READING Buses England UK

READING

Bus Body Builders

Reading Buses

Reading Buses Logo.png
02 Reading_Buses_221_on_Route_17,_Reading_(11528476093)

Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 on route Purple 17 in December 2013
Parent Reading Borough Council
Founded 31 October 1901
Headquarters Reading
Service area Berkshire
Service type Bus services
Routes 92
Destinations Reading
Newbury
Fleet 165 (May 2013)
Fuel type Diesel
Natural Gas
Hybrid
Chief executive Martijn Gilbert
Website www.reading-buses.co.uk

Reading Buses is a bus operator serving the towns of Reading, Newbury and the surrounding area in the county of Berkshire, England. It is owned by Reading Borough Council.

History

Previous Logo

Horse tram era

04 1893 Oxford Road, Reading,

The origins of Reading Transport can be traced back to 1878, when the privately owned Reading Tramways Company (part of the Imperial Tramways Company) was formed. They were initially authorised to construct and operate a horse tram route on an east–west alignment fromOxford Road through Broad Street in the town centre to Cemetery Junction. Significantly, this route formed the core of what became known as themain line of the tram and trolleybus network.

Construction started in January 1879, with the entire line being open by May. A fleet of six single-decked cars were initially used, with 31 horses, providing a 20-minute frequency. The cars operated from a depot on the south side of the Oxford Road, immediately to the east of Reading West railway station. By the 1890s the whole fleet had been replaced by double-decked cars operating at a 10-minute frequency. The company made several proposals to extend the system, add routes and electrify the system. But none of these came to anything, and in 1899 the borough corporation decided to purchase the system.

The purchase deal was completed on 31 October 1901, and the Reading Corporation Tramways came into being. The corporation set out about first extending, and then electrifying the system. The extensions were completed by December 1902, and the last horse cars ran in July of the following year.

Electric tram era

05 1903 Reading Corporation Tramways

Reading Corporation Tramwaysopening ceremony on 22 July 1903

The new electric trams started operating in July 1903. Extensions were constructed to the Wokingham Road and London Road (both from Cemetery Junction), and new routes added to Whitley, Caversham Road, Erleigh Road and Bath Road. The trams operated from a new depot in Mill Lane, a site that was to remain Reading Transport’s main depot until it was demolished to make way for The Oracle shopping mall in 1998.

The electric tram services were originally operated by 30 four-wheeled double decked cars supplied by Dick, Kerr & Co. In 1904, six bogie cars and a water car (used for keeping down the dust on the streets) were added to the fleet, also from Dick, Kerr & Co. No further trams were acquired, and a planned extension from the Caversham Road terminus across Caversham Bridge to Caversham itself was abandoned because of the outbreak of World War I. The war also led to a significant maintenance backlog.

In 1919, Reading Corporation started operating its first motor buses. These ran from Caversham Heights to Tilehurst, running over the tram lines and beyond the tram termini. Because of the state of the track, the Bath Road tram route was abandoned in 1930, followed by the Erleigh Road route in 1932. Eventually it was decided that the tramways should be abandoned and replaced by trolleybuses, operating over extended routes. The last tram ran on the Caversham Road to Whitley route in July 1936, and last car on the main line ran in May 1939.

Trolleybus era

The first trolleybus wiring erected was a training loop on Erleigh Road, which opened in early 1936. This loop was never used in public service, and was subsequently dismantled. Public service commenced on 18 July 1936, on a route replacing the tram route from Caversham Road to Whitley Street. In May 1939, the remaining tram routes from Oxford Road to Wokingham Road and London Road were converted to trolleybus operation, with a short extension from Wokingham Road to the Three Tuns, and a much longer extension from the Oxford Road through the centre of Tilehurst to the Bear Inn. The extended main line from the Three Tuns to the Bear, still exists today as bus route 17, the town’s busiest and most frequent route, and the first to be designated a premier route.

Reading Transport Depot

During World War II a trolleybus branch was constructed from the Oxford Road to Kentwood Hill, enabling trolleybuses to replace motor buses with a consequential saving in precious oil based fuel. In 1949 the Whitley Street line was extended to Whitley Wood and Northumberland Avenue and a short branch was built to Reading General station. Subsequent short extensions took the system to its full extent, with the Kentwood route running to Armour Hill and the Northumberland Avenue line running to the junction with Whitley Wood Road.

By 1965, most UK trolleybus systems had closed, and the manufacturers of the overhead equipment gave notice that they would cease production. At the same time the trolleybuses came in for some bad publicity in the local press because they cost more to operate compared to motor buses and they were inflexible, even though the trolleybuses were profitable (Reading’s motor buses made a loss), faster and less polluting. Reading Corporation decided to abandon the trolleybus system, and the routes were phased out between January 1967 and November 1968.

The UK’s first contra-flow bus lane was instigated along Kings Road, when that road was made one-way in the early 1960s. The trolleybuses continued to operate two-way, as it was considered uneconomic to erect wiring on the new inbound route, London Road. The concept of the contra-flow bus lane was proved successful, and adopted in other places for motor buses.

Expansion and competition

17 1985 Reading Transport offices

Reading Transport offices in 1985 now The Oracle shopping centre

The Transport Act 1980 deregulated long distance bus services. Reading Transport took advantage of this new freedom to start a service from Reading through London to Southend. The service was numbered X1 and was run jointly with Southend Transport. In 1982 the X1 was shortened to run from Reading to Aldgate in East London, under the “Gold Line” brand, and joint operation ceased.

As a result of the legislation that accompanied the deregulation of local bus services in 1986, the operations of Reading Transport were transferred to Reading Transport Ltd, an “arms length” company whose shares were held by Reading Borough Council. Bus deregulation also meant that the local council no longer had any power to regulate the routes and fares of Reading Transport, nor could they prevent other operators from starting competitive services within the borough.

In 1992 Reading Transport acquired the Reading and Newbury operations of BeeLine, one of the privatised successors to the state-owned Alder Valley. These acquisitions led to Reading Transport operating buses in Newbury, and in the rural areas around Reading and Newbury, for the first time. Additionally, BeeLine had operated a Reading to London service under the LondonLink name, and that was merged into the Gold Line service and the resulting service renamed London Line. The Gold Line name was retained for use by Reading Transport’s non-scheduled service business. The London Line service ceased in 2000.

Reading Transport faced competition on Reading urban routes from 1994, when[Reading Mainline, an independent company, started operations with AEC Routemasters acquired from Transport for London. Labour shortages created problems for the competitor, and Reading Transport acquired Reading Mainline in 1998. Reading Transport continued to operate the Routemasters under the Reading Mainline brand until they were finally withdrawn in July 2000.

Premier and vitality routes

08 1999 Reading Buses bus 908 Optare Excel P908 EGM Low Rider branding Route 15

Optare Excel LowRider in 1999 in a variant of the livery used until the introduction of premier routes

Since 2004, Reading Buses and Reading Borough Council have made a significant investment in upgrading the quality of Reading’s main urban bus routes. In autumn of that year, Reading Buses introduced its first branded Premier Route in the form of the number 17, running between the Three Tuns on Wokingham Road and the Bear Inn at Tilehurst via the town centre and Oxford Road, and the linear descendent of the old main line. This was intended as the first in a series of such routes, each providing a weekday daytime frequency of between 3 and 8 buses per hour. Each premier route, or group of routes, would be allocated a distinctive colour, to be used used on the buses on that route, and also on maps and other publicity.

Since then the premier route concept has been rolled out on most of Reading’s urban routes. In April 2009, a similar concept was introduced to some of Reading Buses’ longer distance rural routes. These were rebranded as Vitality Routes, using specially branded green and silver or red and silver buses. In 2014, these too were changed to a colour brand, becoming ‘Lime Routes’.

Biofuel controversy

09 Reading_Transport_1103

Ethanol fueled Scania OmniCity in May 2008 in the livery it carried when used on the 17

Reading Buses has a history of experimenting with biofuels, including biodiesel and alcohol fuel. By 2008, all but one of Reading’s bus fleet was fuelled by a mix of 5% biodiesel and 95% conventional diesel.

In late 2007, Reading Buses placed an order with Scania for 14 ethanol fuelled double decker buses to replace the existing fleet of biodiesel powered vehicles operating premier route 17. At the time the order was placed, this was the largest order for ethanol fuelled buses in the UK. These buses started work on 26 May 2008.

In October 2009, it was discovered that instead of the bio-ethanol fuel having been sourced from sugar beet grown in the English county of Norfolk (as had been advertised), it was actually made from wood pulp imported from Sweden. On learning this Reading Borough councillors launched an investigation into how they and the Reading Transport Board could have been deceived. All the ethanol-powered buses have since been converted to run on the same bio-diesel mix as the rest of the fleet.

Hybrid buses

Reading Buses has over 30 hybrid (diesel-battery-electric) buses which are used on routes 17, 20, 20a, 21 and 26.

