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Coaches to rely on – A Timpson & Sons and the AEC Reliance
Vintage Roadscene

Coaches to rely on – A Timpson & Sons and the AEC Reliance

Posted Tuesday, April 14, 2015   |   2575 views   |   Aviation & Transport   |   Comments (2) Allan Bedford remembers travelling on the many diff erent coaches in the Timpson fleet based on the AEC Reliance chassis.

When I was a lad, our family relied on public transport to get around, with a few summer trips to the seaside on Sundays, plus the annual holiday, which were mainly courtesy of a Timpson Coach. 

These were either AEC Regal IIIs and IVs, and later on, the early Reliances. We lived at Barnehurst in Kent, then part of the Crayford Urban District, and were able to walk to Timpson’s Coach Station in Catford in about 30 minutes.

If your day trip was to Brighton, for instance, a ‘feeder’ coach would take you to the Catford headquarters, via every other town in between, involving about an hour’s additional travel, before transferring to ‘your coach’.

However, if your destination happened to be Folkestone, you would be the last to board the coach, which had performed a similar detour around South-east London. This was followed by a refreshment and comfort stop at the ‘Royal Oak’, at Wrotham Heath, just 30 minutes after boarding.

Alexander Timpson bought his first ‘Chara’, a Ryknield, built in Burton-upon-Trent, in 1912.  Karrier vehicles dominated the fleet in the 1920s and then AECs from 1929. Early Charabancs were silver – known as The Silver Cars – before the familiar rich cream and maroon with Roman-style lettering was adopted. In the late 1960s, for some inexplicable reason, the drab green and grey colours of the former Bourne & Balmer company of Croydon, acquired in 1953, were adopted. This changed again to a more acceptable white and purple combination, before the adoption of the National ‘colours’ –all-over white – under National Bus company control, along with the demise of Timpson’s, when National Travel (SE) was formed in January 1974.

According to the information contained in PSV Circle ‘PN7’ Fleet History, a total of 132 Reliances, with various chassis designations, were purchased between 1954 and 1973, including eight for the associated Bourne & Balmer Croydon fleet. These were split between six coachbuilders as follows:-

Park Royal    10*
Burlingham    8*
Weymann        14
Harrington    22
Duple        33
Plaxton        45
Total        132

* Includes the eight in the associated Bourne & Balmer Fleet

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About Vintage Roadscene

Vintage Roadscene, Britain's leading road transport history magazine, takes readers on a nostalgic trip back to the good old days of motoring as it used to be, when any road journey was a grand adventure.

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