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THE SELNEC PRESERVATION SOCIETY

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7147 (VNB 173l)

(7147_1.jpg)   (7147_2.jpg)

We had been examining very carefully the progression of design and development of the Standard body applied to Atlantean and Fleetline chassis since the first prototype EX1 (PNF  941J) as exhibited at the Commercial Vehicle Motor Show in 1970.  This body was adapted to fit these rear end chassis for some 14 years before the second generation rear engined vehicles came into vogue, such as Metrobuses, Olympians, Scanias, etc.  The final first generation Standard bus was 8765 (A765 NNA) and both of these bookends, EX1 and 8765, the SELNEC Preservation Society has in preservation.

Although we have a number of vehicles from Greater Manchester Transport, minibuses and other relevant vehicles operating in the Greater Manchester area, the principal concentration of our efforts has been to track the ongoing design, development  and advancement of the standard bespoke SELNEC/GMT body as applied to the first and second generation rear engined chassis.  In this regard we have secured a number of significant firsts and lasts as reported under Item 8 of this newsletter and we have tried to capture all the design changes as shown in the table in the news section of this newsletter under Item D.  This has identified some missing links or gaps hence why we are pursuing 7363 or 7366 and 8425.  However, one vehicle that we did concentrate on that has now been secured is 7147 (VNB 173L).

After the formation of the SELNEC PTE on 1st November 1969 and the integration of eleven different bus companies it became apparent a standard vehicle was needed so there would be a compatibility of engine and body parts across this large operating area, the second largest bus operation outside London.  As a consequence the standard vehicle was born in the form of 21 prototypes EX1 to EX21 and operation of these prototypes identified aspects that were particularly useful and those that needed to be changed.  Thereafter an order was placed for 500 production standard vehicles and because of the volume involved not only were Northern Counties to body these as they had done the first 21 prototypes, but Park Royal was drafted in to assist with 300 bodies being allocated to Northern Counties and 200 to Park Royal.  Also the two chassis combinations used on the 21 prototypes, five Atlantean and 15 Fleetline were also to be replicated in this first batch of 500 Standard vehicles in that there were to be 150 Atlanteans and 350 Fleetlines.  One major change here was that the Atlantean specification was not to be the PDR1A/1 as used on the prototypes EX1 to EX6, but the new AN68 development.

When the vehicles commenced arriving it was rather surprising to find that the very first vehicle numerically 7001 actually had Park Royal rather than Northern Counties bodywork.  An analysis of the early deliveries clearly established Park Royal to be associated with Leyland Atlanteans with 145 vehicles delivered and split across Central, Northern and Southern, being 7001 to 7071 (Central), 7072 to 7109 (Northern) and 7110 to 7145 (Southern).  Whilst Park Royal were concentrating on bodying the Atlanteans, Northern Counties were associated with the Fleetlines in that of the 300 bodies they were to produce from this first batch, 295 were to be applied to Fleetline chassis and deliveries commenced from Northern Counties on Fleetlines chassis to all three divisions of SELNEC, Central, Northern and Southern, in the batch 7206 to 7500 as follows:

7206 to 7279  Central Dual Door
7280 to 7299 Northern Dual Door
7300 to 7328 Southern Single Door
7329 to 7434  Central Dual Door
7435 to 7466 Northern Single Door
7467 to 7500 Southern Single Door

However, before these deliveries could be completed the divisions of SELNEC were abandoned and the remaining vehicles delivered to the company in general with SELNEC flashes and the number of doors per vehicle was reduced as follows:-

7206 to 7251 Central Dual Door
7252 to 7270  Central Single Door
7271 to 7279 SELNEC Single Door
7280 to 7281 Northern Dual Door
7282 to 7299  Northern  Single Door
7300 to 7324 Southern Single Door
7325 to 7400 SELNEC Single Door
7401 to 7500 GMT  Single Door

By the time the batch had reached 7401 on 1st April 1974 Greater Manchester Transport had been formed.

All these vehicles had flat windscreens but this was causing problems with dirt being thrown up and giving the drivers visibility problems and consequently trials took place on 7328 with a different front end with a wrap round curved windscreen which became known as the Mark 1A standard and all deliveries from 7401 onwards had this curved windscreen which encapsulated the remaining 100 Fleetlines delivered.

Consequently, on the streets of Central Manchester in 1972/73 one associated the Park Royal body with the Leyland Atlantean chassis and the Northern Counties body with the Daimler Fleetline chassis.  Although there was a small batch of 55 Fleetlines bodied by Park Royal, these never saw particularly heavy exposure in the Central district due to the small number and they were confined to the Northern and Southern divisions, being 7151 to 7186 (Northern) and 7187 to 7205 (Southern).

Of the first 500 vehicles there were five fleet numbers not accounted for between the batches identified above.