Current operations

Reading Central Station

Reading Buses

Reading Transport operates public service buses under the Reading Buses brand throughout the town of Reading, and to a lesser extent in the rural area around Reading. Most of the urban routes have been branded as Premier Routes, with each route or group of routes allocated a distinctive colour. These colours are used on the buses used on that route, and also on maps and other publicity. Premier routes provide a weekday daytime frequency of between 2 and 8 buses per hour, depending on the route.

Other routes, including some rural routes and non-premier urban routes, operate at lower frequency, varying from several buses a day to two buses an hour. They are allocated a grey colour in maps and publicity, and are currently operated by a mixture of vehicles in a new silver based fleet colour scheme similar to that used on the premier routes, together with vehicles in various previous colour schemes.

Reading Buses also operates the NightTrack network under contract to Reading Borough Council. These services run on their own routes from 23:45 until late into the night. Premier route 17 also operates at these times, but all other routes finish by then.

1931 AEC Regal 1 with Reading FB35F body GOU-449

1931-aec-regal-1-with-reading-fb35f-body-gou-449

1935 A.E.C. Regal ATD 898 after rebuild with Reading bus body atd898

1935-a-e-c-regal-after-rebuild-with-reading-bus-body-atd898

1936 Albion rebodied in 1955 with a Reading B32F body and gaining a Morris engine-radiator in 1963

1936-albion-rebodied-in-1955-with-a-reading-b32f-body-and-gaining-a-morris-engine-radiator-in-1963

1938 AEC Regal 4 with Reading B35F Bodywork

1938-aec-regal-4-with-reading-b35f-bodywork

1942 AEC Regent with Park Royal body dating from 1936 and Provincial 55, EHO228, a Guy Arab I with Reading body dating from 1942

1942-aec-regent-with-park-royal-body-dating-from-1936-and-provincial-55-eho228-a-guy-arab-i-with-reading-body-dating-from-1942

1943 AEC Regal-Regent I EHO-282 Reading H

1943-aec-regal-regent-i-eho-282-reading-h

1943 built Guy Arab II 5LW originally with Park Royal utility bodywork but by now fitted with a Reading C030-24RD body.

1943-built-guy-arab-ii-5lw-originally-with-park-royal-utility-bodywork-but-by-now-fitted-with-a-reading-c030-24rd-body

1947 AEC Regent II with Reading H56R body fho602

1947-aec-regent-ii-with-reading-h56r-body-fho602

1948 Albion Nimbus 89 (11675) was one of many such vehicles with Reading bodywork

1948-albion-nimbus-89-11675-was-one-of-many-such-vehicles-with-reading-bodywork

1949 Albion FT3AB with Reading B36F bodywork

1949-albion-ft3ab-with-reading-b36f-bodywork

1949 Albion Victor with a Reading B36F body

1949-albion-victor-with-a-reading-b36f-body

1949 Crossley DD42-5 with Reading H52R body EBK28 a

1949 Crossley DD42-5 with Reading H52R body EBK28 b

1949-crossley-dd42-5-with-reading-h52r-body-ebk28

1949 Dennis Lancet III Reading C33F inside 1949 Dennis Lancet III Reading C33F 1949 Dennis Lancet III with Reading coachwork of Safeway Services of South Petherton photo 1

3x 1949-dennis-lancet-iii-reading-c33f.

1950 Reading C32F bodied Commer Avenger

1950-reading-c32f-bodied-commer-avenger

1951 Leyland PS1 with a Reading B34F

1951-leyland-ps1-with-a-reading-b34f

1952 Albion FT39N with Reading B36F body

1952-albion-ft39n-with-reading-b36f-body

1952 Albion Victor FT39N-Reading B36F withdrawn by GR in 1980

1952-albion-victor-ft39n-reading-b36f-withdrawn-by-gr-in-1980

1953 Karrier Reading body MDU-14

1953-karrier-reading-body-mdu-14

1954 Albion FT39AN with Reading B36F body gu1787

1954-albion-ft39an-with-reading-b36f-body-gu1787

1954 Albion Victor FT39AN with Reading B36F body

1954-albion-victor-ft39an-with-reading-b36f-body

1958 Albion Victor (YFO 127  originally Guernsey 8226  Victor FT39 KAN  Reading B35F)

1958-albion-victor-yfo-127-originally-guernsey-8226-victor-ft39-kan-reading-b35f

1958 Albion Victor FT39KAN with Reading FB39F body

1958-albion-victor-ft39kan-with-reading-fb39f-body

1958 Albion Victor Reading-bodied

1958-albion-victor-reading-bodied

1958 Leyland PD2 52, J1528 and ex-LT RTL260, now JMT 655, J34655 jm655

1958-leyland-pd2-52-j1528-and-ex-lt-rtl260-now-jmt-655-j34655-jm655

1958 Reading bodied Dennis Lancet J3JXK-540

1958-reading-bodied-dennis-lancet-j3jxk-540

1958-59 Leyland PD2-31s with Reading H31-28R bodies

1958-59-leyland-pd2-31s-with-reading-h31-28r-bodies

1960 Albion Nimbus with Reading bodywork

1960-albion-nimbus-with-reading-bodywork.

1960 Albion NS3N with a Reading B35F body

1960-albion-ns3n-with-a-reading-b35f-body

1963 Albion Victor of Guernsey Railways with Reading body gu78

1963-albion-victor-of-guernsey-railways-with-reading-body-gu78

1963 Albion's 76, reg 8226, and 94, reg 12726 with Reading B35F body

1963-albions-76-reg-8226-and-94-reg-12726-with-reading-b35f-body

1964 Albion Nimbus NS3AN Reading B35T body EBW-112B

1964-albion-nimbus-ns3an-reading-b35t-body-ebw-112b

1964 Albion Nimbus with Reading B35F bodywork

1964-albion-nimbus-with-reading-b35f-bodywork

1964 Bedford in the mid sixties J4 chassis with Reading bodywork gu100

1964-bedford-in-the-mid-sixties-j4-chassis-with-reading-bodywork-gu100

1967 Bedford J4EZ1 with Reading bodywork gu102

1967-bedford-j4ez1-with-reading-bodywork-gu102

AEC Regal after rebuit with Reading FB34F body  cg9609

AEC Regal after rebuilt with Reading FB34F body cg9609

02 Reading_Buses_221_on_Route_17,_Reading_(11528476093) 06 Reading Trolleybus in Liverpool Road 10 Reading_Transport_1006 11 Reading_Transport_845 12 Reading_Transport_815 13 Reading_Transport_827 14 Reading_Transport_859 15 Reading_Transport_107 17 Reading_Transport_608 18 Reading_Transport_11 20 Reading_Transport_1036 21 Reading_Transport_837 22 Arriva_Kent_&_Sussex_6444 23 Stagecoach_Hampshire_36029 24 Southern_Vectis_1103 25 First_B&TV_65725

That’s it

PREVOST Sainte-Clair, Quebec, Canada

Prevost Car

Prévost
Type Subsidiary
Industry Manufacturing
Founded 1924
Headquarters Sainte-Claire, Quebec, Canada
Products Coach Buses
Parent Volvo Group
Website Official website

1924 PREVOST 14

1924 Prevost

Prévost (pronounced pray-voh; the -st is silent) is a Quebec, Canada-based manufacturer of touring coaches and bus shells for high-end motorhomes and specialty conversions.

The company now owns Nova Bus and in turn is owned by Volvo Bus Corporation.

History

Place Eugène Prévost

 Place Eugène Prévost in Sainte-Claire
2005 Prevost H3-45 of Tai Pan ToursPrévost H3-45 of Tai Pan Tours

The company was first founded in 1924 by Eugène Prévost (1898–1965), a cabinet maker specializing in church pews and school furniture, who in 1924 was asked to build a custom bus body for a new REO truck chassis. Les Ateliers Prévost, as the company was then called, received several repeat orders. Between 1937 and 1939, Prévost Car’s first bus manufacturing plant was built. Initially the vehicles were built around a wooden frame. In 1945 this changed, and bodies were made of metal.

The company was acquired by Paul Normand in 1957. In 1969, two American businessmen formed a partnership with André Normand, then President of Prévost, to become the company’s owners. These three men, in turn, sold Prévost to Volvo Bus Corporation in 1995.

As of February 2007, the firm has 1,337 employees and operates six parts and service centres in North America.

The latest models saw the XLII thoroughly revised, with a longer wheelbase for more storage and a smoother ride. This, and other changes, marked the beginning of the new X3-45.

The flagship H3-45 received some further enhancements in 2006 with GPS and destination sign options. In addition, the new Delta sound system was developed to provide improved sound throughout the cabin.

For the new EPA 2007 Standards, Prévost now offers an innovative installation of the Diesel Particulate Filter and the Rooftop Diffuser for Increased Safety, Performance, Serviceability and Security. The standard Detroit Diesel has been uprated from 12.7 litres to 14 litres for the model year 2007.

