As always, if you have any additional information or photos for the pages on this website I would be delighted to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. From September 29th 2007 I shall record all changes of vehicle status on this page with credit to the contributor.
I am in the process of adding a page for every operator who has ever run a VR, RE, LH or Lodekka. You can follow progress by visiting the Operator Cross Reference page.
I am also adding a history page for every individual VR, RE, LH and Lodekka. You can follow progress by visiting the Illustrated History Log page.
Date of Change
|Source of Information||Details of Change|
|8th December 2015
has been undergoing gradual but sustained restoration over recent years
by Tony Challands. Sadly Tony passed away earlier this year and the
dual-door RELL6G is currently for sale
for continued preservation.
|30th November 2015
||Shane has just returned from a
trip to California chasing British buses -
he was highly successful and came across a number of Bristols during
his time there:
Aadlen Bros Auto Wreckers in Burbank, Los Angeles have 242MNN and BDV258C as "eye catchers" for their vehicle breaking business. The former had been reported several times in recent years, but BDV has been missing since 1985 and has been converted to open top at some point.
Cameron's Pub in Half Moon Bay still have BDV261C and EDV513D parked outside with EDV used as a smoking hut.
Former Crosville SFM250F is with Gary Maack in Petaluma - it is complete and had been due to be restored but apparently Gary had an accident and the FLF remains untouched.
Henderson's Meat Pies in Dixon still own 244MNN but Alex Henderson has now retired and the bus only sees occasional use these days. 988KOO is also owned and has been heavily used as a source of spares. According to Shane the original Gardner 6LW on MNN runs very nicely indeed.
Goodguys in Pleasanton, San Francisco still have former Bristol Omnibus FHU58D. The ticket for this ran out in July of this year but it still looks fairly complete.
Michael Harper-Smith owns the only VR seen - DEX229T which carries the identity of SWW301R - based in Tarzana. It is kept under a dust sheet and doesn't appear to have been used for a while.
JSD930 remains in the garden of Marie Zolfaghari in Camarillo. It is complete and runs but has been waiting for a repaint for very many years. This LD has the distinction of having been the very first Lodekka updated on this website, Marie having contacted me by email in 1999 soon after the website went live. This was the realisation for me that the Internet was such an immensely powerful tool for so many things, not least tracking down missing Lodekkas!
Unusual former Hants & Dorset FL6G 7686LJ is kept by Gordon Ewing at Santa Clarita having been owned for many years. It is converted to a mobile home including kitchen, piano bar, Victorian sitting room and upstairs bedroom and bathroom!
|22nd November 2015
||Ben Bartram/Jeff Tattershall
||News has come to hand of three
VRs in non-PCV use not previously reported. GEL685V
is on the Isle of Wight at Newchurch Primary School in use as a static
classroom. Also converted for use as a classroom, but believed to be
mobile is ODL663R with Stockton Riverside
College in the North East. Finally VDV117S,
which had sat for several years at Simon Munden's yard at the back of
Bristol Temple Meads is now undergoing conversion for use as a mobile home with Andy O'Sullivan in
|22nd November 2015
DLG792 (ACA603A, ex-XFM203) has been through
the hands of several preservationists
in recent years, but has never been restored. Ensign bought it in 2013
for dealer stock and it has now passed to Blakey's Bus Stop at
Mulbarton, near Norwich where it is planned to convert it for use as a mobile cafe.
|22nd November 2015
||A bitter-sweet item for me is
news that former Hants & Dorset/Hampshire Bus 3315 (GLJ467N)
is now in Oklahoma City, U.S.A. having been
comprehensively converted in to a mobile coffee retail outlet. This was
one of the first VRs to have been preserved
(some 20 years ago now!) and I even have the T-shirt from its
pioneering journey through the Channel Tunnel which I travelled on, but
it had hit hard times in recent years and I am pleased to know that it
is to have yet another life with owners who clearly love it. They have
a Facebook page which can be found by searching for Junction Coffee.
There are also several media articles about the bus online - about the
and the conversion here,
while Junction Coffee launched in September and have their own website here.
|16th November 2015
||I am very grateful to Tim for
scouring the Internet for updates for this website. One of his recent
sightings is former United Auto RHN948F which is now with Zein Childcare in
Den Haag in Holland.
|14th November 2015
||Oliver has contacted me with
questions about a derelict VR he had discovered in the city of
Osnarbruck in Germany. Checking the
physical chassis number from the bus showed it to be former Lincolnshire 1947 (LVL802V)
which had been believed exported to Canada
in 1995, but had never turned up over there and obviously went east
|13th November 2015
||Bram is the owner of ECP Events
of Ridderkerk in Holland and reports news
of another former Top Deck Lodekka. Former
"Boobs" (later renamed "Hulk") YHT932
recently crossed the English Channel (not for the first time!) to visit
London where it was photographed with many other famous landmarks(!).
Bram also has former Eastern National VR STW22W
which I'm pleased to say he has managed to get registered under the new
tighter European legislation with help from this website.
|11th November 2015
||Another VR to have been converted
for use as a classroom by InCube Ltd. of
Stafford is former Wilts & Dorset GEL682V which is now on site at White Woman
Lane Junior School in Norwich.
|11th November 2015
||Two Lodekka FLFs passed from Top Deck in 1994 to Dave Bartley in Africa
who - true to their intrepid histories with Top Deck - operated them on
a service between Nairobi, Kenya and Harare, Zimbabwe. Former "Pig Pen"
(originally Western National) AUO519B and "Arfa" (United
survive to this day, but have no passed to a lady owner in Livingstone,
Zambia. They are not in great condition as you might imagine, but both
still run and are taken out for occasional trips around the streets of
the city to keep them mobile.
|5th November 2015
||Mike Daly/Ben Vallance
||The slow dispersal of the Johnson, Hodthorpe fleet continues. Earlier
this year, around March, ODL663R was taken
out of storage, given a Class 5 MOT and hasn't been seen since. Later,
around May, TDT864S and YDL676T
- both long term withdrawn and in poor condition - passed to InCube
Ltd. (Stafford) for conversion to static classrooms. Just this week ODL663R - until recently still in service -
passed to Mike for resale.
Johnson still retain six licensed VRs. PKE810M, ODL661R and UDL668S see infrequent use as spare buses, but MIW2422, ODL664R and RWT544R are used regularly.
|5th November 2015
||Chris reports former Eastern National 3086 (STW30W)
at Mission Grove Primary School in London E17. Previously having been
in preservation after withdrawal by Hedingham
Omnibuses its current use is not known.
|4th November 2015
||Carl has acquired Shoreline Suncruisers HPK507N
which has plied the sea front at Scarborough for almost a quarter of a
century. It is to be hoped that a preservationist will come forward to
buy this worthy candidate. Another VR sent abroad, this time to Landau
in Germany is RUA452W.
|4th November 2015
||Neville has been in touch to say
that he has owned former Christchurch 592
(JW1922) since it was sold by Te Puke in
2008 and has converted it for use as a motor
This was one of the MAN re-engines (they had Leyland 510s originally)
and has been reregistered FAN100. These Hess-bodied RELLs turn up
regularly in New Zealand as campers having been withdrawn when age
restrictions took effect around 2008.
|3rd November 2015
||Mike reports that the Churchill
Pub in Miami, Florida retain their two Lodekkas, former Hants & Dorset GRU975D and Eastern Counties
VVF207, although both are in poor condition with the latter having
suffered significant vandalism. Mike himself has just completed the
recovery of the remaining fleet of Royal Blue
Line with the arrival of 409PTA in
Wyoming to join 412PTA and 535VRB. A fourth stablemate is KDL413, acquired back in 2013. The report of GRU975D
proved to be incorrect - it had in fact been shipped to New York some
|25th October 2015
||A former Western
National Marshall-bodied LHS bus on the move recently is VOD125K
which has passed to the Cornwall Bus Preservation Group under Mel's
stewardship. It is unusual in being one of a trio of
consecutively-registered buses in preservation,
all restored, with VOD123K with Len
Ricketts in Wales and VOD124K with Paul
Derrick in Devon.
|15th October 2015
||Sholto took a wrong turn when in
Johnstown, Philadelphia last week - and good job he did because down
the wrong street (to his amazement) he found former Lincolnshire 2344 (PBE123)
looking to be in fine condition.
|14th October 2015
||An amazing survivor which has
turned up in Germany is LH6L CUT730K which
was built from new as a car transporter. It has Duple bodywork and is
in absolutely pristine condition.
|14th October 2015
||Carl Ireland is currently
preparing former West Riding VR RUA452W for export to a customer in Germany.
|14th October 2015
||Dave has sent a welcome update on
all three Lodekkas on the island of Antigua and his detailed research
has turned up something interesting. Two FLFs were used as airside
transport at the island's airport while a third was used as a mobile
bank by the Bank of Antigua. The three in question are former Southern Vectis CDL480C
and Bristol Omnibus 817MHW
There has always been some doubt as to which of the two ex-Bristol FLFs
was the basis for the bank, but the most likely candidate has always
been considered to be MHW. The Bank went bust after the Allen Stanford
saga (billion dollar fraud) and the FLF was sold to Cecilia Nord in
2011. Dave was able to get a copy of its registration document on
Antigua which actually shows the chassis number for NAE, but another
document also indicated that the same chassis was used airside.
