The Plymouth Atlantean Longest in Preservation
Leyland Atlantean PDR 1/1 201 was delivered to Plymouth City Transport on the 13th December 1965 and would enter service two days later on the 15th December. It was delivered as part of an order for fourteen Atlantean PDR 1/1s and was first registered on the 1st December 1965 carrying chassis number L43383. It was fitted with an MCW body carrying the body code H43/34F meaning that it was a highbridge bus seating 43 passengers in the upper saloon and 34 passengers in the lower saloon and being fitted with just the front entrance only. These were the last PDR 1/1s to arrive fitted with the flat front. The next batch, 206-220 (FJY 906-920E) would arrive during April and May 1967 with restyled fronts and two piece glider doors. The cost of 201 fitted with the Metro Cammell body was £3,255.10 including £5.10 for a Certificate of Fitness.
Click here to download the invoice from Metro-Cammell.
201 had the honour of being used in promotional work for the bodybuilders, Metropolitan Cammell Weymann and was featured in the trade press and other commercial motor magazines. It graced the front cover of Passenger Transport, issue dated May 1966. A further advert appeared within Passenger Transport, issue dated July 1966. The promotional pictures of 201 were taken prior to the bus being delivered to Milehouse in December 1965.
Also 192-205 (DDR 192-198/200-202C and DDR 199/203-205D) would be the last new buses delivered to Milehouse to carry the large tramway style gold fleet numbers. All subsequent deliveries would carry the more simpler in design white fleet numbers.
Initially used on a variety of routes 201 was eventually placed on the Service 12/13 in late 1965/early 1966. It would operate on these routes along with 186-188 (BDR 186-188B) and 202-205 (DDR 202C and DDR 203-205D) until 15th June 1970 when all of the above Atlanteans would be displaced by the new Park Royal bodied PDR 2/1s 245-252 (MCO 245-252H). The displaced PDR 1/1s 186-188 and 201-205 were reallocated to the Service 27 (186-188) and the Service 30/31 (201/203-205) respectively, themselves displacing older Leyland PD2 half-cabs, which were due for imminent withdrawal.
Although 200 (DDR 200C) was the first of the batch to be involved in a collision on the 6th December 1965, 201 had its first incident on the 27th December 1965 at 7.47pm on the Service 1. The incident happened at St. Hilary Terrace when the driver had to make an emergency stop from which the conductor and a passenger were both thrown to the floor. Interestingly a passenger would be flung to the floor again with another driver, this time on the Service 40, at 5pm on the 25th January 1966 at Hender’s Corner.
During the latter part of 1966 virtually the entire batch were down seated from H43/34F to H43/32F in order to allow the fitting of an extra luggage rack. Luckily 201 and 203-205 were not down seated so they remained in as delivered condition.
When 201 was delivered it was painted in the livery of red with ivory cantrail. The bus would be repainted again in November 1968 with the same livery as that at delivery but would carry the white fleet numbers completely, instead of the tramway ones. Following this the next repaint was carried out in November 1972 and would be the same as the 1968 repaint. By September 1976 201 had been repainted again, this time with the red but the ivory was now extended to the lower saloon windows. However the ivory was not lowered around the front or rear windows.
201 would gain the maroon and cream livery in April 1979 as this new livery had been applied to Atlantean AN68 79 (GDR 204N) for a special “50 years as a City” celebration and was so well received by the local council that it was being phased in throughout the fleet. This repaint would also see the use on 201 of the gold leaf style fleet numbers that would replace the long established white numbers. The maroon and cream would be short lived as 201 was repainted yet again in June 1981, this time into the new livery of red with cream roof and cream around the windows.
This repaint was even more short lived than the maroon and cream as 201 would be repainted again in October 1982 into an all over advertisement for Therm-A-Store double glazing.
201 was withdrawn from public service in July 1982 and was retained for use as a non-PSV promotion bus from August 1982 and also as an Inspectors control bus during January 1983.
In August 1985 it passed to Eric Beveridge, a then recently retired driver who had driven the bus when it was new in December 1965 on the Service 12/13. He was a driver of long standing and respect within Plymouth City Transport who had started there as a tram conductor just before the war. He returned to the Corporation after the war and stayed with them until retirement. He was a major face within the local bus and railway enthusiast scene.
On purchasing 201 he had it stored temporarily at Winkleigh until an agreement was reached whereby he could bring 201 back to Milehouse. In May 1986 he had 201 repainted into its as delivered livery of red and ivory cantrail, complete with the tramway style fleet numbers.
Eric or “Bev” and also “OXO” as he was known to everyone would rally 201 for many years until ill health forced him to retire from the rally scene. Plymouth Citybus took over the upkeep of the bus in August 1997 and would MOT and maintain it till December 2001 when Gareth Ruby, a driver at Plymouth Citybus, acquired the bus with Bev’s approval to return 201 to the preservation scene.
Under Gareth’s ownership 201 has gained a new lease of life and benefited from a full repaint in June 2003, this time the bus was repainted into the 1972 livery of red and ivory with the white fleet numbers.
201 would perform one last trip for Bev. It had the honour of following Bev’s funeral cortege to Weston Mill Crematorium on Thursday 13th May 2004.