Chassis – AEC Reliance MU3RV888
Body – Charles H Roe of Leeds GO 4308
Power – AEC AH470
West Riding 808 registration number JHL 708 is an AEC Reliance and was delivered on 9th November 1956 as part of a larger batch, registration numbers JHL 706 – 717. Originally painted in green standard colours, a reversed livery of all over cream with green relief was applied at repaint due to an increased requirement for private hire vehicles. This batch had been delivered with dual purpose seating so they were thought to be suitable for weekend coaching operations. They must have also turned heads on the streets of Wakefield as they were the first large batch of under floor engined single deck buses in service and had a very modern appearance compared to the previous half cab exposed radiator counterparts that went before them.
Click on the image above to see more photographs of JHL708
Eventually the JHL batch reverted to the standard green and cream livery and they were no longer found on excursions and coastal services since West Riding purchased further coaches in the 60’s, including Bedford VAL, SB5 and VAM5.
808 during the major nut and bolt re-build
808 has been stored for many years at Ravensthorpe and has already seen a major amount of rebuilding. It would be fair to say that the vehicle is actually much better than it looks since much work has been completed on its chassis, frame and mechanical units. Work was suspended on 808, to allow focus on returning BHL 682 & KHL 855 to the road. In 2012 Mick Bennett acquired 808 from Tony White and it awaited its turn once more for restoration to commence. Fortunately, it is thought that all of its various parts are stored and this will therefore make the restoration task much easier and with the completion of KHL 855’s restoration in summer 2019, work recommenced on bringing 808 back to life.
West Riding favoured the use of the AEC Reliance for several years, building up a small fleet consisting of several batches after trying two more examples of under floor engined buses in 1950 (Regal IV DHL 166 & DHL 686). Fleet number wise, the first seven delivered were to a Dalesman coach style provided by Charles H Roe of Crossgates Leeds. Then followed a batch of 12 dual purpose bus bodied vehicles of which 808 is part. In 1961 West Riding acquired six with Plaxton centre entrance coach bodywork registration numbers SHL 914 - 919 and finally 12 handsome dual door bus bodied examples, registration numbers THL 920 - 931 arrived, also by Charles H Roe of Crossgates Leeds.
Fortunately, West Riding Omnibus Preservation Society (WROPS) has also preserved one of the Dalesman coach examples (JHL 983) and one of the Plaxton bodied examples (SHL 917) survives in preservation, but is in a different livery and is not owned by WROPS. Regular updates will be posted on the progress of 808’s restoration as things take shape.
Having finally been withdrawn in 1971, 808 was acquired by Norths of Sherburn (dealer) and found itself on staff transport duties for JP Wood & Son Limited of Craven Arms. Eventually passing for preservation to D Gladwin of Hopwood, Worcestershire in 1978, it was then acquired by West Riding Omnibus Preservation Society (WROPS) member Tony White for ongoing preservation in 1980. Placed in store under the railway arches in Leeds and then at the Ludlam Street premises of the West Yorkshire Transport Museum, it was mistakenly towed away to a scrap yard. Thanks to the immediate intervention of Mick Bennett it was returned to a place of safety rather than meeting an untimely end.