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We had made a policy decision some time ago that it might be of interest to collect a few vehicles for preservation that were not necessarily firsts or lasts, or key vehicles that need to be restored in particular liveries as delivered new to the various companies that have operated them but to reflect second and subsequent liveries that would not otherwise necessarily be represented in the ranks of preservation if they had not been applied to vehicles delivered new.

In this respect we secured 8601 (ANA 601Y) to put back in GM Buses South livery.  We also looked around to see what other vehicles might be available with a relatively decent fleet number and came across 8701 (A701 LNC) which was delivered new on 1st February 1984 to GMT before passing to GM Buses and then onto GM Buses North Limited and, eventually, First Group who donated it to the Fitton Royals Dance Troupe on 1st December 2001.  They have used it since over the summers at weekends having painted the vehicle in a light blue colour with Fitton Royals Dance Troupe fleet names on the sides in yellow.

An initial visit was undertaken to view the vehicle on 13th December 2003 and it was quite evident that it was in good condition and clearly would not be a bus that a dance troupe would want to give up or replace for many years to come unless they were encouraged to do so.  In this respect we made an agreement with them that if we could find a newer air suspension Leyland Olympian or Dennis Dominator they would undertake an exchange if we would have such a vehicle put in a livery of their choice.  We therefore approached First Group�s Head Office to see if such a newer Leyland Olympian or Dennis Dominator might become available somewhere within the Group and this they agreed to do. 

Over a year went by before we were contacted in the middle of January 2005 by First Group who indicated they had a spare vehicle which curiously was an ex-Greater Manchester Leyland Olympian 3194 (C194 YBA) originally delivered new on 17th January 1986 which had been transferred to PMT on 29th May 2002 and returned to Greater Manchester as a trainer vehicle 30008 at Queens Road Depot on 1st September 2003.  It was then involved in a crash and was repaired at S & T Coachpainters but had then become surplus to requirements.  Consequently we went to view the vehicle at Wigan Depot on Saturday 29th January 2005 and undertook a full check on it mechanically.  It seemed in very good condition except for a small air leak at the gearbox blow off valve, but a full inspection by our member, Lea Worrall, was carried out.  He is an apprentice at First Group Depot, Queens Road and he established that the vehicle was in particularly good condition and it then went through and passed a brake test at this depot.  A drive round indicated that the vehicle performed perfectly satisfactorily and changed up through all its gears and was fully operational.  Consequently we advised First Group that this seemed to be an excellent vehicle to use as an exchange with the Fitton Royals Dance Troupe and negotiations then took place in respect of securing it once we had resolved one or two small problems with the bodywork in that some seat frames and cushions had been removed along with the driver�s door, bell pushes, etc.  First Group very kindly had the vehicle moved to Bury Depot and parked next to 3113 (B113 SJA) which had been withdrawn for scrap and had the engine and gearbox removed from it. 

On Sunday 6th March 2005 we visited Bury Depot to take the parts we needed off 3113 and loaded them on board 3194 and drove it to Focus�s yard in Preston for storage and a re-paint which commenced a week later.  We had in the meanwhile sent a series of six different designs to the Fitton Royal Dance Troupe in their chosen colours of royal blue and white and they picked one of these and therefore this was used for the vehicle to be undercoated and painted in the paintshop at Focus Coaches.  Whilst there one of our members visited on Friday 1st April 2005 to fit the spare seat frames and others parts secured from 3113 and it then was moved across to Whittakers Coach Travel in Penwortham where it was fully serviced and MOT�d on Tuesday 5th April 2005 being returned to Leigh on the evening of Thursday 7th April 2005. 

The following Saturday 9th April 2005 saw us fit to the vehicle the new silver Fitton Royals Dance Troupe�s vinyls on the front, side and rear and the day after, Sunday 10th April 2005, it was taken to the Fitton Royals Dance Troupe parking area in Oldham where it was parked next to 8701 for photographs.  Documents were then exchanged and we took 8701 away and parked it up at our storage facility in East Manchester.  This is where it will stay for the time being with 8601 as a potential future preservation projects to be put in a second or subsequent livery, in this case the red Greater Manchester First Bus livery with the various �Welcome to First Bus� vinyls, etc. 



8526 - 8765 (Type iii(A)) 

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(A701 LNC)


Northern Counties H43/32F - Light Alloy


Leyland Atlantean AN68B/1R


1st February 1984


10th April 2005


An example of this batch of alloy framed Atleanteans that is to be put into the subsequent livery of First Manchester red with blue stripes.

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