The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  

 News Page

Issue 271
Monday 4th August 2008

(next update week ending 23rd August 2008)

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute 
any official points of view from the bus companies mentioned,  or indeed any other official body. 
As a news page we reserve the right to make valid comments as seen from an editorial point of view.

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To see the pictures full size just click on the thumbnail

Concessionary Travel, Buses in the Landscape, Running Days and Historical articles.


Concessionary Travel

As mentioned in the Editorial this week, Concessionary Travel seems to be approaching a crises for many councils. Take up is far greater than anticipated and Government costings were and are based on figures compiled before the free scheme was introduced.

I will be starting on Day 4 of my Land's End trip next week which will tell of my return to Stokenchurch, mainly using National Express via Reading.

Following that I have an interesting story to tell of a journey from Leicester to Heather via Coalville when I went to collect a National Express Levante from Salvador Caetano at Heather, Leics.

Buses in the Landscape

Paul Davis sent a really nice picture of a Post Bus at Pfaffikon, Schwyz, Switzerland taken on 07 May 2008.

David Benyon writes "It's probably stretching things a bit to suggest that the attached meets the criteria for 'Buses in the landscape' but feel free to use it if you think it does. It shows two of the many coaches bringing visitors to the Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles in Bavaria."

Picture by David Beynon.

Nigel Peach writes "A candidate for Buses in the Landscape is this view of Wilts and Dorset's DAF DB250/Northern Counties Palatine 2 3149 M18 WAL, climbing up from Branscombe heading towards Swanage on the X50. The route from Bournemouth travels along the coast road via the Sandbanks Ferry."

Picture by Nigel Peach

Bob Stanger writes " This picture was taken whilst on Park and Ride duties at Excel for the London Motor Show  It is Volvo Olympian Ensign Bus 132, formerly Metroline AV 32. It was parked away from the pick up point for passengers whilst the driver took a break. By the time he returned the crowds had shifted to a different part of the car park to get the bus to the show."

It is of course the Excel building in the background - by Bob Stanger.

Rallies & Running Days

Leyland Gathering at Crich 13th July 2008 by Douglas Spencer

Douglas has put together an excellent report on this gathering. It really makes the mouth water. 

I attended the Leyland Gathering on Sunday and thought that I would share with you the EIGHT superb restorations by Mike Sutcliffe – all from the onset of the Motor Bus Industry.

1924 LB5     Reg. XU 7498        Chassis No. 12920

Engine: Leyland S19/5.36hp 4 cylinder Petrol        Gearbox: Leyland 4 speed manual

Body: 1924 Dodson 48-seat Open top D/D bus (Ash frame, aluminium panels)

Chocolate Express was the first and most famous of all the London “Pirate” operators of the 1920s and early 1930s, being legislated off the road in 1933/34 and merged into the London Passenger Transport Board. The body was a standard design for London, where the Police were very backward and thought that windscreens and headlights were very dangerous and banned them for buses: they even didn’t allow roofs on double deckers as they thought that they would be top heavy and fall over! This bus was originally on solid tyres and was converted to pneumatics in 1930. Its derelict remains were found on a farm near Norwich and rescued by Mike in 1984 in the same week as the Todmorden G restoration was finished - just at the right time to start another! It was completed in 1987 and has since won many awards, as have all of Mike’s buses.

Entered by Mr. M.A. Sutcliffe M.B.E. of Totternhoe, Beds.

1908 X2. Straight, 35hp         Reg. LN 7270                  Chassis No. X2/64

Engine: Leyland X.35hp 4 cylinder Petrol     Gearbox: Leyland 4 speed manual

Body: 1906 Tilling 34-seat Open top D/D bus (Ash frame/Mahogany panels)

Now 100 years old, in 2008, this is the oldest surviving British-built motorbus! It originally operated for The London Central Motor Omnibus Co, being fitted with a second hand body ex- Thomas Tilling, the body having originally been fitted to a Milnes-Daimler which had been converted into a mail van. It is the only remaining “First Generation” bus in this Country and is the oldest restored Leyland (other than the lawn-mower). Found in a totally derelict state it was restored to its original condition by Mike Sutcliffe, and his small team of helpers, over a period of four years and was completed in 1996 since when it has won many prizes. The bus is kept in tip-top working condition and is a pleasure to drive, except in bad weather! Mike’s whole collection of eight elderly Leyland buses are here today, having all been brought to Crich by low-loader especially to celebrate this event of Ten Years of The Leyland Society!

