Leicester PD2 restored by depot apprentices

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Stuart Render reports on the revealing of a historic bus which has been restored by engineering apprentices at First Leicester

On Wednesday 4 March, Stuart Render visited First Leicester’s Abbey Lane depot to see the unveiling of a 1950 Leyland Titan PD2 that has been undergoing an overhaul as part of an apprentice training scheme.

The bus, FJF193, fleet number 154, first entered service with Leicester City Transport (LCT) in December 1950. It was withdrawn in March 1970 and passed through several hands before ending up with dealer Joe Sykes in September 1981.

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Two employees of LCT, Mike Greenwood and John Arnold, met with LCT General Manager Geoffrey Hilditch to suggest it should be saved and could earn its keep as a heritage vehicle. Geoffrey agreed, the bus was rescued from the dealer at the eleventh hour, and brought to Leicester and restored by LCT’s bodyshop and engineering staff. It was completed in June 1983 making its first appearance at the ‘100 Years of Motorbuses’ rally in Cardiff that month.

After passing from LCT to Leicester CityBus and FirstGroup, it was sold for preservation in 2008. It was donated to the Leicester Transport Heritage Trust (LTHT) by its owner Simon Gill in 2015. By 2017 the bus, having attended many rallies and been a star performer at the annual LTHT Leicester Running Days, required a major body and mechanical overhaul, and First Leicester took it into its Abbey Lane workshops. Remarkably, two of the apprentices who had worked on 154 in 1983 are still employed by First, now teaching new apprentices. This meant that those men who had worked on the bus the first time around were now teaching new apprentices body work and mechanical skills on the very same bus they had learnt on. There’s a belief at Leicester that this particular set of circumstances may never have happened before!

The LTHT wishes to thank First Leicester for all the hard work and help getting 154 back onto the road. It will be attending the Bus and Train Spectacular at Quorn & Woodhouse Station on the Great Central Railway on 25 April.