Great Olympians of our Time #11: Arriva Yorkshire’s N621 KUA

Now enjoying its senior years in leafy Cheshire

N621 KUA Volvo Olympian, Selby depot
N621 KUA seen at Selby Depot at an open day in 2010. Today, she wears the blue and cream of GHA Coaches.

Our 1995 Volvo Olympian was a regular campaigner in Selby up to 2010. She began her working life with Selby and District, a subsidiary company of the Caldaire Group. The Caldaire Group was originally a subsidiary of the West Riding Automobile Company, prior to nationalisation and absorption by the Transport Holding Company in 1967. Twenty years after it returned to private ownership with most of the former Yorkshire Woollen District routes becoming Yorkshire Buses.

Caldaire Holdings was sold to British Bus in 1995, with the Arriva cow horns being foisted on N621 KUA by 1999. She remained at Selby depot till 2010, when she became a ‘pool bus’.

Today, N621 KUA has been shorn of the cow horns, moving to The Dairy County (Cheshire). She is gainfully employed by Vale of Llangollen subsidiary GHA Coaches, and wears a fetching blue and cream livery. A colour scheme which, no less, is reminiscent of Express Dairies’ and Dale Farm’s milk floats.

S.V., 06 August 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #10: SpeedwellBus’ G501 SFT

Probably the last Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympian to have seen regular service in Tameside and Glossop?

Leyland Olympian, G501 SFT, Northern Counties body, SpeedwellBus, Ashton-under-Lyne
Swansong: G501 SFT taking a rest on the lay-by outside Ashton bus station.

Yesterday’s entry focused on an Olympian hitherto operated by the defunct UK North, now in the care of Stott’s of Oldham. Today’s picture is G501 SFT, a former Arriva owned Olympian purchased by another defunct operator. This also explains the link between UK North, SpeedwellBus and Stott’s of Oldham – yesterday’s ex-UK North vehicle and the 343 route – both owned and operated by the latter.

G501 SFT was quite a comfortable vehicle and offered a superior ride to some of the more modern vehicles. I had the joy of boarding her once to Flowery Field railway station and made a point of sitting upstairs on the five minute journey from Chez Vall. She was new to Kentish Bus in 1990 as seen below in her original livery:

Kentish Bus 501 (G501 SFT)
G501 SFT seen in her original livery in November 1990. Photograph by Ian Kirby (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial-NoDerivs License).

After working for Kentish Bus, she moved to London and Country. It was through there she later became part of Arriva’s fleet, hitherto via Drawlane, British Bus and Cowie. She was a regular performer around Crawley and East Grinstead before moving north and seeing continued service for Arriva North West.

By 2010, she joined SpeedwellBus, offering extra capacity on schools services. She was sometimes seen on regular services such as the 343 and the 396. On the 18 January 2012, when SpeedwellBus ceased trading, her last destination was Wigley’s Scrapyard in Barnsley. A sad end to a fine vehicle.

S.V., 05 August 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #4: Greater Manchester Transport ANA 1Y

Setting the standard for subsequent GMT Olympians

Leyland Olympian, ANA 1Y, Greater Manchester Transport
Two years on from NJA 568W, 3001 would set the standard for future Olympians, now sporting Greater Manchester Transport’s 1981 livery.

In 1983, the Leyland Olympian assured its position as Greater Manchester Transport’s second generation standard bus. Looking resplendent in restored condition, this vehicle’s footnote in history is that of being Northern Counties’ 1,250th standard body.

By then, GMT broke the Leyland Olympian’s stranglehold of being a replacement for the Bristol VRT (as seen by most National Bus Company subsidiaries at the time). Prior to 1983, most Olympians were seen in ECW bodywork. Shortly after NCME variants entered the scene, Charles H. Roe would develop another body, marginally different to the Eastern Coach Works style with low height ceiling.

