no doubt run into the ground quite quickly.
RT1 waits at the stop outside the Museum building partly obscuring the magnificent Concorde exhibit
RT2775, the only survivor of the trio of buses that undertook a major tour of the United States and Canada in 1952 has been very carefully restored by the London Bus Preservation Trust. The completion of work was achieved in time for the sixtieth anniversary of the tour and the bus carried family members of the original tour crew as guests from the Museum to Wisley
'GreenLine' RT3491 shares the dock area with STL 2377
GS34. It is thought that around a third of the original 84 members of this class have survived into preservation
RF 146 shows off the livery used for 'modernised' RF's when they were demoted to bus work
The weather at Wisley was, to say the least, not good with much rain and wind. Later when the sun came out with a background of more threatening heavy rain it was posssible to capture this nice shot of RF401.
Much unloved in their service,days the infamous AEC Merlins are, though, thankfully represented by a small number of survivors. MB90 is, incredibly, now 45 years old but really wouldn't look out of place or in any way old-fashioned in the company of today's Dennis Enviro's
Coming more up to date but still worthy of preservation by virtue of each being more than thirty years old each we see an example of the ubiquitous Leyland National as used by London Country Bus Services and also MCW Metropolitan M6 which has been well restored in the ownership of the LBPT
RT1 meets RM1. There's only fifteen years between them, and six of them were at war!
Lastly, two more shots from a rainswept Wisley. In the first RT1 and RM1 are paired whilst the second shows RM1 again in the distinguished company of prototype 'Borismaster' LT1, and appropriate classification for the new bus for London named after the first of another distinguished type in London bus history, the AEC Renown LT class introduced in 1929
The LBPT 'fleet' can at last boast inclusion of a standard Routemaster. Very original in appearance RM140 is being acquired by a membership fundraising appeal. Seen here at Wisley during the 2012 big event
LTE bought three of these Willowbrook bodied AEC Reliances in 1961 to test the dual-entrance/exit concept but their tenure was not a very long one and they were disposed of within a few years going to Chesterfield Corporation. Acquired from there many years ago RW3 is now the only survivor. Its current owners have very nicely restored it and placed it on long-term loan to the LBPT collection
RT2657 was exiled to France in about 1965 for display in the Paris Transport Museum which, in 2013 donated it to the LBPT. It adds an early RT3 bodied example to the 'fleet'
............and D142, in its fortieth year of preservation still works hard for its keep! It is worth noting that much of the original built frame of the 1926 Dodson bodywork still remains under the skin
Although originally acquired in the 1970s it is good that Bedford Staff Canteen 702B now puts in appearances. LTE had a number of these which dated from 1948/9 and replaced the motley collection of converted NS and Tilling ST types (ST922 was briefly one such). A number were bought by Liverpool Corporation Transport when LTE finished with them and this one then came back 'home' Under the skin however its condition is not good so a re-build of the frame must be undertaken eventually.
The former Samuel Ledgard operations were always good users of former London buses and it is good here to see former RLH 32 preserved in that guise
When one is well old enough to have seen the entry into service of a vehicle type it comes as a stark reminder of passing time to see that same type enter the ranks of preservation. These little early 1970s Bristol LHs were the replacements for some RF's in the central area and the GS type to its left on some country services.
I am not as well in touch with goings on in the preservation world as I used to be nowadays and when I came across this oddity at the Spring 2014 event I have to admit that I was completely unaware of its existence. It is a commendable working replica of one of Hancock's steam powered carriages of the 1830s. I don't know whether the owners had done some research as to the colours but they certainly do not accord with that of the vehicle as depicted in presumably of the time frequently published colour illustrations.
......................and here's a trio of visitors to the event, all of which are true seniors in the league of London bus preservation:-
The very comprehensive restoration of RT113 began in the 1960s and took very many years. Now almost half a century later it is still looking good!
RTL1323 was an early saving, by the late Alan Allmey, way back in about 1966. One of its last working allocations had been Cricklewood and I photographed it substituting for an RM on route 16. It is good now so many years later to see it like this because my last sighting of it was when it was painted quite incorrectly in Green Line colours
Disposed of in the late 1960s the former Tree-Lopper conversion of
front-entrance country area STL1470 went straight into preservation. I had my closest look ever at this at Brooklands earlier this year and it seems to be in remarkably good condition. I had always thought that the conversion entailed complete removal of the upper deck but it seems that only the roof and windows was removed. There's even some seats left inside and the front destination screen looks unaltered. It's had a number of owners since being saved but is now in the safe hands of Roger Wright. It is a real gem and hopefully will one day be fully restored. New top decks don't come cheap but this old girl definitely deserves to have her hat on again!
WORKING TROLLEYBUSES PRESERVED
There's something rather special about preserving trolleybuses. When, four decades ago and more, action to save examples for the benefiit of future generations was so greatly needed it took a very high level of faith and dedication on the part of many enthusiasts who rose admirably to the occasion, but could not have known then whether they would actually ever be able to see their restoration handywork in action again. Fortunately for us all that very dediction and astute vision has also given us a few excellent places where these vehicles can operate and be sampled.
Here's a few shots over the years of trolleybuses restored and working at three operational museums in England. If you have never been to Sandtoft or Carlton Colville or the Black Country Living Museum ( on its special trolleydays) then please get there if you can. They deserve your support.
