on 12 November 2013
Here is a book devoted to one rather specialised interest: low height double-decker buses.
Traditionally British double-deckers were 4.42 m (14ft 6ins) in height. In many places this restricted operations because of low bridges. To get over this problem, manufacturers came up with an uncomfortable `low-bridge' solution involving bench type seats for 4 people and a gangway in a kind of trench along one side of the upper deck. This `trench' was at the expense of some passengers on the deck below who had it sticking down above their seats.
A new approach to the matter was achieved by Bristol who looked at the chassis rather than the roof. What emerged in 1949 was the Lodekka, a bus with a lower chassis achieved by using a rear axle with a dropped centre section. The drive shaft from the engine was offset to one side so that the whole bus was only 4.11 m in height. (1 foot lower)
It was such a good idea that four other manufacturers followed with variations on this arrangement. These were AEC with Bridgemaster and Renown, Albion/Leyland with Lowlander, Dennis with Loline and Guy the Wulfrunian. This book describes those five types of bus for which deliveries only took place for eleven years from 1956-1967. After that, the rear-engined Leyland Atlantean and Daimler Fleetlines provided competitive and popular alternatives to achieving low height on two decks.
This is a fine book for its illustrations. The author has been able to research and find photos of 63 firms out of only 70 who ever operated these buses. Most of the photos are in colour although a few look as though they have been artificially coloured. The text that runs through the book describes events and issues. In this, some aspects of design could have been more strongly covered but overall it is a good narrative. Even model buses are mentioned.
The detailed appendices are impressive, giving all the operators, including those who tried out the demonstrators. Each of the 1,122 buses built is listed with chassis number, buyer, registration, body supplier, seating capacity and year of delivery.
Anyone with the book by Martin Curtis on the Lodekka who buys this book, would have the complete story of the period when the low-height double-decker came into its own.
on 29 December 2013
This is a welcome addition to a bus enthusiast's bookshelf. It jogged a few youthful memories for me of buses 60s style, North Western and Halifax Lolines, Yorkshire Woollen District Lowlanders, West Riding Wulfrunians, and Tynemouth Renowns. I never sampled a Bridgemaster though.
The choice of illustrations is generally good, though a picture of a Tynemouth Renown in its original red and cream colours would have been good, rather than the drab NBC yellow shown on p73. A pity about the error in the caption to this photo by the way.
The narrative is a good read, as is to be expected from Mr. Brown. I would have liked a bit more technical detail, however.
I would probably have given the book five stars, had it not been for the caption error referred to above. As a native of north East England, I found it quite irritating.
on 1 May 2014
Anyone who has an interest in buses will find this book very interesting as it shows the few different makers of flat floor, bus bodies. It also show the timeline for the forward entrance, flat floor buses from the late 1950s to the late 70s.