Topless Beauties
A trip to the seaside was never complete without a trip along the prom on an open top bus. Join me for a trip back in time on an open topper or two.
Southdown took delivery of 100 Utility bodied Guy Arabs in the second world war, Someone had the bright idea of converting a number of them to open top & in doing so created a classic design. Number 412 is seen here opposite Eastbourne Pierl the last of these buses were withdrawn in 1964.
Not the most obvious choice for conversion to open top was NJV995, a 1960 AEC Bridgemaster, with Park Royal H45/27R body in the Grimsby Cleethorpes fleet. Thankfully, this unusual bus is still with us.
Bournemouth 201 was a 1936 Sunbeam MS2, new with a Park Royal H31/25D body. It was converted to open top in 1958. It was unusual for trolleybuses to be seem om ope top form & its a most handsome looking vehicle
More unusual open toppers in the Bournemouth fleet were a number of Bedford OWBs with 32 seat Duple body. This particular bus was converted to OB32F in 1953 & was a most attractive conversion. It lasted five years in this form.
Back to Eastbourne for this view of an Eastbourne Corporation AEC Regent delivered in 1938 with a petrol engine & a NCME H48R body. It had been fitted with a diesel engine after the war & had been converted to open top in 1956. This bus lasted in service into the early 60s.
Seen at Morecambe Battery is KTF594, the well known AEC Regent with Park Royal body. Already 27 years old in this view & giving yeoman service.
Portsmouth Corporation was well known for its elderly open toppers. Number 6 was a 1935 Leyland Titan TD4 delivered with English Electric H50R body. It was rebuilt to open top in 1953. The last of these famous vehicles were withdrawn in 1971.
Sure to please the Southend contingent is this view of 247, one of seven Daimler CWA6 that were purchased from Eastern National in 1955. They had been new to Birmingham & had come via Westcliff On Sea. Six were converted to open top as seen here & the last were withdrawn in 1970.
Whilst still in Southend, we see 246, a 1944 Daimler CWA6 that originated locally. It was acquired by Southend in 1955 & converted to open top in 1956. These Daimlers were a valuable part of the Southend fleet for some 15 years.
An utterly immaculate Southport 54 seen here whilst taking part in our very own Ken Jones ESQs misspent youth. The de-roofing is not the most attractive conversion, but I would jump straight aboard it today.
This delightful scene takes us to Torquay, where we find this Magnificent AEC Regent. Though unidentified, it is one of the 1934 OD registered vehicles, converted to open top in the early 50s. A lovely shot of a lovely bus.
A little further along the coast, we find a more modern Devon General open topper in the shape of Sir Francis Drake. One of the famous Sea Dog class Leyland Atlanteans dating from 1961. These buses were a familiar sight for many years.
This magnificent vehicle is East Kent FFN379. A superb Park Royal bodied Guy Arab, looking immaculate in this view, in its original form, this bus would have looked about as close as you could get to an RT bodied Guy.
A slightly later East Kent open topper, in the shape of one of the achingly beautiful AEC Regent Vs with Park Royal full front body. A number of these were converted to open top in the early 70s & giving many years service.
Maidstone & Districts trio of AEC Regals dating from 1946 are very well known. Their Beadle bodies were converted to open top in 1958 & they ran the Hastings town tour for years on end. This unusual rear aspect shows what handsome buses they were & thankfully they are still with us.
Not the most obvious operator of open toppers, Thames Valley purchased four Bristols from Brighton Hove & District in 1957, & used them on a very scenic route in their area. Other similar vehicles remained in the BH&D fleet until 1964.
Brighton, Hove & District 22 was a 1960 Bristol FS6B with a convertible open top ECW body. The BH&D open top livery was simple & stunning, All over cream with black wheels, bonnet & mudguards, Pure class & it suited these buses admirably. Four of these lasted to post deregulation days & passed to Brighton & Hove, who restored them & kept them for many years.
At one time former BH&D ope toppers seemed to be everywhere. This one is seen with Eastern National. It had been new in 1932 to Thomas Tilling in Brighton, passing to BH&D on its formation. It originally carried a body to the same desgn as a London ST, it passed to Eastern National in 1950.
One of Eastern Nationals famous WNOs. This Bristol KSW5G was new to Westcliff on Sea in 1953, passing to Eastern National shortly afterwards. Converted to open top in the mid 60s. Many of these vehicles still exist.
One of the most well known vehicles on these shores is Southern Vectis 702, The Bristol K5G that has lived on the Isle of Wight for all of its life. This is a more unusual rear view, I have enjoyed many exillarating trips on this very fine bus.
One of Hants & Dorsets, 1939 Bristol K5Gs, seen here in Bournemouth. New with a Brush lowbridge body, it was rebuilt as an open topper in 1053 with this attractive full fronted body, some of these lasted into the 60s, this was not one of them.
This Leyland Titan was new to Stratford Blue in 1963, later passing to Midland Red, thence to the Isle of Man, where it was converted to open top in 1979. Its attractive NCME body still maintains its dignity & it still had a good few more years left in this view.
We find this most attractive vehicle on the lovely Island of Guernsey. This 1951 Leyland Tiger PS1, which was converted to open top as late as 1989 & its a magnificent job. The livery is not the most imaginative, but the bus is still with us.
It was most unusual for a Midland Red vehicle to find gurtue service, so some eyebrows were raised when Obsolete Fleet put a number into service on its London Sightseeing operations. Some were converted to open top &, as can be seen here made a most attractive looking conversion. I recall having a ride on one & marvelling at its performance.
Time for a candy floss, I feel.

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