||The Plaxton Embassy
body was relatively uncommon, as it soon gave way to the Panorama
design. This one is seen on an AEC Reliance of Brownriggs
of Cumbria, but was new to Cotters of Glasgow. Used for UK
and European tours, it was seen in the rather mundane location
of a car park in Aberdeen in September 1986.
This coach still exists, remaining in Brownriggs livery, and
was for sale by auction in Yorkshire in December 2015.
|Even the allover
National white livery does little to spoil the elegant lines
of the Harrington Grenadier bodywork on Maidstone & District
4156, seen awaiting its next turn of duty at Silverhill (Hastings)
depot in the summer of 1975. With their six speed synchromesh
gearboxes and powerful AH590 engines these 1963 built coaches
could easily match the newly introduced 70 m.p.h. speed limit.
to Barton, the Midlands operator of express bus services which
is now a part of Trent, Harrington Grenadier BVO 9C was seen
with South Buckinghamshire independent Ivins on a works contract
at a High Wycombe industrial estate in January 1986. It is
passing the former UK site of the company that introduced
the artificial sweetener Nutrasweet/Aspartame to the world.
The site was vacated in 2004, but shuttle buses still pass
by regularly on their way to the Wycombe Wanderers football
ground a couple of hundred yards up the road. Sadly AEC Reliances
no longer feature; even in 1986 the appearance of this 21
year old vehicle was a rarity occasioned by the fall of Trafalgar
Travel and consequent subcontracting.
new to Barton, this coach with Plaxton Panorama Elite body
is seen in the livery of North Wales independent Clynnog &
Trefor in September 1982. It is about to depart from
Caernarfon on C&T's bus route to Pwllheli via Trefor village.
Caernarfon is still a colourful place with many routes being
run by small operators with interesting vehicles.
ex Barton coach, this was one of a batch of ten with 60 semi-coach
seats acquired by London Country. These were used mainly for
school services but also appeared on Saturday Greenline extras,
such as the 744 on which RN10 was seen at Brighton Pool Valley
in October 1983. Alongside is Leyland Leopard PL23 on the
former Brighton-Reading service joint with Alder Valley.
Kent had a large coach fleet and even continued traditional
coaching activities under Stagecoach ownership until the end
of 1999. From 1969 Plaxton Panorama Elite bodies were favoured,
including some 12m long examples. Here a standard 6U3ZR model
has arrived at Dover on the run from London in January 1978.
The route now runs as Express Shuttle 020.
1974 East Kent extended the lives of some 12 year old Reliance
chassis by replacing the Park Royal bodies with new Plaxton
ones. They had to keep their original registration numbers,
as shown by 8521 at Ashford depot in September 1980. After
service with East Kent many of these coaches saw further service
in Essex and Norfolk, ensuring that the FN registrations remained
in use long enough to service the current fad for "cherished"
1983/4 East Kent repeated the performance by rebodying Duple
bodied Reliances with new Berkhof bodies. This time the DVLC's
erratic policy on registration of rebodies favoured the operator
and new A registration marks were obtained, albeit from Essex
rather than Kent. 8197 (A197 PPU), originally HFN 28L, was
seen leaving London on a National Express duty in April 1985.
This coach is in still in service, running for Corbetts of
Kent 8033 at Canterbury in March 1984 still with its original
Duple Dominant touring coach bodywork. East Kent switched
allegiance from Plaxton to Duple for coach bodies during the
mid-1970s, this 1973 batch being the first Dominants for East
Dominant bodied TWJ 427L was one of a batch delivered new
to Sheffield United Tours, and was in the ownership of National
Travel East when pictured on a National Express duty in its
home city in April 1982. Following privatisation and deregulation,
NTE changed its name back to SUT and moved into bus operation.
It competed with and was eventually taken over by the former
South Yorks PTE operation, which styled itself Mainline and
is now First South Yorkshire.
number of AEC Reliances passed to South Yorkshire PTE when
they took over the Booth and Fisher business. Plaxton bodied
1004 remained with the PTE longer than most and was seen on
a peak hour journey from Sheffield to its home depot of Halfway
in February 1983. The depot at the inappropriately named Halfway,
which is now the terminus for services of First South Yorkshire,
StagecoachYorkshire and Stagecoach Supertram, was vacated
by First South Yorkshire and sold to TM Travel in 2008.
keen user of AEC Reliances was South Wales, who switched to
Leyland Leopards for their coaching requirements later than
most other National Bus Company group companies and carried
on with Reliances until 1974. The last batch carried the Express
version of the Duple Dominant body with bus type doors required
for the 50% new vehicle purchase grant. In order to qualify
for the grant, vehicles had to spend a certain proportion
of mileage on stage services, so despite being in National
white coaching livery 161 was seen on local service work at
Neath in October 1982.
