TRIVIA: Operators (other than LT) with bespoke vehicle designs

AY1975

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As has been said in this thread on the Leyland Fleetline/DMS at https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/vehicle-history-leyland-fleetline-was-dms-discussion.214021/ London Transport historically tended to believe that London was a special case and as such needed its own bespoke design of bus, whereas operators elsewhere have by and large tended to opt for standard off-the-shelf designs.

Can anyone think of any examples of operators other than LT (or its predecessors or successors) that had (or currently have) either an all or largely bespoke bus fleet or at least one vehicle design that was a bespoke model for that operator?

The most obvious example that I can think of is Nottingham City Transport's Northern Counties bodied Leyland Atlanteans and East Lancashire bodied Volvo B10Ms. These may not have been entirely bespoke designs of vehicle as such but I would say that they had certain features that were unique to NCT such as the front end design and the narrow front entrance.

Likewise, SELNEC/Greater Manchester PTE had a large fleet of Northern Counties bodied Atlanteans built with "Greater Manchester Standard" bodies, although I'm not sure to what extent that counts as a bespoke design for SELNEC/GMPTE as it was based on a standard design.

And what about the Sedans used on the Manchester Piccadilly to Victoria station "Centreline" service in the 1970s and 80s?

According to Wikipedia Walsall Corporation ordered some non-standard short-wheelbase Fleetlines.
 
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TheGrandWazoo

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As has been said in this thread on the Leyland Fleetline/DMS at https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/vehicle-history-leyland-fleetline-was-dms-discussion.214021/ London Transport historically tended to believe that London was a special case and as such needed its own bespoke design of bus, whereas operators elsewhere have by and large tended to opt for standard off-the-shelf designs.

Can anyone think of any examples of operators other than LT (or its predecessors or successors) that had (or currently have) either an all or largely bespoke bus fleet or at least one vehicle design that was a bespoke model for that operator?

The most obvious example that I can think of is Nottingham City Transport's Northern Counties bodied Leyland Atlanteans and East Lancashire bodied Volvo B10Ms. These may not have been entirely bespoke designs of vehicle as such but I would say that they had certain features that were unique to NCT such as the front end design and the narrow front entrance.

Likewise, SELNEC/Greater Manchester PTE had a large fleet of Northern Counties bodied Atlanteans built with "Greater Manchester Standard" bodies, although I'm not sure to what extent that counts as a bespoke design for SELNEC/GMPTE as it was based on a standard design.

And what about the Sedans used on the Manchester Piccadilly to Victoria station "Centreline" service in the 1970s and 80s?

According to Wikipedia Walsall Corporation ordered some non-standard short-wheelbase Fleetlines.
The Seddons weren’t unique to Manchester as Lothian and Cardiff had them.

I think we’ve had a similar thread about unique batches to operators that, almost by definition, make them bespoke.
 

GusB

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St Helens had the more rounded front for Leyland Titans as opposed to the standard Leyland "tin-front". Although other operators had that design, I've often seen it referred to as the "St Helens front".

 

Robertj21a

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The 285 Northern Counties bodied PD3s (Queen Mary's) in the Southdown fleet were - very nearly - unique.
 

Roilshead

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BMMO/Midland Red must be the obvious example - with all their SOS/BMMO home-built stuff. Northern General, with their SE4 and SE6 single deckers. Red & White with its Gloster Gardners, and the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) with its GNR-Gardners.
 

Strathclyder

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The vehicles BMMO/Midland Red built in their own workshops from 1923 at the earilest all the way up to 1970 (the D7s/D9s, S15s/S23s etc) would perhaps be the best candidates for this thread...?

E: @Roilshead beat me to the punch.
 

carlberry

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The Bristol bus manufacturer was established because the Bristol Tramways company was dissatisfied with the motor buses that it had purchased so decided it could do it better itself.
 

mlambeuk

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East Yorkshire buses had buses with specially shaped roofs for use on routes via Beverley North arch.
 

Norton Bridge

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Only a small batch of buses, but the ECW bodied Bristol REs new to North Western and transferred to Crosville that had low roofs for use on the 38 from Warrington to Altrincham. Replace a batch of Bedford VALs I believe, but they were before my time.
 

