X805 SRM – M.A.N. Lowliner
In February 2016 we learned that Stagecoach Lancaster was disposing of some early low floor single deckers built in 2000. These were MAN chassis with Alexander ALX300 bodies. One in relatively good condition was 805. We were told that they were going for very reasonable prices as they were not up to the latest disability access standards. Tyres would cost extra as all Stagecoach tyres are on contract.
We put in a successful bid for the bus which would be a useful addition to our proposed operating fleet – and it was complete with a working flip-dot destination display.
We collected the bus from Lancaster depot on 15th March. It seemed to be clean, in good order, and drove well. We already had the software and equipment for programming the destination. The bus is not the fastest on acceleration but it drove well on the motorway where it sat happily at around 55mph with no problems evident.
The bus was soon checked over, passed a class 6 MoT and repainted ready for service. Since our acquisition of an Operators Licence in August 2016, it has been earning its keep on a number of outings.
F251 JRM is the last of 4 Cumberland Motor Services Lynxes to survive. It has a Cummins engine and Voith automatic gearbox. It ended its days with Stagecoach at South Shields as a driver trainer, and cost us £1800 + VAT. This included the cost of tyres, for which operators often charges extra. The bus had been well looked after even though it had been out of use for over 6 months when we first saw it.
This addition to our collection was collected on 28th March 2008, the final day of its MoT. We drove it back to Workington at up to 50mph with no problem.
The BBC filmed the bus being collected and driven away, and took further footage of its arrival at Workington for an item on Look North.
Our mechanical team had a look at the bus over our pit and were generally pleased with what they saw. Although Stagecoach had looked after the bus well, we took the opportunity to give the engine area a pressure washing. With a change of batteries and attention to a faulty headlight bulb, it passed a new MoT with no problem.
The bus is a treat to drive as it has power steering and an automatic gearbox. It has been used as a mobile sales stand at Hethersgill and Distington rallies, and in 2010 underwent a repaint into CMS Ayres Red.
251 is chassis number LX1310, a model LX112L10ZR1R 51 seater new to Cumberland in June 1989. In 1996, with CMS under Stagecoach ownership, it moved to Transit at Hartlepool. From 2003, along with sister 252, it was used as a driver trainer with Stagecoach North East. The following year 252 was sold to Redby of Sunderland & scrapped by 2006, but 251 survived. 251 was supplied new in Stagecoach stripes. Some seats and driver’s cab rear screen were removed when the bus became a driver trainer. These have since been replaced, and many other smaller jobs completed. The bus performed faultlessly on our Boxing day free services in 2014, but it has since been placed into store awaiting an assessment of the body work whose deteriorating framework is a cause for concern.
P545 PNE is a Mercedes 810D with Plaxton 27 seat body. It was new in June 1997 to Stagecoach in Manchester but operated out of Keswick for several years around 2010 as the Osprey Bus, sponsored by the Lake District Osprey Project. After use in this role it ended up in service with MRD Travel at Bromsgrove on a local service. This use ended in early 2014, as the bus does not comply with disability regulations for minibuses that came into force on 1st January 2015.
Transport journalist David Cole has liaised with MRD to offer the bus for free to a preservation group. This offer was circulated to preservation groups around Manchester and the north west. For various reasons, no-one else was interested, but for us it has local links and could be an economical vehicle for us to travel to more distant events.
We agreed to view the bus at Bromsgrove in mid 2014 then, if the terms were acceptable and the bus in good condition, to drive it to Workington.
It turned out to be in great condition for its age. It was quickly taxed, insured and provided with breakdown cover for the journey which was completed without incident. A good clean out inside and wash & polish outside got the bus looking smart. The vinyls are still in pretty good condition, but some lettering removed by MRD is due to be replaced.
Its pre-MoT inspection at Rowrah showed only 3 minor faults – 2 failed light bulbs and a fixing screw missing off the front bumper. It sailed through its MoT on 12th September 2014, and has been in use at open days and on trips since then.
