This former Stockport Leyland Titan PD2 with East Lancashire bodywork is preserved at a GMPTE vehicle no 5871, seen here working the free shuttle service on October 15th 2016. The bus took part in a special two anniversary celebrations of 30 years of Deregulation in Manchester.
The South East Lancashire North East Cheshire (SELNEC) years
In 1969 a new modern fresh approach to public transport had begun, with the creation of a Passenger Transport Executive for the Manchester and Cheshire areas. This new company South East Lancashire North East Cheshire (SELNEC) was responsible for moving passengers around, it would have to answer to the Passenger Transport Authority, for any mistakes through poor reliable service, maintenance and timekeeping.
SELNEC also had to co-ordinate services, through ticketing, revised staff payment, depots, buses and information for passengers at bus stations. The company also wanted powers to improve the local railway network, with improved rolling stock. Connecting Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria railway stations using an underground link called the ‘Picc-Vic’ line.
For road passengers the changes came fast, coordinated service between the cities and towns, the new Trans-Lancs express route and the vision of the future of bus travel the standard bus. SELNEC had ordered the Leyland Atlantean and Daimler (later Leyland) Fleetline chassis, with Northern Counties or Park Royal bodywork. The first six were Atlantean PDR1A/1 chassis with Northern Counties bodies numbered EX1-6. EX7-16 were based on the Daimler Fleetline CRG6LXB chassis, again like the Atlanteans with single door Northern Counties bodies. EX17-21 were built on the Daimler Fleetline chassis, but with dual door way Northern Counties bodies. EX1-21 carried SELNEC names rather than district area names, due to the fact they were used to try the type across the entire network. Standards 7206-7251 and 7280-7281 were only production dual door way production version built, all on the Daimler Fleetline with Northern Counties bodies.
The first of 21 EX class standard SELNEC layout double deckers EX1 is posed at the 2009, highly successful SELNEC 40 rally. EX1-6 had Leyland Atlantean PDR1A/1 Chassis with new style Northern Counties bodywork, which would fitted to over 1000 Atlantean and Fleetline chassis from 1972 to 1983.
Deliveries of the new standards commenced in August 1972 with Park Royal bodied 7001, which started a new series of fleet numbers, as Atlanteans and Fleetlines were mixed together. 328 standards were placed into service by SELNEC, but in April 1974 a new operator would take control. But before that happened SELNEC tried the Metro-Scania saloon and the Leyland National saloons for comparative tests, again the first few carried EX numbers. EX30-37 were Leyland Nationals with B46D bodies, while EX38-41 were B40D bodied Leyland Nationals. While EX42-49 were Metro-Scania/MCW B44D bodies, with EX50-53 being Metro-Scania/MCW B40D bodies, as it turned out the nippy but diesel thirsty Scania saloons lost out to the Leyland National. SELNEC placed an order for 105 Leyland Nationals, with numbers 101-170 delivered in 1975 and having B41F integral bodywork. Numbers 171-205 were delivered in 1977 and 1979 and had longer chassis with integral B49F bodies.
The Leyland National series 1 deliveries began during 1975, after being ordered by SELNEC, with 70 B41F integral vehicles arriving. More Nationals were delivered in 1977 and 1979 as numbers 171-205. Here 105 which in preserved by the SELNEC Preservation Society is parked at Sports City in Manchester.
The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) years
On April 1st 1974 the new Greater Manchester Metropolitan County Council would assume control of all public transport within the Greater Manchester area, with more co-operation with the National Bus Company (NBC) subsidiaries. In July 1974 the new centre-line service commenced linking Piccadilly and Victoria stations, with a flat fare rate of 2p, however by 1981 the fare had risen to 12p. In 1976 GMPTE took over control of the independent company Lancashire United, which operated 363 buses and coaches. An order for the Bristol VRT chassis, was swapped for the Leyland Fleetline, in full Lancashire United specification and livery. However by 1978 the LUT operation was integrated into the GMPTE fleet, making some interesting livery applications, by 1981 the LUT was fully absorbed into the GMPTE fleet.
New bus deliveries were painfully slow during the early stages of the GMPTE era, with problems of spares and supplies. Coupled with trade union disputes and the three day working week, all compounded the problem, towards the end of the 1970’s the situation improved. New Atlanteans and Fleetlines, with standard bodies arrived mixed in with ten integral MCW/Scania Metropolitan double deckers, two Foden N/C Fleetline concept/evaluation double deckers. Later experimental or evaluation vehicles included the Volvo Ailsa MKII with Northern Counties bodywork, the Scania BR112DH double deck chassis again bodied by Northern Counties and the three Northern Counties bodied Dennis Falcon V double deck chassis.
The Leyland titan TN-series was the all integral answer to Leyland's post Atlantean era, which was by 1977 feeling its age. This new Gardner powered chassis with Leyland's Hydrocyclic gearbox was the dream, of which the Atlantean could have been. GMPTE were interested with the new vehicle, so much so they placed an order for 190 examples. However after 18 months, just fifteen had been delivered leading to a frustrated PTE cancelling the order and approaching MCW for their MKI Metrobus integral double deck chassis. Preserved Titan 4002 is seen at Sports City during the SELNEC 40 event.
Leyland was designing a new integral double deck chassis which would have replaced the ageing Atlantean and inherited Fleetline and VRT chassis from around 1979. GMPTE was taken with the idea of the new Titan TN-series double decker, and so placed an order for 190. These were supposed to be delivered from late 1979 until early 1981, however as it transpired the disruption at AEC and Park Royal saw on fifteen Titans delivered between 1978-1980. This led to GMPTE cancelling the remaining Titans, as the operator turned to MCW for its post 1970’s new double deck orders. 190 MCW Metrobus MKI versions were delivered from 1979 until 1983. In 1983, after 1451 was delivered and evaluated from 1980 with a unique Northern Counties body, the first of 25 new Leyland Olympians arrived and like 1451, 3001-3015 were powered by the TL11 engine. While 3016 had a Gardner LXB unit installed, with 3017-3025 being powered with LXCT Gardner engines. The remaining Olympians 3026-155 had the specially adapted Northern Counties bodywork with thick pillar between the first and second upper saloon front windows.
The MCW Metrobus arrived in the 1980's in the shape of 5001-190 all as MKI versions of the popular second generation rear engine double deckers. Here preserved 5001 is paused out side the Queens Road bus depot during late 2012, it is owned by the SELNEC preservation Society.
During 1981 the PTE decided to introduce a newer livery for the fleet, stepping away from the inherited SELNEC orange and white scheme. A deep brown colour was used with orange taking most of the bodywork, with the upper saloon windows and roof being white. However the PTE was starting to face newer challenges, not only from national government, but local council members along with the abolition of the Metropolitan County Council. As then 1984 ‘white paper’ was announced in the summer of 1984, it was later fleshed out as the 1985 ‘Transport Act’ or deregulation. As GMPTE could no longer operate any form of public transport service a new company was established GMBuses. But before any services were registered by the new operator, GMPTE withdrew a number of the Standards and several Leyland Nationals. This new commercial era would see many changes, not only on the buses but the trains and the installation of the Metrolink tramway.
The Greater Manchester Buses (GMBuses) era
Leyland Olympian 3178 with Northern Counties standard bodywork is seen pausing in the West Yorkshire market town of Todmorden. Rochdale and the West Yorkshire PTE had worked the 590 route jointly for several years, it continued during the initial years of Deregulation, with Yorkshire Rider buses venturing to Rochdale and Piccadilly in Manchester.
With a reduced fleet of buses GMBuses began the new free spirited era of commercial enterprise of public transport in reasonable god health. But they faced competition from various smaller fleets, with some using former GMPTE standards. GMPTE also had to ensure that the services were registered, which in the end managed to acquire some 68% of the routes, about 320 services. Three bus depots were closed during 1986, with work transferred to other depots. The PTE also looked into naming the new operation, which after several variations were mulled over, it was GMBUSES. This name continued with the good fortune and the livery of the GMPTE, which worked, allowing the public time to adjust to the new era. More standard bodied Olympians arrived, this time in the new pale Express livery, again like many fleets some vehicles were left with a dealer. These were 28 Northern Counties bodied Olympians, which in time were dispatched to London for use as the ‘Bexleybus’ operation.
In July 1986 more MCW Metrobus chassis were delivered to GMBuses, but with Northern Counties bodywork a unique and one off batch. These were powered by Cummins L10 engines (5201-5210), while 5301-5320 were powered by Gardner engines. Three new Volvo Citybuses with Northern Counties bodies were also delivered, based on the Volvo B10M chassis with a turbo charged 9.6 litre engine. Four integral Leyland Lynx saloons were also amongst the new orders, with turbo charged Gardner 6HLXCT engines coupled to the popular ZF gearbox.
