P.R.V. - Royalist

I think this must be one of the most magnificent coaches ever built. Just look at the lines, the beautifully upholstered and appointed interior, and to complete it all, the swept glass roof edges - very rare and very expensive in the 1950's.  The epitome of the coachbuilders art and craftsmanship.   (Stephen Allcroft notes that it is very easy to confuse with the 1953 ECW body, and that is not an accident.)

Notice though, that the use of curved, toughened glass was for the roof but not for the windscreen. In the mid '50's curved & toughened glass was a recent innovation by Pilkington but they hadn't mastered it for large panes so the windscreens had to be split horizontally!  In the later '67 coach the windscreen was split vertically and curved to the sides (see below).

This 50's coach clearly heralds the halcyon days of unhurried travel. Imagine no motorways nor arterial routes. Imagine more the tranquil and gentle pace of this vehicle ferrying its excited passengers, raring to go on their long awaited vacation away from their homely suburbs, through endless peaceful villages to their seaside destination.  Those days, when the journey was an intrinsic part of the traveler's enjoyment, have long gone!

Registration Number MAU 1955 is a Park Royal "Royalist" coach body on a Maudslay chassis (Chassis Number MU3RV273, PRV Body Number B37252) that was in fact a "badge engineered" standard AEC Reliance chassis (Maudslay, being part of the ACV Group, regularly "badge engineered" AEC products; in this case they placed the letter M at the front of the chassis number).  In the AEC designation system, the chassis number MMU3RV273 is identified as (M=Maudslay; M=Medium weight; U=Underfloor; 3=five speed synchromesh gearbox; R=Right hand drive; & V=Vacuum brakes).

This coach was exhibited at the 1954 Motor Show and the pseudo registration number is just advertising for MAUdslay (the "1955" registration being next season salesmanship).  GULliver 4433 was the phone number of Birch Brothers of Kentish Town with whom, after the show, it entered service registered as PLA 830.

Martin Ingle comments: Park Royal built very few coach bodies after the war. Mostly they just "tarted up" standard bus designs for anything a bit up-market.  However, the Royalist was somewhat special and quite rare. 

At Motor Show time, "badge engineering" seemed prevalent as it effectively increased stand space.  By appearing as Maudslay or Crossley, AEC could get three stands rather than one!

In addition to the prototype, the following ten coaches were built with this style of bodywork:


Registration Numbers 

Chassis Operator


PXO 971-974

AEC Reliance Timpson, London S.E.6


NRK 350-351

AEC Reliance Bourne & Balmer, Croydon (a Timpson subsidiary)


ONP 720/719

AEC Reliance Marsh, Harvington


RUP 284-285

AEC Reliance Sunderland District

The 1967 P.R.V. Royalist

The 'Royalist' name was resurrected in 1967 for a rather different, and even rarer, coach body on the Albion rear engined Viking VK43AL chassis.  A total of six were built, bodies B54767-72 being on JCS819F, KHP778E & 9E, KHP894E & 5E and UWU448F.  The KHPs were supplied to Red House Garage, Coventry, the JCS to Clyde Coast, Saltcoats and the UWU to Hirst, Holmfirth in 1968.  Body numbers B54773-7 & B55306-10 (ten units) were reserved for the same chassis/body combination but were never built.

This photograph is taken from the single page advertisement flysheet published by the Park Royal - Roe Sales Division.  It is said to be "ILLUSTRATED ON ALBION 'VIKING' AVAILABLE ALSO ON FORD AND BEDFORD CHASSIS".

A Royalist (Body# B54768 Reg. KHP778E built March 1967) one of four destined for BTS (Bennett Travel Service), Coventry. 

A Royalist destined for Eatonways. 

(I asked if anyone knows anything about Eatonways? Ed.)  Chris Hebron writes "As advertised in The Commercial Motor magazine December 10, 1965, Eatonways Group were a Birmingham based coach operator that, at the time, had several Albion Viking VK43L rear-engined coaches with 43-seater Park Royal bodies   Other known vehicles in their later 1966 fleet were eight Ford/Duple Empress and four Ford/Duple Mariner coaches".

The following is the "brief specification" of the Royalist as stated on the rear of the flysheet.


The Royalist is a superb blend of traditional craftsmanship and sophisticated design combined to produce a new standard of excellence in the luxury coach field.


The body framework is of English Ash, Teak and other selected hardwoods and front and rear ends and wheelarches are glass-fibre/resin mouldings. Side and roof exterior panels are of aluminium sheet.


The single front entrance door is centre pivoted to give a clear entry with minimum door projection and is particularly smooth in action.


All glass is ¼" toughened float except the entrance door glass which is 3/16” and the front and rear curved glasses which are of ¼" toughened plate.


Insulation is provided in areas adjacent to the engine compartment to suppress engine noise.


Two 'Weathershield' roof ventilators glazed in pale yellow 'Perspex' are incorporated in addition to a well designed permanent ventilation system with adjustable outlets at intervals above the windows each side.


A Smiths Model 702 heating, ventilating and demisting unit is provided with the 3i K. W. heaters installed at the front end. The unit incorporates 6 demister outlets, two heater outlets and two fresh air blowers.


Coachbuilt seats with individual sqabs and ash trays are provided. Cushions and squabs are filled with 'Vitafoam' sponge rubber and covered in 'Replin' with 'Lionella' on backs of squabs.  The layout illustrated seats 41 passengers. Other seating capacities can be provided as required.


The interior surfaces of roof, bodysides etc. are of high grade plastic laminates for good appearance and ease of cleaning.


The floor is of waterproof resin-bonded plywood surfaced with grained PVC 'Aerowalk' and a 'Debron' nylon runner is provided.


Polished alloy parcel racks of 'open' design with nylon mesh base are provided in the saloon and underfloor lockers with easy access are built in to give generous space for luggage.


'Trico' windscreen wipers are provided and the standard specification includes 'Pyrene' fire extinguisher, BMAC Interior Lamps, First Aid Box, Clock and Destination Indicator complete with gear.


A comprehensive list of optional features can be offered.


The Royalist is suitable for Albion 'Viking', Bedford VAl or VAM and Ford R192 and R226 chassis.

Registration Number JCS819F, was the prototype (probably the same vehicle as pictured on the flysheet) with body number B54767. Pictured here whilst with Cooper, Gilesgate Moor in Midland Road, Kings Cross, London on 26th September 1970.  Stephen Allcroft points out that JCS819F was the original demonstrator and was first registered by Clyde Coast (Fraser) Saltcoats. Although only six were built ten more were planned (Information & picture by John Kaye). 

Irrespective of the advances in technology, whilst the "Royalist" name was used for this later coach, the sweeping lines of the earlier '55 design is more satisfying in my opinion.  It is a pity that I have no image of the interior of the 1967 coach to compare, but I'm confident the earlier coach would have been more luxurious.  It is interesting to note the overall changes in design thinking in merely twelve years. (Ed.)