TMM 191 has led a very tortuous life. It started life working for British European
Airways (hence its Middlesex registration) as fleet number 1125 and was used on
the Liverpool Lime Street Station to Liverpool Airport service in 1950 along with
three others. Then after life as a public service vehicle it became a farm bus, a
store and then a mobile home before eventually moving back up north to join MTT’s
fleet of Preserved Liverpool Buses.
When the Airport service was transferred to Liverpool Corporation in 1952, B1 plus
the other three Bedford OBs were included with the sale becoming B1 to B4 in the
Corporation's bus fleet being garaged at Dingle depot.
In 1961 they were replaced by four Leyland Tigers which were re-bodied by Metro-
Cammell in 1961 as one-and-a-half-deck coaches, one of which is also in the care
of the Merseyside Transport Trust.
B1 then passed to a local coach operator, J.A.Lightfoot in Widnes, for use on school
services before passing to a coach operator in Somerset, finally ending up as a
“farm bus” transporting fruit pickers in 1968 on the Hugh Lowe Farm, which is a large
fruit farm in Kent.
After use as a store near Heathrow it finally it passed into preservation in 1977 being owned by a couple of preservationists in Middlesex. However, by 1982 it was sold on for conversion into a mobile home.
After use as a mobile home it ended up being stripped of its engine, gearbox and transmission for another OB and losing its registration number with it finally ending up languishing in a yard in Surrey in 1985.
It was subsequently purchased by another preservationist but only for spares for a similar bus he was restoring. However the condition of B1 was far superior than the condition of the OB he had intended to restore. His OB had been the subject of a major mobile caravan conversion and was by then in a very bad state after having been stored outside, so he decided to keep B1 and restore it but disguise it as the other OB. It was at this stage that all trace of B1 disappeared from preservation records and it was assumed to have been scrapped.
As part of the disguise, the sun roof was removed and panelled over and the rear wings cut back to match the design of a 1948 OB. After spending £4,000 in the late 1980s, work stopped and B1 was dry-stored under cover in various barns around Banbury, Oxfordshire.
The Trust became aware of its existence following an email from the owner who had only recently found out about its significance when he saw the Exclusive First Editions scale model of TMM 191 and had finally decided that as he would never complete the work the time had come to sell it on so that the restoration could be completed.
The OB eventually returned north in October 2013 to join the other Liverpool Buses in the collection being privately owned but on long term loan to the Merseyside Transport Trust.
There still remains a lot to complete, although most of work is internal. It will be returned to the condition it was in when owned by Liverpool Corporation. We need to replace the lino flooring and source a set of seats but hopefully it will be back on the road towards the end of 2014.