The thirty Northern Counties bodied MCW MKII Metrobuses were to remain unique, as they also had high backed coach seating for the various interurban express services within the Manchester area. Here 5320 which is part of the extensive SELNEC collection is seen exiting Boyle Street in Cheetham Hill, Manchester. While taking part in a heritage weekend of bus operations during October 2012.
For the new era as previously mentioned many buses were withdrawn before GMBuses actually began operating. 235 standard Fleetlines, 129 Atlanteans, 70 Leyland Nationals, 15 Leyland Titan TN–series, 10 MCW Metrobuses and finally four Dennis Dominators. This was a massive fleet reduction, as fears grew of the uncertainty of Deregulation, news of more depot closures arrived as on the day, October 26th 1986. Two depots in Manchester, Northernden & Birchfields road along with Salford’s famous Frederick road depot. These areas were now storing the 450 withdrawn buses from the GMPTE fleet. Kirkby Central a renowned dealer and GMPTE both worked together to dispose of the withdrawn buses, as mentioned some returned to Manchester’s streets with smaller operators. At the point of Deregulation GMBuses had 2003 vehicles, with 1768 double deckers and 235 single deckers. Place into the mix the minibus boom of the 1980’s, GMBuses had taken delivery of 40 Dodge S56 minibuses with Northern Counties bodies, more followed including a batch of 50 Robin Hood bodied Iveco Ford minibuses and 80 MCW integral Metroriders, all of which were purchased to combat rival United Transport’s Bee Line Buzz Company’s 225 minibuses. By 1988 GMBuses had some 355 minibuses within a fleet of 2025 vehicles. New deliveries were 28 Olympians, new in 1988, with standard bodies, with ten Dennis Dominators in 1991, ten Volvo Citibuses and three Scania N113 chassis all of which were the last traditional standard style Northern Counties bodywork.
In 1983 GMPTE took delivery of two Scania BR112DH chassis with Northern Counties bodies, both passed to GMBuses in 1986, then to GMS in 1994. 1461 is seen here paused between duties in the full GMBuses post GMPTE livery.
In 1993 after another Conservative win in the General Election, there were added pressures of GMBuses size to be reduced, the minister for transport John McGregor earmarked GMBuses for such action. This was later carried out during 1994 with GMN GMBuses North and GMS GMbuses South, which was proceeded by much deliberation and influence from the major players in the country. However this was to become the final act of the GMbuses saga, no sooner had the paint dried on the dotted lines, that changes were a foot. Both GMN and SMS were purchased by Management/Employee buy-outs, which seemed pretty good. As with all things, nothing lasted forever and two of the biggest companies were knock at their doors. First group had made advances towards GMN, which was in a unique position to acquire the operator. It was far enough away as to not envelope the West Yorkshire operation of the former WYPTE operation. This purchase was allowed by the MMC, who kept a keen eye on proceedings. After all the arguments before the creation of GMS, of it reservations about Stagecoach, the Scottish based firm had finally purchased the fleet it wanted. This is how the story ends, as both First and Stagecoach continue to operate services within the Greater Manchester area, along with the ever expanding Metrolink tramway and newcomer to the area Arriva.
GMN took over the northern half of the GMBuses operation due to political pressure, during 1994. However by 1997 the GMN fleet was purchased by First Group, who were beginning to snap up four of the seven PTE areas, form 1996 onwards. MCW Metrobus MKI is seen passing through Piccadilly working an Oldham depot route 83.
The BIG Orange remembering Manchester's PTE buses
In 2004 The Manchester Museum of Transport (MotM) celebrated four land marks in the Greater Manchester transport arena, 35 years since SELNEC, 30 years since GMPTE, 18 years since GMBuses and 10 years since GMN & GMS. It was a large one-off two event taking in Manchester’s transport heritage and history, it was a huge success. However the SELNEC preservation Society were planning a large gathering of vehicles to remember the creation of SELNEC in 1969, across the weekend of October 31st and November 1st 2009. Both MotM and SELNEC combined the event with opening the museum and hiring car park 2 at Sports City the home of Manchester City. Like the Big Orange, SELNEC 40 was a huge success even if the weather proved somewhat damp at times. Naturally the next event was the 30th anniversary of Deregulation, where GMPTE buses created a new operation of GMBuses, which arrived on October 15th & 16th 2016.
To replace the Seddon Pennine IVs, the GMPTE looked to the newly introduced Dennis Domino chassis, which was neat enough for the continuation of the Centre-line service. 1751 is the only example of the Northern Counties bodied midibus to be around, so its fitting that it was seen in 2009, taking part in the SELNEC 40 rally. 1760 was painted into an overall red livery and trialed in London before delivery to Manchester in 1986. a forerunner to the popular Dennis Dart.
Manchester Deregulation the 30th anniversary event
The 1980-1985 deliveries of the Leyland Olympians were given a crisp and clean slightly extend standard Northern Counties bodywork. Here preserved 3065, which was in Stagecoach Magic bus livery when seen at SELNEC 40, exits Boyle Street in full GMPTE livery repaint. The bus was presented to the Museum of Transport during the morning of October 15th 2016, it later ventured out into service, as seen here.
This event was held across the weekend of October 15th & 16th 2016, with mostly former GMPTE and SELNEC standards and the recently repaint 3065 a 1985 Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympian, into the brown, orange and white 1980 livery. Buses brought visitors to the museum from bus stop NU just opposite Manchester Victoria Railway Station. A short trip upon a vintage SELNEC Atlantean AN68 with Park Royal bodywork 7001 or Northern Counties bodied Atlantean AN68 7206 in GMS livery and logos. Also included in this service was a true veteran Leyland Titan PD2 with East Lancashire bodywork 5871. Later in the day the above mentioned Olympian 3065 was used in service towards the end of the day. Leyland National EX30 and SELNEC 6809 a PDR2/1 East Lancashire bodied Atlantean with ECW bodied Leyland Leopard coach 81 were used on special photo shoots during the day.
Amongst the exhibits both inside and outside of the museum were standards 8001, 8141, 8151, 8551, 8697 and 8763, with Dennis Dominator 2032 and recently restored Metrobus 3208 and Volvo saloon 520. These vehicles were painted in a verity of Manchester PTE liveries, which certainly stirred the memories. The weather in the afternoon allowed form some scenic photography either in Victoria or at the photo stop site. After riding the standard 7001 and 7206 along with Olympian 3065 the day had closed and a pleasant trip home awaited. Using Olympian 3065 to Victoria, Metroshuttle service 1 to Piccadilly, Trans-Pennine express to Leeds then Riding Redefined to Harrogate aboard the 36.
The first of over 1200 standard styled SELNEC/GMPTE vehicles, 7001 new in 1972 on an Atlantean AN68 chassis with Park Royal bodywork. Here 7001 is seen arriving into Victoria during the Saturday of the two day Deregulation event.
The Leyland National series 1 was placed into production in 1972, lasting until 1985. Here EX30 one the small number of experimental Nationals used by SELNEC, alongside the Metro-Scania/MCW saloons. After the extensive trials, SELNEC placed an order for 70 Nationals to be delivered during 1975, these were new to the GMPTE. EX30 now part of a collection of 80 vehicles at the Boyle Street Manchester Museum of Transport, is seen entering Boyle Street from Queens Road.
Ralph Bennett who was general manager of Bolton Corporation, saw an advantage of working with his suppliers, East Lancashire. Together they created some very pleasing lines to early Atlantean bus bodies, here 6809 which was ordered by Bolton. Had arrived after the formation of SELNEC, this batch were the longest double deckers in the fleet. Here 6809 is seen working its way to a special photo shoot stop during the recent Deregulation rally.
The NWVRT have held an annual depot/running day either towards the end of May or the beginning of June, these events have grown over the years. To a point where it has become an established fixture on the annual events calendar. For the 2016 event, which fell on Sunday 5th June, to was going to be another blockbuster of a show.
Your author set of from home, in Yorkshire around 06:45, allowing time to get fuel and money, before getting on to the M621 and M62 motorways. The weather in Yorkshire on June 5th was very dull and overcast, with thickening cloud as the highest point of the M62 arrived. Mind you at this point the fog was that thick, you could not see the summit sign!
