SCT'61
Full Front Double Deckers
Like them or not, there were more than a few fully fronted double deckers. This is a look at these interesting buses. There's more than just Queen Marys.
Blackpool's motor bus fleet could be considered eccentric by some. But taking into account the look of the Balloon trams into account, then they make sense. The Burlingham bodies on these Leyland PD2/5s were certainly distinctive.
East Kent took delivery of its first & only fully fronted double deckers in 1958/59, in the shape of 40 AEC Regent Vs with Park Royal bodies. These were most beautiful buses that had long lives & its a great shame that the Regents that followed were so unattractive.
Walsall's fleet was a tad individual to say the least & this Park Royal bodied Guy Arab is no exception. I'm sure it was intended to resemble the trolleybus fleet. It's a very good looking bus, if a little unusual.
Not everyone likes full fronts, but how can anyone dislike this magnificent specimen?. This Leyland Titan TD5 with a Weymann FH48D body of Bournemouth Corporation basks in the sun in its home town. Some of these buses were converted to open top & had long lives.
Unique in the Wolverhampton Corporation fleet was this Burlingham bodied Guy Arab. Looking very much like one of Ribbles PD3s, but not so tidily styled around the windscreens, it is, however a most attractive bus.
Before the Queen Marys came this wonderful creation. 700 was meant to be the first of a fleet of double deck coaches for Southdown & entered service at Eastbourne in 1950. It was a flop & was demoted to bus work after two years. It did survive until 1973, latterly at Portslade works in a semi cut down state.
The White Ladies of Ribble were much more successful & without a doubt must be one of the best looking vehicles ever built. Countless holidaymakers piled aboard these coaches for memorable day trips & holidays. Thankfully we can still travel on one today.
Bolton placed a number of fully fronted Leyland PD2s into service in 1961. They had MCW Orion bodies & managed to look rather dumpy. Having just said that I would be the first in the queue to ride on it today.
In case you ever wondered what a low bridge Queen Mary looks like, this is it. This started life as a Leyland Tiger PS1 and received this NCME body later in life. Barton had a number of such rebuilds in their varied & interesting fleet Its a lovely looking bus.
I was wondering how I could include Southend in this gallery & then remembered that they had operated a small fleet of former Ribble PD3s. They may not have been overly popular with staff, but they looked great in the livery.
Another municipal fleet to purchase full fronts secondhand was Lytham St Annes, who operated this former Blackpool Titan with MCW Orion body. It looks far more attractive than the forward entrance Bolton example & the livery suits the bus very well.
When is a Queen Mary not a Queen Mary?. When its a Daimler CVG6/30. This super bus was built for use in Scotland & survives to this day. This is the only Daimler with such a body & I have to say, the side window arrangement is better looking than the Southdown examples.
Middlesborough took a batch of Dennis Lolines with NCME fully fronted body in 1960. They bore a strong resemblance to the bodies being delivered to Southdown, but were much lower built. This gave them a rather squat appearance. The Teesside livery didn't really help either.
This wonderful creation is from our old friends at Strachans and shows that they could certainly design a good looking body. This Guy Arab for Highland is just glorious. It was long lived & had it managed to survive, would be a great asset today.
After Burlingham, Ribble turned to MCW for the bodies on its Leyland PD3s. These much loved & very stately buses gave yeoman service for many years, the last examples being withdrawn in 1981.
This Roe bodied AEC Regent entered service with Liss & District in 1961. The chassis had been built in 1949 & retained as a test chassis. This was its first & only body & its looks utterly superb. I believe it was Roe's last lowbridge body.
An oddity in the fleet of Silcox, Pembroke Dock, was this 1950 Bristol K6G. It was not bodied until 1952, when it received this secondhand body from a Birmingham trolleybus. It resulted in a most unusual, but very interesting concoction that lasted longer than you might have expected.
Full front, South African style. This Leyland PD3 is in the Port Elizabeth fleet & has a Busaf body. Clearly closely related to the bodies being supplied to Ribble, its a most handsome machine & one can speculate how a Ribble vehicle may have looked with the St Helens style front.
Provincial's Guy Arab rebuilds were legendary, being so comprehensive, they were registered as new vehicles. This 1965 example is actually a 1945 former London Transport utility. It was given this new Reading body & a Deutz air cooled engine along with a new identity. Sadly, once Provincial became part of the NBC, these wonderful creations didn't last very long.
Well, I had to put one of these in. Clearly the most glorious creation ever & everyones favourite... Well maybe not in the North East. Southdown took 285 of their Queen Marys between 1958 & 1967, making them the largest operator of PD3s on these shores. This one is seen on the wall at my old depot in Eastbourne.
The full front that never was. Edinburgh Corporation purchased a fleet of Guy Arab utilities from London Transport to help the Tram replacement scheme. They were given very attractive Duple bodies with this faux full front. The nearside was not glazed & it was actually a half cab. I hope you don't mind its inclusion here.
Now, if I didn't include one of these, I would be in big trouble. East Yorkshire's PD2/12s were just magnificent, suited them perfectly & they were one of the most majestic vehicles ever to take to our roads.
Perhaps the most famous full front double decker, the unique low height Barton 861, the NCME bodied Dennis Loline. At 12ft6in high, still the lowest built double decker. Seen here pretending to be an AEC.
Another variation on the Queen Mary theme is this 27ft AEC Regent V dating from 1964. By the time it was captured on film, it looked decidedly past its best, but a most interesting vehicle, showing what a short Queen Mary would look like.
One of Birch's well known Leyland PS1s with Willowbrook bodies. They may have looked strange to some eyes, but were certainly striking & if one had survived, you would have great difficulty in keeping me off it.
A final trip to Bournemouth shows one of the 1950 Leyland PD2s with Weymann FH48D body. The frontal appearance of these buses was quite severe, but they gave long & loyal service for up to twenty years in some cases.
 
A bevy of full fronts. Glass of water for young Mr Hall please.

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Page last changed Tuesday 2 February 2016