| This page has a selection of photos by Cliff Essex of Western National , Devon General, Exeter Corporation and Greenslades buses and coaches before or soon after the formation of the NBC swamped the companies individual identities.|
Devon General were an early operator of Leyland Atlanteans, this one is from the first batch they received, 875 (875ATA) is seen at Newton Abbot bus station working the service 12 to Brixham via Torquay and Paignton which in those days was every 12 minutes.
Another of the same batch, 872 is seen with NBC style fleetnames but in traditional livery rounding the Strand in Torquay.
900 (900DTT) was from the second batch, it is seen here down in Cornwall after WN and DG were merged where it was painted in a special GWR livery to mark the 75th anniversary of the Great Western Railway starting the first motor bus service in the country from Helston to the Lizard peninsula. A later DG Atlantean can be seen preserved on Preserved buses.
9 of the third batch of Atlanteans that DG took were convertible Open Top buses which were used on seasonal services around Torbay. This is 929 Sir Richard Grenville at St. Marychurch, Torquay on the 12C to Kingswear via Torquay and Paignton sea fronts. Note the railway style route board on the side. These buses were all named after famous English sea farers.
Another view of 929, this time with roof on at Paignton Bus Station. It wasn't often that the Sea Dogs appeared "closed".
929 was caught in NBC livery having its top put on at Newton road depot, Torquay.
A last one of 929, this time without its top when it looks like it needed it in the rain.
In NBC days some were transferred to other areas, 925 Admiral Blake is seen in service with Cornish Busways. Of note is that it has the top on, originally these vehicles would have their roofs put on for the winter but be stored under cover in the Grey Cars coach depot at Torwood Street, it was rare if ever that they worked services with the top on in Devon General days.
Outside of Torbay with its heavy holiday time loadings Devon General were loyal operators of AEC Regents such 509 seen here at Newton Abbot. It is a 30' Regent V with 69 seat bodywork.
517, also seen at Newton Abbot was a shorter 59 seat variant which was in NBC poppy red when this photo was taken.
An earlier Devon General AEC Regent V with rear entrance bodywork. 789 has rear platform doors, DG seemed for a time to take a batch of 10 with platform doors followed by 10 without. After 789 though the double deck intake was all Atlanteans for a time.
The next Regents into the fleet were the "MDV" batch, of which 974 in NBC poppy red and another in "old" livery but with NBC style fleetnames were two. They are seen at Exeter.
Another of the MDV's is 970,seen here at Newton Abbot in original livery.
Devon General had a few Albion Nimbus buses for use on some routes along difficult Devon lanes, seen here in preservation is 839, there are some more photos of it on Preserved buses . Photo by Roger Wortley
To replace K's and KSW's such as the ones below and on Preserved buses on routes which required shorter vehicles Western National took transfer of 20 Bristol FSF's from Bristol Omnibus, a line up of 3 of them can be seen here in Paignton bus station - it was a real surprise when I first saw one in Paignton with its BOC style "T" indicator box.
Also seen at Paignton is Western National Bristol KSW, 1828. Unusually it had been working the 148, more normally worked by FLF's - one of which can be seen in the background of the Grey Cars photo 2 below.
Bristol LD's were rare at Paignton, 1863 appeared there occasionally but is seen here in Cornwall. There is a photo of an LDL at Paignton in NBC/Devon General days on Quantock Heritage.
Another view at Paignton, Devon General's coach operations were under the name of Grey Cars. This example is an AEC Reliance with Willowbrook C41F bodywork, with "reverse rake" rear screen as fitted to the Ford Anglia and Classic cars of the time.
Another of this type of Grey Cars coach at Plymouth after it had been transferred to Greenslades.
966HTT, another AEC Reliance/Willowbrook Viscount originally with Grey Cars but seen here in early NBC livery with Greenslades.
Sticking with Greenslades, they, like Grey Cars, standardised for a time on AEC Reliance's with Harrington bodywork such as AFJ80B seen here in Exeter, Greenslades main base.
A Grey Cars AEC/Harrington seen here in Torquay Torwood Street garage, the Grey Cars depot that was also used to store the open toppers in winter.
After Harrington stopped building coach bodies Grey Cars took some Duple bodied coaches such as 35, seen here at Exeter.
Moving into the NBC era Devon General was merged into Western National, the service 12 became the 120 and an ex Maidstone and District Atlantean 995 (516DKT) is seen here working it at Paignton bound for Brixham in NBC livery with Western National fleetnames.
F279HOD of Burton Coaches, Brixham is seen here at Paignton on the rival service to the 12/120 that they operated after deregulation. The reality of course was that small operators couldn't compete and Burtons had been bought by Western National by the time this photo was taken. Whether it was a comment on this or not I don't know but there is a handwritten sign in the windscreen "Mr Angry".
Another local operator was Court Coaches, a pair of their Bedford/Duple coaches are seen here in Torquay, not long after they were bought by Devon General who kept the fleetname alive for a while, albeit on reliveried Grey Cars AEC Reliances with Willowbrook Viking bodies such as 890 which is now restored by Quantock Heritage and is seen below.
JTA763E, one of the pair above, stayed with Devon General long enough to receive early NBC style coach livery as part of the Grey Cars fleet.
Formerly Grey Cars 890 was transferred to the Royal Blue fleet (as 1237) for a particular service and is seen here in their early NBC livery at WN's Totnes depot - in the delightfully named Ticklemoor Street.
For contrast, a 2003 view of 890 now restored by Quantock Heritage in service on a special service in connection with the West Somerset Railway.
In contrast to WN's all Bristol fleet and DG's mainly AEC one (the Atlanteans were all originally based at Torquay) Exeter Corporation had a variety, this example is no. 50 a Guy Arab, seen in the depot which used to be across the roundabout from the bus and coach stations.
Another Guy Arab was no. 58, seen standing outside the depot.
The next intake by Exeter was a batch of Leyland Titan PD2's such as no.63, also seen outside the depot.
Later Titans were PD2A's with the St. Helens glass fibre fronts such as 83 seen in service in the city. These vehicles survived well after the Devon General takeover of the Corporation fleet, ending their days in NBC poppy red.
Another PD2A no 96 is seen leaving the bus station on the 85 to Crediton. Some Corporation services ran well outside the city, while Devon General operated some local routes entirely within it. At the time I thought the St Helens front was really good looking, now I find it looks a bit "heavy", still nice buses though.
One of the first batch of PD2A's was 77, seen here in Exeter Bus Station.
A PD2A after the Devon General takeover as 283 in pre NBC Devon General livery, to me the St Helens front looked better in red.
A Daimler half cab single decker in the Exeter fleet, these vehicles were on their way out when I first started to be interested in buses. The Corporation had a small number of single deck buses for specific routes.
208 again after being repainted in Devon General colours
To finish, an odd one of Plymouth Corporation's Milehouse depot, an elderly Titan in use as a trainer in front of a line up of early Atlanteans. PCT were dedicated Leyland operators, switching from Titans to Atlanteans as soon as the latter appeared.
I'm very grateful to Cliff for allowing me to use these photos.
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This site was last updated 15-07-2012
Photos not otherwise credited are ©2001/2002 S G J Huddy. Other photos are included with permission of the copyright holders.