The Merseyside Transport Trust

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INFORMATION

Fleet number:
DFG 65

Registration:
875 VFM

Chassis:
Bristol FSF6G
179.042

Body:
ECW 12312

Layout:
H34/26F

New:
January 1962

Current status:
Awaiting restoration

  Crosville DFG 65 was delivered in 1962 and was one of thirty Bristol /
  ECW 60-seat FSF Lodekkas new that year. Whereas the FLF Lodekka
  (see DFB 43) was a 30ft long forward entrance 70-seater, the FSF was a
  27ft long forward entrance 60-seater. Although not foreseen at the time,
  these proved to be Crosville's only FSFs. The first five, numbered DFB 54
  to DFB 58, had Bristol BVW engines and were model FSF6B. The other
  twenty-five had Gardner 6LW engines and were model FSF6G. All thirty
  had four-speed crash gearboxes. At least six of the FSF6Gs were allocated
  to Liverpool's Edge Lane depot, although not DFG 65. Warrington depot
  had further examples, which appeared on a daily basis on their three routes
  into Liverpool, the H1, H2 and H5.

  Crosville was a member company of the Tilling Group, which sold its bus interests to the British Transport Commission in 1948, making it a nationalised operator. Tilling had an in-house chassis manufacturer in Bristol Commercial Vehicles and an in-house bodybuilder in Eastern Coach Works at Lowestoft. These two companies were also nationalised and were limited to building only for the nationalised sector, until the restriction was lifted in 1966. Other operators in the Tilling Group included United in north-east england and Western National in south-west England, meaning that the Tilling empire stretched from Berwick-on-Tweed to Land's End. Liveries as well as vehicles were highly standardised on green or red, with about two thirds being green (e.g., Lincolnshire & Hants & Dorset) whilst about a third were red, (for example Thames Valley and Eastern Counties). A small number of exceptions existed, one instance being at Brighton Hove & District where an agreement with the Corporation meant that the red livery had a greater proportion of cream relief.

The 1962 Lodekka orders for the nationalised operators consisted largely of the two forward entrance models, FLF and FSF, and it looked as if the two rear-entrance versions (the 30ft FL and the 27ft FS) would be phased out. In all cases the leading "F" stood for "flat floor". As it turned out, the FS returned to favour with Crosville and most other Lodekka users in 1963, with the FL and FSF being discontinued by 1964. Up to and including 1966, Crosville ordered a mixture of FLFs and FSs for its double-deck requirements. Eventually Crosville had an impressive 241 "F-series" Lodekkas delivered new.

This bus features the only example in the MTT collection of an illuminated advertisement. For over a hundred years double deck trams and buses have carried advertising on the upper deck side panels, bringing revenue to the operators. In the early 1960s there was a short-lived trend for fitting back-illuminated advertisements on the offsides of double deckers. An additional set of batteries was incorporated and the advertisements showed up strongly at night. Advertisers paid enhanced rates for these sites, Higsons Brewery being one local company that used them. Generally the illuminated panels were factory-fitted onto new buses, as it would have been time consuming and costly to modify an existing bus. Various factors such as water ingress, lack of sustained interest by advertisers and damage in the bus wash led to illuminated adverts becoming disused. Rather than remove the equipment, it was easier to leave the panel in place, remove the electrics and just paste a conventional advertisement over the perspex. As can be seen, this is what eventually happened to the illuminated panel on DFG 65.

DFG 65 was based at Crewe depot where it would have been used on the local network of K-prefixed town services. It did run briefly on Merseyside, being loaned to Liverpool's Edge Lane depot, admittedly only for a few days in the mid-1970s. Three of the FSFs (DFG 68, 72, 81) were converted to open toppers in the mid-1970s for a new route in Llandudno. In the same decade large numbers of Bristol REs, Seddon RUs and Leyland Nationals were entering the Crosville fleet, enabling many routes to be converted to one-person operation. The Lodekkas, which could only be operated with a conductor, were soon obselete and all the FSFs apart from the three open toppers had gone by 1978 after lives of no more than sixteen years. After withdrawal DFG 65 was purchased for use as a canteen / messroom on Liverpool Docks, from which role it went into preservation.