Fortunately Dave was able to ask Cecilia to physically check the number
stamped to the chassis of her bus and it tallied with that for MHW!
Cecilia is using the bus as a
static lookout in a beautiful spot at Dutchman's Bay. The two former
airside buses are round the coast at Tranquility Bay, both now in
allover red, CDL480C in use as a static eye-catcher for an estate agent
while 205NAE is a static fish and chip shop.
|7th October 2015
||Pim has got in touch to say that
he has recently acquired former Eastern National
2853/Top Deck "Viking" FLF6G OVX297D
from Maart Leek in Amsterdam who has owned it since Top Deck gave up in
1996. They plan to convert it to a motorhome for touring - for the
second time in its life! Pim also reports that another of Maart's
Lodekkas is stored nearby - none other than former Bristol Omnibus open-topper WHY947 which has recently received a repaint
into allover blue livery.
|1st October 2015
||Steve Simister/Chris Stewart
||Separate reports from two of my
Essex-based friends of Lodekka sightings this week. Steve came across
former Western National 2075 (BUO150B) which is in use as a tour bus in Salzburg, Austria, while Chris came across
the Eco Bus Bar - former Midland General/Trent TRB576F
- in Dublin where it continues in use as a mobile fast food outlet. It
has received an Irish registration plate, 68-C-40002, since it was last
|30th September 2015
||Mike reports the very welcome
news that former Western S.M.T. LD6G RAG401 has left the storage yard in Dumont, Colorado, U.S.A.
where it has resided for at least the last 15 years, for new owner
Paula Jones in
Castle Rock (also in Colorado) where it is expected to receive the
renovation work it needs to be fully roadworthy once more.
|15th September 2015
||Martin has acquired short former National Welsh LHS GTX761W
for possible use in his London Bus 4 Hire fleet which is based at Usk,
Monmouthshire. Bidding for the little bus was keen on eBay and it is
clearly a good clean machine.
|4th September 2015
||London Bus Export of Lydney have
operated Lodekkas for more than a quarter of a century on promotional
tours and other private hire work, but the time has come for them to
standardise on another marque - which means a rare opportunity to
acquire an operational pair. The first - 928CFM
- is currently
while 467BMR is due
to be listed soon.
|26th August 2015
||Mark has unique dual-door
flat-front former Southdown VR WUF537K for sale for further preservation.
Full details here.
|25th August 2015
||Interesting news is the sale of
former Crosville Series 2 VR HTU159N out of preservation to the "new" Crosville company in Weston-super-Mare for wet
weather use on sea front services alongside their open-top VRs.
|9th August 2015/**updated 11th August**
||Derek Brown/Ian Thurman
||Ian came across two Lodekkas
still in use in Switzerland this week,
both with Rapold Classic. 287HFM is a former
Crosville LD6G which was exported in
1988 and EHT109C is a former Cheltenham District FLF which has had several
Swiss owners since arriving there in 1984. It
turns out that both Lodekkas have changed ownership in recent years -
both are now with Events5XL and appear on their website here
|9th August 2015
||WTU494W has already had a long
career in New Zealand since it was exported in 1992, indeed I rode it
myself in Dunedin in 2007 on the city tour only to find its page on
this very website printed out and pasted to the stairwell! In 2009 it
was sold and became a static caravan at the former Waitati Post Office.
For most VRs this would mean the end to its passenger-carrying days,
but instead it was bought last year by Travlon Coachlines of Lincoln,
near Christchurch. It has since been totally refurbished, even
receiving a Volvo-style front end. Hopefully this will see it in
service for a good many more years.
|27th July 2015
||While working in Serbia last week
Christopher had one of those moments that come along in this hobby once
in a very long while. Looking out of the window of his office he was
amazed to see an LD-series Lodekka parked outside. Further
investigation showed that it had its chassis number very conveniently
painted on the outside of the cab - 100179 indicating that it is a very
early production example from the first sanction to be built. It is
former Crosville DLB718 (RFM463) which ran as staff transport for Castrol Oils
on Merseyside for several years in the early 1970s but which has not
been reported since 1975. Lettering on the side indicates that it has
been used by a PR company in Munich, Germany
before travelling further east to Serbia.
|24th July 2015
||Two former Eastern
National FLFs now reunited in Ennepetal, Germany
are GNO788B and RWC607,
the latter being one of the rare coach-seated Lodekkas - a
configuration which it retains today in its role as an exhibition
vehicle for Hochgeladen Mobile Event Marketing.
|18th July 2015
||Great news is that Mike has
managed to secure all three remaining Lodekkas with Wilson's Transportation in Victoria, BC, Canada.
535VRB will be making its way to
Cheyenne, Wyoming under tow very soon with 409PTA
following in due course. I am delighted that there was a deal to be
done and that the threat of scrapping has now been lifted from these
three FLFs. We can only wonder what the future holds in store for them.
Previously unrecorded is another disposal from Wilson's - former Southdown VR OCD771G which successfully covered the 620 mile journey across the Rocky Mountains from Vancouver to its new home in Airdrie, Alberta with Rebecca Reaville in May. This only leaves OCK986K (carrying OCS590G) to be sold which is long term defective and could really use some love!
|8th July 2015
||Terrific news is the entry into
service yesterday of VDV138S with Rail River Link. It retains the "sunshine"
livery previously applied by East Yorkshire
and has been fitted with the refurbished engine from long-withdrawn UWV604S which is now considered to be scrap.
Other VRs in use here are UWV614S and WTU467W.
|24th June 2015/25th June/27th June/28th June||Dave Fricker
||Glastonbury gets under way today and I hope to bring news of all VRs in action this week, mostly those in the ownership of Chepstow Classic Buses. Spotted so far this morning are VDV122S (still in Southern National livery), XJJ661V and - on trade plates so far, but not carrying passengers - JMB401T which is a new Chepstow VR, having operated previously for many years by Cole of Treorchy which closed last year. Further VRs in action today were XJJ659V, CJJ677W and UFX856S, the latter (being convertible) having had the purple roof from UWV607S added to its yellow Woolacombe Bay livery. Welcome news is the use in service of JMB401T which has now been taxed along with the arrival of more VRs in the shape of XJJ655V, JWV269W and VDV142S. Of note is that all VRs have tops, including those that are convertible. Certainly not to be overlooked is the presence of AYG941H, Series 1 flat-front which is in its usual role as driver mess hut. Three new arrivals today were XJJ653V, BJG671V and UWV607S (open-top since its lid has been fitted to UFX856S) while Dave confirms that JMB401T retains its Leyland 501 engine, making it almost certainly the last of its type to run in revenue-earning service anywhere.|
|18th June 2015
||Thorsten reports the good news
that Spielbus of Gutersloh in Germany continue to own and run former Wilts & Dorset FLF EMR295D.
|16th June 2015
||Bram Buntsma/Marcos Rey Gonzales
||A couple of VRs alive and well on
mainland Europe are STW22W which has been
used by Bram since 2003 for his company ECP Events in Holland and SNV934W
which has recently been acquired by Marcos after previously having been
used as a static bar at the Drowsy Duck pub in Galicia, Spain.
|16th June 2015
||While progress is being made to
try and save the three FLFs in Vancouver (see entry for 16th May), another FLF in North America that has
not been so lucky is former Crosville
264SFM which was sadly broken up for scrap last summer when Dan had to
dispose of it and no serious buyer came forward. Such a shame he didn't
find this website sooner as I would have been able to put him in touch
with other Lodekka owners in the US who
would have gladly taken it on for the right price.
|16th June 2015
||Along with Stephen Day, Nigel has
recently acquired ex-Southdown
Marshall-bodied RESL6L TCD481J
from Trevor Croombs who has owned it for the last decade. It is nicely
restored in traditional green and cream livery and is to be used at
Amberley Museum alongside VR XAP638S which
has been operating there since 2012.
|6th June 2015
former Bristol Omnibus FS6G 434FHW which has been used on wedding hire
work in Holland for many years. It is
really depressing to have to note
that this once-thriving business in mainland Europe is now becoming
harder and harder
thanks to the march of regulation and red tape which means the
buses would need to be significantly modified (and therefore ruined) to
allow them to continue to be used. Why do governments continually do
this and then wonder why their economies are going down the pan? The
current trend, directly caused by this action, is for Lodekkas to head
further east into countries outside the EU and it would be no surprise
to see this wonderful example follow suit.
|4th June 2015
||John Dawkins (NLJ516M)/Blackpool
Trams Facebook (OCK366K)
||Surprise news is the return to
revenue-earning service this week of two very different single deckers.
OCK366K is being used on service 21 in
Blackpool, a heritage operation which serves the Zoo. This RE has been preserved by the Lancastrian Transport Trust
since 2008 and it is great to see a Ribble
bus on the seafront once again. Meantime the unique charabanc-bodied LH
TR6147 (ex-NLJ516M) has been recertified by English Riviera Sightseeing Tours in Torquay.
