1236 was new in March 1972, it was the first of 60 Leyland Atlantean PDR1 Specials which were diverted from Midland Red, (who had just sold part of its Birmingham operations to West Midland PTE,) and delivered to the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (MPTE). It was possible for the Alexander bodywork to be built to full Merseyside specification.
This included many features inherited from the previous Liverpool Corporation and MPTE Atlanteans such as peaked front and rear roof domes, translucent interior ceiling panels covering the fluorescent light tubes and back-to-back seating over the rear wheel arches.
This style of Alexander bodywork, called the AL (Alloy body to Liverpool spec.) was adopted as Merseyside's standard body style with 589 basically similar models being delivered between 1972 and 1984. These buses remained a common sight on the streets of Merseyside until Spring 2001.
1236 entered service from Walton garage and spent its early years mainly on route 20 between Aigburth and Fazakerley. December 1978 saw 1236 entering Edge Lane Works as the first pilot B4 overhaul for the AL bodied buses. (The B4 dock was the major strip-down and rebuild that all MPTE vehicles received to be re-certified after their first seven years in service). On its completion 1236 returned to Walton in March 1979 before moving on to Gillmoss later that year. Its final move was to St. Helens in October 1983 for use mainly on schools services, being withdrawn from service in October 1986.
After the de-regulation of the city's buses on the 26th October 1986, 1236 was not transferred to the new Merseybus organisation, which had taken over the running of most of the MPTE's vehicles and routes. However the MPTE kindly donated 1236 to the Mersey & Calder BPG for preservation.
Due to its modern appearance the group decided not to immediately restore the bus and when Merseyside Museums & Art Galleries approached the group about the loan of a bus for conversion into a mobile exhibition & support vehicle to follow its 1836 working steam locomotive, Lion, around numerous railway museums in Britain 1236 was the obvious choice.
It continued in this role until 1989. On its return, the Large Objects Store, which was run by the Merseyside Museums and provided ample free and secure accommodation closed. 1236 and a number of the group's other vehicles became homeless. Open storage at Cammell Laird's in Birkenhead followed before space became available at the group's base in West Lancashire.
Following the withdrawal of Merseyside's last Atlanteans in February 2001 it was thought that 1236's restoration would be appropriate and restoration work was completed in 2001, the bus being restored to 1972 livery complete with MPTE roundels.
After nearly 12 years of regular use at MTT events and rallies around the country 1236 was beginning to look tired so over the 2012/3 winter period 1236 was extensively re-panelled and repainted. Particular attention has been taken to restore the bus back to its pre 1978 overhaul condition with the reinstatement of its original design of front panel-work. To complete the transformation the opportunity has been taken to repaint 1236 into its mid to late 1970s livery of Verona Green and Jonquil along with green PTE roundels. The restoration work was completed in time for the bus to make its debut at the MTT’s 2013 Easter Sunday Classic Bus Running Day ‘Buses to Seacombe’ event.
Photograph: Mike Cammack