214 was one of 15 such buses which formed part of the final batch of Metro-Cammell bodied Leyland Atlantean PDR1/1s for Plymouth Corporation Transport which consisted of fleet numbers 206-220, registrations FJY906-20E. This batch featured a more modern front to the previous batches, designed for the City of Manchester. They also had 2-piece glider doors instead of the usual 4-piece, one long window replaced the 2 small windows at the rear of the lower deck, and for the first time, small white fleet numbers were applied, instead of the large gold tramway style numbers seen on all previous batches of Atlanteans.
As mentioned, this was to be the final batch of Atlanteans with Metro-Cammell bodywork. The following year (1968), the Corporation started ordering Park Royal bodied ‘Jumbo’ Atlanteans, but surprisingly, due to the length and weight of the Park Royal bodied examples, and their poor manoeuvrability, it meant this batch of Metro-Cammell bodied ones actually stayed longer with Plymouth City Transport before their final withdrawal than the earliest batch of Park Royal examples.
In October 1981, 214 was converted to one man operation, having always required a driver and conductor until this point. It was one of the last conductor operated buses in the Plymouth fleet when this work was carried out, which involved the fitting of a motorised ticket machine and a cash tray to the drivers cab, and a Pay as You Enter sign above the front number plate. Opportunity was also taken to modernise the front side light and indicator arrangements. This led to a further repaint, this time into the Corporation's new livery of Brilliant red with Regency cream around the lower deck and upper deck windows, and roof. Coat-of-arms were applied above the door and drivers cab window, and for the first time the words PLYMOUTH CITY TRANSPORT in gold were applied next to the coat-of-arms, these matching the new style gold fleet numbers.
After withdrawal, 214 was subsequently sold to ‘Father’ Green, a vicar who was also a vehicle dealer based in Weymouth, in November 1986, although it is doubtful the bus ever left Plymouth as it was soon purchased by Seahawk Gliding Club, based at HMS Seahawk at the Royal Naval Air Station in Culdrose, Cornwall. The bus was repainted into a red and white chequered livery for use on Culdrose’s runways. Some of the upper deck seats were removed from the bus and the rest rearranged. Down stairs a kitchen area was built into the rear half of the bus. The bus stayed within RNAS Culdrose for the following 25 years, never to venture out in public!
On Saturday 1st October 2011, 214 was preserved by PCTPG member Paul Furse in a 3-way deal involving Plymouth Citybus whereby the Seahawk Gliding Club received ex-Plymouth Citybus Dennis Dart 131 (M131HOD) as a replacement for 214. The preservation of 214 was important to the group as it is the only ex-Plymouth Atlantean with the Manchester style Metro-Cammell bodywork to survive.
It returned to Plymouth on Tuesday 3rd July 2012, behind Roselyns Coaches tow-truck.
Following the launch of the Plymouth Citybus services, 214’s livery was modified into the Citybus red and cream in August 1982 which was the final livery it wore before withdrawal by Plymouth City Transport in October 1986, prior to the company being transferred to the new undertaking of Plymouth Citybus Ltd, 214 having been confined to mainly operating school buses, Dockyard and factory specials by this time. If you look closely you can see the extended cream below the lower deck windows, is a slightly different shade to the Regency cream. Often these alterations were completed during the mid-day layover at Milehouse Depot.
On its first day in service 214 was involved in its first accident, while operating a service 20 (Bretonside Bus Station – Woodford via Royal Parade, North Hill, Lipson Vale and Laira Roundabout). At 7:05pm it was in a minor collision with a car, registration number YJY187, at Alexandra Road, Mutley. Mr. Luscan was the bus driver at the time. This followed an accident earlier in the day involving sister vehicle 218 (FJY918E), which was also its first day in service, whereby it struck a lorry at St. Andrews Cross at 10:23am, while also operating a service 20. So not a very good start for at least 2 members of this batch!
Three days later, on Saturday 8th April 1967, at 12.45pm near Crabtree, 214 was operating a service 21 (Bretonside Bus Station – Plympton St. Maurice via Royal Parade, North Hill, Lipson Vale, Laira Roundabout and St. Mary’s Bridge) when Conductor Lawson hurt his hand on the bus. No other details are available.
Despite spending its first few days on Plympton routes 20 and 21, 214 was to become allocated to route 26 which operated between Royal Parade and Leigham (Cockington Close) via Mutley Plain, Higher Compton, Eggbuckland and Austin Farm (extended on Sunday 19th January 1975 to Estover Roundabout via Novorossisk Road).
In March 1977 it received its first repaint and in fitting in with the rest of the fleet, the Broken white was extended down from the cant rail to include all the downstairs side window surrounds, retaining red around the front windscreen and rear end, as shown here in this photograph taken on Exeter Street Viaduct, with another of our preserved vehicles in the background – open-top Leyland Atlantean no. 158 (WJY758) “PLYMOUTH ADVENTURER”.
214 was fitted with 75 seats, 43 upstairs and 32 downstairs and arrived at Milehouse on Monday 3rd April 1967. Like the rest of the batch, it wore the Corporations standard livery of Orient red with Broken white cant rail stripe, blending in well with the previous Metro-Cammell bodied Leyland Atlanteans which also wore the same livery, but on entering service on Wednesday 5th April 1967, the coat-of-arms had still not been applied to the bodysides.
To date, the kitchen has been removed from the lower deck, as have the surviving seats, ready for a good clean and repaint of the side panels. New batteries have been fitted and a replacement windscreen fitted to dispose of the perspex which was in its place when the bus was acquired. Repairs have been carried out to the front headlight panel, and the front and rear domes which were damaged.