Timeshift: The Golden Age of Coach Travel (BBC documentary, 2011)


This and its sequel The Modern Age of Coach Travel represent possibly the most concentrated sequence of armchair bus spotting ever broadcast on television. This first hour is an affectionate and often gleeful look back at the British coach industry from the 1920s to the 1970s. Occasionally it's not strictly accurate, but we'll forgive that - it's a wonderful documentary. Thanks to Rob Sissons for help with some of the identifications - if you have anything to add, I'm open to offers!

The show opens with footage from the 1961 film Busman's Holiday, with footage of vehicles being built at the Falkirk works of Walter Alexander, and several vehicles outside the works: FMS744 (a Midland Bluebird Leyland Tiger Cub), KSC543 (Scottish Omnibuses B465,an AEC Regal IV built April 1953; SVD113 (a Baxters, Airdrie Leyland Tiger Cub new circa November 1958 - withdrawn by 1963), plus LCS201 (Western Scottish T1391, Bristol MW/Alexander).

     
An anonymous coach drives away, and we see a Southdown Leyland at the races, with a second in the background:

A driver stows luggage in the rear of Southdown 801 (LCD201), a 1951 Leyland Royal Tiger/Duple, and an East Kent coach passes the camera on a Continental tour:

Four Thames Valley Bristol Ls pull away together, FMO937, FMO935, FMO934, FMO936 in that order. These are Windover bodied L6Bs new in 1950:

Returning briefly to Busman's Holiday, Baxters SVD113 is seen leaving the factory on trade plates. Scottish Omnibuses B465 is later seen on tour with a happy group of passengers:
A Wallace Arnold Leyland/Burlingham Seagull draws away in front of several similar, and another Burlingham Seagull is headed for Blackpool:
We only ever see the interior of Dave Haddock's Yelloway Mobile Museum of Memorabilia, NNC855P, but externally it's an AEC Reliance/Duple Dominant
Footage of SPJ500 of Fields Coaches of South East London - a Bedford SB/Plaxton new to Banstead Coaches c1954:
A historical sequence begins with footage of a horsedrawn stagecoach:
Preservationist Mike Sutcliffe MBE is interviewed, alongside his 1914 Leyland S4 charabanc CC1087, and we see him driving it - note the hand operated windscreen wiper:
A sequence of photographs shows various early excursion coaches and charabancs:
This footage of Leyland OY2567 is followed by a glimpse of similar OY2572, both with Croydon as their destination:
Royal Blue EL2001, a Daimler, parked next to Dennis EL1570:
A London tram and an AEC ST are shown crossing Westminster Bridge in London, and an AEC RF is seen in traffic:
A Maidstone and District Leyland, and another Maidstone and District vehicle follows a Southdown out of Victoria Coach Station in London:
Various shots of Royal Blue vehicles, including wartime footage of DV4899:
Mansfield District 25 (KRR271, 1949 AEC Regal III/Weymann) is followed by similar 26 (KRR272):
An assortment of coaches is seen at Victoria Coach Station, and Royal Blue 1372 (OTT81, 1953 Bristol LS) is seen leaving:
Wallace Arnold DUG28 is seen from behind, then more shots of Victoria Coach Station:
Nearest the camera is a Leyland Royal Tiger, then we see East Kent JG1427, a 1931 Tilling-Stevens B49C2/Brush
United Counties 841 and 843 (FRP841 and FRP843, 1951 Bristol LL/Eastern Coachworks) bookend another Wallace Arnold Burlingham Seagull:
A Southdown Leyland Royal Tiger/Duple (possibly 803 (LCD203)) is followed by two North Western coaches, the first of which at least is an AEC Reliance:
Southdown 1605 (LUF605) 1952 Leyland Royal Tiger/Duple and 1290 (HUF290) 1949 Leyland Tiger/Beadle seen from behind:
Guy Arab FVO631 (?) arrives to take on passengers, also Ronnie's Coaches BTJ464 and an anonymous Bedford:
Western Scottish DG1121 (GCS206), a Guy Arab LUF/Alexander (from 'Busman's Holiday' again')
East Kent JG1423, another 1931 Tilling-Stevens B49C2/Brush
Kenzies 1951 Bedford OB/Duple JBY804 features, with Cyril Kenzie at the wheel, and incorporating numerous anecdotes:
A Potteries Weymann-bodied AEC Reliance passes a Leyland Tiger
Red and White 831 (FWO831), a 1947 Albion Valkyrie CX13 with Duple coachwork:
North Western 575 (FDB575), a 1955 Leyland Tiger Cub/Burlingham, and similar Wallace Arnold WUW46:
Unidentified Bedford OB, and a host of others:
General shot of Cheltenham Coach Station with various Black and White vehicles
Black and White LDD991, a Leyland Royal Tiger/Willowbrook:
Royal Blue 1276 (LTA864), a 1951 Bristol LL6B
Red and White S3149 (HWO353), a 1949 Leyland Tiger PS1/Duple
Midland Red 4217 (UHA217), a BMMO C4
Bristol Greyhound 2050 (NAE1), a 1950 Bristol L6B/Eastern Coachworks
United Counties 158 (158BRP), a 1962 Bristol MW6G/Eastern Coachworks
A general view of Victoria Coach Station, Wallace Arnold coaches and a whole line of Burlingham Seagulls:
Midland Red BMMO C4 and Black and White coaches:
Black and White coaches at Cheltenham Coach Station, one an AEC Reliance:
More Wallace Arnold coaches, including Leyland 9907U:
An unidentified coach (Mercedes?) with a trailer, and a Neath and Cardiff AEC Reliance:
Footage of a Midland Red CM5T (note the toliet in the back) on a motorway and on a banked test track:
Footage of the opening of the first stretch of motorway, attended by Ribble vehicles, a Leyland Leopard/Harrington Cavalier leading a line of Burlingham bodied Leyland Titan PD3s.
Royal Blue 2383 (OTA643G, Bristol RELH/Eastern Coachworks)
Very blurred Black and White coaches at Cheltenham, including at least two AEC Reliances/Harrington Grenadier and a Daimler Roadliner/Plaxton:
A Bristol Greyhound Bristol RELH, a Royal Blue Bristol RELH/Duple and a Black and White Leyland Leopard/Plaxton
The documentary closes with Western National 1316 (LTA761), a 1951 Bristol LWL6B/Eastern Coachworks:
A preserved vehicle that provides backgrounds to several interviews is Royal Blue 1250 (LTA729), a 1951 Bristol LL6B/Eastern Coachworks owned by Colin Billington, who also appears:

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