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Bristol Commercial Vehicles Enthusiasts

2014/5 News Log Archive


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 rob@robsly.com. 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.

2013 News Log Archive
2012 News Log Archive
2011 News Log Archive
2010 News Log Archive
2009 News Log Archive
2007/8 News Log Archive

Date of Change

Source of Information Details of Change
8th December 2015
Jason Lupton
Former Midland General NNU449J 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 Ross
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 Warwickshire.
22nd November 2015
Ross Newman
Former Crosville 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
Tim Weatherup
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 acquisition here and the conversion here, while Junction Coffee launched in September and have their own website here.
16th November 2015
Tim Weatherup
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 Schuber
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 instead!
13th November 2015
Bram Buntsma
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
Nigel Utting
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
Malcolm McKinnon
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 Automobile) THN258F 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 Stewart
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 Ireland
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 Peters
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 home. 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 Pannell
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 time ago.
25th October 2015
Melvyl Williams
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 Thomas
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
Mike Schmidt
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
Stephen Harrison
Carl Ireland is currently preparing former West Riding VR RUA452W for export to a customer in Germany.
14th October 2015
Dave Andrew
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 and 205NAE. 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 Consent
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 spotted.
30th September 2015
Michael Pannell
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 Detheridge
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
eBay
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 on eBay, while 467BMR is due to be listed soon.
26th August 2015
Mark Terrill
Mark has unique dual-door flat-front former Southdown VR WUF537K for sale for further preservation. Full details here.
25th August 2015
Bryan Sharpe
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
Anthony Holladay
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
Christopher Hilditch
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
Facebook
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
Mike Pannell
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 and 412PTA 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
James O'Hara
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 Sievers
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
Dan Morrisette
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
Nigel Hartley
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
John Scotford
Currently listed on eBay is 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 few days.
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 Counties 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 livery.
24th May 2015
David Balme
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.
16th May 2015
John Roberts
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
Graeme Scarlett
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
Carl English
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 show.
13th May 2015
Richard Aldous
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
John Haines
Former Thames 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 in Tucson.
27th April 2015
Jon Carey
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
YouTube
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
Eddie Taylor
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 Rao
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 meet.
17th April 2015
Richard Waterhouse
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 Transportation. 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
Craig Schofield
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
Ian Tibbits
Surprisingly few Alexander-bodied VRs new to Northampton Transport still survive but PBD40R 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
Various
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
Mark Byard
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 operator.
30th March 2015
Sergio Fiorenza
Former Reading Borough Council Northern Counties-bodied "Jumbo" NRD51M is currently on eBay 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 new home.
30th March 2015
Chris Knight
Welcome preservation 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 Stazicker
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
Martin Roberts
FDL677V, 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 2015 **
22nd March 2015
John Nelson/Traveller Dave
Former P.M.T. 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
Facebook
Lodekka towing conversion JSD955 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
Java Dawg
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
Gareth Perkins
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 Delahoy
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 Daly
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
Tim Weatherup
Another VR which is still very active in Holland is SNJ592R which is used by Topsport Limburg for community events with lots of photos here. It has been converted to open-top and also appears to have a removable roof.
17th February 2015
Sander Toonen
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 O'Malley
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 Counties 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
Paul Harrison
Former Bristol Omnibus C7147 (840SHW) is currently on eBay 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 Turlock
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 the year.
10th January 2015
Marshal Motorsport
EWS742W 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 McNicol
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
Bradway Dave
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
Jean-Louis Coussement
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 it.
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 September.
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 link 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 them.
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 Daly
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 Bonnalie
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
Anthony Holliday
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
John Robinson
Former Thames 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 once again.
19th October 2014
Darren Tasker & David Grimstone
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 Flock
Guido reports via a friend that former Eastern National FLF BVX681B is now owner by the City of Volklingen in Germany where no doubt its 80mph performance is appreciated courtesy of its 12-litre MAN engine, 4-speed ZF gearbox and uprated suspension and brakes!
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
Matthew Brunton
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 since 1987.
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 Transit RDC106R 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 Carter
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
Tim Weatherup
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 Harrison
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. Their website also shows that 818SHW (see this entry on Unusual Bristols) is also owned.
15th September 2014
Jon Pratt
Crosville 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 Gallop
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
Neil Markwick
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
Paul Smith
Former Western 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 Payne
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 cutter's torch!
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 Pleshey.
4th September 2014
Stuart Turner
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 appreciated.
1st September 2014
Paul Harrison
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
Shaun Courtnage
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**
John Roberts
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 OCD771G! A 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
John Haines
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
James Willmott
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 untraced....until now.
18th August 2014
Richard Dixon
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
Former Bristol 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
Nick Jackson
CJH123V 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 red livery.
15th August 2014
Tim Weatherup
AET184T 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 Norman
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
Allan Macfarlane
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 Harbour Marina 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
John Haines
Former Southern 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
Simon Holman
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
Paul Smith
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 a 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 winter.
16th July 2014
Stuart Turner
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 Margam/Richard Pearson
Former West 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 someone.
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 Berry
Former Eastern 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 McLean
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
Steve Thorpe
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
Mark Telfer
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 fully-restored LFS303F.
3rd June 2014
Matthew Brunton
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
David King
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
Jon Pratt
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
Kevin Nicol
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 Butler
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
Dave Fricker
Chepstow Classic Buses 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 Moore
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 Bus 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 seller.
17th May 2014
Steve Walker
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
Anthony Holliday
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
Bob Martin
VVV951W, 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
Former Western National 2097 (BOD36C) has been in the LeMay Collection in Tacoma, Washington state, U.S.A. for many years (alongside a pair of West Yorkshire LDs). 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 seen here.
1st May 2014
Paul Harrison
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.
30th April 2014
Stefan de Waele
Stefan 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
Flickr
Express 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 Nel
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 Flickr)
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 Sale page 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 May.

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 here.

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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