SANDTOFT TRANSPORT CENTRE (North Lincs)
BRITISH TROLLEYBUS SOCIETY COLLECTION
ONE OF THE ONLY TWO THEN UNRESTORED SURVIVING PRE-WAR LONDON TROLLEYBUSES, LEYLAND K2 No 1348 WAS RETURNED TO BRITISH SHORES IN 2009 AFTER ALMOST HALF A CENTURY IN THE CUSTODY OF THE TRANSPORT MUSEUM SOCIETY OF IRELAND WHICH AGREED TO A TWENTY-FIVE YEAR LOAN. .ITS CARE IN THAT TIME FELL WOEFULLY SHORT OF WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN EXPECTED AND THE VEHICLE WAS IN A RATHER POOR STATE. THIS LARGE PHOTO HOPEFULLY CONVEYS THE EXTENT OF THE RESTORATION TASK THAT WAS FACING ITS INTREPID RESTORERS. WHO WERE DETERMINED THAT IT WOULD BE FIT, WELL AND RUNNING IN TIME FOR THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF LONDON TROLLEYBUSES IN MAY 2012.
1348 at Sandtoft in 2009
Did they succeed..................................to find out we must move briefly to Carlton Colville
1348 at Carlton Colville May 8th 2012
You bet they did! - although some work was still necessary on the upper deck 1348 put in a welcome appearance at the Fiftieth Anniversary event at Carlton Colville on Tuesday 8th May 2012. This excellent highly evocative event brought together, almost certainly for the one and only time, all but one of the UK surviving London trolleybuses.
More pictures below......................................
Long time Carlton Colville residents 1201 and 1521 share the stand with tram 1858
Also making its appearance was H1 796 repatriated from the Paris Transport Museum and still externally in as withdrawn condition
LT Museum's 1768 takes a rest
Seven Londoners were in action that day. 1201 heads 796 with 1348 bringing up the rear
Two of the preserved Leyland K type trolleys together for the first time. 1253 missed out on the day through being 'landlocked' in the Museum at Covent Garden
1812 lays over but remains poled up
Just prior to a short re-enactment of the ceremonial run of 8th May 1962 Diddler 1 and 1521 pose together
Diddler No.1 is poled up for the re-enactment
Turning under its own 81 year old power into Herting Street the Diddler was followed by 1521 and a Routemaster. Now considered to be very frail this was possibly the very last time that this vehicle will run under wires, maybe even to leave the confines of Acton or Covent Garden. It had not been operational all day due to serious mechanical and electrical concerns and was just allowed this last circuit late in the afternoon.
Comparatively recently nicely restored by the London Transport Museum, pre-war tower wagon 89Q put in a most welcome appearance
Later in the day the latest restoration project of the London Trolleybus Preservation Society came out for a couple of circuits. No.628 of Newcastle Corporation is more or less identical to the London Q1 class. An earlier batch of these vehicles in the Tyneside city had identical two aperture indicators to London.
..............and now we resume at Sandtoft
About twenty-two years in service and forty-six in preservation - Reading 113, a Park Royal bodied AEC of 1939 was the first British trolleybus to be privately preserved, in 1961
Huddersfield Corporation 631 - Sunbeam S7A with East Lancs bodywork - 1959
Another, more recent shot of 631 resting and showing good progress on former Cleethorpes Corporation AEC No.54 which dates from 1937. Hopefully this will be ready for service before too long.
Maidstone Corporation 72 Sunbeam W of 1947 with a Northern Coachbuilders body ran highly decorated in the last days to commemorate trolleybus operation in the town in 1967.It has seemingly quite recently (2011) undergone a professional repaint and looks really fine. A shot of it running in its home town on the last day has now been added to the MUNICIPAL TROLLEYBUSES page.
St. Helens Corporation 387 - This was sold to Bradford and fortunately escaped re-bodying so (seen here in 1983) was returned to its original colours. Now, more than two decades later, she needs a lot more work and is not in current use.
Aachener Strassenbahn (Aachen West Germany) 22 of 1956. Preserved at Sandtoft since the 1970s and currently undergoing some work to return it to use there.
Nottingham City Transport 578
Bournemouth Corporation 212 Sunbeam MS2 of 1935 (seen in 1983) - recently restored to running order but in need of further work
Derby Corporation 172 - 1945 Sunbeam W which retained its Utility specification bodywork throughout its service life
619 - Another fine example from Huddersfield. An East Lancashire Coachbuilders bodied BUT 9641T of 1956
Prize exhibit - London Q1 1812 of 1948 - repatriated from Spain and fully restored, a task that took over twenty years
Hopeless cases - don't believe it - A nice pair of Karriers. South Shields 204 (right) is now fully restored and operational. The other one, which I believe to be Nottingham City No. 367 (c.1934) has some way yet to go, however it will be done. This photo was quite a few years ago since when a major lower deck and front re-framing exercise has been undertaken. When found however it was completely devoid of mechanical and electrical components so unfortunately is likely to be some years off completion.
No.1348 came home after the Carlton Colville event and on 27th October there was a special ceremony to celebrate the completion of its restoration. In addition agrrement was made with LTPS for a short term loan of No.260 enabling, for the first time three London vehicles to be seen and sampled there.