As the motorway started to edge towards Manchester the sky's cleared and the sun shone, as the temperature also rose. Passing along the M60 ring road, the junction for the A580 East Lancashire Road to St. Helens was soon upon me. Here the motorway gave way to the now complete new look A580, with its bus lanes and new traffic lights, which there are to many sets, set on a new smoother road surface. After around another hours travelling the turning for the Knowsley Industrial estate was already for the right hand turn.
By 08:45 the car was parked up and the camera was out ready to start my day and record the initial movements of the buses arriving and getting ready to run in service. It was not long before the first bus arrived, the immaculately restored NBC Northern General MCW Metrobus MKII 3501 UTN501Y, which sparkled in the sun light. This was followed by a former Travel West Midlands MKII MCW Metrobus 2989 E989VUK in full Wolverhampton Corporation livery, which looked very smart.
The West Yorkshire PTE Foden/NC 7250 TUB250R was quickly out of the NWVRT yard and parked up ready to do at least one run on the 93 Industrial estate run, other buses in the departure row were Merseybus 0238 F238YTJ an Alexander bodied Leyland Olympian, Merseyside PTE 1301 DKC301L a 1972 Leyland Atlantean AN68 and AEC Routemaster RM1620 DYE620. The arrivals continued with two Stagecoach ADL products both of which were on 16 plates, E40DMMC 10536 SN16ONA new to the Merseyside fleet and brand new SN16OPD for the Chester Park & Ride fleet, which replaces the former First group Wrights bodied Volvo B7RLEs. Birkenhead number 10 FGB910 a Massey bodied Leyland Titan PD1, arrived ready to do some shifts on the free bus services.
The NWVRT base was opened for business around 09:30 as the people mingled around to see what was new and other vehicles on display in the yard. With programme purchased and a look at the timetable allocations, it was off for a quick look around the stalls, catching up with friends and chatting to others. With the day set to be a belter, weather wise as well, it was time to par-take in a bacon butty, supplied by Pat's Cafe a recommended established eating place, worth a visit. Two examples of the once mighty Crosville Motors then arrived in the shape of classic Bristol/ECW KG150 LFM731 and SNL816 WFM816L the series 1 integral Leyland National. Both were quickly followed by the first outing in many years of the other preserved Foden/NC, West Midlands PTE 6300 ROC300R, which one of seven Foden rear engine chassis built. The bus had passed its MOT and was ready for a few finishing touches. There is a more detail account of the Foden/NC elsewhere in this Rallies & special events blog page. The Foden/NC never really ventured beyond the prototype stage, but had it been able too who knows what would have happened.
There then followed a Dennis Lance with Northern Counties body from the Aintree Coaches fleet, and another London Transport Routemaster RM40 VTL40. Then a rather unique Leyland National arrived WHH556S, which was Leyland Motors REV 01 the test bed National for cooling, heating systems and other internal fixtures and fittings. This bus was originally a dual door vehicle, it was acquired by the Workington Heritage Trust, who ran the bus in the colours of former owner Barry Pickhall, Arlecdon in Cumbria. The National made its return into the original livery in 2016 at the Stagecoach Morecambe depot open day. In the NWVRT yard were the Preston Panther 204 HCK204G, St. Helens liveried AEC Swift, a Marshall bodied Dart, Merseyside PTE National series 1 1000, Two Crosville VRTs, Merseybus MCW Metrobus MKI, various Atlanteans and a former SYPTE Leyland National2 1075. Inside the NWVRT base were Stalls, tombola and a light refreshment stand, with a former United Leyland Lynx II as a membership enrollment vehicle. While out side there were more arrivals in the shape of the Midland Red BET Marshall bodied Leyland Leopard, preserved Ribble 1397 Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlantean, with two vehicles from the Merseyside Transport Trust (MTT), 1053 the MCW bodied Leyland Panther and 1836 the East Lancashire bodied Leyland Atlantean. Whilst all this was happening RM 1620 and Merseyside PTE 1032 were being used on the 96 Kirkby service. While maroon Merseybus liveried Atlantean 1301 was having a run round the block for another trip out, as the WYPTE Foden was being used on the 11:42 93 Industrial estate service. After catching up with Craig and indulging in a spot of lunch, I then joined to fellow Flickr members Barry and Alan for some shots of buses leaving Charleywood Road. After taking some shots of visiting SELNEC Society buses 5001 GBU1V the first MCW Metrobus in the GMPTE fleet and open top Park Royal bodied Atlantean 7077, in company with a Warrington Midi Lines Carlyle bodied Dennis Dart and Chesterfield 124 the Roe bodied Daimler Fleetline, in the car park next door to Pat's Café.
Above is the preserved former Stagecoach Volvo B10BLE Wrights Renown 21116, it was launched at 12:30 along with Merseybus Volvo B10B Wrights 6592, 248 a St. Helens/Merseyside PTE Marshall bodied AEC Swift, Merseyside PTE 1039 an MCW bodied Leyland Panther, which I have not seen 1039 since the 2005 Trans-Lancs Heaton Park Rally and finally the WMPTE Foden/NC 6300. After the launch 6592 and 21116 were used on a special run to Kirkby to celebrate their maiden voyages in preservation. However upon return 21116 had developed a fault and was taken off the road, which was a shame, hopefully the problem can be fixed and 21116 will on the road again soon.
St' Helens/Merseyside PTE 248 was called into service on the 14:30 departure on the 90 Prescot service, the bus is seen above exiting Charleywood Road, with a good load of passengers. During the afternoon the WYPTE Foden 7250 did a couple more 93 estate circulars, along with Merseybus Leyland Titan 2122, Volvo Olympian 317 and Merseyside PTE Atlantean 1301. While GMPTE MCW Metrobus 5001, Merseybus/MTL North 0238, Isle Coaches N600ABC, Merseybus 6592 and MTTs Liverpool/MPTE Panther 1053 were used on the 96 Kirkby or 544 Liverpool service.
The NBC poppy red liveried vehicles Ribble 1397 and Northern General 3501 was both taken for a jaunt around the block and paused twice for a side by side photo shoot, which looked really nice in the pleasant sunshine.
By now it was after 16:00 and the Northern General MCW Metrobus was going to make her way home back to the North East. the Ribble Atlantean stayed a little longer. Your author likes to move around the area and finds the first junction with the petrol station a good place to photograph the departing buses. Here I was joined by fellow KBMT member Chris and later another gentleman. As the buses passed some on service while others like Warrington 71 and 218, National Express DAZ3294, Leyland National WHH556S, Birkenhead 10, Crosville KG150, DVL435 and DVG521, St. Helens Titan 54, WMPTE 2989 MCW Metrobus MKII, both Stagecoach ADL MMC vehicles and show sponsors People's Bus BMC Condor S80BUS. All were now departing the show as MPTE 248, RM40, NTL North 0317 and Merseybus 0238 ran on the final journeys of the day. After most of the visiting buses had departed your author returned to his car, before setting off back home to Yorkshire on what was a very warm and pleasant evening to drive. I have to say that the 5th annual NWVRT open was a real hit and everyone enjoyed it, a credit to all the NWVRT members and staff who make this event possible, well done to you all.
The Keighley Bus Museum launched its first depot open day with a celebration of the first rear engine Leyland double deck chassis the Atlantean. It was the first of four special open days/events to be held by the museum in 2016.
The initial Atlantean arrived for display at the 1956 Commercial Motor Show held at Earl's Court, London. Leyland in partnership with Metro-Cammell produced the integral 281ATC, which drew interest from the trade and industry press. Most were considering the position of the engine, which in this model was transversely set across the extreme rear of the chassis, with a roof mounted exhaust which remained unique to this Atlantean. 281ATC was used extensively by operators and Leyland to gain experience of the Atlantean in service, which in the end concluded that the integral construction was to weak. With this Leyland reverted to the tried and tested separate chassis and bodywork formula, which was the best way forward.
In 1953 Leyland built one Low Floor Double Decker (LFDD) with conventional Saunders-Roe trolleybus style bodywork, with a rear mounted 0.350 turbo charged engine, STF90. This bus was directly followed in 1954 by another LFDD with Metro-Cammell bodywork, XTC684, again with the same 0.350 engine. Both these vehicles were sold after extensive research by Leyland had finished, to a Scottish based company Lowland Motors during 1957. However when Lowland was acquired by the Scottish Bus Group, both the LFDD's were purchased by Buckmaster of Leighton Buzzard in 1958, STF90 passed to Strowger of Manchester, but was scrapped in 1963. The fate of XTC684 was one which led to preservation, today this unique vehicle resides at the North West Road Transport Museum in St. Helens undergoing major restoration.
