The Bus Up the Dale


Percival’s Fleet List

Percival’s ran motor-buses for a fifty-year period, from the Summer of 1921 to the Summer of 1971. During that time they had around eighty buses—but not all at once, obviously: through the 1920s they seem to have had two or three on the road, rising to some half a dozen saloons by the mid-1930s, and then to a dozen or more by the Summer of 1939; and, from the end of the 1940s to the close of business in 1971, the fleet generally comprised around twenty coaches.

The following List has been compiled from a variety of sources and with the kind assistance of many individuals. We started with a P. S. V. Circle Fleet List loaned by the redoubtable Philip Battersby of the United Enthusiasts’ Club. John Bennett and colleagues of his in the Omnibus Society also came up with details from their archives, as did the late David Hayward, then Deputy Editor of Vintage Roadscene magazine. Bob Kell of the North-East Bus Preservation Trust is another transport aficionado who has given us a lot of help in this regard. Photographs from the Percival family’s own collections, and also from the Swaledale Museum archive, have helped to fill in a few gaps. All details were carefully scrutinized by the late Stanley “Slogger” Bayles of Reeth, who started as an apprentice with Percival’s in 1942 and worked on every vehicle they had from then until the finish in 1971.

All existing Percival’s Fleet Lists contain a few errors and omissions. We cannot claim this List is necessarily 100% accurate but, where we may differ from any existing list, please be assured that we have (we reckon) good reason for doing so! The forthcoming book, The Bus Up the Dale, will include detailed Fleet Lists—probably in an Appendix, so as not to overwhelm the non-bus-enthusiast reader—which will be as full and accurate as we can make them: meanwhile we aim here to furnish simply make and model and registration number.

We have been lucky enough to amass photographs of over 60 Percival’s saloons—that’s more than three quarters of their fleet from start to finish—and we intend including as many photographs as possible (at least one picture of every bus of which any image exists) in the book. Where a photograph of a particular vehicle happens to be commercially available, or is known to be circulating among transport enthusiasts, we have indicated who the current Copyright-holder or distributor is believed to be, where possible. If you are a collector of bus photographs, you will know that Copyright on such images is often jealously guarded, which is one reason why this web site is not full of bus pictures. Another reason is—we want you to buy the book when it comes out, rather than just ogling photographs on the web site!

So—the Fleet List:–

(?) AJ 6652
Ford “Tonner”
Capacity said to have been 14 passengers or a ton of meal
Operator’s Licence issued by Darlington Town Council in May 1921—this would seem to give us a date of acquisition.

(?)
Selden
roofed charabanc body with rear load bay and roof rack, seating approx. 20
A second Operator’s Licence was issued by Darlington Town Council in September 1922—this again would seem to give us a date of acquisition. Percival family photograph of this bus appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 134, January 2011, p. 50.

PY 1962 registered 5. viii. 24, last licensed 30. vi. 28
Ford
14-seat charabanc body by Pearce and Dobson

PY 6845 registered 14. iv. 27, last licensed 31. xii. 37
Leyland Lioness
26-seat Leyland body
Photographs of this bus appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 134, January 2011, pp. 52 and 53.

PY 8706 registered 16. v. 28, last licensed 24. iii. 34
Reo Sprinter
20-seat closed saloon

(HN 6758 registered 4. iv. 29
Standard motor-car, closed four-door saloon body for private hire)
Percival family snap of this car appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 134, January 2011, p. 51.