For the 2008 model year, Prévost introduced a new Volvo D13 engine from their parent company as a replacement for the then-current Detroit Diesel Series 60 offering. The Volvo I-Shift semiautomatic transmission was introduced as an option to the Allison B500R transmission. A set of new interior colour schemes were developed for the 2008 model year to provide a modern feel. There are three “trim levels” ranging from fabric to leather and wood.

Beginning with 2011, the Prevost X3-45 is available in a transit configuration, with bi-fold doors instead of a sedan-type door. The New York City Transit Authority is the launch customer for this configuration. Previously, 20 transit-style buses in the LeMirage predecessor model had been built for GO Transit in the late 1990s.

Prévost is also the North American builder of the Volvo 9700 motorcoach.

Ground Force One

Main article: Ground Force One

Ground Force One is the nickname given to the modified X3-45 shells used by US President Barack Obama. The interiors were fitted out by Nashville, Tennessee-based Hemphill Brothers Coach Company and it is assumed that other features were added by the US Secret Service. A similar bus with a Prévost shell (when the model was known as the LeMirage XL-II) was used by then-President George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential campaign.

Current products

2011 MTA New York City Bus Prevost X3-452011 New York City Transit Prévost X3-45

Passenger coaches:

2001 Prevost La Quebecoise 2001 Vantare Prevost H-345 (luxury coach, rv, motor home, coach) 2002 Prevost Articulated H5-60 2002 Prevost Car H5-60 Articulated Bus 2002 Prevost Prevost Vantare (H3-45) 2004 Prevost from Lamers 2004 Prevost XLII Custom Marathon Bus 2005 Prevost H3-45 from Kingdom Coach 2005 Prevost H3-45 of Tai Pan Tours 2005 Prevost H3-45, parked in BC, Canada 2005 Prevost 2006 Prevost 12 2006 Prevost launches the X3-45 2006 Prevost Marathon Bus 2007 Prevost from Excellence 2007 prevost liberty h3 45 elegant lady double slide 2007 Prevost 2008 prevost marathon-echo-1131-class-a-motorhome 2009 Millennium-2-3_HiRes_500x333 2009 Prevost Greyhound Prevost X3-45 2009 Prevost GREYHOUNDNORCAL 2009 The Oasis motorhome by Outlaw Coach is built out of a Prevost H3-45 2010 Prevost Coaches For Sale 2010 Prevost H-Series Motorcoach at Lévis Congress Center in Quebec 2010 Prevost H-Series Motorcoach featuring the new Facelift 2010 Prevost Liberty Coach 2010 Prevost X3-45 Motorcoach at Museum 2010 Prevost X3-45 Motorcoach 2010 Volvo 9700 Motorcoach a 2010 Volvo 9700 Motorcoach 2011 H3-45 Motorcoach 2011 Lamers 737 Prevost H3-45 2011 MTA New York City Bus Prevost X3-45 2011 Prevost logo le miragexlii 2012 Prevost Greyhound Lines 86025b 2012 Prevost logo h3-45vip 2012 Prevost X3-45 at UMA Expo 2012 Volvo 9700 Motorcoach ad-prevost_logo Greyhound logo Motor Coach Industries · Prevost Place Eugène Prévost Prevost BRI Calhoun St-CHS Prevost D70_37278 Prevost marathon 03 0 Prevost-logo

  • H-Series (H3-41 (41′ Feet), H3-45 (45′ Feet)) Intercity Coach
  • X-Series (X3-45, X3-45 Commuter Coach)
  • Volvo 9700 Inter-City Coach

Bus shells for conversion to motorhomes or private coaches:

  • H3-45 VIP
  • X3-45 VIP
  • LeMirage XLII Entertainer

Former products

1000px-Prevost Logo.svg 1924 PREVOST 14 1924-1ST Prevost Bus 1927 PREVOST 12 1928 Prevost 66440004 1929 Prevost 66440016 1932-69 Prevost (William A. Luke) Autobus A. Drolet Ltée Ancienne Lorette 1938 PREVOST REO 8 1939 Prevost Suburban 1958 Le Normand 1939 Prevost Suburban 1940 Prevost 67520037 1940 PREVOST Intercity 2-1 1941 Prevost 66440002 1945 Prevost 66440009 1945 Prevost Coach-J.H.-Fortier-in-Baie-Comeau 1946 Prevost 66440022 1946 Prevost 66440023 1947 Prevost 66440017 1947 Prevost CCBL 30 Winnipeg 1947 Prevost winnipeg-CCBL30 prevost2-luke 1947-64 Jasper Place Diamond Lines Prevost (William A. Luke) Diamond Bus Lines Ltd. 1947-71 isle dorleans-15prevost2-luke 1948 Prevost 66440014 1948 Prevost 67520034 1948 Prevost I-28 SILVERSIDE SPOORMANS SONY DSC 1949 Dodge PREVOST Stretch 6 1949 Prevost a 1950 Prevost 47 67520035 1950 Prevost 66440006 1950 Prevost 66440012 1950 Prevost 66440020 1950 Prevost 66440021 1950 Prevost 66440024 1950 Prevost 67520014 1950 Prevost a 1950 Prevost Citadin 1950 Prevost GCL 618 on Toronto Bus Terminal 1955 1950 Prevost Suburban 1950's Prevost 2 Diamond Lines 1951 Prevost 67520036 1951 Prevost Panoramique was powered by a 6 cyl Hercule 1951 Prevost Queen City Trailways 165 1951 Prevost-panoramique 1951 Prevost-Panoramique-10 1952 Antique Prevost Bus conversion 1952 Prevost Citadin a 1952 Prevost Citadin Stratford Transit 6820 - August 1975 - Kevin Nicol Photo 1952 Prevost Citadin 1952 Prevost highway coach 1952 Prevost PO 141-1094 Valleyfield City Transit (Canada) 1952 Prevost-Citadin-1952 1954 Prevost 66440019 1954 Prevost Coach IC 41 1961 Prevost GMC Bus Factory ž 1962 Prevost GMC Bus Factory 1962 Prevost Model 49-S Transit Bus 1964 Prevost Markel Decal 1965 Prevost Greyhound 743 enroute to Detroit 1966 Prevost Champion 1967 Silver Prevost Rv Conversion 1968 Prevost Prestige a 1968 prevost prestige 1973 Prevost Lishman-Bus 1974 Prevost Champion 1976 Prevost motor home conversion 1978 prevost 1979 Prevost TS-47 Prestiege 1980 prevost-logo 1981 Prevost LeMirage Gray Line 264 1983 Prevost 130 1983 Prevost Marathon XL 1983 Prevost 1986 Prevost Motorhome PrevostSunsetView 1987 Prevost le-mirage 1989 Prevost H560 1990 Prevost Ace of spades 1990 Prevost H5-60 articulated coach 1990 Prevost Liberty Classic XL-1 1992 Prevost H3 Transtario 1993 Prevost Mirage 1993 Prevost XL in Arizona 1995 Prevost Le Mirage XL 1995 Prevost Le Mirage 1996 Prevost Le Mirage XL-45 Capital Trailways of Pennsylvania NYC 1996-prevost-royal-coach-used-rv-for-sale-americanlisted 1997 Prevost X3-45 1998 Prevost Royale Non Slide Class

  • H5-60 articulated 79 passenger motorcoach manufactured from 1985 to late 1980s
  • H3-40 passenger coach first manufactured 1989
  • XLII (now known as the X3-45) sightseeing/passenger coach manufactured from 2000 to 2005
  • XL40 Le Mirage XL sightseeing/passenger coach
  • 50-PI-33 passenger coach
  • 19-S transit bus manufactured from 1961 to 1967
  • 33-S 33 to 37 passenger motorcoach manufactured in the 1960s
  • Champion 41 to 50 passenger intercity coach manufactured from 1967 to 1981
  • Marathon 47 to 53 passenger intercity motorcoach
  • Prestige 41 to 50 passenger sightseeing/passenger motor coach manufactured from 1968 to 1981
  • Panoramique 41 to 49 passenger intercity motorcoach manufactured from the 1960s
  • Le Normand intercity passenger coach manufactured from 1957 to 1960
  • Prévocar intercity motorcoach manufactured in 1953
  • Skycruiser motorcoach manufactured from 1948 to 1949
  • V48-S motorcoach first manufactured in 1965
  • Citadin 33 to 37 transit bus manufactured in the 1950s
  • 1924 motorbus
  • 1939 suburban motor coach

PLAXTON Scarborough England UK

Plaxton

1907 Plaxton model T Charabanc

1907-plaxton-model-t-charabanc

is a builder of bus and coach vehicle bodies based in Scarborough, England. The Plaxton of today is the successor to a business founded in Scarborough in 1907 by Frederick William Plaxton. It became a subsidiary of Alexander Dennis in 2007.