Three together - The loan of LTPS No.260 makes up the trio here as BTS Chairman Graham Bilbe talks to the invited audience about the project to restore 1348
On return to Sandtoft outstanding work on 1348 was completed. This included nicely signwritten side and front advertising and completion of upper deck seating
The local MP was on hand to call a vote of thanks and present a certificate to Brian Maguire (right) who led the extensive restoration operation
Stranger in the camp - 260 makes a circuit at Sandtoft
The Sandtoft Transport Centre's next project will be Doncaster 375, non-operational for many years and seen here in the Autumn 2012 sunshine. The intention is to have the vehicle restored and running for the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the town's trolleybuses in October 2013. Not such a daunting task as London 1348 it seems, and work had already commenced. If you would like to donate to help this then please go to the Sandtoft Transport Centre website
Also on show and running on 27th October was Huddersfield 631 which had been painted earlier in the year to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. By the time you are reading this it will already have been returned to proper Huddersfield livery
BLACK COUNTRY LIVING MUSEUM - Dudley
Schaffhausen ex-Lucerne (Switzerland) 207. I believe that this vehicle has now been repatriated to its home country for continued preservation there
Walsall Corporation 862. Pioneering two-axle thirty footers, these were affectionately know as 'Goldfish Bowls' Willowbrook built the unusually designed bodywork on a Sunbeam F4A chassis in 1955
Derby Corporation 237, also a Sunbeam F4A, built 1960 has Roe bodywork. The Black Country Living Museum is a fascinating place to visit. The houses behind 237 in this view are made mainly of cast iron!
Bradford City Transport 735 - a 1946 Karrier W that was rebodied in the late 1950s
Wolverhampton Corporation 433 - 1946 Sunbeam W with a later replacement body by Roe
................and heres a few from the 2008 event
Wolverhampton 433 is one of the museum's resident trolleys and continued to perform well
I had hoped to ride on Carlton Colville's London 1201 on the superior circuit offered at BCM but unfortunately she was out of use with an electical fault on the day of my visit
Manchester 1344 is a BUT of 1955 which is now operational at Sandtoft
Newcastle 501, from Beamish Museum, though latterly resident at Sandtoft puts in an appearance at the BCM
Carlton Colville's Belfast 246 was a welcome sight too
Sadly, scenes like the above are unlikely to be repeated in the near future. The museum has changed its policy and trolleybus operation there will be less significant now. Many of the operating vehicles have been removed and dispersed
EAST ANGLIA TRANSPORT MUSEUM
CARLTON COLVILLE (Lowestoft)
LONDON TROLLEYBUS PRESERVATION SOCIETY COLLECTION
The London trolleybus Preservation Society has its base here and has superbly restored three London Trolleybuses to full working order. Two of the trio are seen here. No1521 (right) was London's ceremonial last trolleybus on 8th. May 1962.
Here's the last member of the trio -1201, a Leyland LPTB70 of 1938 survived the attentions of scrap merchant George Cohen and was rescued from usage by a used car lot as a store in the mid-1960s
Well, no - This isn't Carlton Colville and this trolleybus sadly is not working. I place this shot here for continuity - Leyland/MCW H1 No.796 (1938) was sent over to France for the Paris Transport Museum in 1960 and has been dormant since. I saw it there in 1984. Shoving it up against a wall like this and obscuring its nearside too with RT2657 did rather show that they did not have a high regard for it. What a pity this one cannot be repatriated to the UK - I'm sure it'll be more appreciated.
STOP PRESS (Yes - another one!)
It would seem that a carefully guarded secret of recent months has been negotiations to achieve repatriation,and in fact 796 has actually very recently returned to these shores. Now,that's what I call good news! It will need some TLC but is apparently in much better condition overall than 1348.
Much work is already underway to ensure a fitting commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of London's Trolleybuses in May 2012. There is now the tantalising possibility that we could have as many as nine vehicles available to celebrate the occasion (1 1253 and 1768 have all previously made the journey from the London Transport Museum to operate at Carlton Colville so maybe, just maybe........ Watch the enthusiast press for further announcements. Tempus Fugit
Former National collection Ipswich 44 - seen in 1984 aalongside Ashton-Under-Lyne 87
TROLLEYBUS WEEKEND 2008
Portsmouth Corporation 313 is a post-war Burlingham bodied BUT. A much missed link here would be one of the much loved 1934-35 Cravens bodied AECs however despite their survival in service until 1963 none escaped the cutters torch
This is the former No.1 in the Solingen (Germany) fleet. It is a Henschel with Uerdingen bodywork
more to follow
This one was not working either! - One of Portsmouth Corporation's earliest trolleybuses was saved but spent rather too long in the open not being cared for properly by the Montagu Motor Museum at Beaulieu. Thankfully it survived this ordeal and went back to its home town but now rests on loan at the Milestones Living History Museum at Basingstoke
PROVINCIAL BUSES & COACHES
There must be hundreds, nay even thousands of them, I know, and scores of the later ones were either among the latest operational designs or were not even built when many of the following shots were taken, but they have held my fascination for over four decades now. Most of the transparencies and negatives from which this first selection has been taken were recorded between about 1967 and 1980 The appearance of every one of these vehicles at a rally indicated that someone, somewhere made, for the time, not inconsiderable financial and other sacrifices to save it from the cutters torch and it is a testimony to to many of them that their vehicles are in many cases still around for us to see and enjoy today. Of course some have sadly not survived and each loss is significant because sometimes they were the only ones of their kind left in existence when they were originally acquired. If, like me, you are of that certain age group how many can you remember in actual revenue service in the sixties, seventies and eighties?