VN 53 registered 13. iv. 29, last licensed 31. xii. 39
Thornycroft FB4
24-seat body by Young; rebuilt by Percival’s as a delivery lorry in the early 1930s

UP 6124 registered 16. x. 31, believed to have been sold on during the War
Bedford WLB
20-seat Robson body

VN 3779 registered 6. v. 32, last licensed 5. xi. 52
Leyland Tiger TS4
32-seat Leyland body
Coachwork facelifted during the 1940s and oil engine fitted after the War.
Photograph available from P.M. Photography ; and a very early shot from the Percival family’s own archives appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 134, January 2011, p. 52

VN 3786 registered 11. v. 32, sold on ca 1949
Commer Centaur
20-seat Metcalfe body

VN 5711 registered [to be checked], sold on by the mid-1940s
Bedford WLB
20-seater

VN 5865 registered 1. vi. 34, last licensed 30. vi. 47
Albion Valkyrie
26-seat Cowieson body

VN 7156 registered 17. iv. 35, Requisitioned, eventually recovered 1947, last licensed 31. xii. 51
Leyland Tiger TS7
32-seat Burlingham body
Fitted with A.E.C. 7.7 oil engine by Percival’s after its return to the firm.

VN 8391 registered 30. iii. 36, last licensed 31. xii. 49
Thornycroft Handy
26-seat Waveney body—not unlike that of Geoff Lumb’s ex-Llandudno Guy Wolf, JC 5313, q. v.

AAJ 615 registered 28. vi. 37, Requisitioned, never recovered (but known to have been licensed until 31. xii. 53)
A.E.C. Regal
33-seat Burlingham body

APY 422 registered 12. i. 38, last licensed 31. xii. 52
Bedford WTB
26-seat Plaxton coach body
The first of several similar coaches in the fleet, as may be seen below...

VN 4549 ex Reeth Motor Service in 1938, registered by Tim Scratcherd 28. iii. 33
Bedford WLB
20-seater Robson bus body
last licensed 24. iii. 43 in the name of Luther Exelby, South View, Exelby—as a tipper lorry.

VN 8881 ex Reeth Motor Service in 1938, registered by Tim Scratcherd 18. vi. 36
Bedford WTB
26-seat Robson bus body
This saloon, sold retained until around 1960, was always known as “Claude’s Bus” after former Reeth Motor Service driver Claude Coates.

BAJ 161 registered 24. i. 39, Requisitioned, never recovered (but known to have been licensed until 31. xii. 57)
Bedford WTB
25-seat Plaxton coach body
This saloon was run for many years by Premier Travel, Cambridge.

BAJ 179 registered 3. ii. 39, last licensed 31. iii. 55
Bedford WTB2
24-seater Plaxton coach
Unlike APY 422 and BAJ 161, this saloon (as a WTB2 model) had the new streamlined nose which was to characterize Bedford buses and coaches#151;and indeed lorries—until the 1950s.

BAJ 202 registered February 1939
Albion delivery lorry
O. K., so it isn’t a bus, but the fact that Percival’s ordered three brand-new coaches and a new wagon all at the same time is perhaps worth noting.

BAJ 951 registered June 1939, last licensed 31. iii. 56
Bedford WTB2
20-seater Plaxton coach
Appears in Alan Townsin’s history of Plaxton’s the coachbuilders : captured on the High Row at Reeth by veteran transport photographer Bob Davis (p. 11 in the 1982 edition), also visible in a Francis Frith photograph of Reeth, ref. R/238017, along with CVN 536 and HAJ 588.

CWM 451, a 1937 saloon acquired second-hand in 1941, last licensed March 1953
Bedford WTB
24-seat coach body
Known in the fleet as “The Coach”, this saloon presumably replaced the Requisitioned BAJ 161.

ANF 4, a 1934 saloon acquired second-hand in or around 1941, last licensed March 1953
Albion PW67
32-seat Duple coach
Known in the fleet as “The Back-Door Albion” (on account of its rear entrance), this coach may have been a replacement for the Requisitioned VN 7156.

GF 549, a 1930 saloon acquired second-hand in or around 1941, sold on approx. 1952
A.E.C. Regal
32-seater coach
Presumably a notional replacement for the Requisitioned AAJ 615. How galling to be buying in older second-hand coaches as replacements for vehicles bought brand-new ! But there was a war on...  Percival’s later fitted an A.E.C. “seven-seven” oil engine. This coach was originally new to London General, and so may count as the first “London bus” in Swaledale. Reuben Frankau claims to have been the first to bring a London Transport “Routemaster” double-decker into Reeth, as driver of RML 2678 on 24th September 2005.
The Omnibus Society has a photograph of GF 549 in Percival’s livery, taken by G. F. Higham.