History

Beginnings

The business was founded as a joinery workshop, and expanded into building contracting. As a building contractor, Plaxtons built a number of notable buildings in Scarborough. Soon after World War I Plaxtons diversified and began to build charabanc bodies on Ford Model T chassis. Of more importance at the time was the construction of automobile bodywork. This included bodywork for Rolls-Royce, Sunbeam and Daimler, but principally for Crossley car chassis. This activity continued through the 1920s, but the depression of 1929-1933 created difficulties for manufacture of luxury automobiles. As a result, the manufacture of charabanc, and later coach bodies became more important through the late 1920s and early 1930s. Customers during this time tended to be local to the Scarborough area, Scarborough being a popular seaside resort.

1930. 37 Seater Bus-Coach Type A3

1930-37-seater-bus-coach-type-a3

Coaches of the 1930s

By 1936 the company felt justified in construction of a large new manufacturing facility in Seamer Road, Scarborough. This allowed increased production, and Plaxtons became popular with many independent operators throughout Northern England. Many of these operators purchased their vehicles through independent dealers, rather than directly from the factory. In this regard, Plaxton’s sales were through Lancashire Motor Traders Ltd of Manchester and Arlington Motor Co Ltd of London. The company became known as F.W. Plaxton & Son by 1937, as the founder’s son, also named Frederick William joined the company at the age of 18. FW Plaxton junior was to be known as Eric to avoid confusion with his father.

Plaxton cars

Plaxtons built a number of different coach designs through the 1930s, until settling on a distinctive house style. The style typically consisted of a very rounded front profile at the windscreen area with side windows that sloped backwards at the front, were upright at the centre, and sloped forward at the back. Bodywork for the Bedford WTB chassis was particularly distinctive, sloping severally from the bottom of the front wheel arch to the roofline, leaving the “bullnose” radiator grille protruding. The rear also sloped prominently. The WTB chassis was very popular choice for operators at that time, together with the Dodge RBF and SBF. Leyland and AEC chassis were also popular for larger coaches, notably the Leyland Tiger and AEC Regal.

On the outbreak of World War II in 1939, coach production halted and the factory was turned into a munitions factory under the control of the Ministry of Aircraft Production. Many records from the early years were lost when an incendiary bomb set fire to the Seamer Rd factory in 1943 causing much damage. As the factory was under control of the Ministry of Works, production continued in the open air whilst a replacement was constructed. Some adjacent land was loaned by a market gardener who subsequently joined the board years later.

1946 Leyland Tiger Plaxton body

1946-leyland-tiger-plaxton-body

1950s

Production restarted at the end of 1945, and in 1951 the business was registered for the first time as a private company, Plaxtons (Scarborough) Ltd.

Two new models were exhibited at the 1950 Commercial Motor Show, with names instead of model codes for the first time. The Envoy was for traditional front-engined chassis, and featured a full-front cab with a vee-pattern windscreen, and aluminium trim across the lower part of the radiator grill extending round squared-off front corners to the wheel arches. The Crusader, which could be built on front-engined or the new underfloor-engined chassis, had a more upright front profile, with curved glass panels at the windscreen corners, and in most cases an enlarged side window with sloping pillars between this and the entrance. On front-engined chassis the Crusader employed the Envoy’s front trim. Both Envoy and Crusader were produced to the new maximum dimensions of 30 ft (9.1 m) by 8 ft (2.4 m), and many examples were originally fitted with rear wheel spats.

1948 AEC Regal lll 9621E418 Plaxton ha324z

1948-aec-regal-lll-9621e418-plaxton-ha324z

The Envoy was short-lived, perhaps partly because of the obsolescence of most of the chassis types for which it was intended, while the Crusader was rapidly overtaken by a further new underfloor-engined model – the Venturer. The Venturer combined the front of the Crusader with more restrained and conservative styling, and proved so popular that it wasn’t long before a version was produced for front-engined chassis (mostly lightweight Bedfords and Commers) with a rather more raked frontal appearance. By the time the Mark II version appeared at the 1952 show, the Venturer was Plaxton’s standard model.

1949 Plaxton Sentinel-2

1949-plaxton-sentinel-2

The Venturer II had a common front profile for all models, together with a standard dash panel featuring a four-part radiator grille with a central cross within an oval outline which also embraced the headlamps. A rear-end revision marked the launch of the Venturer III in 1954, and the following year a version was produced for underfloor-engined chassis with the entrance ahead of the front axle. This required a return to a more vertical front profile, and meant that there were now three variants of the Venturer – front engined, underfloor-engined with a centre entrance and underfloor-engined with a front entrance. This three-variant approach, established with the Venturer, continued throughout the life of the succeeding Consort model and into the Embassy era, although the relative importance of the three versions varied significantly over the years.

1950 Bedford OB ETL221, Plaxton 29 seater coach with 28HP petrol engine

1950-bedford-ob-etl221-plaxton-29-seater-coach-with-28hp-petrol-engine

The Consort was first shown at the 1956 Commercial Motor Show. It was a development of the Venturer, but in place of the previous oval the four-part grill was now enclosed by a near-trapezoidal outline (though actually hexagonal), wider at the top than the bottom, with the headlamps outside. Trim was revised to be much squarer in outline, featuring ribbed brightwork, and the curved rear quarter lights, first standardised on the Venturer III, were now incorporated into the main window line. However, a year later the Consort II was announced, re-introducing the oval grill outline of the Venturer – but now surrounding a plainer grill with chrome flash across the middle – while the trim lines so recently squared up were softened once again. The evident popularity of the oval- shaped grill then ensured its survival as a Plaxton hallmark for many years to come.

1952 Bussen Commer Avenger built in 1952 with Plaxton Envoy bodywork

1952-bussen-commer-avenger-with-plaxton-envoy-bodywork

In 1957 the founder of the company, F.W. Plaxton Senior, died, and was succeeded as Chairman by his son Frederick Jnr, though known as Eric.

In 1958 Plaxtons were approached by Sheffield United Tours (SUT) with a requirement for a new crisper design of coach body. The result was the first Panorama body. The main feature of the Panorama design was the large, fixed rectangular side windows. A vertical front from the contemporary Consort II design was used, with the door ahead of the front axle. The 1958 Panorama was entered into the British and the Nice coach rallies, winning top awards at both events. The first six Panoramas, designated “Panorama Pioneer” by SUT, were built on AEC Reliance chassis and seated 36 passengers.

1956 plaxton consort bus brochure Bedford

1956-plaxton-consort-bus-brochure-bedford

The production version of the Panorama, with 41 seats as standard, was introduced at the 1958 Commercial Motor Show, as an addition to the existing range, available in one form only – on underfloor-engined chassis with the entrance ahead of the front axle. In common with the new Consort III and IV, it had a new silver-effect dished oval grill with a chrome flash through the middle, and a curved windscreen with a central division. The original Panorama’s short window immediately behind the entrance door was removed and encapsulated into the first bay, and the difference in level between the waistline and the rear window was accommodated by a stylish “kick-up” at the rear. The design then received minor modifications over the next two years.

1957 AEC Reliance Plaxton Consort C41C bodied

1957-aec-reliance-plaxton-consort-c41c-bodied

Consort IV variants with the entrance further back, together with the smaller Consort III, were able to use a windscreen with even greater curvature, but it was the Panorama which was the trend-setter, becoming a strong influence on the development of British coach styling for years to come.

1960s and 1970s

Plaxton became a public company in January 1961.

For the 1961 coaching season the Consort IV evolved into the Embassy, the main change being that the windows now tapered inwards towards the roof rather than being vertical. At the same time a new version of the Panorama was created, using the same shell as the Embassy but with fewer window pillars.

The new Panorama boasted a completely new front, featuring a slight peak overhang above the windscreen (which was now optionally undivided), a small grill at the bottom of the front panel, and for the first time double headlights. Embassy bodies on underfloor-engined chassis shared some or all of these features, depending on the entrance position. However, because the standard offering in the underfloor-engined sector was now the Panorama, most Embassy bodies were built on lightweight front-engined chassis – particularly the Thames 570E and Bedford SB. In this form, with the entrance behind the front axle, the Embassy retained the dished oval grill and wrap-around windscreen of the Consort IV. The rear of both Panorama and Embassy comprised a two-piece curved glass window that wrapped around to meet the rearmost side pillars, and the lights were contained in a single unit with a fin-like top rather like the rear of the Ford Anglia 105E saloon.

36-foot (11 m) versions of both models were introduced, on Leyland Leopard and AEC Reliance chassis, as soon as legislation allowed, and were 8 feet 2.5 inches (2.502 m) wide. The first 36-foot coach in Britain was a Panorama delivered to SUT in 1961. However, while the extra length gave a real boost to the Panorama’s appearance – with the falling roofline making the vehicle look even longer than it actually was – the extension of the Embassy by two additional window bays was less satisfactory. So much so that when a “multi-windowed” Embassy II, in the livery of Bloomfields Coaches of London, appeared on the newly introduced Bedford VAL 36-foot chassis at the 1962 Commercial Motor Show, the reaction was so negative than no more of this type were built.