Into production PDR1/1 1958-1971
Towards the end of 1958 four prototype Atlanteans were built and ready for service three with Metro-Cammell-Weymann bodies for J. James of Ammanford and Maidstone and District, these two with low height 73 seat bodies. Wallasey number 1 was a normal height 78 seat bodied vehicle, finally Glasgow number 1 which had an Alexander of Falkirk 78 seat body. Both these vehicles are preserved and are in running order at the time of writing. Initial orders for the Atlantean arrived from several British Electric Traction (BET) companies around the UK, with some municipal and independent operators also purchasing the Atlantean. By 1962 there were around some 800 Atlanteans in service in the UK, but Leyland was now faced with a direct rival from Daimler, the Fleetline chassis with a drop centre rear axle and the trusted Gardner 6LXB engine. It was this formula which would see the Daimler out sell the Leyland during the 1960's.
Most of the early style of Atlantean bodies were similar to the Ribble example illustrated above, but this would change during the 1960's, with fibre-glass mouldings and lighter aluminium frames being produced. Northern Counties of Wigan introduced engine fairings, giving a smoother rear end profile, while Alexander brought out rounded roof domes with wrap round windscreens, both these methods were copied by other manufactures.
Liverpool Corporation worked with MCW to produce a more attractive peaked dome bodywork, which was also purchased by Bury and Bolton Corporations, Liverpool then favoured the peak Alexander style of bodywork for future Atlantean deliveries. Ralph Bennett, who was manager of Bolton Corporation, assisted East Lancashire to build a more stylish body to suit the livery of the fleet. East Lancashire would later standardize its bodywork, but include more bespoke ideas according to operator requirements. Alexander were constructing the rounded roof dome bodies for both Edinburgh and Glasgow corporations, also built the same style for Newcastle Corporation aswell. Park Royal introduced peaked domes upon its very pleasantly appointed Atlantean bodies, for Sheffield and Portsmouth Corporations. While it used the rather plainer style of body for the London Transport order of 50 Atlanteans during the 1960's. Park Royal also worked with Ralph Bennett, who had moved to Manchester Corporation, to produce the 'Mancunian' style. Charles. H. Roe built variations of most themes for the Atlanteans across the years, with buses for Leeds Corporation. However Roe worked with manager Thomas Lord to produce the very stylish 'vee-shaped' windscreen bodies on the 33" Atlanteans with dual doors. However it was Nottingham Corporation which had the most unique style of Atlantean bodies for its fleets, with examples constructed by East Lancashire and Northern Counties.
The first production Atlanteans were PDR1/1 with the original style of bodywork, which was different form the conventional style front engine half cab vehicles. it took operators time to adjust to the Atlantean. The next real change to the Atlantean happened during the 1960's with a small increase of length to the chassis, at the request of Liverpool Corporation. This allowed the introduction of the now familiar back to back seats over the rear wheel arches, this saw the Atlantean code change to PDR1A/1 which saw improvements to the gearbox and engine, with some operators using the 0.680 option as well as the standard 0.600 engine. From 1968-1971 the chassis length was increased to ten metres/33 foot to allow for 'One Man Operation' (OMO) or as it is now know One Person Operation (OPO). This was seen as an effort by operators to simply reduce operating costs and to improve the salaries of the drivers. The final batch of PDR Atlanteans were PDR1A/1sp, these were delivered to London County and Maidstone & District. These were in essence the improved Atlantean chassis with new AN68 engine cowls, the 0.680 engine as standard and improvements to the chassis and gearbox options.
The Atlantean AN68/1R 1972-1984
The 'Proven One' (Leyland quote) which became the Atlantean AN68 chassis arrived in the nick of time for Leyland, as the Daimler Fleetline was almost ahead in sales. But this improved Atlantean chassis with the more powerful 0.680 engine fitted as standard, was to become the most popular chassis in most UK fleets. This is because of two major factors which changed the landscape of the UK bus fleets. The creation of the Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) from the 1968 'Transport Act' formulated by the late Barbara Castle, who was Labour's Minister of Transport. Whom saw larger areas combined to form better transport links for the public, which in turn would see investment in newer vehicles. four of the new PTEs arrived in 1969, with a fifth making an appearance in 1970 and two more new PTEs created in 1974, because of local government re-organisation forming larger Metropolitan County Councils. The second was the introduction of the government's 'Bus Grant' scheme which initially saw vehicle with a 25% price reduction, providing the vehicle had power assisted doors, grab rails and driver only ticket machine to speed up boarding times. It was around this time that the National Bus Company (NBC) was formed, taking more traditional Leyland Atlantean customers. But Leyland had fears of losing valuable customers, however the creation of the larger PTEs and NBC was to benefit the Atlantean and Leyland.
The AN68/1R was a basic entry level bus with standard 0.680 engine and 4 or 5 speed Pneumocyclic (air shift) gearbox, however it became clear that Leyland would allow operator preferred gearboxes to be installed. The AN68 would also be given several prefixes, denoting variations in how the gears could be obtained with AN68A-D/1R and also AN68A-D/2R using either semi or fully automatic transmission. This version of the Atlantean had various bodies constructed, but all with 'Bus Grant' scheme features.
The Atlantean in the 1980's
From around the early 1970's Charles. H. Roe, Northern Counties, Park Royal and MCW produced a standard five and a half bay upper deck window style for the Atlantean, as illustrated by persevered former WYPTE 6294. Barrow, Blackpool, Lancaster and Preston Corporations were late in getting in on the Atlantean act. The PTEs were solid Atlantean users until the early 1980's, with West Yorkshire turning to the Leyland Olympian and MCW Metrobus. South Yorkshire PTE turned to the Dennis Dominator and the MCW Metrobus, for its post Atlantean requirements. Manchester and Merseyside stayed with the Atlantean to the end of production in 1984, but Manchester were buying the Leyland Olympian and MCW Metrobus in large batches. Flyde Borough Transport, working in Lancashire on the Flyde coast did register its final Atlantean in October 1984, number 45 B75URN, making this the last UK Atlantean, beating Merseyside PTE 1070 B926KWM which was register in September 1984.
The Atlantean would feature beyond its days as a vital tool of the industry, with the introduction of the '1985 transport Act' or deregulation. This particular endeavor was masterminded by the late Nicolas Ridley, who was the Conservative Minister of Transport at the time of his '1984 White Paper', which indicated that bus operators would run bus services on a commercial basis. By the late 1990's many Atlanteans were withdrawn from fleets, as time expired or beyond economical repair, some companies like Blackpool, First, Ipswich and Preston ran Atlanteans into the early part of the 21 century. By which time the Atlantean had become a preservationist must have.
Atlantean 60th Celebrations April 24th 2016
During 2015 the Keighley Bus Museum Trust (KBMT) events team began exploring the possible avenues for events to be held during 2016, building upon the successful 2015 season. The first open/running day shaped into a celebration of the 60th anniversary of 281ATC, the prototype Atlantean being show at the 1956 commercial Motor Show. Invitations for stall holders and vehicle owners were sent out, with a positive return of interested parties, who were very happy to join the KBMT for the first event. As it turned out 12 stalls were situated within the museum, with Dewsbury Bus Museum providing a stall and two feeder services to the event. KBMT members and the Board all joined in during the weeks and days before the event started. The KBMT provided a Catering van which was prepared and cleaned before the big day, with KBMT members assisting with duties during the, this proved to be a very popular part of the day.
Dewsbury brought over their Roe bodied Leyland Tiger 733 and the ECW bodied Bristol RE 261, no doubt the most popular rear engine saloon. The North West Vehicle Restoration Trust (NWVRT) brought over two Alexander bodied Atlanteans in the shape MPTE liveried 1032 and MTL/Merseybus liveried 1055, both were parked in the Modern Equipment yard. The NWVRT will have their annual open day on June 5th 2016, its well worth a visit if you are going across, you can read up on the 2015 NWVRT event elsewhere in this section. There is also a feature on John Cherry's preserved former West Yorkshire PTE Foden NC, which your author saw for the first time at last years NWVRT, again lower down in this section of the blog. Mark Amis brought across his recently acquired former Oldham 163 Roe bodied PDR Atlantean, which looks very smart in the Oldham livery. Simon Flower brought across his GMPTE Standard with Northern Counties bodywork looking every bit the part in the post deregulation livery with Wigan flashes. The Ribble group brought across their superbly preserved ECW bodied Atlantean 1481, which was used in service during the day of the Atlantean event. The Merseyside Transport Trust (MTT) brought their East Lancashire bodied Leyland Atlantean 1836, again providing a couple of runs during the day. The preserved Trent 571 a Willowbrook bodied Atlantean, which was also present at the KBMT Twilight running, which happens on October 30th 2016. Finally a true blast from the past was preserved former Hull PDR1/1 255 with original styled Roe bodywork, which looked very smart in the Corporation blue and white streamlined livery.