GHN 611 registered August 1944, disposed of in the mid-1950s
Bedford OWB
32-seat Duple Utility bus
Unlike many operators, Percival’s retained the wooden seats after the War—as former passengers recall with painful clarity ! Like many aspects of Percival’s service, this reminds one of the Jake Thackray song about the country bus. Handley’s of Middleham took delivery of two similar saloons, GHN 574 and GHN 677, around the same time.

CVN 536 registered 1. viii. 46, sold on around 1958, last licensed (showman’s vehicle) 27. v. 66
A.E.C. Regal Diesel
35-seat coachwork, with roof-rack, by H. Raine & Sons of Spennymoor
Proudly recalled as “The Big Oiler”, this was the first Percival’s acquisition to be ordered new with an oil engine. Even London Transport still had some petrol-engined buses on the road at this time : an oil engine was quite something in the fleet of a rural family firm ; this reflects not only the competence (and confidence) of Percival’s garage men, but perhaps also the high mileages routinely covered by Percival’s coaches. “The Big Oiler” appears in a Francis Frith photograph of Reeth High Row, ref. R/238017, along with BAJ 951 and HAJ 588. CVN 536 is also visible outside Sandes Home, Catterick Camp, in a photograph in the Stilltime collection, ref. AAT 640, parked up with several other Percival’s saloons.

JHN 250 registered 17th June 1947, sold on ca 1958, off the road by 1959
Bedford OB
29-seat coach body by S.M.T. to Duple “Vista” pattern
The first of several such coaches in the fleet, this example was hit at Melling by a runaway wagon on 5th September 1947 and had to be rebuilt when still almost new. The “Vista”-bodied OB was to become a classic in its own lifetime and fondly remembered to this day by both drivers and enthusiasts. Rural P. S. V. operators continue to await a convincing replacement for this model.

JHN 902 registered 10. ix. 47, scrapped ca1960
Bedford OB
29-seat coach body by S.M.T. to Duple “Vista” pattern
Photograph available from P.M. Photography, as seen in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 (February 2011), p. 49.

DPY 714 registered April 1947, scrapped ca1966
Leyland Tiger Diesel
32-seat Plaxton coach body
Naturally enough, this coach was known to drivers as “Dippy”. The “half-cab” front end went rapidly out of fashion during the early 1950s and Percival’s went to the not inconsiderable expense of having a full-width front fitted.
Photograph available (sporting rebuilt front end) from P.M. Photography. DPY 714 is visible in original half-cab form in a photograph in the Stilltime collection along with several other Percival’s saloons outside Sandes Home, Catterick Camp—image ref. AAT 640.

EPY 40 registered 3. iv. 48, sold on 1958
A.E.C. Regal Diesel
33-seat Burlingham coach
To complement the top-quality chassis, oil engine and dernier cri body, this saloon boasted a preselector gearbox ; however, the gearchange actuation was air-driven, and in heavy traffic the air-tanks—which also had to provide oomph for the brakes—were often too empty to make it work! EPY 40 can just be seen, parked behind sister vehicle FAJ 970 (q. v.), in a photograph in the Stilltime collection, outside Sandes Home, Catterick Camp, with several other Percival’s saloons—image ref. AAT 640.

FAJ 970 registered 2. vi. 49, sold on 1958, last licensed 31. xii. 62
A.E.C. Regal Diesel
33-seat Burlingham coach
Again the preselctor gearbox was apparently a mixed blessing...
Appears in a photograph in the Stilltime collection, parked up with several other Percival’s saloons outside Sandes Home, Catterick Camp—image ref. AAT 640.

