Images of Plaxton Past
Model T Charabanc. It’s unclear whether this was indeed the first coach bodied by Plaxton but since the first one was supplied locally to Robinsons of Scarborough, it’s North Yorkshire registration gives a clear hint that it may well have been.
The Castle Works was built specifically to house a bodybuilding operation and soon after it’s construction was soon fully utilized building bodies for cars of various makes.
As well as coaches and cars, Plaxton built a wide variety of commercial vehicles. This was a horsebox, these usually were designed and built to the individual customer’s requirements so rarely were two the same.
Lovingly restored by Smiths of Thirsk is this half cab Leyland Tiger PS1, delivered new to them in 1946 it was one of the first vehicles built by Plaxton when production recommenced after the war.
An Envoy body of 1950, based on an Albion CX39 chassis and supplied to Cotters Tours of Glasgow.
It was built to a length of 28’6”. This is approx half that of the 15m maximum which applies today!
A vehicle truly decades ahead of it’s time was the Venturer bodied Foden PVR, the first rear-engined chassis built in the UK. The vision of it’s designers is illustrated by the fact that a further 15 years would pass before Plaxton would body another rear engined chassis and it would take around 53 years before this layout, now regarded as the most common type, would be readily accepted.
Buses and coaches are required to pass a tilt test before they are allowed to carry passengers but an unusual vehicle for the tilt bed at the former Seamer Rd was a fire tender. With full water load, these could be unstable machines and the tilt ensured that they could be safely operated in service.
Plaxton had a number of excursions into commercial vehicle building, including a number of fire tenders. Perhaps the most famous were the Green Goddesses but this one here illustrates a Commer based unit for North Yorks Fire Service.
The Consort was a versatile body with versions for front or as seen here, underfloor engined chassis. This AEC Reliance was one of Wallace Arnold’s 1958 deliveries and survived long enough after sale by them to be repurchased and restored in the early 1990s.
A Panorama for Potteries Motor Traction and based on a Leyland Leopard, it is one of the first long Leylands built after the length restriction was raised to 36’ in 1961.
Pictured in the finishing shop of the Eastfield plant soon after it opened in 1961, are an Embassy on a Bedford SB and a Panorama on an AEC Reliance. In the background are a number of the “Green Goddess” fire tenders built for the Auxilliary Fire Service in the late fifties and early sixties.
The final version of the Embassy came in 1965 with the Embassy IV for Albion, Bedford, Ford and Commer chassis with front engines. This vehicle was a Plaxton show vehicle for the 1965 Commercial Motor Show.
Taken circa 1967 is the plant at Seamer Rd which closed in 1986. The site is now a retail Park and a DIY store.
Taken slightly earlier than the previous picture, believed to be 1964, is another aerial shot of Seamer Rd.
A highly specified Panorama is this one for Evan Evans Tours based on the infamous Daimler Roadliner with Cummins V6 engine. This vehicle was used on high class private charter work from Evan Evans London base. The company was later acquired by Wallace Arnold.
An early example of the Elite was delivered to Cotters Tours of Glasgow in 1969 and as the destination suggests, was employed as the team transport for Celtic, at that stage reaching the pinnacle of their record setting nine Scottish League titles.
An early Panorama Elite based on a Daimler Roadliner chassis for Black and White Motorways.
This rear engined chassis was relatively rare and Plaxton bodied virtually all of those with coach bodies, together with a significant number of buses.
Two transport icons stand side by side. Against the backdrop of a Boeing 747, just arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport on the inaugural service from New York, an early Panorama Elite awaits it’s passengers on airside duties.
This illustrates the graceful lines of the original Panorama Elite and is one of the second batch of the type delivered to Wallace Arnold. Based on a Leyland Leopard chassis it dates from 1969.
The rarest of the Elites were based on the Mercedes Benz 0302 chassis and numbered only two. Seen here in London on duty with TWA, both were delivered new to Worldwide Travel.
A Bedford YRQ with Elite II body, seated 41 and delivered to Trent Motor Traction in 1971.
One of the earliest of the then new underfloor engined Bedford range to have been bodied by Plaxton Limited.
Bristol Greyhound was the coaching arm of the Bristol based Tilling Group subsidiary and were commonly associated with chassis from their hometown manufacturer and Plaxton bodies featured regularly from 1968. This one however is based on a Leyland Leopard.
An early example of the Elite III, a Plaxton demonstrator on the newly introduced Bedford YRT chassis.
This was a development of the YRQ and was 11metres in length, seating up to 53.
Continuing the lineage which commenced in 1973, another batch of Bedford YRT Plaxtons, this time with Supreme III bodywork pictured on delivery from Scarborough in 1976.
Pictured under the high level footbridge across the Valley in Scarborough is an Elite III of 1973 for the Newcastle based fleet of Moordale-Curtis. This was based on the then new Bedford YRT chassis, a variation on the YRQ, suitable for 36” chassis.
An Elite III Express of 1973 and one of 328 Express specification Plaxtons supplied to Barton Transport between 1970 and 1983.The wide entrance, twin leaf doors and destination display were required to qualify for a grant towards their purchase.
An Elite III of 1975, based on a Bristol LH chassis this vehicle was one of a number built to a reduced length of 32’ and width of 7’6” for Western National, making them ideally suited to the narrow lanes around Devon and Cornwall.
The Elite was a best seller among customers seeking maximum capacity vehicles for express, private hire and tour work but occasionally a more up-market variant was required and Oxfordshire operator Heyfordian chose it mounted on a Leyland Leopard chassis for a high specification tourer complete with on on-board bar.
Although by far the most numerous versions of the Supreme were built on full size chassis, the first introduced were built on short chassis, the Supreme II for the Bristol LHS and as seen here, the Supreme I on the Bedford VAS. This was updated to Supreme IV standard in 1981 and lasted until the end of Bedford production in 1986.