Alongside the Bloomfields VAL on the Plaxton stand was a further revised Panorama. This was an altogether much larger looking vehicle than before, with deeper windows all round, the waistline curvature radically reduced to a point where it was almost straight, a new rear window interchangeable with the windscreen, and a reduction in the number of window pillars on 36-foot versions. Because of the adverse reaction to the “multi-windowed” Embassy, from 1963 all 36-foot Plaxton coach bodies used the new Panorama shell, with windows of large size whether fixed or opening, although, as previously, the Panorama name was restricted to underfloor-engined coaches with fixed glazing and entrance ahead of the front axle. Of the non-Panoramas, by far the most popular model was the new production body on the Bedford VAL chassis, which retained the large oval grill because of the front-mounted radiator, and was simply named Val.

The Embassy name was now being used for what were effectively two separate models. For underfloor-engined chassis there was a 36-foot body using the Panorama shell (built mainly for the Wallace Arnold Group), and for 30-foot (9.1 m) and shorter front-engined chassis the original short-windowed body was updated with a pronounced reverse-rake peak over the windscreen as the Embassy II. For the 1964 season the latter was substantially redesigned as the Embassy III, catching up in several respects with the development of the Panorama, but introducing a new near-rectangular grill which signalled the beginning of the end for the familiar Plaxton oval.

02 1970 Dons_Tour_Brochure_photo_1970

1965 Plaxton Panorama on Bedford VAL chassis

The Plaxton coach range which appeared at the 1964 Commercial Motor Show had been extensively revised with assistance from the Ogle design consultancy. Waistrails were virtually straight, and rooflines distinctly shallower. On the new Panorama (later to become Panorama I), a wide chrome trim band wrapped around the front and encompassed the first window bay on either side. The trim then swept upwards to the roof line and neatly terminated on the air scoop at the roof line. The window pillar on the first bay was noticeably thicker than the others and gave the impression of size that managed to enhance the appearance of the whole vehicle. The front grill was revised and basically split in two horizontally. Twin headlights were on each side of a panel that contained ventilation louvres at the top with the lower part being the actual grill that spanned the width of the vehicle. This grill was to become standard with little change until the Supreme IV of 1978. Again a bit of a Plaxton that was instantly recognisable and a familiar sight throughout Britain. The rear featured two large 9″ circular rear lights each side arranged vertically, and the entrance door was now the forward in-swinging type.

For the first time the Panorama was offered on all chassis types, including Ford R226 and Bedford VAL, looking particularly well-suited to the latter, where the chrome trim on the first window bay harmonised with the twin steering axles below. There was even a Panorama for the Bedford SB and Ford Thames 570E, although here the thickened window pillar was absent, and the chrome trim did not extend across the front of the vehicle.

In addition to the Panoramas, a more basic series of models was offered, with windows of similar size, but with simpler trim and top sliding vent windows instead of forced air vents. Initially these were built on Bedford and Ford chassis only and named variously as Val, Vam (on the new Bedford VAM chassis) or Embassy IV. However, when the Panorama was renamed Panorama I for the 1967 season, the less expensive “bread and butter” models became available on all chassis types as the Panorama II. The Panorama I in particular sold extremely well.

03 Mobile_cinema

Plaxton Panorama cab on a Bedford SB3 chassis mobile cinema unit

The Panorama cab was used in 1967 on a government commission of seven Bedford SB3 chassis mobile cinema units. With the height of these units being nearly 13 ft (4.0 m) the roof of the cab opens up into a very unusual looking perspex dome extension, somewhat altering the usual sleek lines of Plaxton’s Panorama. One of the seven units still remains in preservation, having been restored as a vintage mobile cinema.

1957 Albion Aberdonian with Plaxton B45F body , one of two delivered to Armstrongs of Ebchester

1957-albion-aberdonian-with-plaxton-b45f-body-one-of-two-delivered-to-armstrongs-of-ebchester

Plaxton launched a new design – the Panorama Elite – at the 1968 Commercial Motor Show in London. This essentially set the basic design of British coaches for the next 14 years. The design was stylish, with long sleek lines and gentle curve in the vertical plane. The windows were gasket glazed and the glass gently curved in the vertical plane to suit the body curve. The rear again used the large soup plate lights of the Panorama I, and the front grill was also from the Panorama I.

1957 Plaxton Consort bodied Bedford SB YWE 388

1957-plaxton-consort-bodied-bedford-sb-ywe-388

The Panorama II was still available until 1970 with a large batch built for Midland Red

The interior of The new Panorama Elite was to the usual high standard that everyone had come to expect from a leading coachbuilder like Plaxton. It made more use of laminate than before but this was tastefully specified & well balanced. The interior skirt panels, racks and front cabinet made extensive use of this easily worked & easy to maintain material. The analogue clock in the front dome was flanked either side by small square controllable air vents. The dashboard was improved and made use of a panel of rocker switches in front of the driver with each switch designation lighting for night time operation. Previous dashboards hid the switches in places inaccessible whilst moving. Ventilation was again improved though using the same design of moulded air output & light assembly as the final version of the Panorama I. The racks were trimmed with laminate instead of using vinyl like material from the previous design.

1958 Albion Aberdonian Plaxton Consort II C41F

1958-albion-aberdonian-plaxton-consort-ii-c41f

The first major update of the Panorama Elite was unveiled at the 1970 Commercial Motor Show at Earls Court London. The changes though relatively subtle were very relevant to a product that had so far enjoyed wide acclaim and sale.

The Panorama Elite II range built on the success of the Panorama I and Panorama Elite. The front grill was squared up although it still used the same twin headlight layout. The first bay on the near side was tidied up so the top of the window was in line with all the other side windows. Parcel racks were redesigned so the supply of fresh air and light output was more readily available. The service units were now mounted front to back instead of side to side and were much slimmer to maximize on headroom when leaving the seats. Crash padding was provided along the inner side of the racks in the form of black PVC squares filled with padding. The dashboard was again improved as was the front cabinet. The rear of the vehicle still used the soup plates from the previous range.

1961 AEC 2MU3RV Reliance with Plaxton Highway DP41F body

1961-aec-2mu3rv-reliance-with-plaxton-highway-dp41f-body

The Panorama Elite III was the last in the Elite series. Improvements continued to the basic Elite design; this included rear lighting, rear emergency door and subtle changes to the front grill. The rear emergency door was brought about by changes in legislation and did improve the offside appearance of the Elite, however some early MkIIIs were completed with front emergency doors. The rear lights abandoned the soup plates in favour of tall lozenge shaped lights and the name badges were re-located from between the side bright metal strips at the back to the front just behind the front door.

1961 AEC 4MU3RA Reliance with Plaxton Panorama C44F body

1961-aec-4mu3ra-reliance-with-plaxton-panorama-c44f-body

All three marques of the Elite range were available with bus grant specification front doors and interiors, although this option was late for Panorama Elite and only a few built. It was however a very popular option for the MkII and MkIII. To complement this destination blinds were also available in both the front grille and on the roof or front dome for front radiator chassis. This became known as “the Bristol Dome” due to the popularity of orders from the National Bus Company for coaches on Bristol RELH and REMH chassis.

1961 Bedford J4 Plaxton Consort999-PPL

1961-bedford-j4-plaxton-consort999-ppl.

The major competitor for the Panorama Elite III was the Duple Dominant launched at the 1972 Commercial Motor Show in London. The Duple was of all steel design and built at Duple’s Blackpool factory. The Dominant had many of the design cues of the Panorama Elite and that could be because the managing director at that time was an ex Plaxton employee. The Dominant sold well but never caught up with the Elite. The mere fact that at the 1972 Commercial Motor Show only one Dominant was available due to a long strike at the Blackpool factory couldn’t have helped much. The launch of the Dominant was at Lake Guarda in Italy and was Duple’s most important launch for years.

By the time the final version of the Panorama Elite III was built around 6,000 of the Elite series bodies had been produced.

1961 Ford Thames 570E, Plaxton C41F coachwork was carried by 335, 335BWB

1961-ford-thames-570e-plaxton-c41f-coachwork-was-carried-by-335-335bwb

Development of a new coach range to supersede the Panorama Elite commenced in 1974 and was to be called Panorama Supreme, however the Panorama part was dropped in favour of simple Supreme. This series of bodies was to have a long development process as both the factory and work force wasn’t equipped for all-steel production at this stage.

1961 Ford Thames Trader57OE TRJ731 Plaxton C41F

1961-ford-thames-trader57oe-trj731-plaxton-c41f

At first the Supreme was designed to replace the ageing Panorama IV that was produced on the Bedford VAS and SB chassis for up to 41 passengers. The design for that coach went back to the Embassy body developed in the early 1960s. It had been re-vamped in the early 1970s and given an upright front and rear like the Elite III. Being front engined it had a centre door and still retained the Panorama I–style square cornered flat glass windows.

1962 Bussen Commer Commando Plaxton C30F seats

1962-bussen-commer-commando-plaxton-c30f-seats

The Supreme was to herald (nearly) all steel construction. Wood fillets still held the panels in place and in some areas wood was sandwiched in “U” shaped steel. It would be 1978 before true all-steel construction was achieved.