It was passed for service today and will see use in service in the next
|4th June 2015
||Fraser McKay (GSG214D)/Jean-Louis
Coussement (EDV517D)/G Waskan (OCS65)
||Lodekkas continue to turn up and
change hands around the World. GSG214D has recently received a repaint
with KZEL Radio in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.
and remains in regular use with its American V8 engine and
transmission. Meanwhile back in Europe, EDV517D has been hired to Camping de la Semois
at Sainte Cecile in Belgium where it is to be used as a static holiday
home and Western S.M.T.
OCS65 has turned up in Austria having been missing for nearly three
decades, now with Erich Waskan where it is used as a very high
specification publicity vehicle.
|29th May 2015
||Various reports (ORP273F)/Richard Waterhouse (SHN80L)
||Regrettable, and highly
distressing news for those involved in its restoration, is the
destruction of mark I coach-bodied RELH6G ORP273F
overnight on May 25th at its storage base in Rushden. Owned for over 30
years it was well on the way to being fully restored and is a
significant loss in being the last surviving United
semi-automatic coach RE. Sympathy and best wishes go out to the owners
and supporters of this fine vehicle. On a more positive note, another
operator not well represented in preservation is United
Auto, so it is good to report that SHN80L
has returned to its home operating territory and is now with Lee
Garrett of Chester-le-Street in its fine later stripey National Express
|24th May 2015
||David came across former Midland General 530VRB
this week (it's been a busy month for this batch!). It has been on Tenerife for many years, and is now
undergoing conversion for a new life as a restaurant on the island.
||Three Lodekkas are currently on
death row on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. 409PTA,
412PTA and 535VRB
are all complete and were used in service until just a few years ago,
but potential deals have fallen through and the owner of the land has
given them just two weeks then they will be sold for their scrap value
of just $2500 each. Surely someone in the U.S.A. or Canada will want to
save them from destruction? Any enquiries should be made through John
Roberts (who brokered the deal which saw 534VRB
return to the UK earlier this year) at JohnMRoberts@telus.net.
|14th May 2015
||Colin Morison/Paul Harrison
||Lodekkas continue to be reported
from continental Europe, recently
confirmed survivors are Western SMT MCS762 which is stored in a yard in Gennes,
France and Eastern National FLF coach 185XNO
which remains in use as a fast food outlet at Charleroi in Belgium, the
latter having even received a repaint since its last sighting.
|14th May 2015
||It is a long way out of its
original operating area, but welcome news is that the very last LH to
come off the production line, former Bristol
Omnibus 466 (AFB597V) has recently been
renovated and painted in the livery of The Eden of
West Auckland where it is cared for as a special events vehicle.
|13th May 2015
||Not one but two VRs have been
outshopped in gleaming Southdown
post-deregulation green and cream livery in the last week or so, no
doubt in preparation for the "Southdown 100" rally which will take
place in Southsea on June 7th. The two are open-top UWV617S and closed JWV266W
- and I am assured that there will be at least one more surprise on
|13th May 2015
||Richard has kept his preserved VR
JWV273W on the premises of Black & White of Winchester
for several years and sadly reports the passing of proprietor Peter
Bailey who was a huge fan of the erstwhile Black & White Motorways,
hence the name of his own company. VRs no longer featured in the
fleet, GEL680V having been sold for scrap
in 2013 after its engine seized and the last one, RAN646R, which has now resurfaced at Molly's
Den in Winchester having been refurbished as a static
cafe at InCube Ltd. in Stafford
|10th May 2015
Valley/Southern Vectis open-top FLF BRX142B has been in Arizona, U.S.A. for 35
years now and continues in use, noted last year on a promotional tour
|27th April 2015
||Jon has been in touch to say that
he has acquired FDL677V, formerly with Johnson of Hodthorpe, for preservation based in Worcestershire which
explains the report of 23rd March.
|27th April 2015
||Regular visitors to this website
will be very familiar with the pioneering overland touring activities
of Top Deck Travel
using a huge number of Lodekkas from the early 1970s through to the mid
1990s. A video celebrating 40 years of the company can be seen here and
features lots of Lodekka footage during the first minute or so (this
ends once the action shifts to the current day, but it is quite
interesting to see the contrast between the old buses and the modern
coaches used today). There is also an interesting promotional video for
the Asian Overland tours from the 1970s which takes the form of a 50
minute documentary which is well worth a watch - it is in two parts here and here. I
maintain a register of videos online featuring Bristol buses here - mostly but not all on YouRube - if you
find more that are worth watching please do let me know about them.
|26th April 2015
||It is always sad when a Lodekka
bites the dust, but sometimes a rough one is sacrificed to yield parts
for others. This is the case with former United
Counties 714 (KBD714D) which has been at
the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum around 1998. It was owned by Stagecoach
as part of their heritage vehicle
collection but was extracted in March and swiftly broken
|18th April 2015
||Laxmeesh sends news of the first
Lodekka known to be based in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
Former Hants & Dorset FS6B BRU138B
carries advertising for the City Lounge in Sarajevo and also appears on
their Facebook page - I am attempting to find out whether it is
actually owned by them, but in any case it is great to see it still in
use. Previously noted in Holland in 2010 it has moved on like several
others, sadly, as red tape and EU regulations start to bite and the
prevalent "old timer" operations find it harder and harder to make ends
|17th April 2015
||One of the
best news stories
regarding a Bristol in recent years is the successful repatriation of
former Midland General 534VRB.
It was exported to British Columbia in
Canada no less than 36 years ago, arriving with Gray
Line for its Vancouver Tour in May 1979. It subsequently spent very
many years on Vancouver Island on the Victoria scenic tour for Royal Blue Line
in competetion with many other ex-U.K. buses. Royal Blue Line finally
finished in 2011 following the sad death of Ernie, the former owner,
and the FLF was taken on first by Horizon
Coach Lines and then more recently Wilson's
However, the latter decided to concentrate on much newer (not!) Daimler
Fleetlines, for their ability to be one-man-operated (not the first
time Lodekkas have been replaced for this reason!) and the remaining
quartet of Lodekkas (along with their two flat-front VRs) were offered for sale.
It is at this point in the story where I play a small part. I attended a wedding in Seattle in August 2014 and took the family home via Victoria because it is a beautiful island (and in no way because there was the chance of some Bristol action, certainly not). Somewhat disappointed to find the tour in the hands of the Fleetlines I asked the driver if he knew what had become of the old Bristols. He turned out to be an ex-pat Brit and had taken responsibility to sell the buses for Wilson's in an attempt to find them a good home. I offered there and then to advertise them for sale on this very website and it was here that Midland General fans Richard Waterhouse and Ian Thurman found 534VRB - in temptingly original condition - and hatched a plan to repatriate the bus back to the U.K. The deal was done in December, but I was sworn to secrecy as they didn't want to tempt fate. After all, ships do sink and Bristol buses do get large containers dropped on them at dockside occasionally!
However, last week, the Lodekka arrived back in Southampton having taken the amazing route of Vancouver to South Korea, China, through the Suez Canal, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Gibraltar, Germany, then transferred to another ship and on to Southampton via Antwerp! The bus was driven off the ship under its own power then towed up to Derbyshire where Richard and Ian have had a good look round and are delighted with their purchase. I was equally delighted to add it to the register of preserved Lodekkas.
|14th April 2015
||It is becoming less frequent
these days for a vehicle to turn up which was previously believed to
have been scrapped. However Craig this week came across LHS/Plaxton coach ASU510S
which had last been reported at Barnsley in 2000 but clearly escaped
and was converted for use as a caravan.
It isn't clear whether or not it was ever mobile in this guise, as it
is sitting at Metheringham in Lincolnshire where it has been
stationary, apparently, for at least the last decade.
|11th April 2015
||Surprisingly few Alexander-bodied
VRs new to Northampton Transport still survive
is currently for sale as a going concern in its role as a children's
fun bus. Full details of the vehicle and business can be found on the Blacks Brokers
website - just search for "Wonder Bus".
|6th April 2015
||Neil Halliday completed the
restoration of OCS577H in its original Western SMT
livery in time for the VR to make its rally debut at Kirkby Stephen
last weekend. It looks and sounds superb as can be viewed here.
|31st March 2015
||Welcome news is the recent
acquisition of the last surviving RE new to
West Riding by the West Riding Omnibus Preservation Society where it
fills a gap in their collection. It joins VR OWW905P
to form an important pair representing the NBC era for this interesting
|30th March 2015
Borough Council Northern Counties-bodied "Jumbo" NRD51M is currently
for sale in
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia where it has
been out of service for
some considerable time. It would be great to see this one back from the
dead, although the seller is somewhat optimistic in describing its
"naked" condition as a benefit! However, it sounds like the structure
is solid and the mechanicals are mostly good, so let's hope it finds a
|30th March 2015
news comes from the Bristol Vintage Bus Group who have added rare ex-Western National LDL6G VDV753
to their collection, this having previously run for Quantock Motor Services since 1999.
|25th March 2015
||Daniel has once again tracked
down former East Midlands VTV169S in northern Scotland in its non-PCV
role as a church promotional vehicle. Great news is that it has
recently received a very smart repaint and looks set to continue in use
for some time to come.
|23rd March 2015
stored by Johnson of Hodthorpe
since 2011, was noted travelling south on the M6 and onto the M5
yesterday on trade plates, destination unknown. Any further sightings
would be welcomed. ** updated 27th April
|22nd March 2015
||John Nelson/Traveller Dave
NEH726W has been in use as a mobile
puppet theatre based in Belgium
since 2002. It was recently spotted by Dave somewhere in the Pyrenees
where it may now have been converted for use purely as a mobile home.