A Supreme III on a Ford R1114 chassis for Furness of Sheffield. Seating 53, these were a popular alternative to the Bedford YRT/ YMT range for customer seeking an economical and cost effective full size coach.
Dating from 1976, this is an Elite III, one of the last built and now restored and operated as a classic coach by Don Prentice Coaches of Haddington near Edinburgh.
Premier Travel of Cambridge became regular Plaxton customers following delivery of this and three similar vehicles in early 1976. Built to bus grant specifications, the vehicles were used on their network of express operations to the Midlands and North West.
The Viewmaster appeared in 1977, closely related to the Supreme III it offered a high floor level and improved underfloor luggage capacity. This example for Littlewoods of Sheffield was one of the first built.
Pictured in the twilight of it’s career with Coopers Tours of Rothwell, Kettering is a Supreme I based on the Bedford VAS 5 chassis. The location is Woodall services on the M1 in 1984.
On first appearance looking as though the photo has been reversed, this is a left hand drive Ford R1114 with export specification Supreme III bodywork. Several batches of Supremes were built for export to Denmark, Holland and Belgium.
An interesting example of a Supreme III based on Bristol LHL chassis for Smiths of Thirsk. The LHL was never a particularly common chassis for coach use but was built in small numbers for independent operators on a regular basis between 1967 and 1979.
Pictured high on the Castle Ramparts in Edinburgh, this Supreme IV of Eastern Scottish was one of 60 supplied between 1978 and 1980 on Seddon Pennine VII chassis, a combination virtually unique to this operator.
The multi-barred grille of the Supreme III is illustrated to effect here with a frontal shot of two Bedford YMTs for Gold Circle Coaches of Airdrie in Lanarkshire, dating from 1978.
A genuine one-owner coach, this Supreme III of Weardale Coaches was not only among the last of the type built, it is based on a Leyland Leopard with four speed manual gearbox with two speed rear axle giving eight forward ratios. This was a chassis specification more commonly associated with the Scottish Bus Group.
When London’s famous Green Line network was upgraded to utilize more luxurious coaches in 1977, the AEC Reliance was chosen as the standard chassis and Plaxton provided Supreme III Express bodies for the RS class (RS = Reliance Scarborough). This photo is one of the 15 vehicles delivered in 1978, further batches followed in 1979 - 80.
The Supreme range was further extended in 1978 when the DAF MB200 was offered in volume for the first time. Seamarks of Luton were among the first operators to opt for the DAF and followed it’s initial orders with several subsequent batches.
The Supreme VI was the rarest of all the Supremes, in production for just one year and numbering just over a hundred examples. The narrow window line was intended to attract customers seeking express coaches, particularly where overnight operation was a regular need.
Among the rarest of Paramounts were those based on the Ward Dalesman chassis. This was a chassis with Perkins V8 engine and built in Lepton near Huddersfield making the whole vehicle a Yorkshire assembled product. This one was supplied to Yarrantons of Eardiston in the Welsh Marches.
Short versions of the Paramount were introduced in 1983, based on Bedford YMQS and Ford T152 chassis. They offered a full sized coach appearance and levels of comfort but accommodated smaller parties of up to 35.
The Paramount one was a distinct change to previous Plaxton styling but still carried the family resemblance. This example, delivered to Shaws of Maxey near Peterborough in 1983 and based on a Bedford YNT, is still in service at the time of writing (Feb 2007).
Pulhams, based in the picturesque Cotswold town of Bourton on the Water, have been regular Plaxton customers over many years. This Volvo B10M with Paramount body, built to bus grant specification and delivered in 1984 was their first Volvo B10M.
Although Plaxton had bodied many Fords since the late 1950s, the Paramount on the Ford R Series was a much less common combination. This was one of a number supplied to Central Coachways of Walsall in 1983–5.
A Paramount 3200 Mk 2, based on a Bedford YNT chassis for Buckby’s tours of Rothwell, Northants.
Buckby’s were typical of the many small, family owned business’ which formed the backbone of the industry in the 1960’s and 70’s.
BCP Parking used this Paramount 2 on transfers around the Gatwick area.
It was amongst the first to be sold on the Bedford YNV chassis, introduced in 1985.
The coach is pictured at Gatwick, posed beside a Boeing 767 of Britannia Airways.
Among the last Bedfords bodied by Plaxton following the cessation of production in 1986, were a batch of YMT chassis bodied with Derwent bus bodies in 1986. The Derwent was a modified version of the Bustler and succeeded that model in 1985.
The Paramount 2 came in 1985 introducing features such as bonded glazing which have since become a standard on virtually all coaches. A distinctive feature was the plastic wheeltrims, made in-house by Plaxton and incorporating the castle logo of the period.
The Derwent was a popular choice for military transport applications and was built in both right hand and left hand drive versions on Leyland Tiger and Dennis Javelin chassis.
Left hand drive versions of the Derwent were supplied for use by the military in overseas territories, predominantly bases in Germany. The Leyland Tiger was used exclusively for overseas based vehicles and many later returned to the UK and were converted to right hand drive.
A Bustler based on Volvo B9M chassis operated on contract shuttles at Heathrow by Ralphs of Slough.
This was typical of the type of operation these vehicles often earned their living on.
A Paramount 3200 Mk3 of 1989 supplied to Skills tours of Nottingham and based on a Volvo B10M.
Armchair of London were regular Plaxton customers and this Paramount 3 seen arriving at Spalding in 1990 and based on a Leyland Tiger, was a typical example of their chassis choice in the 1980s.
Pictured outside the former showroom at the entrance to the Scarborough site is a Pointer destined for the shuttlebus operation operated by Flights at the National Exhibition centre in Birmingham.