MHN 255 registered Summer 1949, off the road Summer 1960, scrapped 1962
Bedford OB
30-seat Mulliner service bus
The Omnibus Society has a photograph of this bus at Butt Rigg, Upper Swaledale, taken by Charles F. Klapper.
The basic Mulliner bus body of 1949 had only a single tail lamp, which upset a Vehicle Examiner later in the life of this saloon.

MHN 826 registered 25. xi. 49, scrapped (?)September 1960
Bedford OB
29-seat Duple “Vista” coach
Handley’s of Middleham had a similar coach, MHN 823, registered 24. xi. 49 : both were supplied by Sherwood Bros of Grange Road, Darlington. As a rule, a Percival’s bus with a Darlington (HN) Index Mark was probably supplied by Sherwood’s, who were of course the local Bedford dealers ; since Percival’s Registered Office was in Richmond, many of their buses were naturally registered at County Hall in Northallerton (Index Marks AJ, PY, and VN). P.M. Photography has an atmospheric shot of this bus on Richmond Market Place, which appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 (February 2011), pp. 48/49.  Photobus also has an image of this saloon.

GAJ 542, registered 24. v. 50, sold on August 1960, exported 14. x. 60 by Messrs Haulgo, Ltd, West St, Havant (Who they ?—Editor)
Leyland Tiger Diesel
33-seat full-front coach body by A.C.B. of Sunderland, after the Burlingham “Sunseeker” style
Photograph available from P.M. Photography (as seen in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 [February 2011], pp. 48/49)—and, if you get one, you may well wish to question use of the word “style” in this context.

GAJ 623, registered 13. vi. 50, last licensed 31. xii. 58
A.E.C. Regal Diesel
33-seat full-front coach body by K.W. of Blackpool, again (regrettably) in the Burlingham “Sunseeker” idiom
This coach caught fire, and was completely burned out, in the former Albert Morton depot on Gilling Road, Richmond ; fortunately, each garage bay in the building was partitioned from the others by a full-height brick wall, so no collateral damage was sustained to other vehicles. Could have been an electrical fault, could have been a cigarette end—this saloon had been out on a Private Hire the previous evening. Then again, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the fire may have been started deliberately, as an act of kindness, by a beholder with good eyesight: these two K.W. saloons were, if anything, even uglier than the A.C.B. equivalent exemplified by GAJ 542 (above).

GAJ 838, registered 14. vii. 50, sold on November 1961, last licensed 7. i. 63
Leyland Tiger Diesel
33-seat full-front coach body by K.W. of Blackpool, as per GAJ 623 above (and just as unsightly)
An objective comment would be that these K.W. bodies used even more aluminium trim than the A.C.B. coachwork fitted to GAJ 542 (q. v.). A more realistic assessment might be that they were the ugliest things ever seen on the Queen’s Highway. But they certainly represented a bold departure from the frumpy outmoded “half-cab” style; and—in business terms—that is perhaps the significant point here.

RHN 107, registered 29. iv. 52, delivered 29. v. 52, scrapped ca February 1967
Bedford OLAZ (28hp petrol)
24-seat Mulliner body with sunshine roof
[one of a celebrated pair—see below] Photograph available from Darlington & Stockton Times; RHN 107 also appears in colour on the Title Page of Geoff Lumb’s The Heyday of the Bus: Yorkshire (Ian Allan, 1996)—available in Richmond Public Library (formerly Albert Morton’s car showroom!). Photographs also available from P.M. Photography and from Photobus. Additionally, the rear end of RHN 107 is visible in the Stilltime collection photograph (image ref. AAT 640) taken outside Sandes Home, Catterick Camp.

RHN 108, registered 29. iv. 52, delivered 26. vi. 52, scrapped ca February 1967
Bedford OLAZ (28hp petrol)
24-seat Mulliner body with sunshine roof
Like APY 422 and the three “BAJ”s before them, the two “RHN”s appear in various Swaledale picture post-cards (try looking on eBay or Delcampe).  As with RHN 107 above, P.M. Photography has a photograph of this little saloon, and so has Photobus.

