Join me on a journey on SCT, as we take a trip from A to Z. Let's see what we find along the way.
A is for Atlantean. When Leyland introduced the Atlantean in 1958, I don't think even they realised what they had created. It could carry 78 seated, was capable of OMO when that became legal in 1966 & had no heavy clutches & gearboxes. OK, not everyone liked them & some resisted as long as they could, but it sounded the death knell for the traditional double decker.
B is for Bartons. One of the best loved & most individual fleets ever, with a mixture of elderly double deckers, modern coaches, a whole load of their own rebuilds & specials. All wrapped up in that wonderful livery. I don't think there was anyone else quite like it.
C is for Crew. We all know a real bus needs a crew of two & whilst the driver certainly gets the bus to its destination, its the conductor that's firmly in charge. Responsible for timekeeping, fare collection, a cheerful word for the punters. The worst problem would be keeping a heavy footed driver under control. These two look a happy pair, though.
D is for Duple. Responsible for some of the most graceful looking coach bodies ever, Duple were, at one time, this countries leading builder of coaches. Sadly by the 70s things started going downhill & they are now just a memory. Thankfully we have glorious coaches like this to remind us of happier times.
E is for Eastbourne. Which in 1903 started the first municipal motorbus operations. Eastbourne Corporation never ran trams or trolleybuses & survived to be able to celebrate its centenary in 2003. Sadly it is now part of Stagecoach and this magnificent livery is no more. Thankfully a number of Eastbourne buses survive.
F is for Fishwicks. The legendary & much respected Fiswicks of Leyland sadly ceased trading only month or so back after serving the people of Lancashire for well over a century. The dignified & classy two tone green buses were a familiar sight & the area will be much poorer for their loss.
G is for Guy. The Guy Arab with Gardner engine is considered by many to be the finest bus ever built. Those that ran them swore by them & hung on to them as long as they could. In fact Lancashire United wanted to keep on buying them but couldn't, but even in the 70s swore that a crew operated Arab was still the most reliable & economical bus in the fleet.
H is for Harrington. Some beautifully built coaches left the works on Old Shoreham Road over the years & in my very humble opinion the Grenadier is the best looking post war British coach. We can only speculate as to what they may have gone on to produce, had they not ceased bodybuilding in 1966. The factory was only pulled down in recent years & is now a PC World, Ah well.....
I is for Ipswich. In 1950 Ipswich became the last municipal operator or any other operator come to that, to introduce motor buses to its fleet. Prior to this they had operated only electric traction. The first motor bus, ADX1 is seen here. The last trolleybuses were ousted in 1963 & Ipswitch went on to become one of the last to have AEC Regents in use in the 80s.
J is for Johannesburg. This style of bonnet assembly was introduced on Guy Arabs being delivered to Johannesburg in South Africa. It was briefly offered to the UK market, but found little favour. This example for Blue Line, a small batch for Chester & a pair for Pontypridd was about it.
K is for King Alfred.. King Alfred Motor Services were as close as you could get to an independent municipal operator, in the historic City of Winchester. Modern buses & a network of services. Staff loyalty was second to none & the company reciprocated that. 100 per cent Conductor operated to the end, this superb company were taken over by Hants & Dorset in 1973.
L is for Ledgards. Samuel Ledgard must be one of, if not, the most revered bus company ever. Sammies blue buses had passenger loyalty that others could only dream of & the reliability was top class. Even today local folk still talk of Sammies in hushed tones. It was a sad day in 1967 when they sold out. Gone but not forgotten.
M is for Mancunian. This is said to be the first double decker built specifically for OMO in urban areas. Say what you will about it, but its big, brash & very, very square. But it is mightily impressive & its livery is a treat. I would be the first in line to ride on this today.
N is for National. I feel almost apologetic for including this, but I think we need to accept its place in omnibus history. Even if that's just to illustrate all that was wrong with the industry back then, noisy, smokey, smelly, I could go on, but they lasted for a long time & some folks love them so they can't be all bad, can they?
O is for OK. The inclusion of OK Motor Services will please our friends in the North East & this bus, one in particular. Another operator fondly remembered & surely one of the best liveries ever. Another company that should have & I feel could have survived
P is for Pennine. The striking Pennine livery is shown here at its best, one of the saddest losses of 2015 was Pennine of Gargrave, who ceased trading after many years service. Another fondly remembered company & who can forget the cameo appearance of one of their vehicles in the Calendar Girls film?
Q is for Queen Mary. Oh not again, I hear you sigh, but these buses remain my favourite & many others like them as well They can't have been all bad as nearly all of them saw further service from Swansea to Saudi Arabia. Many clocking up twenty years service in different parts of the world. 887 here, ended up in Hong Kong & is pictured in the year it was withdrawn.
R is for Renown. The AEC Renown was the last new traditional front engine double deck chassis introduced in the UK. It replaced the ungainly Bridgemaster in 1962. Despite being able to have a choice of bodies, it was not a great success & the final few were delivered in 1967. It was not a bad bus, just introduced too late.
S is for Sunbeam. Sunbeam have made some very fine vehicles over the years & it fell to them to build the last new trolleybuses for the UK. Entering service in Bournemouth in 1962 & scrapped in 1969. A chance missed, you can just imagine this with the rear platform gone & the rear staircase removed & being used OMO, if only.
T is for Thurgood. Thurgood of Ware built a good many bodies including this beauty. They were a fairly small concern with low production figures, but they were well made & are typical of many smaller bodybuilders of the time. They ceased production in 1967.
U is for United. United Autimobile Services were one of the biggest companies within the THC, with its operating area taking up much of the North East & regular express services into Scotland. They also managed to avoid the Leyland National more many years, taking the Bristol LH until 1978. Another company remembered with great affection.
V is for VAL. When Bedford introduced the VAL in 1962, it did cause quite a stir & it remains the only successful twin steer PSV chassis in the UK. It wasn't that bad once you got used to the gearbox & it was immortalised in the original Italian Job film & is a favourite with The Self Preservation Soceity.
W is for Wulfrunian. Or how to have a great idea & muck it up completely. The Wulfrunian was a legendary flop, but could have been a good bus had it been developed properly & its problems sorted out. Volvo proved it could work with the Ailsa in the 70s, I wish the Wulfrunian had been better.
X is for Express. Let me have this one, it was good enough for Ribble. The North of England was criss-crossed by a network of express services, regular services with double & single deck coaches & worked by a number of operators. All prefixed with the letter X to signify Express these were well patronised services & often had more than one duplicate on.
Y is for Yelloways. Yelloways of Rochdale were another company with a great following among enthusiasts & their coaches were a familiar sight in many parts of the country. This is another livery that, on paper, sounds a bit odd, but in practice is utterly magnificent. Another fleet sadly missed.
Z is for Zoo. Whats that got to do with buses I hear you say. I mean the Leyland Zoo not London Zoo, when nearly all Leyland models were named after animals, PSVs included Cub, Lion, Tiger, Cheetah, Lioness, Tibress & Tiger. Goods vehicles included The Bison, Buffalo & Steer. Post-war we got the Leopard & Panther, but the double decker was always the Titan until 1958 when a newcomer came on the scene & takes us back to A.
I don't think I missed any out, tin hat time if I did.