Albion buses, particularly double-deckers were never very common south of the border. I remember having quite a long ride on this when it departed the open day at the Colin Shears Collection in about 1972. Not sure where I snapped it here but I then didn't see it again until about ten years ago when it was parked at the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire railway premises
This Eastern Counties Bristol L is unusual in having a 4-cylinder Gardner engine. Seen at Weymouth Rally about 1973.It's now at Ipswich Transport Museum
Leyland Tiger TS7 of 1936
In the early sixties I can remember seeing this and another similar vehicle of Eastern Belle coaches parked up in the operators yard near Stratford Broadway, but could never get my camera to it. It was pleasing therefore to be able to buy an excellent OOC model of it a couple of years ago
AEC Regal in the distinctive livery of Hull Corporation Transport
For many years Northampton Corporation 154 of 1947 was retained as a driver training vehicle and at one time was even fitted with a snow plough! In the early eighties it was decided to give it a makeover for publicity purposes which included for many years afterwards horrible 'GO BUS'slogans painted on the sides. In the years after deregulation when NT sold out to First Bus 154 was passed to an enthusiast group for continued preservation. Alongside it at the St. James depot in 1990 is later Daimler CVG6 267 which was I think just about the last normal control conventional double-decker supplied to a British operator
Still in fine fettle fifteen years or so after the above shot, 154 is running a special service in connection with Northampton's annual Heritage Open Days event in September 2005. Three more of the buses in use for this are seen below...
Barton Transport AEC Regent V XAL784
OK Motor Services (Bishop Auckland) AEC Reliance coach 129 DPT of 1959
AEC Regal of Welsh municipal operator Bedwas & Machen UDC
Bedford OB formerly of Jersey Motor Transport
Smartly attired AEC Regal of Burtons Coaches. New to Trent in 1948, this is now part of the Quantock Heritage Collection
A Daimler COG5 of 1939, this superb looking beast is seen here almost forty years ago. New to the much missed Derbyshire based Blue Bus Service (Tailby & George) in whose colours it has rightly been preserved
Leyland Titan JUB29 was a regular rally and road run performer in the sixties and seventies and is seen here at an early Trans-Pennine event about 1969. I believe this was a later pairing of body and chassis which were not originally together and this may explain that obviously later registration mark.
Gilford coach GW713 was initially superbly turned out in the livery of Valliant Coaches of Ealing but when taken over by Evan Evans Tours received this rather drab repaint.I had the dubious pleasure in the early seventies of a bum-numbing ride on this all the way from Crich to London via the M1! It was by then rather neglected bodily with sagging and propped rear roof. It has been retained for many years by the national collection and stored at Wroughton though it has deteriorated even more by current appearance. It has however recently gone back into the care of the son of its original (in preservation) owner who will no doubt keep it safe and restore it in due course.
A rare one indeed is this Foden PVR model of 1951 with Metalcraft body. Seen at a Crich Extravaganza in the early seventies. I was delighted recently to see that this one has survived the ravages of time and is now nicely restored in a red and deeper cream livery of its original owner Hollinsheads Coaches. It was present and running about at the recent (October 2009) Buses 60 Rally at Wroughton.
Unusual too for a coach - an exposed radiator Crossley SD of 1950 which has a |Brockhouse body
This early Bristol was once part of the national collection cared for by the British Transport Commission. Later when in alternative charge I think it was damaged by fire so hope that it has now been put right. Seen here at a Clapham Common rally c. 1971
The classic lines of the Harrington'tailfin' body design are well illustrated here by this example of Lymers Travel of Staffordshire. This is an AEC Regal with a full-fronted style of Harrington coachwork. Not many of these have survived but there's another AEC Regal (illustrated further down this paragraph) and at least one other in preservation is on a Leyland Comet Chassis. This one has thankfully also endured and is still on the rally circuit today.
See also page on municipal buses. I photographed this in its home town garage about 1963. It was in preservation not long after and paid a visit to Cobham in the early 1970s
The Leyland Badger chassis was normally used for lorries and it is thought that this Bradford Corporation bus of c1930 was unique
This ex East Kent vehicle belonged to an LT acquaintance who adopted this personal livery with his name on the side. Sadly I don't think it lasted very long although GFN273 was also preserved and is still around, the last I heard, very appropriately with the East Kent Road Car Heritage Trust. These buses were interesting in being post-war rebuilds using pre-war Leyland TD5 running units.
When photographed at the Ardingly Rally about 1968 this ex-Thames Valley Bristol L was owned by an LT colleague. I was pleased recently to see it still survives under cover on display at the Oxford Bus Museum at Long Hanborough
The two-tone blue livery and the destination COGENHOE (koot-noe to us locals) on this nice little Albion immediately mark the ownership of it out as York Brothers of Northampton. It was usually taken to Rallies by Bob York. The Yorks Travel concern (as it later became) has undergone ownership changes over the years and, as far as I know the York family are no longer involved. I don't recall seeing this vehicle since I photographed it above well over thirty years ago, however I believe that it currently resides on the Isle of Man
US6798's claim to fame in the early 1960s was that it was used in the Television series Dr. Finlays Casebook.