Entered by Mr. M.A. Sutcliffe M.B.E. of Totternhoe, Beds. 

1913 S3.30.T    Reg. HE 12   Chassis No. S253/1020

Engine: Leyland S3.30hp 4 cylinder Petrol    Gearbox: Leyland 4 speed manual

Body: 1913 Brush 27-seat S/D “Combination Car” (Ash frame/Timber panelling)

This is the oldest surviving full-sized British single decker bus. It was new to British Electric Traction Co. subsidiary Barnsley & District Electric Traction Co, as an experiment with a fleet of 20 buses, which lead to the replacement of the entire BET tramway network with buses. The body has many tramway features in terms of its design and was finished to a very high standard as will be seen from the interior woodwork and paintwork, complete with the BET “Magnet & Wheel”. After withdrawal from service it became a static caravan and over the years became built into a house. After the purchase of the vehicle had been secured for preservation, the house had to be demolished to allow the bus to be removed. It was then subject to a comprehensive restoration over a four year period and was completed by Mike at his home near Dunstable in 2006.

Entered by Mr. M.A. Sutcliffe M.B.E. of Totternhoe, Beds.

1913 S3.30.T    Reg. LF 9967         Chassis No. S209/954

Engine: Leyland S3.30hp 4 cylinder Petrol    Gearbox: Leyland 4 speed manual

Body: 1913 Birch 36-seat Open top D/D bus (Ash frame/Mahogany panels)

Ordered by The New Central Omnibus Co, London, just prior to their take-over by the LGOC, the bus was diverted to a new operation in Wellingborough run by Ben Richardson. Wellingborough MOC later became United Counties, and when the bus came to the end of its useful life it was sold to the Wellingborough Sewage Works where it became a store shed. It is one of only two surviving “Second Generation” motorbuses outside London, these being built with larger bodies and to a much lighter specification than the earlier buses of the 1903-09 period. Birch Bros, the builders of the body, were famous coachbuilders of the time as well as running their own buses. Restoration of the bus was completed in 1991. It has the “L” head engine introduced by Leyland in 1909 and ahead of its time.

Entered by Mr. M.A. Sutcliffe M.B.E. of Totternhoe, Beds.

1914 S4.36.T3 Reg. CC 1087        Chassis No. S568/1627

Engine: Leyland S4.36hp 4 cylinder Petrol    Gearbox: Leyland 4 speed (Helical gears)

Body: 1914 Leyland 32-seater “Torpedo” Charabanc (Ash frame, aluminium panels)

Delivered to the London & North Western Railway three weeks before War was declared, it was used to open a service in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, to take wealthy mill owners from their mansions to catch the “Club” trains to Manchester. It was then requisitioned by the War Office and used for troop transport. Found in a derelict garage in south London it had to be completely dismantled and each part taken out through a window to rescue the Leyland. The only part that was too big was the chassis frame, so this was cut in half and welded together again afterwards. The word “Char-a-bancs” comes from the French “carriage with benches” and the “Torpedo” design was the “in thing” just before WW 1, when torpedoes were the latest weapon. It is one of only two surviving railway-owned buses, the railway companies having played a major part in the development of bus services. Restored by Mike Sutcliffe 1996 to 2000. 

1921 G   Reg. C 2367          Chassis No. 9961

Engine: Leyland S5.36hp 4 cylinder Petrol    Gearbox: Leyland 4 speed manual

Body: 1921 Phoenix 43-seater Open top DD Bus (Ash frame, ply-backed aluminium panels)

The Model G Leyland chassis was originally called the War Office Class A Subsidy and it is identical to the thousands produced by Leyland Motors during WWI. This bus was delivered new in 1921 to Todmorden Corporation, Yorkshire, with a body built in Todmorden by the Sutcliffe Bros (no immediate relation) who traded as the Phoenix Cabinet & Joinery Co. Mike’s family originate from Todmorden and when the remains were found, totally derelict in a hedge in Essex in 1974, he could not resist the challenge of rescuing it for preservation - it was his first Leyland restoration, completed in 1984, now 24 years ago! The engine, gearbox and rear wheels were found in Percy Volkes’ scrapyard in Sussex where the engine had been submerged in a lake since 1938. When the sump was removed, you couldn’t even see the crankshaft because the engine was full of silt; the pistons had to be removed using two 6-ton hydraulic jacks but, after cleaning all the parts, the only work needed was to grind in the valves - a tribute to Leyland’s magnificent engineering quality!