D6975

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There was a small fleet of REs? that had modified cutaway ends to enable safer loading/unloading on/off the Poole harbour entrance ferry.
 

richw

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There was a small fleet of REs? that had modified cutaway ends to enable safer loading/unloading on/off the Poole harbour entrance ferry.
Likewise western national Torpoint depot had some VRs with the front and rear modified to allow access onto the Torpoint car ferries
 

gka472l

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Liverpool Corporation's 380 Atlanteans with MCW bodies to it's own design (L500-L879), I think Bolton Corporation took a few similar ones too.....
 

TR673

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Although Nottingham's 'standard' double deckers are their most well known bespoke design, many of their later double deckers have had unique features. Probably the most notable are the only East Lancs Pyoneer bodied Volvo Olympians (and a small batch of similar B10Ms) that had BET-style windscreens, instead of the East Lancs standard screen.

Barton Transport also had a habit of building/rebuilding/converting vehicles for their own use, although someone who knows more about them then me can probably elaborate.
 

Busaholic

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Although Nottingham's 'standard' double deckers are their most well known bespoke design, many of their later double deckers have had unique features. Probably the most notable are the only East Lancs Pyoneer bodied Volvo Olympians (and a small batch of similar B10Ms) that had BET-style windscreens, instead of the East Lancs standard screen.

Barton Transport also had a habit of building/rebuilding/converting vehicles for their own use, although someone who knows more about them then me can probably elaborate.
Am I imagining it, or did Nottingham operate the short-lived Dennis Arrow double decker that I only personally remember otherwise with Capital Citybus in London?
 

Statto

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Liverpool Corporation's 380 Atlanteans with MCW bodies to it's own design (L500-L879), I think Bolton Corporation took a few similar ones too.....

Following on from that, although not sure about this but Alexander made a specific body for Merseyside PTEs Atlanteans, which was called Alexander AL [AL stood for Alloy body for Liverpool,] to fit on Atlantean chassis
 

philthetube

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Probably a large number of the open toppers around are bespoke designs, though I suspect that that is not what the op wanted.

Grey Greens Volvo's on the 141 were certainly bespoke.
 

Robertj21a

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Am I imagining it, or did Nottingham operate the short-lived Dennis Arrow double decker that I only personally remember otherwise with Capital Citybus in London?
Yes, they did - as did London & Country I think.
 

Strathclyder

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Grey Greens Volvo's on the 141 were certainly bespoke.
They were rebodied coaches, I beileve. The rear overhang is practically non-existent!


(Linked image from the Kevin Smith Flickr collection)

Am I imagining it, or did Nottingham operate the short-lived Dennis Arrow double decker that I only personally remember otherwise with Capital Citybus in London?
Yes, they did - as did London & Country I think.
In answer to you both.... (linked image from the southlancs Flickr collection)


Nottingham took 4 Northern Counties-bodied Arrows in 1996 (1 arriving in April, 2 in May and the last in June), while London & Country took 10 East Lancs-bodied examples that same year (all arriving in April-May). The remaining examples went to Capital Citybus and a handful of independents, plus two non-PSV examples new as playbuses.
 
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GusB

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Following on from that, although not sure about this but Alexander made a specific body for Merseyside PTEs Atlanteans, which was called Alexander AL [AL stood for Alloy body for Liverpool,] to fit on Atlantean chassis
I don't think that's the case. The AL-type was supplied to other operators. Grampian, Greater Glasgow, Lothian are a few examples. The A prefix did signify "Alloy" as far as I'm aware (they had AY, AYS, AT, AV etc.) but I'm sure that the "L" part of the designation simply referred to the model rather than the operator.
 

86247

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I believe them north Western/ crosville REs were done so they could pass underneath dunham massey Bridge.
 

cnjb8

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Ipswich Buses are the only company to use Optare Tempo Srs
No, Manchester Airport has four. Having used them when they were with TrentBarton, you can see why they were not popular. One of the worst buses I've ever been on!
 

Qwerty133

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The Seddons weren’t unique to Manchester as Lothian and Cardiff had them.

I think we’ve had a similar thread about unique batches to operators that, almost by definition, make them bespoke.
Not really. Bespoke suggests that the operator had at least some say in the design and the bus had non-standard features or parts that were desirable to that operator whereas unique batches may simply be because an off the shelf combination was so bad that only one company ever ordered them.
 