The bus services were dispatched on time by one of the KBMT Board trustees, with KBMT vehicles kicking the services off with preserved Leeds Leyland Titan 212, Leeds Fleetline 131 and WYPTE 6020 and WYRCC 1853, now preserved as Yorkshire Coastliner 421. The Merseyside and Manchester Atlanteans were also used in service, along with a Trent Bristol RE and the Wrights bodied Scania, formerly of First group, which saved some blushes. This bus was used on the mystery tour, it proved so popular that another mystery tour was also dispatched.! Later in the day the former First Leeds Royale and the Scania saloon were seen in tandem working the final service of the day, book looked nice in the late afternoon sun. The stall holders were having a very good day, according to the feed back from them, which was very welcome. The catering van was doing very well and by the end of the day had sold out of all bacon, burgers and only a few sausages were left. The tea and coffee was flowing very nicely indeed, during the day. The positive feed back continue from the visiting groups, with Dewsbury, MTT and NWVRT all full of praise for the way the event was held and how clean and tidy Riverside looked. The visiting public were equally full of praise for the museum and whole general 'buzz' around the whole day was positive all day. In all the KBMT's first rally of the year was a very successful event, it has proved that the KBMT has certainly continued for the highly successful rallies of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Form more information on the KBMT events, news and how to become a member please visit the new look website at www.kbmt.org.uk, also on Facebook and twitter too. Just follow the links on the KBMT website.
The annual spring running day at Dewsbury Bus Museum's Ravensthorpe depot, always kick starts the Yorkshire rally calendar each year. This years event was to really another grand day out, with vintage and veteran vehicle out in service, with the weather to match.
As is the norm for the running day, the feeder services joined the already gathered Dewsbury collection vehicles parked in Havelock Street, Ravensthorpe. Again Bradley McMullan provided a service from Morley using his superbly repainted former Black Prince 577, the Optare Prisma bodied Mercedes-Benz 0350. From the White Rose centre saw the welcome return to the road of the former Yorkshire Rider saloon 8601, a Scania N113CRB with Alexander Strider bodywork. KBMT member Neil brought his latest acquired vehicle to Dewsbury, former United ECW bodied Leyland Olympian 251, from Keighley. Finally two services arrived from the Wakefield Belle Isle depot using former Yorkshire Traction Leyland National 245 and a former Pennine Motors Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopard.
The main service provided by Dewsbury is the 70, which serves Dewsbury South Street and Havelock Street, this time with exactly 100 departures, including the feeder service to other area towards the end of the day. This is the service for budding bus photographers to walk along the route to capture the buses running along the route. There were also tours to the Mill outlet at Batley, home of the Dewsbury 'Summer spectacular' event in August and Charlotte's Ice Cream emporium, with three mystery tours thrown into the mix.!
The museum was open to the public with the usual mix of stalls and light refreshments, which is always very busy during the day, after spending their money the bus near the depot connected people to Dewsbury. The exceptional weather also helped with visitor numbers, as the buses left Havelock Street with reasonable loads, which is always good to see. The Ribble group brought their ECW bodied Leyland Atlantean 1481, John Cherry with NWVRT members brought across his preserved Merseyside PTE Leyland National series one 1000. Followed by the final example of the Leyland National 2, preserved Halton Transport 33 which is based at the NWVRT base in Kirkby, Merseyside. Two preserved former Pennine vehicles were also attending, LN19 the former London Transport B-series National and D15 the last step entrance Dart to serve Embsay on the last day of Pennine operation in May 2014. Preserved Huddersfield Daimler CVG6 with East Lancashire bodywork 472 was another fine example of the regular attendees, as was the former WYRCC now preserved as Blazefield Yorkshire Coastliner 421 a Leyland Olympian with ECW bodywork.
All to soon the day was slowly coming to and end as, the feeder service departed for home, so did the visiting vehicles. Again this allowed for more interesting photographs to be taken along the canal walk or on the main road leading out of Ravensthorpe.
The team at Dewsbury continue to improve this fantastic open/running day, as it was seen with plenty of buses running in service. The only vehicle not to appear on the road was former West Riding Leyland National 2 number 73, which was almost ready but not quite just yet. Hopefully this vehicle will be ready in time for the Summer Spectacular or the Autumn running day, we will have to wait and see folks.
For more information about the Dewsbury Bus Museum please visit their website at www.dewsburybusmuseum.co.uk.
10th Anniversary Peak Park Rally Sunday 21st 2015
The summer months provided some very interesting rally venues, with the now annual Peak Park rally based at the Peak Rail station at Rowsley in Derbyshire, just near Bakewell, Matlock and Chatsworth House.
The day started very early with a trip through Yorkshire and into Derbyshire, as the sun shone for most of the day, allowing for some very interesting views. By the time your author arrived at Rowsley, it was time to get ready and photograph the arriving vehicles. Three Bristol VRs, two Leyland Olympians all preserved from the NBC period, a Willowbrook rebodied Atlantean, an East Lancashire Atlantean, three Barton coaches, Leyland Nationals and various half cab classics with the old Daimler Fleetline from Chesterfield.
Services were plentiful into Bakewell as extra buses were called into service, with many doing a single or multiple trips. This was because there was a special event held at the Bakewell show ground, which saw plenty of traffic in the town. Vehicles also ventured to the fine surroundings of the Chatsworth House and Matlock. Bakewell allows photographs in several areas on the day, mixing in with the First South Yorkshire heritage liveried buses and the Centre Bus Trans Peak buses heading for Manchester and Buxton. An added bonus was the fly past from the Battle of Britain Dakota from the showground in Bakewell, passing the church and round again, a magnificent sight.
Stagecoach Lillyhall depot open day
On Saturday May 23rd the annual Stagecoach North West depot open day arrived at Lillyhill bus depot, once the home to the Leyland bus manufacture.
It was an early start for your author for the trip across into the Cumbrian landscape, via the A1 and the A66 from Scotch Corner. Thankfully this time round the sun was out, which afforded the pleasant countryside views passing along the A66 into Keswick and Carlise, well near Workington to be honest. The former British Leyland site at Lillyhill in Cumbria was the setting for another annual Stagecoach open depot day, with car parking provided by Stagecoach just next to the bus depot, which was very convenient. As well as vintage preserved buses from the local area, vehicles from Stagecoach's modern fleet were also on display which included on of the Manchester ADL E400MMC deckers. The free bus trips allowed visitors to venture towards Whitehaven or Workington, these provided by classic former NBC vehicles and the visiting preserved buses. The Ribble group used their Leyland Tiger with Duple Dominant body to do a few runs as well. Workington also now has the 300 service which was recently upgrade to Stagecoach Gold using ADL E400 bodied Scania N230UD chassis, which look very smart indeed. After a few trips to various places and catching up with a few friends, it was time to leave and return home. Well after a little pause in Keswick to photograph some more stagecoach buses and then a wonder around the Lake district and passing Ambleside and Windermire.
Heath Common bus running day July 12th 2015
Heath Common just outside of Wakefield in West Yorkshire provides some pleasant countryside photography opportunities for the enthusiasts.
The annual bus rally at Heath common has seen many changes over the years, but it still attracts plenty for the budding bus and car enthusiasts alike. This year there were plenty of visiting buses from across Yorkshire with a good showing from the Aire valley Transport Group, and more besides. I joined the rally when it was in full swing as buses departed and arrived back to the common, with decent loadings of punters, all enjoying the sunny afternoon. My personal highlight of the day was seeing the vehicles departing for home, as owners drove them down the long stretch towards the main Wakefield road. Vehicle highlights were the Wallace Arnold 1959 AEC/Plaxton coach, Bradford 82 an East Lancashire bodied AEC, West Riding classic Leyland Tiger coach, which made its rally debut.
