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Gloucestershire’s buses in Stroud since the 1900s
Bristol Lodekka FLF
The Bristol “Lodekka” FLFs were remarkable machines. For one thing, they held a larger number of seated passengers—70, in fact—than the predecessor double deck 58 seat LDs, 56 Ks and 60 seat KSWs. For another, they afforded a single step passenger entrance with completely flat floors without the need for a sunken lower deck gangway as was hitherto on lowbridge designs For a bus delivered to Bristol Omnibus in full production form from 1959, this was quite remarkable. Was this design the first easy access low floor bus? Was it even better than a modern low floor bus because of the help a conductor could offer in boarding and alighting? In addition to all this, the FLFs featured front entrance, driver controlled power doors. Little wonder they were popular and, indeed, the design was copied under license so that it was available to those outside the Tilling Group of bus companies. Not that any of this made them easier to drive. Bristol Omnibus operated over 300 FLFs, some with Bristol engines but many with Gardners. Stroud’s vehicles saw a mix of engines, though Gardners predominated. FLFs replaced Ks and LDs on Stroud's trunk routes and during the 1960s and 1970s could be seen till the conversion of routes to one man operation on the 421 (Stonehouse – Stroud – Chalford); 435 (Whiteshill); 556 (Nailsworth – Stroud – Gloucester); and 564 (Avening or Forest Green – Stroud – Cheltenham).
As more single deck Bristol REs arrived, it became possible to convert more routes to one man operation. The first FLF trunk route to convert was the 564 (Cheltenham operated), followed by the 556. The last two routes operated by FLFs were the 421 and 435. In 1977, towards the end of crew operation on 421, FLFs and conductors would operate every 20 minutes at peak times with driver-only Bristol REs taking over at off-peak periods at half-hourly intervals. The last FLF operated in Stroud in 1979. This did not quite see the end of conductor operation as the replacement Leyland Nationals used conductors for a few months more. The two last conductresses at Stroud were Evelyn Gardiner, who started work with Red & White in the 1940s, and Audrey Gay, a former Red & White secretary at Stroud. It is also worthy of note that Stroud was the first BOC depot to lose its entire allocation of FLFs.
Cotswold Green RED & WHITE RED BUS _____
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