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Over the years whilst collecting examples of the Standard vehicle developed by SELNEC and GMT we have secured a significant number of Leyland Atlanteans and Daimler/Leyland Fleetlines bodied by Northern Counties and Park Royal.  Thereafter again tracking the development of the Standard body on second generation chassis we have examples of Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympians, Dennis Dominators and MCW Metrobuses.

As far as the Leyland Olympians are concerned we have tried to reflect the design and development of the Standard body as applied to these vehicles over the seven years that the batch was in production, commencing with the first prototype Olympian 1451 (NJA 568W) with its unique “one off” metal framed orange and white body through to the 277 more conventional alloy framed production Leyland Olympians 3001 to 3277, delivered between 1982 and 1987.  Of these we have the following:

3001 (ANA 1Y) – fully restored

3010 (ANA 10Y) – Delaine livery

3030 (A30 ORJ) – Voith gearbox

3101 (B101 SRJ) – Pre 3132 design change

3201 (C201 CBU) – Post 3132 design changes and adapted front end

3225 (C225 CBU) – Bus seated Express liveried vehicle

3277 (D277 JVR) – Coach seated Express liveried vehicle and last of the batch

When GM Buses Limited was formed at deregulation on 26th October 1986 their predecessors, Greater Manchester Transport, had ordered for delivery the following year 28 further Leyland Olympians with Express livered coach seated bodywork as depicted on the last 39 of the batch beginning 3239 to 3277.  However, this order of 28 vehicles was cancelled by Greater Manchester Buses Ltd.  By this time Northern Counties were committed to building the vehicles and had commenced production with the first three having been completed with their coach seats fitted when the order was cancelled.  However, the arrangements that were in place between Greater Manchester Transport and Kirkby Central to dispose of the vehicles left with Greater Manchester Transport and not secured by Greater Manchester Buses Limited after deregulation saw these 28 vehicles being completed and leased to Bexley Bus before being sold off to a number of subsequent operators.  Because they did not pass into the ownership of Greater Manchester Buses Ltd they did not receive Greater Manchester registrations but did receive the appropriate year letter “E” 1987-1988 registrations and became E901 KYR to E928 KYR.  Because of the cancellation of the order only three of them actually received coach seats E902 KYR to E904 KYR (CH43/26F), and the remainder reverted to Standard bus seating (H43/30F).

As the years have gone by E901-E928 KYR have been sold to and operated by a number of bus companies.  The last of the batch E928 KYR which would have been the original 3305 (instead of F305 DRJ) passed to Bullocks of Cheadle and we have contacted them expressing an interest in securing the bus for preservation when it comes out of service with them, as this bus was not sold recently as were many others to Stagecoach Manchester.

One year later in an extraordinary reversal of the previous decision Greater Manchester Buses Ltd decided that they did after all want the 28 Leyland Olympians that had been on order but by then it was too late, they had been delivered to Bexley Bus so they placed an order for a further 28 Leyland Olympians to be bodied by Northern Counties and these vehicles were to become 3278 to 3305.  At deregulation GM Buses Ltd introduced an adapted livery of the white, orange and brown used for Greater Manchester Transport vehicles by placing on them coloured stripes and depot branding in relation to what were the original four divisions of GM Buses as follows:

Blue South City South (Princess Road)/Stockport/Trafford
Brown North Bury/City North (Queens Road)/Rochdale
Green West Atherleigh/Bolton/Salford/Wigan
Yellow East City East (Hyde Road)/Glossop/Oldham/Tameside

However, it was deemed by the management of GM Buses Ltd that they wanted an entirely new livery for new vehicles and those vehicles that had been inherited when they came up for repaint and devised an all over orange design with a white roof, windscreen and headlamp surrounds and a large transfer GM Buses “People on the Move”. 

Originally the same orange was to be used as previously by Greater Manchester Transport, being Metropolitan orange and 3278 at Northern Counties was painted in this colour before a decision was taken to move to a darker orange, known as GM Buses orange so 3278 was repainted in this colour before delivery and the remaining batch 3279 to 3305 had this colour applied in the first instance.  These 28 Olympians also featured the return to bus seating arrangements of H43/30F (rather than coach seated CH43/26F) and by then the Northern Counties Standard body which was also supplied to other operators had been adapted and modernised, featuring a peaked dome, different lower fibreglass front panel below the windscreens and an additional window on the nearside front roof after the entrance door. 

Also internally a number of features have been added, in that bus stopping signs were reintroduced for the first time since the Mancunians had been delivered between 1968 and 1972 and an entirely different heating system was set up with full length ducting along both the nearside and offside of both deck floors.  In addition a new orange moquette was introduced to replace the salt and pepper brown moquette used previously and a reversion took place in terms of the allocation of the white and black melamine.  When the Standards were first delivered from EX1 onwards, the white melamine had been on the ceilings of both decks extended down to below the window level, with black melamine thereafter.  However, because of graffiti and other problems, it was decided that the black melamine would start higher up and consequently the white would finish at the top of the window level, then the black melamine would follow below it, and this had been the case since, in terms of Atlanteans from 7585 and in terms of Fleetlines from 7481 and all Olympians hitherto had seen this application, being 1451, 3001-3277.