Reliance of Robinson of Appleby was built with the uncommon
Willowbrook Expressway body, a basic design for service work
and contract duties. It was seen at the Willowbrook factory
prior to delivery to the operator.
Photo by Phil Norris.
Bws Gwynedd era for contracted services in North Wales brought
a number of different operators and vehicle variety onto local
service work, sometimes with different companies working a
route on different days of the week. Jones of Blaenau Ffestiniog
Plaxton Panarama bodied Reliance HPE 200K certainly wouldn't
be considered a suitable vehicle for contracted services these
days, but added variety and comfort to Welsh rural routes
when seen at Dolgellau in October 1987.
Country maintained a small fleet of more luxuriously (for
the time) appointed Plaxton coaches for private hire work.
These were later added to with Plaxton and Duple bodied vehicles
from National Travel South East. One of the original five,
P4 emerges from Reading bus station on a National Express
working in April 1984. Sister P3 is preserved. The old wind
tunnel that was Reading bus station has long since been abandoned
in favour of the station, but is set to return to temporary
use in 2011 during thr station redevelopment.
1978 and 1981 London Country leased 150 Reliances with Plaxton
and Duple Express coach bodies to upgrade Greenline services.
Duple bodied RB66 passes through the village of Weald near
Sevenoaks with a Tunbridge Wells to London service in April
1984. The 706 has now been cut back to Bromley as Arriva Kent
and Sussex 402 and omits Weald village, while the leased coaches
were replaced by Leyland Tigers after five years and were
sold throughout the country with a handful still in use today.
of the last batch of Greenline coaches, and the last major
UK order for AEC chassis, Plaxton bodied former RS146 was
seen working for Buckinghamshire independent Prestwood Travel
at High Wycombe in October 1993. Prestwood Travel had
a history of running former LCBS AECs, having previously run
an SMA class Swift and two RP class Reliances acquired from
Rennies of Dunfermline, before acquiring four RS class Reliances.
Sadly this operator went out of business during 2004.
of the Prestwood Travel Reliances, former Greenline RS111
was seen at the depot near Great Kingshill in April 2003,
in the company of some more modern coaches. The small business
park at Binders Yard is used by a number of local independents
and a local dealer/preservationist, Ward Jones, who also maintains
many of the vehicles using the site.
Sadly, Prestwood Travel ceased operating in 2004 and
their fleet of Reliances were sold mainly for scrap.
Photo by a correspondent.
& Country, the renamed South-Western part of LCBS, reacquired
former RS113 in 1994 for additional school bus duties in Surrey.
Numbered 161, it was seen about to take up a school duty for
subsidiary company Horsham Buses in July 1996. The depot
at Horsham was relocated to Warnham Station and was used by
Arriva Southern Counties until 2009 when the Horsham operations
were sold to Metrobus. The coach passed to Allco of High Wycombe
of the Plaxton Supreme bodied Reliances favoured by many smaller
operators in the mid-1970s is SRY 759R, which was seen on
a shoppers service into Gloucester in August 2001 while owned
by Mike Cainey travel. A few still run for smaller operators,
mainly on school contract duties, but forays on to service
bus work such as this are now a thing of the past. This vehicle
is now preserved by a private owner in Margate.
former Greenline coach, former RS137 had several owners since,
but in early 2003 appeared with Strathtay Scottish subsidiary
Meffans Coaches (part of Traction Group). It was pictured
in their yard in August 2005. A picture of this coach in Greenline
Golden Jubilee livery when new is on the Before
and After page. This coach has now passed into preservation
typical 1970s Plaxton Supreme bodied Reliance UGP 97R is pictured
with Lancashire independent Bradshaws Travel in early 2005,
and remains in service with them today. Photo
by Duane Fryer.
Greenline RS150, the last AEC delivered to the LCBS fleet,
has been returned to service in 2006 by Just
Travel of York. It retains the livery of former owner
Anderson Travel as a tribute to Mick Anderson, a devoted fan
and operator of AECs. Photo by James