Some early MkIII Supremes were all-metal. The body number of the all-metal versions had the final letters AM standing for “all-metal”. Many of the AM bodies were exported to Holland and Denmark, a fact supported by the 1977 Supreme brochure and the 1982 centenary book Plaxtons The Great British Coachbuilders.

1962 Plaxton bodied AEC Reliance 326

1962-plaxton-bodied-aec-reliance-326

There was to be six marques of Supreme (Seven including Mini Supreme). Development was protracted as the builder was careful not to compromise their market leading position. Supreme I was a 29-seat coach on a Bedford VAS chassis with a standard Plaxton in-swing door located behind the front axle. Supreme II was on the 35 seat Bristol LHS chassis powered by a Leyland 400 series engine. The door located forward of the front axle in the usual place. Supreme III was the first full size coach although there seemed to be some development confusion and the actual marque of the initial standard length coaches is not clear however most of the late P and earlier R-reg bodies seemed to be the Mk III. There were no identifying numbers added to the badging.

1963 Bedford J2SZ10 with Plaxton Embassy 20 seat

1963-bedford-j2sz10-with-plaxton-embassy-20-seat

As styling development commenced it was realised that to design another coach to match the success of the Panorama Elite series was to be a challenge. Looking at the existing range of Panorama Elite III it was decided to use the Elite’s most striking feature, notably the size of the windows and the curves that departed in every direction. The front of the coach was to follow closely with Elite by utilising the same double headlights with a panel between them (although the centre panel depended on the chassis requirements). The slats again horizontal but were fewer in number and thicker. The sides of the grill were squared up and were of stainless steel and not aluminium. A chrome bumper with 5 mph (8.0 km/h) overriders at the bottom with two steps to allow access to the windscreen. Pantograph wipers with speed control were added. The dome was slatted on the early models but was not popular so was removed and simplified from Supreme IV. The side profile again had angles going in all directions although the main change to the side was that the windows curved into the cant rail almost like the Mercedes O302 bodies. The effect was to catch the light and highlighted the whole coach at roof level. The rear was like Panorama Elite with vertical lozenge shaped lights but the units themselves were slightly bigger, squared, more definite.

1963 Bedford VAL14 BMX296A with Plaxton Val C52F body

1963-bedford-val14-bmx296a-with-plaxton-val-c52f-body

The interior had been updated with a new dashboard and a driver’s locker, non-reflective laminates and a re-designed front cabinet. The lift up roof vents and light clusters containing the speakers were almost like those of the final Panorama Elite III. Some very early Supremes had wood interior domes like Panorama Elite however this was changed from wood surrounding the clock to having ABS mouldings in black. The ceiling was of laminate that was bordered by chrome trim.

The racks though went through several important stages before the final design that would see Supreme through to the series.

1963 Plaxton Panorama Bedford VAL14

1963-plaxton-panorama-bedford-val14

Rack design on Panorama Elite, II and III contained window demisters. Those racks were joined to the cant rail and laminate was used as trim to connect the window edge to the rack. On Supreme the first versions used the same technique but the racks were swaddled in crash protection on each side of the passenger service unit that was fitted front to back. The service unit used were the same as the Panorama Elite, two controllable vents and a reading light with a rocker switch. The cushioning had a four pointed star engraved into it at intervals. From the Mk III the racks had flatter sides that had no connection to the cant rail. The demisters were located on the edge of the rack within a laminate strip. The PVC or maybe ABS material that coated the underneath of the rack was usually black. This was the final design of rack and saw Supreme through to the end of the series. Those racks utilized flatter service units with eyeball vents and a flat lens on the reading light.

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1963 bedford val-plaxton-panorama-uk

The Supreme Mk IV was introduced to the market at the International Motor Show at Birmingham in 1978. The main update was that construction was now all steel, frontal design was completely different from the past 14 years. The headlights were now rectangular and mounted above each other with side lights and indicators in the same cluster. The grill was not so prominent and various options were available as a package. So now the range consisted of Supreme IV, Supreme IV Express and Supreme IV GT. The GT option ushered in a distinctive grill design with a smart dual chrome flash, tinted windows and better sound system and soft trim to the ceiling to name a few “standard” extras.

1965 batch of Leyland Leopards with WA's specified centre-entrance Plaxton Panorama bodies

1965-batch-of-leyland-leopards-with-was-specified-centre-entrance-plaxton-panorama-bodies

Supreme V had a completely different rear design showing the styling of the next range that was probably under development. Tall heavily featured light clusters that were tinted to look dark were fitted vertically between the boot lid. The rear window was a one piece design. The seat backs were no longer visible from outside the coach. The rear nearside had been tidied by removing the smaller windows. The improvements were also copied onto the high floor Viewmaster model with the exception of the shallow rear window.

1965 Bedford Val with Plaxton body

1965-bedford-val-with-plaxton-body

The Supreme was also manufactured as a semi-integral on a DAF chassis. Around 20 were built. They were rear engined and the rear panel design was different from the Supreme V as it has vents and had odd shaped moulding around the rear window. As a semi-integral the body was required to support the full weight as there were no chassis members to support the body. Opening the side lockers luggage could be piled in one side and extracted from the other as nothing was in the way so it was very cutting edge technology. It is said that 2 of these survive today. The bulk of the 20 were exported, mainly to the Netherlands, the left hand drive version had a tapered front to meet Dutch swept turning-circle requirements.

1965 Ford Thames 570E with Plaxton C41F bodywork purchased UK

1965-ford-thames-570e-with-plaxton-c41f-bodywork-purchased-uk

Final Supreme offering was the Supreme VII and sometimes referred to as Jubilee Supreme. This model was the least successful Supreme being an option for one season alongside the Supreme V. The panoramic windows had been replaced by a higher window line that was better suited to the long distance market. Around 100 were built. The actual idea of the high window design was possibly in reaction to the Duple Dominant III that had shallow trapezoidal windows like an Austin Princess headlight of the mid-1970s.

1965-bedford--panorama-bus-3

1965-bedford-VAL-panorama-bus-3

The Supreme series like the Panorama I and Panorama Elite were simply a success from the outset winning many orders from small, national, and some international operators. It entered most fleets in large multiples. The export market was addressed with left hand drive versions, some modified for the Dutch market and at least one was built on Deutz chassis. The dynamic approach of Plaxtons relationship with their customers requirements was a huge factor in the success of the Supreme.

The Paramount era

Main article: Plaxton Paramount
04 Plaxton35004000

Plaxton Paramount 4000 and Paramount 3500

By the end of the 1970s the British coach scene was dominated by two similar vehicles – the Plaxton Supreme and the Duple Dominant. In the early 1980s coach services over 30 miles were deregulated and there was an increasing attempt by some operators to compete with the railways and airlines for express and intercity travel. As a result there was a move away from light-weight chassis by Bedford and Ford to heavier-duty chassis from Leyland and Volvo, and an emphasis on improved comfort and amenities. There was also a growing interest from operators in imports from Europe due to their stylish eye-catching designs that attracted passengers. In particular, designs from Neoplan and Van Hool received much attention.

1966-bussen-commer-plaxton-venturer

1966-bussen-commer-plaxton-venturer

In response, Plaxton returned to Ogle Design to create a new look for their coach products. The result was the Plaxton Paramount, which appeared at the 1982 British Motor Show. The Paramount was a squarer design than the Supreme, with cleaner lines, a flatter roof line and a distinctive “feature window” just behind the front wheelarch. The use of the “feature window” was a return to a trump card played by the Ogle-inspired Panorama/Panorama I first seen in 1964. From there the waistline sloped down to meet the deeper windscreen. Initially there were two versions, the Paramount 3200 (available in 8, 10, 11 and 12-metre lengths) and the high-floor Paramount 3500 (available in 11 and 12 metre lengths) to replace the successful Viewmaster. Around 30% of Mark I Paramounts were the 3500 high-floor option, a greater proportion than had been anticipated. The rear of both versions were similar to Supreme V and VI but all else was new.

1967 Bedford J2SZ10 with Plaxton C20F bodywork

1967-bedford-j2sz10-with-plaxton-c20f-bodywork

In 1984 the design was adapted to produce the Paramount 4000 double-decker coach, initially built on Neoplan underframes. The design later appeared on chassis by Volvo, Scania and DAF.

1968-bedford--panorama-bus-2

1968-bedford-VAL-panorama-bus-2

The Paramount II launched for the 1985 season brought a tidier frontal appearance. (See the picture with the Paramount 4000) Gone was the black plastic moulding below the windscreen and the “hole” like appearance of the centre of the grille between the lights. The rectangular headlights were retained within a bright silver like surround. Other modifications included deeper parcel racks that were capable of supporting air conditioning. A tweed like material was used to cover the interior skirt and a large part of the racks.

