The National Tramway Museum, Crich Tramway Village, Derbyshire, has a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a 1913 Barnsley & District tram service replacement Leyland bus, the only surviving ‘combination car’ motorbus in existence. The museum needs to raise £65,000 to secure the purchase by the end of 2018.
The museum’s collections are designated as nationally significant, including over 80 historic tramcars dating from the 1860s through to the 1980s. This very early motorbus will help to tell the story the decline of Britain’s first-generation tramways, which were once integral to our towns and cities.
The motorbus has been lovingly restored and authentically rebuilt to its original condition by expert Leyland vehicle restorer Mike Sutcliffe, who has already sold five of his other restored buses to the London Transport Museum and the Shuttleworth Collection. It is in fully operational order and was the outright winner of the London to Brighton Run in 2006. Mike and his wife Pat are giving the museum the chance to add it to their collection of vintage tramcars. The bus has been valued by Bonhams at more than double the asking price, the balance being a gift to the museum by Mike and Pat.
In 1913 Barnsley & District Electric Traction Company Ltd purchased five single decker buses to test the operation of petrol motorbuses as an alternative to electric trams. Car No. 5 of the fleet is the oldest British full-size single-decker bus in existence, possibly the oldest in the world. It is the only surviving ‘combination car’, demonstrating tramway connections. It is the oldest bus preserved out of all those once operated by British Electric Traction group, which sold its UK bus operations 55 years later.
The body of the bus was built to tramway specifications by Brush Electrical Engineering, Loughborough, in a ‘room and kitchen’ style with an enclosed saloon and toast rack seats at the front.
Barnsley & District purchased a further 15 buses, following the initial five, which it hired out to other members of the BET group. The successful operation of the buses led to the ultimate replacement of all trams throughout its network, completed in August 1951 at Gateshead.
Car No. 5 has profound historical importance and symbolises a significant chapter in the story of Britain’s Tramways. Interesting features include:
- Electric lighting in a bus, most unusual in 1913
- A very early example of an ‘L’ head petrol engine, also one of the first worm driven back axles
- Interior roof decorated with gold leaf and the maker’s oak carved panel with their transfer.
To make a donation visit the museum’s website https://www.tramway.co.uk/contact/make-a-donation/ or send a cheque to Car No. 5 Appeal, Fundraising Officer, Crich Tramway Village, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 5DP.
The names of contributors will be displayed unless they prefer to remain anonymous.