A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Hooptedoodle #116 – not quite a collection – someone else’s hobby

This is a modern photo of a preserved Liverpool Corporation bus from the
1950s - hence the modern car and the lack of flat caps on the passengers
I recently surprised myself by treating myself to some lovely little 1/76 (HO) scale buses. This is an odd thing to do – I was never a true bus enthusiast – at least not on my own behalf. My cousin, who was the same age as me, just lived and breathed buses from about age 7 onwards. He had all the Ian Allan books, and as a boy I spent many long days with him at exotic places like Preston bus depot, underlining the numbers of the vehicles we spotted in his books.

Simply by osmosis and exposure to his enthusiasm, I grew up knowing all sorts of nerdy things about specialist coachbuilders, and odd Liverpool Corporation buses which had aluminium bodies, built by Crossley on AEC chassis…

You get the idea. Cousin Dave and I even assembled a small fleet of Dinky Toy buses, but the available selection in those days was very poor – Dinky made one generic double-decker which might have been a Leyland (we did have one, rare pre-war Dinky casting, and that seemed to be a Guy), and it was available in badly-sprayed green and cream or badly-sprayed red and cream.

Our little fleet disappeared into the toy boxes of younger relatives ages ago, but for years I kept an eye open sufficiently to be casually aware that the only HO scale buses I ever saw in UK shops were red London Transport Routemasters – usually in a twin-pack with an out-of-scale London taxi for the tourist market.

My cousin died a good few years ago, so my model bus ogling days are long gone, but recently – when I was looking for old photos of the Crosville buses to Chester in the 1950s – for this blog, in fact – I accidentally discovered what is on the market for collectors now. Wow. Very largely because I couldn’t help thinking how Dave would have loved them, I spent a couple of days gazing at all sorts of provincial exotica on the Internet, and eventually bought a few, with the very firm resolve that this would not be the beginning of yet another unofficial collection. I have restricted myself to buses that I used to see as a kid in Liverpool area – this is what real buses will always look like for me, in the same way as the cigarette cards of childhood are how real footballers look. Inculcation – you can’t beat it.

I still have one coming in the mail – that is a 1950s Leyland single-decker in the colours of Ribble, such as I used to see on rare visits to the Lake District. The ones that have arrived thus far are set out here; welcome to the land of the Not-Quite Bus Nerd.

These weren't too common in Liverpool - Ribble used to run services between
Liverpool and towns in Darkest Lancashire. We used to visit the big Ribble
depot in Skelhorne Street - behind Lime Street railway station - and saw
a great many Leylands like this (the destination town of Leyland is where the chassis
were made)

Early 1950s Crosville-owned Bristol bus, route 116 from Huyton to Liverpool Pier Head.
You could get on a Crosville bus to travel between stops within the city of Liverpool,
but the services were primarily to places outside the city, and the fares were a little dearer than
the "Corpy" buses

The single decker Crosville service between Liverpool Pier Head and Caernarfon
ran through the Mersey Tunnel, and was the best way to get to Rhyl and the
other North Wales resorts. On a Tuesday, most of the women in Flintshire
seemed to come on this bus to visit Liverpool market 

This is the business - the real deal from the early 1950s - an AEC Regent III
in Liverpool Corporation Passenger Transport livery, on route to Penny Lane.
Buses will always look like this to me. My cousin lived at my Nan's house,
in Briardale Road, which runs into Penny Lane - we knew the
Wavertree/Smithdown Road area served by this route very well.
Goodness me - I can stare at this for hours.


  1. Your bus obsession secret is safe here. The green and cream finish on the double deckers is similar to the colours of the Dundee Corporation buses I remember as a wee lad.

    1. It's such a comfort to be able to come out like this. I confess I did find a Birkenhead bus on eBay - that will be the last one. Honestly.

      Dundee Corporation - yes, very similar. Nice pictures at


      Cheers - Tony

  2. Love it! I've read that George Harrison's dad drove some green double-deckers like these many years ago.

    Best Regards,


    1. I think that George's dad was a conductor rather than a driver; the buses he worked on would be like the one in my last picture. When i first used to get the bus to my primary school (LCPT route 25), the child's fare was 1.5 old pence each way - I asked for a "three-halfpenny scholar" - that's 0.00625 pounds sterling. These days the city bus fares in Edinburgh start at a pound - hmmm…

      Cheers - Tony

  3. "Art has to move you and design does not, unless it's a good design for a bus." - David Hockney

    1. Where would we be without the old D of Q, eh? Actually, I never realised Hockney was as sharp as that.

    2. He's a Yorkshireman! I was in the care of the Yorkshire Woollen District Transport Co Ltd (http://www.transport-art-collections.co.uk/gallery/british-vehicles/bb/rbc/ymd/index.shtml) grinding up Halifax Road in the sleet on the way to Wheelwright Grammar School for Boys in Dewsbury.