Entered by Mr. M. A. Sutcliffe M.B.E. of Totternhoe, Beds.

1921       G7 Reg. BD 209     Chassis No. 12301

Engine: Leyland S19/5.36hp 4 cylinder Petrol        Gearbox: Leyland 4 speed manual

Body: 1921 Dodson 32-seat Convertible “Charabus” (Ash frame, aluminium panels)

An exhibit at the Olympia Commercial Motor Show in October 1921, and shown on the Christopher Dodson stand, this was a novel combination of a saloon bus with electric lighting and a charabanc, where the Mahogany-framed side windows are all removable and the canvas roof folds up to a central beam. The idea was a limited success and was soon overtaken by the all-weather coach design in the mid 1920s. It was sold after the Show to the United Counties Omnibus Co. (Ben Richardson again!) and ran in service until 1929. When found in Irthlingborough, Northants, by Mike in 1977, it was a garden shed with a roof built over it which had protected it from the elements. It had previously been used as a static shop and was plumbed in for water, gas and electricity! It was a difficult rescue having to demolish a wall and winch the bus sideways around a brick-built outside loo, but was accomplished without any problems and was exchanged for a caravan!

Entered by Mr. M.A. Sutcliffe M.B.E. of Totternhoe, Beds.

1923 SG7          Reg. DM 2583       Chassis No. 12535

Engine: Leyland E36hp/2c, 36/50hp 4 cylinder Petrol Gearbox: Leyland 4 speed manual

Body: 1923 Leyland 40-seat Saloon S/D bus (Ash frame, aluminium panels)

Brookes Bros (t/a White Rose Motor Buses), Rhyl, North Wales, first started running charabancs in 1912 and the fleet grew to just under 100 buses and coaches. This was one of a number of the large-capacity Leyland SG7s operated by the firm and they were massive vehicles at the time - nearly 30ft long and with 40 seats and dual entrance. The saloon accommodates 39 people in two compartments (smoking and non-smoking) and the 40th person sits next to the driver - no doubt popular with young boys. It became a static caravan in Lancashire and when rescued by Mike it had been set on fire by the farmer the day before and its remains were still smouldering! However, enough survived to be restored and the bus took to the road again in 1996. Note the Police Watch Committee licence plates on the back and full length luggage rack. When compared to modem buses, this is a real “dinosaur”.

Entered by Mr. M.A. Sutcliffe M.B.E. of Totternhoe, Beds.

It beggars belief that one man can assemble such a fantastic selection of vintage buses, all of which are in full working order and authentically restored. We live in wondrous times.

Alton Rally – 20th July - from Steve Warwick

Went to Alton last Sunday with our RE, attached a few pictures for you.

A nice selection of pictures from Steve, sadly none of the RE.

Peterborough Rally by John Marsh

Thought you might like some shots of last weekend's rally in Peterborough. Held at Sacrewell Farm on the A47 near its junction with the A1, there was a free shuttle between the site and Peterborough bus station and free rides to the Nene Valley Railway at Wansford Station.

Steam and a bus

Well it makes a change doesn't it? You see girls are interested in buses!

Good old Stagecoach.

Sponsored by Stagecoach in Peterborough it was a great day out.

KEMBLE EVENT reported by Marcus Lapthorn & Gavin Francis

Having seen the advert for the above event on your web page I decided to visit on Saturday morning 2 August. The advert states: "..........a huge array of buses" and " of the biggest bus & coach gatherings in the UK". 

There were 9 Bedford OB's and only about 20 other buses and coaches which is nothing like what was advertised. Huge array indeed - completely untrue and what a disappointment! Not your fault of course but I would suggest that the advertisers need to cut out the hype for future years.

