E1 was one of three experimental large capacity double deck buses that Liverpool Corporation hired or purchased for evaluation in 1959. Extensive observations were carried out on these vehicles, which were an AEC Regent V (E1), a Leyland Atlantean (E2), and an AEC Bridgemaster (E3), and much valuable operating information was gained.
In addition, notices in each vehicle invited opinions from passengers, which were divided into the relative merits of each vehicle but all were appreciative of the many improvements especially the introduction of saloon heating for the first time on Liverpool’s double deck buses! Similar observations were also collated from members of the operating staff. Unfortunately for AEC it was not one of their buses that was finally chosen as the future standard Liverpool bus.
E1, the Regent V, arrived in August 1959. It was bodied by Park Royal to a similar design to those delivered to the East Kent Road Car Co Ltd with a distinctive full width cab and forward entrance door. This made it easy for the driver to supervise the loading and unloading of passengers if the conductor was not on the platform.
Mechanically it has an AEC AV590 engine and air brakes similar to E3, but E1 was supplied with semi-automatic transmission as was E2. As with the other evaluation buses, E1 worked out of most of the Corporation’s garages to gain as much feedback as possible starting at Speke in August 1959 before moving on to Prince Alfred Road (December 1959), Edge Lane (January 1960), Walton (February 1960) and Litherland (July 1960). On completion of the evaluation, E1 was allocated to Garston where it found a regular niche operating on route 88 (Garston to Halewood).
Shortly after passing to the MPTE, E1 was re-allocated to Edge Lane, being relegated to peak hour extras until transferred into the reserve fleet in October 1973. After a brief spell in the driving school between January and February 1974, E1 was finally withdrawn in March 1974 after a respectable 15 years service.
Unusually for a Liverpool bus, it was sold for further service to T. Hollis, an independent operator in Queensferry who also collected interesting old vehicles. Later, after a short period with a dancing group in Ellesmere Port, E1 was acquired for preservation by a member of the Mersey & Calder Bus Preservation Group in the early 1980s. In the mid 1990s the M&C BPG took up the opportunity to purchase a 50% share in the vehicle, before passing to the Merseyside Transport Trust on its formation in 1999.
E1 has been cosmetically restored back to its 1959 livery of dark green with two cream bands, similar to the Trust’s other Liverpool Corporation AEC Regent V, A267. The pair made their debut on the rally scene at the 1998 AEC rally in Nottingham and since then E1 has attended a number of local events. E1 needs a few basic mechanical and body repairs, so hopefully will not be too long before it returns to service.