Though more akin to subsequent purchases, there are two features which are non standard. One is the front indicator: the numbers are smaller, and there is no intermediate stop blind (as seen on B65 PJA yesterday). The second non-standard feature is the seat moquette, opting for a vertical red and orange stripe per seat on a brown background. Future purchases would see Olympians applying GMT’s new standard ‘salt and pepper’ moquette, replacing the 1970s orange check.

S.V., 28 July 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #2: Greater Manchester Transport NJA 568W

The first of many for Greater Manchester Transport

1451 Leyland Olympian
The Shape of Things to Come? Almost. Subsequent models ditched the protruding bumper and electronic indicators.

In 1981, Greater Manchester Transport had searched around for a possible second generation GMT standard bus. Delivery delays for the Leyland Titan saw GMT order a much reduced number of Leyland’s integral bus. This was compensated by MCW Metrobuses which arrived between 1980 and 1987. Another Leyland would dominate, and this vehicle would assume the guise as GMT’s Second Generation Standard Bus.

Greater Manchester Transport’s first Olympian could rightfully be considered as a prototype. The electronic indicators and the HELP impact bumper was anathema to GMT standards. The latter feature was discontinued in 1983 when the standard [Olympian] three piece display was employed. The HELP impact bumper would remain in use till 1996.

After seeing continuous service with GMT and its successors, it left Greater Manchester for Milton Keynes in 1996, joining Julian Peddle’s MK Metro operation (where it lost its HELP bumper). With its features restored, it returned to Manchester in 2007 where it is lovingly cared for by the SELNEC Preservation Society. It is also worth noting that the LED display is a dummy feature.

S.V., 28 July 2012.

East of the M60 Advent Calendar: 20 December 2011

20. A Chesterfield Corporation Northern Counties bodied Leyland Panther

Chesterfield Corporation, Leyland Panther (dual door), Northern Counties body, ENU 93H

Structurally, this Leyland Panther could be mistaken for a Northern Counties bodied Bristol RE. That’s almost right as this Chesterfield Corporation is bodied by Northern Counties, and in a similar livery to SHMD’s. The one exception is the exit door.

Bus Route of Christmas Past: Glazebrook – Farnworth. Operated by Lancashire United Transport, this service operated every half hourly between Cadishead and Farnworth with hourly extensions to Hollins Green to Glazebrook. The route by 1973 acted as a replacement for services from Monton Green and Plodder Lane railway stations. There was no Sunday service. Much of the 20 route is covered by the 100 from Warrington and the 67 from Brookhouse, up to Eccles, and the 22 service from there to Bolton.

Bus Route of Christmas Present: Bus Vannin’s rural circular route from Ramsey via Bride and Andreas. Operating every two hours, it co-works with sister 20A which completes the same journey in reverse direction. Three journeys, for the benefit of schoolchildren, take a slight detour via Point of Ayr, the Isle of Man’s most northerly point.

S.V., 20 December 2011

East of the M60 Advent Calendar: 15 December 2011

15. A Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Joint Board Daimler CVG6

Daimler CVG6, VTU 76, Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Transport and Electricity Board

Looking resplendent in SHMD’s last livery is 76, a Daimler CVG6, a Northern Counties bodied centre loading double decker. The vehicle was registered on the 2nd February 1956. This vehicle crashed into a terraced house and emerged with a slight dent needing minor repairs. The terraced house came off worst; it was demolished with this bus outliving it by several years! Continue reading “East of the M60 Advent Calendar: 15 December 2011”

What Would Ralph Bennett Do?

A Mancunian viewpoint on Transport for London’s Routemaster prototype

This morning, I saw on BBCi pictures of the new Routemaster prototype. On initial reaction, I thought it was a quirky little double decker filed under ‘lovely to look at, but will it work?’ I was in two minds as to whether it would be as successful as the first Routemaster built in Southall, or a 21st century equivalent of the Guy Wulfrunian. Continue reading “What Would Ralph Bennett Do?”