At a wet and windy Weymouth Rally 1973 - Bristol Tramways & Omnibus Co Bristol L coach
When I first saw this Cravens bodied AEC Regal 1 it was part of the national collection and was kept at Clapham Museum. When seen here at an early Trans-Pennine run it was in the care of the well-known professional transport engineer and enthusiast Geoffrey Hilditch at Halifax
All-Leyland PD1 of Southdown Motor Services at the Belle-Vue Zoo starting point of the Trans-Pennine Rally in 1969. I am fairly certain that this has regrettably not survived
At an event in the Birmingham area in the eighties. I don't know anything about the miniature tram which was able to carry two children inside. Overhead current collection was, understandably, not used so this must have involved live rails. Nowadays this would presumably not meet required health & safety standards for a public event.
Seen a long time ago was this ex-Aberdeen Corporation Daimler. Who would have believed what this operators successor would become in the free-for-all world of de-regulation in the 1990s
This genuine old Daimler, albeit with replica charabanc type body, was owned by the important Nottinghamshire Barton Transport concern in the early 1970s
You could always count the number of surviving AEC Q types on the fingers of one hand. There are, I think now two identical London examples, a chassis owned by the Science Museum and this one, making only four in total. ARA475 was owned and operated for a long time by Silver Service (J.H Wooliscroft) of Darley Dale Derbyshire. It went into preservation in the 1960s but from memory was not well looked after then so I hope it is ok now. It's the only one of the surviving complete trio with a petrol engine
I think this ex Sydney (Australia) Albion came to England in the 1970s with some students, but what happened to it - surely they didn't take it all the way back?
The pre-eminence of Dennis in modern day bus manufacture is a far cry from their limited market appeal before the 1990s. This Lance model K3 of Alderhot & District is therefore a rare bird indeed. This is a view at Brighton of many years ago but it's still going strong
Foden double-deckers were also very much a minority and JGD 475 of Garelochead Coach Services Scotland was a good example. It is seen here at a Trans-Pennine run about 1969 but does it still survive?
This 1945 Huddersfield Daimler CWA6 is a real old stager on the preservation scene. I recall its presence at the last day of trolleybuses in its home town forty years ago and its still going strong. Oddly, I think it is now preserved in Somerset! It once came all the way to London for a rally I organised at Covent Garden. It is seen here even earlier at an anniversary celebration run for Halifax Corporation Transport in 1967. It's recently been repainted to resemble a London utility Daimler 'D' class which is ok for a while. I think it was also operated for a time by West Bridgeford UDC - If its owners have an urge to give it a different look how about that livery?
The popular Delaine concern is frequently represented at rallies noawadays. This shot of a Leyland Tiger Cub coach with Yeats bodywork was however snapped in the 1990s
Seen at the rainy Sandtoft Gathering of 1983 this Lincolnshire Road Car Bristol FS was operating the then equivalent of the now popular Isle of Axholme Tour
Douglas (IOM) Corporation AEC Regent, again at a (brighter) Sandtoft event. It is such a pity that such buses coming to the mainland have to lose their original registrations. A little imagination by the Island authorities (or is it the DVLA?) could enable them to be retained. The same happened many years ago I recall with a pre-war Regent having to suffer imposition of the silly SWU222F
1949 Daimler CVG5 of West Bromwich Corporation. I recall seeing these in service in 1963. This one is now, rightly, part of the Black Country Museum collection
St. Helens Corporation was the only operator to take delivery of RT type AEC Regent double-deckers that were virtual copies of the London standard
This 1934 Leyland Lion LT5A
Uncommon combination of Guy Arab chassis with Crossley bodywork on this former Blackburn Corporation vehicle
Was this Fuggles of Benenden? I thought they were not in business until the 1980s
A Leyland Lion which was repatriated from Jersey Channel Islands. As with a number of such others from there it had to relinquish its registration althouhgh I'm not sure how Leyland TD2 J6332 has managed to hang on. It's really another example of pre-DVLA local registration authority silliness with its JCP60F registration. I do know however that it received this representation of Edinburgh Corporation colours for the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in the mid-1960s
'Snow Hail Muck & Dirt' as the former operator of this Daimler was sometimes referred to. Formerly with The Stalybridge, Hyde Mossley & Dukinfield Transport & Electricity Board operating in the Manchester area. I have some in service views of SHMD buses including a couple of these Daimlers (maybe even this one) to upload to the MUNICIPAL BUSES page, but don't remember the cream painted radiators so perhaps this was an earlier version of the livery than 1963/4 when I was there. It might be a trick of the light here or a peculiarity of the particular colour film I was using but I also think that the green shade used was lighter than this in the mid-1960s.
I was able to ride to Brighton on this elderly AEC Regal which, for a time in the 1970s was in the care of the London Bus Preservation Group although still then owned by the family of its original operator, Provincial of Leicester
The business end of this AEC Regal of Bevan Brothers is very attractive in its own right though this photo does not show that the bodywork is of the classic 'Tailfin' design by Harrington. Seen at a rally in the Birmingham area about twenty years ago.