East Yorkshire's Big Bus Day September 19th 2015
The now annual Big Bus day returned to the very impressive Hull Streetlife Museum, mixing modern and Vintage vehicles and the visit of a very special World War One vehicle the London 'Battle Bus'
The journey from west to East Yorkshire was via North Yorkshire for your author, who managed to reach the Humber Bridge in just an hour from Harrogate! Those who know how bad Harrogate can get in the morning will know, however one arrive at the Priory Park Park&Ride site in another four minutes. Stagecoach Yorkshire provided a smartly turned out 13 plate ADL E300 in the dedicated Park&Ride blue livery. By 08:40 Hull city centre was reached and then with a small walk the Streetlife Museum was in view and a couple of buses were waiting to go into the museum grounds. EYMS chairman Peter Shipp was around to oversee proceedings before the event opened, which included the newly acquired 794 YX64Voo the former ADL E400MMC demonstrator bus, with 768 repainted into a new livery for the 103/105 routes. The Volvo/Plaxton Poppy Bus was also attending with VE 70th anniversary lettering now applied. The real highlight had to be the London Transport owned London General Omnibus Company B-Type 'Battle Bus', which was used for the 1914-1918 first World War duration. I was lucky to have a look aboard this fine looking bus, and listen to the LTM narrative about this LGOC B-Type. EYMS 202 the Leyland Titan preserved decker joined two modern Plaxton bodied open top Volvo buses on the free bus trip around the city centre of Hull.
The first Shipley/Saltaire running took some planning, with poster designs, programmes, visiting buses, stalls and refreshments all to book. Keighley Bus Museum buses to clean and prepare for service or for display, it was going to be a long day, but worth it..................................
The week before the event the programme was being printed kindly by Transdev in Keighley, who also brought across one of the recently refurbished 662 'The Shuttle' buses. The days before were dominated by members moving and cleaning the buses ready for the off on Sunday morning, this was made a little trickier with a couple of seasonal appointments and several classic cars departing the Riverside depot. As everyone busied themselves around the buses and other duties, two members were sent across to Keighley bus station to collect the printed programmes and place them onto the Bradford Trolleybus. After washing the buses, these were placed in order of being driven out, with the Royale going in first and the trolleybus going in last, to be first out. After a busy day its was all of home and up for the dawn start at the Shipley Glen showground, where the first buses would arrive at around 05:30, with one member staying behind to ensure no-one got up to any mischief.
As Huddersfield 473, Leeds 131, WYPTE/Bradford Corporation H25, Leeds 139, Leeds 574, WYRCC SGL16, along with the two trucks and the recent purchase of SYPTE M18, the field was looking to get busy. Then more vehicles arrived, with WYPTE 8534, First West Yorkshire/Yorkshire Rider 7674, preserved Pennine Dart D15, two Crosville Bristol L's, the Royale, Bournemouth 266, Bradford 410 from the AVTG collection, with Bradford 82 and two fine coaches from Classic Connections, the 1959 Wallace Arnold Plaxton AEC and the Independent Bristol LHS. It was a splendid start as news filtered through that the rally was in full swing, as families gathered to sample the buses visiting Baildon or Saltaire Victoria Road, a place not graced by buses for some considerable time.
Above Leeds 28 a Roe bodied Leyland Tiger dating from 1934 is taken through the reverse movement on Victoria Road in Saltaire, this neat little vehicle performed well, doing quite a few journeys across the day. Meanwhile the Western SMT livered Bristol VRT was taken to the Baildon terminus, then while Leeds 28 was returning to Coach Road, Leeds 131 was setting out for its only trip to Saltaire, Victoria Road. Over the day various vehicles were used on service with Bournemouth 266, Pennine D15, United Counties Bristol KSW, WYPTE 8534, Leeds 574, WYRCC SGL16, A Crosville L and the Royale. There were 22 journeys on each service, giving us 44 trips, it was a gamble for the KBMT, but it payed off for the first event, which included a mystery tour using RM736. The four stall holders were full of praise for the initial event, expressing a return for the event in 2016, which was nice. The families and members of the public were filling up the buses, and all were happy taking a trip on the various vehicles. The Yorkshire Rider liveried modern Volvo B7TL/Gemini was used on a few journeys along the day, with its final trip out in the mid afternoon, to Saltaire.
KBMT members who were in attendance since the early start, were busy taking drivers along the routes, selling the programme and making sure that buses could not blocked in by parked cars on the Salts Grammar School turning circle. The positive feedback was keeping the mood buoyant as members were detailing the bus trips, the displayed vehicles and the buses out on runs, plus selling items on the KBMT stall. The weather held sway until around 16:00 when the Royale was embarking upon a return from Baildon, then the heavens opened!
The guest vehicles and the other displayed buses and trucks were quickly taken off the Shipley Glen field, as the public ran back to there cars, as Stall holders packed up and left the field. Above the Wallace Arnold coach making its way around the turning circle, before heading home. The Aire Valley Transport Group buses were also quickly dispatched back home, with the KBMT vehicles having to wait for the members to go to and fro to Riverside, as buses were taken back to base. By 20:00 the buses were successfully placed back into Riverside, as members then ventured to the Dalesway public house for a well earn drink and a meal.
Credit must go to all our show/event members who stayed with the events team until the close of play so to speak, it was a long day, but worth every minute.
The event will go-ahead next year on July 3rd 2016, with the same format, with a few improvements, which are needed, to ensure a successful day out for the general public.
For many years your author has waited to see this unique vehicle which was added to the West Yorkshire PTE vehicle stock during the 1970's. It remained as a one-off with six other prototype Foden double deckers, then with the annual North West Vehicles Restoration Trusts' (NWVRT) running day approaching, a chance was available to look at this particular Foden NC in more detail...........................................................................................................
The 1970's were to bring more upheaval to the British UK bus industry, with Leyland now purchasing much of the major English based manufacturers under one roof as the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). Leyland was planning to remove its ageing Atlantean chassis along with the inherited Bristol VRT and Daimler Fleetline chassis to bring into production a new chassis. The B-15 unit was to be developed with sophisticated enhancements, with high specification equipment also installed, such as independent air suspension, air brakes, air cooling system, with most of the design geared towards London Transport requirements. Of course the B-15 became the new Leyland Titan TN-series, which without the industrial disputes, could have became the new double decker for Leyland. But with strong customer resistance the Atlantean and VR stayed on Leyland's books until the 1980's. However the Fleetline was revealed to be discontinued by 1978, which led to Dennis of Guilford to design the Dominator chassis, with some assistance from South Yorkshire PTE. The Dennis Dominator stayed around until 1997, when it was replaced by the Arrow a low floor chassis based on the single deck Lance chassis. This would evolve into the now highly successful Dennis Trident II chassis the low floor chassis still in production today.
MCW now based in the West Midlands, who had worked with Leyland in the past, had decided to have a brief friendship with Scania, with two models the Metro Scania saloon and the more popular Metropolitan double decker chassis. Naturally having gained the experience of combining elements together to get the right package, MCW then worked out that using the trusted Gardner 6LXB engine with a Voith gearbox then a new chassis was created the Metrobus. Initially using a similar shaped and styled body to the Metropolitan, the Metrobus caught on not only in London but in the Greater Manchester, West Midlands and Yorkshire, much to Leyland's dismay, as the Titan became solely a London bus, but not for the want of trying.
Foden of Sandbach had being involved in the British bus industry before, but went on to concentrate on the Truck business. As news filtered through that Leyland were going to withdraw the Fleetline chassis from production, Foden began to look into the possibility to produce its own bus chassis. With help from Wigan based Northern Counties, a renowned bus body builder who were building buses for Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire PTEs. The Foden chassis which had a frame around which allowed the bodywork to be joined direct to the frame adding more stability to the bus. Which also allowed one of the seven prototype chassis to have an East Lancashire body, which was delivered to South Yorkshire PTE. There was a valid reason for Northern Counties tying in with this project, as MCW had found reasonable success with the Metropolitan and then the Metrobus. While Alexander's of Falkirk was involved with the Volvo Alisa B55-10 production.
Greater Manchester PTE (2) West Midlands (1) and Derby City Transport (1) all had normal height bodies, while Potteries Motor Traction (PMT) (1) and West Yorkshire PTE (1) both had low height bodies with the East Lancs bodied Foden was full height. By 1976 both Foden and Northern Counties unveiled the new Foden NC with a drop centre rear axle which allowed the low height bodywork, with the rear mounted Gardner 6LXB engine with Allison 5 speed automatic gearbox.
West Yorkshire PTE acquired there example of the Foden NC during March 1977 as 7250 TUB250R, the bus soon appeared at the official opening of the Bradford Interchange in the same month. The bus was part of a display of new PTE vehicles along side the Volvo Alisa, MCW Metropolitans and Leyland Atlanteans. 7250 was to find itself being used as a training and evaluation vehicle for the most of 1977, until October of that year, when the bus entered service. 7250 was based in the Kirklees district of the PTE and was initially used on the 43 Huddersfield to Halifax via Elland service, jointly operated by both Calderdale and Kirklees districts.