For some reason however, from 3278 onwards a reversion took place to the previous arrangement, in that the white melamine would now continue from the ceiling down to the bottom of the window arrangement on both decks with black melamine thereafter.

The prototype and 305 'Standard' Olympians delivered to Greater Manchester have spanned an array of different chassis makes, engine configurations and body designs, but most striking of all, four different liveries: 1451 being GMT orange and white, 3001-3238 being white, orange and brown, 3239-3277 being Express salmon with red, orange and brown stripes and 3278-3305 in the new GM Buses white roof and all over orange, “People on the Move” livery.  3278-3305 was the only batch of vehicles delivered new in this white and orange “People on the Move” livery as the next batch of new vehicles saw a different approach to white, orange and whortleberry.

When GM Buses Limited split into GM Buses North and South Limited with effect from 1st April 1993 these 28 F-Reg Olympians were split between the two companies as follows:

GM Buses (North) GM Buses (South)
3278-3281 3282-3283
3284/3286-3288 3285/3289
3290/3292-3293 3291/3294-3298
3299/3302-3303 3300-3301
3305 3304

We clearly identified that it was important that we should secure one of these F-Reg adapted design Olympians for preservation when they became available and in keeping with our policy of securing firsts and lasts of various batches we chose the first 3278.  Unfortunately, however, before we had the opportunity to alert First Group to our interest in 3278 it had been taken out of service rather prematurely and scrapped therefore urgent discussions took place with First Group to make sure we did secure the last of the batch 3305, which would be Greater Manchester’s last Olympian.  Unfortunately, however, on 25th February 2005 the vehicle was set on fire by vandals in Bolton Town Centre and by the time the Fire Brigade had arrived and put out the fire, ¾ of the upper deck had been totally destroyed.  The bus was allocated to us for preservation by First Group, but clearly they realised that we would need a considerable number of spare parts to repair the vehicle.  Consequently, they also allocated to us at no cost the second of the batch 3279, which they took out of service in order to do so and which is a fully complete and operational vehicle.  We currently still have stored internally 3305 in the condition we secured it in February 2005 and we also have stored externally the donor vehicle for spare parts 3279. 

It occurred to us however that it might be the case that we do not have the expertise to affect all the repairs to 3305 even with the parts available from 3279 or that the cost of doing so either for ourselves or through third parties might be such to make the whole exercise non-viable.  Therefore as a precaution we felt it would be wise to secure another vehicle from the batch 3278-3305 for preservation.  In keeping with our interest in vehicles that end in “1” and the fact that we have 3001, 3101, 3201 it seemed only right that 3301 (F301 DRJ) would be the intended vehicle.  First Manchester pulled out of service all their F-Reg Olympians during 2006 which was not the case in terms of Stagecoach Manchester who still run a few of this batch today.  Hence, we made contact with them in July 2007 to make them aware of interest in 3301 (along with other vehicles we felt important to secure, being the last Dennis Dominator 2040 (H140 GVM) and the last Scania 1467 (H467 GVM).

We had kept in contact with Stagecoach Manchester since that time in that it was anticipated that 3301 would probably come out of service in Winter 2008.  However, we were alerted by Stagecoach Manchester to the fact that the vehicle had been involved in a collision damaging the front nearside of the vehicle thereby occasioning it to be taken out of service prematurely and we visited to inspect the damage at Princess Road Depot on Wednesday evening, 7th May 2008.  The view taken by Stagecoach Manchester was that it was not in their interest to repair the vehicle as the cost would not be recouped from the short amount of time the vehicle was to remain in service.   Consequently, we were offered it for preservation at a reduced cost to reflect the damage and after negotiations had taken place we paid for the vehicle on 22nd May 2008 and took ownership of it and collected all documentation (V5, MOT, C0IF, etc) on 27th May 2008.  In the meanwhile the vehicle had been moved to Glossop Depot due to space constraints at Princess Road and members went to collect it on 3rd June 2008 to take it to North West Bus & Coach Repairers in Blackburn for the front end damage to be repaired.  However, on their way they called into Princess Road Depot to obtain a spare front valance and corner panel to assist with the rectification work and they were supposed to collect a nearside windscreen that had been removed from the vehicle at Glossop that could not be found.  Consequently, arrangements were made by Stagecoach Manchester for us to pick up from PSV glass, a replacement nearside windscreen which we did on 3rd June 2008 along with the central windscreen rubber and maintenance manual we took with us from Princess Road.

The vehicle was collected from North West Bus & Coach Repairers a week or so later and taken to our storage facilities in East Manchester to be rallied at the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally on 7th September 2008 in its Magicbus blue colours with 2040 (H140 GVM) as the MOT does not expire until 3rd November 2008.

3301 was first registered on 24th January 1989 and we officially secured ownership on 27th May 2008.  It has chassis number ON10866 and Northern Counties body number 3634.



3278 - 3305

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(F301 DRJ)


Northern Counties H43/30F Light Alloy (1988 Upgrade)



Leyland Olympian ONLXB/1RZ



24th January 1989



27th May 2008



One of the last 28 upgraded, post 1988 Northern Counties high performance Olympians.


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