There are probably more hens with teeth than there are surviving AEC Renowns and this former Leicester City Transport example is one of only two double-deckers now extant
The vast majority of the former LT RTW class were exported to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). A few went to Ayrshire independents and this fine example was with Stevensons of Spath (Uttoxeter) who added the smart platform doors I think it continues in preservation in this livery
Wimbledon next stop! If you can forgive the antics of Great Uncle Bulgaria, Madam Cholet and the rest of the Wombles there's a nice bus under here! Ex Brighton Hove & District pre-war Bristol converted to open top for Thames Valley
One morning, I think it was 1972, I was collected from home at a very inhospitable hour because I had volunteered to help rescue a most interesting bus from a location in Norfolk (or was it Suffolk?) It had been used as a dwelling and its owner had built a substantial outer shell covering the structure in corrugated iron panels supported by railway sleepers etc.which had to be removed. All this was to the good however because it had helped preserve it for about four decades and much of the original open-top body structure was remarkably intact. The bus was a Tilling-Stevens Petrol electric, minus mechanics and radiator and sadly not of London origin. Much to my personal disappointment it was whisked off and quite quickly underwent a complete high quality restoration then was shipped off to America so I never saw it again. This remains the case today even though I believe it to be back within these shores. It might be the Manchester Museum's example DB5070 but I'm not sure. If its origin was mantioned to me in 1972 when we were getting it out I have long since forgotten---
Well - Is this it? - If anyone can confirm please contact me
DB5070's location here appears to be at the now vacated Cobham Bus Museum site. This is from a commercial postcard so someone may not be pleased to see this here. If there is any problem I will remove it immediately on request
........and here's a few quite recent ones at Brighton 2006-2009. I shall add several more in due course
1950 Bristol L6A
THE MIKE SUTCLIFFE COLLECTION AND OTHER LEYLAND BUSES AT THE
LEYLANDS DAY EVENT AT CRICH TRAMWAY MUSEUM
OTHER VEHICLES, OF SOMEWHAT LATER VINTAGE WERE ALSO PRESENT
PRESERVED BUSES AT THE SANDTOFT GATHERING 2008
As ever a superb event though it seemed that there were many fewer participants this year. Probably the high fuel costs deterred quite a few. They were also displayed away from the main site this time due to temporary space difficulties there.
I have to admit that when photographing these, and being of a certain age group, I asked myself 'why on earth preserve some of them', however Hull 180 is, incredibly, 42 years old, the Leyland Nationals and the GMT Atlantean are well over thirty and even Halton's Leyland (Lynx?) 35 is approaching a score. Mustn't have double standards I thought for Q83 was a mere 31 years old when I eagerly jumped at a chance to be involved with that!
TRAMS IN PRESERVATION
New paragraph - development just starting 9/2010
Having ignored this aspect of transport preservation so far I thought it time to get something done so here will follow a starting selection.
Back in 1964 I was introduced to the work of the Tramway Museum at its then rather featureless quarry site at Crich. I spent a couple of weekends working there but, regrettably now, did not persist, turning my attentions to bus preservation in the years that followed. I did help out with marshalling etc for several years at the Grand Transport Extravaganzas at this location though. Following the introductory photo I shall, over time,post a good selection here aiming to start with a few shots of Crich in its earlier days in the 1960s 1970s and 1980s.
I thought this photo was a good starting image. Although it was not the first tram to be preserved outside of museums and operator collections it comes probably a close second, having been originally acquired by a private individual direct from London Transport back in 1952. This view of London HR2 1858 is from 1984 at Carlton Colville, Lowestoft when it was just a static exhibit. Since then as we know it has been refurbished and now works hard for its living carrying museum visitors up and down there.
Footnote: Yours truly hanging on - I wish I was as slim as that nowadays!
CRICH - THE EARLY DAYS
I visited this excellent place several times during the sixties and seventies, mostly on special event occasions but, as previously stated, a few times also as a volunteer helper. To start with here's some shots from my earliest presences showing the undeveloped site in 1964.
At what is now termed 'Town End' we see Blackpool 'Standard' 49, one of the first cars to work under power on the site. It is interesting to see that the trackbed rests on the infilled cutting that once accommodated a mineral tramway taking the quarry products away from the site. The bridge carrying the roadway over can still be seen behind 49. Nowadays of course this point boasts some fine large old tram shelters and the re-constructed Derby Assembly Rooms. It is nowadays the main boarding point for visitor tram rides.
No.20 was a refugee from the British Railways owned Grimsby & Immingham line that closed its operations in 1961. But No.20 is also of interest as being a second-hand acquisition by the line in 1953 from the Gateshead & District Tramways which closed at about that time. It was subsequently restored and runs as Gateshead & District No.5 and I will post a view of it operating more recently in due course. Another car like this is owned by the Science Museum and has a times in the past operated at Beamish North of England open Air Museum
No. 01 was, I think a Sheffield Tramways Works Car. Now, some 45 years later there is, in the working collecftion, a superbly restored and reconstructed Edwardian era open balcony Sheffield Car. I may well be wrong but perhaps this was later the basis for that rebuild.