It may still retain its now rare Leyland 501 engine.
|22nd March 2015
has been saved for preservation and good progress is being made in its
restoration. Footage has emerged of its rescue from its long term
storage location at Crawford's yard in Neilston which can be viewed here.
|16th March 2015
||What may be the last
Willowbrook-bodied VR still in use outside of preservation
has just been repaired and returned to service in Sarasota,
Florida, U.S.A. It is TFN988T
which has been owned since 2008 by Java Dawg and is converted for use
as a coffee retail outlet. It is open-top, having been converted in
1996 by London Coaches for use on The
Original London Sightseeing Tour.
|11th March 2015
||VRs that have been exported to Italy
have proved to be quite difficult to track down, so I am grateful to
Gareth for leads on several which have gone out there in recent years.
Not previously reported is STW33W which was
sold by Chepstow Classic Buses in 2012 and is
now in Bari with Bus36, converted
for use as a party bus.
A very useful link provides an interactive tour of LFJ859W which is now a restaurant/party bus in Rome and as can be seen has been converted to a very high standard. Not only that but stepping outside the bus reveals further VRs with the operator in the shape of VDV139S (open-top), FAO427V (red lowheight VR), BKE853T (white between deck livery), HJB464W (still in tired Hedingham livery and apparently unused in Italy) and an unidentified white VR further down the yard.
|1st March 2015
||Richard was surprised to come
across former Crosville open-top FSF6G 882VFM in Saffron
Walden this week. It was owned for many years by local estate agent
John Lloyd Williams as a promotional vehicle,
but was taken on by Mullucks Wells (another estate agents) when they
acquired the business in October 2013. It is great to see that they
have kept the vehicle operational and have decked it out in advertising
for their own brand.
|26th February 2015
||Mike has exported former Yorkshire Traction/Johnson
of Hodthorpe HWJ925W to Romania through his Warrington-based
dealership UK Coach Sales.
|21st February 2015
||Mike Campbell **Gerry Tormey**
||Not so much a news item as a
request for information, West Yorkshire FS6B MWT804D was prepared for export to Italy
in 1988 by Carl Ireland and looked great in its bright red livery but
has never been heard of since. A
bit of online research shows that the customer Chateau d'Ax, an
upmarket furniture manufacturer, is still in business today and if
anyone has heard anything more of the Lodekka I would love to hear from you. ** Using the power of the Internet, Gerry has
tracked it down on Googlemaps - still with
Chateau d'Ax as recently as 2010. Now if anyone wants to drop by and
check again in 2015....**
|21st February 2015
||Another VR which is still very
active in Holland is SNJ592R
which is used by Topsport Limburg for community events with lots of
It has been converted to open-top and also appears to have a removable
|17th February 2015
||Sander photographed former Crosville/P.M.T. WDM348R in Amsterdam, Holland
recently having been converted for use as an immobile restaurant.
|6th February 2015
||Maryanne lives in Indianapolis in
the U.S.A. and acquired ex-Western National 2061 (BOD21C)
towards the end of 2014. It is to be used for community-based projects
and has a rosy future!
|5th February 2015
||Karl van Camp
||Every now and again a real
surprise turns up, and this time it is former United
Series 2 VR 783 (CBD783K) which was believed
scrapped at Barnsley in
1988 but which escaped and has been in use as an exhibition unit/bar in
Belgium for many years and is now for
sale at 5500 euros in the town of Floreffe. It would be great to
think that it might be repatriated for preservation
having survived un-noticed for so long.
|19th January 2015
(840SHW) is currently
for quite reasonable money. The only snag
is that it is located in Oregon! It has
been used by Salem Academy for
the last decade but has sadly been vandalised and is not economic for
them to repair.
|19th January 2015
||Ken has been in touch with the
great news that he has acquired former Western
National 2002 (807KDV) which is currently
undergoing renovation and conversion for use as a mobile retail outlet
for Perks Coffee House in Alberta, Canada.
I hope to be able to publish photos of the finished product later in
|10th January 2015
is already something of a celebrity VR having been used for an overland
tour to Asia, but it has now embarked on yet another new lease of
life as a racing kart transporter
with Marshal Motorsport in Kent.
|8th January 2015
||Preservationists across the U.K.
||I thought the start of 2015 might
be a good time to take stock of the current situation with respect to
preserved VRs across the U.K. There are currently 222 VRs considered to
be preserved in total of which 62 are tested
and licensed - this includes heritage vehicles with PSV operators
as well as those that are privately owned, but not those still in
regular PSV or private hire use (some of which will hopefully join the
preserved ranks one day). The next category includes VRs that are on
SORN - 22 of these still have valid MOTs while 96 (the largest group of
all) have MOTs that have expired. Finally come those that are not
currently registered - 42 in total - most of which are stored in
various states of decay awaiting restoration. Chassis variety is
provided by the one remaining VRL coach plus 9 long-wheelbase VRTLLs,
while of course bodywork is dominated by Eastern Coach Works but also
includes examples from Alexander (3), Willowbrook (2), Northern
Counties (4), MCW (3) and East Lancs (4). We are very lucky to have
such a great cross-section of VR production saved for future
generations to enjoy.
|3rd January 2015
||Steve has kindly clarified
details of the history of former Western National
1993 (139HUO) during its time in Australia.
It was exported in 1982 and used to promote Robinson's Barley Water at
the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in that year. By 1983 it was sitting
in a car dealer's yard where it was purchased by the owners of
Adelaide-based Banksia Tours where it has remained in use as a party
bus visiting local nightclubs ever since. The business (and therefore
the bus) is still run by the same two partners more than 30 years on.
|2nd January 2015
||There was only ever one batch of
highbridge Series 2 VRs, new to Maidstone &
District in 1975, so it is good to hear that the sole survivor is
still in one piece in France. KKE736N
is in a yard in Cosne-sur-Loire and I can help anyone seriously
interested in saving this unique VR get in touch with the owners, but I
am told that they have put an exorbitant value on it before you even
consider the cost of having it towed home....and that's before any
thought of actually restoring it to running order!
|2nd January 2015
||Further to the entry for
September 29th 2014 EDV517D
has found a new owner - it is now with Aluminiumgieterij Declercq,
Bissegem, Belgium. It is not currently known what they plan to do with
|2nd January 2015
||Jon Gulliver **updated by Robert Hawken**
||Jon noted former Western National/Devon General
FDV839V outside the workshop of Chepstow Classic Buses in December, having been
extracted from long-term storage at Winkleigh. It was in very poor
condition as can be seen here and here,
and it disappeared after only two days, so the very likely outcome is
that it was stripped of useful parts and dispatched for scrap. I'm very grateful to Robert for confirming that
FDV839V is at Carlton awaiting scrapping. He further confirmed that AFJ705T went earlier in 2014, probably during
|1st January 2015
||David Rhodes **updated by Paul Soper**
||Readers may recall the Charity
Plus/Paul Tremblay Collection of around two dozen ex-UK double deckers
(including three Lodekkas) which languished in a yard in Victoria, BC, Canada
for more than 20 years from the early 1990s. Back in 2011 three of the
buses were rescued and shipped up to Alert Bay by Colin Ritchie - two
of the Lodekkas were among the trio saved. This footage
from a local TV station shows interesting details of the buses - the
Lodekka in the middle is MWY118 while the
one on the right is 957BWR which had already
received a partial repaint in red and cream by the time of the video
(March 2012). Both are ex-West Yorkshire. Paul Soper has sent this
to a photo taken in January 2014 showing that considerable work has
been done to tidy up the buses and more progress made on repainting
|1st January 2015
||Martin Perry/Phil Logie
||Martin has sent photos of two
further RE mobile home conversions in New
Zealand - IP4232 is a Hawke-bodied example which was formerly Christchurch
486 and has been unaccounted for since 1992. It is currently situated
at Maheno, near Oamaru, where it has been sitting without moving for
many years, although Martin believes it could be made mobile again.
Meanwhile Hess-bodied IY6809 is a mobile
home conversion which he caught up with near Collingwood.
Phil made a tour of New Zealand in October/November 2014 and has sent a detailed report of Bristols seen. Former Christchurch RE 586 (JW1915, now registered XW6670) is still on site with Otago Road Services although long since withdrawn. Former Eastern Counties VR OPW183P was seen at the Dunedin depot of First City Tours, but this has since been sold on to Austin Installations and has made the long trip up to Auckland (the other Dunedin VR - former Crosville WTU494W - has also been tracked down and is with Travlon Coachlines in Lincoln, Canterbury. REs HH9905 and HL9405 remain in use as homes with their owners in Waimate and Waipara and finally FLF SRB75F is still with Canterbury Coach Hire.
|29th December 2014
||Karl van Camp
||A very welcome report has arrived
from Karl of former Eastern Counties FLF354
(ONG354F) alive and well in the Barcelona
region of Spain.
