1944 Southend Transport Daimler 263 - GLX 913
55 (28 upstairs and 27 downstairs)
Low height double deck allowing access to some areas normal double decks cannot reach. Restored to perfect concourse condition.
Finished in the well known blue and cream of Southend Transport, 263 was the focus of a two year restoration process that saw it returned from run down condition to that of fully restored classic. A veteran of the halcyon days of the great British seaside getaway 263 earned its keep moving residents and tourists alike around such well known local land marks as the Kursaal and the Pier. Now fully restored to its original configuration its traditional blue and cream livery will be sure to stand out amongst red buses if you are inside London, or likely to jog memories of a bygone era if you are outside.
263's Vehicle History:
Southend 263 (GLX 913) is an interesting survivor, from both a London Transport and a Southend Corporation Transport perspective. It was new To London Transport in 1944 as D27 one of the so called ‘utility’ vehicles that were made cheaply and quickly using the least resources possible in the wartime conditions. Although it was austere, with such joys as wooden seats, it could not be the said the Duple body was unattractive.
D27 entered service in September 1944 at London’s Merton garage. Here despite the V1 and V2 attacks it plied its trade working in South London and the West End, on routes such as the 77 77A 88 & 137. For a ‘stop gap’ vehicle they did remarkably well and soldiered on into the 1950s and indeed it was October 1952 before D27 was withdrawn.
However its longevity was secured not through the quality of its body but by its Daimler chassis. Long after World War II had finished resources remained scarce and bus operators across the UK still sought to update war weary fleets. London Transport had commenced a huge replacement scheme which meant that some of the first of its buses to be withdrawn were the non standard ones, such as the utility bodied Daimlers. The cheaply built bodies were becoming worn but the chassis were in fine fettle which meant they were worthy of a second life by way of rebodying post-war, which is why Southend Transport purchased a number including D27 in March 1953.
The utility body was stripped off and the chassis, with cab area, lower deck floor and parts of the staircase left intact where then driven North to Masseys, a bus body builder just outside Wigan, Lancashire. Here it was fitted with a very attractive, sloping front, low height body and finished in Southend’s well known blue and cream.
Returning to Southend it was found that having pre-select transmission at a time when most buses had manual crash gearboxes, the vehicle was an ideal trolleybus replacement tool at Southend as the drivers of trolley buses did not have crash gearbox experience. So it was she settled down to life by the sea, operating on many of the Southend routes that still operate today, such as the 5, 6, 7 & 29’s.
It was 1971 when the bus was withdrawn and this time its new owner was none other than Essex Police, with whom it served as a safety vehicle roadshow, visiting many events and schools during its time in the Police. From there it passed into private ownership and during that time has worn not only its old Southend livery but also Derby Corporation, to which it was painted for a TV series.
It was acquired by Ensign in November 2011, and work started in 2014 on its restoration. It was finished in December 2015 and represents a terrific survivor from the ‘make do and mend’ era.
Southend Transport Daimler 263 timeline:
Chassis number D27 - GLX 913 09/1944 new to Chiswick: Duple highbridge 1/1D2 delivered in grey primer then painted red/white, black guards, red-oxide roof
10/1944 - AL (Merton Garage) into service at Merton
c/1945 - extra windows added
05/1946 - visit to Chiswick works
1948 - first over haul: seats upholstered, repainted, white rear upper
01/1950 - second overhaul: repainted red with cream band
10/1952 - AL w/d from service
03/1953 - sold to Dealer Norths of Leeds
03/1953 - bought by Southend Corporation, #263
09/1953 - body mostly cut off, except cab area, Southend yard
03/1954 - fitted with Massey lowheight body for Southend: L27/28R
By 1971, 263 was repainted navy/grey for Southend Police, Southend Police Stn.
Moved to Chelmsford, Essex Police.
Sometime during 1974 it moved to Eastern National Preservation Group
Repainted blue/cream (Southend Corporation)
Repainted green/cream (Derby) for TV series "The Hello Girls"
04/2000 - visitor at East Grinstead Running Day
11/2011 - bought by Ensignbus for Heritage fleet
05/2014 - Restoration commences
12/2015 - Returned to service
Date of first registration: 1944
Chassis number: D27
Seating: 55 seats, 27 downstairs & 28 upstairs