Above the lower saloon seating arrangement is illustrated, showing the early PTE cloth pattern and the uncluttered lower deck, with bench seating across the wheel arches. The Northern Counties body has kept well over the years and looks fresh, the luggage area is underneath the conductors locker and staircase. The upper deck seating has the brown leatherette style seating cloth and is set out allowing ample leg room, again this looks fresh, neat and tidy.
From the 1980's the Foden was not seeing much use as a PSV and it was withdrawn in May 1984, pending a view on the bus's future. The non standard Volvo Alisa 3480 (LUG480P) was withdrawn and sold to Derby City Transport during 1981, it could have been the same fate for 7250. But in December 1985 the bus was sold to Green a Weymouth based dealer, staying until July 1988. When Bootle based Aintree Coaches, owner John Cherry purchased 7250 and used it in service in Merseyside. The bus was even used for weekend excursions until the early 1990's, but it was decided to rest 7250 as parts were becoming rarer to source new for the bus. During the following years the bus was seen at selected rallies, but in 2012 the bus made a return to the Wirral Transport Show, now painted into the WYPTE 'roads & pavements' livery, which suits the low height body well.
Some time between October 2012 to early 2015 the Foden was moved to its new home at the NWVRT base in Kirkby, Liverpool. Here 7250 is joined the other remaining Foden West Midlands PTE 6300 ROC300R, which after many years of being preserved could soon see the light of day and the open road. WMPTE 6300 needs some new brakes and then the MOT test before a repaint into the blue & cream West Midlands livery, which will look very smart, along side similar liveried WMPTE Fleetlines & MCW Metrobuses.
What is the Foden NC like as a passenger, well with neatly arranged interior the bus is pleasant and airy, with plenty of chrome grab rails and good traditional bus seats. Inside the bus the engine noise is reasonable, but the Gardner engine coupled to the Allison gearbox did give of an unusual sound. The ride quality was very smooth, even the modern day speed restriction methods failed to impede the Fodens' progress. The Northern Counties body even though some 28 years of age has stayed in good condition, with very little rattles and other noises. still proving that the much missed Wigan manufacture knew how to make a good bus body. You get the same quality when travelling on a preserved Greater Manchester standard NCME bodied Atlantean or Fleetline. 7250 has the same style of low height body as WYPTE 7001-7005 (MNW1-5P) and 7006-7010 (SUA6-10R) Leyland Fleetlines new in 1976-7.
During the special invited guest run the bus was paused at Kirkby Rail Station, as guests were able to photograph the bus, John Cherry the owner allowed time for others to capture a shot of the Foden out on the street. Before returning to the NWVRT based, were the Foden returned to it restricted hiding place. Overall personally your author feels that if Foden had taken the plunge into the bus industry again this particular vehicle would have been successful. You would imagine the Voith gearbox becoming the standard with the Gardner engine, similar to the MCW Metrobus at the time. However with the prototypes being in service with the selected operators, no orders were forthcoming and so the Foden NC project came quietly to an end by 1978. Northern Counties continued to build GMPTE standards until 1987, then revamped the body design with a couple of changes until the late 1990's. Foden continued forward with its truck business and never returned to the bus industry.
All the Foden NCs which had arrived into service had short lives with the operators during 1977-8, most withdrawn by 1984. With only two remaining examples moving to the NWVRT base, its hoped that both 7250 and 6300 will be out and about for next years NWVRT running & open day.
A Big thank you the both John Cherry and the NWVRT volunteer who allowed your author to grab some out public view shots of the Foden. With thanks to John for allowing KBMT members the opportunity to sample the Foden NC as a passenger.
The North West Vehicle Restoration Trust hold an annual event show casing some of the preserved vehicles in the North West, along side visiting buses from around the country. The 2015 event was as ever busy and with three vehicles been unveiled after lunch, this years show was promising to be big.
For your author, it was an early start on Sunday May 31st 2015, by 07:00 it was of to fuel up the car, venture to Leeds and then head on to the M621, M62 and finally the A580 to go and enjoy my second NWVRT open day. My first visit to this particular rally was in 2013, missing out on the 2014 event, I was going to enjoy this years event. There were some interesting facebook postings which included the rarely seen West Yorkshire PTE 7250 Foden NC, I will be posting another blog about that bus aswell.
Upon arrival at the breezy Kirkby NWVRT depot, with car parked it was time catch up with visiting vehicles and fellow photographers as the near 40 plus buses arrived during the morning. With five buses coming from the Merseyside Transport trust, with Atlanteans 1162, L835, Bristol RE 2025, AEC Regents A36 & A267. SELNEC preservation Society brought the Northern Counties MCW Metrobus 5320, as the Telford Bus group brought Daimler Fleetline 2236 with Park Royal bodywork. The KBMT brought across the recently officially donated former Leeds City Link 5610 (30790) Volvo Olympian with Alexander bodywork. The event was sponsored by Peoples bus a local Liverpool based firm, who also brought a selection of there buses including a Northern Counties bodied Olympian which was part of a batch R registered buses new to MTL North, with an East Lancs bodied Olympian just fresh from repaint into the post 1986 North Western livery.
With free bus journeys starting from around 10:00 the buses were getting fuller by the minute, with Plaxton bodied Volvo B6 7227 making its way to Kirkby train station, then followed by a trip to Liverpool Lime Street on 1847 one of the Willowbrook bodied Leyland Atlanteans, this one had coach seats when refurbished by Merseybus. Halton 33 the final production Leyland National 2 was on hand to run a few morning trips to Prescot via Knowsley Village, as Birkenhead number 10 mixed in a few trips to Kirkby rail station during the morning too. Preserved Scania saloon 5309 made a feeder service from Liverpool Lime Street and another run later in the morning. Former Merseyside PTE 0062 the Alexander bodied MCW Metrobus was also out doing a few morning runs on the Kirkby Circular service and a run into Liverpool. The buses were very busy, even the stalls inside the NWVRT were keeping the visiting enthusiasts out of the cold, the Café just down the road 'Pat's Cafe' seemed to be doing a roaring trade with folk going in and out.
Above is the newly restored Volvo Olympian with Northern Counties Palatine II bodywork, it was new to MTL North as part of a batch of 22 buses, new to Liverpool. As part of a new brand 'The Millennium Fleet' all new in June 1998, the first new buses since 1989 in fact in Liverpool, other similar Volvo Olympians arrived in the Wirral division in 1997. The bus was restored with help from Peoples Bus and various members of the NWVRT, which all helped with 0317 looking resplendent in the original MTL North livery. For me the real finishing touch has was the original branding on the side of the bus, top marks for that one.
Also unveiled so to speak were former Reading Buses MCW Metrobus now Fareway travel bus 3186 and Southport 7656 a Marshall Capital bodied Dennis Dart. Then these were joined by a Northern Counties bodied Dennis Dart in CMT livery and a Crosville Leyland National SNL816, which is owned by John Cherry who gave his MPTE National 1000 a run on the 96 Kirkby Station service.
As the day moved on so the weather improved, as the sun shone to allow some more local photographs to be taken. After all the excitement of the unveiling of the newly restored buses then came the moment which seemed to draw a lot of attention the arrival of WYPTE 7250, which had been hiding all day down a restricted access area. NWVRT members and invited guests were allowed on the Foden, which looked in good condition, even with a couple bits and pieces which needed doing in the vehicle before the day and the one trip out. For this trip 7250 was driven to Kirkby Railway Station for a quick photo stop and some additional shots. The Foden arrived back at NWVRT again with plenty of clicking cameras, no sooner had the Foden being put back then another Merseybus livered vehicle was taken into service. Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympian number 261, which performed a few local runs in service. The two Marshall Capital Dennis Darts were also on hand to complete some additional trips, 7656 (V656DVU) restored into Southport livery and 7660 (V660DVU) which was making its preservation debut in as withdrawn condition in Arriva livery.
Towards then end of the various vehicles were seen running around the Kirkby Estate as some groups and private visiting vehicles headed home, and others were given a trip round to warm up before departure. All in all another well placed together event, with some interesting vehicles being used in service, plenty of stalls with a good and varied selection visiting buses on the day.
The annual Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust Running day arrived on Sunday May 24th 2015, amid some gloomy skies then the sun popped out. With some fine vehicles on display near the Midland Hotel, Morecambe and other static buses around the Market area car parks. The RVPT used a selection of their vehicles with other visiting buses invited to go on some runs during the day.
