Confidence 50

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Two former Confidence Leyland PD3s are still extant. BUF272C, a 1965 Northern Counties ‘Queen Mary’ example new to Southdown is now with Seaford & District, and Metro-Cammell-bodied new to Leicester City Transport GRY55D is now in Belgium. NICK LARKIN COLLECTION

Legendary Leicester independent Confidence is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and being honoured at a major event, reports Nick Larkin

Confidence has reached the milestone fifty years of serving the local community. “We feel that for any bus operator to survive 50 years is an achievement and for a small independent even more so,” said proprietor Ken Williams.

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Ken has been a lifelong bus enthusiast. “The second word I ever said was bus,” he remembered. In the 1960s he served in the Merchant Navy. After a spell working in the engineering department at Leicester City Transport. Ken decided there was place for a small independent in the city and set up Confidence with a single bus, PUF647 being a Southdown Guy Arab with Park Royal bodywork. This bus still exists today as the only surviving Southdown closed top Arab.

The bus company was named after BP oil tanker British Confidence and the unique battleship grey and black livery is also marine-inspired. The fleet grew rapidly with Leyland PDs, Atlanteans and assorted coaches. In 1985 Ken bought 1961 London AEC Routemaster WLT655, which is used for weddings, funerals and other private hires.

Today Confidence runs 25 buses and coaches on schools and hires, plus other duties. Ken is always keen to see former Southdown buses go for preservation and was a guest of honour at the Southdown 100 celebrations a couple of years ago when he was reunited with some of his former vehicles which were new to that operator. “Things are more difficult for smaller operators nowadays with PSVAR, but we’re surviving.”

Confidence vehicles past and resent will be on display at the Quorn & Woodhouse Station Bus Rally on Saturday 25 April, a joint event between the Great Central Railway and the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust (LTHT).

Confidence details can be found at or by calling 0116 276217.

Britain’s oldest service bus?

Could this be the oldest non Routemaster to see regular service in Britain? UWW8X was one of 20 Leyland Olympians with Roe H47.29F bodywork new to West Yorkshire PTE in 1981/2. UWW1-20X were sold at deregulation and ran for a wide variety of operators, many enjoying long service lives.

Confidence operated UWW8-10X and although two of the buses have now been sold, UWW8X remains in regular use.

“This bus has given us superb services and it’s still in good order, though it doesn’t qualify under PSVAR so its future days in service are numbered.”

Ken wondered if this is the oldest non Routemaster double decker in normal use, as opposed to occasional or heritage duties, in the country.

Confidence has what must be the largest fleet of operational Leyland Olympians. Apart from UWW8X these include four Eastern Coachworks-bodied examples – former City of Oxford CUD221Y, Crosville B187BLG and B189BLG and London Buses D137FYM. UWW8X ran for many years with Cambus and later Stagecoach before being acquired by Confidence. UWW10X is now in the Eastern Bus Enthusiasts (EBE) fleet.

If you have any comments on UWW8X’s potential status as the oldest service bus, please get in touch with Nick Larkin on 07950643065 or via email at [email protected]