Survivor? [number 1]

Things have been very quiet on this blog for a while but I can report that during this time of radio silence some significant progress has been made with the organisation of the real-world hard-copy celluloid and dead-tree content of this archive. Because of this I can now lay my hands on most of the material immediately and a more accommodating environment has been arranged for the scanning of transparencies and printed material and for the storage of the images for future use in these pages and elsewhere. And a dedicated room in which to write.

Recently I have been scanning negatives from the days when I had to make do with a rather inadequate camera. To give an idea of the size of this collection, 5500 transparencies have been scanned to date with many more to go. In spite of the disappointing quality of some of the early images, being from forty or so years ago their value as objects of interest sometimes outweighs their failure to meet the usual quality control threshold.

Take this photo.

Former Red & White U763

In 1983 I spent part of the summer down south with some of the friends I had made at UCW at Aberystwyth during the previous year. This time saw me at liberty in the capital for the first time, also spending time in Guildford and Brighton. But I spent a couple of nights with a girl in Coulsdon and when I saw the scan of this photo of Bristol MW6G AAX13B I had a vague memory of the bus being parked somewhere near her house not far from Coulsdon South station. Remarkably, looking at the usual street view site it didn’t take me long to find what looks like the place where I took the shot. The car park appears still to be there across the road from the row of houses and adjacent garage.

This vehicle being from South Wales, a part of the UK in which I have spent very little time, it wasn’t a familiar vehicle to me. On the other hand, it being a Bristol MW, a type of which I have fond memories of travelling to school in my primary school days, I couldn’t resist taking a shot. Seeing the photo again as it appeared on my screen, magically translated from a tiny orange negative to an intelligible positive image, I immediately wondered whether the bus was still with us. The best, though perhaps not entirely up to date go-to site for Bristol MW updates gave little hope. Searching the web for the registration number reveals a shot in its heyday, another after the transition from Red & White to National Welsh and then a rather sorry view, from ten years after mine, which at least gives us some closure…

Anyone who knows anything about what it was doing in Coulsdon and how it found its way to Carlton is very welcome to contact me or to leave a comment here.

I have turned up a few more of these buses in their afterlife with new owners and looked into their subsequent fate. I will share more in future posts…

Author: crisparmour

In my fragmented and unremarkable career I have spent over 20 years working in the bus industry in various roles. Prior to that I became interested in transport as a very young child and, as soon as I was considered old enough, launched myself into the world of bus enthusiasts. Off and on I have amassed an archive of photographs of my own and a substantial collection of timetables, maps and publicity. In time I will share much of this with the world with one proviso: please respect my copyright and do not upload my photographs to your own sites or social media. If you like what you see by all means use the "share" facility on each post to share a link so that your friends can come here and enjoy.

6 thoughts on “Survivor? [number 1]”

  1. My PSV Circle history of Red & White only goes up to 1977, and this one was still in service with them at that time. To me, the livery looks like that used by Chukie Chickens, a chicken processor headquartered at The Grove, Craven Arms., Shropshire. The transport manager, Ted Jones, amassed an interesting collection of buses into the 1980s that carried chicken pluckers, etc, from a wide area. They had a GS, but Bristol/ECW products were the majority. We once came across an early ex-R&W RE at Clun, and an ex-Crosville FLF was to be seen parked up in the Abbey Foregate car park in Shrewsbury fitted with proper blinds in the 1980s. The pastel blue and white livery was distinctive.
    I very much doubt that the company had a chicken processing plant in Coulsdon. I will see if I can chase up Ted to see if I am on the right lines.

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    1. Thanks Tony
      One of the flickr posts suggests it had been in preservation but evidently finding itself being dismantled at Wrigley’s ten years after this scene, not much appears to have been done to the bus during that time. I wonder if it was some sort of community non PSV bus in the interim?

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  2. The PSV Circle history of National Welsh Omnibus Services goes up to 1981, and records U3863 (the new fleet number assigned to AAX13B in the 1975 renumbering) as being sold in 8/79 to Martin, Middlewich (dealer). Martin sold it on to J & P Wood, Craven Arms (the official name of Chukie Chicken), in 10/79. It was numbered 17 in the Wood fleet.
    I was never aware of this one being in preservation, although I did once hear a rumour of an ex-R&W MW being locked up in a garage for many years. However, that was well after the 1993 shot on Flickr, and nothing has ever materialised, so I suspect there was no substance in the story.
    I note that Rob Sly says that it was sold “out of preservation”, so perhaps it was a project that failed at an early stage.
    One of the ex R&W RELLs that was used by Chukie Chicken has survived into preservation (GAX2C).
    Thanks for your link to my photo of AAX13B in its prime – that photo would have been taken in 1973.

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    1. Thanks for the information, Nigel. This photo was taken early August 83, probably the weekend 6/7th.
      The SU/MW history page last records the bus with Chukie in September 1980. DVLA has tax due 1st December 1983 and then the trail goes cold. I suppose it could have been locked in a garage for ten years…

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    1. Thanks, Andrew
      If it’s the Horley near Gatwick, that puts this location a few miles down the A23 which would tie in. I can’t remember whether the bus was there just at that moment or whether I saw it parked there more than once, it was only a visit for a few days and it’s a long time ago now.

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