Friends & Their Buses
Tony Peart was an inspirational friend to so many, but I was lucky enough to spend time with him, nearly every Wednesday, down at the sheds where his lovely AEC Regents were kept.
He would be washing one, with "just clean water and a wash leather" , either "64" or "KDT" panel by panel, always climbing up a rickety platform ladder, to reach the upper deck, before either retiring to the lobby for a cup of tea, or down to garden centre for a milkshake. He was one of the noisiest milkshake drinkers I knew!
He taught me to drive his buses, or at least didn't screw his face too much, when I crunched the gears and I had the privilege to drive KDT, half the way up to Seaburn for the 2006 rally, in Tyne and Wear, for his last visit there. I loved it!
We also managed to visit many barns and sheds, where the odd bus or two slumbered, through the summer of 2005 & spring of 2006.
My personal favourite still is "64", his York Pullman Regent III, almost certainly, one of the two most beautiful buses around. I know this, because Tony told me and the other one, he said was "KDT". Who could argue?
He set a standard to aspire to, in bus preservation, that worked a magic on several of us, including my friends Neil & Paul, with their Chesterfield Daimler 266. Tony brought us all together as enthusiasts to leave us as friends, although I was a comparative newcomer, compared to Neil and Paul.
Mike, another long standing friend of Tony, still works on the Chesterfield and visits 64 and KDT, more than most.
Tony Peart's knowledge and common sense were lost, only on a few and his love for buses lives in us all.
When he passed, in 2006, he left two stunning vehicles to the museum he respected most, the LVVS of Lincoln, as he would say and I wouldn't argue with that either.
This marvellous double decker, has a 7.7 litre AEC engine, the smaller of the dry lined engines AEC offered customers in the early 50s.
1954 AEC Regent III (JDN 668) 7.7 litre Diesel
Roe H33/25RD body
York Pullman No. 64
The bodywork was from Charles H Roe of Crossgates in Leeds, with a teak frame construction, actually "finest Burma teak", as Tony would specify, being also fitted with manual opening door, to her rear platform, to keep the worst of Yorkshires weather, at least outside York, at bay!
1926 saw York Pullman established to run between Stamford Bridge and York. 64 continued in service until 1971, managing 840,000 miles and two Roe rebuilds, following encounters with low bridges, around York.
Terry Robinson brought 64 into preservation, before Tony took her on.
I remember her "musical" charms and different engine sounds, but it was her terrific livery that took my eye.
1951 AEC Regent III (KDT 393)
9.6 litre AEC Engine
Roe H31/25R body
Doncaster Corporation 122
This Regent III, has the larger and more usual, 9.6 litre AEC engine.
Charles H Roe of Crossgates in Leeds, provided the Burma teak framed body, with that classical raked front and perfect proportions.
However, this was no ordinary everyday product of Chas Roe. The first thing I always noticed was the lovely deep windows on the lower deck. Also, there is that unusual platform step on the rear platform, a Potts Patent air exchanger and those somewhat strange Siddall-More staggered seats.
Doncaster Corporation disposed of "KDT", in 1955. Supposedly because at 8 foot wide, she was unsuitable for Doncaster's narrow streets!
Doncaster independent, Blue Ensign, saw a bargain in a bus that was 4 years old and proceeded to prove Doncaster Corporation wrong, by managing the very same narrow streets, for several years.
The damage when it did come, came not on the narrow town roads, but from a collision with a lorry on the Great North Road, in 1961.
"KDT" was so badly damaged, that she was sent Roe’s for a virtual rebuild.
When she was 16 years old, KDT was bought by Basford Driving School in Nottingham.
It was 1980, when Tony took her into his care, to preserve her. He used to say that "KDT" was in "a parlous state" when he acquired her! Well, she was always stunning, when I saw her."
There so comparatively few London & Country buses left in preservation, that maybe we should keep in touch.
On the 24th May 2015, I had the great pleasure of visiting Pat and Dave Salter, to ride in SNB543. There cannot be many vehicles that show the London & Country livery, in a much better light, than National. I sat on the rear bench seat and revelled in the sounds.
Dave's enthusiasm for buses and 543's preservation, seems boundless and his "Mancave" must surely be the envy of the modern world!
1978 LEYLAND NATIONAL B (EPD 543V).
NO POD SINGLE DOOR
London Country's last Leyland National
SNB543 was part of the last order of 168 Nationals, placed in 1978 and was the last National delivered new to London Country Bus Services Limited, in December 1979.
543 being initially allocated to Reigate (RG), but was then reallocated to Guildford (GF).
It was during 1980, that 543 transferred to Addlestone (WY), to work the 437 route and operate between Kingston, Addlestone & Guildford.
In the lead up the privatisation, 543 was on the fleet list, of what was to become London Country South West, staying at Addlestone until 1986, when she returned to Guildford.
February 1988, saw London Country South West sold to the Drawlane Group.
In April 1989, the company adopted the trading name of "London & Country". A new two tone green and red livery was introduced. SNB543 was out shopped in the new livery in September 1990.
Drawlane was renamed British Bus in December 1992.
In the three months following November 1994, to January 1995, 543 repeatedly switched between Leatherhead (LH) and Guildford (GF).
After the Alder Valley business was acquired by London & Country, the services were rebranded West Surrey Buses and then Guildford & West Surrey in December 1994.
SNB543 returned to Reigate in September 1995, her last allocation prior to beings semi retired, on the reserve fleet, from September, 1997.
January 1998 saw SNB543 end her career with London & Country as she was withdrawn from service and sold.
After a short rest she returned to service in March 1998 with Hall of Kennoway in Scotland, where she was painted into a blue and white livery.
In October 1999 she eventually retired and was purchased for preservation by well known bus preservationist Mike Nash.
In 2006 she was repainted into London & Country livery.
In late September 2012 she was sold to the newly formed SNB543 Group for continued preservation, to the SNB543 Group.
She can be seen regularly on the rally scene and information, regarding her history, her present and her future can be found on the SNB543 Group website.
The members of the SNB543 Group are David & Pat Salter and Stuart & Elaine Curwen.
The SNB543 Group website http://snb543group.webs.com/