KTC 985, second-hand in 1951 (new March 1949), sold on in 1959
Daimler preselector Diesel
33-seat half-cab Duple coach
Photograph available from P.M. Photography.

HAJ 588, registered 1. ix. 51, sold on July 1958, last licensed 23. ii. 66
A.E.C. Regal IV
41-seat Burlingham “Seagull” coach
Arguably Percival’s last prestige saloon, this version of the Regal had an underfloor oil engine which made the entire length of the vehicle available for passenger seating, and the “Seagull” was an all-time classic style
Appears in Francis Frith photograph of Reeth High Row (their ref. R/238017) along with BAJ 951 and CVN 536, and also in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 (February 2011), pp. 51, 52, and 53.

HAJ 714, registered 8. xi. 51, sold on July 1960, last licensed 26. v. 63
Leyland Royal Tiger
41-seat Duple “Ambassador” coach
Like the Regal Mk IV, the Royal Tiger came with a Diesel engine mounted under the floor of the passenger saloon
Photograph available from P.M. Photography, appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 (February 2011), p. 51. HAJ 714 features in Stilltime collection image ref. AAT 631—with none other than Geoff Percival puffing on his pipe in the background—and also, parked up with several other Percival’s saloons, outside Sandes Home, Catterick Camp: Stilltime image ref. AAT 640.

HHA 430, acquired with the business of Fred Ashman (Scorton) in September 1953, sold on August 1956
Austin NC (or CXB—would anyone out there like to clarify?)
29-seat Plaxton coach
This 1946 petrol-engined saloon had come to Fred Ashman third-hand in 1950.

FWW 459, acquired with the business of Fred Ashman (Scorton) in September 1953, sold on May 1956
Commer Commando
29-seat Harrington coach
This 1948 petrol-engined saloon had come to Fred Ashman fourth-hand in 1952
Photograph available from P.M. Photography, appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 (February 2011), p. 51.

MHN 663, acquired with the business of Fred Ashman (Scorton) in September 1953, sold on ca February 1955
Commer Avenger
33-seater with Churchill coachwork
supplied new to Fred Ashman by Minories, Northgate, Darlington, 14. xi. 49.

XHN 49, first registered 17. v. 55, scrapped May 1969
Bedford SBO
36-seat Duple “Vega” coach
Supplied new by Sherwood Bros of Darlington, and had to be sent back there frequently: the Perkins oil engine in this model ran like a dream on a good day, but on a bad day would jump its timing and refuse to start.
Photograph available from Photobus, and a Percival family shot of this same coach appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 (February 2011), p. 53.

NVN 911, registered May 1956, sold on Spring 1960
Beadle “Rochester” Commer TS3 chassisless 41-seater
A 41-seater with a three-cylinder 3.25-litre Diesel engine? Shurely shome mishtake... Well, many drivers might have agreed it was a mistake. But in the right hands, and topped up with Shell “Rotella” oil, these things could fly—and still do twenty to the gallon. Geoff Percival knew how to handle it, but it was not exactly cherished by the firm’s other drivers.
The Omnibus Society possesses an image of this remarkable saloon.

KXU 675, second-hand October 1956, sold on July 1966
Leyland Comet CPO1
34-seat Windover coach
Photographs available from P.M. Photography and Photobus. The idea of acquiring these three Comets seems to have been to increase the proportion of oil-engined buses in the fleet, the similar-sized Bedford OB saloons all still running on petrol.

KAO 699, second-hand September 1957, sold on June 1964
Leyland Comet CPO1
33-seat Burlingham coach
Photographs available from P.M. Photography and Photobus.

CHL 582, second-hand September 1957, sold on July 1964
Leyland Comet CPO1
33-seat Plaxton coach
Photographs available from P.M. Photography and Photobus.

KFV 705, second-hand late 1957, sold on late 1961
Bedford SBG
41-seat Duple “Vega” coach
A flying machine, with its petrol engine, but not the most economical vehicle to run.

