ERF Trucks

ERF (truck manufacturer)

Sandbach, Cheshire, England 1933 – 2007

ERF
Industry Automotive
Fate Bought/Closed
Successor MAN AG
Founded 1933
Founder Edwin Richard Foden
Defunct 2007
Headquarters Sandbach, Cheshire, England
Products Trucks
Parent MAN AG
Website ERF.com

Edwin Richard Foden was a British truck manufacturer. Established in 1933 by Dennis Foden, 1932 Edwin Richard Foden retired from Foden.

1933 The new company used the same Jennings cabs and Gardner engines as Fodens had done.

1933 The first ERF vehicle was a 6 ton type C14 which remained in production until 1946.

WWII Production of military lorries, mostly for the Royal Army Service Corps, with some vehicles for essential civilian users.

1950 Edwin died

1951 Used steel cabs by Willenhall Motor Radiator Co

1952 The oval radiator grill was introduced

1961 The LV cab was introduced. The company employed 315 persons.

1961 Manufacturers of commercial motor vehicles. 315 employees.

1967 Fire appliances were produced, a situation which continued for ten years until taken over by Jennings

1970 Changes to the A range

1973 Developed the SP cab for vehicles up to 42ton gvw

1974 The B range introduced

1996 Company bought by Western Star of Canada

After a period of recuperation he returned to the development of a diesel lorry on his own account. With the collaboration of his son Dennis, William’s son Ted, and several key figures dismissed by Fodens, Edwin went on to establish a rival concern, which became ERF Ltdits factory in Sandbach, Cheshire was closed in 2002, and it was discontinued as a marque by owner MAN AG in 2007.

History

In 1881 the first Foden traction engine was built in Sandbach, Cheshire. Then in 1898 Edwin Richard Foden influenced future truck design by designing the first steam wagon running on steel tyre wheels which had been successful until 1913 when vulcanised solid rubber tyre development had advanced to the stage of allowing their fitment on heavy vehicles. Edwin introduced the first pneumatic-tyred Foden steam wagon, but as steam transport appeared to be going out of favour, Edwin turned his attention to the development of a 6-8 ton chassis fitted with new Gardner LW (Light Weight) high speed oil-engine.

At the beginning of the 1930s, Britain’s industry was struggling to survive the worst recession in living memory and unemployment exceeded two million. At this time insurers were becoming increasingly reluctant to underwrite steam boilers. As a result, Edwin believed the future of the lorry building industry lay in Diesel engine power. The Foden boardroom did not agree, and consequently he resigned along with his son Dennis.

With the help of his son Dennis and two former colleagues, including Ernest Sherratt who became Chief Engineer, Edwin worked to build the first ERF diesel lorry in 1933 and gave the first chassis the number 63 which was Edwin’s age. Fromm the beginning the company only bought in the best components available, including engines from Gardner, gearboxes from David Brown and axles from Kirkstall Forge, rather than making everything in house. This concept would serve ERF well throughout its existence. A new and striking cab was styled by Sandbach coachbuilder John Henry Jennings, who also provided initial factory space to assemble the new lorry. Based in Sandbach, Cheshire, the company made their own chassis and cabs, originally with engines from Gardner, but later also Cummins, Perkins, Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar Inc..

ERFs used to be marketed under the Western Star badge in some countries such as Australia. It also built a specialist fire engine chassis, with a body built on by in-house company JH Jennings, later Cheshire Fire Engineering. However, when recession came in the early 1980s and production fell from a total output of 4,000 chassis per annum, CFE was sold to management to eventually become Saxon Sanbec.

ERF was never a major manufacturer; as an example their domestic sales total only reached 1,083 trucks in 1981. The company was bought by Canadian truck maker Western Star in 1996. However, after PACCAR‘s purchase of Foden, DAF Trucks and Leyland Trucks increased competitive pressure, and Western Star was approached by Freightliner Trucks corporation, the decision was made to sell ERF.

Purchase by MAN

In 2000, ERF became part of MAN AG. Freightliner tried to sue Western Star and ERF’s former auditors, but failed on the grounds of corporate negligence.

Final model range

ERF’s final model range consisted of the ECT, ECM and ECL built on MAN’s production line in Munich (for heavy trucks), and a plant in Sandbach for light trucks – positioned to win a contract from the Ministry of Defence for 8,000 new British Armed Forces trucks.

All the ERF trucks were based on MAN’s existing products, the only difference being that the ERF model came with the option of specifying use of Cummins ISMe power plant as an alternate to MAN’s own D20 common rail power-plant. The Sandbach factory was closed by MAN in 2002, with production of the ECT moved to Munich, Germany, ECM and ECL units moved to Steyr, Austria where they are built on the same facilities as their identical MAN counterparts.

In the light of Cummins’ intransigence on upgrading the ISMe engine to comply with the Euro4 emission regulations, MAN initially decided to replace it completely with the new series of MAN D20 engines. With ERF badging only used for the British market, MAN decided to cease the supply of ERF badged trucks from July 2007.

In popular culture

  • On the BBC motoring programme Top Gear, the presenters are challenged to buy lorries and presenter Richard Hammond buys an ERF from Walker Movements Limited in Leicester. He pronounces the name phonetically. In response to a quip about its diminutive size, Hammond responds by calling it ‘the Caterham of lorries’ as it has an engine that could match Jeremy Clarkson‘s 12 litres (732.3 cu in) Renault Magnum, but as light and as small as James May‘s Scania P94D. It was also the fastest among the three; it has a top speed that exceeds 90 miles per hour (145 km/h).

Gallery

Bibliography

  • Dai Davies, ERF: The Inside Story, 2009, 160p. 300 col. & b/w ill. h/b.
  • Peter Foden, 60 Years On: The Story of ERF, A British Commercial Vehicle Manufacturer, 1995, ISBN 0952213605, ISBN 978-0952213604, 96 pages

List of Models

1933-erf-c14-mj-2711-no-1-of-1933 1933-erf-ci4-1 1933-erf-ci4-1 1936-erf-ci4-1936-erf-with-a-gardner-4lw-engineC14 (1933- )erf-v-type erf-model-v-01-1 erf-v-type-44g-north-british-rubber-rha165

1949-03cv-erfModel V (1948- )1960-erf-kv546-reg-no-999-nvt 1957-erf-kv-ballast-tractor-reg-no-yyc-430 1956-erf-kv-reg-no-kjt-437-side 1956-erf-kv-reg-no-kjt-437-front 1956-erf-kv-reg-no-kjt-437 erf-kv-was-taken-in-the-yard-at-welwyn erf-kv-templemore-1991-youngs-in-templemore-co-tipperary-h erf-kv-54g-851ahr-a-nice-little-kv-unit-we-rescued-from erf-kv-this-kv-has-had-work-done-on-the-cab-but-i-dont-th 1992-erf-kv-merv-wines-sale-1992-bison-2 erf-kv-ici-buxton-limeworks-z erf-kv-coates-cider-ketton-cement-ahb 1963-erf-68g-kv-a-great-restoration-of-an-early-1960s-24-ton-g 1968-erf-68g-older-kv-cabbed-model-i-last-saw-it-at-oulton-par 1960-erf-64g-kv-a-gardner-6lw-120-bhp-engine-powers-this-erf erf-5-4-a-rare-type-with-a-kv4-cab 1968-erf-68g-kv-_-this-erf-was-about-to-go-out-of-service-with-th 1965-erf-56gts-kv-_-an-early-lv-cabbed-erf 1962-erf-kv-64gx-edward-beck-son-ltd-z-w 1959-erf-kv-66tsg-g-plant-macclesfield-253pma 1962-erf-64gx-kv-richard-read-transport-ltd-1737df erf-66r-kv-dan-taylor-benningfield-ltd-durban-sa erf-kv-ici-buxton-limeworks erf-66r-kv-bell-bros-pty-ltd-ubb601 erf-kv-66gsf-sabrina-park-gate-iron-rotherham-4874wu erf-kv-88r-thomas-hedley-co-ltd-newcastle-tanker-3136wy-by-e-r-f 1944-erf-kv-removal-van-registered-hgc-695 1961-erf-kv-54-g 1960-erf-kv-8-wheeler-flat 1957-erf-kv-ballast-tractor-8-6 1956-erf-kv-tractor-unit-100hp 1964-erf-kv-jss-246b-rj-strang 1962-erf-kv

