Bristol FLF GRU978D at Southampton depot
One of the first repaints in poppy red.
Bristol LH 3517 NLJ517M at Shirley Road Southampton
A large fleet of LHs were delivered in 1973-5 - here is one of the 1973 batch, shortly after delivery. One of the Maidstone & District Atlanteans can be seen on the left.
Bristol LH 3518 NLJ518M at Shirley Road Southampton
This LH was newly delivered to Southampton when photographed - so new, that nobody had found time to correct the error on the registration plates!
Bristol LH 3824 REU332S at Southampton depot
Bristol Omnibus built up a large fleet of Bristol LHs, and then disposed of several of them when only a few years old. I think H&D received 42, and some ran in green livery for a while. However, REU332S had been repainted by the time this photo was taken at Southampton depot.
Bristol LH 3831 TTC790T at Southampton depot
TTC790T was another ex-Bristol OC LH, seen at Southampton depot.
Bristol LH 86 TR6147 at Southampton depot
This charabanc was originally a standard Bristol LH (NLJ516M), subjected to a drastic rebuild. One has to wonder if there wasn't possibly a simpler way of achieving the same result. The vehicle lives on in the Midlands, following a somewhat nomadic life in this form.
Bristol LH DEL544L at Southampton depot
Bristol RELH MRU127F at Southampton depot
Bristol RELL 1621 RLJ340H at Southampton bus station
RLJ340H had also moved to Southampton towards the end of Hants & Dorset's existence. Seen here at the Bus Station in its home city. Devoid of a white waistband, and missing its 'Bristol RE' badge, it certainly looks past its best, although it does appear to have retained a full set of cream window rubbers.
Bristol RELL 615 TRU225J at Southampton depot
Former Wilts & Dorset 615 (TRU225J) had been reallocated to Southampton depot by the time this photograph was taken shortly before the split of the H&D empire in 1983.
Bristol VR 3383 VPR492S at Southampton depot
The Bristol VRT was purchased in large numbers, generally, as in this case, with Gardner engines. Another shot taken on the open parking area at Grosvenor Square depot in Southampton.
Ford R1014 3587 RRU587N at Villiers Road Southampton (1)
The batch of 25 Ford R1014s with ECW bodies followed the LHs of 1973-5. The Ford/ECW combination was only found in the H&D and Alder Valley fleets.
Although some people will treat the Ford lightweights (and Bedford equivalents) with disdain, it's worth remembering that they were widely used by coach operators, including some quite well known operators of extended tours - Excelsior and Shearings, for example. As buses with the larger territorial operators they tended to be less successful - Western National, for example, found that the operating costs were no less than for Bristol MWs. So the attraction of lower initial purchase costs was probably swallowed up by the need to replace the lightweights after a considerably shorter service life, although the operating cost comparison might have been more favourable if it was made against the Leyland National.
Ford R1014 3587 RRU587N at Villiers Road Southampton (2)
The Ford R series bus and coach chassis was basically the same as the D series truck, but with the front axle set further back to allow space for the entrance. The entrance was certainly not ideal, but probably little worse than the narrow doorways of 1950's underfloor engined buses. The engine was usually covered when in use!
Ford R1014 3587 RRU587N at Villiers Road Southampton (3)
The bodywork that ECW built for the Fords was basically the same as the contemporary type for the Bristol LH chassis, but extended at the rear. This was necessary to balance the weight of the engine at the front. The wheelbase was approximately the same, and one does wonder why ECW never built the longer type on LH chassis - other manufacturers, such as Plaxton or Duple, built their conventional 10m bodies on LHs.
Ford R1014 3594 RRU594N at Shirley Road Southampton
One minor point of difference between the LH and Ford body styles lay in the front dash panel styling, which, on the Fords, was more similar to the last style used on Bristol RE chassis. This affected the positioning of the radiator grille; and the polished aluminium rubbing strip near the bottom was also an RE feature. The polished trim that usually surrounded the double headlights has been omitted, an economy measure typical of the period.
Ford R1014 3597 RRU597N at Villiers Road Southampton
Another of the Fords is seen newly delivered outside the mechanical repair shops in Shirley, Southampton. The car on the right looks dated, but I think it was old even then!
Leyland National 3604 CRU146L at Southampton
No more green buses! Well, not quite. The associated Provincial (Gosport & Fareham) fleet retained its green livery, and following the MAP service revisions, some Provincial vehicles were transferred to H&D, and some ran in green livery for a while before being repainted.
The story of this vehicle is even more complicated, as the original CRU146L was a single door bus allocated to the red Hants & Dorset fleet. That vehicle was involved in an accident, and a replacement obtained in the form of a similar-aged vehicle from the Plymouth municipal fleet, which was given the identity of the damaged H&D vehicle. As the ex-Plymouth vehicle was dual-doored it was allocated to the Provincial fleet, where dual doors remained in favour thoughout the '70's.
Leyland National 3634 GFX973N at Sparsholt
A few short length Leyland Nationals were acquired, and some worked from Winchester, often on former King Alfred services. On this occasion, a preserved KA vehicle was operating a tour of its former haunts, and encountered one of its successors at Sparsholt.
A change of livery for a bus company is perhaps not so momentous an event as some enthusiasts might believe. However, Hants & Dorset’s adoption of the NBC red livery coincided with two other significant changes in the company’s history, so it is justifiable to identify the following period by the livery.
First of all, it marked the completion of the absorption of the old Wilts & Dorset company. The W&D name disappeared, and it is understood that the red livery was chosen, in preference to the anticipated green, as something of a consolation for ex-W&D staff disappointed by the loss of the identity of their company. Secondly, the new livery was accompanied by a change in vehicle policy, with large numbers of Bristol VR double deckers and Leyland National single deckers – but no more Bristol REs. The LH was purchased in large numbers, and Fords appeared as well. The increased numbers of new vehicles certainly helped speed up the one-person-operation conversion program. Perhaps it seemed like a new dawn for H&D – but it wasn’t. Serious problems remained unresolved, and ten years later, the company was split, with a new Wilts & Dorset taking over the operations in those two counties, and Hampshire Bus assuming responsibility for most operations in that county. But the Hants & Dorset name never re-appeared, and nor did green buses.