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ARTICLE
 BY PAUL HARRISON



AVW 399F, NEW DELIVERY 1968 and used in O.T.B. 1969


Info about some of the buses appearing in
ON THE BUSES 




With thanks to Paul Harrison

I will never forget the day I told my parents I had bought a double-decker bus. I chose to tell my father first, while we were driving somewhere together. I enlisted his support to tell my mother because I didn't have the nerve, and when asked what sort of bus it was, I remember saying "Its identical to the one Reg Varney used to drive in ON THE BUSES.

For me ON THE BUSES was about buses, and I was intensely disappointed  if an episode went by without any shots of one of Luxton and Distruct handsome green double-deckers. The reason I was transfixed every week was simple- I travelled on those same buses to school almost every day. For most young boys, the dream of becoming an airline pilot or train driver was the norm. But I was weir- I wanted to drive a bus, just like Stan, and despite the fact I chose a career in Public Relations, I did fulfill my dream, one day in 1968.

Eastern and National.
It is a well known fact that On The Buses was filmed at London Wood Green, depot of the Eastern National Omnibus Company. From this depot, every day, the 251 service to Southend would operate, via the town of Rayleigh and right past my door.

These buses were Bristol FLF-type Lodekkas fitted with 70-seat bodies built by Eastern Coachworks of Lowestoft. Those used in OTB were delivered to ENOC in 1967/68 and fitted with semi-automatic transmission and Gardner 6LX 10,225cc diesel engine. The Lodekka revolutionized bus design in the late 1950's by offering center aisles upstairs and down, but with an overall height of  just 13ft 6ins, hence the name Lodekka. Many automatics were produced between 1954 and 1968, the ultimate being the semi-auto FLF, or flat floor, long wheel base Front entrance version.

I remember travelling on vehicles used in the series during the run. For example, AEV 811F (fleet number 2917) was a real favorite, and frequent runner on the 251. One week AEV was missing for two days, it was being used for filming "ON THE BUSES".

The other regular was AVF 399F (fleet number 2930) AVW is the bus that features in the infamous "Radio Control" episode.

In Inspectors Pet we see WWC 743 (fleet number 2913)
In Vacancy for Inspector WWC 741F (fleet number 2911) can be seen
In Lost Proprty the bus is AEV 811F and AVW 399F.

All ENOC buses also carried home identification plates above the fleet number plate on the front raditor cowl. Look carefully at the episodes and you will see BD (Brentwood depot) WG (Wood Green) BN (Basildon) or SD for (Southend)



WNO979F (seen below) was one of Eastern National's large fleet of FLF Lodekkas, seen here resting outside the London Road depot-cum-bus station. It has been plying the 251, the famous route from Southend that terminated at Wood Green, in the depot which served as the garage of fictitious Luxton & District, from the TV series 'On the Buses', starring Reg Varney.

To visit the web site and see more Eastern and National Buses click on picture or go to the main site  



This information from the Buses on TV Bus Station web site.

On The Buses (London Weekend TV comedy series) Eastern National Bristol Lodekka FLF6LX/Eastern Coachworks were used. "The regular FLF6LXs were 2917 (AEV811F) and 2930 (AVW399F), with 2885 (WNO973F) and 2911 (WWC741F) also used - I do know that Brentwood depot drivers and Inspectors used to get paid as extras to be in the background, and I recall one inspector (George) saying he'd taken 2743 (EOO585) on more than one occasion."
A studio mock-up was also used: "YDU265D (fleet no 2552) was a mock-up of the front of a Bristol FLF built by Eastern National using parts supplied by Eastern Coach Works. Bob Palmer notes "the fleet number plates (2552) made up by Eastern National for the studio mock-up FLF still exist!" It was used for studio filming."(all the above from Chris Stewart).
David Ballantyne reports the use of ex-London Transport Leyland PD2 RTL1557 (OLD666), which was burnt - Steve Floyd notes "RTL 1557 (OLD666) was reported as being burnt. This happened in the season 6 episode 1 (20 February 1972 I think} called 'No Smoke without Fire'. The episode closed with Stan taking out '666' because there was no other bus available - after having been trained on fire extinguishers - but a fire started on the bus (whether accidentally or not I can't remember). Their efforts to put the fire out were unsuccessful and Jack dropped the fire extinguisher out the back of the bus as it travelled along a country lane. Stan drove into a field, as smoke billowed out the back of the bus. Blakey was rescued from the top deck by being assisted out the emergency window. There were several aerial shots showing the fire taking hold, and the resultant destruction - the last shot showed the upper deck completely gutted. I was surprised that the bus was completely destroyed - presumably it was bought for that purpose. But Stan's job was saved because Luxton & District got more than the bus was worth on the insurance!"
Incidentally, in 1973-4 there was an American spin-off show on NBC, called 'Lotsa Luck', starring Dom deLuise as Stanley, the custodian of the New York City bus company's lost and found department.
More here.

Chris Brown notes "a black and white episode which has Stan and Jack having to work at Christmas. Olive drives the motor bike to collect them and crashes into a vehicle parked in the garage. This may have been filmed at Prittlewell, but whilst Stan and Jack are waiting for their lift, through the open garage door is seen one of the Bristol Lodekka FLF coaches. There is no sign of one of the regulars, 2917/2930.
I visited Wood Green during 1968/9 (it was when farebox MBS were operating at Wood Green so perhaps I am wrong on dates) and a Luxton and District Bristol FLF was in the Eastern National garage, and it was in use for sound recording, being driven around the area with the bottom of the stairs lifted and a microphone held by the gearbox. So 2917/2930 may have been the stars, but the noises heard were possibly from another one, as neither number appears in the list I made at the time. It is unlikely that fleetnames would have been applied if the vehicle was not to appear in any filming, but it definitely was not 2917 as I remember feeling disappointed at the time at not seeing it."

 

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