The first Lance double deck chassis was delivered to Aldershot & District in 1936 and was registered AOT 580.
According to the official Dennis records this chassis was delivered to A&D without an engine. The chassis was of forward control type i.e. driver sits alongside the engine which was a Lanova pre heat type diesel. It is thought that the engine was fitted in the Company's workshops by German engineers.
A five speed gearbox was fitted, the fifth gear referred to by Dennis as 'super top'. A cast radiator shell very much like the post war K3 type was fitted, flanked by two mudguards pointed at the front edges.
The chassis was despatched to Strachans where a lowbridge body was fitted out for 48 passengers, being 22 over 26. The body was sloped gently at the front and rather upright at the rear. The front destination boxes were two narrow oblongs one above the other, with the number box to the right. This was repeated on the side above the entrance, except the number box was fitted underneath the two lined boxes. The livery was light green with three cream bands edged with black lining out. The wings and wheels were black and the roof silver including the front dome. It is thought the bus operated on the 31 service Farnham to Guildford. This did not last long, however, as the bus was withdrawn late in 1936. However, it was to reappear like the phoenix rising from the ashes in 1937 but with new registration CC 6188. This came about as the chassis of AOT 580 had been removed from the body and a new chassis inserted. (What happened to the chassis of AOT 580 is unknown). The new chassis had a Gardner 5 cylinder diesel engine, it was possible, that this body was slightly longer than the original body as a hump was inserted just under the windscreen to marry up with the dash panel. A new style radiator was fitted, being straight sided and nicely rounded at the top and bottom. The front wings were neatly shaped at the lower edge to mould into a panel designed to take the registration plate.
A few minor modifications were made to the body, these included the destination displays. A narrow top box containing the final destination was mounted above a larger oblong box containing the route number to the lower left corner plus a number of via points.
1936 saw the second chassis delivered, this time fitted with a 5 cylinder Gardner engine from new. The front styling was very similar to CCG 188 except that the hump had gone and in its place the lower dash panel was kinked forward towards the bottom and a small box fitted to cover the lower part of the steering column. This vehicle was registered BAA 386. The body chosen for this chassis was once again of Strachan manufacture. The front of the body was tapered sharply backwards, and the top of the cream band over the canopy was arched at the top edge. The rear was very rounded, two rear windows were fitted to the lower deck. The offside one was of frosted glass with the registration plate painted on the upper section. A rear light was mounted on the panel beside the registration plate. The destination boxes were of the same style as the previous vehicle but were set much lower. Eight half drop windows were fitted to the upper deck and six on the lower. One of these was fined to an emergency door, which was mounted just behind the driver's door. A further emergency door was fitted to the upper deck with two glass panels. A sixth window was mounted on the offside, this being on the staircase.
During 1937 and early 1938 a further 41 vehicles were delivered, these being registered as CCG 311 to 351, this allowed a lithe H and HV buses bought in the early 30's to be retired in one fell swoop. The fast mentioned CCG 351 was exhibited at the 1937 Earl's Court Commercial Show, The entire batch were fitted with Dennis's own 4 cylinder diesel engines and 5 speed gear boxes. The bodywork was once again supplied by Strachans of Acton London. The new bodies were again 48 seated but differed in a number of ways from BAA 386. The front although sloping was not so pronounced and was slightly v'd. The back was more upright with less curve, the destination boxes were of the same style but had been raised to finish with the lower edge above the centre cream band. The rear registration plate was fitted into a square box let into the right hand corner of the flat panel. A rear light was placed directly above, which illuminated the registration plate at night. The seats were to the standard A&D pattern, being grey flowered moquette with blue leather facings. Dark wood fillets surrounded the windows which were wind down half drop type. A small pan about three quarters of an inch deep was inserted into the ceiling of the lower deck at the front, this increased headroom, the raised section was under the front seat on the upper deck.. The emergency door behind the driver was dispensed with, but the upper deck one was retained. At this time the upper deck roof was of single skin and in winter condensation would drip down on to passengers heads. Two large boxes, one each side of the entrance of the platform on the lower deck, were fitted. These presumably were to cover the rear shackles of the road springs. The vehicles weighed in at 6 tons 16 cwt. 0 quarters.
1940 saw the arrival of six more new Lances, DOT 478-83. These were the last to be delivered until after the war, but that is another story. There were a number of differences to this batch, firstly the Dennis 4 cylinder diesel engines were replaced by 5 cylinder Gardners. The body frame was of teak construction. The windscreen was curved downwards at the lower edge on the offside, this gave better, visibility to the driver. The rear number plate had been raised slightly to allow double chrome bumpers to be fitted underneath. The seating capacity remained at 48.
Rebuilding and Rebodying
The Lances worked at sometime or other at all of the Company's main depots, but it is not known whether any of the East Lancs ones ever worked out of Woking depot. The first five re-bodied East Lancs went to Hindhead, where their larger engines would have been appreciated on the hilly terrain. The DOT batch were regular performers on the 14 and 31 services. All the original bodied CCG's and the rebuilt CCG 188 were disposed of in 1950, none of these ever carried fleet numbers. The DOT's went between 1951 and 1954 while the East Lancs rebuilds went in 1958. CCG 321 was retired in 1946 after a fire destroyed the body in Guildford. I saw the remains being towed into the Company's premises one Saturday afternoon looking very sorry for itself. The body of CCG 313 was transferred to CCG 345 when the former was being prepared for its EL body. CCG 350 was decapitated and was used for a short while as a tree cutter, before CCG 334 took up this role in 1950. In this guise it remained until 1958 when it was replaced by EOR.374, a Guy Arab II. A further Lance, CCG 339, was also decapitated (photographic evidence) but it is not known if it ever operated as a tree cutter.
These last three were slightly different from the previous vehicles, having sliding windows replacing the half drops and more modern style bodywork.
Further Lance Details
The 5 cylinder Gardner engines used in the rebuilding programme were stock units supplied to the Company for a further single desk order, which was cancelled owing to wartime restrictions. Some, if not all of the DOT batch lost their engines before sale, possibly for use in .he new K4's of 1954 vintage. A fair number of original bodied Lances were spotted in a yard at Mountnessing Auto Spares in Essex after withdrawal. A number when to travelling showmen, and one at least CCG 324, for further service to Margo's, the rest both original and rebuilt went for scrap. One interesting Lance, CCG 326 both original and rebuilt form was an early style of all over advertising for G. C. Bateman of Aldershot. It carried eyes both sides of the destination display very much in the style of Picture Post adverts carried on LT vehicles. All the other usual advertising spaces carried Bateman's adverts. I remember travelling, on the vehicle and seeing the same advert on kick panels of the stairs, and backs of the seats. If anyone has photos of this vehicle, I would very much like to see them. The centre cream band on the East Lancs bodies was made much deeper, to finish up level with the top of the rain water louvre. On earlier Strachan bodies this was undertaken on repaints. This, in my opinion, gave a much better appearance.