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1969 Bedford-VAL-plaxton-panorama-ii-uk

A “low driver” option was available for the 3200. This was useful for touring however the driver lost the commanding view of the road ahead. The driver sat low in the body so the passengers have a better view ahead. The windscreen from the 3500 was used on this version of the 3200, the headlights being lower to the road than usual.

1986 saw the final and most elegant version of Paramount, the MkIII. According to brochures it was even stronger than the Paramount II. The sloping front window was gone and in its place a stepped front window that formed the first bay. In the glass Plaxton’s “castle” logo was etched, the rear window contained a blind like decal at the base with a castle badge in the centre. The dashboard consisted of a moulded cabinet, ceasing the use of wood and formica of earlier versions of Plaxton coaches since the Panorama’s. In the centre of the black finished cabinet was a large castle logo. Airline-style locker doors were now available on the parcel racks to further give a sleek appearance like a 747.

1970 Bedford Val Plaxton Dons Tour Brochure photo

1970-bedford-val-plaxton-dons-tour-brochure-photo

In 1989 Plaxton responded to a request from the privatised National Express for a further version of Paramount III to be leased to its contractors by a joint venture of Plaxton, National Westminster Bank and National Express. The Paramount Expressliner was created from the MkIII Paramount on a Volvo chassis and was tailored to NBC’s specific requirements. NBC specification included a closed back with the double N logo etched into the fibre glass rear moulding. This period of coach design seemed to introduce the windowless rear as a design feature for most coaches.

Henlys and a new beginning

The mid-1980s brought difficult times for Plaxton. A decline in orders due to the economic climate was compounded by management and production problems. The seasonal nature of coach production made recruiting difficult. In March 1987 Plaxton was taken over by Kirkby Bus & Coach, who were Plaxton’s largest dealer. Kirkby soon invested in modernising the Scarborough factory and addressed some industrial relations problems. Kirkby also marketed the Hungarian Ikarus buses in the United Kingdom.

1970 Ford R226 with Plaxton Panorama Elite C49F bodywork

1970-ford-r226-with-plaxton-panorama-elite-c49f-bodywork

In 1989 Plaxtons bought Henlys, a company that included motor dealers and Coleman Milne, makers of hearses and limousines. The name of the company was changed to Plaxton Group PLC.

1970 PLAXTONS Pennine IV op SEDDON

1970-plaxtons-seddon-pennine-iv-op

In July 1989 Plaxton bought the manufacturing rights for the coach products of its main domestic competitor, Duple for £4 million. This included the jigs for the Duple 300 and the Duple 425 integral. Duple Services Ltd., the spares and repair business, was also purchased. The 320 was re-worked by Plaxtons at Scarborough later in 1989 and 25 were built and sold as the Plaxton 321. Many components from the Paramount were used both internally and externally. Identifying traits being the squared up wheel arches and Paramount side mouldings. The 321 was around £6,000 cheaper than a comparable Paramount III. Further batches were considered but it is not known if they were actually built. The 321 was only available from Kirkby. The 340 with the higher floor was considered but none were built. A modified version of the 425 design was introduced in 1991 and was built by Carrosserie Lorraine, a French coachbuilder Plaxton had recently purchased from Iveco. Only 12 vehicles were manufactured, and Carrosserie Lorraine was subsequently closed in 1992.

05 Arriva Guildford&West Surrey 3091 P291 FPK

The Dennis Dart, released in 1989, had been a runaway success, so in 1991 the Plaxton Pointer midibus was announced, this was quite a utilitarian, square body. This was followed by the Plaxton Verde, which Plaxton hoped would match the success of its smaller sister, but it failed to capture the market quite as much as the Pointer, and it was clear that the bus industry wasn’t buying 12m single-deckers in as large numbers any more. Later that year new coach bodies, the Plaxton Premiere and Plaxton Excalibur, were launched.

1971 AEC 6U3ZR Reliance with Plaxton Panorama Elite C30F body

1971-aec-6u3zr-reliance-with-plaxton-panorama-elite-c30f-body

In May 1992, after a management shake-up, the company was renamed Henlys Group PLC.

Henlys pursued a strategy of diversification and expansion through the 1990s. The established bus bodybuilder Northern Counties was bought in 1995 for £10 million. The UK bus and coach manufacturing business, trading under the Plaxton brand, continued to produce a range of bus and coach bodywork. It also owned one of the largest UK coach dealers, Kirkby, and provided after-sales services to coach and bus operators.

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A Plaxton Premiere.

In August 2000 a joint venture was formed with Mayflower, owners of the Dennis and Alexander brands. The joint venture, known as TransBus International, included only the United Kingdom bus manufacturing operations of both companies, including Plaxton and Northern Counties. Henlys held a 30% stake in the joint venture, which employed 3,300 employees at seven locations. The traditional brands of Alexander, Dennis and Plaxton were replaced by TransBus International. In 2004 Mayflower Group failed, and TransBus International went into receivership. An initial offer from the Plaxton management to buy the coach segment of the company was rejected by the receiver, but was later accepted when a senior TransBus manager and a consortium from Scotland composed of Brian Souter, owner of Stagecoach Group, his sister Ann Gloag, David Murray and Noble Grossart, agreed to buy the Alexander Dennis portion of the company.

Independent again

Thus the new company, Plaxton Limited, re-emerged as an independent company, employing almost 300 people at its main coach plant in Scarborough and a further 59 at its facility in Anston, which builds small buses and coaches such as the Beaver and Cheetah.

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1971-leyland-plaxton-panorama-uk

In May 2005 Plaxton announced its return to the service bus market, launching the Centro, a low-floor single-deck vehicle initially to be offered on VDL SB120 chassis, in 10.7 m length, with the first bus completed in February 2006. The Centro is now available on the VDL SB180, VDL SB200, MAN 14.220 and Volvo B7RLE chassis, with 10.2 m and 12 m lengths also offered.

1972 AEC 6U3ZR Reliances with Plaxton Panorama Elite II C49D bodies

1972-aec-6u3zr-reliances-with-plaxton-panorama-elite-ii-c49d-bodies

The company also revealed the Primo, a 28 seat low-floor minibus, in September 2005. This 7.9 m long vehicle is powered by the Cummins ISBe Euro III engine, mounted transversely at the rear. The Primo frame is assembled in Hungary by Enterprise Bus, effectively a conventional chassis in most respects but one which extends up to cantrail level, before being shipped to Scarborough for completion.

Purchase by Alexander Dennis

In May 2007 Plaxton was purchased by Alexander Dennis. But as of late 2008, the Centro bodywork remained in production alongside with Alexander Dennis’s Enviro200 Dart and Enviro300.

1972 Plaxton Malta Valletta

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In 2008 the new Plaxton Elite was launched at Birmingham Euro Bus Expo and by 2011 had delivered 100 Elites. Originally based on the Volvo B12B chassis, it was later developed to suit the Volvo B9R and B13R chassis.

Products

Past

(All coach bodies unless noted)

  • Type A
  • D Series
  • Type F (full fronted)
  • Type J (half cab)
  • K Series
  • L Series
  • M Series
  • Q2
  • Envoy
  • Venturer I, II, III
  • Crusader Mk I, Mk II
  • Consort Mk I, Mk II, Mk III, Mk IV
  • Highway – (single deck bus)
  • Panorama
  • Embassy I, II, III, IV
  • Panorama I and Panorama II
  • Panorama Elite, Elite Express
  • Panorama Elite II, Elite Express II
  • Panorama Elite III, Elite Express III
  • Panorama IV (For Bedford SB and VAS)
  • Derwent, Derwent II (single deck bus)
  • Supreme I, II, III, IV, V, VI (1st version of Supreme for *Bristol LHS & Bedford PJK was to be known as Panorama Supreme)
  • Viewmaster (Britain’s first 3.5M coach)
  • Bustler – (single deck bus)
  • Paramount 3200, 3500, 4000, Mk I, Mk II, Mk III including low driving position option

Current

Coaches

  • Elite (12.6m and 14m)
  • Panther (12.8m and 15m) – for Volvo B8R, B9R, B10M, B11R, B12M, B12B and B13R, Dennis R-Series, MAN 18.310, Irisbus EuroRider and Scania K-series
  • Leopard – for Volvo B9R and Volvo B8R