SONY DSC
ERF KV
ERF KV 6LX 1966 - grille
ERF KV 6LX 1966 – grille

KV range (1954- )1971-erf-lv-reg-no-abw-896j 1971-erf-lv-tractor-reg-no-wjg-948j 1964-erf-lv-8-wheeler-reg-no-bom-948c erf-vgv337k-erf-lv-series-unit-2x1-ojh-smith-sons-lt jfl26d-chassie-no-12415-erf-lv-recabbed-with-a-b erf-66g-lv-probably-the-oldest-shomans-lorry-at-kirkcaldy erf-lv-swj886l-taken-at-cellar-clough-mills erf-lv-recovery-seen-at-an-essex-steam-rally-many-years-ag erf-lv-heavy-duty-well-thats-what-the-drivers-thought erf-lv-6x4-units-south-african-built erf-lv-6x4-articulated-bus-yes-bus-south-african 1968-erf-68g-lv-the-twin-of-the-previous-erf 1967-erf-68g-lv-a-very-tidy-showmans-van 1968-erf-68g-lv-cab-with-an-a-series-front-at-oulton-park-in-1 1966-erf-66g-lv-in-later-times-sported-a-1960s-square-style-me 1968-erf-54g-lv-and-g-rhodes-foden-fleetmaster-5419ru-and-rov 1967-erf-54g-lv-seen-in-its-last-days-having-been-put-off-the 1960-erf-54g-lv-on-the-fairs-about-25-years-ago-and-now-set-as 1962-erf-54g-lv-a-farm-lorry-that-was-still-working-in-the-late erf-54g-lv-a-fairly-rudimentary-recovery-wagon-with-a-gard erf-44lkg-not-many-of-the-small-56-ton-erfs-had-the-lv-ca erf-broken-lv-cummins-200 1965-erf-lv-66gx-scottish-newcasle-breweries-ebb217c 1965-erf-lv-64gx-whiteways-cider-duo547c 1965-erf-lv-64gx-r-goodall-duo546c 1965-erf-56gts-kv-_-an-early-lv-cabbed-erf 1964-erf-lv-long-door-ljl-cab-on-the-woolwich-ferry 1964-erf-lv-long-door-lv-jl-cab-on-the-woolwich-ferry 1964-erf-lv-66gx-6x4-heavy-haulage-tractor-unit 1963-erf-lv-44g-coates-cider-592xyb 1963-erf-lv-j-woolley-transport-ltd-230djw 1963-erf-64gx-lv-boalloy-long-door-edward-beck-son lvpygk8mpfsd2ml0a1h5 1963-erf-64gx-lv-boalloy-long-door-edward-beck-son-l 1963-erf-54g-lv-long-door-230djw-this-is-a-very-early 1963-1964-erf-lv-64gx-tractor-units-edward-beck-son 1963-erf-lv-66p-boalloy-long-door-sisk-ireland-nze524 1963-erf-54g-lv-jh-jennings-long-door-goodwin-kirk-sons-ltd-5081tu 1975-erf-lv8-livestock-transporter-engine-10450cc-gardner-diesel-registered-hcd 1972-erf-lv-flat-bed-180bhp 1972-erf-lv-flat-bed-180hp 1969-erf-lv 1963-erf-lv

SONY DSC
SONY DSC
SONY DSC
LV

LV range (1962- )1975-erf-a-series-reg-no-glg-139n 1974-erf-a-series-reg-no-gao-399n 1973-erf-a-series-reg-no-jjn-226l 1972-erf-a-series-reg-no-gbt-309l 1972-erf-a-series-reg-no-wtl-160k 1968-erf-a-series-reg-no-mdc-255g-a 1968-erf-a-series-reg-no-mdc-255g erf-64g-a-well-known-scottish-preserved-lorry erf-m16-a-lightweight-16-tonner-in-the-erf-range-in-the-ea erf-a-series-up-from-weston-super-mare-for-the-2011-ayrshi 1969-erf-a-series-more-usual-artic-version-of-the-a-series-wit 1968-erf-68g-lv-cab-with-an-a-series-front-at-oulton-park-in-1 1971-erf-a-series-dju-874kA Series (1972- )1979-erf-b-series-reg-no-cbu-915t 1979-erf-b-series-reg-no-gjf-530v 1975-erf-b-series-reg-no-kyb-926n 1996-erf-b-series-first-registered-in-1996 1978-erf-b-series-a-versatile-lorry-than-can-also-be-used-as-a 1980-erf-b-series-eagle-diesel

1978-erf-b

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
B Series (1974- )

1980-erf-c-series-streched-tractor-unit-cummins-250 1982-erf-c-series-not-as-erf-had-intended-i-think-note-the-li 1986-erf-c-series-gardner-230-turboC Series1982-erf-d-series-reg-no-xnw-290xD Series1996-e-series-reg-no-p680-ytt

1988-e-series-reg-no-f521-mbl 1987-e-series-reg-no-e733-scl-front 1987-e-series-reg-no-d111-cvt 1987-e-series-10-litre-reg-no-e733-scl j-barretts-erf-e-series-e414uhs-pennine-eagleE Series

See Also

WILLOWBROOK Ltd Coachbuilders Loughborough Leicestershire England UK

1954 Willowbrook ltd Derby Road Loughborough Leicestershire

WILLOWBROOK Ltd.

