This photograph brings back sad memories of the demise of Exeter Corporation as an independent municipal operator. The familiar green and magnolia livery of the ‘City of Exeter’ buses disappeared, to be obliterated by the all-encompassing and singularly ugly NBC Poppy Red.
Exeter City Council lost control of its bus fleet and routes when the National Bus Company took over in 1970. The equally distinctive Devon General fleet was merged with Exeter Corporation and Western National at the same time and this gave rise to some interesting liveries during the changeover period. I took the photograph above at Exeter Bus Station at this time and it shows one of the Exeter Leyland PD2s wearing the Devon General maroon and cream livery with NBC fleetnames. A most bizarre sight, as I was more used to seeing this livery on the AEC single and double deckers of the ‘real’ Devon General!
On the same day at the bus station I could see other buses in their original liveries, but some had gained NBC ‘Devon General’ fleetnames, like the Guy Arab above, in place of their ‘City of Exeter’ fleetname and crest. A handful of others were freshly painted in NBC Poppy Red and White, even the ex-Western National Bristol SUL4A single deckers that worked into Exeter.
To commemorate (or commiserate perhaps) 40 years since the end of Exeter Corporation as a bus operator, a gathering of surviving Exeter buses took place at Exeter Coach Station in April and in November there will be a ‘Nocturnal Event’ as Daniel Shears has arranged for a number of ‘City of Exeter’ buses, all in original livery, to run from late afternoon to late evening on familiar city routes.
Examples of all of the buses shown here are preserved.