Bus Fleets of the Red & White Group; Vehicle Types

Bus Fleets of the Red & White Group

History, Liveries, Vehicle Types and Fleet Lists

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Vehicle Types

The original vehicles of Red & White Services came from the constituent companies that were amalgamated in 1930. Watts of Lydney became Albion agents in the 1920s and the Watts companies favoured Albions in their fleets. Consequently the majority of the 150 or so vehicles that made up the original fleet were Albions. Other makes included Leylands, Thornycrofts and a few AEC, Bean and Daimlers. New vehicles received in the 1930s were almost exclusively Albions with N.C.M.E bodywork being favoured in the early years. Duple became the most common bodybuilder in the later part of the decade. A large number of vehicles entered the fleet at this time from the numerous operators that were acquired and these gave the fleet a great variety. In 1937 a major rebodying programme was started and a large number of the early vehicles received new Duple bodies. The vehicles were almost exclusively single deck, only three double deckers being purchased before the war.

With wartime restrictions on new vehicles, the companies’ association with Albion was put on hold. After receiving a batch of 12 Albion double deckers in 1942, the only vehicles available to the company were utility Bedford OWB single deckers and utility Guy and Daimler double deckers. A large number of vehicles were loaned from other operators between 1941 and 1945 including 13 Leyland TD2s from Oldham Corporation and 16 London Transport STs. These however were never included in the main fleet.

For a number of years after the war, the situation regarding the supply of new vehicles was difficult and many older second hand vehicles were acquired as a stop gap including 18 Leyland Titans from Newport Corporation and Wigan Corporation in 1947/8. The first large batch of postwar semi-utility specification vehicles were 53 Albions with Pickering bodywork in 1946/7. In the next two or three years large batches of new vehicles arrived, mostly Albions but with bodywork by various concerns including Duple, E.C.W., W.M.I., and Lydney Coachworks, the latter being set up in 1947 under the control of Red & White. 1949 also saw a move away from Albions, Guy and Leyland now being favoured.  In 1950 the first underfloor engined buses arrived, two Leyland Olympics. This was followed by large batches of Leyland Royal Tigers in bus and coach form in 1951. After nationalisation the policy of the new owners was to only purchase Bristol/E.C.W. vehicles, both Bristol and E.C.W being under B.T.C. control. However a further batch of previously ordered Guy Arab/Duple coaches arrived in 1952. Thereafter until the 1970s all new vehicles were Bristol/E.C.W., the first of which were delivered in 1953. Many of the wartime utility Guy double deckers and 1946/47 Albion single deckers were rebodied by Bristol between 1951 and 1953 which gave them a new lease of life until well into the 1960s. In 1965 Leyland took a stake in both Bristol and E.C.W. and when the Leyland National was developed jointly by Leyland and the National Bus Company, Red & White took their first deliveries in 1974.

The Griffin, Ralph and Reliance fleets were absorbed into the main Red & White fleet between 1950-53. Griffin vehicles contributed about 50 vehicles to the fleet, mainly Leylands, single and double deck, with some of the later ones being similar to contemporary Red & White purchases. Almost the same number of vehicles came from Ralph’s but these were mainly A.E.C. and all were single deck. Only a handful of vehicles were in the Reliance fleet.

The Swansea area companies also brought a diverse collection of vehicles to United Welsh, with Eclipse favouring Leyland Lions and Tigers, Bassett Enterprise bringing mostly A.E.C. Regals and Regents, and Gower Vanguard using mainly T.S.Ms and Dennises. Red & White influence was soon felt with about 50 Albions being delivered between 1936-1941. As with the Red & White fleet wartime deliveries were restricted to utility Bedford OWBs and utility Guy Arab double deckers. Post war deliveries mirrored the Red & White fleet with many Albions between 1947-49 followed by Leylands and more Guy double deckers. The acquisition of Richmond of Neath and Swan Motors of Swansea in 1952 swelled the fleet with about 30 more vehicles, the Swan fleet consisting almost entirely of double deckers. The first Bristol/E.C.W. vehicles appeared in 1953 and all new deliveries until 1969 were of this manufacture. About 15 second hand Bristol K5G or K6B double deckers were obtained from various operators in 1960/61 and 22 Bristol L6B or LL6B single deckers were transferred from Thames Valley in 1960-62. 2 more Bristol RELL buses and 4 Bedford VAM70 coaches followed in 1970 just before absorption by South Wales Transport in 1971.

Cheltenham District Traction possessed 27 vehicles when acquired in 1939, 20 of which were double deckers. The vehicles were either A.E.C. or Guy with a solitary Bedford WTB. New and second hand deliveries under Red & White were almost entirely double deckers with the exception of 2 Albion single decks in 1941 which were immediately transferred to the Red & White fleet.

64 vehicles were acquired with Newbury & District in 1944, mostly Dennis and Leyland with a few Thornycroft and Bedford. Only one was acquired new by the old Company apart from some wartime utility Bedfords. Red & White managed to acquire a number of utility Guy Arab double deckers in 1944/45 but other deliveries in the immediate postwar period were mostly second hand acquisitions or transfers from other Red & White companies.  The original Newbury & District vehicles were mostly disposed of by 1947. New deliveries in 1949-50 were mainly A.E.C. Regals.

South Midland Motor Services was acquired in 1945 with 16 coaches, mostly Leylands, all bought new by the company.  New deliveries under Red & White were mostly A.E.C. Regals.

Red & White inherited nearly 50 vehicles when Venture was acquired in 1945, most of which were A.E.C. Regals and Regents with a few older Thornycrofts which were soon disposed of. Further deliveries in the postwar period were mainly A.E.C. Regals and Regents.

© Richard Smith 2012-16. All rights reserved.

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