Hants & Dorset

These photographs were taken during the early 1970’s, an interesting, but not entirely happy, period for Hants & Dorset.

During the late 1950’s and early ’60’s, Hants & Dorset had purchased principally Lodekkas and coaches, with very few new single deck buses in this period. By 1970, the company (including Wilts & Dorset) needed to increase the proportion of services that were one-person-operated, but lacked sufficient suitable vehicles, and the transfer of a large number of vehicles (Leyland Panthers and Atlanteans) from Maidstone & District was seen as a way of alleviating that shortage. The 33 Panthers were only around 4 or 5 years old, and it does not take a genius to realise that the Kent company had reasons for ‘letting go’ such a large number of modern vehicles, while retaining older, less passenger-friendly, underfloor-engined single deckers. Unsurprisingly, the Panthers soon proved themselves to be unreliable, with reputedly at least 10 off the road at any time – thereby limiting their value as a tool to increase one-person-operation. Some of the Panthers entered service in M&D dark green (including some Wilts & Dorset allocated vehicles), albeit with the cream area on the roof sides repainted green, while others were treated to a full repaint into H&D’s version of Tilling Green (or red for the W&D vehicles).

New purchases at this time were Bristol RE and LH single deckers, many with dual doors, but from 1973, Leyland Nationals and Bristol VR double deckers began to appear in large numbers, along with more LHs. Unfortunately, by 1973 the NBC standard poppy red livery had been introduced – just at the time when I started taking more colour photos!