SAA 750, second-hand January 1958 (new July 1957), kept until finish
A.E.C. Reliance
41-seat Duple “Britannia” coach
Photographs available from P.M. Photography, also appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 (February 2011), p. 52.

SAJ 994, registered June 1958, sold on early 1959
Leyland Tiger Cub
41-seat Duple “Britannia” coach
This was Percival’s last brand-new heavyweight coach, and may have been traded in when still quite new to facilitate the purchase of two 41-seat Bedfords—see below. Photograph available from Photobus.

TVN 991, registered April 1959, sold on August 1970, off the road August 1972
Bedford SB1
41-seat Harrington “Crusader” coach
Photographs available from P.M. Photography, also appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 135 (February 2011), p. 52.

TVN 992, registered April 1959, sold on July 1970, scrapped 1976
Bedford SB1
41-seat Harrington “Crusader” coach
Similar to TVN 991 but with the added luxury of Alpine lights (handy for viewing Blackpool Illuminations).

LNA 776, second-hand 1959
Bedford OB
29-seat Duple “Vista” coach
New in 1950, and an intriguing acquisition given that Percival’s had been buying oil-engined saloons for nearly 15 years ; nor was this to be their last petrol-engined bus.

UMB 4, second-hand July 1959, sold on Summer 1962
Bedford SBG
36-seat Duple “Vega” coach
The thinking seems to have been that LNA 776 and UMB 4, although petrol-engined, were in good condition and at a good price : Alderson’s of Woodhall bought UMB 2 and UMB 3 from the same source at the same time, and fitted them with oil engines.
Photograph (of UMB 3) available from P.M. Photography.

WPY 608, registered May 1960, kept until finish
Bedford SB1
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
Photograph available from P.M. Photography, also appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 138 (May 2011), pp. 48/49.

WVN 237, registered June 1960, kept until finish
Bedford SB1
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
Photographs available from P.M. Photography and Photobus, also appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 138 (May 2011), p. 48.

4724 WW, bought from dealer’s stock Summer 1960, kept until finish
Bedford SB1
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
Photograph available from Photobus.

VAJ 61, second-hand November 1960, sold on 1962
Bedford SB1
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
Photograph available from P.M. Photography. This saloon, and VAJ 63 below, came from erstwhile rival operator Sunter Bros, along with their Catterick Camp depot and an agreement under which the “Fires” undertook not to run P. S. V’s within the following five years.

VAJ 63, second-hand November 1960, sold on 1962
Bedford SB1
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
Both VAJ 61 and VAJ 63 had been bought new as cheap stop-gaps by Sunter Bros in October 1959, by which time Tom Fire had evidently made up his mind to get out of coaching in the near future. Sunter’s also had VAJ 62, but this was not taken on by Percival’s as it had a nasty engine knock.

YPT 90, second-hand 1961, sold on later in 1961
Bedford SBG
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
The SBG model with its petrol engine sounded very sweet and could fly, but was not a cost-effective proposition by the 1960s and presumably acquired to fill a gap temporarily.

55 BAJ, registered November 1961, kept until finish
Bedford SB5
44-seat Yeates “Pegasus” service bus body
Interesting conversion by Yeates of Loughborough, such that the front-engined SB5 chassis could carry a front-entrance body with the door ahead of the front wheels, alongside the driver, which facilitated one-man operation.
Photograph available from P.M. Photography, also seen in Vintage Roadscene no. 138 (May 2011), p. 47.

56 BAJ, registered November 1961, kept until finish
Bedford SB5
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
A standard Bedford/Duple combination unlike 55 BAJ above. These two were the first SB5 models in the fleet. Photograph available from P.M. Photography, also seen in Vintage Roadscene no. 138 (May 2011), p. 47.

936 APT, second-hand July 1962, kept until finish
Bedford SB1
41-seat Plaxton “Consort” coach
A 1958 model which retained the green marker light above the windscreen fitted by its original owner, Scarlet Band.
Photograph available from P.M. Photography.

