Home Organisation Contact Us Shop Archives Vehicle Collection


Running Day

Whott's New Whott's Happened Become a Member Press Releases Web News Members' Area Links Events & Activities

.......preserving our commercial road transport history for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations..........
  WEB NEWS 43  

In this issue of WHOTT Web News we take a brief at Passion for coaches 4 and Pangs of nostalgia …as Bert looks back.

A Passion for Coaches 4 - Our small boy concludes his childhood reminiscences...

Heading west from Truro we come to Perranporth, now known world-wide as a surfing resort ‘par excellence’. During the 1950s the principal operator in the area was Mitchell’s of Perranporth who were something of an ‘upstart’, having only come on the scene in 1954 with a nineteen year old Bedford WLB that had been new to Safety Coaches of Corfe Castle and had a somewhat chequered career in the interim, going via Southern National and Whitfield of  Goonhavern. Mitchell then purchased the Morris from Taylors of Falmouth to replace the WLB and then doubled his fleet size in 1957 with the purchase of a Bedford OB/Duple (SMY262) from Harper and Kellow of St Agnes. That coach too had been around a bit, having started life in 1948 as the only Bedford OB in the fleet of AEC Regals belonging to Lily Coaches in Edmonton in North London, and then passed to Mrs Harry, another of the Penryn rota operators in 1950, then on to Harper and Kellow in 1953. Mitchell’s really started to expand after they took over Norman Whitfield’s operation in 1958. Included in that transaction was another Bedford OB (MCV311) which was in immaculate condition as was a Commer Q4 (LRL306) with bodywork, as so many of the Cornish registered Commer Qs received, by Myers and Bowman, a small concern based at Distington near Workington in Cumberland. What a fantastic delivery journey to have made in the late 1940s! Later in 1958 Mitchell put into service two second-hand Bedford SBs, one with a Burlingham Seagull body and the other, which was from Robinson’s of Great Harwood, with a Plaxton Venturer body. Mr Mitchell must have been impressed with Robinson’s striking green and black livery, for several later additions, including a massive looking underfloor engined Leyland Royal Tiger, also with a Plaxton body (JOT571) were painted to match. From Truro we shall head west to the Land’s End peninsula, travelling firstly along Western National’s old route 18 to Lanner, the home of Marigold Coaches. In early 1951 they purchased a new Duple bodied Bedford SB 33-seat coach (OCV273) to accompany the Harrington bodied Commer Avenger (MCV653) which I might just have mentioned once or twice in a previous chapter! The interesting thing was that even after delivery of the Bedford, the Commer seemed to still be the preferred choice for the longer private hires with local rugby clubs and the like which ventured up into England. In 1956 Marigold acquired a 1953 Bedford SB (UMU659) again with Duple body, but slightly longer than OCV and seating 35 people. This had come from Taylor’s of Caterham in Surrey, although dealer registered by Arlington. On delivery to Marigold it still had less than 38,000 miles on the clock, an average of only slightly over 12,000 miles a year, and was very much the pampered flagship. I thought I knew most things about Marigold both through the Newton Trewren years and the Harold Stephens years, but recently I came across a photograph taken in Alma Place, Redruth of a Bedford SB with a Brush body obviously lettered for and in Marigold livery and registered PBB954. This coach had not previously appeared on my radar at all and could not have been acquired by Marigold before 1961, but thanks to Andy Ritchings’ extensive records, I now have more information.  Also operating out of Redruth, mainly on the run down the valley to Portreath, was the Silver Queen fleet of Tom Mundy of Camborne, who was not really into private hire or excursions in quite such a big way. Although he always had at least a couple of very tidy Bedford OBs, within his nine or ten vehicle fleet, most of the rest, were either service buses or else had bus seats within a coach shell configuration. One unusual member of the fleet for a short time was a quite elegant looking 1948 Daimler CVD6 half cab (JNC214) that had been delivered new with a Santus body to Sharp’s Motor services of Longsight, Manchester in March 1948 and had been sold to Silver Queen in June 1949. In less than two years it was replaced by an almost new but very heavy looking Churchill bodied Commer Avenger with Dudley County Borough registration. Very noticeably the whole Silver Queen fleet was always kept spotlessly clean and well presented. Meanwhile JNC’s career saw it passing to Teign Cars Limited of Teignmouth, an associated company of Taylor’s (Central Garages) of Exeter, and immediately sent, without entering service, to Durrington to be rebodied by Heaver who had already bodied several similar chassis for the group in 1947. Both Teign Cars and Taylors were taken over by Greenslades in 1954.

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

LAF626 – Newquay Motors – the dated Strachan bodied Tilling Stevens new in 1948. OAF350 – Hawkeys – a 1951 AEC Regal IV with a Harrington body with ‘the bits that jarred visually’ ironed out. MRL764 – Hawkey, Wadebridge – the 1950 Austin CXB with ‘streamlined’ Loadstar bonnet and utility bodywork made in Cornwall by Mashford at Cremyll, who are more readily associated with boat-building.

Pangs of nostalgia …as Bert looks back - By the end of 1945 the centre of Plymouth had taken on a rather forlorn  appearance following the severe destruction inflicted upon it during the war. The largely unremunerative tramway system had virtually gone, with the last remnants running between Old Town Street and Peverell via Mutley. This was to finally close on Saturday 29th September when car 158 made its last journey over this route and Outland Road back to Milehouse. In six years the trams had reduced in number from 27 cars to just four, and within a very short time the overhead wires came down and remaining track ripped up as the business of rebuilding Plymouth’s streets got under way. Public transport that had once largely depended on a tramway infrastructure had now entirely been overtaken by the bus. During the ‘thirties the Corporation had been pursuing a policy of purchasing large batches of buses to replace the tram system so by the outbreak of war the average age profile of its 216 buses was a mere 3.95 years . By comparison the intake of a further 113 new buses during the war had not only accelerated the tram replacement but, by 1945, the age profile of 305 buses had increased to 7.14 years because the government would not allow operators to sell vehicles during hostilities. Whilst deliveries of new buses to operators up and down the country had, during the war, been severely curtailed, Plymouth continued to receive substantial batches of utility bodied vehicles mainly because of its need to transport workers to essential places of employment such as the naval dockyard. The largest group of wartime deliveries consisted of Guy Arab II chassis with Gardner 5LW engines and Roe utility bodywork, plus seven utility bodied Leyland TD7s and a solitary Bristol K5G. Plymouth’s need to transport thousands of ‘yardies’ between the dockyard to residential areas placed an extraordinary demand on the Corporation’s transport department with significant numbers of buses being allocated to MoD contracts alone. In terms of wartime vehicle casualties the Corporation lost 24 buses, plus one tram in service and several others damaged in the depot beyond economical repair.

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

 Weymann bodied Leyland TD5 225 (BDR262) in Union Street, heading west on the Stonehouse side of the railway bridge. New in 1939 and sold in 1953, it was later rebodied as a coach with its new owner in Essex.


Tragic Accident at Beaminster

View of Bristol LHs

Future Activities



GPD310N – Wood Brothers Bristol LHS at Ponsworthy in June 1991, on service 672 from Newton Abbot to Widecombe.



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 42

Web News Index

Web News 44


© Copyright The West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust
Registered in England Company No. 3780463. Registered Charity No. 1079795