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Since the introduction of rear-engined vehicles in 1958 with the Leyland Atlantean, and in 1960 with the Daimler Fleetline, various bodybuilders have been commissioned by operators to design bodies to operate on these new first generation rear-engined chassis.

However, in the late 1970's, an attempt was made to make bus production very much like car production and discontinue the practice of having chassis and bodies built separately, but have integral vehicles 'off the shelf' with chassis and bodies being built together as a one-off integral design, available for companies to purchase.

In essence, this was the purpose of the Leyland Titan and the MCW Metrobus, both of which were featured in the 'Clash of the Titans' production on BBC Television in 1979, which appeared to threaten the independence of the bus bodybuilding industry.

However, at the end of the day, both the B15 Leyland Titan and the MCW Metrobus failed to maintain a firm foothold and eventually matters reverted to previous circumstances whereby chassis were purchased by operating companies who then chose their bodybuilder, and in some circumstances continued to influence their design.

As far as Leyland Motors were concerned, they had hoped that their integral Leyland National single-decker would be replicated by the double-deck Leyland Titan, but this project failed for a number of reasons.

Consequently, except for the large number of these vehicles delivered to London Transport, very few others were built. In fact, Greater Manchester Transport only received 15, 4001-4015 and the SELNEC Preservation Society has secured the last of these, 4015 (GNF 15V).

In terms of Metrobuses, although London Transport and West Midlands secured a large number of these vehicles, GMT acquired only 190 of the fully integrated MCW Metrobuses, 5001-5190 of which the SELNEC Preservation Society has the first of these, 5001 (GBU 1V) in preservation.

There was then an additional batch of 30 Metrobus chassis but bodied with the Northern Counties Standard body 5201-5210 with Cummins engines, and 5301-5320 with Gardner engines.

It was evident there would be a second generation chassis of rear-engined vehicles depicted, not only by the production of the Leyland Olympian, which replaced the Leyland Titan, but also Dennis Dominators, Scania N113, and more recently the Dennis Trident and Volvo B7TL.

Leyland, very conscious of the failure of the Leyland Titan, realised that their only survival would be in the continuation of production of separate chassis, to be bodied by independent bodybuilders, so consequently created what was the B45 which was to become the Olympian.

In essence, only nine prototypes were built - the fifth of which was purchased by Greater Manchester Transport to form the basis of their development of the Standard body on a second generation rear-engined chassis, and consequently, an unusual arrangement was created, whereby the Standard body was adapted to fit this Olympian prototype chassis B45-05, which became vehicle 1451 (NJA 568W).

It is interesting that GMT used the 1400 Fleet No. series for a variety of vehicles. Initially, the North Western-ordered, but delivered to SELNEC Cheshire 25 Bristol VR's which were re-numbered 1400-1424. Thereafter, the unusual delivery of 10 MCW Metropolitans had been allocated to this series, 1425-1434, and then the two prototype Northern Counties Fodens were delivered as 1435 and 1436. They were followed by four prototype Dennis Dominators, again with the Standard body, as with the Fodens - these being numbered 1437-1440.

When it was decided that the Olympian would be purchased by Greater Manchester Transport, the very first and only GMT prototype was numbered 1451, with Northern Counties taking the full length of the vehicle in its stride and creating a new body style with full length windows to fit the length of the chassis.

1451 proved to be something of a challenge for Northern Counties, as they had to make their Standard body, normally fitted to Atlanteans and Fleetlines, fit the new Olympian chassis. This chassis was longer than that of the Atlantean or Fleetline, so the vehicle had five standard length windows on the upper deck and a slightly shorter window at the rear, and all the hoppers and windows on it were of a different design from that usually applied to the Standard vehicles.

It also had a very large 'Help' impact bumper fitted on the front with the licence plate standing on it, which in itself was unusual.

Thereafter, as time went on, the 1400 series continued. 1461 and 1462 became two Scania N113's bodied by Northern Counties on their Standard body. Then 1471-1473 saw the Standard body adapted to fit three Dennis Falcon V's, and eventually, the final adaptation and the final addition to the experimental 1400 series were three Volvo Citybuses, 1481-1483.

