Buses : The 2014 Worthing Seafront Gathering

Mike Humble


I'm ready for the off with this stunning 1970 Daimler Fleetline
I’m ready for the off with this tidy 1970 Daimler Fleetline

It all started off with a phone call with a few days notice – would I be interested in driving a Daimler down to Worthing to take part in a seafront vehicle parade. Now before you get too excited, this Daimler wasn’t a Sovereign, a Double Six or a 4.2 for that matter – in fact the engine was made in Manchester measuring 10.45 litres in size. I am, of course, referring to a Gardner powered Daimler Fleetline bus which was Coventry’s answer to the Leyland Atlantean or the Bristol VRT that rolled off the Radford assembly line way back in 1970.

Every July, a sizeable gathering of vehicles are displayed along Worthing front for public admiration and many of them are also used to give the public free rides around the area on “heritage” routes that originate from the old Southdown days. Many examples from companies who produced PSV chassis under the corporate B.L banner were on public display including the Bristol RE and VRT along with Leyland Leopards, Nationals and Titans.

Our old friend Leyland National was in attendance - this was one of five that clacked their way to Worthing.
Our old friend Leyland National was in attendance – this was one of five that clacked their way to Worthing.

The vehicle I attended with is owned in preservation by a friend called Nick Pope, which is a Northern Counties Fleetline that was delivered new to Southdown Motor Services in 1970. They were quite a rarity on the South Coast partly due to the bulk of the fleet being of Leyland or Bristol. Owing to Union pressure, they were withdrawn after a short while and re-located up to Merseyside, the ponderous steering making them unpopular with driving crews.

Another class member from British Leyland on display was this lovingly preserved Bristol VRT.
Another class member from British Leyland on display was this lovingly preserved Bristol VRT.

The sun shone, the air was humid and I must have drunk about a gallon of water during the day as I sweated like fury as I wrestled with the non power assisted wandering steering on the route from Worthing Pier to the Sea Lane Café. Even though it is nice to rumble around in a “real bus” – you cannot help but appreciate the hard graft that drivers had to put in all those years ago. The ever smiling and scheming Stan Butler couldn’t be further away from reality – its hard hard graft!

This brace of stunning PD Titan's once operated with Eastbourne Corporation - They were once loyal Leyland operators right up to the end of Leyland's demise in 1993.
This brace of stunning PD Titan’s once operated with Eastbourne Corporation – They were once loyal Leyland operators right up to the end of Leyland’s demise in 1993.

It was a grand day, the trade stalls were buzzing with activity and having participated a couple of time previously, the numbers of people who came down to see and enjoy the sights and sounds of yester-year seemed higher than ever. If old glory on the buses is your thing, then make a note in your diary for the last Sunday in July for the Worthing Seafront bus rally next year. For those who are family orientated, there’s even a travelling fair to keep the kids amused along with arts, crafts and a myriad of food stalls.

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications


  1. Seeming that Bristol vehicles got a mention in this article, just thought you’d like to know this little nugget of information.
    Just up the road in Brislington, from where Bristol buses used to trundle from the production line, there is a new public house. In a nod to the previous next door neighbours the pub is named “The Lodeka”.
    (And before you ask, no Stan isn’t a relation!)

  2. Cumberland Motor Services were loyal to Leyland to the end as well, not surprising as their bus factory was in Workington until 1992. As well as Leyland Nationals, the Bristol double decker in the photo was a familiar sight on long distance routes well into the nineties.

  3. @ Glenn

    Stagecoach were keen to see Leyland stay open (their purchasing policy swung towards UK kit) their Cumberland & Ribble companies were chocked to the rafters with Olympian’s. They even went some way to make the combination of Leyland chassis and Alexander “R” body their “standard”decker for the whole group.

    If only… if only!

  4. Anyone interested in Bristol – be it buses or the city, not to mention trains and more – would do well to visit the Flickr photostream of “Fray Bentos”: quite the most fascinating, entertaining, stimulating and – for me – soothing page there is on t’internet.

  5. That Fleetline that Mike drove looks mighty fine with its twin headlamps. In 1965/66, South Shields Corporation took delivery of 11 Daimler Fleetlines with ROE bodies. They had single headlamps and the traditional oval Daimler badge. My favourite buses to go to school on…and come home.

  6. You can’t beat a sunny day out wallowing in the wonderful world of bus nostalgia. Some really handsome buses on display there. Makes you feel 12 years old again running up the stairs to get to the front of the top deck, ready to yell “Take us the long way to school, Mr Driver!”

  7. I have travelled on TCD a few times and it is really evocative. My local operator, Crosville, bought these and used them mainly in North Wales, even converting 6 of them to open top. They lumbered around with their 4 speed boxes and 6LX engines but were inferior to the indigenous VRs that had 5 speed boxes and 6LXB engines.
    Many Fleetlines has auto steer fitted. This improvement, notable for the mushroom shaped steering wheel, offered no power assistance until half way to full lock, when suddenly there would be a hiss of air and the steering would go light. Added to this, the lock would be different on each side; my first experience of this had me reversing across a 4 lane road in a town centre as I was heading for a streetlight and ran out of lock.

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