derby-road-loughborough-leicestershire-england-UK

1954 Willowbrook ltd Derby Road Loughborough Leicestershire 1935 Bedford JU6301 with Willowbrook C25F body 1935 Dennis Lancet with Willowbrook C31F body 1935 Gilford UT7836 A56 coach - The Ellen - Willowbrook body 1935 Leyland TD4 dating with a Willowbrook L27-28R body fitted in 1949 1937 AEC Regal 712, RC4613 Willowbrook B35F body 1937 AEC Regal with Willowbrook B35F body, rebodied by Willowbrook in 1950 1937 AEC Regent with a Weymann body and rebodied in October 1948 by Willowbrook 1938 Bristol K5Gs with ECW L23-24R bodies. It was, along with the others rebodied in 1951 by Willowbrook with the L27-26R body 1938 Daimler COG5 new to Trent and rebodied by Willowbrook in 1943 1939 Albion with Willowbrook C39F body 1939 BMMO SON with a Willowbrook B34F body 1939 Bristol K5G dating which had been rebodied in 1951 with this Willowbrook L27-26R body 1939 Bristol K5G with Willowbrook body 1939 Daimler COG5-40 with Willowbrook C35F body 1939 Leyland Tiger TS8 converted to a tower wagon with a Willowbrook body 1943 Guy Arab II fitted with a Strachan L27-28R body when new in 1943. It was rebodied in 1950 with the Willowbrook L27-26R body 1945 Guy Arab II originally with a utility Park Royal H30-26R body and numbered 41. In 1953 it was rebodied with a Willowbrook H30-26R body 1946 AEC Regal with Willowbrook B34F body 1946 Bristol L5G with Willowbrook body 1946 Willowbrook bodied Daimler CVD6 1947 AEC Regal 752, RC9658, with a Willowbrook B35F body 1947 AEC Regals with Willowbrook B35F bodies which were rebuilt by Willowbrook to FDP39F in 1958 1947 AEC Regent with Willowbrook H30-26R body 1948 AEC Regal with Willowbrook 35 seat half cab front entrance bus 1948 Crossley DD42-5 with a Willowbrook H28-26R body 1948 Daimler CVD6 GYG205 with Willowbrook DP35F body 1948 Leyland Tiger PS1 given a Willowbrook double deck body in 1957 1949 AEC Regal 703, NJO703, has Willowbrook dual purpose 32 seat body 1949 AEC Regal III - Willowbrook body 1949 AEC Regal III with Willowbrook B34F body 1949 Leyland Tiger PS1, originally fitted with a Duple coach body and numbered 560, KAL380, but rebodied in 1957 with a Willowbrook L31-30R body 1949 Willowbrook 1950 AEC Regal III with Crossley gearbox and Willowbrook DP33F body 1950 Daimler CVD6 with Willowbrook B35F body 1950 Leyland Tiger PS1 with Willowbrook body 1950 Willowbrook DP33F bodied Leyland PS2-3 1951 Guy Arab III with Willowbrook FH27-26F body 1951 Leyland PSU1-11 Royal Tiger with a Willowbrook B43F body 1951 Willowbrook C33C bodied Leyland PSU1-11 Royal Tiger 1951 Willowbrook FH27-26F bodied Leyland PS1-4 new in 1951 and named 'Oudenarde' 1952 Willowbrook B44R bodied Atkinson Alpha chassis 1952 Willowbrook C37C bodied A.E.C. 9821S Regal IVs 1952 Willowbrook H32-28R body on a Sunbeam F4 chassis 1953 3-axle Sunbeam S7 with Willowbrook H62D body 1953 AEC 9822S Regal IV with a Willowbrook C41F body 1953 AEC Regal IV with Willowbrook C39C body 1953 Sunbeam F4 with Willowbrook H32-28R body 1953 Willowbrook C37C bodied Leyland Royal Tiger 1954 AEC Regent III with lowbridge Willowbrook bodywork 1954 Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1-2T with Willowbrook C39R body 1954 Sunbeam F4A with Willowbrook H70R body 1954 Willowbrook C41C bodied Daimler D650HS Freeline 1954 Willowbrook ltd Derby Road Loughborough Leicestershire 1955 A.E.C. MU3RV Reliance with a Willowbrook B43F body 1955 Leyland L1 Leopard with Willowbrook B45F body 1955 Sunbeam F4A trolleybus with Willowbrook 70 seat rear entrance bodywork 1955 Sunbeam F4A with a distinctive Willowbrook body 1955 Willowbrook C41F bodied AEC Monocoach 1956 AEC Regent V with Willowbrook body 1956 AEC Reliance MU3RV with Willowbrook DP41F bodywork 1956 AEC Reliance with Willowbrook body 1956 Albion Nimbus MR9N Willowbrook B31F at Didcot Garage 1956 Atkinson BPL745H buses bought by Venture. Like the others this had a Willowbrook body, B45F 1956 Daimler 836, WDH911with willowbrook body 1956 Guy Arab LUFs with Willowbrook C37C bodies 1956 Leyland Tiger Cub with Willowbrook DP41F body 1957 AEC Regent V MD3RV with Willowbrook H32-28R bodywork 1957 Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1-2 with Willowbrook DP41F bodywork. 1957 Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1-2, VTX44, with Willowbrook DP41F body 1957 Leyland Tiger PS1 single deck chassis rebuilt with a Willowbrook L61RD body 1957 Leyland Titan PD2-20 203-BEH Willowbrook L27 28R 1957 Willowbrook B45F bodywork on its Atkinson BPL745H chassis 1957 Willowbrook C37C bodied AEC MU3RV Reliance 1958 AEC Reliance with Willowbrook Viking C41F body 1958 AEC Reliance with Willowbrook Viking C41F bodywork 1958 Albion Aberdonian MR11 with Willowbrook B45F bodywork 1958 Albion Aberdonian MR11N XUP399 with Willowbrook DP41F body 1958 Albion Nimbus NS3AN with Willowbrook B31F bodywork, whilst preserved East Kent EFN568 is a 1950 Dennis Falcon P3 with Dennis B29F bodywork 1958 Albion Nimbus NS3AN with Willowbrook B31F bodywork. 1958 Albion Nimbus NS3N with Willowbrook B31F bodywork 1958 Leyland PD3-4 with Willowbrook H73R body 1958 Leyland Titan PD3-4 with Willowbrook body. 1958 Willowbrook C41F bodied AEC MU3RV Reliance 1959 A E C Reliance 2MU3RV with Willowbrook C37F bodywork 1959 AEC Reliance with 41 seat Willowbrook Viking coach body 1959 AEC Reliance with Willowbrook Viking C41F body 1959 Albion NS3N Nimbus buses with Willowbrook B31F bodies 1959 Leyland PSUC1-2 with Willowbrook Dual Purpose body 1959 Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1-1 with Willowbrook B45F bodywork 1959 Willowbrook Viking C41F bodied Leyland PSUC1-2 Tiger Cub 1959 Willowbrook Viking C41F bodied Leyland PSUC1-2 Tiger Cubs 1960 AEC Reliance 2MU2RA with Willowbrook B42D body 1960 AEC Reliance 2MU3RA with Willowbrook B45F body 1960 AEC Reliance 2MU3RA with Willowbrook Viscount C41F bodywork. 1960 Daimler CVG6 with a distinctive Willowbrook lowbridge body 1960 Dennis Loline IIYF10 Willowbrook H44-30F 885-LDH 1960 Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1-2 with Willowbrook dual purpose 43 seat body 1961 AEC Reliance with Willowbrook B43F body 1961 Bedford J2SZ7 with a Willowbrook Compact C19F body 1962 Bedford VAS1 with Willowbrook B30F bodywork 1962 Leyland Leopard L2 with Willowbrook body 1962 Leyland Leopard with Willowbrook C47F 1962 Willowbrook B65F bodied AEC Reliance, 858GNM 1962 Willowbrook DP47F bodied Leyland PSU3-3RT Leopard 1963 Leyland Titan PD3A-1 from 1963 with Willowbrook H41-32F bodywork 1963 Willowbrook bodied Leyland Leopard 1964 AEC Regent V 2D3RA with Willowbrook H39-30F body 1964 Bedford VAL with Willowbrook B54F body 1964 Leyland Leopard PSUC1-11 with Willowbrook B45F body OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1965 Bedford VAS1 with Willowbrook B28F bodywork 1965 Daimler CRG6LX with Willowbrook H44-32F bodywork 1965 Leyland Leopard PSU3-1R with Willowbrook B53F bodywork 1965 Willowbrook DP49F bodied Leyland PSU3-1R Leopard 1966 AEC Reliances with Willowbrook B41D bodies 1966 Bedford VAS1 with Willowbrook B24FM bodywork 1966 Daimler Fleetline with Willowbrook single-deck bodywork 1966 Leyland Atlantean PDR1-2 with Willowbrook body 1966 Leyland Leopard PSU3-3R with a Willowbrook B53F body 1967 Bedfod VAS2 with Duple (Midland) B30F bodywork 1967 Bedford VAL70 with Willowbrook B56F bodywork 1967 Bedford VAL70 with Willowbrook body B56F 1967 Leyland L2 Leopard with a Willowbrook B43F body 1967 Willowbrook B45F-bodied Leyland Leopard 1967 Willowbrook DP49F bodied AEC Reliance 1968 A E C Reliance 6MU2RA with Willowbrook B46F bodywork 1968 AEC Regent V with Willowbrook H37-27F body 1968 Bedford SB5 with Willowbrook bodywork 1968 Bedford VAL with Willowbrook B56F body 1968 Bedford VAM70 saloons arrived with Willowbrook B33D+25 bodies 1968 Ford R192s with Willowbrook B45F bodies 1968 Willowbrook DP49F bodied Leyland PSU3A-4RT Leopard OKO816G a 1968 Willowbrook DP49F bodied Leyland PSU3A-4RT Leopard OKO816G 1968 Willowbrook Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1969 Daimler Fleetline SRG6LW with Willowbrook B44F bodywork 1969 Ford R192 with Willowbrook B45F bodywork a 1969 Ford R192 with Willowbrook B45F bodywork 1969 Leyland Atlantean PDR1A-1 with Willowbrook body 1970 AEC Swift with Willowbrook B43D body 866H 1970 AEC Swift with Willowbrook B43D body 1970 Ford R192  Willowbrook B45F 1971 AEC Reliance with Willowbrook B43F body 1971 AEC Swift with Willowbrook dual door body 1971 Bedford SB5 with Willowbrook DP39F bodywork 1971 Bedford YRQ with Willowbrook B45F bodywork 1971 Ford R192, YNR506J, with locally built Willowbrook bodywork 1971 Leyland Leopard PSU3 with Willowbrook DP49F body 1972 AEC Reliance 6U3ZR with Willowbrook Expressway C49F bodywork 1972 AEC Swift with Willowbrook body 1972 Bedford VAS5 with Willowbrook B16FM bodywork 1972 Bedford VAS-Willowbrook 1972 Ford R192 with Willowbrook C45F 1972 Mercedes-Benz 0302 LHD chassis with a Willowbrook '007' C51D body 1972 Willowbrook B53F-bodied Leyland Leopard PSU3B-2R 1973 Bedford YRT with a Willowbrook '002' Expressway C30FT body 1973 Ford R192 or R1014 with an '002' Expressway body and a Mercedes-Benz 0302 with an '007' body 1973 Ford R1014 with Willowbrook C45F body 1973 Ford Willowbrook PTX987F 1973 Leyland with Willowbrook  B53F 1973 Willowbrook bodied Leyland Atlantean No 50, CUF150L 1974 Bedford YRQ-Willowbrook SCF344N 1974 Leyland Leopard L84, RGV284N, with Willowbrook B55F 1976 A.E.C. 6U3ZL Reliances to National Travel (South East) with Willowbrook C47F bodies 1977 A.E.C. 6U3ZL Reliance with a Willowbrook C47F body Daimler Fleetline SRG6LW with Willowbrook B44F bodywork 704G TDH 901 was a Sunbeam F4A with a Willowbrook H36-34R body

