|WEB NEWS 50|
In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief at Railway Bus Services and Fifty Years Ago.
Railway Bus Services - Part 4 – the
deal is done - Shortly before leaving on his trip abroad Sir
John Jarvis dropped a note to Sir Felix Pole confirming that the
mileage accumulated in the DMT area was approximately four million
and that this had been achieved with only 108 vehicles. There was a
gross discrepancy in the way in which the depreciation was being
calculated and, judging from the efficient ratio in the DMT sector,
the GWR would either have to double its provision or that the
National would have to half theirs. This required closer liaison
between the accounting departments of each company and much of
November was taken up reconciling the manner in which the joint
arithmetic should be done. By the time Sir John next wrote to Sir
Felix on 26th November, the only real outstanding query was that
surrounding the way in which assets should be valued. Those of the
National company were about four times greater than the GWR and it
would not be reasonable for the GWR to pay a cash difference for
this because the Stock Exchange attached about 75% premium on assets
and goodwill. It would appear that in his haste Sir John was
‘jumping the gun’ over the management issue because in the next
letter from Sir Felix he strongly disagreed that the National
company should assume this role and that, for the time being, the
GWR should look after their own part of the business. This only
brought sharp reaction from Sir John, reiterating that as proven bus
operators of some years standing, they held the necessary skills.
Perhaps Sir John conveniently forgot that the GWR had been doing the
same thing since 1903, six years before the National was born, but
perhaps in his opinion, they were better at running trains than
Just when it seemed they were on the brink of settling all the negotiations, a last minute hitch arose. Sir John had been sent a clipping from the Western Morning News dated Saturday 1st December in which it stated that the GWR had applied to put 23 motor omnibuses on the road in the Newton Abbot area. Whilst they could not be blamed for trying to recapture lost business, it was of concern that they should do so with road services. Local opinion was that the extra buses would make a serious addition to road traffic and the roads would become far more dangerous as a result! The newspaper had learned of a possible merger of interests between the railway
and local bus company in the establishment of additional bus services and the GWR had recently sought to obtain licences for as many as fourteen omnibuses to run between Newton Abbot and Torquay, and another six between Torquay and Plymouth. Sir John was naturally alarmed at this, for nothing of the sort had been intimated to him in the recent discussions he had been having. He wrote immediately to Sir Felix, reminding him that he would be abroad again on business in three weeks time and would not be back until February, so could he have a meeting with him on the matter, preferably this week!
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Fifty Years Ago - Continuing
the ‘50’ theme we thought it might be interesting to recollect what
was happening in the region fifty years ago. Here is a look at some
of the bus and coach fleets in 1963, a year which witnessed the
first vehicles to enter service at the new length of 36 feet,
considered at the time to be ‘enormous’!
Bristol Omnibus Company
Not surprisingly the first production vehicles to enjoy the increased length went to Bristol, where the RE was developed and built. At the very end of the year the first of ten RELH6Gs with ECW 47-seat coach bodies 2115-2124 (861-870UAE) entered service in cream and red livery. All ten eventually passed to Western National in 1974, by that time in NBC white livery. During the year Bristol Omnibus Company also received another 97 new vehicles consisting of its first 30-seater SUS4As, 300-306 (861-863RAE, 843-846THY) and 45-seater MW5G singledecks 2549-2562 (864-877RAE) and 2564-2587 (879/880RAE, 923/4RAE, 927-938RAE and 940-947RAE). Vehicle 2568 was the first to have air suspension. Simultaneously arriving were 41-seat dual purpose variants 2018-2023 (878RAE, 921/2RAE, 925/6RAE and 939RAE). Turning to double-decks, of which there were 47 fitted mainly with the Bristol BVW engine as opposed to the Gardner 6LX, all were 70-seaters on the FLF chassis as follows: 7074/5 (537/8OHU), 7076-7079 (519-522OHU), 7080-7093 (523- 536OHU), 7094-7107 (539-552OHU), and 7108-7120 (801-813SHW). Among the many vehicles ousted by these deliveries were the last non-Bristols in the fleet, two Bedford OBs 213/5 (MHU55/7) and the experimental LDX, LC5000 (LHY949) new in 1949. At the time some suggestions were made that this vehicle should be retained for posterity, being the first of the low height double-deck with flat floors on both decks. However, it was sold to North of Leeds for scrap.
Hants & Dorset
Thirteen new double-decks arrived in 1963, all being the Bristol FS model with standard ECW 60-seat bodies. Ten of them, 1479-1481 (7679-7681LJ and 1491-1497 (4691-4697RU) had Bristol BVW engines while Gardner 6LX units were fitted to 1488-1490 (4688-4690RU). In April six MW6G 39-seat coaches arrived, 888- 893 (2688-2693RU).
Western / Southern National
A total of 49 new vehicles joined the combined fleets in 1963, all of Bristol chassis and ECW of manufacture. Deliveries began in May and stretched through to December, replacing old stock over the entire region. Almost half the intake comprised FLF double-decks, all for Western National with both Gardner 6LX or Bristol BVW engines. They took fleet numbers 2007–2028 (812-824KDV and 400-408PTA). The only single-decks delivered were three for Southern National, being MW5Gs numbered 2620–2622 (751-753MDV). The remainder comprised ten MW6G coaches 2271-2280 (746/7MDV and 761-768MDV) in Royal Blue identity, and 14 MW6G coaches in Western or Southern National touring coach livery taking numbers 1398–1411 (736-745MDV and 757-760MDV ). Being of the same basic specification the latter were frequently used on weekend duplication for Royal Blue.
Other operators covered in this article include: Wilts & Dorset; Devon General; Greenslades Tours, Exeter Corporation; Plymouth Corporation; Bournemouth Corporation; Swindon Corporation; Bere Regis & District; Hawkey; Shamrock & Rambler & Silver Star.
Travel with Camera
Points of View
Former Western National Bristol SUL4A coach 426 (later 1226) registered 276KTA is seen in Chulmleigh in June 1975, now being worked by the local operator, Turners, on school contracts.
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