Wednesday, 31 December 2014

‘Scene’ at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford


As we come to the last blog of 2014, it is timely to reflect on the 100th. anniversary of the outbreak of World War One (WW1) and rightly so. 


A chance then to look back at some of what we went to war with.


Surprisingly, the small number of aircraft from that time have not been brought together to form a single exhibit. Instead they are spread around in oddments.


F 3556

A Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF) RE 8 (Reconnaissance Experimental) dating from 1916.

Powered by a ‘RAF’ V12 engine. Built as a bomber it carried an observer/gunner in the rear cockpit.


This particular aircraft  was built by Daimler and survived the war by only having arrived in France on Armistice Day 1918.



D 5649

The Airco/De Havilland DH 9 was intended to replace the earlier DH4 but powered by a 230hp Siddeley Puma engine, its performance was not as good as the DH4 and losses on operations were severe.

Eventually re engined with the American ‘Liberty’ engine it went on to achieve success as the DH 9A. 


By virtue of its internal bomb bay, it has become regarded as a very early example of the ‘strategic bomber’ and as such was a forerunner of the Lancaster and Vulcan. 


It is intended to restore the aircraft to flying condition.



N 1977


A Nieuport 17 single seat fighter developed from the earlier N 11. Powered by a Le Rhone 130hp engine, the type had one fixed forward firing machine gun as armament.

As well as the French air Force, it also served with Britain’s Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service.


Introduced in early 1916, a year later it had been outclassed by more modern German fighters.





A BE-2c of the ‘RFC’. Designed at the Royal Aircraft Factory but built by Rushton Proctor and Co. Ltd. It took part in wartime sorties against the Zeppelins in 1917.

Withdrawn from use in 1919 it was originally kept at the Imperial War Museum in London before coming to Duxford.



E 2581


A Bristol F2B. Usually known as the Bristol Fighter or ‘Brisfit’ in British service.


Powered by a Rolls-Royce Falcon engine and fitted with a fixed forward firing .303 machine gun and another flexibly mounted Lewis gun mounted in the rear cockpit.


By the end of the war, the 'Royal Air Force' which had come into being on the 1st.of April 1918 had 1,583 of the type in service.


Coming relatively late to the war in 1917, after a shaky start it acquitted itself ably and went on to serve with many other air arms worldwide into the 1930’s.


There is SPAD in the American section of the Museum which will be included in a later blog.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

‘Scene’ in Burton on Trent (BoT) 2 ‘Arriva’

BoT is perhaps best known for beer brewing. Just off the A38. Burton has 3 bus major companies plying for trade. ‘Arriva’  the subject of this blog. ‘Midland Classic’ (see blog dated 17/12/2014) and ‘trentbarton’ who will have a turn later.


Apart from the buses Burton also lies on the railway line from Derby to Birmingham.The other watery connection is that the Trent and Mersey canal also runs through the town.


The last time I was in town (2 years ago) ‘Arriva’ seemed to have a lot of Optare Versa’s in service. This time there was the odd one but there seemed to be more ‘heavyweight’ buses around. Various Wright bodied DAF/VDL’s for example.



A VDL SB200 with Wright Pulsar 2 bodywork. Branded for the X38, a joint service with ‘trentbarton’ (tb) that links BoT with Derby. ‘tb’s share of the route is generally run with Optare Tempo’s.



W227 SNR

A Dennis Dart SLF with Alexander ALX 200 bodywork which was new to ‘Arriva’ in Derby.




A Dennis Dart with Plaxton Mini Pointer 2 bodywork.




Another VDL SB200/Wright combination. Branded for the ‘BoT’- Leicester service which runs under a variety of route numbers. 


Apparently, the bus leaves Burton going to Coalville where the number changes and the destination becomes Leicester. I suspect that it something to do with the licensing arrangements otherwise why not just refer to it as a Burton- Leicester service?







A Volvo B9TL with Wright Eclipse Gemini bodywork. it was new to Derby and transferred to Burton in 2013.




An Optare Versa V1110 that at one time worked on the X38 Burton-Derby service in full X38 branding.




A DAF SB200 with Wright Commander bodywork. It was new to Wellington in Shropshire, coming to Burton in 2010.




One more of the VDL SB200/Wright combination.




Another DAF SB200 with Wright Commander bodywork. Like NZU it was new to Wellington in Shropshire, coming to Burton in 2010.