Buses

1972 Plaxton Malta Valletta EPSON scanner image 29 seat Mercedes Plaxton Cheetah 33 seat Mercedes Plaxton Cheetah 1907 Plaxton model T Charabanc 1930. 37 Seater Bus-Coach Type A3 1946 Leyland Tiger Plaxton body 1948 AEC Regal lll 9621E418 Plaxton ha324z 1949 Plaxton Sentinel-2 1950 Bedford OB ETL221, Plaxton 29 seater coach with 28HP petrol engine 1952 Bussen Commer Avenger built in 1952 with Plaxton Envoy bodywork 1956 plaxton consort bus brochure Bedford 1957 AEC Reliance Plaxton Consort C41C bodied 1957 Albion Aberdonian with Plaxton B45F body , one of two delivered to Armstrongs of Ebchester 1957 Plaxton Consort bodied Bedford SB YWE 388 1958 Albion Aberdonian Plaxton Consort II C41F 1961 AEC 2MU3RV Reliance with Plaxton Highway DP41F body 1961 AEC 4MU3RA Reliance with Plaxton Panorama C44F body 1961 Bedford J4 Plaxton Consort999-PPL 1961 Ford Thames 570E, Plaxton C41F coachwork was carried by 335, 335BWB 1961 Ford Thames Trader57OE TRJ731 Plaxton C41F 1962 Bussen Commer Commando Plaxton C30F seats 1962 Plaxton bodied AEC Reliance 326 1963 Bedford J2SZ10 with Plaxton Embassy 20 seat 1963 Bedford VAL14 BMX296A with Plaxton Val C52F body 1963 Plaxton Panorama Bedford VAL14 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1965 batch of Leyland Leopards with WA's specified centre-entrance Plaxton Panorama bodies 1965 Bedford Val with Plaxton body 1965 Ford Thames 570E with Plaxton C41F bodywork purchased UK 1965-bedford--panorama-bus-3 1966-bussen-commer-plaxton-venturer 1967 Bedford J2SZ10 with Plaxton C20F bodywork 1968-bedford--panorama-bus-2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1970 Bedford Val Plaxton Dons Tour Brochure photo 1970 Ford R226 with Plaxton Panorama Elite C49F bodywork 1970 PLAXTONS Pennine IV op SEDDON 1971 AEC 6U3ZR Reliance with Plaxton Panorama Elite C30F body OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1972 AEC 6U3ZR Reliances with Plaxton Panorama Elite II C49D bodies 1972 Plaxton Malta Valletta 1972 Plaxton Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1972 Plaxton Panorama Leyland Malta 1973 Plaxton Panorama Bedford Malta 1974 Plaxton Bedford Malta 1974 Plaxton Panorama Bedford Malta 1974 Plaxton Panorama Elite Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1975 Plaxton Panorama Elite Bedford Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1975 Plaxton Supreme GB OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1976 Plaxton Bedford Malta 1976 Plaxton Derwent Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1976 Plaxton Panorama UK 1977 PLAXTONS Supreme 80 1977 PLAXTONS Supreme Series 1977 PLAXTONS Supreme 1977 PLAXTONS Viewmaster 1978 Plaxton Malta 1978 Plaxton Panorama Ford Malta 1980 Plaxton Panorama Ford Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA FOT1118113 1986 Plaxton Leyland UK 1989 Plaxton UK 1990 Plaxton Volvo F 1997 Plaxton Panorama  Bedford Malta 2002 Plaxton Paragon London 2005 Mercedes Vario Plaxton Beaver 2 SF05 FNW EPSON scanner image 2008 PlaxtonElite_061108_2 2009 Plaxton Panther London OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2012 Plaxton Elite i AEC 6U3ZR Reliance with a Plaxton Panorama Elite C45F body AEC 6U3ZR Reliance with Plaxton Panorama Elite II C49D body Arriva Guildford&West Surrey 3091 P291 FPK Bedford 20 seat Plaxton Embassy SONY DSC Bedford J2 Coach Bedford SBG with Plaxton Consort Bedford Val 14 Plaxton Panorama Coach Bedford VAS Plaxton Embassy coach ETC 760B SONY DSC OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Ford R192 with Plaxton Derwent 23 seat coach body Ford R1014 Plaxton Derwent of Alder Valley Leyland Leopard Plaxton OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mobile cinema Plaxton 3500 4000 Plaxton Beaver 1 Plaxton bodied Leyland Leopards KAU564V, RVO657L & RVO668L Barton Plaxton C45F SWJ-395F Plaxton cars Plaxton Consort C41C AEC Plaxton DBY451 Malta Plaxton Derwent 3000 1 Plaxton Elite YN10 FKM Selwyns National Express Plaxton Mercedes BeaverTreloar's Plaxton 'Panorama' bodied Bedford VAL BNW640C. Plaxton Panorama body, which preceded the Panorama Elite, had flat side windows Plaxton Panorama Elite II bodywork on a Bedford VAL chassis. Plaxton Paragon demonstrator Plaxton Paragon National Express route 561 Plaxton Pointer Plaxton Pointer-bodied Dennis Dart SLF Plaxton Premiere National Express old livery OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Plaxton President Plaxton Profile CA06GHA-1-CHESTER BE PLAXTONS Paramount 3500 Tilling Stevens Express, the body seems to be a Plaxton D2 SONY DSC UVE 593K Bedford J2 Plaxton Volvo Plaxton B7R coach Engeland

PICKWICK Nite Coach USA

1920 Pickwick logo

Pickwick Lines Nite Coach service made its debut at the Pacific Southwest Exposition in Long Beach, Calif., during the summer of 1928. Movie legend Clara Bow was pictured with one of the glistening new coast-to-coast coaches and that picture ran in newspapers nationwide, all heralding the arrival of luxury coast-to-coast bus service.

An excerpt from the Aug. 14, 1928, Madison Wisconsin Capital Times reads: “Newest Motor Coach Is Veritable Hotel on Wheels Has Dining Rooms, Berths and Balcony. $30,000 Vehicle Will Be Used On San Diego, ‘Frisco Trip.”

Blueprints of the monstrous bus show a central walkway down the middle of the bus, halfway between the upper and lower levels. This made it easier to slip down into or step up into the sleeping berths. The driver was situated above the motor, almost eight feet above the roadway. The steward had a small kitchen prep area at the front of the bus that served meals to the 28 guests upon request. Each delivered to your stateroom which incidentally featured running water and electric lighting. Each coach was equipped with two lavatories, too.

This black and white photo postcard was taken on Kersey Coates Drive here in Kansas City. The drive is now part of the western part of the downtown loop. The description of the card reads: “First Motor Bus Compartment Sleeper, The Pickwick Nite Coach is a beautiful streamlined vehicle with 28 air cushioned chairs by day and 28 comfortable berths by night. Hot meals prepared and served on board. Two lavatories, Crew of 3, pilot, steward and porter. In successful use over Pickwick-Greyhound and affiliated lines. Pickwick-Greyhound Lines, General Offices, Railway Exchange Building, Kansas City, Missouri.”

Pickwick Lines operated out of the Pickwick Hotel downtown that doubled as the Santa Fe Trailways Stage Lines Depot. References and information for this column were researched on Coachbilt.com, a comprehensive website archiving buses and motor coaches back to their introduction in the late 1800s.

1909 Wren pat 1 1910 Pickwick Theater SD 1918 Pickwick stage SD 1920 Pickwick logo 1922 Pickwick 100 1922 Pickwick stage 01 1925 PA Model Z 1925 Pickwick buffet 1926 PA Pickwick ob-buf1 1926 PA Pickwick ob-buffe 1927 Austin pat 02 1927 PA Pickwick ob-buf0 1927 PA Pickwick ob-buf1 1927 PA Pickwick ob-buffe 1927 Pickwick Observation-Buffet Coach 1928 Austin pat 01 1928 Pickwick NC 00 1928 Pickwick NC 01 1928 Pickwick NC ad 1928 Pickwick NC ad2 1928 Pickwick NC int 1928 Pickwick Nite Coach Bus 1928 Pickwick Nite Coach 1928_Austin_pat_03 1929 Austin pat 02 1929 Austin pat 06 1929 Pickwick Bach LA 1929 Pickwick NC 01 1929 Pickwick NC ad 1929 Pickwick NC LAX 1929 Pickwick NC PCF 1930 Austin pat 01 1930 Austin pat 02 1930 Pickwick ad 1930 Pickwick Duplex 00 1930 Pickwick Duplex 01 1930 Pickwick Duplex 02 1930 Pickwick Duplex 04 1930 Pickwick Duplex 05 1930 Pickwick Duplex Parlor Coach  PICKWICKDUPLEX1 1930 YC Pickwick 01 1930 YC Pickwick 02 1931 Austin pat 01 1931 Austin pat 02 1931 KTM Morgan Barnes le 1932 Pickwick ad 1932 Pickwick Motor Coach Columbia Pacific-201 Nite Coach 1933 Pickwick 'Nite Coach' GAL 7PH 131 NITECOACH 1933 Pickwick Nite Coach PICKWICK S208 SANTAFE 1933 Yellow Coach Nite Coach 1933_Pickwick_NC_05 1935 Hubley Pickwick 01 1935 Kenton Pickwick 01 1935 Kenton Pickwick 02 1935 Kenton Pickwick 03 1935 KTV Pickwick 01 1935 KTV Pickwick 02 2002 Pickwick NC 123 2005 Pickwick NC 123 249011-1000-0 795091_1_l 28721875_1_m ANORTHSHORE500_zps3e9eee63 Pickwick Double decker Trans Continental Bus Plane Service Pickwick Duplex GREYHOUNDPICKWICKSTAGES Pickwick Nite Coach Bus