Glasgow Trams were and still are firm favourites with enthusiasts and the Tramway Museum Society was able to secure a good representative selection due perhaps to the relatively late abandonment of the system in 1962
No.812 is a good representative of the ubiquitous 'Standard' and was built around 1900-01, although it was modified down the years to incorporate a fully enclosed top deck and drivers vestibule
No.22, despite its antiquated appearance actually dates from about 1922
In around 1969 or 1970 a LOTS club visit to Crich produced this scene of Craven RT 1431 alongside Glasgow 1100. I well remember spending most of one weekend scraping and cleaning the upper deck floor of this handsome beast. I don't think it is resident at Crich anymore
Looking somewhat less pristine, back in 1964 on the occasion referred to above when I worked on the car
Opporto No.9 is, I believe, a British built horse car supplied to the Portuguese city in the 1870's. It was presented to the Tramway Museum Society about fifty years ago.
Early days depot accommodation. These buildings have since been much improved and extended. There is a traverser, and all the foreground track is now with nicely laid stone setts and forms an extensive walled and gated depot yard. Trams from Isle of Man, Leeds,Blackpool and Glasgow in view.
A Blackpool 'Toastrack' a Sheffield 'Roberts' tramcar dating only from 1952 and an open balcony Blackpool Standard are seen in action
Fast forward a few years to about 1969 or 1970 and the Grand Transport Extravaganza is a well established annual event. The massive attendances at these three-day jamborees which sometimes included a baloon launch and a Spiutfire flyover are something that nowadays can only be dreamed about though this is true of almost all similar events everywhere. Some fifteen years after the first photos in this paragraph the general untidyness of the siter can still be observed though this hides a tremendous amount of hard work achieved by the volunteers. It is clear, when one considers the site nowadays that a tremendous amount of earth moving has been undertaken since (I was told at this time that this was likely to cost £90-100,000!) and there is now the Bowes-Lyon bridge over the running line which has been somewhat extended. It was dismantled and lying on the ground at this time.
The second shot shows some nice examples of the pre-war motoring era. Sadly nowadays such gatherings are not graced by such golden oldies very much and their place is taken by lots of 1960s 1970s and 1980s machines which are not as interesting because my generation can remember them new, though they are now as old as the cars shown here were when photographed.
.... and in more recent years
More than four decades separate the views that follow from those above. A long time by any standard but it can be seen that an amazing transformation of the site has taken place. The organisation has for many of those years been known as the National Tramway Museum though for modern marketing purposes takes the well thought out title 'Crich Tramway Village'. It is now a fully accredited museum with excellent research facilities.
Firstly here's the London contingent....................
Converted after passenger use for use as a snowbroom former LCC Tramways No.106 was eventually fully restored by Museum volunteers a couple of decades ago. It gives regular public rides even though it is over a hundred years old.
The experimental centre-entrance MET 'Feltham' 331 (right) has been resident for around fifty years but its complete restoration to operating condition is somewhat more recent. After London use it spent a number of years working in Sunderland. On the left, former LCC E1 No.1622 is a more recent Londoner on the scene. It was restored about fifteen years ago after its complete bottom deck was discovered. The upper deck had to be completely reconstructed to pattern. This view was captured in 2012 at the event to celebrate 60 years since the end of London trams and it is assumed that the incorrect spelling on the front fender was copied from an actual 1952 observation. The other end was wrong too. proclaiming 'HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORRER'. Perhaps the work of a 1952 gramatically challenged cockney??
The newest arrival on the scene, after a lengthy period of reconstruction is the magnificently restored LUT No.159. This was again meticulously rebuilt around a discovered central lower deck and represents the very first type of electric tram in the capital operating from 1901.
.....and here's some of the rest
Leeds 180, from a batch of cars known as 'Horsfields' is seen still at work in 2012. It will be noted, serving exactly the same purpose over forty years earlier on one of the high level views further up the page
more to follow..............
LONDON TRANSPORT MUSEUM AND BEFORE
I was perhaps lucky to have experienced a fulfilling fifteen years working in connection with London Transport's historical collections. One of the 'perks' of this was to be in on many behind the scenes activities including the retrieval of a Metropolitan Railway coach 353's body from Wiltshire, and later a horse-tram - we looked at two, the first, sixty years a shed was on the embankment behind Stoke Newington Station and had deteriorated too far, and then one on a Kent farm. This is the one that is now superbly restored and displayed at Covent Garden. I was also much involved with the research, design and setting up of both Syon Park and Covent Garden, and the running of special events such as the Syon Park Gala Days and also the 1979 and 1983 anniversary celebrations.
I got very involved with the search for a new venue when the closure of Clapham was confirmed and eventually the setting up and day to day management of the display at Syon Park from 1973-78. When Clapham was being run down and it was realised that there would be unlikely to be space for both K424 and S742 at wherever they would be going subsequently, the latter was sent on extended loan to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. A hasty repaint was arranged replacing what must have been an original scruffy 1930s coat. (last overhaul 1931 - the body was the ninth recorded to be fitted to the chassis since new in 1923) It is seen here after outshopping at LPC Coachworks Hounslow awaiting its low-loader transport to Hampshire
Later on, of course, we learnt that our application to take over the redundant Flower market building at Covent Garden had been successful. For this A major programme of refurbishments of many of the vehicle exhibits was put in hand 1978-80 and opportunities taken to acquire new photographic records. Here the resplendant Knifeboard Horse-bus is posed after its repaint at Kew Gardens complete with Victorian gas lamp. Members of the LT Dramatic Society were the passengers. We had two goes at taking this photo I recall because nobody first noticed that the curly haired chap behind the driver was still wearing his reactolite glasses!
