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1066 (LNA 166G) - Mancunian Atlantean
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7232 (VNB 203L) - Standard Fleetline

When we first set out on the preservation trail on 13th January 1987 with our acquisition of 7206, we did not have any perception of the fact that we would own more than one vehicle let alone create a Society and Trust as part of a charity dedicated to the educational and historic promotion of passenger transport in the Greater Manchester area.

Even though we began to secure additional vehicles in 1988 and 1989, we just saw these as preservation candidates, and the fact that we now have two exhibition and support vehicles amongst our large collection of buses has been accidental.

Having embarked upon a programme of seeking out any original Manchester Atlanteans and Fleetlines, any remaining Mancunians, any and all Seddon Minibuses and appropriate Firsts and Lasts from SELNEC/GMT Standards and other vehicles delivered to Greater Manchester Transport, we obviously drew up a list of vehicles that were worthy of consideration.

We have secured four Mancunians for potential preservation for the future, being 1142, a red and white Atlantean with rare single door East Lancs bodywork, and 1177, a SELNEC orange and white Park Royal bodied Atlantean, these also were joined by 2130, an originally delivered red and white Park Royal bodied Fleetline Mancunian, along with 2220, a SELNEC delivered orange and white Fleetline Mancunian. We knew we had four Mancunians in our possession representing an eventually restored red and white Atlantean and Fleetline, and an orange and white Atlantean and Fleetline, as well and three different configurations in respect of the staircase allocation, being a forward ascending centre 1177, rear ascending centre 2130 and forward ascending front 1142.

Looking around in 1996 as to what other possible Mancunians still existed, we were aware the Museum of Transport had 1001, Highcote owned 2139 and the St. Helen's Museum of Transport had 1205. This just left 1066 (LNA 166G) which had been operated previously by Greater Manchester Transport and Greater Manchester Buses as an exhibition and support vehicle, having been converted as such in 1981. We therefore made contact with Greater Manchester Buses, with a view to securing this bus from them when their use for it came to an end, which it did once Stagecoach secured the GM Buses South operation. We took ownership of the vehicle on 8th August 1996.

The lower deck had been converted with three banks of display boards, being one each on the front nearside and offside and one on the rear nearside. Also, on the upper deck the rear two thirds had been converted into a cinema and the front third into a galley, with a sink and some tables and chairs. Unfortunately some of the electrics and the wiring had been taken out, so that when we secured the vehicle we were unable to operate the cinema as there was no appropriate wiring in place, TV or video, or any electrical equipment at all. We simply secured the vehicle with rows of seats in the rear two thirds proportion of the upper deck that was blacked out.

We decided to launch a membership scheme for the SELNEC Preservation Society, supported by 1066 (LNA 166G) at the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally on 1st September 1996, which has proved very successful since. 1066 has also proved to be a particularly interesting vehicle wherever we have taken it on a number of rallies over the years, not only for bus enthusiasts but for the public in general.

Indeed, when the public visit most road runs, rallies and bus shows they see a line of vehicles and are often not allowed on board. When they are allowed on board buses that are left open all the public see are rows of seats. At least on 1066 when they come on board on the lower deck they can walk around, enter through the front doors, leave through the centre doors and look at the display of photographs.

During 1999 we put a fourth bank of display boards on 1066, on the rear offside, in order for it to be fully resplendent with a number of photographic displays for its attendance on the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally on 5th September 1999.

The one issue that has always troubled us is that 1066, whilst being an exhibition vehicle, also represents the only surviving bus from the batch 1051-1097, being the second delivery of Atlantean Mancunians, and the first batch of air handbraked extended Atlantean chassis and Mancunian 33ft body design. Indeed, along with 1001 in the Museum of Transport from the batch 1001-1048, 1066 is the only remaining Atlantean originally delivered red and white Mancunian in existence with Park Royal bodywork. Thus, it did seem to us that it would be unfortunate if it remained in exhibition status for the future.

Whereas, of course, we have four long-term projects to address in terms of rectification with 1142, 1177, 2130 and 2220, which may take the next 10-20 years, eventually it only seemed right that 1066 should be restored to its original red and white Mancunian status.

In this regard the question was raised: "If we are eventually to restore it to Mancunian status do we replace it with another exhibition and support vehicle?" and the answer was "Yes". This is because we had become so impressed by the new members and the attention 1066 created in respect of the photographic display on the lower deck, and various leaflets that were available to the public. Also, of course, we had the support of the top third of the upper deck as a galley, although we never did get to the situation of rewiring the cinema on the rear two thirds of the upper deck.

We certainly did nothing about securing an additional vehicle to replace 1066 as an exhibition and support vehicle but had in our minds that whatever bus it was it would have to be one that duplicated something in preservation already, so that by having an exhibition and support vehicle it did not deny an original vehicle being restored, such as was the case with 1066. The whole situation however, moved on apace by accident when we viewed 7232 at the Gorton premises of Manchester City Council, in May 1999, with a view at that time to seeing whether it might be a source of appropriate spare parts.

However, so impressed were we with the £20,000 conversion of the bus to an exhibition vehicle for the Road Safety Unit that we believed it would be the ideal vehicle for us to use as an exhibition and support vehicle for the future, not only to replace 1066, which would eventually have to be restored to its Mancunian status, but because of the extensive conversion work that was fully operational on the vehicle.

Not only did it have a lower deck display area similar to 1066 for a number of photographic boards, but spotlights that could be used to illuminate the displays and large white lights to light up the whole deck. Furthermore, on the upper deck the cinema that occupied the rear two thirds of the vehicle was fully operational with a TV and video, and in the galley are the operational controls for the TV and video, as well as an amplifier, tape deck and control for the six speakers on both decks of the vehicle. There are also controls for internal lights and strobe lights. In addition, the galley itself is not only available as an operational centre for the cinema and for the audio system, but the bus itself had a sink and a table and seats like 1066, as well as a fridge and cooker.

The bus is in fact wired in such a way as it can operate from the mains or from a generator, which we also secured with the vehicle, and for other functions like the heating system, fridge and cooker it is also wired with a calor gas system which is fully operational.

All in all therefore, not only with 7232 were we faced with a vehicle that was much more sophisticated than 1066 and had a number of operating factors above and beyond what we had experienced previously, it was a duplicate of 7206. Consequently, if it remained in exhibition status it would not deny the preservation scene of a particularly relevant vehicle.

A series of discussions and negotiations went on with Manchester City Council, with us eventually securing 7232 from their Road Safety Unit on 10th May 2000, nearly a year after our first exposure to the vehicle. As reported in newsletter No. 15 of January 2001, we then spent a considerable amount of time and effort upgrading the vehicle, rectifying it and painting it in our very own livery of Sunglow Orange and Mancunian White, with a number of various symbols: SELNEC, Central, Southern, Northern Cheshire, GM Buses South, GM Buses North and Lancashire United.

It had its inaugural appearance at the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally on 3rd September 2000 when our website was launched in conjunction with the website address also depicted, along with telephone numbers and other information, on the bus.

In all respects, we are most pleased with 7232 which not only allows the public to view the extensive photographic display on the lower deck, but allows is the opportunity as we have done of showing videos on the upper deck of various bus related events whilst having a galley that supports all our members' requirements and needs.

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