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In the meantime, the first and only prototype Olympian delivered to Greater Manchester, 1451, was exhibited at the 1980 Commercial Vehicle Motor Show and thereafter it became the basis for various analyses as to the future of this chassis, which eventually resulted in orders being placed for what were to become in the end 305 production examples, with 3001 (ANA 1Y) appearing two years later at the Commercial Vehicle Motor Show, in 1982.

In all, there were nine prototype Olympian chassis built at Bristol as listed below, of which 1451 was the fifth.


B45-01 (6LXB)

Q246 FVT





Leyland Prototype



DBV 100W





NBC/Ribble 2100



VGB 364W


'R' 2879/1



Strathclyde PTE LO1



OMS 910W





Alexander (Midland) (M) MRO1



NJA 568W





GMPTE 1451



- - -





Leyland demo/Baghdad



SBS 5396B





Leyland demo/Singapore



CR 2963





Kowloon MB BL3



CR 3830





Kowloon MB BL2

# - All these five prototypes appeared at the Commercial Vehicle Motor Show in 1980.

1451 was given body number 8901, and it is understood it was built at Northern Counties between Fleetline 8140 being completed and Atlantean 8301 being started. It has the Northern Counties metal framed body which was coming to an end of production and was painted at the time in the Standard orange/white livery and indeed, was the only Olympian delivered in these colours.

Aquisition of 1451

We had tracked it being used by Greater Manchester Transport from 1980 to 1986 and subsequently G.M. Buses Ltd., and then G.M. Buses South Ltd, to whom the vehicle passed on 1st April 1994. Thereafter it was passed to Stagecoach Manchester, who withdrew it with gearbox problems in the Autumn of 1996, and put it up for sale. Unfortunately, we were unable to raise sufficient funds in March 1997 to purchase it from them.

Thereafter, it passed to Black Prince on 20th March 1997, who subsequently painted it in their red, yellow and black livery and who indicated to us they would allow us to acquire the vehicle for preservation when their use for it came to an end. However, an unexpected loss of routes caused by the intervention of the Traffic Commissioners meant it was prematurely sold to MK Metro Ltd on 11th September 1997 with whom we have been in contact since that time. Indeed, they repainted it in their resplendent yellow/blue livery in May 1999.

Then it attended the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally to Heaton Park on 5th September 1999, accompanied by 3001 (ANA 1Y) now working for Stagecoach Ribble as 2147, and they were photographed next to each other as depicted in Newsletter No. 13 of May 2000. Indeed, these two vehicles were also parked beside the five vehicles which the SELNEC Preservation Society had taken to this event, being 1066, 7185, 7206, 6990 and 1751.

Judging by the quality of the repaint on 1451 and the amount of work undertaken by MK Metro on its engine, gearbox and mechanical systems, we did not expect the vehicle to be available for preservation for many years. However, a change of policy and standardisation of spare parts for operational vehicles within the company's group operations, meant that it became available for disposal, and we were advised of this fact in a letter of 6th May 2000.

The price they initially wished to sell the vehicle for was beyond our limited Charitable resources, so consequently we made an offer of a lower figure inclusive of VAT. They did not reject this, but instead proposed that they would donate the vehicle to our Charitable Trust on the basis that it would remain in MK Metro colours.

We indicated to MK Metro that this would be something we were prepared to do for a limited period in time but it would be entirely inappropriate for us to keep it in MK Metro colours permanently, as they wished, since this would defeat our objectives to restore the vehicle to its original, 1980 GMT condition, as this was at the very heart of our preservation activities. In the end, however, it was agreed that the vehicle would be purchased for a discounted sum on the basis that we kept it in MK Metro colours for ten years, and that is what has been agreed.

As a consequence of these arrangements, members of the SELNEC Preservation Society travelled down to Milton Keynes on Friday evening, 21st July 2000, and stayed overnight at a local Guest House in order to attend the premises of MK Metro in Snowdon Hill, at 9:00am. on Saturday 22nd July 2000 to secure 1451 and return it to Manchester. The trip back was uneventful, and the move around indicated earlier in our Newsletter, on 15th July 2000, meant that we were able to park it up under cover in our Leigh storage facility.

