Leyland Fleetline - DM2646
71 seats (44 upstairs & 27 downstairs)
London Transport never really got to grips with its DMS class vehicles and the over 2,500 vehicle class were sold off early, with the majority passing through the Ensignbus dealership on their way to new owners, who were happy with them after many of the London additional extras had been stripped out. DM2646 was the very last one and was new in the summer of 1978 by which time the arrival of the new Metrobus and Titan class was already being planned. That said at the start of 1979 it was London Transports newest bus and was thus selected to be one of the vehicles that wore the attractive 1829 era Shillibeer livery to celebrate 150 years of bus transport in London. Leaving London in 1992 it went through various owners before being donated to Ensignbus in 2004. After a period of storage it was returned to the road and its Shillibeer livery in 2007.
DMS Class History:
The DMS class was London’s first stab at running one man operated buses and for LT it was quite a learning curve. With RT’s and RMs not getting any newer London had to look for newer buses, with budget pressures mounting, higher capacity single crewed vehicles were their only way forwards. The vehicle known as the Londoner was on a Fleetline chassis and was the preferred choice following experimentation since 1965 of the Fleetline versus the Atlantean in the XF and XA classes.
However LT had a penance for over engineering and complicating things and the DMS was no exception. The Fleetline was a well known and proven chassis but with staff shortages, many niggling problems that needed resolving leading to bus shortages and thus less vehicles working harder which in turn caused more problems a viscous circle was born and the DMS’ days were numbered from the beginning. Indeed by the time the very last of the 2646 were delivered, the second generation of rear engine, one man operated buses, the Metrobus and the Titan were already starting to arrive.
Ensignbus in its dealership capacity however took the plunge and was contracted to take the lions share of the withdrawn DMS’ starting in 1979. Once they had been ‘de-London’ed’ the vehicles became very reliable and found ready buyers, from as far away as Hong Kong, to many of the UKs largest provincial fleets such as West Midlands PTE, Midland Red, Western National.
Indeed the vehicles would return to the capital in some numbers, as sightseeing buses. Indeed Ensign hired a number back to London Transport to be used on these duties, and with other operators such as Cityrama, Ebdons, London Hop-on Hop-Off, Culture Bus, London Pride and Big Bus all using them in considerable numbers. They soldiered on until past the year 2000 albeit in ever smaller numbers and many redundant London sightseeing buses ended up doing the same duties in other cities such as New York or Chicago.
Their eventual longevity showed that it was London that had let down the Fleetline, rather than the Fleetline that had let down London.
For more on this class why not visit Ian's Bus Stop
DM2646 was the very last of the DMS class to join London Transport, eventually arriving in July 1978. First entering service at Brixton it was quickly transferred to Muswell Hill. In January 1979 being one of LTs newest buses it was selected to carry the special Shillibeer livery commemorating 150 years since the first horse drawn bus had operated way back in 1829. The livery was based on the colours of that original service and without doubt was an attractive scheme. During the year of these celebrations the vehicle moved around between a number of depots and spent time at Cricklewood and Clapham, along with the depots where it had already served. The following year it returned to standard red, and its celebrity faded as it worked alongside the rest of its class at various garages including Stockwell, Clapham and Sutton. In 1988 it was fitted with an Iveco engine but less than three years later it would be withdrawn and sent to Fulwell to await disposal. By late 1992 it had been purchased and was in service with Haven Coaches of Newhaven, before being sold onto Arrow Travel of Pulborough. It was then acquired for preservation in 1998 but was not tackled and awaited its turn patiently until September 2004, when Eddie Knorn donated it to Ensignbus. At least now under cover it would still be a couple of years before it would return to the road, but returned it was, and today it wears the 1979 celebratory Shillibeer livery.
Vehicle Allocation History:
DM 2646 THX 646S 8/78 new to Aldenham: #DM6/1: PRV/Leyland B20
10/78 BN into service..
10/78 MH ..transfer (Muswell Hill)
1/79 CA transfer into store (Clapham): painted in Shillibeer livery
2/79 W transfer (Cricklewood)
3/79 W at Shillibeer livery launch, Whitehall
W used on 16
6/79 MH transfer: used on 134, 102, 43
10/79 BN transfer (Brixton): used on 109, 133
1/80 BN repainted red
8/81 SW transfer (Stockwell)
D 2646 6/85 CA transfer into store (Clapham)
86-7 A (Sutton)
3/88 A fitted with Iveco engine
7/88 A repaint
6/92 FW transfer into store (Fulwell)
12/92 bought by Haven Coaches, Newhaven
12/93 bought by Arrow Travel, Pulborough
2/95 Arrow Travel (Gander), Ferring.
12/96 sold to Wright(Rainham)
3/98 bought by Eddie Knorn for preservation: refitted with Leyland engine
9/04 donated to Ensignbus Museum
restored to Shillibeer livery: recertificated
4/07 in service at Cobham Show Day, on tours to Virginia Water
4/07 in service, Carshalton Running Day
9/07 used on 9,15 Heritage Running Day
12/08 used on X80
With thanks to Ians bus site for allocation history