At about the time when Covent Garden opened, the Museum featured twice on the popular childrens TV programme Blue Peter. During filming at the Museum which had involved John Noakes arriving aboard K424 I well remember having the famous much loved retriever Goldie fast asleep on my office floor. From a privileged high level viewpoint in the studio at White City later I caught the entry on to the set, of the Knifeboard alongside K424.
We took the Garden Seat Omnibus, with Royal parks permission into Regents Park to capture this scene on the Carriage Road - note the absence of yellow lines! The elegant Georgian mansions behind form an appropriate backdrop. I was dreading a certain action by the horses but they thankfully behaved. Museum staff dressed up for the occasion
We really enjoyed setting this one up, somewhere in the back streets of Fulham I think. With a colleague I spent some time crafting the Emergency Water Supply notice to stick on the wall. We also did some smaller 'Shelter Here' ones that are visible on the left of the official colour view. Rolling Stock staff dressed up for the occasion - I even donned wartime police officer garb but the results were far from flattering so thankfully were not used.
It always surprised me that there was no country area double-decker in the official collection, especially as ST821 was an ideal candidate spending most of its life in that sphere of operations. I well remember pleading to have it painted green for Syon Park display but it was not in fact done until it moved in at Covent Garden. Seen here ready to be taken from Clapham to its new west London home
.......and here, early in 1980, ST821 shares an inspection area with one of the ill-fated Metro Scanias. Then being prepared for Covent Garden display in an appropriate livery, that of early post-war country bus services. All buses of this type, save for a handful with lowbridge type bodywork, were withdrawn for scrap by 1950
Yours truly with the now sadly removed mural on the end of the covered way at Covent Garden in about 1984. This part of the building then housed the heavy rail exhibits but during subsequent major rebuildings these were moved to high pedestals inside and the area became a restaurant I believe.
In 1970 it was decided by the diminishing ranks of the Old Contemptibles, custodians of ''Ole Bill' that it should be transferred to the care of the Imperial War Museum in London. Always maintained in running order it had been used a year or two before to convey some Chelsea Pensioners in the Festival of London Stores parade. With some WW1 veterans as passengers and that great character George Gwynne, (himself then an octogenerian WW1 veteran who had driven the type on the western front, and was later a crew member of the 1952 USA tour) at the wheel, she arrives at her new Lambeth home for an official handover ceremony
Attempts to publicise the new venue for London Transport's relics at Syon park in 1973 led to some excursions for NS 1995 to local events. One sultry summers day it is seen at Greenwich Carnival. The day was so hot that fuel evaporated before it could do its job and we must have crank started it over a dozen times during the parade! I have read that it will, in 2013 be bravely making the run to Brighton. I've not seen it mobile since the above occasion though I believe it's done the run before so lets hope it gets no problems like it had forty years ago at Greenwich!
PASSENGER VEHICLES PARTICIPATING IN THE HCVC RUNS TO BRIGHTON c.1963-1966
This, I think, is a Chevrolet LQ. VF 8157 was originally acquired for preservation in the late1950s. It is in fine fettle today having more recently been dresseed in the attractive cream/orange of the former Mulleys Mortorways
Because of my work I was lucky to have the chance to ride on several exhibits within the London Transport collection. This has included K424 S742 NS1995 ST821 STL469 T219 Q55 and TF77 (lately trolleybus 1253!) but sadly not LT165. It made a number of runs to this event in the mid-1960s when still attached to the then operational Clapham Museum. It then spent about three decades dormant but I believe it has made the run at least once since the 1990s and I think it also made it to there in 2010
This imposing Gilford belonged to the late Jack Mulley. Recently, in new ownership, it has undergone a major body rebuild and will hopefully put in appearances at events in 2014
This is a Maxwell small charabanc owned by the then Montagu Motor Museum and now presumably at NMM Beaulieu. It was a regular visitor to Brighton on HCVC rally occasions in the sixties - on one occasion I well remember it had the chart topping singer Roy Orbison as a passenger
Charles W Banfield, the founder of what eventually became the Banfields Coaches/ Empires Best business had been an LGOC driver in the 1920s before setting up on his own account. This little Chevrolet, though depicting his livery of the period was probably not originally in his fleet
Early automatic? - I think this is an example of what was know as a 'Gearless' Leyland
Bedford WLB of c.1933 - I recall that this was resplendent in red & cream livery
Can't be sure about this one, but it might have been one of a number of similar age Southdown vehicles that went for further service on Jersey C I and then came back home for preservation
RT44 was the first London RT2 to be preserved and rallied
You don't nowadays see much of this very nicely presented Leyland TD2, another Jersey Motor Transport vehicle but this time supplied new in about 1932. Though I'm sure it remains safe it is sad to record that HCVS stalwart Michael Banfield, its original in preservation owner who acquired it around fifty years ago has passed away recently.
Then, and still, in the fleet of the Lincolnshire Vintage Vehicle Society - KW474 is a Leyland Lion c.1929-30
These antiquated former Paris Renault buses dated from the early/mid 1930s and a few remained in service there until about 1969. Prior to this though the preservation opportunities they presented resulted in two or three coming over to the UK. Presumably still about, I have not seen one for decades