It was last reported in 1994 in use as a store for parts at a karting
track, but has now been extensively refurbished for use as an
exhibition unit and is currently for sale here.
|28th November 2014
||Mike buys and sells the odd VR
now and then as Warrington Coach Sales. His latest example is RAN646R which had been stored for several
years by Black & White Motorways but was
unusual in being new to the Atomic Energy Research
Establishment at Harwell. Unfortunately it failed on its collection
run and has been towed to its new owners for use as a static unit at Hixon Airfield.
|23rd November 2014||Sholto Thomas||Ever prepared for the appearance of a Bristol Lodekka, Sholto managed to rustle up a camera to take a photo of ex-Western National 1924 (UOD478) as he travelled on a number 136 bus in the German town of Oberhausen. It is currently parked on the corner of Danzigerstrasse and Wehrstrasse and still looks to be in fine condition.|
|5th November 2014
||Peter lives in Doha, Qatar and found former Eastern National FLF6G 2833 (LWC659C)
in the sprawling suburb of Bani Hajer. It has quite clearly been lying
in the same spot in the sand for very many years and is long past
saving, but it is great to see it still in one piece having been sent
there in 1981 to ship workers to and from the building sites during the
massive expansion of the city at that time.
|30th October 2014
||Joel Vargas/Tim Weatherup
||A couple of Lodekkas still in use
in very different parts of the world are early Crosville
LD6B RFM441 active in Mexico and currently lettered for a
promotional campaign for Britain, and Alexander
(Fife) FS6G BXA462B which is also
banging the drum by promoting the Mini in Russia.
|23rd October 2014 **updated 14th November
||A real surprise from New Zealand is the hiring of former Cumberland low-height VR NHH406P
to Headfirst Travel in Dunedin for use on their city tour. It has been
in private ownership with Alan McLay for more than a decade and has had
Headfirst decals added to its Union Jack livery and was noted out and
about in use yesterday. The VR has continued
in use on the city tour and Headfirst are clearly so taken with it that
they have actually bought it!
|22nd October 2014
Valley FLF6G FJB738C
is still hard at work in Holland and John came across it at a wedding
in Rozenburg in September. It fortunately escaped the fire at previous
owner Delta Tours at Wapenfeld in August 2010 which destroyed the
remainder of the fleet and it is great to hear that it has turned up
|19th October 2014
||Darren Tasker & David
||Darren, David and several others
undertook an epic trip to the U.S.A. in June and were able to visit
both Starline in Los Angeles and Big Bus in Philadelphia to provide a much-needed
update on operations in both of those cities.
The news at Starline is not good. The only VR still in use here is UWV608S, the heavily-modified and stretched open-topper, and even this was undergoing accident repairs at the garage during their visit. Several examples were in store pending a decision on their future and were last used during the summer season of 2013. These were GGM110W, DCA529X, BRC836T, VAH278X and SKL683X. CJH143V was still on site but had been heavily used for spares and will be scrapped while all the others were gone, presumed scrapped.
Better news in Philadelphia is that several VRs remain in service there with Big Bus. Noted in use were LFJ884W, FDV781V, HUD480S and AET181T (masquerading as RLJ345H).
|19th October 2014
||Guido reports via a friend that
former Eastern National FLF BVX681B is now owner by the City of Volklingen
where no doubt its 80mph performance is appreciated courtesy of its
12-litre MAN engine, 4-speed ZF gearbox and uprated suspension and
|8th October 2014||Anthony Holliday||Further to the entry for May 14th, there is an article in the Otago Daily Times today about the work being undertaken to bring the prototype Series 3 VR (ODV78M) back to life in New Zealand. The article can be viewed here. News from Auckland of the VRs owned by Party Bus Company is that "Purple Star" KRM436W was withdrawn in 2011 and is now languishing in a very poor state with a new owner in Onehunga while "Purple Thunder" KRM433W is still owned but is without an engine or gearbox and may be painted up as a photographic prop. Unfortunately it seems that VR activity in Auckland is now confined to the Auckland Explorer operation's WRC832S which continues to give sterling service and has been seen on the tourist route again this year.|
|4th October 2014
||Still going strong after more
than three decades Down Under is former Western National 1993 (139HUO),
FLF6G, which is currently in use in Adelaide with the Big Night Out Bus
Tour (website here).
It is clearly very active from the entries on their Facebook page, and
it is booked to work tours of Port Adelaide this week during the
Festival of Vintage Boats, Trains and Planes.
|29th September 2014
||Ralph den Ridder
||A Lodekka was up for auction
in Belgium last week and the documentation
solved a long-standing query over its identity - chassis number 231140
meant that it had to be EDV517D, missing
|29th September 2014
||Neil Halliday/Adam Wickens
||A couple of REs on the move
within preservation are rare
Plaxton-bodied RELH6L NYG802M which has
gone home to West Yorkshire (with Neil) for restoration after many
years in dry storage, and Hants & Dorset
dual-purpose RELL6G UEL564J which is now
with Adam (and Hazel Smith) in Banbury.
|28th September 2014
||Steven Hodgson/James Stoker
||A truly significant completed
restoration is that of Northern Counties-bodied ex-Cleveland
which has taken the 500 Group more than ten years to complete. They are
to be heartily congratulated and I look forward to looking it over at a
rally before too long.
|25th September 2014
||Viv has finished restoration of Eastern Counties open-top Series 2 VR JNG50N
which has been repainted in a facsimile of an allover advertising
livery it carried during the 1980s. After 17 years off the road its
restoration has been necessarily thorough and it is now to be used for
private hires and other such work.
|24th September 2014
||A new operation in Tulsa,
Oklahoma, U.S.A. - The Cheyenne Bus Company
- have totally renovated two VRs - FFR174S
and XDV605S - for use as
event hospitality vehicles. There are several photos of the latter here and a video tour
and news report here.
|15th September 2014
||Paul was in Germany last week and
briefly spotted a white Lodekka on the opposite carriageway. He managed
a snatched photo, but from that it has been identified as former Crosville FS6G JFM220D
which is now owned by All 4 Event of Weeze, Germany.
also shows that 818SHW (see this entry on Unusual Bristols)
is also owned.
|15th September 2014
Motor Services of
Weston-super-Mare are considering thinning down their fleet of heritage
vehicles and have placed two of their superb Lodekkas on eBay,
representing a rare opportunity to acquire a restored example. The
auction for DEL893C is here
and YDL318 is here.
|12th September 2014
||Darren came across VPF288S alive and well in Brittany in August.
This was a late surviving VR in service with McEwen
Travel of Mansfield but has found a new lease of life in France having been converted for use as a
mobile clothes retail outlet.
|8th September 2014
||Great news is that Neil and
Graham Thorogood were the successful bidders at the recent auction in
East Anglia where "star" lot was ATA559L.
This was one of the open-top VRs operated at Weymouth by Southern National until it was sold in 2002 to First Eastern Counties
who had intended to use it as a tree lopper, but instead placed it in
store at Jordan's yard (Coltishall) where it remained for the whole
period of its time in Norfolk. Even better news is that Mark has had
the OK from his other half which means he should be allowed to hang on
to his new preservation project!
|7th September 2014
S.M.T. LD6G GCS254 is currently visiting
the UK from Denmark
where it has received an expert conversion for use as a touring
vehicle. It is also for sale (take a breath after you've seen the
asking price!) and here is their sales brochure
(you will need to use the Adobe Reader "View Rotate Counter-Clockwise"
option to view properly). The bus is visiting Goodwood and
Beaulieu before returning across the North Sea.
|7th September 2014
||Duncan is currently on holiday in
Russia and has come across an orange VR in St
Petersburg which has previously eluded identification, but luckily
he managed to get the body number which shows the bus to be former United Auto/Northumbria CPT739S. This passed to Ensign in 2000 and was
thought to have been scrapped, but obviously it managed to evade the
|6th September 2014
||Chris & Iain Stewart
||Leyland 501-powered VR GTX750W
remains in use as a party bus at various motor racing events. It was
noted by Iain this week at the European Sidecar Championships at
|4th September 2014
||Sadly the extremely long-lasting
pair of VRs with Cole of Treorchy
have not been relicensed for the the new school term due to the local
council deciding that all vehicles must be fitted with seatbelts.