After Willowbrook took over Brush in 1951 Duple took over Willowbrook in the seventies. Look for more under Brush + Duple

WHITSON Coach and Busbodybuilders Yiewsley, West Drayton, Middlesex England UK

Whitson

were not one of the larger coach or bus bodybuilders …Whitsons of Yiewsley, West Drayton, Middlesex

1954 Whitsons of Yiewsley, West Drayton, Middlesex - coachbuilders advert, 1954

1947 Dennis Lancet III with Whitson C33F body

1947-dennis-lancet-iii-with-whitson-c33f-body

1948 Maudslay Marathon III with a Whitson FC33F body lph429

1948-maudslay-marathon-iii-with-a-whitson-fc33f-body-lph429

1949 AEC Regal Whitson observation coach

1949-aec-regal-whitson-observation-coach

1949 Austin K4SL with a Whitson C29F body in 1959

1949-austin-k4sl-with-a-whitson-c29f-body-in-1959

1949 Austin K4SL with a Whitson C29F body

1949-austin-k4sl-with-a-whitson-c29f-body

1949 Crossley SD42 Whitson bodied GDL33 front

1949-crossley-sd42-whitson-bodied-gdl33

1949 Crossley SD42 Whitson bodied GDL33

1949-crossley-sd42-whitson-bodied-gdl33

1949 Crossley SD42-7 with Whitson C33F body

1949-crossley-sd42-whitson-bodied-gdl33

1949 LWE163, was a Whitson C33F bodied Crossley SD42-7 new to Sansam, Sheffield

1949-lwe163-was-a-whitson-c33f-bodied-crossley-sd42-7-new-to-sansam-sheffield

1949 Whitson C29F bodied Austin CXB

1949-whitson-c29f-bodied-austin-cxb

1950 A.E.C. 9621A Regal III with a Whitson FC33F body gbu9

1950-a-e-c-9621a-regal-iii-with-a-whitson-fc33f-body-gbu9

1950 A.E.C. 9821E Regal IV with a Whitson C41C body  lwt147

1950-a-e-c-9821e-regal-iv-with-a-whitson-c41c-body-lwt147

1950 Austin K4SL Whitson

1950-austin-k4sl-with-whitson-c29f-body

1950 Daimler 217 and FNV577, a Leyland Tiger PS2 Whitson bodied, bask in the pouring rain on the bus station

1950-daimler-217-and-fnv577-a-leyland-tiger-ps2-whitson-bodied-bask-in-the-pouring-rain-on-the-bus-station

1950 JAW 334, Foden..Bus Salopia Whitson

1950-jaw-334-foden-bus-salopia-whitson

1950 Leyland PS2 with Whitson body fnv557a

1950-leyland-ps2-with-whitson-body-fnv557

1950 Leyland Tiger PS2 with Whitson FC33F bodywork

1950-leyland-ps2-with-whitson-body-fnv557

1950 MRL865. Austin K4SL-Whitson C29F.

1950-mrl865-austin-k4sl-whitson-c29f

1950 N969 USAF Whitson Observation Coach

1950-n969-usaf-foden-whitson-observation-coach

1950 PVSC4-Whitson-HustwittCollect 2

1950-pvsc4-foden-whitson-hustwitt collect-2

1950 Whitson bodied Leyland Tiger PS2-3 FNV 557

1950-leyland-ps2-with-whitson-body-fnv557

1951 AEC RegalIV-Whitson-R.Simpson

1951-aec-regaliv-whitson-r-simpson-observation coach

1952 Chiltern Queens, Woodcote NPA462 Albion Victor Whitson FC31F at Woodcote Garage

1952-chiltern-queens-woodcote-npa462-albion-victor-whitson-fc31f-at-woodcote-garage

1952 Foden PVRF6 Whitson C39C KWU-24a

1952-foden-pvrf6-whitson-c39c-kwu-24

1952 Foden PVRF6 Whitson C39C KWU-24b

1952-foden-pvrf6-whitson-c39c-kwu-24

1952 NPA462 Albion Victor Whitson FC31F in Woodcote Garage

1952-npa462-albion-victor-whitson-fc31f-in-woodcote-garage

1953 Marshall, Bradford LWT149 AEC Regal IV Whitson C41C

1953-marshall-bradford-lwt149-aec-regal-iv-whitson-c41c

1953-Foden-PVSC6-EWH-195-Whitson-RC35C

1953-foden-pvsc6-ewh-195-whitson-rc35c-observation-coach

1954 AEC Regal IV Whitson

1954-aec-regal-iv-whitson

1954 Sentinel SLC6-30 with Whitson C40C body

1954-sentinel-slc6-30-with-whitson-c40c-body

1954 Whitsons of Yiewsley, West Drayton, Middlesex - coachbuilders advert, 1954 1955 Commer T85A Avenger III, MAW627, with a Whitson C41F body maw627

1955-commer-t85a-avenger-iii-maw627-with-a-whitson-c41f-body-maw627

1955 KWU24, Whitson C36C-bodied rear-engined Foden, outside the owner's garage in Wix, Essex, with Walsall-registered OB NDH663 lurking inside.

1955-kwu24-whitson-c36c-bodied-rear-engined-foden-outside-the-owners-garage-in-wix-essex-with-walsall-registered-ob-ndh663-lurking-inside © MJ Fisher

1955 Whitson bodied Austin Walsall

1955-whitson-bodied-austin-walsall

That’s all

Charles H. ROE Bus Body/Coach builders Leeds Yorshire England UK

Charles H. Roe

 roe logo kwLogo
1978 Roe bodied Atlantean XWG633T
 A November 1978 built Roe body on a Leyland Atlantean AN68A/1R, new to South Yorkshire PTE as their 1633, pictured in Manchester with Citybus

Charles H. Roe Ltd. was a Yorkshire coachbuilding company. It was for most of its life based at Crossgates Carriage Works, in Leeds.

1930 Guy BTX trolleybuses with Roe L27-26R body

1930 Guy BTX trolleybuses with Roe L27-26R body

In 1947 it was taken over by Park Royal Vehicles. Two years later, along with its parent, it became part of Associated Commercial Vehicles (ACV) in 1949, which was merged with Leyland Motors Ltd in 1962. In 1965 30% of Park Royal and Roe’s shares were exchanged by Leyland Motor Corporation for shares in Bristol Commercial Vehicles and Eastern Coach Works held by the Transport Holding Company. Later the THC was succeeded by the National Bus Company and Park Royal, Roe, Bristol, ECW and Leyland National Ltd became subsidiaries of a new company Bus Manufacturuers Holdings 50% owned by British Leyland and 50% by National Bus. Leyland took complete control of BMH in 1982 and closed Charles H. Roe in 1984. In the following year, a group of employees from the former business, supported by Yorkshire Enterprise Ltd, began the Optare coachbuilding business in the former Roe carriage works.

1930 Guy BTX with Roe L29-26R bodies

1930 Guy BTX with Roe L29-26R bodies

History overview

Mr Charles H. Roe was a coachbuilder, draughtsman, engineer and entrepreneur who established a coachworks business bearing his name in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1917. He continued to be its managing director until 1952. Charles H. Roe Ltd produced distinctive and durable coachwork which although associated most strongly with municipal operators, particularly in Yorkshire, sold to a wide range of bus, trolleybus and coach operators, and there were even a few car, railway carriage, tram and commercial vehicle bodies too. Eventually becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of British Leyland in 1982 it was closed in 1984. Former workers and management pooled their redundancy money and in 1985 returned to the Roe factory in Leeds with a new bus-building business under the new name of Optare Ltd.