Yet another DAF SB200 with Wright Commander bodywork. It was new to Wellington in Shropshire, moving on to Coalville in 2011 and coming back to Burton in the same year.




Another VDL SB200 with Wright Pulsar 2 bodywork.




Another of the same.



Further photos can be seen on my Flickr 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

‘Scene’ in the fleet of ‘Felix of Stanley’

I would like to present this small selection of images relating to ‘Felix of Stanley’ to my readers with the hope that you enjoy a Merry Christmas and a Happy and more importantly, a Healthy New Year. 


Thank you for your interest and support.




It is 3 years ago as of now since ‘Felix’s bus operations were sold to the Wellglade (WG) group.

To mark the anniversary and before memories start to fade, I thought that at this time of goodwill to all (bus)men that this small tribute to an independent operator who contributed substantially to the 'scene' in the East Midlands for so many years might be appropriate.


The coaching arm went elsewhere and the name can still be seen being carried by ‘Swiftsure Coaches’ of Burton-on-Trent.


So ended a business story that dated as far back as 1921 when Mr. Norman Frost set up with a Crossley lorry that was ex WD. A second vehicle a charabanc also by Crossley came the following year. The lorry was converted to a bus and a regular Ilkeston to Derby via Chaddesden service commenced. This was still the companies main route at the time of the takeover.


After Mr. Frost’s death in 1975, the business passed to his nephew Mr. Geoffrey Middup. In recent years ‘Felix’ had worked some services jointly with ‘trentbarton’ (tb) and although there was a brief interlude when it was thought that ‘Felix’ might be sold elsewhere, it was no surprise to me that ‘WG’ eventually took the company over.


Anyone wishing to know more about ‘Felix’ should search out a book published in 2006. Written by Mr. Paul D. Chambers and  published by Adlard Print & Reprographics of The Green, Ruddington, Nottingham. It covers all but the final years in great detail.


ORB 554K

A Bedford YRQ with Plaxton Derwent bodywork seen in the old Derby bus station. It was new to ‘Frosts Coaches’. and also operated for ‘Caves Bus Service’ of Shirley in the West Midlands.

Bed YRQ:Plx ORB 554K

WRC 826S


A Bedford YMT chassis, the bodywork being a Duple Dominant 2 Express.It was eventually disposed of the West Hallam Community Partnership.

Bed:Duple WRC 826S


J564 URW

A Leyland Lynx 2 which came from ‘VL Bus’ in Warwick in 1992.

LeLynx J564 URW




An Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL). Enviro 300 demonstrator which had a spell on trial.

Seen again in the old Derby bus station. I always liked the body styling on this version of the E 300 preferring it to the bulbous rounded version currently in production.

ADL Enviro 300 Demo




An Iveco with Plaxton’s Paragon bodywork. One of a pair, the other being YN55 YSF. I did an excursion on this coach and very comfortable and smooth it was.


Iveco:Plx Paragon YN55 YSE


Derbyshire County Council have a discounted travel and services card called ‘b.line’ which is available to youngsters from age 14 to 18 who are still in education.


Of course an ideal way of promoting this is by advertising it on the side of buses.


V707 ENN

A Mercedes-Benz Vario 814-D with Plaxton Beaver bodywork is one such. This bus also appeared in in the red based ‘Ilkeston Flyer’ livery and was eventually sold on to an operator in the Aylesbury area.

MB Vario B Line V707 ENN



An Optare Solo was another. After ‘Felix’ it went on to work for ‘Midland Classic’ based at Swadlincote.

OpSo B Line FG52 WUC


V708 GRY

A Volvo B10BLE with ‘ADL’ ALX 300 bodywork. It moved on to ‘Harrogate Coach Travel’ where it carries ‘connexions buses’ branding. In addition perhaps as a nod to its origins it also carries the name ’Felix’. A nice touch.

VoB10B:Alx300  V708 GRY


W218 PRB

An Optare Excel again seen in the old Derby bus station. This bus is included because of its ‘Black Cat’ livery. It was a ‘trentbarton’ vehicle working a joint service. It eventually moved on to both Anglianbus and Konectbus.

OpExc Black Cat


X711 GJU

A Dennis Dart with Plaxton’s Pointer 2 bodywork eventually moved on to Richard Brothers of Newport in Wales.

