This is the first of the only batch of thirty-nine Regal IVs (Fleet Nos. 290-328) with Crossley built bodywork (see note below) that were all delivered in 1952 (except Fleet Nos. 312 & 325-8 that were delivered in early '53) to the Christchurch Transport Board in New Zealand. Notice the series of hooks asymmetrically mounted above the AEC badge to the front! If you are wondering their purpose see the picture below of a PRV version of this bus and perhaps be surprised? We believe the interior of the driver's cabin (of either a Crossley or PRV version) of this bus can be seen here.
This Regal IV, fleet No. 331, with PRV bodywork (B35453 Range 51-68), was one of a first batch of eighteen delivered in 1952/3 to the Christchurch Transport Board in New Zealand . Though 331 was built in June 1952 to feature in the September/October Commercial Motor Show at Earls Court it wasn't delivered to CTB until April '53. (The photograph demonstrates New Zealand's unusual method of carrying perambulators!)
The following anecdote has been kindly provided
by David Welch formerly of the Christchurch Transport Board:
I used to love the old "Mark Fours", lumbering but very comfortable to drive, I think partly because of their dependability, pre-select and the very comfortable (sitting at a table feel) body position for driving. They ran for about 25 years in Christchurch, not bad for buses that often ran 18 hours a day most days. The bodies were very heavy and solid. Sometimes I'd pat the bus when I came alongside, it used to make me think of an elephant. They had such a low torque I swear you could have driven up a hill in fourth gear and that no mud in the world would ever bog down a Mark IV. It would just complacently "chew its cud" and slowly turn over, and however slow, surely but steadily pull away. We would continue driving them even when boiling over (that was the advice) up our main hill route to the hose that was kept at the top - and boy watch out when you prized off the radiator cap!
Strange as it may seem, I specifically remember the 331 (pictured). I used to look out for it (if I had the option of say taking a bus from the yard to do a special). For some reason the steering and acceleration on the 331 seemed a lot lighter and peppier to handle than most of the rest of the fleet! Amazing that the only one I specifically remember should be the one in the photo.
I suspect the picture was actually a UK factory publicity photo as I don't think there was ever a period when CTB provided dustcoats for drivers, always a full uniform. It is a very nostalgic image nonetheless.
Whilst in NZ I spotted an ex. Christchurch Hawke bodied Bristol RELL (Hawke produced ECW bodies under licence). A local company (Bayline) bought several of these for school contracts; both Hawke & Hess bodied. The Hess ones looked a little more modern but didn't have room for the pram hooks due to the windscreen wiper spindles being well beneath the screens. Bayline took the pram hooks off the Hawke buses before painting but there was one in the depot, still in Christchurch colours, with said hooks still in place! Pram hooks were a distinctly NZ fitment - I've never seen them anywhere else.
(Neither have I. Whilst the idea seems quaint or somewhat bizarre these vehicles were hardly designed for taking perambulators onboard so the idea isn't as eccentric as it may first appear. Though I wonder whether, if upon a sudden stop, or a tight turn at speed, whether any prams were lost as there appears no locking mechanism to the hooks. Certainly the prams would encourage the drivers' not to get too close to the vehicle in front. Ed.)
Note: Curiously the second image here is from my father's collection and is marked as PRV but it is evident from a number of sources that Fleet No. 290 was built by PRV's sibling company Crossley. Further evidence shows:
Fleet Nos. 290-328 are 39 AEC Regal IVs bodied by Crossley all delivered in 1952
except Fleet Nos. 312 & 325-8 that were delivered in early '53.
(These are the only Crossley bodied buses for CTB; furthermore it would appear that these were the only AEC Regals that Crossley bodied.)
Fleet Nos. 329-346 are 18 AEC Regal IVs bodied by PRV (B35451-68) mostly
delivered in 1953.
(These were followed by two other batches of 15 & 23 AEC Regals)
CTB's Fleet Nos. 347-361 are 15 AEC Regal IVs bodied by PRV (B35871-85) all delivered in 1953.
CTB's Fleet Nos. 362-384 are 23 AEC Regal IVs bodied by PRV (B?????-???) all delivered in 1954.
And for completeness:
CTB's Fleet Nos. 385-431 are 47 AEC Reliance bodied by PRV (B?????-???) all delivered between 1956 & 1958.
From available images there appears only superficial differences between the Crossley and PRV bodies and it is my opinion therefore that the Crossley built CTB Regals were of Park Royal design but given to Crossley to build because, in 1952, PRV was entrenched in producing RT's for London Transport along with completing significant international orders and a substantial order for coaches from BEA. Also I suspect that PRV wanted to retain spare capacity for an expected order for a large number of RFs for London Transport on Regal IV chassis which it ultimately failed to receive. The fact that these CTB Crossley built Regals were the only ones produced by the company seems also to suggest this, as does the fact that the photo of 290 ended up in my father's collection.
Stuart Turner has sent in some images from a visit to New Zealand a few years ago where he came across this pair of PRV bodied Regal Vs performing their final role is as farm sheds near Staveley on the South Island. These vehicles are survivors from an order for Christchurch Transport Board fulfilled in 1954. Upon withdrawal by CTB they became ski buses carrying skiers to the Mount Hutt ski field.
Here another ex-Christchurch Reliance remains in existence as an immobile home in the Southland township of Ohai.
I'm grateful to Nigel Branthwaite who has written in to confirm that this bus is a Reliance MU2RAE with coachwork by Park Royal (B37D). Christchurch Transport Board purchased 17 of these Reliance vehicles between 1956-57 that were eventually retired between 1975-79.
Here is the vehicle & location pictured by Google Streetview in 2009 at Richmond Street, Ohai.
am grateful for these images from New Zealand and trust it will encourage more
images of AEC/PRV survivors in NZ; but hopefully in better shape than the pair
above as it's sad to
see them in such lamentable condition. See the Regal
page for more about the buses bound for New Zealand. Ed.)