Although the pair were still sound mechanically it was felt that it was
not worth the expense on them to have them fitted so JMB401T and CTX396V
are now out-of-use and on SORN. CTX was a rare still-in-service
Alexander example (ex-Cardiff) whilst JMB (ex-Crosville)
could well have been the last Leyland-engined VR in service anywhere,
although there are also reports that it could have been fitted with a
Gardner in recent years - confirmation either way would be very much
|1st September 2014
||Paul's friend Patric Hespen
recently came across former Hants & Dorset
LLJ442F in California
where it is used as an "eye catcher". Paul last saw it in 2011 but it
has since been considerably spruced up and now looks a tidy machine.
|26th August 2014
||Another VR in the Chepstow Classic fleet to don Woolacombe Bay yellow livery for a summer
holiday in Devon is ex-East Kent XJJ653V.
|25th August 2014 **updated 26th August**
||Lodekkas have plied the streets
of Victoria, British Columbia for at least 30 years, but the volatile
nature of the business means that companies have come and gone many
times over that period. The latest operator is Wilson's
Transportation which took over the assets of Horizon Coach Lines earlier
this year. Sadly this has heralded the end of the use of Bristols as
the Daimler Fleetline is now the vehicle of choice! This means there
are four serviceable Lodekkas available
for sale (534VRB, 535VRB,
409PTA and 412PTA)
along with their sole VR - but what a corker it is - former Southdown/Western National
sixth Bristol is also available - a VR operated in Vancouver
for many years carrying registration OCS590H but is in fact OCK986K and
this is also included in this sale.
|24th August 2014
||An FS6B which has turned up in North Carolina, U.S.A. is former Keighley-West Yorkshire KDX163 (574EWX)
which has been expertly converted for use as transportation and studio
by North Carolina Marionette Theatre. Lots more information about the
bus and the conversion can be found on their website here.
|22nd August 2014||Mike Daly
||Mike trades as Warrington Coach
Sales and has handled a number of former Johnson
of Hodthorpe VRs which have found buyers at home and abroad. In
October 2013 SVL177W was sold to William
Bazeley of Boxted Hall, Colchester who has had it converted for use as
a caravan and it was noted out and about
today near Lowestoft.
|22nd August 2014
||Juliusz Chanerley/Nigel Harris
||A couple of private collections
have been confirmed to me recently. Juliusz has a quartet of ex-Crosville REs in the form of early Series 1
coach HFM573D and RELLs EFM181H, HFM196J
and YFM280L, although the latter is currently for sale. Meantime Nigel has
recently visited some of Derek Priddle's wonderful selection of Southern Vectis deckers in the form of BDL583B (which is currently undergoing
restoration), MDL954, YDL315,
TDL998 and early VR OSF307G.
|19th August 2014
||As you are walking through an
exhibition in the middle of Lithuania of course you expect to come
across a missing Lodekka posing as part of the display! This is exactly
what happened to James as he was browsing the Urmas Trade Town
exhibition in Kaunas last month - the
Lodekka was MDL952, sold for export by Quantock Motor Services in 2010 and
|18th August 2014
||Richard came across no fewer than
four Bristols last week operating a free tour around Utrecht in Holland for students starting at the
university there. Two were Lodekkas and two were VRs. The Lodekkas were
BNG886B and 691AAM
while the VRs were NUM341V and PAG511W - a really amazing occurrence in 2014.
Of particular interest is that Richard was able to physically check the chassis and body number plates on 691AAM as there has been a long-standing confusion between this and 683AAM which has also been in Holland for many years. The confusion arose because 691 was an open-platform bus when in service with Wilts & Dorset/Hants & Dorset whilst 683 was fitted with platform doors. Richard's evidence proves that 691 has indeed been extensively converted while in Holland and is now also fitted with an enclosed rear platform and doors.
|18th August 2014
||Keith Lee/Peter Buchan
Omnibus 7149 (842SHW) remains at
Chainbridge Honey Farm near Berwick in use as a cafe,
but received a full refurbishment and repaint into Tilling green and
cream livery for the 2014 season and it looks absolutely superb.
|17th August 2014
returned to Bristol last summer for a service but has been sighted by
Nick this month back in Stockholm, Sweden
where it now resides. It also appears to have had a repaint since last
year as it looked very smart and now sports a blue band on its allover
|15th August 2014
was exported to Poland in 1999 after
open-top conversion with London Coaches where
it received a very distinctive front dome on its ECW body. It was
therefore very easy to identify this 2011 view when
Tim sent the link to me - even without the various colours of its
previous liveries showing through the blue paintwork!
|10th August 2014
||Andrew came across a VR running
as a promotional vehicle for La Zenia Boulevard shopping centre on the
Costa Blanca in Spain this week and was able
to take a quick photo and a look in the cab before the driver hastily
pulled away. The major clue was a Western National
depot phone list and a little bit of research resulted in a positive
identification of TWN936S (actually new to South Wales in 1978 but operated by Western
National from 1990 right through to 2004).
|6th August 2014
||Very exciting news for me
personally is that JOU160P (sister to my
own VR JOU161P) has returned to its
original home depot of Cheltenham after 14 years in exile (but in very
safe hands) with Stagecoach South,
first at Basingstoke and then Chichester. It is believed that the
previous MD at Cheltenham was not keen on VRs and wouldn't consider
having it on fleet strength, but the new MD has been persuaded that
Cheltenham is its rightful home. The pre-Stagecoach fleetnumber of 201
has been applied and a set of old-style Stagecoach Cheltenham District
have also been found. No doubt it will continue to find itself on a mix
of heritage duties in addition to use at events such as the Gold Cup
meeting and I look forward to a new opportunity to re-unite the pair
which started life as identical 5030/5031 but which are now different
in so many ways - they were last together in 2009 as can be seen here.
|4th August 2014||Darren Cooke
||News of the Spice Bus VR (former East Midlands VTV172S)
is that after many years in store and in deteriorating condition it has
been bought by the Island
in Newport on the Isle of Wight and has received a repaint in its Union
Jack livery as carried in Spice World - The Movie. It is being used as
an exhibit and you can even have your photo
taken with the bus and a cardboard cut-out of the Girls if you so wish!
|4th August 2014
Vectis/Solent Blue Line XDL379L
was converted for use as a caravan back in 1994 and was used as a
promotional vehicle as well as the home for its owner, Philip Dalston.
Early in the 2000s Philip used it for several trips to the Algarve, Portugal
until finally making the move permanent. The VR now resides outside his
property as additional living space and is due to be refurbished
internally. Sadly it has a few mechanical faults which means it is no
longer mobile, although the engine does still run.
|30th July 2014
||Another VR saved for preservation is Southdown
convertible open-top UWV617S
which has been something of a recluse for the last decade in the
ownership of the Routemaster (!) Heritage Society, but it clearly has
been used for promotional work as it is in
an overall livery for Pepsi Max. It's new proprietors are Simon Holman,
David Grimstone and Darren Tasker, all based in the Brighton area, and
they report its condition to be better than the bus first appears.
|30th July 2014
||A Lodekka which has been a bit of
a celebrity over in Holland is former Crosville DFB113 (AFM113B)
which has been owned for many years by Diana Sauna (a business
specialising in a form of adult entertainment). It is well known for
regularly having been taken to the Tour de France to follow the race,
but is even more notable for Bristol enthusiasts as having been fitted
with a considerable "snout" when its Bristol engine was replaced by
larger DAF unit. Its early export history is unclear but it had
received this conversion in Holland by 1989.
|25th July 2014 **updated 30th July**
||Gareth Crowther/Keith Lee
||Former Dreadnought Coaches
convertible FS6G XSL228A (ex-866NHT)
was noted on the M180 near Scunthorpe yesterday, heading west towards
the M18. Obviously it has now moved on from dealer Ensign who bought it
late last year. Keith
confirms that it has been acquired by East Yorkshire in exchange for an
open-top Routemaster - they hope to make use of the convertible roof by
using it open in the summer and for private hire with the roof on in
|16th July 2014
||Stuart made a visit to Cole of Treorchy this week to see their JMB401T and CTX396V
which were both still running schools services. Sad news though is that
from September the local council has decided that school buses must
have seatbelts fitted and so the VRs will have to be sold. I sincerely
hope that this pair of remarkable survivors both find good homes.
|12th July 2014
||Mark Pollard/Alison Hogan/Robert
Yorkshire P.T.E. LHS JUG356N had
previously been in preservation, but
has now hit hard times
with its interior gutted in preparation for use as a caravan. It is
currently for sale on eBay
and might be a useful acquisition for
|11th July 2014
||From the Internet
||After many years dry stored in a
barn at the yard of Jordan, Coltishall, former Western
National/Southern National open-top
ATA559L is coming up for auction next month and can be viewed here.
It was sent to Norfolk in a Firstgroup inter-company transfer in 2002
as it was to be used as a tree lopper by Eastern
Counties, but this never happened and it has been stored ever since.
|24th June 2014
||Steve Hardiman/Martin Mowle/Carl
Counties VR DNG233T has been lifted by
crane this week into its new home at the Bear Pit in Bristol for use as
a cafe. Coverage of this event can be seen here.
|23rd June 2014
||Glen recently came across former Crosville FLF 147YFM,
still in use in Canada as a fish and chip
retail outlet in Athens, Ontario and he reports that the chips match
the excellent pedigree of the bus!
|10th June 2014
||Great news is that very rare
surviving Marshall-bodied RELL6L SJA352K
has just been returned to the road in allover red Trent livery. Many
congratulations go to Steve Thorpe and the team for this achievement.
|9th June 2014
||Allan Macfarlane/Adrian Roberts
||Just a couple of VR sightings to
report, both from people on holiday in Europe. Allan came across a VR
still in Ryan's City Tour (Bath) livery near
to Madrid, Spain last week - this is TNJ995S which left the UK as long ago as 2008
so it is surprising that it hasn't received a repaint. Meanwhile Adrian
came across SGR797V blasting out music as
an exhibition vehicle in Brussels, Belgium
- this one is owned by Bus Prophils.
|3rd June 2014
||Welcome news of a rare VR
survivor which has been repatriated to the UK by Mark is that SMS42H
has been secured from its German owner and has now made the long
journey home under tow. Mark has a long-standing interest in Scottish
VRs and it was one of the ones involved in the great NBC-Scottish Bus
Group swap of the early 1970s which saw Lodekkas head north in exchange
for the troubled VRs. This batch were the trailblazers being sent south
from Alexander (Midland) in 1971 a full two
years before the rest of the VRs were banished from Scotland. Mark's
other VR is equally rare being one of a pair of VRTLLs liberated in the
year 2000 after many years languishing in Ben Jordan's Coltishall bus
graveyard. His example is LFS294F which has
been receiving steady attention, whilst the other is Julian Patterson's
|3rd June 2014
||Matthew (owner of the only VRL in
Australia, OCK66K) recently visited Dee Decker Tours in Melbourne. He
reports that LD6G 836AFM
has been repaired after a major accident and
has been fitted with an auto gearbox and new engine (he thinks it is a
Cummins, but will check next time) which would make it the only
LD6C in the World! The auto box was fitted due to a lack of drivers
able to master the notorious Lodekka stick shift. Some work has been
done recently to Northern
Counties bodied "Jumbo" VR NRD51M but it is
still a long way from being
roadworthy, whilst KPM84E remains derelict
with no engine.
|30th May 2014
||Still going strong is rare
Marshall-bodied LHS PCV178R, new to Harveys of Mousehole, which is enjoying an
extended lease of life in use as a mobile home.
