In 1947, Liverpool Corporation was more than concerned over the appalling condition of the neglected tram fleet and so it was decided that the number of new buses to be ordered would be increased from 100 to a total of 290. Unfortunately, AEC was overwhelmed with orders and was not able to accept any further orders for that year. It was therefore with great reluctance that the idea of standardising on the one make of vehicle had to be abandoned.
In July 1947 additional chassis orders were placed with Daimler for 90 , Leyland for 50 and 50 for Crossley. Of the 90 Daimler chassis, 80 had the AEC A173 7.7 litre engine that was standard in all but 25 of the AECs that had been delivered so far, the remaining 10 had the Daimler CD 8.6 litre engine. All 90 had pre-selector (spring operated) gearboxes fitted, popular at the time because it was thought that it was easier to teach a tram driver to drive a bus fitted with this gearbox than one fitted with a crash box.
The bodywork fitted to these Daimler chassis was also of two differing types: 50 were bodied by Northern Counties Motor and Engineering Co. Ltd. of Wigan who altered their standard five bay design to a four bay one especially for this order. The other 40 chassis were fitted with Weymann frames, which were completed by the Corporation at Edge Lane Works.
D553 was delivered in March 1949. It has an AEC engine as did all the other Northern Counties bodied Daimlers supplied to Liverpool Corporation (apart from D565 which had been completed ahead of the rest so that it could be exhibited at the 1948 Commercial Motor Show).
It commenced its career at Prince Alfred Road Garage but its stay in the south of the city was short lived as in 1951 it was reallocated to Litherland Garage along with the rest of the Daimlers as part of the North Liverpool tramway replacement scheme. D553 remained at Litherland until it was withdrawn from service in August 1965, the last Daimler (D600) being withdrawn the following February.
After withdrawal, D553 is documented as being sold, becoming a store shed in Kirkby in September 1965. In the early 1980s it was discovered behind a large house on the outskirts of Formby were it had been used as a playroom for the children of a wealthy Liverpool pools magnate.
After negotiating a deal, the rescue of D553 was drawn out over a two-year period. This was because it had sunk up to its axles in the very soft sandy soil that is typical of this part of the region. After an unsuccessful attempt to drag the bus out of the garden, the group was able to enlist the assistance of a Territorial Army group in 1983.
Unfortunately even the TA could not rescue D553 over the weekend! It was not until the following year, 1984, that the TA returned to have another attempt at pulling the bus out. This time after burning chunks out of the rear brake shoes and drums with an oxy-acetylene cutting tool D553 was successfully towed to Burscough.
D553 has remained under cover since its arrival; it is in the sort of condition that you would expect as a result of nearly 20 years of sitting in a field in a salty atmosphere. It has no interior fittings, the body structure is rotten, the back brake gear has been butchered and the engine sump has more sand in it than oil, but we have not given up hope of seeing it restored.
Some parts have since been sourced including a replacement A173 engine! Once money and time permits it will be nice to see her on the road again.