1930 Leyland Lion LT1 with Roe bodywork

1930 Leyland Lion LT1 with Roe bodywork

History

Early years

Charles Henry Roe was born in York on 22 May 1887. His father Charles Roe worked for the North Eastern Railway at their carriage works in the town, eventually rising to a foreman’s position. C.H. Roe served his apprenticeship at the drawing office of the carriage works and his first job after gaining his trade in 1912 was as a draughtsman at the Wakefield works of Charles Roberts and Company who built railway rolling stock. A year later he moved to Leeds to work as an assistant to the chief engineer at the Hunslet-based RET Construction Co who was a pioneer builder of trolleybuses. Whilst there he worked on a twin-shaft drive transmission system from the traction motors of the trolleybus chassis to replace a previous chain-drive arrangement and designed a lightweight body featuring steel panels over a suitably reinforced teak body frame. As an engineer and draughtsman he was exempt from World War I Conscription. Customers for the RET vehicle with Roe-designed bodies included the trolleybus systems of Bloemfontein Corporation, The Shanghai Transport Company and Ramsbottom Urban District Council. The Ramsbottom examples were to a steel-frame design but it was wood and metal composite construction particularly using teak that became synonymous with the C.H. Roe name. The RET business had gone through one bankruptcy prior to C.H. Roe joining, originally having been founded as the Railless Electric Traction Company Ltd. in 1908. In 1916 The RET Company was required under war regulations to turn over production to munitions and being unable to supply orders in hand for trolleybuses was closed down in 1917.

1931 Guy BTX with a Roe L29-26R body

1931 Guy BTX with a Roe L29-26R body

Sole trader

By August 1917 C.H. Roe had set up on his own account as an engineer and coachbuilder in a nearby factory unit. Always an innovator with a shrewd grasp of the value of intellectual property Roe applied for his first patent (relating to driving pulleys) on Armistice Day November 11, 1918. During this time Roe continually extended his site, which adjoined that of his former employer which had now been requisitioned by the Royal Flying Corps. As a sole trader, Roe built a wide variety of products from simple flatbed trailers for traction engines to a refrigerated mobile fish shop body and stylish charabanc bodies on the ubiquitous Ford Model T. Another early patent was for a tipping body for lorries (spelt in true Yorkshire style ‘lurries’ in the application) with compartments to allow discrete loads to be kept separate. Railless Ltd had reformed after the war to build trolleybuses and Roe designed and/or built bodies went on examples supplied to the North Ormesby, South Bank, Normanby & Grangetown Railless Traction Company and to York Corporation.

1932 AEC Regal dating from 1932, was fitted with this Roe B32F body in 1938

1932 AEC Regal dating from 1932, was fitted with this Roe B32F body in 1938

The first company

Expansion at the Hunslet site was by the end of 1919 impossible, but C.H. Roe lived with his wife in the Cross Gates area of the city of Leeds and knew that a large shell-filling factory there had been vacated by the government. Thus for the purpose of purchasing this large site with a modern factory building and space for expansion he registered Charles H Roe Ltd on May 26, 1920. The shareholders included his father and a number of family friends. Whilst the formation of the company and negotiations to buy the Cross Gates site commenced, coachbuilding continued at the Hunslet factory, bodies including Charabancs on Karrier and Lancia chassis. After taking possession of the Cross Gates site the first Roe double-deck bodies were built for Birmingham Corporation on Railless Ltd chassis, a second trolleybus maker to patronise Roe was Clough, Smith Ltd whose trolleybuses comprised their Leeds-built electrical equipment on Straker-Squire chassis and were hence known as Straker-Clough; Roe bodies supplied to them were then supplied to the Teesside Railless Traction Board (a municipal joint committee who had taken over the North Ormesby Company) and Rotherham Corporation. Other products of this era included a number of charabancs on chassis including Leyland, Thornycroft and Fiat and a stylish limousine on a Lancia chassis. All types of bodies from other builders were also repaired and painted.

1932 AEC Regent with Roe body

1932 AEC Regent with Roe body

Trading difficulties in the early 1920s recession affected many businesses, the under-capitalised original Roe company being just one, during 1921 two debentures had to be secured to continue trading, the second relating directly to the Birmingham Corporation double deckers. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough and the first company was voluntarily wound-up after a directors’ meeting in November 1922. The receiver of the original company was able to give the bank a small surplus, whilst among the debts received £3,000 had come from various other purchasers plus £900 from Railless Ltd, who had subcontracted the Birmingham bodybuilding contract to Roe. Late payment can kill many a new business and it seems to have been the death of the original Roe company. C.H. Roe in a personal capacity bought the remaining assets from the receiver for £1,140.

1932 AEC Regent with Roe H30-26R body

1932 AEC Regent with Roe H30-26R body

Charles H Roe (1923) Ltd

The early years

One lesson had been learned in the formation of the second company (initially Charles H. Roe (1923) Ltd) in that share capital was one third larger (£8500 rather than £5850). At this time motorbus, rather than trolleybus or charabanc bodies began to assume a greater prominence. Like trolleybuses however a lot of the coachbuilding work on motorbuses was subcontracted either from the chassis manufacturer or from a dealership company. Thus many early Roe bus bodies on Karrier chassis were sold by the Huddersfield company as complete products.

1934 AEC Regent with Roe 56 seat body

1934 AEC Regent with Roe 56 seat body

An even more complicated situation arose with the Leeds based operation Tramway Supplies Ltd. They tendered for complete vehicles and then subcontracted the chassis supply to one manufacturer and the body supply to another. One of the body subcontractors was the Blackburn Aircraft who also had a factory in Leeds. They built their last bus bodies in 1924, just as Government orders for aircraft (particularly flying boats, a Blackburn speciality) began to pick up. Railless Ltd (the third Railless company) were, incidentally, backed by Short Brothers another aeroplane manufacturer with a specialism in flying boats and a sideline in bus bodies.

1934 AEC Regent with Roe H30-26R body

1934 AEC Regent with Roe H30-26R body

An example of how complicated the whole complete vehicle contract thing could get concerns a Tilling-Stevens bi-mode petrol-electric/trolley bus (type PERC1) built-for and patented-by the Teesside Railless Traction Board’s manager. Tilling-Stevens had contracted to supply a complete vehicle; they then subcontracted the body to Tramway Supplies who sub-subcontracted it to Blackburn, who sub-sub-subcontracted it to Roe.

1934 AEC Regent-Roe H30-26R

1934 AEC Regent-Roe H30-26R

Other odd work in the early years of the new company included in 1924 a 36 seat petrol-fuelled rail vehicle for the Derwent Valley Light Railway. It was based on two Ford Model T chassis fitted with flanged steel tyres and coupled back-to-back, this rail minibus or petrol multiple unit seated 18 in each carriage and was driven from one end only, the rearward-facing car running in neutral gear with the engine switched off. When worked coupled fuel consumption was stated to be 14.33 mpg and if one unit was run the even more efficient figure of 17.55 mpg was obtained. It wasn’t enough to save passenger operations on the line from oblivion however and the units were exported in 1926 to the County Donegal Joint Railway Committee (CDR) in the north-west of Ireland who converted them from standard gauge to 3 ft gauge, lowering the bodies in the process. The CDR thus became the first railway in Ireland to use internal combustion engines and by the time of closure ran all passenger services and a number of freights using Gardner-powered diesel units.

1934 Leyland TD3 with a Roe H24-24C body

1934 Leyland TD3 with a Roe H24-24C body

By 1925 Roe were receiving orders directly from customers in the council-owned sector, many of them previous customers for sub-contracted bodies, Mr Roe’s approachability during body construction may have played a part in this, letters from general managers of the time thank C.H. Roe for his enabling inspection of bodies in-build. Among municipals taking Roe bodies by this time were Ramsbottom, Rotherham, Northampton, Doncaster, Leeds, Oldham, Bradford and the Teesside Railless Board, most of whom would continue to be Roe customers for a long time; chassis included Bristol, Guy, Thornycroft and AEC. The first double-deck motorbuses were for Doncaster in 1925 on AEC, a year later Roe were building 30 ft-long six wheeled double-decks for Oldham on Guy chassis. Unlike London at the time all of Roe’s double-deck customers specified closed-tops on the upper deck. In 1926 Straker-Squire finally folded and Roe stored uncompleted vehicles for Clough, Smith prior to a new arrangement which saw their electrical equipment fitted to Karrier chassis. Also at this time Roe started building enclosed, or saloon, coaches which were often fitted to chassis which had previously carried charabanc bodies, Roe having a surplus of second-hand charabanc bodies by 1925. Two further debentures were called for, but this time it wasn’t to keep the business going, but to fund the expansion of the premises.