As with previous running days, the main area for getting buses was the Winter Gardens stop on the main Morecambe seafront, for either Carnforth or Heysham village. For the first bus to Heysham was the Weymann bodied Leyland Leopard PSU3/A 811 ARN811C at 10:40, while across the road Bristol RESL6L/ECW 338 NCK338J was getting ready to depart for Carnforth at 10:45. 811 replaced the former Stagecoach Ribble 2186 Leyland Olympian/Alexander which was used as part of the display of buses, near the Midland Hotel. Which also saw two standard Stagecoach ADL double and Single deck buses, along with Ribble liveried 18156 a 2004 Dennis trident with Alexander ALX400 body. Harrington bodied Leyland leopard 1036 was joined by 1052 a Duple coach bodied Leyland Leopard, both former Ribble vehicles. These were joined by a Midland Red Plaxton coach bodied Leyland Leopard, in full NBC dual purpose livery.
The next bus to arrive at Heysham village was the Leyland National 2 831 DBV831W, smartly painted in the standard National Bus Company poppy red and white relief livery. The National was the standard saloon used by the NBC from 1972, a project with Leyland which saw some five years of development and the ultimate demise of the much fabled Bristol RE. Ribble took to the National well purchasing all the model variations including the light weight short B series National. Ribble 338 would be the next bus to visit Heysham, with a short ride back into Morecambe then forward to Carnforth. Then back to Morecambe on 2101 ( Leyland Olympian ONLXB/ECW) the first of the many Leyland Olympians Ribble would purchase in the early 1980's. This Olympian performed very well along the winding country roads and eventually into the very packed road on the Morecambe sea front.
As the Olympian then headed back to Carnforth, your author waited in Heysham village for the arrival of Ribble 1481 the ECW bodied Leyland Atlantean AN68A, which I saw at the Rear-Engine 50th celebrations held at the Manchester Museum of Transport in May 2010. 1481 had been rested for a few years but was out in service on the running day. ECW bodied quite a few Atlanteans for Ribble and other NBC companies, as well as examples for Colchester and Ipswich Corporations. Naturally 1481 had a high bridge body normally a style used on many Atlantean chassis, the ECW body was more suited to the standard Bristol VRT chassis. Along with the already mentioned Ribble buses, Fishwick 5 a preserved Leyland Titan PD2/Weymann body, Barrow 104 a late 1983 Northern Counties bodied Atlantean AN68D and preserved Blackpool Corporation MCW bodied Titan PD3 512 were used along with rare Duple bodied Leyland Tiger Ribble 900.
One of real treats of the Morecambe running day is the scope of photography open to all enthusiasts, from sea front shots to lazy village centre shots to rural out of town photos. The RVPT are a friendly bunch of hard working folk, who do have a vested interest in the whole of Ribble's transport history, from group owned vehicles to privately owned Ribble buses, the whole of Ribble's history is kept alive by these people. The programme is well produced, containing several items about Ribble buses and most important is the days timetable, which is adhered to until the very last departure, which is the 18:00 from Carnforth to Morecambe.
So if your around towards then end of May next year why not give the Heysham-Morecambe-Carnforth RVPT running day a go. Its worth a visit just to ride on some proper vintage and veteran vehicles, this was my second visit to this event and I really had a good day.
On Saturday April 30th 2005 the last Atlantean in First Leeds fleet was driven away into preservation, from Bramley Bus depot. Ten years later the bus returned to its final home on May 15th 2015.
Bus preservation does see time fly by very quickly and in the years since the open top Atlantean was purchased, the bus has been given a much needed complete restoration, by owner Kiran Tolson.
The bus 6020 GUG547N (UWT620N) was part of an order initially set up by Leeds City Transport for 40 more Leyland Atlanteans for delivery beyond 1974. Leeds had standardized on the 33' dual door Atlanteans in the 'OMO' livery used on the transport departments buses at the time. However the 1972 local government re-organization act, saw the creation of the Metropolitan County Councils and the newly created West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (PTE). With the new PTE came a return to the standard 31'2" length vehicles, with this in mind the PTE amended the Leeds order, calling for single door bodies with 5.5 window bays in the upper saloon, with 43 seats and 33 seats in the lower saloon. Charles. H. Roe of Cross Gates, Leeds bodied these vehicles using styling cues from the LCT bodywork. The initial batch arrived between August and September 1974 with original registrations UWT601-620N being replaced by out of sequence plates. 6020 did not enter service straight way, the bus was given a few extra fixtures and fittings for the 1974 Commercial Motor Show held at Earl's Court, London.
From October 1974 until March 1975, 6020 started its working life from Sovereign Street depot in Leeds. Transferring to Headingley depot in March 1975 until October 1986, then moving to Bradford Hall Ings depot until February 1991. Above 6020 is seen working in Bradford during 1990, pulling away from the Bridge Street bus stops. During the next couple of months work started on 6020 to be converted into a special tree lopper vehicle, down at the Yorkshire Rider engineering works at Kirkstall Road, which closed in 2011 and has since been demolished. The bus arrived back at Sovereign Street as part of the Driver Training fleet, before finally settling down in Bramley bus depot. As 9339 the bus passed to the Badgerline company in April 1994, then by early 1996 to the newly formed First Bus as part of the Leeds City Link fleet.
Above 9339 is seen being put through her paces as yet another new driver learns the tricks of the trade, while passing through the newly redesigned Leeds City Bus station. The reversed lower deck nearside saloon windows were used for the selling of bus tickets for the Elland Rd football specials on home tie match days. By late 2001 the bus was given its final repaint into the No2 training livery, then in 2003 it gained the five digit First UK fleet number of 90065. This Atlantean was still used as a driver trainer and a ticket sales unit until March 2005, stored at Bramley pending her future.
Luckily the bus was saved by Kiran and it was collected by Kiran, Neil, myself and a lad called Johnaton on April 30th 2005, the top of article picture shows the bus inside Bramley on the day of collection. The bus made its was to York by way of the Keighley Bus Museum and then through to its new home, to join other former West Yorkshire PTE Atlanteans in storage. During the summer months of 2005 the bus was given a rub down and painted into the Yorkshire Rider livery, in time for a quick visit to the 2005 Sheffield Meadow hall vintage vehicle rally. During 2006 the bus visited the Sandtoft and Huddersfield greenhead park bus rallies.
Kiran then became acquainted with a gentlemen called Neil Millington, who is still well know in the bus industry, who has a very small but distinctive collection of classic coaches. It was here that Kiran was able to really start the restoration of 6020/9339 back into her Yorkshire Rider guise from around 2009. With help from several people who worked along side MR. Millington and M&J restoration prop Mr. Holion. The bus was stripped down on the nearside then completely rebuilt using various materials, with new structure poles and replacing damaged panels, the bus was taking shape.
Seen during the initial restoration process, 6020 was given new struts and panels, with still more work to be done. The window pans were rebuilt and moulded to suit the lines of the Roe body, the front end dash was replaced with new lights and indicator clusters. By 2012 the bus had moved again, this time to the Keighley Bus Museum, were the final restoration took place. The bus was placed on some lifting gear so the chassis could be given some attention, it was looking good for a finish into time for the Metro 40 celebrations. But as ever best laid plans and so on, say a delay with the bus getting finished in time. But all was not lost, the bus was then dispatched to Sheffield were friend and fellow preservationist Darren Sentence was able to complete the repaint of 9339 into the Yorkshire Rider livery. Then quickly back to Keighley for the final finishing touches, and a possible return to the road.!
After a few road tests and the MOT and service successfully passed the bus was insured and taxed ready to rock and roll. The first full public outing was the 2015 Spring Dewsbury Bus Museum open day event, the bus was parked up and rested, later returning to Keighley still with some work to be done.
With some parts donated from another Atlantean 9339 was able to undergo another road test and able to be fit to return back to Bramley depot.
With proud owner Kiran at the wheel of 9339, the bus departs Bramley bus depot for the last time. The bus performed very well and even managed a couple of photo stops on the return trip to the Keighley Bus Museum. It is hoped for this Atlantean to be used on a KBMT members outing reliving the 1974 Yorkshire Dales trips as run by LCT and WYPTE.
Keep an eye out on the KBMT website and the two remaining running days planned by the KBMT. If anyone has any photos of 6020/9339/90065 in service during her life as a public service vehicle please get in touch. Then these can be passed on the Kiran to form an archive for the history of this remarkable vehicle.