We plan to ensure the vehicle is taxed, bearing in mind that the MOT does not expire until April 2001, and put it on our fully comprehensive insurance in order for it to take part in the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally, ending up at Heaton Park, on 3rd September 2000. We have been very much assisted and are indeed indebted to MK Metro for their assistance in letting us secure this vehicle for a particularly discounted sum, in order to enhance our preservation activities.

1451 had an experimental single line small dot matrix destination display when it appeared at the Commercial Vehicle Motor Show in 1980 and in its early days of service, but this was very soon changed to what was to become the Standard three-part destination display for other Olympians, Dominators, and all other bodies on second generation rear-engined chassis which would not allow the Standard three-piece destination display because of the limited height on these vehicles.

In order that the Standard body used on Atlanteans and Fleetlines could be utilised for the production Olympians, a spacing pillar was put on the upper deck after the first window which allowed Standard window fittings to be used on 3001 and the production Olympians, which meant they were much more in keeping with the Standard body used on Atlanteans and Fleetlines, than 1451 which utilised a different approach.

3001 also had a different front destination display when new, not a dot matrix, but blinds, though much narrower than the three piece conventional unit, settled on as being the replacement for the long-running Manchester three separate display arrangement.

3001 was Leyland Olympian chassis No. 475 and Northern Counties body No. 2386 and was built in between Atlantean 8580 and 8581, and featured the alloy body arrangement that was now the Northern Counties Standard body.

Restoration of 1451

After its appearance at the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally from the Museum of Transport to Heaton Park in September 2000, 1451 was delicensed and put into storage in a number of locations (including Lincoln) eventually ending up at Blackburn in 2005.  Then on 25th March 2006 we undertook a series of vehicle movements in order to put vehicles in place for future activities.  First of all we moved 408 (AJA 408L) from Leigh to Croft thereby taking up to four the number of restored orange and white vehicles stored at that location; 408 in SELNEC Cheshire colours joining EX1 in SELNEC colours, along with 5001 (GBU 1V) and 8001 (XBU 1S) in two versions of Greater Manchester metropolitan and white colours.

Moved out of Croft to make space for 408 was 8460 (SND 460X), the alloy framed Atlantean currently depicting the white and orange �People on the Move� livery which was taken to our facilities in Blackburn.  The major part of reason for the move around was to release 1451 (NJA 568W) from Blackburn so that it could be taken to Leigh and placed in the space vacated by 408 as it is the next project we are to start upon once significant progress has been made on 6990 and 7960.  We also hired a film crew for the day to film the move around as it may be useful footage that we can use later on when we next undertake a video production.  This is likely to be a video diary tracking the rectification principally of 1451 and also our attendance at the Trans-Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally from the Museum of Transport to Heaton Park on 2nd September 2007 when we hope possibly to feature six vehicles taking part in this event and travelling on our traditional East Lancs Road Run that have not featured restored in a previous video production.   

Although the move of 408 from Leigh to Croft and of 8460 from Croft to Blackburn went without incident, we had problems with 1451 in that it threw off the main drive belt that operates the water pump causing the vehicle to throw out water and to overheat.  Two attempts to refit the belt were unsuccessful in that being very worn it threw it off twice more but luckily because First Calderline had supplied us with a spare TL11 engine that used to be in 3012 (A577 HDB) we were able to source a good condition second-hand belt from this spare engine therefore allowing us to finally return 1451 to Leigh.

On the working day 15th October 2006 we had a large programme of events in that Auto Windscreens came down to replace windows on 7960 and 8141 which was visiting for the day and ATS attended to replace tyres on both 8141 and 7960 and all this work was captured on film as our fourth segment of our video diary.  Also we wanted to capture the commencement of the rectification of 1451 and therefore had undertaken no work on it until the cameras were present on this day.  1451, 7960 and 8141 were parked on the street in Leigh in order to assist with the filming and to allow identification of the requirements for rectification work in the daylight which luckily turned out to be quite a sunny day.  The activities that commenced on the vehicle which were captured on film were as follows:

- New wiper arms and wiper blades fitted;
- New wing mirror arms and mirrors fitted;
- Blue MK Metro Vinyls removed;
- Wheel hubs sanded and paint stripped;
- Upper deck interior window aluminuim polished and all interior and exterior windows cleaned;
- New three position tax disc holder fitted; and
- all upper deck seat frames sanded down and red oxided.