1935 AEC Regent originally with Roe H30-26R body

1935 AEC Regent originally with Roe H30-26R body

Independent prosperity

One of the more significant patents to emerge from Cross Gates was number 313720 registered in 1928 the name of the Company, Mr C.H Roe and Mr William Bramham, the works manager who was later to be general manager at Eastern Coach Works at Lowestoft, Northern Coachbuilders of Newcastle upon Tyne and Saunders-Roe of Beaumaris. This concerned a continuous machined teak waist rail designed to double-interlock with the vertical teak pillars and the steel reinforcing strips, once assembled also binding those to the outer panels; it could be accurately described as an early example of system-built coachwork. New chassis makes bodied in the late twenties included Albion and Crossley, both of whom chose Roe bodies for demonstrators, in Crossley’s case for its first double-decker. Trolleybuses continued to figure, makes including Karrier-Clough and Guy, the three-axled double deck now being the common form for these, customers including Bloemfontein, South Lancashire Transport and corporation fleets including some detailed above, Doncaster for example taking one of the only two Bristol trolleybuses with a Roe body in 1928.

1935 Roe H26-22C bodied AEC Regent

1935 Roe H26-22C bodied AEC Regent

Another significant patent was jointly granted in 1930 to the company, Mr Roe and J.C. Whitely the general manager of Grimsby Corporation for a central entrance double decker with a distinctive design of staircase which rose transversely two steps to a wide landing and then branched into forward and rearward ascending longitudinal flights to the upper deck. Roe built bodies to this style until 1950 and licencees included H. V. Burlingham of Blackpool.

1936 Leyland Cub KPZ2 with Roe bodywork

1936 Leyland Cub KPZ2 with Roe bodywork

In 1934 five years after the original company was wound up, the board agreed to remove the (1923) from the current company name. At the same time share capital rose to £12,000 and the current mortgages and debenture were repaid in favour of a new first mortgage.

1936 Leyland KPZ2 Cub with Roe B24F body

1936 Leyland KPZ2 Cub with Roe B24F body

In 1935, encouraged by the chassis builder, a Commercial Motor Show exhibit was built on an AEC Regent chassis for Leeds Corporation, this bus had a rakish streamlined outline and a full-width cab but more importantly had an all-new steel framework patented by the company, Roe and Bramham (who became a director that year) and a ‘Safety Staircase’ patented by the company, Roe, Bramham and William Vane Moreland, the general manager of Leeds City Transport. This staircase on a rear platform bus gave less loss of seating capacity than the straight staircase favoured in London and Birmingham but intruded less onto the boarding platform than the normal semi-spiral arrangement whilst being superior to either layout in having two broad landings allowing boarding and alighting passengers to pass on the staircase. It became a standard feature of all subsequent peacetime Roe double-deck bodies for Leeds Corporation and was widely employed by other fleets, 777 examples being built by Roe prior to expiry of the patent in 1950.

1936 Leyland TS7 with ROE B32 F Body

1936 Leyland TS7 with ROE B32 F Body

During World War II, Roe mainly continued to build passenger bodies, although supplying the war effort more directly with such specialised bodywork as mobile printing presses for field communications use on Foden Lorries and articulated mobile kitchens, canteens and dormitories to assist blitzed factories. These were on semi-trailer chassis coupled to Bedford tractor units. Similar bus-seated vehicles were built mainly for use within Ordnance factories (where they became known as Bevin buses) but two were supplied to Liverpool Corporation and briefly used as service buses (1942-4) before being converted to mobile canteens. More normal passenger vehicle bodies were built during the war to the Government-mandated ‘utility’ outline including 240 single-deck 32 seaters on Bedford OWB chassis and over 400 double-deck bodies on Guy and Daimler motorbuses and Sunbeam trolleybuses, most to the sunken upper deck offside gangway or lowbridge layout.

1936 Leyland TS7c with Roe B34F body

1936 Leyland TS7c with Roe B34F body

In 1945 nominal share capital increased to £108,000 and the valuation of the works increased to £98,000. In 1939 both the English Electric Company and Metro Cammell Weymann had approached Roe about amalgamation or takeover and in 1945 talks were opened with Mumford of Lydney in Gloucestershire. These talks were inconclusive but in 1947 Park Royal Vehiclesbought a controlling shareholding in the company, three Roe board members were replaced by Park Royal directors and C.H Roe joined the board of Park Royal. In 1949 Park Royal were taken over by Associated Commercial Vehicles by then the parent company of AEC, Crossley and Maudslay.

1937 AEC Regent Roe Pullman H31-25R

1937 AEC Regent Roe Pullman H31-25R

The ACV years

Although ACV owned three chassis manufacturers and three coachbuilders (Park Royal, Roe and Crossley) they did not try to tie the hands of customers. Some rationalisation happened early in that any orders for Park Royal composite bodies were transferred to Roe, and steel-framed bodies were either built by Park Royal or by Roe using Park Royal frames. By the mid-1950s all metal-framed bodies by ACV, regardless of coachbuilder, had a Park Royal outline.

1937 Bristol JO5G with Roe B32F body

1937 Bristol JO5G with Roe B32F body

The flagship of the Roe composite body range was however exclusively built on AEC Regent III; this was the Pullman body, the only Roe bus ever to be named. The prototype – a Leeds bus to the specifications of W. Vane Moreland – with its deep windows and four window bays rather than the then standard five had looked ultra-modern when shown on a pre-war Regent at the 1937 Commercial Motor Show in London, it is an acknowledged influence on the London Transport designers whose RT1 appeared two years later with similar construction and outline.

1937 Leyland TD5 with Roe H31-25R body

1937 Leyland TD5 with Roe H31-25R body

Trolleybuses continued to figure, on Sunbeam/Karrier, Crossley or BUT chassis. The most striking of these were the Coronation class vehicles built on Sunbeam MF2B chassis for Kingston upon Hull Corporation Transport. These had a front entrance on the front overhang and a central exit; they were fitted with twin staircases and were intended to be one-man operated so were equipped with trolley-pole retriever equipment at the rear.

1938 Leyland Tiger TS8 with Roe B30F body

1938 Leyland Tiger TS8 with Roe B30F body

After the initial post-war boom Roe also took on a great deal of repair, rebuilding and refurbishment work, adding a workshop for this purpose. Plymouth Corporation had its entire fleet of Guy Arab utility buses thoroughly rebuilt by Roe, some 100 passing through the works. Roe also extended the Brush or Metro-Cammell bodies of Midland Red‘s post-war underfloor engined single deckers from 27 ft 6in to 29 ft 3in, allowing an extra four seats to be fitted. This work covered classes S6, S8, S9, S11 and all but one of S10, a grand total of 455 buses all converted in 1952 or 1953. In 1952 Charles H Roe resigned from the position of managing director, although he remained as chairman.

1938 Leyland TS8-Roe B36R

1938 Leyland TS8-Roe B36R

As pressure of work eased Roe also introduced a coach body for the AEC Reliance. This was known as the Roe Dalesman and ran through four separate marks, from 1953-9. It was mainly stock-built for coach dealers selling to small independents but major operators to use the type included West Riding Automobile Company and Black and White Motorways. Other specialist work undertaken included two single deck trams for Leeds, a mobile chest X-ray unit for tuberculosis control and crew cab lorries on Ford Thames Trader for the Uganda police force. Box vans were supplied on Bedford to the Bradford Dyers Association.

1938 Leyland TTB3 or TTB4 with a Roe H35-29R body

1938 Leyland TTB3 or TTB4 with a Roe H35-29R body

The composite body had been revised post-war, with a new patent waist rail, the teak structural member now covered by rolled steel plate. In 1957 the composite double decker reached its final form with teak framing to the lower deck ceiling or upper deck floor and an aluminium framework above. This was to continue in production, mainly on Daimler half-cab chassis until 1968, the last batch being built for Northampton Corporation on CVG6, replacing earlier Roe-bodied CVG6s which at the time comprised the entire Northampton fleet, all but five having composite bodies.

1938 ROE CM-Roe

1938 ROE CM-Roe

Simultaneously Park Royal bowed to pressure from the British Electric Traction group of major regional bus operators and replaced their rather elegant mid-1950s aluminium-framed body with a steel-framed structure of very angular outline, this first appeared as the production version of the integral AEC Bridgemaster, but soon spread to all other steel-framed Park Royal and Roe double deckers. Crossley had been closed by ACV in 1958, having ceased to make chassis five years previously.

