Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Leyland National buses with diecast replicas

02 January 2012
imports_CCGB_leyland-big_92705.jpg Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Leyland National buses with diecast replicas
Roger Bailey celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first Leyland National buses entering service in 1972, and offers some diecast model examples from Exclusive First Editions. ...

The first production Leyland National vehicles appeared in 1972 after much development. They lasted until 1985, when a total of 7,835 buses had been made, which is quite an achievement, as I’m sure you’d agree.

In 2012, besides being the year of the Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee of HRH The Queen, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first production vehicles entering service. In this feature I will take an in-depth look at the ‘real’ buses seen on the roads at the time with some diecast examples produced by EFE.

The Leyland National was developed as a joint project between two UK nationalised industries, the newly formed National Bus Company and the Leyland Motor Corporation. They were constructed at a specially built factory at the Lillyhall Industrial Estate, Workington, Cumbria, and were originally built to replace a range of chassis that were being constructed, the rear-engined single-deckers offered by British Leyland. These included the AEC Swift, Bristol RE, single-deck Daimler Fleetline, Daimler Roadliner and Leyland Panther.

The Leyland National was one of the first buses to use integral construction. Before then, chassis had come from one supplier, bodies from another.

The modular design allowed for easy modification of the vehicle specification, allowing various lengths and door options to be produced. It was first unveiled at the 1970 Commercial Motor Show.

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An extensive proving programme was undertaken, partly with a fleet of 10 pre-production vehicles, four going into service with London Country, Cumberland and Northern General. The last of the 10, chassis number 10, was on show in the demonstration park at the Commercial Motor Show in 1972, registration number FRM499K.

PICTURED First Midland Red Mark 1 Long, based on the first bus delivered to Midland Red in late 1972 and the only one painted in the traditional colours.

PICTURED TOP RIGHT EFE’s 15110 SELNEC PTE EX30 Mark 1 Long. This model was based on the first production vehicle to enter service with an operator, being delivered new to SELNEC in the spring of 1972. The fleet number indicated it was a member of its experimental series at the time it entered service, but was later renumbered. It is currently in preservation at the Museum of Transport, Greater Manchester.  

The initial production vehicles were made available, the first with chassis number 101, going to SELNEC (South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire) PTE in 1972 as its EX30 in its experimental series, followed by the rest of the batch.

Other early examples included chassis numbers 104/105 for Sunderland District 725/6 UUP 12/3K, originally expected to see service with Northern General, plus a sizable batch were used for Northern General, Crosville, Ribble, Plymouth Corporation and Tyneside, which included chassis number 173, 522 KBB522L, and Midland Red, which included chassis 230, 101HHA101L, the only one painted in traditional fleet colours...