604 EPT, second-hand July 1962, kept until finish
Bedford SB1
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
First registered by Venture of Consett in May 1960; Photograph available from Photobus.

605 EPT, second-hand July 1962, kept until finish
Bedford SB1
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
First registered by Venture of Consett in May 1960 ; Photograph available from P.M. Photography

487 DVN, registered March 1963, kept until finish
Bedford SB5
41-seat Harrington “Crusader” coach
Photograph available from P.M. Photography, and a superb colour snap from the Percival family’s own archives appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 138 (May 2011), p. 49, including this bus and 488 DVN below.

488 DVN, registered March 1963, kept until finish
Bedford SB5
41-seat Harrington “Crusader” coach
These were to be the firm’s last brand-new full-size saloons.
Photograph available from P.M. Photography, and a superb colour snap from the Percival family’s own archives appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 138 (May 2011), p. 49, including this bus and 487 DVN above.

KOL 193, second-hand 1964, disposed of 1969
Bedford OB
29-seat Duple “Vista” coach
This 1950 petrol-engined saloon may strike the enthusiast as a surprise purchase on the part of a firm which had started going over to Diesel in the 1940s ; it seems to have been bought cheap from a military source and reconditioned in Percival’s own workshops, and the feeling apparently was that you knew where you were with an OB.
Photographs available from P.M. Photography and Photobus; Phil Moth’s shot appeared in Vintage Roadscene no. 138 (May 2011), p. 48.

9542 PT, second-hand June 1964, kept until finish
Bedford SB5
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
First registered by Venture of Consett in May 1962, reckoned to be “as good as new” on acquisition.
Photograph available from P.M. Photography.

606 EPT, second-hand July 1964, kept until finish
Bedford SB1
41-seat Duple “Super Vega” coach
Collect the set! Like 604 EPT and 605 EPT, this saloon had been new to Venture of Consett in May 1960, but 606 EPT came to Percival’s slightly later and with a slightly different history.
Photograph available from P.M. Photography.

DVN 280 C, registered September 1965, kept until finish
Bedford VAS1
29-seat Duple “Bella Vista” coach
The firm’s last ever brand-new acquisition. Photograph available from P.M. Photography.

CEX 495, second-hand June 1966, sold on November 1970
Albion Nimbus
31-seat Willowbrook service bus body
One of a batch new to Great Yarmouth Corporation in July 1959, this underfloor-engined, front-entrance saloon was ostensibly ideal for local service work, but was not held in high regard by Percival’s men.
Photograph available from P.M. Photography.

GCN 185, second-hand January 1967, sold on October 1968
Bedford A4LZ2
29-seat Plaxton “Consort” coach
1957 model. Not a thing of beauty, and not economic either with its petrol engine, seemingly acquired as a temporary expedient.
Photographs available from P.M. Photography.

ORX 281, second-hand July 1967, sold on before long
Bedford C4Z2
30-seat Duple (Midland) service bus body
1958 model. Again, as with GCN 185 above, petrol-engined and thus not ideal for a firm now struggling to make ends meet—but perhaps available at a modest price.

TUP 6 E, second-hand June 1968, kept until finish
Bedford VAM5
45-seat Plaxton “Panorama” coach
New to Weardale Motor Services in May 1967, this was a very presentable saloon.

ANJ 374 B, second-hand September 1968, kept until finish
Bedford J2 Diesel
19-seat Duple coach
Photograph available (Richmond Market Place) from Darlington & Stockton Times.

SXG 440, second-hand June 1970, kept until finish
Bedford SB5
41-seat Duple “Bella Vega” coach
Photograph available from P.M. Photography.

FPT 332 G, second-hand August 1970, kept until finish
Bedford SB5
41-seat Plaxton “Panorama” coach
So far as is known, this was the firm’s final acquisition before the death of John Lodge Percival in January 1971 and the ensuing decision to close down. We have a photograph of this coach in Newcastle, while still with its first owner, but if anyone happens to have a picture of it in Percival’s ownership we’d love to hear from you !

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