1939 Karrier E6 with Roe H32-28R body

1939 Karrier E6 with Roe H32-28R body

Roe metal-framed bodies to this new outline went on a wide range of double deck chassis. A large batch were built for BET on the new Leyland Atlantean, these were delivered in 1960 to Trent Motor Traction, Devon General and the Northern General Transport group. As well as looking ungainly these buses became notorious for their propensity to corrode. Roe also built both forward and rear entrance bodies using this structure on conventional chassis, Swindon Corporation taking Daimler CVG6 and both Yorkshire Traction and Stratford Blue Motors taking rebodied Leyland Tigers.

1939 Leyland Tiger TS8 with Roe B32F body

1939 Leyland Tiger TS8 with Roe B32F body

Far less conventional was the Guy Wulfrunian which was even more avant-garde than the Atlantean, it was designed to the requirements of the independent West Riding company and featured a front engine on the front entrance platform, instead of a front radiator it had two Cave-Browne-Cave heat exchangers on the upper deck front face to provide passenger heating and ventilation as well as engine cooling. The front wheels had double wishbone independent suspension and like the rear axle had a self-levelling air suspension system, the foundation braking was by disc brakes on all four wheels with a drum brake on the driveshaft providing the parking brake and the fluid flywheel adapted to serve as an integral retarder. At a time when only Jaguar and Ferrari road cars had front discs this was a technological adventure, like the Routemaster and Midland Red’s motorway coach it was shown with its Roe body in a cutaway-centre spread of boy’s comicThe Eagle where it took its place alongside V-Bombers, Nuclear Submarines and Deltic Locomotives. Roe bodied 131 out of the 137 Wulfruninans built from 1959 to 1965.

1940 AEC Regent with Roe bodywork

1940 AEC Regent with Roe bodywork

The Wulfrunian body was lower built as this chassis was designed as a low height bus with stepless entrance and centre gangways on both decks. Roe also softened the outline of the body with a subtly curved rear dome; the use of equal-depth windows on both decks produced a much more balanced look.

1941 Leyland TD7 with a Roe L24-24R body

1941 Leyland TD7 with a Roe L24-24R body

Other oddities at the dawn of the 1960s included single-deck buses on the double-deck AEC Regent V chassis, most of these were built for South Wales Transport for a route with a very low railway bridge in Llanelli under which underfloor engined single decks could not work but there were also one each for the Leeds Council Welfare department (with a rear ramp for wheelchair access) and for the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation.

1942 Guy Arab I with Roe L24-26R

1942 Guy Arab I with Roe L24-26R

1942 Leyland Titan TD7 with Roe H26-32C bodywork

1942 Leyland Titan TD7 with Roe H26-32C bodywork

In 1962 ACV merged with Leyland Motors to form the Leyland Motor Corporation. In 1965 LMC sold a 30% shareholding in Park Royal and Roe to the state-owned Transport Holding Company in return for a 25% stake in Bristol Commercial Vehicles and Eastern Coach Works. Charles H Roe retired as company chairman in 1962 and died in 1965.

1943 Guy Arab II with a Roe B38C body

1943 Guy Arab II with a Roe B38C body

1943 Guy Arab II with Roe L27-26R body

1943 Guy Arab II with Roe L27-26R body

1943 Guy Arab II with Roe L27-28R body

1943 Guy Arab II with Roe L27-28R body

1943 Sunbeam W with Roe H62R body

1943 Sunbeam W with Roe H62R body

The mixed economy

The original outline of the body for rear-engined double deckers was widely considered unsatisfactory and Sunderland Corporation took a heavily revised version on Daimler Fleetline from 1962-6 featuring a prominent peak at the front dome and a reverse rake to the upper-deck rear in the style of the contemporary Ford Anglia saloon car. Great Yarmouth Corporation instead specified double curvature windscreens of Alexander design on its Atlanteans (including a unique short-wheelbase batch in 1967) and on the last three Daimler Freeline single deckers. This then became a standard option at Roe who also optionally fitted the Alexander style double-curvature upper-deck front window on rear engined chassis, curving the line of the foremost upper deck side windows down to meet this, producing an elegant style which suited the Fleetline and the post 1964 low height Atlantean. Also in 1964 for that year’s Commercial Motor show Roe built its first body to the 36 ft length permissible since 1961, it was an early Leyland Panther for the Kingston upon Hull Corporation Transport fleet. Unlike the Coronation trolleybuses they were to replace, the Hull Panthers were allowed to be one man operated. Roe then built versions of this body for Leeds on the similar AEC Swift from 1967 to 1972 and also built standee single decks on Daimler Roadliner and Fleetline for Darlington and on Seddon Pennine RU for Doncaster.

1944 Daimler CWA6 with a Roe H30-26R body

1944 Daimler CWA6 with a Roe H30-26R body

1944 Guy Arab II with body by Roe

1944 Guy Arab II with body by Roe

1944 Sunbeam W with Roe body

1944 Sunbeam W with Roe body

In 1964 Leeds, the last provincial bastion of the rear-open platform double decker took a batch of Fleetlines to Great Yarmouth outline and the first of these was also shown at the 1964 show, Leeds continually revised this design over the next few years, in 1966 it was extended to 33 ft long rather than the previous 30 ft 10in, both decks had double curvature screens and side glazing became panoramic, with double-width window glasses. In 1968 angled flat glass at the front and a glass-fibre dash was added and a centre exit was fitted whilst the rear dome reverted to a square outline. This made the appearance similar to the Oldham Corporation variant supplied with conventional side glazing on standard wheelbase Atlanteans since 1965. The Leeds design was produced until 1975 with a few going to independent operators in England and Scotland. The Leeds and Oldham designs in turn led to the Park Royal–Roe standard design for Atlantean and Fleetline built from 1969 to 1981, which had a deeper front screen optionally to Alexander layout or flat-glazed and wider pillar spacing than the previous standard but not as long as that fitted to the Leeds style or the Manchester Corporation Mancunian. Roe built one batch of 34 Mancunians on long Fleetlines in 1972. These buses had been due to be bodied by East Lancashire Coachbuilders in 1970, but they suffered a fire destroying their works in Blackburn, so the contract was transferred to Park Royal, who in turn transferred it to Roe (shades of that Teesside Tilling-Stevens).

1945 Sunbeam W with Roe 62 seat coachwork

1945 Sunbeam W with Roe 62 seat coachwork

The standard design was adopted by West Yorkshire PTE (successor to the Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield Halifax and Calderdale fleets) and many municipals and also (from 1972) on the AN68 Atlantean became the National Bus Company’s second-choice double decker, being especially associated with ‘Leyland’ fleets such as Ribble, Northern General and Southdown but it also became the standard double decker with London Country who had over 300.

1946 AEC Regent IIIs with Roe H31-25R bodi

1946 AEC Regent IIIs with Roe H31-25R body

1946 Leyland PD1-Roe H31-25R

1946 Leyland PD1-Roe H31-25R

1946 Roe B35R bodied Guy Arab III

1946 Roe B35R bodied Guy Arab III

Nearing the end

In 1982 Leyland Vehicles, the truck and bus division of the by now state-owned British Leyland bought out the National Bus Company’s 50% shareholding in the joint-venture Bus Manufacturers Holdings Ltd which had not only owned Bristol, ECW, Park Royal and Roe but also the Leyland National factory at Workington.

1947 AEC Regals with Roe B32F body

1947 AEC Regals with Roe B32F body

1947 AEC Regent III with Roe H28-22C body

1947 AEC Regent III with Roe H28-22C body

1947 AEC Regent III with Roe H31-25R body

1947 AEC Regent III with Roe H31-25R body

1947 AEC Regent III-Roe H31-25R

1947 AEC Regent III-Roe H31-25R

1947 Daimler CVD6's coaches rebodied by Roe in the mid-1950s

1947 Daimler CVD6’s coaches rebodied by Roe in the mid-1950s

1947 Leyland Tiger PS1 with Roe B35R bodywork

1947 Leyland Tiger PS1 with Roe B35R bodywork

1947 Leyland Titan PD1-3 with Roe bodywork

1947 Leyland Titan PD1-3 with Roe bodywork

1947 Roe B35R bodywork was fitted to this Leyland PS1

1947 Roe B35R bodywork was fitted to this Leyland PS1

1947 Sunbeam W new in 1947, rebodied by Roe H32-28R in 1960

1947 Sunbeam W new in 1947, rebodied by Roe H32-28R in 1960

1947 vintage Leyland PS1 with a Roe B32F body

1947 vintage Leyland PS1 with a Roe B32F body

In 1981 and 1982 Roe-bodied six 18-metre long articulated buses for British Airways, these employed Leyland National body sections on Leyland-DAB underfloor-engined chassis, Roe modifying the body for the higher frame height. They featured five entry-exit doors, two on the offside, and were used to transport passengers from their aircraft to the terminal at Heathrow airport.

