The Merseyside Transport Trust

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INFORMATION

Fleet number:
0027

Registration:
WWM 904W
 
Chassis:
Dennis Dominator DD120B/222
 
Body:
Willowbrook 792178
 
Layout:
H45/33F
 
New:
July 1980
 
Current Status:
Partially restored

0027 was one of five Willowbrook bodied Dennis Dominators which were ordered as part of the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (MPTE)'s Bus Evaluation Plan.

In 1978 the MPTE placed orders with most of the UK's bus builders for small batches of double deck buses for evaluation to prove which type would be the most suitable to become the future standard double deck bus on Merseyside.

Over the next few years the PTE ordered small batches of MCW Metrobus, Dennis Dominator, Leyland Olympian and Volvo Ailsa chassis eventually receiving fifteen of each type. In addition to trying different chassis the PTE also chose to have the chassis bodied by four different bodybuilders: Alexander, Eastern Coach Works, Metro Cammell Weymann and Willowbrook, although only Alexander supplied bodies on all four types of chassis.

Five Leyland Titan B15s were also ordered but due to production delays these never materialised, the MPTE having to make do with a solitary prototype on extended loan. Unfortunately, with the uncertainties brought about with the abolition of the Metropolitan County Councils and bus de-regulation, the MPTE did not buy any further examples of these types, preferring to continue to order Atlanteans from Leyland in sizeable batches right up until it becoming unavailable in the UK
in 1984.

The five Willowbrook-bodied Dennis Dominators received the fleet numbers 0024 - 0028 and were allocated to Speke Garage. 0024 was the first to enter service in March 1980. Delivery was rather a drawn out affair as 0026 was the last of the five to be delivered, not entering service until seven months later.

The five Willowbrook Dominators were later joined by ten with Alexander 'R' type bodywork, these having air suspension, unlike the Willowbrook Dominators which had steel leaf suspension. Speke garage used the Dominators on routes: 72, 78, 80, 81, 82C and 500 whilst in service with the MPTE.

Due to a combination of being non-standard and having steel framed bodies, the five Willowbrook bodied Dominators did not pass to the MPTE's successor, Merseybus, on its formation in 1986, but were sold for further service. 0024, 0027 and 0028 went to Maidstone & District (where they joined almost identical buses delivered new to M&D). 0025 went to Kingdom Coaches of Tiverton and 0026 operated for Citybus in Hong Kong before ending up with an operator in Guangzhou in China!

After nine years' service with M&D, two of the batch, MPTE Nos. 0024 (UBG 24V) and 0027 (WWM 904W) ended up back on Merseyside, with 0024 being operated by "Happy" Al's Coaches, Birkenhead, and 0027 with Huggins of Moreton. However 0027 was soon on the move again and finally ended up giving four years of service with Smith's Coaches in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.

0027 was acquired in February 2001 for preservation by a member of the MTT and shortly afterwards 0024 was also acquired after a number of abortive attempts to save it since it had been withdrawn by Al’s Coaches in 1998 due to a major transmission defect.

Unfortunately whilst dumped on the scrap line, 0024 had been cannibalised. After a thorough inspection, it was found that 0027 was in slightly better condition than 0024 and so it has been decided to restore 0027 and use 0024 as a source of much needed spare parts.

Work to date has seen the replacement of the corroded steel stress panels on 0027 and some mechanical work including the removal and overhaul of one of its road springs. A lot of work remains to be done , but hopefully the vehicle will be completed in the future. 0027 is currently on long term loan to the Merseyside Transport Trust.