7001 to 7145 – Park Royal/Leyland Atlantean
7151 to 7205 – Park Royal/Daimler Fleetline
7206 to 7500 – Northern Counties/Leyland Atlantean

There was an odd batch of five buses, 7146 to 7150, being the remaining five Atlanteans from the 150 delivered not bodied by Park Royal. Curiously they were bodied by Northern Counties.  Consequently, this was then the rarest combination of all, the Northern Counties body and the Leyland Atlantean chassis being just five vehicles which were delivered to the ex-Salford Central operation.  Although Park Royals were associated with Leyland Atlanteans and to a partial extent with the 55 Fleetlines, Northern Counties were associated with Daimler Fleetlines and these odd five Northern Counties Leyland Atlanteans looked particularly strange.  What no one knew at the time and has perhaps become lost over the years is the fact that this rare combination of a Northern Counties body and Leyland Atlantean chassis was to become the most prolific body/chassis combination of all the Standard vehicles delivered on first generation chassis.

From 7501 onwards the next three hundred vehicles in the batch 7501 to 7800 were all Northern Counties bodied Leyland Atlanteans, albeit with the new Mark 1A wrapped round windscreens.  There were a further 160 Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlanteans, 7801 to 7960, with the Park Royal adaptation of the Mark 1A wrapped round windscreens.  Once the 8000 series started this included 150 further Northern Counties bodied Fleetlines and a considerable number of Northern Counties bodied Atlanteans, 8151 to 8765,  totalling 615 vehicles which involved a number of design changes and eventually the body style becoming changed to alloy construction.

Hence in seeking out an  example of all the various designs and styles of Standard vehicles, the one that stands out as being the rarest and missing is a Northern Counties bodied flat screened Atlantean from the rare batch of five, 7146 to 7150.  As it happened four of the batch of five were destroyed many years ago either before or just after deregulation in 1988, but one has managed to survive for 30 years, being the second vehicle built 7147 (VNB 173L).  The reason for this vehicle’s survival was that initially it was used for training duties by Greater Manchester Transport just prior to deregulation and thereafter was held in  the ownership of the PTE as part of the Kirby Central Joint Venture arrangement.  It was stored at Birchfields Depot and was actually offered to the SELNEC Preservation Society for £500 as being a potential donor vehicle to swap with Father O’Leary of St Michaels Church in Oldham to secure EX1.  We turned down the offer at the time because it had no seats in it and it would have been a far too costly and labour intensive exercise to put seats back in it.  In the end we managed to secure for the same price, £500,  fully mobile and fully seated 7110 (XJA 501L) for the exchange with Father O’Leary to secure EX1 for preservation on 6th June 1988.

Thereafter an organisation called Impact, which trained youngsters in mechanics, restored all the seats in 7147 and it was sold on to Finglands who operated it for a number of years in service before it and several other of the ex-SELNEC/GMT Standard vehicles were purchased through the sales at ADT Auctions in Hyde Road by Edwards, a small bus operating company in Llantwit Fardre in Pontypridd.  7147 was purchased by Edwards on 31st August 1995.

We had kept in touch with Edwards over the years principally because they have one of the only remaining ex-dual door Northern Counties bodied Standard vehicles 7208 (VNB 179L) although this vehicle is not mobile as it has had its engine and gearbox removed and is used by Edwards as an operational centre in their yard.  In recent years the vehicles in Edwards’ fleet from SELNEC/GMT have included:-

7057 VNB 157L
7103 WBN 981L
7125 XJA 516L
7147 VNB 173L
7611 LJA 611P
7208 VNB 179L
8435 SND 435X

Because of our contact with Edwards regarding 7208 and our interest in the fact that they had a collection of ex-SELNEC and GMT vehicles we have visited on a number of occasions.  More recently when analysing the missing links and types of designs we have not replicated in our collection and conscious of that we turned our attention to 7147.  As we say in the news section of this newsletter we had hoped that new and existing preservationists might fill in some of the gaps in the variations of designs and development of the Standard body, but unfortunately, most interest has been in the last batch of alloy bodied Leyland Atlanteans or LUT metal framed Fleetlines.  It therefore fell to our responsibility to ensure this very rare vehicle 7147 (VNB 173L) was saved for preservation and consequently through discussions and negotiations with Edwards Coaches a price to purchase the vehicle was agreed of £750 which must be worth less today than £500 was in 1988.  It had retained some value because Edwards were clearly keen to realise its worth on the basis that they could find use for the vehicle if they scrapped it in terms of spare parts in servicing other Atlanteans in their fleet.

A small team of members of the SELNEC Preservation Society travelled down on Friday evening 26th April 2002 to Llandtwit Fardre staying in the local guest house so that on Saturday morning, 27th April 2002, we could visit Edwards Coaches where we collected 7147 and returned it to Manchester where it originally entered service 30 years ago.

7147

BATCH:

7146 - 7150 (Type iii)

(VNB 173L)

BODY:

Northern Counties H43/32F

 

CHASSIS:

Leyland Atlantean AN68/1R

 

FIRST REGISTERED:

1st October 1972

 

PURCHASED:

8th April 2002

 

DETAILS:

One of only five production Northern Counties bodied Mark 1 Leyland Atlantean Standards with flat window configuration.

It now represents the rarest body/chassis combination of design being one of only five SELNEC flat screened Northern Counties bodied AN68 Leyland Atlanteans.  

SELNEC PTE 1st October 1972
Impact, Manchester 2nd May 1989
Finglands, Manchester 1st February 1990
Edwards Coaches, Pontypridd 31st August 1995
SELNEC Preservation Society, Manchester 8th April 2002

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