Its regular driver from its Osprey days, Paul Carruthers remade his acquaintance with the bus when he visited in August with Carlisle Bus Group, though his nicknaming of it as the “Budgie Bus” probably wasn’t what the Osprey Project had in mind!
In late 2016 the bus required some repairs to corroded body framework behind the back axle and replacement of a worn air suspension bag, but it continues to give great service.
This ex Stagecoach Olympian double decker, once based at Lillyhall, and latterly owned by school bus operator Smiths of Marple, near Manchester, had been on our radar for a number of years. It was first offered to us in 2012 when it was due to come out of service. However it lasted a further 3 years before finally being withdrawn at the October half term.
The bus was new in May 1983 to Ribble Motor Services of Preston as fleet number 2134. It has an ONLXB/1R chassis numbered ON741 built in Bristol, with H45/32F body numbered 25621 by ECW of Lowestoft, similar to those built at Leyland’s Workington factory.
We finally agreed a price and acquired the bus in October 2015, becoming the first double decker owned by the Trust. No major work will start on the bus until completion of the restoration of National GRM 353L restoration, possibly in Summer 2016. But an inspection will be carried out to determine the extent and cost of any work needed. Meanwhile we have already sourced and fitted a throttle control system, kindly donated by Stagecoach to replace a faulty unit. We collected it on the last day of its MoT on 27th October, and it is now resident in our secure yard.
This is an Electricars vehicle, number 234, built in 1992 running on a 36 volt battery system. Weighing 673kg without batteries – they are 177kg extra – the Dilly can carry a payload of 1 tonne. It was originally one of a pair used at Capenhurst in Cheshire for many years, and moved to Sellafield around 2009. It was then kindly donated by Sellafield Ltd. The vehicle was used for internal site transport and is similar to a milk float – but smaller! The other vehicle was refurbished and is now at work in a radioactive area, and so will never become available for preservation.
No. 234 appears to be in good condition, though it does have one soft tyre, no batteries, and requires some attention to the metalwork inside the cab. We may find more items needing attention once we start looking into it. Certainly a little TLC will help to brighten up its appearance.
The Dilly was delivered to us in February 2011 and awaits full restoration. But we haven’t yet found out why it’s called a Dilly!
Body Of Last Carlisle Tram
In 2005 this unique item came up for auction, and we were successful in acquiring it before it was scrapped. It is the wooden shell of the saloon of a Carlisle tram, with no chassis, end vestibules, or top deck!. It had been in dry store in Carlisle for a number of years.
In 2012, it was transferred to a better building allowing restoration work to start – plans are now being developed!
It is believed that our tram body comes from the 1912 batch of double deckers numbers 1 – 8, which were open toppers seating 28 on top and 22 inside, built by United Electric Car Co of Preston, and fitted with Brill trucks. There are similar 3’6” gauge trams preserved which give a good representation of how ours could look, depending on how far we wish to restore it. For instance, Wolverhampton number 49 is normally operational at the Black Country Living Museum.
Carlisle’s tram system was opened to the public on the 30th June 1900. Because of the narrow city streets the tramway was built to 3ft 6ins gauge. It consisted of six lines radiating from Citadel station to Newtown, Stanwix, along Warwick Road to Petteril Bridge, London Road, Boundary Road and Denton Holme. All routes were mostly single track with passing loops, and were very short comparison to other operations. The tramway was operated by the City of Carlisle Electric Tramways Co but was never a financial success, and, in 1911 was sold to the Balfour Beatty group.
The tramway, which had been allowed to deteriorate badly during the few years it had been open, was renewed and rolling stock replaced, the ‘new’ tramway opening on 9th December 1912. A new dark green and cream livery replaced the previous chocolate and cream. Unfortunately the advent of World War 1 in 1914 presented the company with problems, such as lack of proper staff for maintenance, and led to the deterioration of the tramway once again.
The tramway was closed in March 1931, the last tram (No. 8) running with due ceremony on the 21st November.