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On 25th November 2010 the SELNEC Preservation Society added a Greater Manchester Buses North (GMN) Dennis Dart to its collection, being 1124 (N624 CDB).

1124 has a 39-seat Northern Counties "Countybus Paladin" body, and is one of 20 similar vehicles built in May 1996. The overall batch, however, covering 35 vehicles, the remaining 15 being bodied by Plaxton with the successful "Pointer" body, which was originally developed by Reeve Burgess.

The Northern Counties bodied vehicles were numbered 1119-38 inclusively, while the Plaxton-bodied examples were 1139-53.

Curiously one of the 15 Plaxton Examples was a former demonstrator, it was numerically the first, 1139, and was registered N742 GKH.

Northern Counties
Fleet No. Registration Chassis Chassis No. Body No. Seating First Registered
1119 N619 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2714 NCME 5172 B39F 05/96
1120 N620 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2888 NCME 5191 B39F 05/96
1121 N621 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2916 NCME 5189 B39F 05/96
1122 N622 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2972 NCME 5195 B39F 05/96
1123 N623 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3185 NCME 5294 B39F 05/96
1124 N624 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3186 NCME 5295 B39F 05/96
1125 N625 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3187 NCME 5296 B39F 05/96
1126 N626 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3188 NCME 5297 B39F 05/96
1127 N627 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3189 NCME 5298 B39F 05/96
1128 N628 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3199 NCME 5299 B39F 05/96
1129 N629 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3203 NCME 5300 B39F 05/96
1130 N630 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3204 NCME 5301 B39F 05/96
1131 N631 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3205 NCME 5302 B39F 05/96
1132 N632 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3212 NCME 5303 B39F 05/96
1133 N633 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3213 NCME 5304 B39F 05/96
1134 N634 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3214 NCME 5305 B39F 05/96
1135 N635 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3215 NCME 5306 B39F 05/96
1136 N636 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3216 NCME 5307 B39F 05/96
1137 N637 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3223 NCME 5308 B39F 05/96
1138 N638 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3224 NCME 5309 B39F 05/96
Fleet No. Registration Chassis Chassis No. Body No. Seating First Registered
1139 N742 GKH Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2798 PX 9510HXN4015 B39F 05/96
1140 N640 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2846 PX 9510HXN4023 B39F 05/96
1141 N641 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2879 PX 9510HXN4032 B39F 05/96
1142 N642 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3056 PX 9510HXN4432 B39F 05/96
1143 N643 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3057 PX 9510HXN4433 B39F 05/96
1144 N644 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2880 PX 9510HXN4514 B39F 05/96
1145 N645 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2881 PX 9510HXN4515 B39F 05/96
1146 N646 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2882 PX 9510HXN4516 B39F 05/96
1147 N647 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2883 PX 9510HXN4517 B39F 05/96
1148 N648 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2904 PX 9510HXN4520 B39F 05/96
1149 N649 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 2902 PX 9510HXN4521 B39F 05/96
1150 N650 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3047 PX 9510HXN4773 B39F 05/96
1151 N651 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3048 PX 9510HXN4774 B39F 05/96
1152 N652 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3058 PX 9510HXN4775 B39F 05/96
1153 N653 CDB Dennis Dart 9.8SDL3054 3059 PX 9510HXN4776 B39F 05/96

All were delivered to GMN after the company's takeover by FirstBus in the "rail red" (also known as "tomato soup") livery adopted following rebranding as Greater Manchester FirstBus.

We do not know for definite whether these buses were ordered by the independent GMN, but FirstBus, or both. We surmise that while GMN had taken Dennis Darts and Volvo B6s with Northern Counties bodywork when independent, the FirstBus takeover may have either influencing the splitting of the body order, or that the Plaxton examples were added outright by FirstBus. This conclusion is reached since GMN had not previously purchased from Plaxton, and since vehicles of a similar specification were entering service with other FirstBus fleets around the country, such as Western National and Yorkshire Rider.

Photographic records indicate that the Northern Counties examples were delivered fully liveried, while the Plaxton vehicles were delivered in all-over red with neither blue lining relief nor fleet names/numbers.

A large number of the batch were delivered new to Bury depot where they replaced an equal if not greater number of older standard Atlanteans. Allocations changed as the years went by (certainly 1124 was driven into a pit whilst allocated to Wigan!) and several examples were transferred within First to other fleets around the country.

Aquisition of 1152

When we made contact with FirstGroup in connection with 1124 we indicated we would also be interested in a Plaxton "Pointer" example too. Research at the time indicated that 1152 was the last GMN example to be in service, which FirstGroup later confirmed. 1152 was working from Kidderminster garage with fleet number 40284. They kindly undertook to flag the vehicle in their database system such that when it was withdrawn from service, we would be contacted.

In August 2011 we received email contact from FirstGroup advising that 1152 (now known as 40284) had now been withdrawn from service and was now available to be donated to the SELNEC Educational Trust. Arrangements were made to collect the vehicle and this took place on Saturday 1st October 2011.