David noticed it travelling eastbound on the A30 in Cornwall this week,
suggesting that it may still be based in Devon as it has been for a
number of years.
|28th May 2014
||The latest addition to the Crosville Motor Services fleet at
Weston-super-Mare, UFX855S, has emerged
repainted in fleet livery and lettered for the resort.
|28th May 2014
||Yet another Western
National FLF to turn up - the third in the last two weeks - is 2057 (BDV265C)
which had previously been believed broken up for scrap after use with Grierson of Fishburn in the early 1980s. In
fact it made it to the U.S.A. and is now
in use as an immobile coffee outlet in Salem, Oregon. Its front cowl
has been carried by 205NAE on the Caribbean
island of Antigua for many years, suggesting that the two rubbed
shoulders at some time in the past.
|25th May 2014
||Gerard reports the two VRs with Cole of Treorchy remain in regular use and were
on schools services this week. CTX396V is
Alexander-bodied ex-Cardiff whilst JMB401T is ex-Crosville.
Gerard believes that the latter retains its Leyland 501 engine which
would certainly make it the last remaining of this type in service
anywhere. However, I did get a report a few years ago that it had been
fitted with a Gardner 6LXB so I am hoping to get confirmation one way
or the other.
|20th May 2014
continue to repaint VRs even in 2014. The latest to receive allover
blue livery (albeit a lighter shade than other recent repaints) is VDV142S, no doubt in preparation for the
various contracts operated over the summer.
|18th May 2014
||Alan came across former Hants & Dorset FS6G 4384LJ
in Karlsruhe, Germany last month, still
very active and in use as a promotional vehicle.
|18th May 2014
||Martin Mowle/Glen Douglas Merritt
||Just when you think there can be
no more Western National FLFs to turn up
along comes another one! This time it is 2067 (AUO514B)
which was exported to the U.S.A. in 1977
but had not been reported since. It has turned up, looking to be in
reasonable condition on the well-known Bargain
website which advertises buses all over North America. The actual
location of 2067 is not yet known - Bargain Bus does not divulge this
as they are a broker and want to discourage direct contact with the
|17th May 2014
||Every now and again a Lodekka
appears that you thought had long since been sent to the crusher - on
this occasion it is former Western National
2038 (418PTA) which has appeared in the
undergrowth up a mountain in British Columbia!
Steve just couldn't let this one go and has now successfully dragged
the bus back down. It will be very interesting to see what happens
next. More photos of this can be found on the homepage as Photo of the Month
|14th May 2014
||Very welcome news from New Zealand is that the prototype Series 3 VR,
former Western National 1078 (ODV78M),
has recently changed hands after a prolonged period stored outside. It
is now owned by the Otago Heritage Bus Society Inc. and its future now
seems safer than it has done for some considerable time.
|11th May 2014
which spent a decade or more as a site vehicle at Booker Gliding Centre
near High Wycombe, has now turned up converted for use as a static playbus
at Molly's Den in New Milton, Hampshire. There is another Molly's Den
in Bournemouth apparently which is reported to have an LD in the same
role - any identification of this one would be much appreciated!
|10th May 2014
||John Royle, Tim Moore and others
National 2097 (BOD36C) has been in the
LeMay Collection in Tacoma, Washington state,
U.S.A. for many years (alongside a pair of West
The Collection is however much larger than just a few old British buses
and has received considerable funding in recent years, so
rationalisation of the exhibits has become inevitable. 2097 is
therefore being put up for auction on May 30th and its details can be
|1st May 2014
||Paul's friend Marc Brunner came
across former Eastern National FLF6G OPU822D last week in Switzerland
still in use with Londonbus Holziken who
have a trio of Lodekkas in their fleet.
currently has former Bristol Omnibus 7224 (EHT113C) for
sale in Belgium.
|28th April 2014||Ben Vallance/Robin Harrison||Johnson of Hodthorpe still have five VRs licensed and used regularly on schools services (four of them ex-Southern Vectis). Full details of the status of their fleet and other active VR fleets in the UK and further afield can be viewed here. Many of those listed in the UK are now really active preserved rather than still in service in the normal sense and some require confirmation (notably Classic Bus, Classic Omnibus, Embling, Express Motors, Roselyn and School Bus Company). If you are able to provide more recent information on these or any other VR fleets I would love to hear from you.|
|27th April 2014||Heiner Wulfes/Mike Murphy||Two further Lodekkas reported recently are both in use as fast food outlets. Eastern National MVX881C is with Birdie's Perch in Leamington, Ontario, Canada serving fish and chips whilst former Western National/Top Deck UOD503 is in Cologne, Bavaria with "Marie Curry" serving - unsurprisingly - various curry dishes!|
|26th April 2014||Kevin Nicol/Adam Colby/Neil Halliday||A number of Lodekkas have been
reported recently which have not been confirmed for a while. KPW483E is still on the side of the approach
road to Bremen Airport next to the multi-storey car park advertising a
local restaurant. 809KDV is still with
FM107.9 Radio in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.
and is kept at the radio station's main office in Bearcat
Drive. Noted by Neil Halliday in the background of a televised
cycle race in France, DAL306C is still in
use as a mobile bar - last reported in Belgium in 2003 it is unclear
whether it has moved over the border permanently.
A pair of former Brighton, Hove & District convertible open-tops are also still very much alive and well. Both SPM21 and SPM22 were converted for use as mobile homes in Switzerland back in the early 1990s having finished their service lives. 21 has just received a new coat of paint, including gold Bristol scroll fleetnames on the side of its allover black livery and looks to be in stunning condition with gleaming chrome, while 22 (named "Big Snail" for obvious reasons) is miraculously back in the UK permanently having been bought by Adam Colby, who saved it from the long journey to New Zealand! He plans to keep it as a mobile home but with some of the original features reinstated. Recent photos of both these unusual vehicles can be seen here.
|26th April 2014
Motors of Bontnewydd were once quite a prolific operator of
Bristols amongst which were a pair of former United
Counties flat front dual-purpose RELH6Gs. TBD278G
was withdrawn in 1993 and TBD284G
in 1994, but great news is that the former is now close to having its
restoration completed using parts from the latter. It will be well
worth the 20 year wait to see this one back on the road.
|25th April 2014
||Swansea Bus Museum
||First have made the remarkable
gesture of presenting retiring driver Peter Nedin with nothing less
than the very last VR in service with the group! MOD571P
is to join other VRs in preservation
at the Swansea Bus Museum after Peter completed 45 years of driving for
United Welsh and its successors without a single accident for which he
was blamed. The bus was new to Western National
(Devon General) but had been used in recent years on an open-top
service around Swansea and surrounding bays and completed 37 years in
service in total, 20 as an open-topper.
|24th April 2014
||Nic lives in the small provincial
town of Cathcart in South Africa where he
runs former United Counties 864 (TNH864R)
every day as a mobile antiques and snack shop. This VR was exported in
1996 and was initially used as a mobile classroom in Pretoria. It then
lay derelict for more than a decade before Nic came along and restored
it to running order. Apparently it covered the 1000km journey to
Cathcart without any problems!
|23rd April 2014 **updated 25th April**
||Alan Slimming (and others via
||Quick a few
Lodekkas were converted to recovery/towing
vehicles in the 1970s, notably by Eastern
Counties and - in greater numbers - the Scottish Bus Group. One of
these conversions has been resident on the premises of Crawford, Neilston for many years,
reregistered Q276RDS, but it has taken until now to positively identify
which one it is. Clearly of Western S.M.T.
origin, the chassis has now been confirmed as that of JSD955 and there are now moves afoot to rescue
this interesting survivor. It turns out that
Alan in association with Jim Geary has acquired this Lodekka for preservation - it is great to hear that this
rare survivor's future is secure.
|21st April 2014||Bob Martin||Reading through some of Bob's "Busman's Holiday" articles I came across an operation I hadn't previously reported. Some years ago I mentioned that FWT956J would certainly be the only flat-front VR to receive City Sightseeing livery anywhere in the World - well I was wrong - former Western SMT OCS584H also received this livery, back in 2009, although there is some doubt whether it ever actually made it into operational service in San Francisco in these colours.|
|10th April 2014||Julian Osborne||Former Hants & Dorset/Damory Coaches VR GEL681V is lurking in the back streets of Croydon in a shady copse acting as an immobile cafe. It can be viewed on Google StreetView by searching for Gladstone Road near the junction with Sydenham Road.|
|8th April 2014||Heiner Wulfes||Der Blickfang (owned by Heiner)
in Germany have been dealing in and operating Lodekkas for several
decades now. This list
is still under construction, but will eventually show all of those
which passed through their hands. The remaining stock has now been
taken on by a younger man (trading as TruckScout24, based in
Ruhrgebiet) and their current For
includes three Lodekkas, albeit at prices that will rule out
repatriation to the UK at this stage. Those shown are GNO788B, UOD503
and RWC607, but I understand from Heiner
that UOD (former Top Deck
"Rox") is actually now converted for use as a smart curry house in
Cologne and in fact it is another ex-Top Deck vehicle, EGM276C
("Crusader") which is for sale.
