Back in 1987 things were not going terribly well for Crosville. I had attended a meeting with the Crosville Enthusiasts Club at Sealand Road Works, Crosville’s central engineering base in Chester, just before deregulation where Crosville’s General Manager David Meredith was the invited speaker. There was a relatively short speech to the assembled. The question-and-answer session afterwards, after a slow start, started to draw some engaging and elaborate responses. I remember him being asked about the threat of neighbouring companies competing with Crosville, even [at the time] National Bus Company allies like Potteries Motor Traction. He made some disparaging remarks about the initials PMT and the buses having red skirts. But the impression he wanted to give was that Crosville was too big and resilient to have to worry about small fries like their neighbours.
From deregulation, things started to go very wrong. Crosville’s Crewe depot lost out to PMT when bidding for tenders for the “Cheshire Bus” network of subsidised services from Cheshire County Council. PMT set up a depot on an industrial estate just outside the town and took most of the weekday rural services based in Crewe and evening and Sunday work too. PMT allocated a lot of depreciated buses to the area to work on these competitive tenders, meaning that Crewe became a magnet for fans of Bristol REs and older VRs.
In 1987 a service was introduced in Crewe linking the town centre with a new outlying housing development. PMT painted an ex-National Welsh Bristol LHS with coach seats in a special blue and yellow “Coppenhall Clipper” livery for the new route.
The bus is seen here arriving between Crosville Leyland Nationals at Crewe bus station on Monday the 21st of September 1987. It was to take me for a spin on the next trip. The route wasn’t particularly picturesque but it is always great to clamber onto an LH and sit up high and listen to a Leyland 400 engine snarling for half an hour. The LHS, whilst extremely nippy, rather lets itself down as a town bus by having formidable entrance steps, it being a mid-engined chassis. The dual purpose seats were some compensation, I suppose. I only remember travelling the route once and I don’t know how long the service, or the tenure of the LHS on it, lasted. But it was a good reason for a visit. The day also saw me riding VRs 610 and 620 to and from Nantwich and RE 219 on the attractive back-road route to Sandbach, the K32, and its extra local service in Sandbach the K50. All this had been Crosville work just a year before.
It seems to have been a rather grim day for the time of year and the buses certainly looked the worse for it. I did visit the PMT yard at Crewe at least once. It was near the Co-op tea factory, which I think may now be the HQ for the rather wonderful Wright’s Pies. It’s certainly in that vicinity off Weston Road. I’m not sure that the bus washing facility was great and the yard was not surfaced if I remember rightly. But Crosville now had a problem on their hands having lost work and gained a hungry rival on their doorstep.
By the way…
Prior to its use at Crewe LHS 310 had another life with PMT: see https://www.flickr.com/photos/34487875@N07/3350160310/, Cliff the Milk’s photo of the bus wearing an earlier National Express-style livery with a cheeky ParaMounT fleetname.