Country Area GS Bus 1950s
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Notes About This Vehicle

The GS was arguably London Transport’s prettiest and at the same time quirkiest and most untypical vehicle. This 84-strong fleet of 26-seaters was largely introduced to replace their ageing Leyland Cubs and a few CRs.
The chassis were provided by Guy, with a Perkins engine and bodywork from Eastern Coachworks, none of which manufacturer was a mainstream supplier to London Transport. Furthermore, the front end bonnet and wings came from Briggs Motor Bodies – Ford’s bodywork department.
Despite this, and the very un-like London Transport sliding side windows, the rear aspect, though by no means identical, tipped its hat notably to the contemporaneous larger seating capacity RF.
The Leyland Cubs operated on routes where narrow country lanes were encountered and where a low-capacity bus was sufficient for demand. At the time one-man operation of buses carrying more than 20 passengers was not permitted and the Cubs were the last of the London Transport fleet constrained by this regulation.
Operating as they did in quiet rural areas outside London, the replacement GS nevertheless seated 26, though the restriction was relaxed by the Traffic Commissioners. It would have been very uneconomical to operate crewed vehicles, though in due course as demand increased and roads became widened, RFs and RTs would supplant them.
The first 65 GSs entered service in October 1953 with one more in January 1954; 18 remained in store with speculation they might have operated in the Central Area in red. This never transpired and eventually all found their way into Country Area green service, the last not until January 1956.
Though they had a most unlike London Transport general external appearance for their time, and sounded far more like a bus from the provinces, the vehicles proved popular with passengers and drivers alike.
New regulations regarding rear lights were impending and became law from 1st October 1954. These introduced the mandatory fitting of two reflectors as well as two rear lights. The new GSs anticipated this in part and fitted two reflectors from new, but not the additional rear light, even though the wiring for it was in place. As this accompanying drawing attempts to depict the vehicle when new, and as it turned out that those nearside rear lights were never fitted during the service life of these vehicles, the aperture provided in the panel is shown here covered by the circular blanking plate.
An interesting feature is the wide rear mudflap which extended just outside the inner edges of those behind each of the rear wheels. This was to protect the two 12-volt batteries situated in an open cradle and removeable via the panel below the emergency door.
As well as the rest of London Transport’s mainstay fleets of RTs, RFs and other buses, ‘elephant ear’ front indicators were retro-fitted to GSs from 1959. Other future additions omitted here were the slip board to the rear of the garage stencils on the nearside, two grab handles one below each of the front windscreens, the shield protecting the front nearside spot light and the rear offside reversing light.
By 1962 the new Routemaster Coaches (RMCs) were taking to the roads and in turn releasing a plethora of country RFs. By this time RFs were operating as one-man too and mass withdrawals of GSs occurred. Some garages lost all their allocation and some GSs moved to areas where the need for small buses persisted.
As the 1960s wore on others were put into store, sold off or used as staff buses. In 1970 the country area of London Transport became part of the National Bus Company and ten of the GSs that had survived were passed to the newly formed London Country Bus Services Ltd, though five were retained as staff buses for Chiswick and Aldenham Works. The last GS to run in scheduled passenger service was in March 1972.
As alluded to earlier, many GSs survive in the hands of loving preservationists – quite a lot actually. It is a standing joke within the fraternity that 84 were built and 85 survive.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on a general arrangement drawing in such poor condition as to be unidentifiable for date. This type of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, is not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.
All the fine detail has been interpreted from contemporary black & white and colour photographs and mainly GS42 in preservation in July 2017. The detail should not be viewed with any certainty in terms of its appearance when in service and none of it can be regarded as definitive.
It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.

Thanks

I would like to say a ‘thank you’ to both Geoff Heels and Ian Dyckhoff for their assistance with some of the finer points of detail in this drawing and also to ‘Ian’s Bus Stop’ (a different Ian) at: www.countrybus.org from which I acknowledge I obtained a few historical facts.
 
drawing copyright Douglas Rose January 2019
 
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