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Coach build, part 2 - A little bit of history

Updated: Feb 10

It didn’t take long for me to be overwhelmed with congratulations and goodwill. Among all the very many messages and e-mails, two people in particular contacted with a little bit of history. The first was Rob Sly. He keeps a record of the previous keepers, along with some basic information and some photographs.

The coach, a Bristol LH with a Paxton Panorama Elite body, started operations with a company called Robinson of Great Harwood, one of four that entered service on 1st. March 1972. They were given the registration numbers NWW162K to NWW165K and presented in a green and black livery. 164 and 165 were sold on in the late ‘70s. The fate of 164 is unknown, presumed scrapped sometime after 1989. 165 was scrapped in December ‘94. 162 and 163 were sold to Bassett of Tittensor, where they were given a new livery of blue and grey. 163 arrived in January 1977, 162 in November. 162 was sold on again in August 1994 and was finally withdrawn from service by June 2000. It was finally scrapped by 2020.

NWW162K with Robinson of Great Harwood (photo Andrew Critchlow)

NWW163K, my intended home, had been involved in a shunt during its time with Bassett. Wanting to know more, I contacted R. G. Bassett and Sons. I then spoke to Claire Bassett. We had a lovely little chat, during which she told me that she had ‘cut her teeth’ in 163 and is happy to learn that the coach is still alive and loved. She took my contact details. A little over a week later, I received an e-mail. Unfortunately, her dad, Ashley, couldn’t remember the details of the accident, but he did uncover some information and photographs. The accident had occurred in March 1988. It was clearly quite a shunt, as a Plaxton Paramount front end and the passenger door was fitted in place of the original.

Before and after (photos Ray Jenkins)

The coach was eventually sold at auction in March 1997, to Deverick of Bedford. It remained there for two years, before being sold to Anglian Bus Company, who sold it on a year later to a dealer by the name of Mike Nash. He sold it to a company called Caradon Riviera, who, having not put it into service, then sold it on to Hobbs of Liskeard for preservation.

From August 2006, the coach passed through two dealers before being bought by a John Holmes in September 2008, again, for preservation. For some reason, he repainted the coach by the 5th. July 2009 (my birthday). By June 2011, it had moved on again. This time, to a company called Blue Motors in Blackpool, for ‘further’ preservation.

(photo Roger Moore)

The other person who contacted me was James Hamnett. He sent me a wonderful message giving a little more information. He had bought the coach in 2017 and christened it Monty. He had spent a year converting it into a home for himself and his young family. His children were one and seven at the time. They spent a year living in the coach in Yorkshire, before having to return home and back to bricks and mortar.

(photo James Hamnett)

When James acquired the coach, it had not seen a road for about 8 years and needed some fairly extensive repair work, including replacing a few of the chassis crossmembers and a good whack of repairs to the bodywork. After a full mechanical overhaul and recommissioning, the engine never missed a beat.

James sold his home to a couple who had intended living in it. However, it was advertised a year later having been left unloved in an empty field in Devon. It was then bought by a campervan conversion company in Peterhead who ripped out and scrapped all the work James had done.

James has an instagram page which includes his time with the coach.

The coach appears to have been fitted with a new set of brakes while it was in Scotland.

Nigel, the bloke I bought the coach from, had the coach for about a year. During that time, he had fitted a new clutch and exhaust.

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