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Short AEC Reliance buses

The AEC Reliance name was first used in 1928 for a front-engined model which was the first to feature both the new 6-type engine and the famous blue triangle badge. This model was short-lived however, as it was a stop-gap measure prior to the introduction of the Regal a year later.

The first underfloor engined AEC Reliances were produced in 1953 as a medium weight chassis which later evolved into a heavyweight chassis for 36ft long buses and coaches. Here we take a look at some of the earlier short wheelbase models.

All the photographs on this site are from the author's personal collection unless credited otherwise.  If you would like to contribute photographs or news of AEC Reliances in service please email the author at

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269 DKT

A March 1975 view of Maidstone & District 3269 at the old Falaise Road terminus of the Rye-Hastings main road service taken over from East Kent.  The route is now served by East Kent/Hastings & District services 100 and 101 but Falaise Road, adjacent to The Oval which hosts an annual bus rally, hasn't seen a service bus for many a year.

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409 DKK

Another Maidstone & District model, this time a former Harrington coach rebuilt as a bus, at Silverhill depot in 1976 following withdrawal from service.  Note the application of NBC style fleetnames to traditional M&D livery.  The former tram depot at Silverhill is still the Hastings depot for Stagecoach.

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340 NKT

Silver Star of Cesarea ran a brace of these ex M&D models which were dispensed with by SYPTE after taking over Booth and Fisher. 340 NKT arrives at Caernarfon on the busy route from Cesarea in September 1982.  A nice touch was the use of the beading to reinstate the cream "moustache" which was a feature of the M&D pre-NBC livery.  Both of the pair are now preserved by Rother Valley RTS.
Maidstone & District converted their 325 NKT for open-top use at Hastings in 1975, but dispensed with it after only two seasons.  After various moves and a reregistration it found its way to London & Country who employed it on Surrey C.C. Sunday services.  It was seen at Chilworth in August 1993. More pictures of this bus can be found on the Before and After page.
Nearby East Kent was also an avid user of AEC Reliances. TFN 429 and TFN 406 were members of a large batch of Park Royal dual-purpose vehicles, that were used on express services as well as service work when new. Later in life they were downgraded to local service work. They were seen at work in 1975 with 429 pictured in June in traditional EK livery while 406 had been freshly painted into National Bus Company red when pictured the following month. The location is the former depot and bus station in Ashford town centre, now the site of a leisure centre. It had previously been a Maidstone & District depot before transfer to East Kent in 1973, when East Kent's operations at Rye transferred to M&D at the same time. Photos by Phil Cattermole.

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801 HTX

Independent Brewers of Maesteg ran a number of AEC Reliances alongside other types on their high frequency route between Caerau and Maesteg, and on Maesteg local routes. 22 year old Weymann bodied 801 HTX was seen in Maesteg in October 1982. When South Wales took over the Brewers company they applied the Brewers name to all of their eastern operations including routes out of the former National Welsh depot in Bridgend. Now the name had disappeared altogther, replaced by the corporate First brand.
London Transport tried an experimental batch of dual-doorway AEC Reliances. Dual-door bodies on a high floor chassis always seemed to be an uncomfortable combination, and the LT vehicles found new owners after a relatively short period of time. One of them, 497 ALH, was bought by well-known Somerset independent operator Brutonian and was seen at the company's premises in April 1986.
The major operator in the area, Southern National, was sold by the National Bus Company in the same year and became part of the Cawlett Group, which later bought Brutonian and merged it with the SN operation, now a part of First Somerset and Avon.

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200 APB

200 APB was new to Safeguard of Guildford and passed to Safeway Motor Services in 1962. It then passed into preservation and was used by Rexquote Heritage on the summer Taunton Deane Heritage Bus Service, still in its Safeway livery. It was photographed at work in the 1999 season. This bus has now been repurchased by the Newman family, proprietors of Safeguard Coaches, who have restored it for use at special events and rally appearences. More pictures of this bus can be found on the Before and After page.
Photo by John Hammond.

MOR 581 at Farnham  station in September 1995 MOR 581

London & Country also acquired this former Aldershot & District rebodied coach from preservation for use on special Sunday services.  It was seen at Farnham station in August 1995.  Under Arriva these operations were given up and the heritage fleet was dispensed with.   MOR 581 is back in preservation, but Arriva are still supportive by providing garage accommodation.

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PHO 567G

Later short wheelbase Reliances tended towards 33ft. in length rather than 30ft. PHO 567G is another Aldershot & District example, which became Alder Valley 368 following the merger with Thames Valley under NBC control. It was seen at Woking station in August 1980.

Click for full size picture of TYD 122G
TYD 122G

Another 33ft. Reliance is Willowbrook bodied TYD 122G, seen at Wallingford with Oxfordshire independent Chiltern Queens in December 1985.  Chiltern Queens had a long tradition of running AEC Reliances in the South Oxfordshire villages that were once part of Berkshire, but the company ceased trading in 2002 and the routes are now operated by Thames Travel.

Click for full size picture of TYD 122G
TYD 122G

Memory Lane Travel bought TYD 122G and ran it on the Sunday Guildford-Redhill service 32 for a number of years, but sold it on for further preservation after 2002.  Here it is at Guildford in August 2000.
Short wheelbase models became quite uncommon in the 1970s as operators favoured higher capacity single deckers. One company to continue taking them was South Wales Transport, an avid AEC user. Willowbrook bodied number 216 is seen at Port Talbot depot near the end of its career with the company in October 1981.
Another of the South Wales Reliances, older 210 was seen at Neath in December 1981. This is in the National Bus Company dual-purpose livery of half white, half red (or green) for express buses with coach seats in a bus body which could be used on National Express coach services or on service bus work.
Another of Brewers' AEC Reliances, newer Willowbrook bodied DTG 297J was seen at the Brewers depot at Caerau, also in October 1982. Brewers had a depot in both of the main communities they served, Caerau and Maesteg - where the depot was located adjacent to another well-known independent, Llynfi Motors.

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