In terms of the seat cushions and backs on 1451, we had originally felt we would have to try to make them up from the seats on the vehicle and spares in all over orange moquette as we had used up the supply we had had made many years ago on 408, 5001, 105 and finally 7960.  However, during a stock check an additional roll of some 25 metres was discovered.  Consequently we are to re-moquette the lower deck of 1451 in new all over orange moquette.  The upper deck will be fitted out with the very best used all over orange seat backs and seat cushions we can bring together and once they have been cleaned by Chem-Dry they should look very presentable.  The lower deck will be spectacular when re-moquetted, which is a helpful development because some of the seats, especially the narrow double units on the plinth, the inward facing double units over the rear wheel arches and the back lower deck seats are unique and would have been difficult to have re-covered in used orange moquette. 

During the day and as captured on film it had been identified that three of the lower deck seats backs were in particular good overall condition and they were removed to be relocated upstairs.  The remaining good condition all-over orange seatbacks and cushions that will be needed to complete the upper deck will be sourced from spares, which is principally the reason for our visit to East Manchester as reported under Section C, Other Activities, on Friday 20th October 2006. 

Over the next few working days, Sunday 7th November 2006, Sunday 26th November 2006, Sunday 17th December 2006 and 7th January 2007, work continued on the bus in terms of a thorough clean on the upper deck and the commencement of painting of the seat frames in grey and the aluminium in silver paint.  The lower deck outside window aluminium was polished and a thorough assessment was made and progress achieved with the seats in that a full set of good condition used orange cushions had been sourced for the upper deck and nine backs on the upper deck with the wrong colour of moquette or damaged melamine had replacements sourced for them. 

On 17th December 2006 the upper deck rear seat was sent away to GLG WIGAN Coachtrimmers for covering in used all over orange moquette and the whole of the lower deck cushions and backs were sent away for re-covering along with our 25 metres of new orange moquette.

Also on this day a new rear view mirror was fitted to 1451 and a full set of the L947 Lucas lights for the front and rear was extracted from stock. 
        - Four white (two front/two rear)
        - Four orange (two front/two rear)
        - Two red tail lights
        - Two red stop lights

We also identified that there were a number of parts that had to be sent away for rectification before they could be refitted to 1451 and by taking this work on early, we hope these items will have been repaired or renovated when the bus requires them around Spring 2007.  These being as follows:-
        - Leyland National type side indicators
        - L906 Leyland National type rear licence plate light
        - Two headlamp surrounds
        - Two Leyland front hub caps
        - Internal light cover above entrance door

In addition we need to secure one missing hopper window in the appropriate design which we think we may have in our Leyland Titan spare parts and also some new cab bulbs and lenses for the various control panels which again may  be sourced from our Titan spares. 

Finally, although we have the original large black HELP bumper donated to us by the Museum of Transport and the two fixing brackets, nearside and offside, the central metal plate which is used to join together the impact bumper, the licence plate and the front centre fibreglass panel has rotten away, but we have sufficient left of it to have its design replicated.

On Sunday 21st January 2007 all the lower deck seat backs that had been re-moquetted by Wigan GLG Coachtrimmers, were returned and fitted to the vehicle and work commenced on the lower deck with sanding down and red-oxiding all the seat frames. 

Thereafter on the working day on 18th February 2007 we obtained from storage the original black impact bumper and started to sand down, treat and red oxide the rusted metal surfaces and finalised the rectification of the upper deck and started painting its floor. 

Over the next few working days considerable progress was made, in particular on Sunday 1st April 2007 to the extent whereby the internal rectification of the bus is virtually complete.  The upper deck has a matching set of orange seat backs and cushions that we put together from our spares and the lower deck has been totally re-moquetted, in that Wigan GLG Coachtrimmers managed to use the last of our new orange moquette in re-covering the cushions to match the seat backs re-trimmed previously. 