  4. What an excellent post! And close to home for me - some of my earliest memories are getting Ribble buses from Liverpool to Crosby, then, in the late 1960s, my dad was a bus driver for Crosville, out of their (now long gone) depot at West Kirby on the Wirral. Now that was something that made me look up to my dad! On the toy/model front, I managed to stop myself buying Lledo single deckers a few years ago - after about a dozen of them!

    1. If your dad drove for Crosville then he was indeed a hero. Our local Crosville route in Aigburth was the 120, which I think went to Widnes - later they changed the number to H20 - couldn't leave it alone, could they? Ribble buses were unknown in the south end of the city - they went to heard-of-but-never-seen places like Wigan and Preston (and Crosby). I liked the Crosville and Ribble buses because the seats were upholstered in proper material, like they used on the trains, rather than the slippy Empire cloth the LCPT used - it was scratchy if you wore short trousers, though!

      I had a posh auntie who lived in West Kirby - if we visited her (not very often) it was on the Mersey Railway that went under the river, so i don't remember the Crosville depot there. I do remember the light blue and cream Birkenhead Corporation buses, and the very strange yellow and cream used by Wallasey. Must check eBay...

    2. You've done it now - I've had buses and coaches driving around at the back of my brain since I read your post! Aaaaaargh! I'm just going to have to get a Crosville double decker! You do realise that you will now have to keep us all up to date on the bus side of things?

    3. I promise - watch this space.

      If you're really in the market for a Crosville, there's a mint twin-pack with the Bristol Lodekka double-decker and the North Wales coach on eBay item #171215738584.

      Nothing to do with me - I just thought I'd mention it...

  5. Mid 70s I ran an offshoot of Liverpool Wargames Association in the Brooke House on Smithdown Road - just up the street from Penny Lane.

    1. Excellent! - I was living in Scotland by then, but I once knew the Brooke House well - I had a girlfriend who lived off Ullet Road, just round the corner! Were you still there during the 1981 riots?

  6. Yes, that was fun. Used to drive into Liverpool every morning through Toxteth - line of police cars across the roads going in, nothing else until you went through the line of police cars and vans as you went out. Got lost coming home one day. My marker was a building owned by a wholesale antiques warehouse owned by Harry Swainbank. It got flattened and collapsed into the cellar - so I totally lost my bearing. Strangely, there was one of those Portacabin type banks next door which survived - I recognised that and found my bearings again! Riots themselves only happened at night - quite safe in the day.

  7. I have a vivd memory of being 5 years old, travelling a long way across London with my mom to visit relatives in the top front of a swaying double decker, and after what seemed like eternity, throwing up copiously. My mother fled with me in tow - I'm not sure she told the conductor. I never saw double decker buses again until the 1980s, when I moved to Victoria, BC - there was a small fleet of rather vintage buses in service for tourist tours. I think they're all gone now.

    1. I wish you'd stop bringing that up… :o(

      The ex-London buses were still in Victoria in 1999 - tea & scones in the Empress - ah! I did (I think) 3 trips to Victoria with a jazz band - liked it a lot. Used to stay at the Royal Scot, overlooking the harbour.

  8. I got an email from Stan, gently taking me to task for describing the Wallasey buses as "yellow and cream" - the colour, Stan says, was officially Sea Green. The story goes that, long ago, the company supplying Wallasey's trams contacted the Corporation to check what the paint colour, and were referred to the Transport Manager, a Mr Green - "Better see Green," they were told, and the rest is history.

    I have heard that story before - I believe my cousin told it to me, so it must be true…

    I'm not sure, but I think the story dates back to an earlier colour for the tram fleet - excellent photo of a "yellow and cream" bus here (as I remember them):


    …and there's a pic of an earlier tram here, which definitely looks greenish to me:


    Thanks, Stan - the controversy will rage on.

  9. And that undefinable lost smell of generations of stale Capstan Full Strength on the upper deck...

  10. Come now - you're not as old as all that. These buses are all ancient, will you be getting some more modern ones?

    1. Well that's interesting - there are models around of the Leyland Atlanteans, which came into service when I was still a lad - they were much more modern buses, with closing doors (at the front, for one-man operation) and all that, but they're not really proper buses, are they? The models available of later buses which might come into my restricted scope(!) are mostly disqualified by the use of the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive logo and lighter green livery, which are after my time, and occasionally because they are Routemasters, which I don't think ever made it to Liverpool.

      Story about the Atlanteans when they were introduced: my school pal Kenny was a keen road-racing cyclist (in theory at least), and he'd got into the habit of training by slipstreaming the buses along Liverpool's Mather Avenue, between Allerton and Garston, where they used to get up a decent speed - it was a struggle, but the manual gear changes on the old buses made it possible to keep up. The Atlanteans, of course, had automatic transmission, and he was now in big trouble. With commendable pluck, but little wisdom, he stuck to his task, bravely trying to hang on to the new buses - one day, with his head down and his tongue hanging out, he was surprised by a pedestrian crossing signal, and also by the much improved brakes on the Atlanteans, and he lost all his front teeth.

      You will be horrified to learn he later moved onto motorcycles...


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