Gavin Francis took many pictures, a selection of these are shown below.

Some of the very many Bristol buses and coaches present.

Double decks from the Bristol group fleet.

A varied selection of coaches and buses from other areas were present.

Some of the double decks from near and far.

One of the nine Bedfords present,

Steam lorries were also present and a wide variety were on show.


If you have any pictures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at

New group of interest - Classic British Bus

Douglas Spencer writes "Just to let you all know that I have started a new group as follows":

Group home page:

Group email address:

I have done this as I could not find anything that catered for fellow enthusiasts.

This site will not cater for AEC/Maudslay as these are already catered for, visit:

More information to add to the issue of 14th July by Matt Bullock 

Good work as ever, keep it up. 

The Bristol LHS depicted, 6804 VC, has an unusual history. New to the London Borough of Newham in August 1982 as XFP836Y (Chassis no LH-389), it is one of only a dozen or so with Duple coachwork, and a fairly dated design too by 1982.

From Chris Lodington reflecting on the article on United Counties VRs in the last issue

I have been meaning to write to you for a long time, to say basically how much I enjoy and look forward to reading your bus page, which is so very positive and interesting, which of course is what everyone says. I really do appreciate the considerable time and effort that you put into producing it, which can't be easy whilst you are still working. Like you, I am now 60 and the proud holder of a bus pass, and have managed to get some reasonable use out of it, although I am still working so time is a little bit limited.

I am more familiar with the eastern side of the area that you cover. I was born on the Wirral in Cheshire, then my parents moved to Dunstable in 1960 and when I got married in 1971 I moved to Bedford.

In 1981 I moved back to Northwich in Cheshire, where I still live. My sister still lives just outside Dunstable, so I still regularly visit the area. From that you will understand that my two favourite companies are Crosville and United Counties and I have a huge collection of photos and slides of both companies. One day I hope to be able to digitise them, maybe a job for retirement as it is quite time-consuming.

Incidentally I have been a railwayman since 1964, starting at Luton and currently working for Arriva Trains Wales at Chester.

Going back to the bus page, the article on the UCOC VR's by Gary Seamarks was extremely interesting, and I learned quite a lot of facts about them. He mentions 786 and its re-registering before entering service. It was the last of a batch with CBD-K registrations, but entered service in August 1972 so was re-registered FRP786L. My records show that 783-785 also entered service in the August, but they retained their original registrations.

Going back to my days in Dunstable, we lived at the top of Lancot Hill, a steep climb after leaving the village of Totternhoe and on the 61 route from Aylesbury to Luton, (16 for the first couple of years). Whereas the route now is basically an hourly service, then it was half-hourly between Luton and Edlesborough, Axe and Compass, alternate journeys extending to Aylesbury. The service was worked mainly by LD6B's and KSW6B's. However, this was to change in October 1961 with the arrival of the first FLF6B's, 617-620 (YNV617-620) at Luton. FLF's were the mainstay of the route for many years, until their withdrawal in the mid to late 1970's. Aylesbury depots' input was 624,630 and 631. One of the latter two, I think it was 631, was banned from the route during its last few years as it was considered too sluggish, and seemed to spend most of its time on the 366 route to Halton Camp. No doubt the ban was union instigated. In May 1967 Aylesbury received 730 (LRP730E), and I remember travelling home from work on it on its first day in service, it was certainly superior to its earlier sisters. Also used by Aylesbury depot on the 61 at this time were the 2 FS6B's that were new in March 1966 - 698/699 (GRP698/9D). I considered this batch of vehicles to be the finest ever produced by Bristol/ECW. They also reminded me of Crosville vehicles, with their green plastic seats.

I hope to visit the area once the new Enviros have entered service on the 280, and the Citaros on the 300. No doubt your page will be the first to report their arrival! Incidentally, I have just got August's Buses magazine and there is an article on the Eden Bus station in High Wycombe, but I haven't read it yet.

I will look out for you next time I am down, now that you have had your photo published! Once again, many thanks for all your efforts, it is obvious from all the supporting e-mails that it is well worth it.
Best wishes, Chris Lodington.

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