All the melamine on both decks has been cleaned, all the aluminium surfaces repainted along with the white above the front upper deck windows, the staircase surround and underneath the staircase in the luggage area.  The whole of the cab area, windscreen surrounds and doors have been repainted in vinyl black and all the floors on both decks have been treated in the special brown neogene floor paint. 

Work has continued on the rectification of the original front impact bumper with certain metal parts that had deteriorated having been sent away, re-made and returned. 

Auto Windscreens visited on the working day on Sunday 1st April 2007 and fitted to the upper deck nearside an original Titan style hopper window that had been replaced in years gone by with plain glass; they also made and fitted a new upper deck front offside window to replace the etched item in place and switched over the windscreens to a set with the correct heating elements from our spares and at the same time replaced all the windscreen rubber. 

On a gloriously sunny day on 1st April 2007 when 1451 was in the street to allow Auto Windscreens to carry out these activities we also arranged for ATS to visit not only to supply and fit two new tyres, but to swap around the tyres on the vehicle and to fit the original hubs which have the five large holes cast design rather than the newer design with ten smaller holes in the casting.  Consequently, the ATS fitter put a new tyre on the nearside front hub of the bus and reused the tyre that came off this to put it onto an original design hub.  This hub was fitted to the nearside rear of the vehicle replacing the worn tyre and wrong design hub that was fitted at that time.  The second new 11R22 tyre was fitted to a spare hub with the correct design which was fitted to the offside front of the bus replacing the worn tyre and wrong hub that was in place. 

Finally on 1st April 2007 the two rear engine panels on the nearside and offside were taken off and replaced with examples from our spares that were in a much better condition, interestingly in First Manchester red.

We originally had intended to restore the vehicle with conventional route numbers and destination blinds on the front and side as it had run in service with these for many years, but we determined that we would have the bus returned to its Motor Show condition as exhibited at the Commercial Vehicle Motor Show in 1980 with the narrow dot matrix route displays on the front, side and rear although these may have to be made as fixed items rather than an operational units. 

On the following working day, Sunday 22nd April 2007, final snagging work was undertaken to the inside of the bus and it was then driven to Whittakers of Penwortham for a full service on its mechanics, electrics, steering, brakes, etc., and to be entered into a Class V MOT.

As part of our ongoing video diary the sixth segment was filmed reflecting this work being undertaken on 1451.

As expected a considerable amount of work was required on the air suspension system and the full list of the work undertaken is as follows:

- MOT Inspection
- Service:  various job; check out (suspect fault), repair NS levelling valve rod, check alternator fault, change over alternator belts, change over water pumpbelt

  fault, air leaks on suspension, rear axle plates and pods.
- Air leaking on suspension in front piston and bags.
- Work on suspension faults
- Welding to various parts on suspension outriggers;
- Complete work on wheel arch: rebuild and replace
- Secure and torque tyres.
- Remove silencer box and tail pipe.
- Prepare brackets, prepare carriers.
- Front suspension; remove pistons.
- Replace OS air bag, charge system.
- Secondary fault: NSF air bag holed.
- After rubbing wheels arch bolt.
- Complete work on front air bag NS.
- Charge with air and adjust valve to suit
- Replace exhaust system and tail pipe
- Run up and check.
- Wiper; repair piping
- Washer; repair piping
- Adjust braking and grease.
- Replace alternator belts and water pump belts
- Inspection engine area.
- Repair wiper spindles, adjust rods and wiper arms.
- Starter, rear fog lights; switch fault.

The vehicle passed its Class V MOT on 23rd May 2007 and it was then moved to North West Bus & Coach Repairers Ltd in Blackburn on 30th May 2007, so that they could commence rectification work on the exterior of the vehicle.

The work required was quite detailed as the body style was a �one off� prototype and modifications have been made using production parts over the years.

Also as the seventh segment for our video diary filming was undertaken of a fair bit of action on Saturday morning, 16th June 2007, involving the removal of panels, replacement of panels, filling and sanding work on the fibreglass, some work on the lights, bumper, etc.