1948

1948 AEC Regent III with Roe H50C body 1948 AEC Regent IIIs with Roe H28-22C body 1948 BUT 9611T with Roe bodywork 1948 Daimler CVD6 with Roe B35F body 1948 K6A-Saunders Roe.1948.E.Kentell2 1948 Leyland PS1 with Roe B32F body 1948 Leyland PS1s with Roe B36R body 1948 Roe B32F bodied Leyland PS1 1948 Roe bodied BUT 9611T

AEC-AEC-BUT-DAIMLER-SAUNDERS-LEYLANDx3-BUT

1981 had been a peak production year at Roe, with 182 bodies built, the highest total since 1966 (the year when double-decks were finally allowed to be operated without a conductor, the first bus to do so, on the day of the law change, being a Great Yarmouth Roe-bodied Atlantean). The standard body was phased out in 1981, as the Fleetline had been discontinued and the Atlantean could not be sold in the EEC after 1983 as it fell foul of noise-pollution laws. 1981 was also the year that the Park Royal coachworks were closed. The new body to take its place was for the new Leyland Olympian chassis and Roe produced 299 of these prior to closure, most went to three fleets, West Yorkshire PTE and NBC subsidiaries Bristol Omnibus Company and London Country, with one batch to Strathclyde PTE and a sole vehicle to the Scottish Arts Council which was equipped as a travelling art gallery.

1949

1949 AEC Regal III (ECX741, number 282, which had a Duple B35F body when new in 1949) and was fitted with a Roe FB39F body 1949 AEC Regal III of 1949 (originally with a Duple body). In 1960 is was rebuilt by Hanson and given a new FB39F body by Roe 1949 AEC Regal III with Roe B32F body 1949 AEC Regent III with Roe H31-25R body 1949 Daimler CVD6, with Roe H31-25R body 1949 Guy Arab III-Roe L27-26R 1949 Roe-bodied Crossley 1949 Sunbeam MS2 with Roe H72R body

AECx4-DAIMLER-GUY-CROSSLEY-SUNBEAM

Production peaked at this point because the Government was phasing out the New Bus Grant which had provided up to 50% of the cost of a bus used on local services provided it met certain rules. In order to compensate for this drop in bus sales Leyland Bus (as it had now become) decided to produce a new flagship product for the booming deregulated coach market following the Transport Act 1980. This was the Royal Tiger underframe and the Roe Doyen body. This was a sophisticated product, as the Tiger coach chassis competed head on with the Volvo B10M the Royal Tiger Doyen was designed to provide a British alternative to the high-end Setra coach from Germany. Production got off to a slow start, not helped by overly centralised control from Leyland and a rigid set of body specifications which did not initially provide all the features more demanding coach customers wanted. In 1983, the year of launch only 10 complete Royal Tiger Doyens entered service, a further 13 underframes being supplied to Van Hool and Plaxton to receive versions of their standard coachwork. In 1983 production of the underframe was moved to Workington and 22 coaches were completed by Roe as well as 86 Olympians. The plant was not at that point viable for British Leyland who had been impoverished by the chronic failure of its Austin mass-production car division. Thus Roe followed Daimler, Guy, AEC, Park Royal and Bristol into oblivion.

1950

1950 AEC Regent III with Roe built H31-25R body 1950 AEC Regent III with Roe H31-25R body 1950 Crossley DD42-5 with a Roe L27-26R body 1950 Daimler CT6 with Roe H40-30R body 1950 Leyland PSU1-13 Royal Tiger with a Roe B44F body 1950 Leyland Titan PD2-3 built in 1950 with Roe H31-28RD bodywork from 1959 1950 Leyland Titan PD2-3 built with Roe bodywork 1950 Roe L27-26RD body after rebodying in 1958 Albion CX39N 1950 Sunbeam F4 trolley rebodied by Roe in 1964 1950 Sunbeam MS2 with Roe H40-30R body

AECx2-Crossley-Daimler-Leylandx3-Albion-Sunbeamx2

Many Roe bodies survive in preservation and some on special tourist services, the earliest design being a replica of a 1929 body on a Leyland Lion at the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport.

1951

1951 A.E.C. 9821E Regal IV with a Roe B40D body 1951 AEC Regak IV with Roe B41F body 1951 1951 AEC Regent III with Roe H31-25R body 1951 Guy Arab III saloons with attractive Roe centre entrance bodywork 1951 Guy Arab III with Roe C31F bodywork 1951 Guy Arab III with unusual Roe coach body 1951 Leyland Titan PD2-12 with Roe FCH30-20RD bodywork 1951 Roe B40C bodied AEC Regal IV

AECx3-GUYx3-Leyland-AEC

Three diecast model manufacturers produce 1:76 scale models of Roe vehicles, EFE have a pre-war Leyland Tiger bus, Corgi OOC produce the final style of rear entrance composite body as a half-cab or a trolleybus and Britbus make the NBC version of the standard Atlantean body in single or dual-door format.

1952

1952 Guy Arab III with Roe B41C bodywork. 1952 Leyland PD2-12s with Roe coach body 1952 Leyland Royal Tiger with Roe bodywork 1952 Leyland Tiger PS2-12 with Roe C35F

Guy-Leylandx3

1953

1953 Daimler CVG6 with a Roe H33-25R body

1953 Guy Arab IV with a Roe body 1953 KGG711 was an AEC Regal IV with Roe body 1953 Leeds 601, the Metropolitan-Vickers equipped Roe bodied railcar 1953 Maley & Taunton equipped Roe bodied railcar new in June 1953

Daimler-Guy-AEC-Railcar ROE 2x

1954

1954 1951 Guy Wolf with Metalcraft body and CCC597, a 1954 Guy Otter with Roe B25F body 1954 AEC Regent III-Roe H3-25R 1954 AEC Reliances with Roe B34C+24 body 1954 Guy Otter with a Roe B25F body 1954 Leyland Royal Tiger with Roe bodywork 1954 ROE CMS-Roe

Guy-AECx2-Guy-Leyland-Roe ad

1955

1955 Guy 5LW with Roe centre-entrance standee body 1955 Guy Arab LUFs, fitted with Roe B34C+24 body 1955 Leyland Tiger Cub with a Roe B34+24C standee body 1955 Leyland Titan PD2-11 with a Roe H33-25R body 1955 Sunbeam MF2B-MV with Roe H54D body

Guyx2-Leylandx2-Sunbeam

1956

1956 AEC Regent V with Roe H33-27R body

1956 AEC Reliance MU3RV with Roe B44F bodywork

1956 AEC Reliance-Roe B44F 1956 Daimler CVG6 with Roe H37-26R body 1956 Daimler CVG6 with Roe H37-28R body 1956 Guy Arab IV Roe L27-26R

AECx3-Daimlerx2-Guy

1957

1957 AEC Regent V 1949U with Roe H37-28R body 1957 AEC Regent V with Roe H37-28R body 1957 AEC Reliance MU3RV with Roe Dalesman body 1957 AEC Reliance MU3RV with Roe Dalesman C41C bodywork 1957 Guy Arab IV built with Roe H33-28R bodywork 1957 Guy Arab IV with Roe L55R body 1957 Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1-2 built in with Roe Dalesman C41C bodywork 1957 Leyland Tiger Cub with Roe 39 seat body 1957 Roe B41R bodied Guy Arab LUF 1957 Roe-bodied AEC Regent

AECx4-Guyx2-Leylandx2-Guy-Aec

1958

1958 AEC 2MU3RV Reliance with a Roe DP41F body 1958 AEC MU3RV Reliance with a Roe Dalesman C37C body 1958 AEC MU3RV Reliance with Windover body. Reliance with Roe DP41F body, 366CPT, new in 1958 1958 Leyland PD2-30 with Roe H37-28R body