The repatriation was undertaken by members Greg Taylor and Lea Worrall. The members met at Kidderminster depot where 1152 was already running and awaiting its return home. Initial impressions of the vehicle were good - outwardly it was smart and tidy with very good bodywork. Indeed, it appeared to have only recently been repainted. In any event the bus was successfully driven back to Manchester without incident and was parked at our East Manchester facility.

1152 then underwent a taxiation class change from PCV to PLG to reflect its new status as a preserved vehicle. As it had a current MOT test certificate, it was retaxed to allow it to make an appearence at the Museum of Transport's event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of deregulation on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th October 2011. It attracted plenty of attention for a relatively modern bus - not least when it operated the free bus service towards the end of the Sunday afternoon, departing with a very healthy loading indeed! It was then taken to internal storage at our Stockport Depot.

Restoration of 1152

Remoquetting the seats on 1152 will be an essential step in its restoration. Whilst running at Kidderminster the seats were re-covered in an all-purple moquette. The correct covering for both 1152 and 1124 is "red flame", which is also known as "diced carrot". Unfortunately it is no longer manufactured by Holdsworth. Efforts to track down remaining stocks within FirstGroup have revealed a few modest amounts which may be sufficient and effort to source the required quantity was carried out.

Given the excellent condition of the bus, Greg Taylor and Lea Worrall decided to begin restoration work on repainting the vehicle into original condition. As the storage premises at Stockport prevented any work from being undertaken, it was agreed for the vehicle to be moved temporarily on Friday 11th November 2011 to the premises of the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust in Kirkby, Liverpool, with member Dave Birchall assisting with the driving honours.

Whilst at Kirkby, the following tasks were carried out:-

11th November 2011 - Mid-January 2012


28th/29th January 2012
Body Panels were further rubbed down, and the new offside skirt panel for beneath the driver;s window (as discussed above) was fitted. Various defects around the body were filled including damage to the fibreglass offside rear corner. The faulty (i.e. no sound) horn was investigated and the cause swiftly identified; no horn was fitted!

31st January 2012
A replacement horn, ordered from Erith Commercials (who carry a large stock of Dennis Dart parts from vehilces they have broken up) was delivered.

31st March/1st April 2012
The filled areas attended to previously were sanded and reprofiled smooth. Wheels were stripped of loose paint and debris with a wire brush. All light lenses were removed for cleaning and the entire exterior was thoroughly washed with sugar soap/water solution. When dry, all window rubbers and other non-painted surfaces were masked in readiness for painting.

6th April 2012
All light lenses were thoroughly cleaned.

7th/8th April 2012
The exterior was dusted off with microfibre cloths and then painted with orange undercoat. The vehicle was brush painted by Lea Worrall, although for the roof a roller was used.

14th/15th April 2012
The undercoated orange bus was "keyed" all over with fine grade sandpaper and again dusted with microfibre cloths, to ensure surfaces were free of dust before application of the first coat of "rail red" gloss (also known as "tomato soup").

21st/22nd April 2012
A second coat of gloss was applied.

24th April 2012
All required graphics were prepared in Adobe Illustrator and sent to Colin Mackay for production in vinyl.

28th/29th April 2012
Over this weekend the restored chassis and body manufacturing badges were applied, along with the new number plates. Fitting the rubber strip to the skirt-level trim provided impossible and after a whole day of effort (an a great many swear words!) this was abandoned.

5th/6th/7th May 2012
Fleetnames, legal and other lettering and the blue stripe were fitted to the bus by Colin Mackay. Windows in the driver's cab were stripped back to glass (having been painted black) and some interior cleaning was undertaken.

12th May 2012
1152 successfully passed a class V MOT in Liverpool.

20th May 2012
1152 was launched at the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust's running day at Kirkby and was well received by those who inspected it.

August 2012
A replacement cab door was sourced and fitted. The original one was not original and included a cumbersom anti-attack screen.

1st September 2012
1152 left its temperary home at Kirkby and was driven by Lea Worrall to our Stockport Depot in prepareness for the Trans-Lancs event the following day.

2nd September 2012
1152 attended the Trans-Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally along with Daimler Fleetline 7206 (VNB 177L), Leyland Olympian 3001 (ANA 1Y), Exhibition Daimler Fleetline 7232 (VNB 203L) and ex-GM ERF Tow Wagon, KRF 133V.

Various jobs remain outstanding. including a full thorough interior clean (including windows), the application of some interior lettering in vinyl and, of course, the remoquetting of the seats into "red flame" (aka diced carrot) pattern. The required quantity has now been sourced from FirstGroup (10m) and Holdsworth themselves.

Many thanks goes to the assistance of Greg Taylor, Dean Howdle, Dave Birchall, Mark Amis, Alex Gauden and the members of the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust.

first-2.jpg 1152 - N652 CDB
Batch 1139 - 1153
Body Plaxton Pointer B40F
Chassis Dennis Dart
First Registered 20th May 1996
Purchased by SPS 1st October 2011
Details 1152 was delivered during the take over of GMN by FirstBus - therefore it was delivered in "Tomato Soup" livery.
Status Restored


1124 - N624 CDB
401 - N401 WVR
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