PFE 542V - 1980 Bristol VRT Series 3

Eastern Coach Works H43/31F body

Lincolnshire Road Car No. 1958

New to Lincs Road Car in 1980 as fleet number 1958, initially allocated to Grimsby depot (this allocation included the Louth 'outstation'.)

The Bristol VR model was launched in 1966, and the design is in many ways an evolution from the earlier Bristol / ECW product the 'Lodekka' (see LFW 326) - front engined buses being somewhat out of fashion by the late 60s, with Leyland and Daimler having launched the 'Atlantean' and 'Fleetline' models in 1956 and 1960. 'One Man Operation' (as it was called before the Sex Discrimination Act!) being the ultimate aim, being made possible by the front entrance, although this was not made legal for double deck buses until 1969.

The Government's "New Bus Grant" scheme which was introduced around the same time subsidised the purchase of new buses, provided they were suitable for 'OMO' operation, and this led to the rapid demise of the front engine models still available. The Bristol VR model was finally withdrawn from sale when the Leyland group (of which Bristol had become part) standardised on the 'Olympian' chassis - some of the early examples (including those bought by Lincoln City Transport) were built at the now-closed Bristol factory. Lincolnshire Road Car purchased 70 Bristol VRs between 1969 and 1981, further VRs joined the fleet after deregulation, many from what was now the parent company of Yorkshire Traction.

During the mid 1990s, however, the VRs were gradually replaced by a combination of new vehicles, second hand Olympians (some also from 'Traction Group' companies Strathtay and Yorkshire Terrier) and second-hand Atlanteans from a variety of sources (the difficulty in replacing VR gearboxes and the frequent need to replace rear axles apparently being the main reason for the switch to Atlanteans.)

Eventually No. 1958 was left as the only VR - and the last Bristol bus - in the Road Car fleet. Its final duties being on school contracts to the south of Lincoln, in a striking yellow/red "School Bus" livery. This vehicle made an appearance at the LVVS Open Day in April 2001, when it was announced that Lincolnshire Road Car had generously agreed to donate the bus to the Society on its withdrawal from service. This bus was withdrawn from service in July 2001, at the end of the school term, and passed to the LVVS in August - ending 55 years of Bristol buses being represented in the 'Road Car' fleet.

VR, Lodekka and K type PFE542V
Above - Three generations of LRC Bristol - VR, Lodekka and K

Above Right - 1958 at Lincoln depot, January 1999 in post-deregulation 'RoadCar' livery

Right - 1958 in 'School Bus' livery, at Lincoln depot, September 2000

No. 1958 ran in yellow livery at the November 2001 Open Day, prior to some time away from the Museum before its November 2002 re-appearance (albeit not in service), returned to its original, 'National Bus leaf green' livery - in large part thanks to a Heritage Grant from Lincolnshire County Council.

A return to 'service' came with the Easter 2003 Open Day (celebrating 75 years of the formation of Lincolnshire Road Car) - by this time No. 1958 had acquired a full set of fleetnames and other NBC corporate image signs and lettering, as well as many seats refitted with the original (dark brown vinyl) specification cushions. 1958 has been a steady performer at most Open Days and other events since.

Lincolnshire 1958 in action on the park and ride service at our Easter 2007 Open Day event - video by novachannel on Youtube.

A 3-d model of this bus for the BVE train simulator is now downloadable here.

1 - a cab door cash tray for No. 1958 - the 'double deck' type used by Lincs Road Car, suitable to take a coin dispenser.
2 - arm rests for lower deck wheelarch bench seats (in dark brown vinyl)

Click here for more about the restoration and history of No. 1958

January 2007 - A new n/s drivers mirror was fitted prior to the Open Day together with a new dipswitch/horn unit. The chassis has also been steam cleaned at ‘Stagecoach’ – thanks to all involved.

July 2007 - One of the chassis cross members has had to be plated up due to bad corrosion and new undertrays, carrying the water pipes, have been fitted - again due to rot.

July 2008 - This has received new windscreen wiper mechanism (thanks to Carl for supplying a nice new one) and motor. A water pipe repair has been needed and associated brackets fitted. The bus has been MOT tested in time for Waddington AIr Show.

January 2010 - Following early withdrawal from duty at our Open Day, it was taken to Retford the following month for a replacement mitre box to be fitted. Thanks here to Wells Recovery at Lincoln for their continued help, together with Kettlewells of Retford who kindly gave us the use of their workshop.

No. 1958 on tow to Retford No. 1958 receiveing attention in the workshops of Kettlewells of Retford

October 2010 - Renovation of the rear engine inspection doors is making good progress.

January 2011 - The engine doors have been repainted but the shade is not quite right even though we still had some paint left over from the original repaint!

October 2014 - Along with our Olympian, the VR has had its chassis sand blasted and repainted to a high standard. Some repairs to the fuel tank are required before MOT.


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