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Gloucestershire’s buses in Stroud since the 1900s
Leyland National
Stroud was late in receiving Leyland Nationals. Bristol Omnibus’ Country service Nationals began to arrive in 1975 (but not in Stroud), including the first at nearby Gloucester and Cheltenham depots and, of course, dual door city service Nationals came to Gloucester and Cheltenham in 1972. The first Nationals of Stroud’s own arrived in 1978. By this time, all Country depots save Wells had them. The arrival of these vehicles at Stroud broke the tradition of using only Bristol chassis buses in and from the town. Stroud had previously held the honour of receiving Bristol Omnibus’ sole single deck RELL arrival in 1974 in the shape of no. 1338.  The first Nationals were all 11.3m National 1s with 52 passenger seats and with the traditional heating pod on each vehicle’s roof at the rear. They were numbered 3052/3 and 3073-9. 3052/3 were, in fact, new to Gloucester where they waited the few months till Stroud could receive them. 3073-7 (VEU 228-232T) arrived in March 1979 and immediately replaced the last of the FLF double deckers on services 421 (Stonehouse – Chalford via Stroud) and 435 (Stroud – Whiteshill). The FLFs went to Cheltenham for Gold Cup duties but were back at Stroud within three days when the Nationals were taken off. The Nationals appeared back again the following week, however, this time to stay. At that time, the 421 was every twenty minutes during the morning and afternoon peaks with FLFs, swapping to half-hourly one person operation between the peaks and in the evening, using REs. The 435 was a crewed FLF working throughout. The Nationals simply replicated the driver/conductor FLF workings which meant that the single decks capable of one man operation saw conductors every twenty minutes on the 421 at peak times. The buses stayed on their routes during the off peak but became one-manned. At least through passengers did not need to change buses at the shoulders of the peak, as had been the case from FLF to RE before. In addition to the 421s and 435s, these five Nationals would often find themselves on the evening segment of the 556 (Nailsworth – Stroud – Gloucester). It is interesting to speculate that had the new batch of five arrived a year later, they would almost certainly have been the newer, more up-to-date National 2s which began to replace National 1s. By 1982, Stroud had acquired two 10.3m Leyland National Bs, the pod-less shorter versions constructed to be more affordable specification and intended for lighter-loaded Country routes. Numbered 705 and 713, both seated 44 passengers and were new to Marlborough Street, the Bristol Country service depot. As the first of the same batch as 705/13, no. 700 (VAE 499T) (later renumbered 500), right, is seen on the 2001 running day at Stroud. It actually worked for a short time at Stroud in its then City of Gloucester blue livery but the vehicle spent its early life at Swindon. IIn 2001, it was actually quite remarkable to see such a vehicle preserved in Stagecoach “stripes” livery, the more so because it is sill within easy memory. The picture shows the National arriving in Stroud on the 435 Stroud – Whiteshill. Renumbered from 430 in the mid 1960s, 435 was operated half-hourly with crewed double decks until 1979 when Nationals began to be used. Conductors would assist in turning the vehicle at the top of Whiteshill terminus which, incidentally, is about 500 feet above sea level and requires a tight reversing manoeuvre from a very steep incline. After major revisions in 1983, Whiteshill services became attached to those from Nailsworth with alternate buses working through to Gloucester (hourly) or terminating at Whiteshill (also hourly, combining to give a half- hourly service over the Stroud – Paganhill – Whiteshill section). The numbers for services to or via Whiteshill were 553 and 555. Whiteshill buses eventually became hourly through from Forest Green to Gloucester via Nailsworth and Stroud and, more recently, half-hourly throughout. It was still possible to find Nationals working at Stroud long after their retirement with Stagecoach, albeit at school times. Taken in 2001 was former Brighton Leyland National 2 XFG 30Y (left) then with Ebley Coach Services and it is not dissimilar to the National 2s operated by Stroud in the late 1980s, appearing first on the 564 Cheltenham route. Similar vehicle LSJ 872W (right), also with Ebley Coaches, was once owned and operated by AA Motors (Dodds of Troon).
3076 at London Road depot
3075
Cotswold Green RED & WHITE RED BUS _____
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