However, the really exciting news is that Heiner has acquired another FLF this year for renovation and retention by himself as his own private preservation project. My ears pricked up immediately when told me it was "the last FLF in service in the city of Bristol" and subsequent photographs have confirmed that it is indeed former Bristol Omnibus C7262 (GAE883D) which operated in Tilling green for many years after all of Bristol's other FLFs had been withdrawn and sold. This bus was believed to have been scrapped back in 1996 and its survival - in very original condition - is a real cause for celebration.
|8th April 2014||Peter Wilkson||A good day for vehicles previously believed scrapped (see above), former London Country LHS GPD316N (now registered IIL2484) has appeared on eBay having last been reported in 1997 and feared gone forever.|
|30th March 2014 **updated April 2nd 2014**||Michael Scarfe/Julian Patterson||Michael came across former Trent VR PVO817R at the Indy Car Grand Prix last week in St Petersburg, Florida. It has been operational in the US for more than 20 years now, having first run in New York for Manhattan Double Deckers, then with sister PVO816R at Peter Pan Bus Lines in Springfield, Massachusetts. The pair were renovated at Springfield using parts donated by PVO820R. Julian has come up with compelling evidence that it was in fact PVO817R which was broken up for spares by Peter Pan and that PVO820R is the vehicle in Florida.|
|27th March 2014||Jon Pratt and several others (for which many thanks!)||Crosville Motor Services added yet a further vehicle to their operational fleet in February. This time they have taken the oldest surviving RELL3 and the first RELL delivered to Western/Southern National, HDV626E.|
|25th March 2014||William Dart||William lives in West Palm Beach in Florida, U.S.A. and works for a towing firm which has acquired former Western National 2102 (EDV514D). This one had been believed scrapped back in 1997, but had in fact been removed from its previous location and converted for use as a mobile home. However the owner died and it was recovered to its current location where it was intended for scrap, but William has stepped in and is committed to finding it a safe home.|
|19th March 2014||Jon Pratt||Crosville Motor Services of Weston-super-Mare have acquired a third open-top VR - VDL613S (ex-UFX855S) has joined LEU263P and DCA528X (currently undergoing repairs) from Lakeland Voyager.|
|14th March 2014||Chris Brown||VEX301X is still intact with Wigley, Carlton (dealer) but has a fairly hefty price tag for anyone thinking of saving it.|
|9th March 2014||Jimmy Comfort||Following hot on the heels of the entry for 12th February another Southern Vectis VR open-top conversion has entered preservation in Hampshire after several years stored by Mike Nash. This time FDL681V has been acquired by Jimmy who plans to rally it this year after a little renovation.|
|9th March 2014||Paul Harrison||Paul forwarded this link to the New Zealand auction site TradeMe which shows former Cumberland KRM433W for sale with Party Bus Company of Auckland. The bus has been withdrawn from service since 2009 and currently has no engine or gearbox.|
|22nd February 2014||Mike Diamond/Trip Advisor||Former Southdown/Brighton & Hove EAP999V is alive and well and running trips to and from Erin's Snug Irish Pub in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.|
|20th February 2014||Roger Newport||Roger reports that Okke Scoltes, trading as Bus Events in Breda, Holland, owns two fine vehicles - former Eastern National/Top Deck Travel WVX527F in an allover orange livery which he intends to take to this year's World Cup in Brazil (!) and ex-Trent VR PVO812R which is now open-top and has been owned since 2006.|
|20th February 2014||Ian Moorcroft||Former West Yorkshire DWU294T has been converted for use as the "Blue Snail Party Bus" in Oxfordshire hosting children's craft parties. The whole business is currently for sale on eBay.|
|16th February 2014||Paul Hamley||Paul has sent a very welcome
report from the Cardiff Transport Preservation Group. Headline news is
the acquisition of former City of Cardiff
Alexander-bodied convertible open-top VR 360 (WTG360T)
from Classic Bus North West.
Unfortunately it is no longer convertible as the roof for it was broken
up several years ago, but body repair work has already commenced in
Blackpool and it is hoped to have 360 back in time for the CTPG running day in
Work also continues on 348 (WTG348T) which has been found to be in very sound condition and LD6G TAX235 which is having its back end/platform rebuilt from the ground up.
|12th February 2014||Josh Mann||News of a VR entering preservation for the first time is always welcome - Josh is to be congratulated in saving former Southern Vectis 682 (FDL682V) which saw a full career with the company even before it was converted to permanent open-top layout in 2001. It carried the registration VDL744 for a while when running tours on the Isle of Wight.|
|1st February 2014||Dave Longbottom||Somewhat randomly York Pullman have reregistered their sole remaining VR DPX683W to FNF160F.|
|29th January 2014||Jim Bell||Jim has been in touch to let me know about the three LHs he owned in West Yorkshire in the 1980s which were fitted from new with VanPlan pantechnicon bodies, initially for Silver Cross Prams (Lawrence Wilson & Son), Guiseley. They were impressive vehicles and Jim has also sent photos of all three which have been added to this page.|
|25th January 2014||Paul Harrison||More sleuthing from Paul has yielded Thames Valley D57 (PBL57F) for sale at auction in Vienna, Austria in June 2013 here. It has been expertly converted for use as a classroom.|
|22nd January 2014||Paul Harrison||Paul has sent some interesting updates from France. Former Eastern National 2809 (FWC427B) has been sold on by Publibus to Red Connection, St Nazaire who have converted it for use as a mobile restaurant - their website is here. Another FLF on the move is Eastern Counties FLF459 (JPW459D) which is now with Dreams Limousines in Cugnaux and appears to have enjoyed a remarkable restoration since it was last reported in 2007 when its interior had been gutted after use as a piano bar. Their website is here. Finally a highbridge VR, East Yorkshire JKH510V has been converted for use as a static restaurant near Toulouse as seen here.|
|13th January 2014||Phill Kingston||Missing for over 20 years, former Hants & Dorset rare Leyland-engined FLF LEL657F has turned up at Beverley Polo Club in use as an immobile grandstand.|
|11th January 2014||Richard Mellor||Richard passed on some additional information about former London Country LHS RPH111L (now reregistered MIL4686) which has been converted from its former use as a stock car transporter to a mobile home at its new home in Cornwall. The owner blogged some interesting details and photos here during the conversion.|
|8th January 2014||Tim Weatherup||Remarkable flat-front VR survivor FWT956J has gained a new lease of life, this time in the U.S.A. (after a lengthy period in use in Canada), having been sold in 2010 to Julian's Omnibus in Providence, Rhode Island. It has been comprehensively rebuilt as a mobile restaurant including conversion to full open-top and the full story can be read here.|
|7th January 2014||Waikato Times||Not recent news, but interesting nonetheless, is this article from New Zealand written in January 2009. The bus in question which operated for a short time in 2008 as the Hamilton Explorer was former East Midlands 215 (KWA215W) which had latterly been a member of the Party Bus of Auckland fleet. It is not known what happened to the bus after it passed to Mark Goudie in early 2009.|
|5th January 2014||Nigel Essen|| Nigel (see 22nd
August 2013)has sent further links to a good proportion of the Lodekkas
in Japan for which I am very grateful (I am
always pleased to be sent page links featuring interesting Bristols.
One I had not seen in Japan before is Eastern
Scottish AA25 (CSG25C), shown
here in April 1991, which had been converted to open-top - there
have been no sightings since then sadly. Next up is former Mansfield District
SRB65F which is used for transport to the Hida-Takayama Museum of
Art and can be seen on Google Maps Street View
Two recent arrivals are Hants & Dorset FLJ156D and Western National 501BTA. FLJ was used for many years in the U.S.A. and is fitted with a Detroit Diesel engine and has a "snout" where it was remodelled to fit the larger engine into its bay. It arrived in Japan in August 2013 and is believed to be owned by a specialist conversion company in Fukuoka - photos here. BTA was exported in 2011 having sat for many years in the London Bus Export yard in Lydney. It is being used as an immobile diner at the Curry & Noodle House in Ichinomiya, Aichi.
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