Chassis – Leyland Panther PSUR1/1R 702506
Body - Charles H Roe of Leeds GO6454
Power – Leyland 0600 with 4 speed semi automatic gearbox
LHL 164F is a Leyland Panther PSUR1/1R and was one of the first generation of rear engined single deck buses operated by the West Riding Automobile Company. It entered service on 22nd November 1967 and was withdrawn from passenger service on 29th December 1979 after accumulating 453,759 miles.
164 was part of a batch of ten buses registration numbers LHL 156–165F bodied by Charles H Roe of Crossgates, Leeds. Many observers would say that this style of body was perhaps the most handsome of those used on the various batches of West Riding Panthers. West Riding had previously taken delivery of ten Panthers bodied in a similar style, registration numbers JHL 136–145E. A further 25, registration numbers KHL 646–655F & LHL 166–180F, were bodied by Marshall. A final small batch of five buses registration numbers PHL 236–240G with Plaxton Derwent style bodywork joined the others, being delivered in 1969. Despite some operators finding the Panther troublesome, West Riding tamed the beast and the fleet of Panthers provided much better reliability than ten Daimler Roadliners purchased in 1966 and five AEC Swifts purchased in 1967.
The seating capacity of 51 in the Panthers almost matched that of elderly PD2 double deck buses being withdrawn. The Panther also offered the opportunity for one-man operation, removing the traditional conductor presented the opportunity to save costs and keep services with lower passenger loadings operating. Thus 164 has an illuminated “Pay as you enter” sign above the windscreen denoting that no conductor was on board – this being a fairly novel feature in the mid 1960’s. 164 spent many years plying for trade around Castleford and Pontefract before returning to Wakefield.
Whilst in passenger service 164 received three different livery styles – the one it carries now, a repaint into the darker Tilling green scheme with one cream band under the windows and finally the standard National Bus Company red and white scheme. In 1979 164 became part of the driver training fleet being painted cream and black and was numbered A26, being finally withdrawn in July 1983 with 466,304 miles completed in West Riding service.
By 1985 she had been acquired for preservation by the West Riding Omnibus Preservation Society (WROPS) and was fully stripped down during 1989/90, then being extensively rallied over several years. Unfortunately, she developed a serious engine fault and was laid up for several years until Mike Bennett rebuilt the engine. Having been made roadworthy once more and with a generous donation from Arriva, 164 was prepared for service again in late 2011, was MOT’d and featured once more as an active member of the WROPS collection. In autumn 2013 the engine and gearbox required some further attention and she is now once again fit and healthy following work carried out by Mike Bennett & Andrew Beever. She has been out and about at many rallies during the last ten years and has given numerous full days of faultless service.
She is the only known survivor of the large fleet of Panthers operated by West Riding. The only other known surviving West Riding single deck bus operated around the same time is a Bristol RELL6G registration number THL 261H from 1970, also in the care of WROPS.
Click on the image above to see more photographs of LHL164F