by E.L. Nixon
A number of manufacturers had demonstrator vehicles which they were keen to loan out for mainly short periods of time to bus companies in the UK. The object of this exercise was to try and obtain orders from the respective bus companies, A&D was one of these who took advantage of these offers in the 1950s and 60s to operate these vehicles on a number of their routes. The first vehicle to appear was KOT 600, a Dennis Lancet UF with 41 seat Strachan body. This vehicle had been an exhibit on the Dennis Stand at the Commercial Motor Show in 1952. It was in full A & D livery and was on loan from 1.2.53. to 30.11.53. It was thought A&D would purchase the vehicle from Dennis but this was not to be. After the vehicle returned to Dennis it was sold to Cullings in Norfolk and its final days were spent with Blue Bus of Slough. At some time in its life it was converted to front entrance from its original rear entrance specification. Two more 1952 Show exhibits were to follow, both being Atkinsons and both having 44 seat rear entrance Willowbrook bodies. One was powered by a 4 cylinder HLW Gardner engine, while the other had a 5 cylinder HLW Gardner engine. They were both fitted with single rear wheels.
Both were owned by North Western and were operated in that companys red and cream livery. The length of their stay with A&D is not known, but it is known that on its return the 4 cylinder vehicle was re-engined with a 5 cylinder engine and double wheels were fitted. Both vehicles worked on the Cove services. Leyland OTD 301, an underfloor Weymann B44F, also arrived in 1953, but how long it stayed or which routes it operated on is not known.
The next vehicle to come A&Ds way was 50 AMC, an AEC Reliance with Park Royal B44F bodywork. This vehicle, painted red and cream, came three times to the Company on 27.9.53. to 5.10.53, from 28.10.53. to 6.11.53. and again from 7.12.53. to 14.12.53. It worked a number of routes including Coves and Petersfield. Next came STF 90, a full fronted Leyland Lowbridge with 34/27R body by Saunders Roe. This vehicle resembled a trolleybus, with a Comet engine fitted with Turbo-charger located under the stairs. Painted in cream and green in Southdown style was with the Company from 4.4.55. to 11.4.55. and operated on No 6 and 15. The next vehicle, also in green and cream, was a Dennis Pelican, thought to be the only one ever built. This vehicle was a light-weight B44F with Duple Midland body. This also was a Commercial Show exhibit and was with the Company from 1.10.56. to 29.10.56. During this time it was at Aldershot and Guildford and worked services 19,33,44 and 76. On return to Dennis it was sold after a period of time to Daisy Bus then to Yellow Bus Services and finally finished up with Chiltern Queens of Woodcote. After a period with this operator the body was transferred to an AEC Reliance chassis and the Pelican chassis scrapped. The AEC is still in existence, residing at the Oxford Bus Museum.
On loan between 5.7.57. and 17.7.57. came 330 CTD, an Albion Alexander 31 seat front entrance bus, followed by another Commercial Motor Show exhibit. This was Devon General Omibus and Touring Company Albion XTA839 with Willowbrook B31F bodywork. This vehicle worked out of Guildford depot and stayed from 7.10.58. to 28.10.58. During its stay it worked routes 65 and 66 Guildford and Farnham. It also worked out of Hindhead Garage on route 13. This vehicle was followed by another Albion 143 SMG Willowbrook B31F its stay being from 5.11.58. to 8.12.58. On 16.5.60. North Western Dennis Loline RDB 813 (East Lancs H39/32F) was on loan for a month on an exchange basis with A&Ds Loline SOU 459. This was to evaluate front entrance against rear entrance types. This vehicle and one of Aldershots rear entrance Lolines worked the 20 service Aldershot to Guildford, both taking turns on the same timings each day. A test was undertaken by Bus and Coach Magzine and the result showed that loadings were much quicker with the rear entrance type.
Albion must have been keen to sell vehicles to A&D as another of their products arrived in 4.62. This had an Alexander H41/31F bodywork. It was inspected but not operated by A&D. Two AEC demonstrators were to appear in 1962, firstly 327 NMP a Reliance with Park Royal B54 bodywork This was on loan from 14.5.62. to 21.5.62. and worked the Cove services. The other was AEC Renown 7552 MX, a Park Royal H39/32F and was on loan from 10.12.62. to 16.12.62. There were at least two more demonstrators that came to the Company of which we know little, the first was OTC 738 a Leyland Tiger Cub with a Saunders Roe bodywork (seating unknown). We dont know how long this vehicle stayed but it was photographed on the 19 at Haslemere on 2.11.52
The other was an AEC Reliance with Strachan 36ft. body, again seating unknown. This vehicle was with the Company for two days in 1965. It was not operated in service as it was not registered, but did go out on trade plates on test runs (Trade plates 146CG). Except for AEC none of the chassis manufactures made any impression on A&D regarding orders. However the bodybuilders were more successful, these being Willowbrook, Park Royal, Alexander, Duple and Weymann. Could there have been more demonstrators, we wonder? If anyone knows of any with the Company could they please let the Editor know?
A final photo which should be included is this shot by Tony Wright of Leyland Tiger Cub OTC 738 on the 19 at Haslemere Station, on 2 November 1952. This visitor was never listed in the PSV Circles fleet history of Aldershot & District. A very dull photo, but its the only one there is!
Editors note: Dennis Lancet UF (KOT 600) spent a period with Simmonds, of Great Gonerby, near Grantham, in its later life, after its period on loan to A&D.