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PFN865, former East Kent Regent V 2LD3RA with double-deck FH40/32F Park Royal body new in 6/59 as part of the only batch of full-fronted buses ordered by the operator registered PFN843-82.
Further orders reverted back to half-cab style, presumably for ease of maintenance and repairs. This bus was based at Thanet and Herne Bay, but after Maidstone & District reported poor financial results for 1971 the NBC rationalised some operations of EK and M&D. In 5/73 PFN865, along with some of the others from the batch, was lent to M&D for service at Chatham and was permanently transferred in 6/74. It was allocated fleetnumber 7865 and continued to wear EK's maroon/cream livery although sister PFN860 was repainted to M&D NBC green/cream.
Later in 1974 PFN865 was transferred to driver training and there is a photo on the web showing that it was converted to open-top format in 1975, and repainted to NBC white with red band and mudguards for Route 69, Thanet Coast Tour. In 1976 work began to convert PFN865 to a towing vehicle, but this was suspended for a time and not completed until 1/79, when it emerged in its present format wearing all yellow with M&D fleetnames. It appears to have been used from Maidstone, Chatham and Borough Green wearing trade plates 780KL as well as its own registration, although a crane was never fitted to its rear.
In 1986 it entered preservation and was repainted to EK maroon/cream, although it did not wear these colours as a towing vehicle. In 1996 it was bought by another preservationist and housed at Nottingham Heritage Centre, Ruddington and then in 2011 bought by two members of the Bristol Vintage Bus Group. In 2016 it was bought by Manchester coach operator Go Goodwins and transported there on a low-loader, but it was surprisingly offered for sale again within a few weeks. A preservationist from Sheffield then bought it and kept it at Rotherham's Aldwarke museum until 6/18, when it was bought by another preservationist in Laughton, East Sussex. Its new owner also has PFN867/8 from the same batch, which remain in original format.
It retains quite a large portion of its lower deck and has seating in place for a few passengers, so it can certainly be described as an interesting tow truck conversion.
Photo taken by Peter Hadfield, Sunday 28 April 2013, Bristol Harbourside
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