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Nick Larkin reports on the latest developments at Seaford & District, which is once again operating its 124 Lewes to Eastbourne heritage route

Seaford & District’s Bristol SC achieves 20 mpg plus in service and is seen with regular 124 performer, former Devon General AEC Regent V, VDV 818. DAVE MULPETER

A bus operator has praised the economy of classic vehicles, after an ECW-bodied Bristol SC4LK that it operates totted up more than 20 miles per gallon on a day back in service. A new to Crosville example from 1961, 241SFM was rostered for Ringmer-based Seaford & District’s 124 Lewes to Eastbourne heritage route, which is running five trips a day on Saturdays and Sundays. [wlm_nonmember][…]

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“The bus seemed to run on vapour,” said Seaford & District’s owner Dave Mulpeter. “If only there was a modern vehicle that could match this!”

The SC4LK was a lightweight Bristol chassis featuring a 3.8-litre Gardner engine and David Brown five-speed gearbox, produced from 1954 to 1961 primarily for one person operated services in rural areas.

“It not the fastest bus, but at least the route doesn’t have too many hills,” Dave, who set Seaford & District up in September 2010, commented. He is operating the 124 commercially until the August Bank Holiday, the route taking in Pevensey Castle and historic Alfriston. “This is our second year and we are more than happy at loadings so far, but the July period is really the peak,” he added.

Open-top regular performers on the route include a new to Devon General 1957 AEC Regent V/Metro-Cammell VDV818, and 1973 former Maidstone & District Bristol VRT/SL2/ECW HKE690L.

As well as the heritage side of the business, Seaford & District also operates Eastbourne Sightseeing with daily tours based on the south coast resort and 11 school services, 10 of them commercial routes with Dennis Tridents and Darts plus nine Volvo B7s in the fleet.

“We get something like 6.5mpg from a Trident and 7.5mpg from a Volvo, yet the Bristol VR will do twice that,” said Dave. “It does make you think.”

For further details of the 124 service or to hire a Seaford & District bus visit

This Maidstone & District Willowbrook-bodied Leyland Leopard is a new addition to Seaford & District’s heritage fleet. DAVE MULPETER

Seaford & District fleet update

Seaford & District’s heritage fleet is continuing to expand with the recent purchase of OKO816G, a new to Maidstone & District Willowbrook-bodied Leyland Leopard which is in excellent condition after many years in preservation. A further addition is Southdown Weymann-bodied Leyland Tiger Cub from 1960, XUF141.

Currently receiving work is FHT112, a new to Bristol 1939 Bristol K5G/ECW, later converted to open-top by Brighton, Hove and District and it should be ready for operation shortly.

Saved for preservation are no less than three former Southdown Bristol VRTs including the sole Series II two-door flat screen survivor, WUF537K. The other two are GNJ 573N, and AAP648T. A further example, UWV615S is almost ready for use.

Two pre-war vehicles acquired some time ago for continued preservation and potential revenue earning use are 1934 Southdown Leyland TD3 AUF670, re-bodied by East Lancs in 1946, and 1931 Thurgood-bodied Maudslay, now PSL234 but originally NV 30. This vehicle was new to Church of Pytchley t/a Royal Blue.

Seeing occasional use on Seaford & District’s Eastbourne Sightseeing service is new to Eastbourne Corporation DHC784E, an East Lancs open-top Leyland PD2A30.

Kendal Routemasters kindling interest

Stagecoach is running a successful Kendal-based Cumbria Routemaster hire venture which it’s hoped will be expanded into the north of the county.

Two AEC Routemaster RML-types, NML657E and SMK671F are run by Stagecoach in Kendal on weddings, proms and other duties. Also in the fleet is an Alexander-bodied Dennis Trident open-topper, S812EWC, which has been painted in traditional maroon and cream and christened The White Lady, recalling the one-time Ribble Motor Services coaches of the same name.

“There’s a lot of interest and the RMLs are out every weekend,” said Sean O’Callaghan, an Inspector at Stagecoach in Kendal. “We have been getting a lot of enquiries from Carlisle and the north of the county so we are aiming to base an RML there rather than drive up there at 35mph or so. We haven’t had problems maintaining the RMLs and we do have another example for use as spares.”

Both buses were part of the Stagecoach London fleet prior to withdrawal of the type in normal service in the capital.

To hire a bus phone 01539 722143 or email [email protected]

Back to the future

The Cumbrian Routemaster operation is generating a growing number of enquiries. NICK LARKIN

Stagecoach South revenue inspector and bus heritage operator, Chris Pearce has reacquired the first double-decker he ever bought and is returning it to revenue earning service for the first time since 1979.

The team renovating former Southdown Northern Counties-bodied Leyland PD3/4 ‘Queen Mary’ FCD294D consists of Chris, now semi-retired, his son Daniel, a fitter with Stagecoach South at Worthing, and Richard Alexander who retired as engineering director of Stagecoach South after an industry career spanning 52 years.

A lifelong love of buses led to Chris leaving his job at the family’s butcher’s business and becoming a driver with Southdown in 1989. “I’d always loved buses and always wanted a bus,” Chris explained. In 1996 he bought FCD294D, a driver trainer with Stagecoach.

“Much work was done, but I had lots of other vehicles and had the chance to pass 294 to a preservation group around seven years ago. “I then had the chance to buy it back, so that’s what I did. Being my first bus I obviously have great affection for it.”

The Leyland PD3/4 will be part of Chris’ Southdown Historic Vehicles Ltd fleet, which operates four buses on a wide range of private hires and other duties. Vehicles are hired to Stagecoach South for the service provided for visitors to the annual Goodwood Revival event in September. FCD294D, expected to be among the vehicles running this year, is currently undergoing a full mechanical overhaul.

Chris’ fleet now stands at 15 vehicles, including six of the well known ‘Queen Mary’ full-front Leyland PD3/4s of which Southdown ordered 285 from 1957-1967.

Acquisitions include MJA895G, a 1969 front-entrance Leyland PD3/14/East Lancs new to Stockport Corporation in February 1969, which had been in storage for 22 years and GTP995, a 1952 all-Leyland PD2/10 new to Portsmouth Corporation in 1952. This vehicle had been stored in a barn for 42 years and, following a mechanical overhaul, recently revisited its home city.

Added to the Southdown Historic Vehicles fleet is new to Thamesdown ECW-bodied Daimler Fleetline open-topper KMW176P, now painted in a post-deregulation version of Southdown livery.

“There’s quite a lot going on at the moment,” said Chris, with typical understatement.

For more information, visit Southdown Historic Vehicles at