THE SELNEC PRESERVATION SOCIETY
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HISTORY, ASPIRATIONS AND OBJECTIVES
There are many transport orientated Museums, Societies, and indeed, individuals, who have taken it upon themselves to preserve various double deck and single deck buses. However, this has principally involved various types of 'conventional' front engined/rear-entrance/open platform, double deck vehicles and a variety of single deck buses. These double deck vehicles are much remembered today by the general public as the 'Routemaster type' bus, and in the Greater Manchester area, at the Museum of Transport or held privately, there are many examples of these types of buses from fleets such as Ashton, Bolton, Bury, Leigh, LUT, Manchester, North Western, Oldham, Ramsbottom, Rochdale, Salford, SHMD, Stockport, Wigan, etc.
Unfortunately, since the introduction of the first rear-engined/front entrance double deck bus, the Leyland Atlantean, in 1958, these have been usually considered too modern for preservation. and although early examples of these are now 40 years old, very few have reached the ranks of preservation. Indeed, such was the forward-looking design and style of some of these rear-engined buses, that changes in appearance over the last 40 years, has not been substantial, which means that some examples of these buses from the late 1960's and from the 1970's still look relatively new today.
Although conventional Leyland, Daimler and Crossley vehicles built just after the Second World War were seen as ideal preservation targets in the late 1960's and early 1970's, these were newer when they were bought for preservation than are many of the rear-engined buses built in the 1960's and 1970's that are in need of preservation today.
Having determined that there were few other Organisations who recognised the importance of preserving these rear-engined vehicles for the passengers who remember them to be able to look back on them in the future, and for new generations to be able to take an interest in the design and development of rear-engined vehicles of the past, and to plug this gap, to make sure that there were no missing links in the Greater Manchester area, it became apparent that we would need to take on board the responsibility of supporting the preservation of these rear-engined vehicles, ourselves. Hence we formed the 7206 Preservation Trust (later renamed The SELNEC Preservation Society) on 23rd January 1987.
We had no experience in this field, but supported the purchase of our first vehicle, being 7206, in 1987 the first production Fleetline SELNEC Standard to stop it going for scrap, and we learned as we progressed, of the enormous responsibilities and difficulties that come with dealing with a vehicle which is over 30 feet long, 8 feet wide and 14ft feet high.
The Trustees had to teach themselves to drive such vehicles and to obtain the correct licenses, learn about the 11-litre engines, the mechanics, air systems, electrics, braking and steering systems and come to terms with the biggest difficulty, to find an area for storage, as clearly, a double deck bus is much larger than a car, and would not fit into a normal domestic garage. We approached Bus Companies for storage space, to find out whether they could assist, but whilst being very sympathetic, they needed the space in their Bus Depots for their own operations. Trying to find a suitable large industrial premises was difficult because they command commercial rents which we, as a small group, could not afford.
However, by determination, effort and a great deal of help and assistance from a number of Organisations, we eventually found a home for the first vehicle whose preservation we had supported, being 7206. As we looked around, noticing how many conventional front-engined/rear-entrance vehicles them were in preservation, and how few rear-engined vehicles there were, particularly from the Greater Manchester area, the problem became more apparent and we identified that there were a number of vehicles still in existence that, if we worked quickly, we might be able to assist in preserving.
Therefore, any thought of rectification became secondary to the need to help with the acquisition of these vehicles before they were lost forever. Hence, since 1987 we have continued with our campaign to seek out these vehicles, assist with their preservation and then find storage for them.
As we started to put together a collection of buses we did manage to find storage places for them in yards, backs of garages, bus depots, the rear of a factory premises, an Aircraft Hangar and the back of an Old Peoples Home. By 1991, ten vehicles were spread far and wide, from Swindon in the south, to Glasgow in the north. It became apparent that the only way forward in terms of protecting them from weather and vandalism, and to allow the facilities to start rectifying them to bring them back to there original condition, was to obtain premises that could contain all the vehicles.
We therefore set up a separate Trust, The SELNEC Educational Trust to have the responsibility of storing, securing and rectifying the buses acquired for preservation. This is a small private Charity that is non-commercial and non-profit making which obtains its limited resources by private donations from a few Trustees. It has the objective to advance the education of the public concerning Public Transport in Greater Manchester and surrounding districts, and in particular, vehicles operated by the former South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire Passenger Transport Executive (SELNEC PTE) by the preservation of examples of different types of Buses, so that original passengers and the general public will remember them and be able to look back on them. In addition, future, and younger generations, will have an opportunity to learn about the historic development of the design of buses in the Greater Manchester area over the years, and to understand and appreciate, as part of the educational process, the predecessors of the vehicles that they come to use or observe on a daily basis.
After a lengthy search, eventually in September 1991, Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council very kindly allowed the Trust to rent, a warehouse in the Leigh area. Much work had to be carried out to make these premises suitable for double deck bus storage and rectification and therefore, it was not until September 1992 that all the Trust's vehicles were stored together for the first time. Subsequently. these premises have allowed us to be able to start rectification work on the vehicles to bring them back, slowly, to their original condition.
The SELNEC Educational Trust obtained Registered Charity status in August 1994, (Charity No. 1040173) and originalted by concentrating on five areas.
i) Manchester rear engined vehicles between 1959 and 1966.
ii) Manchester City Transport Coaches.
iii) The trail blazing Manchester/SELNEC Mancunian built between 1968 and 1972, of which we have obtained five examples, Mancunian Atlanteans 1066, 1142 and 1177 and Mancunian Fleetlines 2130 and 2220.
iv) The SELNEC/GMT Standard double deck bus built after the formation of the SELNEC PTE on 1st November 1969 to assist with standardisation and to remove the difficulty they experienced, having inherited 11 different bus fleets from Ashton, Bolton, Bury, Dukinfield, Hyde, Leigh, Manchester, Mossley, Oldham, Ramsbottom, Rochdale, Salford, Stalybridge and Stockport, with a myriad of different body/chassis manufacturers. In this regard we have over 20 preserved examples representing most of the liveries.
v) Examples of the very early development of minibuses by both SELNEC PTE and GMT commencing before the vogue for this type of vehicle in 1986 and preserved examples, being 1700, 1711, 1735 and 1737 built between 1972 and 1975.
vi) Other single and double deck vehicles reflecting the on-going aspect of the design and development and bus operation in the SELNEC/GMT and the North West area. Firstly single deckers, the SELNEC/GMT standard single decker Leyland National 105 and a short wheel base GMT single door variant and the first of only 34 Dennis Dominos, Northern Counties bodied 1751 and Northern Counties Dodge 1823. On the double decker front we have the only North Western ordered/SELNEC Cheshire delivered Bristol VRT 408; semi integral MCW Metrobuses 5001 and fully integral Leyland Titan 4002.
Since 2018, the group has looked at All in all, a total of 42 vehicles that, with the four final acquisitions we hope to secure, comprehensively reflect bus design, development and operation between 1966 to the end of the 20th Century in the Greater Manchester area.
A2) Preserved Fleet
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