Bristol VRT (Bl VRT/LL3/6LXB)
Gardner 6LXB Diesel
Alexander Ar AL52/6374/16
Tayside Regional Council
Proctor of Fenton, Tally Ho!, Nottingham Omnibus, Cedar Coaches
Taybus Vintage Vehicle Society
Saved, stored safely and parts sourced for future restoration
Tayside Regional Council was formed in 1975 and the Transport Department’s first orders for buses were for 30 Volvo Ailsas and 25 Bristol VRTs. The Bristol buses had a long wheelbase and low frame with dual-door Alexander bodywork which was a rare combination and made them similar in style to the Ailsas. OSR186R to OSR205R (fleet numbers 186 to 205) had Gardner 6LXB engines and semi-automatic gearboxes which were later converted to fully automatic control. OSR206R to OSR210R had fixed-head Leyland 501 engines and fully automatic gearboxes although they later converted to manual control! This batch of buses was used to introduce driver-only operation to Whitfield routes 15/17/30 in February 1977.
OSR199R (number 199) was badly damaged in 1980/81 and rebuilt with the centre door removed and coach seats fitted which proved very popular with passengers and those wanting to hire it.
Dundee Corporation had bought only AECs and Daimlers since 1935 but with Fleetline deliveries chaotic Leyland could only supply Bristol VRs. The Scottish Bus Group had rid itself of its early Bristol VRs as quickly as it could and Tayside’s fared little better. They were unpopular with crews and maintenance staff and had particular problems with overheating. Tayside stored the entire batch during 1978 to force Leyland to rectify the problem, which led to them borrowing Leyland Titans from Lothian to cover, but the vehicles had all been sold by the early 1980s. Subsequent orders for the VR were cancelled and Tayside standardised on the Ailsa.
Batches of these buses were sold on to Burnley & Pendle, Lincoln City Transport and National Welsh. Taybus purchased two of the National Welsh vehicles for preservation in the late 1990s but their condition was so poor that they went for scrap. Many of the buses sold to large operators stayed with them for a long time with some Burnley & Pendle and Red & White examples surviving well into Stagecoach ownership. 204 had a nomadic career and was sold initially to Proctor of Fenton (Stoke on Trent). It then went to Tally Ho! of Kingsbridge along with sister vehicles 192 and 194. All three buses were sold to Nottingham Omnibus in 1993. When that business ceased trading the following year OSR204R was sold to Cedar Coaches, Bedford, who had already owned a number of former Tayside Fleetlines including GSL908N which has also been acquired for preservation by Taybus Vintage Vehicle Society.
The Society bought OSR204R from Cedar Coaches on 14 December 2000 and it made the journey north under its own power.
Unlike most of the other vehicles in the batch 204 retained its centre door for its whole life. Its front dome was replaced at some point with one from an Ailsa and the entire front body skin has been removed to allow parts to be fabricated and sourced in preparation for it to be returned to original condition. This revealed evidence of a fairly severe frontal accident having taken place at some point, presumably the reason for the replacement of the dome. Most of the parts required to restore the bodywork, including fibreglass components from a Cardiff Bristol VR and other body parts from scrap Tayside Ailsas, have now been sourced and the bodywork prepared for painting. Many of the roof panels also showed signs of significant tree damage and these have also been removed for future replacement.