The vehicle was collected from North West Bus & Coach Repairers by one of our members on Wednesday 1st August 2007 and taken to Whittakers of Penwortham, from where it was thereafter moved for a repaint which was carried out at the premises of Focus Coaches, also in Penwortham.  As part of the eighth segment of our video diary about the ongoing rectification of 1451, part of this repainting work was captured on film on Tuesday 7th August 2007. 

The bus had all its new panels prepared and undercoated, and attention was given to sanding down and preparing the vehicle and then it received two top coats of metropolitan orange and white on the bodywork and the correct dark brown O8D45 on the wheels. 

Two members of the SELNEC Preservation Society visited the premises at Focus on Wednesday 8th August 2007 to apply a number of vinyls to the exterior of the vehicle, being major aspects such as the fleet numbers, Greater Manchester Transport symbols, legal lettering along with a number of functional transfers such as �Emergency Exit�, �Windscreen Washer Water� and various internal transfers.

Thereafter the bus was collected from Focus in Penwortham and returned to our premises in Leigh on the scheduled working day, 12th August 2007, when virtually the whole day was devoted to finishing off the vehicle.  A special working day was organised for the following Sunday 19th August 2007.  During this time the whole of the interior and exterior of the vehicle had all its paintwork carefully snagged and the outstanding two re-moquetted rear seat arms were fitted.  The remaining internal and external vinyls were applied to the bus as were decorative Leyland hubcaps at the front.  It had new licence plates fitted to the front and to the rear of the vehicle; its tyres and front impact bumper were repainted in tyre wall black.  Original Leyland and quite rare strip Olympian badges were fitted front and rear as was a Leyland Roundell also on the rear on the vehicle.  New re-chromed headlight surrounds were fitted and adjustments were made to the positioning of the front windscreens. 

In addition we had Chem-Dry visit to clean thoroughly all the re-moquetted upper deck of the vehicle where we had to employ used moquette from stock, unlike the lower deck which was re-moquetted with new orange moquette, the last of our supply being exhausted on the lower deck of this vehicle.  Member Adrian Jones thoroughly cleaned all the windows inside and outside so that the bus was ready for its launch (along with 7960) to be seen for the very first time fully restored and fully repainted at the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally from the Museum of Transport to Heaton Park on Sunday 2nd September 2007. 

We have had substantial support from our members and other individuals who have donated monies to us over a period of time to help with our various rectification activities and these resources came in most useful when funding the rectification over the last few years for the parts and work needed to be undertaken on 1451.  Set out below is a schedule of the costings:


1 Batteries x 2 �120.91
2 Wipers x 2 �62.09
3 Wing mirrors (x2) and rear view mirror (x1) �43.59
4 Auto Windscreens �402.00
5 Orange moquette �376.00
6 Re-moquetting and re-covering work �351.00
7 New Tyres (x2) and ATS work �705.00
8 L971 lights �35.00
9 L947 lights �600.00
10 Paint �298.00
11 Parts from Thomas Hardle (mainly Suspension) �1877.50
12 Parts from T.T. Motor Factors �234.10
13 Electrical work at Ribblesdale �1912.21
14 Servicing work at Whittakers �1634.18
15 Bodywork at North West Bus & Coach Repairers �7541.65
16 Painting �800.00
17 Vinyls �383.79
18 New destination display �150.00
  TOTAL �18,027.90

Although to a large extent securing a vehicle for preservation is relatively inexpensive with a number of buses being either donated or being sold for scrap prices, subsequently the costs start to escalate, particularly in terms of insurance and storage.  These are further exacerbated if vehicles are restored particularly if they are taken back to their as new condition and need rectification of many years worth of alteration, repair and adaptations, evidenced by the list of costings set out above.



1451 (Single Prototype)

gmt.gif (2279 bytes)

(NJA 568W)


Northern Counties H43/30F - Mark 1A



Bristol Olympian B45



1st October, 1980 (1980 Commercial Vehicle Motor Show)



28th June, 2000



The first B45 prototype Leyland Olympian and the only one delivered to Greater Manchester. It was also the only GMT Olympian to run in orange and white.

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