Heritage bus repairs and restorations at Crosville


Back in December I took a couple of quick pictures inside the depot at Crosville while awaiting departure time on a wedding duty. There were, at that time, five heritage vehicles under (or awaiting) repair. With a varied fleet of modern buses and coaches to keep roadworthy and compliant as well, there is always some repair work going on but I was particularly interested in the older ones!

The first to greet me as I came in the door was this 1949 Bedford OB, originally fleet no 207 with Bristol Tramways. It was the first Bedford OB to be delivered to the Tramways, later to become Bristol Omnibus Company, after the war. This bus, which is one of two very similar OBs owned by the Bristol Omnibus Vehicle Collection, has only just been restored but was in the Crosville garage for some attention to the 6-cylinder petrol engine and possibly the brakes too, as the front nearside wheel is missing. The BOVC has close links with Crosville and one day I’d love to drive this OB. The sound of these old Bedfords is very distinctive and takes me right back to my childhood when Tom Phillips, our local coal merchant, had a fleet of very run down OBs and SBs (I think) which operated from a ramshackle yard just round the corner from where I lived in Exmouth. They all wore a very dusty maroon livery.


One of the three Crosville Bristol L single deck buses was undergoing some substantial bodywork restoration. Shown here parked next to a fully restored sister vehicle, L5G KFM893 had spent many years with Quantock Motor Services before joining the Crosville fleet last year and a winter repaint has turned into a much larger project. Quite a lot of the wooden framework has been replaced and will also be fitted with new aluminium panels before the promised repaint. It will then be fit for use on private hire duties again.

Up on the lift was another Crosville single deck bus, this time a Bristol LL6B. NFM46 was acquired last year after a long period in storage and has the distinction of being the last half cab single decker to remain in service with the original Crosville, being finally withdrawn in 1970. It is currently having work done to the brakes and suspension before they tackle the bodywork. It is complete but ‘tired’!


Requiring much more work is NFM67, a Crosville Bristol KSW6B which, like NFM46, was built in 1952. This was towed to W-S-M from long-term storage last year and is in the restoration queue. The work required is quite major. To start with, it will need a new front dome as most of the current one is missing. But an even more pressing need is the Bristol AVW 6-cylinder engine. It hasn’t run for many years and won’t even turn over. Although it would be far easier to replace it with the more common Gardner 6LW unit (as often happened in service), great efforts are being made to retain the original Bristol engine.

Also lurking in the shadows (and boxed in by green Bristols) on my pre-Christmas visit was a red interloper, a London Transport AEC RML. I’m not sure who this belongs to but it’s in for some mechanical work. These are extremely popular for weddings and I know that Crosville would like to add one of these to its working fleet so, if you know of one that’s available (but not for silly money), please let me know!

Not present but also nearing the end of an expensive restoration is Hants & Dorset LD6G SRU981. This went up to Blackpool for a repaint and for the lower saloon seating to be reinstated but, as is common with vehicles of this age, much more work was required and it now has a virtually new platform!

I’m looking forward to driving some of these smart vehicles later this year – watch this space!

5 comments on “Heritage bus repairs and restorations at Crosville

  1. Bill Stickers says:

    You could get the KSW up and running with a Gardner 6LW, then have a go at overhauling the AVW and if successful fit it. My own oppinion though, is that the 6LW is the better engine (112bhp as opposed to 98bhp). So unless it had to be authenticity at any cost, I would just stick with a 6LW.
    In the West Yorkshire fleet, there was a mix of KSW6B’s and KSW6G’s, the latter was usually preferred, as the former was thought to be underpowered.

    • busmanjohn says:

      Thanks for your comment. I think they want to retain the AVW for the sake of authenticity. I know that historically many operators favoured a 6LW for reasons of reliability and spares availability. That’s even more of an issue these days as you can still get any part for a Gardner but Bristol engine parts seem to be as rare as hen’s teeth!
      This bus is in the ‘long term’ queue and there is still some debate about the wisdom of repairing the AVW. If they plan to use the KSW on private hire jobs eventually I think that, as a driver, I would prefer a Gardner beside me!

  2. davemoore1 says:

    Hope you get the chance to drive the OB. We have one here in The Isle of Wight Bus Museum, but it’s not my favourite! Perhaps that’s down to the gearbox needing work. The bus runs fine once you get it into 4th gear but 2nd & 3rd sound terrible. Reverse is quite an art! You really have to slam the gearstick back into the gear. Try it gently and it won’t engage.

    My other gripe with the bus is a lack of sun visor. That does make driving difficult when you’re heading into the sun.

    The bus has been off the road lately with radiator problems, which I think have been rectified, just hoping someone might have looked at the gearbox!

    I drove a Routemaster back in September at the NNR 1940s event. Thoroughly enjoyed it. If you do have an RML in your fleet, expect some competition from me for a job at the noisy end!!

    • busmanjohn says:

      Thanks Dave, a useful insight. Yes, I remember reading about your exploits in Norfolk! Been to Chelston lately?

      • davemoore1 says:

        Not been booked for Chelston so far this year. Most of my recent jobs seem to be with the supermarkets, with their strange hours. 7am starts or 11pm finishes. Viv isn’t used to me rolling in at midnight, sober! Today, I don’t start until 5:30pm, and finish at 11pm. Late turn, I think they call it!

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