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  WEB NEWS 39  

In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief look at Tilling Stevens B10As and Family Trees in Haulage


The Tilling Stevens B10As of Western and Southern National - Jo Clarke (Friend 163) learnt to drive in 1951, doing National Service in the Army where he served as a driver in the Royal Corps of Signals at Fayed, Egypt. Back home he obtained a PSV licence with Western National at Plymouth’s Laira garage, passing his test on Bristol K 249. He served as a driver there until 1959, getting familiar with all types of vehicle and worked nearly all the routes from there. His last bus work was as a summer only driver at Torpoint depot in 1961/2 where all the buses at the time were Bristol K6As.

When our family returned from Cornwall to Devonport after the war I often saw three old Western National buses that were quite different to the normal, run-of-the-mill buses. They were based at Torpoint and worked the service to Looe via Crafthole and Whitsands. I had vague recollections of this type of bus in Penzance but as most of my wartime was spent in Lostwithiel, I would be denied spotting these unusual buses until 1945. To me they had an air of mystery about them and it was some while before I discovered that they were Tilling Stevens B10As, all with ‘foreign’ DB registration numbers. Since my formative years they have held a particular fascination for me and my quest to discover more about this batch would occupy a lot of my research time. Furthermore, it wouldn’t be long before these vehicles were pensioned off so spotting them in service was already becoming a rarity. One sight I shall never forget was in Callington with my cousin, John Flanagan. It was in 1949 and coming into the main street sailed a B10A as a duplicate on service 136 Plymouth-Penzance. It came ahead of the service car, a rebodied Leyland Tiger. The Tilling trusted to do this long run was about 21 years old and was probably based at Penzance. It was the last time I saw one in service, and quite a swan song. On 7th February 1931 Tillings assumed control of the National Omnibus & Transport Co Ltd, including its subsidiaries Western and Southern National. George Cardwell, a Tilling appointee, now became a director and he was also on the board of their subsidiary, North Western Road Car Company which, I later discovered, was the original home of these DB registered vehicles. It is my feeling that he could have put forward the idea of transferring several second-hand Tilling Stevens B10As because he knew the reliability of that chassis, operated in large numbers by the North Western company. It can therefore be seen that, in addition to being a cost-saving exercise, the purchase of the B10As by Western and Southern National seemed to make good engineering sense – except in one alarming aspect. In their overhaul prior to going into service they still retained brakes on the rear axle only. It was not until 1946 that a programme of modification took place to give them brakes on both axles, although disposal of the class saw the termination of this before completion.

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An official view of a newly rebodied 29 (DB5285), showing the later style of radiator fitted, the plush upholstery and how the roof folds back in concertina fashion. An interesting point is that coaches were now adopting the ‘flying wheel’ motif but these vehicles were turned out with diminutive lettering, suggesting that bus work could also be expected of them.


The North Western Road Car Company of Stockport were probably the largest purchasers of Tilling Stevens during the late ‘twenties/early ‘thirties. This is their 451 (DB9351), one of eighty similar vehicles purchased in 1930 alone. Although this is not one of the ones that came to Western National, it clearly shows the style of Tilling bodywork that was on some of the ones that worked in the west country prior to rebodying.

  A casualty of the war is 16 (DB5150) seen here looking very sad after the air raid on Plymouth on 21st March 1941. The remains of vehicles and equipment had identity marks chalked on them to support insurance claims. It was duly rebuilt and returned to service before being sold to local showman, S W Northey on 15th February 1946. The racks for stretches and access door for them in the rear panel can be clearly seen.

POINTS OF VIEW Aces Galore - Further to the Pangs of Nostalgia as Bert Looks Back article in WN37, I can offer the following recorded notes to elaborate on the story of Western and Southern National Dennis Ace vehicles.

700/1/5/9/20/3/30/2/5/42/8/9/52 were all still running in the Plymouth area in August 1949. 702/4/7/13/6/21/7/44/51 were all still running in the Penzance area in October 1949.

714/22/5 were all still running at St Austell in October 1949. 730 was at Tavistock in 1950 and sold 1951/2. 749 was also at Tavistock in October 1949 and sold 1950/1 to Majestic Motors, Indian Queens. In August 1953 748 was noted at Tavistock with a ‘Not For Sale’ notice. Vehicle 746 was at Helston in October 1949, sold in 1952 and was later seen derelict in a field at Saltash. 703/20/39/52 were all repaired after the 30th April 1944 air raid on Plymouth depot. 703 was subsequently converted to a lorry by the Plymouth Amateur Rowing Club and was still with them in May 1955. 704 was in use as a caravan at Ruan Minor in August 1955. 706 was broken up at Taunton in 1950/1. 707 was still privately owned in Penzance in August 1954. 708 was working at Minehead in August 1949 and sold 1950/1. 709/10/36 were all sold to Astley Garage, South Milton near Kingsbridge and 710 was in service with them in the summer of 1953. In August 1954 736 was still with them. 728 and 747 both destroyed by enemy action at Laira Bridge, Plymouth on 21st March 1941 and 711 under the same circumstances there on 30th  April 1944. 712 and 720 were sold in 1951 to a Plymouth scrap dealer and seen derelict at Marsh Mills. 713/6/21/51/2 all sold 1950/1. 725/9/32/4/55 all sold 1951/2. 726 was sold to Tolroy Farm, Joppa for potato picking and seen at Redruth Market in August 1955. 727 was seen in private ownership at Penzance in August 1954, painted blue.

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As Brian rightly points out vehicle 770 was indeed converted to a publicity vehicle. A picture taken by garage foreman Charlie Piper at Bideford clearly shows it just after completion and freshly sign-written by Jack Weyman in June 1951. It was sold 16th July 1955 to Hind of Weymouth for scrap.


FAMILY TREES IN HAULAGE No. 1: Bristol Industries Ltd. - The Motor Transport magazine dated 6th December 1947 began a series of reviews into the postwar development of road haulage businesses. It pointed out that, unlike the bus industry where there had been many examples of grouping, road hauliers had not experienced such things on quite the same scale. The first look at this situation focussed on the Bristol area and our chart, redrawn from the original magazine in the archive, shows how 32 companies, both large and small, had succeeded through a series of connections to all become part of the Bristol Industries Group. Bristol Industries were concerned mainly with the storage and manufacture of mineral waters, as well as general haulage. Some of the constituent bodies had familiar names, such as Bristol Haulage company with 180 vehicles, Pioneer Transport Ltd with a fleet of 59 and the 65 vehicles to be found with Henry Russett &

Sons, both of which were Bristol based. Some of the other names on the diagram can also be associated with bus or coach operation, including the 20 vehicles of Royal Blue Motor Coaches of Bristol; F W Baker, Congresbury; Pulsford’s

Haulage of Wiveliscombe and S Hodges of Weston super Mare. Among them can be seen the Oldland Motor Body Builders of Oldland Common that might suggest they supplied some of the bodywork to other constituent parties. At least 538 vehicles are declared in this diagram, all running around 1947. It would be interesting to discover any more information or photographs of these operations.

If you want to read the full story, and see all the pictures, then become a member and  receive the quarterly newsletter.


Blind Buff Man

A Delve into the Past

Just the Ticket - 15

Points of View

A Unique Collection


Restoration of the 1938 BEDFORD / WTB HEAVER C25F – EFJ72.


Would you like to see the full magazine?  If so, please consider becoming a Member and we’ll send current year copies right away.  Alternatively individual back numbers can be purchased at £2 each by request.  Our Shop postal rates apply.


Web News 37

Web News Index

Web News 40


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