Part two of our journey around Britain, continues looking at some well remembered independents that we have lost and a few that are still with us. Hold very tight please, Ding Ding.
There were surprisingly few independents operating stage services in the Manchester area. Perhaps the best known was Maynes of Droylsdon, who ran a smartly turned out fleet of, mainly, AEC Regents for many years, including this very smart Regent V dating from 1964.
There was a small clutch of independent operators in the area around Guildford in Surrey. Perhaps the best known of these being Safeguard who ran local services in this fair city with a modern fleet. They took three of these Burlingham bodied AECs in the mid 50s. Happily, both Safeguard & this particular bus are still with us today.
Our first visit to the North East takes us to visit Lockeys of St Helen Auckland. Their small fleet was utterly immaculate & the livery a masterpiece in understatement. Their double deckers included this splendid former Ribble Leyland PD3.
Another independent still with us is Whippet Coaches, one of a number of companies that worked into Cambridge. This Willowbrook bodied Atlantean entered the fleet in 1966 & its number plate would be coveted today. At the time of its delivery, the double deckers in the fleet were mainly second hand Leyland Titans.
Our first visit to Wales takes us to Pembroke Dock and to the fleet of Silcox. They were known for their large fleet of Bristols, that included this L5G, which received this Marshall body in 1961. Silcox was another operator that played the body swapping game and they gave us some memorable vehicles.
Moores of Kelveden were a long established and much respected independent in Essex. They were loyal to Guy, building up quite a fleet of low bridge Arabs, latterly with Massey bodies as shown here. Moores sold out to Eastern National in 1963.
Whilst in the area, we take time to drop in on Osbournes of Tollesbury. Their small fleet included some very shrewd purchases including a pair of former demonstration AEC Bridgemasters, one of which is seen here. Their fleet also included a former demonstrator AEC Renown.
Patons of Renrew were one of many Scottish independents. They had a fleet of mainly secondhand double deckers and always seemed a little down at heel. The fleet included this Strachans bodied Leyland PD2. Patons sold out in 1979.
Birch Brothers ran a network of services and included express services into London. The fleet included double and single deck coaches and local bus services. This splendid Leyland is seen showing off its new Plaxton Derwent body in London.
Bullocks of Cheadle in Cheshire ran some very interesting vehicles over the years, including this fine Foden that had been new in 1950. It received this Plaxton body in 1956 and made a very handsome coach indeed. Whatever happened to these traditional companies?.
Back in Scotland, we visit AA of Ayr, made up of a number of operators & possessing some very interesting vehicles, including this wonderful creation that started life as a Plymouth Utility Guy Arab & in 1960 was given this NCME body and looked like a short Queen Mary. Had to get one in somehow.
Staying in Scotland, we travel to Airdrie & visit the fleet of Baxters. They ran a modern fleet in an attractive blue livery and had a very loyal following, so much that after their sale in 1962, there was uproar when moves were made to change the livery. This, very soon got reversed and Baxters survived as a separate blue fleet for many more years.
Simonds of Botesdale was typical of so many independent operators in that they ran a small, beautifully turned out fleet and provided a top notch local service. This splendid Park Royal bodied Guy Arab had originated with Southdown, it served Simonds until 1977, when, sadly, it went for scrap.
Shergold & White traded as Silver Star & were based at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Much of their work involved forces leave services from nearby military establishments. Their striking Silver & Red livery being seen far and wide. The illuminated Silver Star was another feature. They passed to Wilts & Dorset in 1963.
Another of the famous Doncaster area independents was Rossie Motors of Rossington. They had a small fleet and standardised largely on Daimlers and included this rare CVD6/30 with Roe body. This bus still survives, but is apparently in a dreadful state.
Another legendary North East independent was The Eden of West Auckland. They had an immaculate fleet of red and cream single deckers that were very highly regarded among passengers and other operaters alike. This Leyland is a typical member of the fleet.
Whilst still in the North East, we pop in for a visit to Hunters of Seaton Delavel. Hunters were another that could be relied on to turn out an immaculate vehicle and relied on to always turn up. The livery is shown to perfection here.
One of the comparitavley small number of independents on the South Coast was Dengates of Beckley. They had a number of Bedford saloons over the years including this example seen in Hastings. Dengates were shut down by the ministry in 1967, but the reformed company ran until the mid 70s before passing to Maidstone & District.
Browns Blue of Markfield were another village operater with an enviable reputation. Some of their vehicles may have been on the older side but were still well presented, as seen with this splendid Dennis Lancet. They sold out in 1963.
Lowland Motorways of Glasgow were taken over in 1958. Prior to this, they had an attractive two tone green livery and included some very interesting vehicles. They included this prototype for what was to become the Leyland Atlantean. Looking very much like a trolleybus, the vehicle is seen here.
Another Welsh independent was West Wales of Twycroes, which sounded like a large fleet, but were a small local concern. Their double deckers were mostly Guy Arabs, though they purchased a Guy Wulfrunian which was short lived, like most of its brethren.
Tommy Burrows ran a fleet of red buses in the areas around Leeds. They had a large number of utility buses and rebodied a number of them in the 50s, including this Daimler, showing off its new Burlingham body. Burrows sold out in 1966.
Canhams of Whittlesey was another well respected and long established operater. They worked into Peterborough among others and this fine Crossley with a rare Beccols body is seen in the Bus Station there.
Our last visit to Scotland takes us to Paisley to visit Cunninghams who ran services in and around the local area. They had a number of secondhand Leyland Titans, but this Atlantean had been purchased new. They sold out in 1979.
Yellow Bus Services were another Guildford area operator, who ran mainly Bedfords on local services. They included this OB with unusual Gurney Nutting body. Yellow bus sold out to Aldershot & District two days after this picture was taken.
Our final visit to Doncaster to visit G.H Ennifer, trading as Blue Ensign. The early post war fleet included this magnificent AEC Q double decker, later deckers were AEC Regents. They sold out to South Yorkshire in 1978.