UVL 873M UVL 873M - 1973 Bristol RELL6L

Alexander Y type B48F body

Lincoln Corporation No. 73

In 1973, Lincoln Corporation purchased 12 Bristol RE single deck buses, with Alexander Y-type bodywork, numbered 66 to 77. This was unusual for Lincoln, who had been a customer of Leyland since 1927, and of Roe since 1941 (we have 3 Leyland / Roe buses at the Museum.) The choice of Alexander Y type body on this chassis is also quite unusual, it is more commonly associated with underfloor engined types, such as the Leyland Leopard, and with Scottish operators. The design, launched in 1961, and in production into the early 1980s, qualifies as a design classic, many (Leyand Leopard) examples coming south to the Road Car fleet in the 1990s.

A picture of No. 73 (and No. 74) new, awaiting the journey south from Alexanders' works can be seen on William Walker's Photo Stream on 'Flickr'.

No. 73 was fitted from new with 'Autofare' equipment for driver-only operation, with a farebox - the aim being to speed passenger boarding with an exact fare / no change system. No. 73 was withdrawn in late 1982, passing in February 1983 to Messrs Bird, trading as Ongar Motors, of Ongar, Essex. Reports at the time suggested that No. 73 would be one of three similar buses passing to Messrs. Bird, but sale of the other two did not take place.

No 73 in Service {short description of image}
No. 73 in Lincoln service at City Bus Station No. 73 in service with Webbs' - seen at Chelmsford Retail Market bus stand

Ongar Motors had a varied fleet and operated mainly contract and local private hire services. No. 73 remained in LCT green and cream, and ran alongside 2 ex Eastbourne AEC Regents, and another Alexander Y type, the latter on AEC Reliance chassis, ex Premier Travel - most remaining in their former owners' livery.

In 1988, No.73 passed to Messrs Webb of Galleywood near Chelmsford in Essex, and was used on a variety of local bus services (many contracted to Essex County Council) around Chelmsford and Maldon in a brown / cream livery.

By 1992 No.73 had moved north to Staffordshire to Craig Tilsley Engineers. The original plan to use the bus for transporting a football team turned out to be a limited activity, and the bus was used as a storage facility for many years. Most of the others in the batch continued in Lincoln service into the 1990s, many then passing to other operators for further service.

Any further information or 'in service' photographs from No. 73's years in Essex would be much appreciated.

By 2000, however, No. 73 was, as far as we know, the only survivor, and, following an enquiry by a Society member who was considering purchasing the vehicle for restoration, Craig Tilsley generously offered to donate the bus to the LVVS. The return of the bus to Lincolnshire took place (on tow) in February 2001. A thorough clean-up was the first task. The engine of the bus was rebuilt while in the care of Messrs Tilsley, and the basic mechanical parts appeared sound - two windows were missing, although replacements were soon tracked down and fitted, and some seats and parts of the floor had suffered from water getting in.

1973 Bristol RE No. 73 as we first saw it in late 2000.

In 2009, the Lincolnshire Co-operative Society took the restoration of the bus on as a community donation to the LVVS, the bus moving to the Co-op workshops for an extensive restoration. It emerged in May 2011, in a blue & white based livery advertising Lincolnshire Co-operative, and summer 2011 saw the bus make several appearances as part of Lincolnshire Co-operative's 150th anniversary celebration events around the County.

A number of this batch received all-over advertising liveries during their career with City of Lincoln / Lincoln City Transport, and one or two of Lincoln's Bristol VRs received all-over adverts for Lincolnshire Co-op during the 1970s and 80s.

We are enormously grateful for all the help we have received with this project from many companies, friends and museums. A diary of 73's restoration can be read here

No. 73 at its May 2011 launch in Lincolnshire Co-operative livery

April 2012 - A pre-deregulation destination blind has now been acquired.

January 2013 - Further investigations to the bus 'white' smoking on occasions have seen the inspection of the injectors.

April 2013 - The injectors have been serviced and are being fitted shortly.

October 2013 - Following the RAF Waddington Air Show, Lincoln 73 has been a little troublesome, with the result that the fuel injection is now being investigated. At the time of writing, the lift pump is suspected as being faulty.

January 2014 - Following the open day the fuel pump was sent away for overhaul due to rather erratic starting / performance.

April 2014 - The fuel injection and lift pump have been overhauled and re-fitted, resulting in better performance.

July 2014 - The reason for the leaking roof has been identified, new rivets and resealing should solve the problem.

January 2015 - The floor trap locks have been replaced, and the front door rubbers replaced.

October 2017 - A damaged panel has been replaced, and work has started on the 'new' engine.

UVL 873M - 7 October 2017 UVL 873M - cylinder heads for 'new' engine - 4 December 2017


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