Leicester Transport Heritage Trust

Leicester Transport Heritage Trust

Researching, preserving and promoting our local road transport heritage

OJF 191

OJF 191

Chassis: Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1/1

Chassis Number: 565542

Body: Weymann Hermes

Body Number: M7704

Seating Capacity: B44F

New: October 1956

Withdrawn: December 1969

1956-1969: Life with Leicester City Transport

OJF 191 was new to Leicester City Transport in October 1956 and given fleet number 191. It was one of a batch of four single deck buses (191-194) which cost £3,926 2s 1d each (Chassis – £1,888 7s 1d/Body £2,037 15s 0d). They replaced time expired 1936 Leyland Tiger TS7s on the ‘Outer Circle’ service and had the legend ‘ – OUTER CIRCLE – ‘ painted on the exterior roof sides. The buses were painted in an attractive livery of crimson for the lower half and cream for the upper half. A narrow band of orange was used to separate these two colours. There were a number of ‘firsts’ with the new batch of buses. They were the first new buses delivered to LCT since the tram replacement fleet of 1948 – 50; they were the first LCT buses to start the long trend of having their fleet numbers incorporated in their registration numbers; they were the first to have stainless steel double rail topped seats, another feature adopted by LCT for many years after and they were also the first buses to be fitted with trafficators. Their arrival was, therefore, a notable step change in the fleet modernization programme.

The buses went through three modifications during their service lives. The first was to move the trafficators down to a lower position following complaints from passengers and drivers that the ‘twin flashing bulbs’ were reflecting in the side windows and drivers mirrors! The Outer Circle was notable longer than most other city routes, covering some 13 miles. Fuel consumption became an issue so the fuel tank capacity was increased by a third because it was found that there was enough room under the bus to accommodate the extra size. The final modification came towards the vehicles lives when they were converted to ‘one-man operation’. This was achieved by cutting down the internal driver’s door and front side partition by half and constructing a trough to fit the ticket machine into.

With the arrival of 36 AEC Reliance buses in 1963/1964 for Outer Circle duties the Tiger Cubs replaced the ex-Devon General AEC Regals on the Inner Circle service. In 1964 the batch of five Tiger Cubs (a fifth vehicle, 212 (SJF 212), had been delivered in March 1958) received a repaint to match a more modern livery style carried by the new AEC Reliances. The Tiger Cubs next claim to fame came in December 1966 when they were used on the first ‘Park and Ride’ service from the Welford Road/Granby Halls car park to the city centre. The service was a notable success and is an important land mark with regards to the city’s long association with Park and Ride services. It is nice to know that the Trust’s preserved Tiger Cub is connected at the outset with that success story.

The Tiger Cubs received repaints into their third and final livery style in 1968 which was all over cream with a single maroon band below the windows. The buses were now coming to the ends of their lives and were used principally on the 12 Anstey Lane, 15 Henley Road, 27 South Knighton, 30 Highway Road and 75 Stadium services. They were also used as early morning and late night staff buses.
All five Tiger Cubs were withdrawn in December 1969.

1969-2003: After service with Leicester City Transport

The batch of five Tiger Cubs was sold to dealer H. Cowley of Kirkham near Blackpool in December 1969. Cowley’s found buyers for all five buses with 191 going in the same month to Douglas, the Birmingham based contractor, for staff transport. Douglas must have been pleased with 191 because they then purchased sister vehicle 192 in January 1970. No. 192 was sold for scrap in March 1976 whilst 191 was sold to Blakemore, a Brownhills based dealer in November 1975. The bus appears to have been parked with a number of others into a sand pit and simply left!

By sheer coincidence Corgi produced a 1:50 scale model of No. 191 in its original livery and including the ‘Outer Circle’ route branding in 1995. At that time it was unknown that the real 191 still survived.
Sometime later the ‘real’ bus was discovered by well known bus enthusiast William Staniforth who made various people aware of its existence. Notably it was now the only survivor of the original batch of five. The ‘Leicester Corporation Bus Owners Group’ decided to save the bus for preservation and purchased the bus in the winter of 2002/2003. However, the site owners had a certain unwelcoming reputation for visitors and a long drawn out saga developed. Happily, and through the robust efforts of William Staniforth the bus finally left the Brownhills sandpit on 9th December 2003.

2003-Date: In preservation

On acquisition 191 was stored at a facility near Uttoxeter. On 16th April 2004 it was moved to a site in North West Leicestershire for some preliminary work in removing important internal fittings. Whilst the bus is basically sound it’s restoration is a major exercise and with other projects ongoing the bus was sheeted up to await its turn in the queue. The ‘Leicester Corporation Bus Preservation Group’ merged with the ‘Leicester Transport Study Group’, in January 2008, to form the ‘Leicester Transport Heritage Trust’. Tiger Cub 191 passed to the Trust as part of the merger. The Trust acknowledges the importance of 191 to its Collection and mindful of the extent of the ongoing restoration work by its small team of volunteers decided to try and fast track the Tiger Cub’s restoration by utilising external resources. These, of course, come at a substantial cost and a public funding appear has generated just over £8,000 so far. In recent months the Trust’s Directors have been putting together a phased restoration plan which hopefully will use a mixture of the public appeal fund, volunteer labour and heritage related grants. If you would like to help in any way with the restoration of 191 please contact us.