Roilshead

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The Bristol bus manufacturer was established because the Bristol Tramways company was dissatisfied with the motor buses that it had purchased so decided it could do it better itself.

But Bristol sold it's products on the open market, so they weren't unique to that operator. And, now I think of it, certain pre-war BMMO-built SOS classes were sold to other BET/TBAT operators - Northern, PET/PMT. Trent, Western Transport.


St Helens had the more rounded front for Leyland Titans as opposed to the standard Leyland "tin-front". Although other operators had that design, I've often seen it referred to as the "St Helens front".

No, the "St Helens" fibre-glass front replaced the BMMO-inspired "tin-front" as an alternative to the exposed radiator in 1960 - only Edinburgh CT continued to take the tin-front design, but in fibre-glass. And, as you wrote, the St Helens front was supplied to many, many operators, so doesn't come anywhere near meeting the OP . . . much as Guy's "Johannesburg" front wouldn't.

But Liverpool CT took its own design of tin-front on AECs at least, and a modified version (with built-up near-side wing) of AEC's glass fibre front; Glasgow used a modified version of AEC's grille on its glass-fibre fronts; and Oldham CT had its own version of Leyland's tin fronts.


I was going to write that Manchester CT's Mancunians were unique, but then remembered that Salford CT took a batch in "imitation" . . . but then Manchester had a single door batch (which would be unique) and took both Fleetlines and Atlanteans with bodies variously by East Lancs, MCW, Park Royal, and Roe - and with various seating capacities - so the Salford CT batch might themselves be unique (and, therefore, not stop any Manchester batches being unique) if they had a different body/chassis/seating layout to any of Manchester's batches.

My interest in buses - apart from operations - pretty-much ended with the introduction of low-floor designs came in. But if I started at John O'Groats and worked my way down Lands End I could come up with dozens-and-dozens of buses that have been unique to one operator because of some minor/not-so-minor bodywork tweek (Hants & Dorset Bristol LHs [sic] with cut-away panels for Sandbanks ferry) or chassis modification, before we even touch truly unique classes - such as the Bombardier/GAC buses built for CIE, recently discussed on this forum . . .
 

gka472l

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Following on from that, although not sure about this but Alexander made a specific body for Merseyside PTEs Atlanteans, which was called Alexander AL [AL stood for Alloy body for Liverpool,] to fit on Atlantean chassis
Indeed, the 'AL' bodywork on Merseyside seemed to be unique, although other 'AL' variants were broadly similar, the 10 acquired with Southport Corporation were to the more common style. Slightly off topic but the first 60 (1236-1295) were actually a cancelled Midland Red order, and MPTE managed to get their own specification for the bodywork, of which there were eventually 589 examples in the fleet, last one being on a 'B' plate (1070 which is preserved, as is the first, 1236).
 

buses7675

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A lot of buses for Dublin have bespoke designs to allow for a more raked windscreen to the mainland UK equivalent

Certainly the case on ALX400s, Envrio400s and Geminis - even the newly ordered Enviro400Citys that are in Ireland appear to have a deeper windscreen than the normal versions
 

Journeyman

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Northern General were the only non-LT purchasers of Routemasters from new, and they were bespoke in their own way - Leyland engines, front entrances, sliding ventilators, different interiors, and different gearboxes.

LT were desperately short of vehicles and purchased some when Northern General withdrew them, but promptly abandoned attempts to use them in service.
 

Busaholic

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Northern General were the only non-LT purchasers of Routemasters from new, and they were bespoke in their own way - Leyland engines, front entrances, sliding ventilators, different interiors, and different gearboxes.

LT were desperately short of vehicles and purchased some when Northern General withdrew them, but promptly abandoned attempts to use them in service.
You're right about the 12 that LT purchased, but a little later LT operated 4 on their Round London Sightseeing Tour, though these were hired in, I believe, and may have included a couple of the previous rejects.
 

DunsBus

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I don't think that's the case. The AL-type was supplied to other operators. Grampian, Greater Glasgow, Lothian are a few examples. The A prefix did signify "Alloy" as far as I'm aware (they had AY, AYS, AT, AV etc.) but I'm sure that the "L" part of the designation simply referred to the model rather than the operator.
Yes. AL stood for Alloy-framed L-type.
 

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