DeDa:Plx Plx Ptr Black Cat X711 GJU



A Scania L94UB with Wright Solar bodywork. It is still with ‘Wellglade’ group albeit painted in ‘Notts & Derby’ (N&D) livery.

Sc:Wr Black Cat YN03 WRA



A VDL SB200 with Plaxton Centro bodywork.

VDL SB200:Plx Centro YJ56 KBF




Another Scania L94UB with Wright Solar bodywork. Still in service with ‘trentbarton’ in the same livery on the ‘Ilkeston Flyer’.


Apart from the Scania/Wright in the ‘Ilkeston Flyer’ livery, there are three other buses that joined ‘WG’ at the same time. They all now carry ‘Notts & Derby’ livery and are,



A Scania L94UB with Wright Solar bodywork.




Another Scania L94UB with Wright Solar bodywork.




A VDL SB200 with Plaxton Centro bodywork.



So a small part of ‘Felix’ lives on albeit in new colours.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

‘Scene’ at Manchester International Airport (MIA) 3

When I first visited in the 1950’s, ‘MIA” as it is now it was simply Ringway airport where we lads sat on the grass writing down the registrations only a stones throw from the aircraft. 


Only the posh kids possessed cameras, I certainly didn’t. The ladies in the nearby cafe kept us going with cups of tea and bottles of pop.


There are still some old timers (other than me) ‘lurking’ in the background,



A McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30

Originally built for ‘Zambia Airways’ (ZA) as N3016Z. It first flew on 11th. November 1980 but was only delivered to ‘ZA’ in July 1984.

It came to ‘Monarch Airlines’ in March 1996 being scrapped at Manchester in 2003 with the cockpit section being preserved there.




A Boeing 737-86Q which first flew in October 2001 as N289CD for ‘Boullioun Air Services’ who are I believe a leasing company.

In November 2001 it was leased to ‘Travel Services’ in the Czech Republic as OK-TVC. Whilst with them, it was leased further to ‘Oman Air’ in 2002 and ‘Malaysia Airlines’ in 2005 before going to ‘Travel Service Hungary’ as HA-LKE in 2010.


It came to ‘Jet2’ in April 2014.





An Airbus A 321-231 of ‘Monarch Airlines’ (MA) which first flew on 25th. March 2014 with the German test registration of

D-AVZT. Delivered new to ‘MA’ on 10 April 2014.




An Airbus A319-132 of ‘germanwings’. First flying on 13th. of January 2010 with the test registration of D-AVWH.


It was delivered new to the operator on the 22nd of January 2010.




Originally a De Havilland Canada design called the Dash-8. Today it is marketed by Bombardier. It first flew in 2003 and was delivered new to ‘flybe’ in January 2004




Another Canadian built aircraft. This time a Canadair Regional Jet CRJ 900 of ‘Eurowings’. It first flew on the 7th. of January 2011 and was delivered new to the operator on the 21st.


‘Eurowings’ (EW) was formed in 1993 following the merger of two airlines. NFD based in Nurnberg and RFG in Dortmund. Growing to a size where they were able to operate aircraft up to the size of the Airbus A310. ‘EW’ were taken over by ‘Lufthansa’ and now operates as part of ‘Lufthansa Regional’. In July 2014 ‘Lufthansa’ announced that the CRJ fleet will be withdrawn and be replaced by Airbus A320’s.




A Boeing 737-8K2 of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. It first flew in January 1999 with the American test registration N1786B. It was then delivered to KLM 0n the 25th. of February 1999. 


Since 2008 it has been painted in this ‘retro’ livery that was in use by the airline in the 1950’s. It was done so to celebrate 90 years of KLM.




A Boeing 737-382 of ‘Small Planet Airlines’ (SPA) who are based in Lithuania. It first flew on 11/02/1992 and was leased on 25/02/1992 to ‘TAP Air Portugal’ by the ‘International Lease Finance Corporation’ (ILFC) as  CS-TIK.

In 1999 on the 30th. of April ‘ILFC’ leased it to ‘Air Malta’ as 9H-ADN.

On 24/05/2004 it went to ‘Air Sahara’ as VT-SAY (an Indian registration). While still carrying this registration, it had a spell with ‘Jetlite’ before coming to ‘SPA’ in July 2007.




A Boeing 737-8K5 which first flew on the 8th. of February 2012 and was delivered new to the airline on the 23rd. of February 2012.