Restoration Begins

Following 191’s arrival at it’s new restoration base in Staffordshire, the first job was to strip off all the remaining offside outer panels and front dome.Also removed were the floor strips, floor covering and plywood floor together with the wheel arches, entrance doors and steps to improve access to the chassis. It came as no surprise to learn that due to rot all the body pillars need replacing, together with three cross members, one for each pair of pillars. After bleeding the fuel system and freeing off the rack in the fuel injection pump, the starter motor was stripped and cleaned. The engine then started for the first time in 37 years which demonstrates just how robust a lightweight bus can be. There are no apparent issues with frost damage and there was even a small amount of antifreeze left in the engine. The sandpit, in which it had stood for many years, obviously provided the engine with sufficient protection during all those years it lay idle. After the initial dismantling, the chassis was steam cleaned. This confirmed that it is very pitted in places but is not bad enough to prevent repair and refurbishment. So far there have been no horror stories, although a significant amount of work will be required to return the Tiger Cub to the road. This included the rear chassis-cross member which was removed and a new cross member fabricated and fitted. The penultimate rear chassis cross member was then removed. As this was in better condition it was shot-blasted and refitted and the rear of the chassis cleaned and painted with red oxide followeb by siver paint. To improve access to the centre of the chassis, the engine and gearbox were removed. The various air pipes and electrical wiring was also removed, as all these will require replacement in due course. The radiator has been removed and stripped. The intention is to continue working down the chassis towards the front of the bus before commencing on the bodywork. PRISM GRANT 2016 The LTHT directors were delighted to announce that following a successful application by our Finance Director, Simon Gill, the trust has been awarded a conservation grant of £20.000 by Arts Council, England towards the restoration of the bodywork of No.191. This has been provided through their PRISM (Preservation of Industrial Scientific Material) Fund and is the maximum amount available. This welcome grant provides a significant boost to the restoration of the bodywork which will start in April 2016 and has to be completed by the end of the year. This part of the project does not include painting or fitting out the interior. We are very grateful to Arts Council, England for their support in the restoration of OJF 191.

July 2016

Following the award of the PRISM Grant by Arts Council, England, restoration of the bodywork has restarted on schedule. A new front body cross member has been fabricated and test fitted to the chassis. This has enabled the temporary supports which were holding up the front of the body to be removed. The cross member is currently supported by padding which will be removed and the metalwork permanently bolted to the chassis once the body has been made square. Good news is that 191 no longer looks like a skelton as the two front internal stress panels have been replaced and secured and the internal offside front stress panel adjacent to the driving cab has also been replaced. Work will continue on a monthly basis where the plan is to fit the floor so the body can be squared up before replacement of the pillars take place.

September 2016

Rebuilding of 191’s bodywork has continued apace. New front body pillars were made from Zintec and fitted. These were followed by a new nearside front wheel arch stress panel which has allowed the temporary steel support adjacent to the entrance to be removed as this extra strength is no longer required. New stress panels were also made and fitted in bays 3 and 4 on the offside. All the new stress are also made from Zintec which means the body will not suffer from corrosion caused by the interaction of steel pillars and aluminium in the future. A new floor structure has also been made and fitted where the gangway slopes down towards the entrance door between the front wheel arches.

All the remaining stress including the rear corner panels and rear wheel arches were made and fitted during August. This has enabled removal of the two wooden supports towards the rear of the bus which were holding the roof square. A new front windscreen dividing support has also been made and fitted.

January 2017

New Zintec interior stress panels in place on both sides and rear. The floor structure was fitted and painted in grey undercoat. With this completed attention turned to the front entrance step structure, rebuilding of the front, especially on the near side, has revealed several repairs and we know accidents were common when the Tiger Cubs first entered service until drivers got used to the set back front axle. Damage was particularly noticeable when the doors were offered up to the bus as they wouldn’t fit. The entrance door pillars have therefore been repaired and the door frame made square to ensure free movement of the doors. The door frame mechanism has also been cleaned and repaired so it moves freely. New plywood floors have been cut and loosed fitted fitted to the entrance steps, platform and drivers cab. A replacement steel frame has been constructed to replace the damaged one on which the drivers controls are fitted. A new control panel sourced to replace the existing one which is in poor condition. It had been hoped to make a start on fitting the new pillars so that the frame can be completed but although these were ordered in good time the supplier has been too busy to make them so they are awaited. In the meantime the wiring will be fitted. Finally some seats, seat frames, window sliders and several other items have been donated to the Trust which will assist the 191 restoration. New upright body pillars are still awaited from the supplier which is currently causing a delay to the restoration project but plans are in place to deal with this delay.

August 2020

OJF 191 featured in the September 2020 edition of Bus & Coach Preservation magazine with an update on the current work taking place on the Leyland Tiger Cub. Front window panes have been sent away for a new pair to be fabricated.