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10 YEARS - 2006 TO 2016

176 - VOLVO CITYBUS (EAST LANCS) "INVINCIBLE"

176, registration number B176VDV, and sister vehicle 175 (B175VDV), arrived at Milehouse in October 1984 (175) and November 1984 (176), in a cream livery with orange and red stripes and Plymouth Citycoach fleet names. They were the first new double-deckers in over 2 years for Plymouth City Transport, whom were placing orders annually up until 1982.

175 was first demonstrated at the 1984 Motor Show before delivery to Plymouth City Transport and soon after delivery was named "ARK ROYAL" whilst 176 became "INVINCIBLE". The names were not applied to the front of the vehicles as in the past but to both sides - just below the front upper deck windows. Both vehicles had the respective ships crests applied to the drivers locker door, situated underneath the stairs on the lower deck.

 

175 was used for publicity material to promote Plymouth Citycoach, being photographed at Burrator Reservoir and on Plymouth Hoe.

Both vehicles were fitted with 'dual-purpose' coach seating as they were intended to be used primarily on private hire and excursions. They were also fitted with coin vaults and ticket machines in case they were ever used on ordinary stage carriage work, which they were on the odd occasion on route X45 which operated peak-times between Royal Parade and St. Budeaux via Leigham, Derriford Hospital, Crownhill, Brake Farm and West Park, but you had to be lucky to catch one!

In 1991 their replacements had arrived in the form of 2 Volvo B10M-50's with East Lancs bodywork - numbers 177 and 178 (H177/8GTT). 175 and 176 were sent back to East Lancs coachbuilders in November 1991 (176) and December 1991 (175) to have their fronts rebuilt. They had their coach seats replaced with 77 bus seats (42 upstairs and 35 downstairs) and were repainted into the ordinary bus version of the red, black and white livery for their return to service in January 1992 (176) and March 1992 (175).

175 and 176 were now part of the bus fleet and could be found operating on any of the bus routes still operated by double deck buses as opposed to routes converted to minibus operation. They were often used on Tesco and Plymco free shoppers buses.

It was subsequently purchased by Group Member Andy Cooksey, on 26th October 2012, meaning 175 and 176 are both reunited again and preserved.

 

While in preservation 176 has had its the main destination converted back to 2 seperate destination and via blinds, with an original 1982 via blind being fitted with thanks to Group Member Paul Burch. The Invincible ships crest has also been replaced to the drivers locker door in the lower saloon, thanks to Group Member Paul Laxton's donation. Attention has been given to corrosion on the chassis and it is hoped eventually to have the bus repainted into its original cream livery with orange and red stripes and Plymouth Citycoach fleet names complete with the "INVINCIBLE" names. Ownership of the bus passed wholly to Paul Furse in 2014.

 

The chassis was a new type for the company, having ordered Leyland Atlanteans for years, but following on from the disappointment of the 3 Leyland Olympians 172-4 (TTT172-4X) the Volvo brought about a breath of fresh air, after the numerous faults on delivery were rectified anyway. And although the bodywork was by East Lancs Coachbuilders, they looked very different from the East Lancs bodied Atlanteans and Olympians from the previous 4 years. Both 175 and 176 had 78 'dual purpose' coach seats fitted - 43 upstairs and 35 downstairs.

Gareth's Bus 046 Gareth's Bus 043 Gareth's Bus 045 176 (61) B176VDV B176 VDV (2) 176 (81) B176VDV (4) Plymouth Citycoach on cream Invincible Ships Crest on cream

Both vehicles were fitted with a modified version of the new black, white and red livery in February 1990 (175) and March 1990 (176), losing their ships names at the same time. The ships crests fitted inside the lower deck saloon were also removed.

 

Later in 1990, Plymouth Citybus won the tender for summer service 82 Transmoor Link which operated between Plymouth and Exeter via Princetown, Postbridge and Moretonhampstead and both 175 and 176 were used to supplement the Leyland Atlanteans on this route, as depicted here of 176 in the red, black and white livery.

They later went on the be repainted in the red, white and grey livery and had their front destination apertures changed from 2 seperate destination and via blinds to Dennis Dart style blinds before being withdrawn from service in 2010 - 175 with a defective engine.

 

On 22nd July 2011, 176 was purchased by Group Members Ralph Delbridge and Paul Furse in order to save one of these unique vehicles from disappearing altogether. It would also enable the Group to go further afield than where the elderly Atlanteans could comfortably go. 175 was still sat in the scrap line at Milehouse at this time with a defective engine and after it disappeared it was thought it had gone for scrap.

 

However, the following year, in 2012, 175 was seen parked in a yard near Bittaford and with repairs having been completed to its engine it was back on the roads.