Note the complex arrangement of wingtip ‘hardware’ all of which are to improve fuel burn and performance.





An Airbus A320-214 of Irish operator ‘Aer Lingus’.

It first flew with the French test registration F-WWBX in March 2004 being delivered to the airline on the 5th. of April 2004.




A Boeing 737-866 of ‘Egyptair’. It first flew on the 14th. of October 2010 being delivered on the 22nd.




A Learjet 60 operated by MHS Aviation Gmbh out of their Munich base. It was new to ‘Silver Bird’ in 1999. Then moving to ‘Cirrus Aviation’ in 2006 before coming to MHS.



There was a time when ‘British Airways’ (BA) provided a variety of aircraft types going to many destinations. During this visit, ‘BA’s only representatives were a couple of A 320‘s and this A319. 



An Airbus A 319-131 of ‘British Airways’. It first flew on 24th. of May 2000 with the German test registration of D-AVYP and was delivered on the 8th. of June 2000.




A Cessna 560XL Citation 2 operated by a company called ‘Hanger8’.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

‘Scene’ in Burton on Trent (BoT) 1

BoT is perhaps best known for beer brewing. Just off the A38, Burton has 3 bus major companies plying for trade. ‘Midland Classic’ (MC) the subject of this blog. ‘Arriva Midlands’ and ‘trentbarton’ who will both have a turn later.


Apart from the buses Burton also lies on the railway line from Derby to Birmingham.The watery connection other than the river is the Trent and Mersey canal that also runs through the town.


Midland Classic (MC)


Was founded in 2005 by James Boddice and operates mainly in the, BoT, Swadlincote and Lichfield areas with an express route the X12 running into the West Midlands to Sutton Coldfield.


In recent times the bulk of the single deck fleet has been built around Scania L94UB’s with Wright Solar bodies.


That may be about to change.



An Alexander Dennis Ltd. (ADL) Enviro 350 hybrid electric was in use on the day that I was there. An ‘ADL’ demonstrator it has done the rounds in recent times having visited ‘Centrebus’ in Leicester, ‘Cardiff Bus’, ‘Stagecoach in Yorkshire’, ‘First in York’ and local operator ‘trentbarton’ (tb) amongst others. This bus has since moved on.




Is a Former ‘ADL’ demonstrator. This time an Enviro 300 body on a Scania chassis. Again like the hybrid it has been around the operators including ‘MC’ and ‘tb’ again.




One of 5 Scania L94UB’s with Wright Solar bodies that came from ‘South Lancs Travel’ of Atherton in Greater Manchester. The others being S25 SLT, S26 SLT, S27 SLT and S200 SLT.


The registrations suffix rather giving away their origin.

Carrying branding for the X12 service to Sutton Coldfield via Lichfield. Note the wings motif on the route number. Underlining the service’s ‘Flyer’ status.



Some of the small double deck fleet have London origins with the ones pictured here being Dennis Trident 2’s with Alexander ALX400 bodywork.


V302 KGW


Came from ‘Abellio’ together with KG306 KGW



V118 MEV


Came from ‘Stagecoach East London’ together with X264 NNO and X265 NNO.



An Optare Solo that was previously with ‘Felix’ of Ilkeston.


Y332 HWT

A further Optare Solo was with ‘Travelmaster’ in Manchester and before that with ‘RH Transport’ of Finstock in Oxfordshire.




Is one of two Scania/Wright Solar buses that came from ‘Reading Transport’. The other being YN05 GXH.




S372 SET

This elderly Scania L94UB with Wright Access-Flowline bodywork looks well in the sunshine.


It was new to ‘Ludlows’ in the Halesowen area of the West Midlands who were taken over by ‘Diamond Buses’ who in turn are part of the ‘Rotala’ group.





Another Scania L94UB with Wright Solar bodywork.. It arrived with similar YN04 ANX from ‘Beeston’ of Hadleigh in 2011.



One more of the same which came from ‘Nottingham City Transport’ again in 2011.



I have included this image of 796 USA (Formerly 168 CLT) for its interest.


The former London Transport (LT) RM1168 is kept in ‘LT’ colours with the fleet name ‘Midland Classic’ done in traditional ‘LT’ style.


This image was taken at the ‘trentbarton’ 100 years celebrations at Langley Mill depot in May 2013.


 More images can be found on 'Flickr'