Southend Corporation Bus Fleet
Albion Lowlander LR7 with Alexander H41/29F bodies, built 1963
Since the purchase of the AEC Bridgemasters in 1959 and 1960, the Leyland group had developed their own lowheight bus in the form of the Lowlander. Unlike the Bridgemaster this had a separate chassis, allowing customers freedom in their choice of bodybuilder. For the first and only time Southend turned to the Falkirk works of Walter Alexander & Co for the front entrance bodies. The complete buses seated 70, numbered 323-32, were delivered in March 1963. Despite carrying Leyland badges on the 'St Helens' style glass fibre front cowls, the chassis were actually built in the Albion factory in Glasgow and this was acknowledged by the small Albion badge on the flap over the radiator filler cap. Many mechanical components, including the 0600 engine, were common with the Leyland Titan. The ten Lowlanders were the last Southend buses to be delivered with a blue painted roof, until an error in the specifications resulted in 21 of the 1971 Fleetlines appearing thus painted, much to the surprise of the Southend management!
In the following photos, the Lowlanders have been repainted in the changed livery introduced in 1964 - gone is the blue roof, the cream area around the windows has been reduced and the black SOUTHEND CORPORATION TRANSPORT fleetname has gone, leaving just the crest and legal lettering to identify the operator - in the later pictures, the crest has moved alongside SOUTHEND TRANSPORT in the cream band, just behind the door. The later pictures also reveal the minimal modifications made in 1969/70 to adapt the buses for OMO. Two PAYE signs were added, the cab bulkhead was modified to include a small box housing the ticket machine and a periscope to enable the driver to view the top deck was added. The Lowlanders were universally detested by the OMO drivers - the cabs had insufficient room to turn round properly, the driving position was too high in comparison with the low floor in the entrance, the steering was heavy and the so called 'synchromesh' gearbox was awkward to say the least!
329 was the first to be withdrawn in 1972 followed by 324 and 330 in 1973.
328 is seen here with Alder Valley in October 1974.
326 seen back in Southend in 1975
The remaining seven were hired to Alder Valley where they operated in the Reading area at various times between April 1974 and early 1975. 331 was the next to be withdrawn in 1975, followed by 323/5/6/7 and 332 in 1976 and finally 328 in 1977.
326 being prepared for the Olympics
326 in Canada years later
326 was shipped to Alberta, Canada and used as team transport during the Commonwealth Games in 1978
Many thanks to Richard Delahoy for his kind permission to include extracts from his book in this page and also to Richard, Brian Pask, John Lidstone, Paul Harrison, Ian Banks and Paul Bateson for supplying some of the pictures.