East of the M60 Advent Calendar: 22 December 2011

22. A Preston Bus Eastern Coach Works bodied Leyland Olympian

PrestonBus Leyland Olympian ONTL11/2R, ECW body, A33 MRN

Over the last 30 years, the Leyland Olympian has proved to be one of Leyland’s most enduring double decker vehicles. With the prototype originally conceived and built in Bristol (as a replacement for the Bristol VR), independent companies, PTE operators and the National Bus Company modernised their fleet with this vehicle. This example seen above was bodied by Eastern Coach Works in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Besides the ubiquitous ECW bodied examples, Alexander bodied Olympians were for some time Stagecoach’s standard double decker. Greater Manchester Transport’s examples (bodied by Northern Counties, as you would expect) represented their second generation GMT Standard vehicle. GMT’s version outlived GMT and GM Buses itself by means of the Palatine and Palatine II style of body, which was seen in the latterly renamed Volvo Olympians till 1997. Some examples remain in service with First Manchester, primarily from Bury and Queens Road garages.

Bus Route of Christmas Past: Manchester Corporation’s Eccles – Levenshulme route. Starting at the Lloyd Road terminus, Levenshulme, this service took in Stretford and Urmston prior to reaching Eccles. It had a basic frequency of every 20 minutes with a 15 minute frequency during peak hours. In 1974 it was renumbered 262 with a second 22 taking over the 40/42 route, this time extended to Unsworth. Today’s 22, operated by First Manchester, runs every half hour and includes the former Manchester Corporation route in much extended form, with its southerly terminus in Stockport (via Burnage) and northerly terminus in Bolton (via Swinton and Farnworth).

Bus Route of Christmas Present: I could have opted for the Bolton to Stockport service as the soft option. Instead, I have chosen the BRoCPre is Preston’s 22 from the city centre to Royal Preston Hospital. The service runs every 12 minutes on Monday to Saturdays during the daytime, co-working with the 23.

S.V., 22 December 2011