The London Bus Page In Exile

Sunday 29 April 2007


Filed under: Companies, Special Events, Travels — londonbuspageinexile @ 12:41 pm

Chase Bus Services Leyland Nationals LS 193 (THX 193S) and LS 209 (THX 209S) at Walsall bus station, 28th April 2007 Chase Bus Services Leyland National LS 382 (BYW 382V) near Walsall, 28th April 2007 Chase Bus Services Leyland National SNB 448 (YPL 448T) at Walsall, 28th April 2007
No, not Leeds – though anybody who knows me would sympathise with (or mock) my other affliction. To take my mind off the inevitable I made my way to Walsall to cover the last day of Chase Bus Services. This independent operator had made itself a name by continuing to operate a large fleet of Leyland Nationals into their thirties, proving that the type was worth its weight in gold after all.

With only comparatively minimal alterations (a new set of headlights here, a refurbished engine there, plus conversions to single-door carried out by previous owners and new seat cushions over the existing frames), the two dozen Nationals, most of which derived from London Transport, held together the handful of routes emanating from Walsall’s futuristic-appearing but terribly cramped bus station to points north like Brownhills and Bloxwich. Following the takeover by Arriva on 26th February, today was chosen to be the last day of the Nationals, as Arriva-liveried vehicles were to be seconded from other parts of the empire. Drivers had already settled into their Arriva uniforms, Arriva posters had gone up inside the vehicles and with the end of the Nationals, so would depart the Chase identity and the distinctive white, orange and brown livery.

However, a twist developed (don’t they always with ‘last’ days?) in that the adverts applied to several of the Nationals have yet to expire, so a half-measure has been taken by applying Arriva livery to the fronts of the buses affected, about six or seven of them. To show you what I mean, pictured top left is duplicate LS 193 (THX 193S) in the GM Buses-inspired livery (with rear ad) passing Arriva-fronted LS 209 (THX 209S) outside Walsall bus station. The duplicate followed Chase’s routes and then posed for photographers inside the Cannock depot. A special £5 commemorative ticket was offered, which gave travel on the company’s buses throughout the day.

Pictured middle is another of their ex-LT Nationals, LS 382 (BYW 382V) speeding towards Walsall from Brownhills via the Lichfield Road. And on the right, returning to the town centre is former London Country B-series National SNB 448 (YPL 448T).
Photographers from far and wide made the trip, and you can see their accounts of the day here (Omnibuses), here (Martin Ruthe), here (Dave Heath) here (Terry Wong Min) and here (Jimmy Sheng).

So just as Leeds may yet survive if we put ten past Derby and Hull lose (it may happen!) the Nationals live on a little longer. All are to be sold through auction on 19th May (Nationals, not Leeds players, though which will fetch more is open to opinion…). Thanks to Chase Arriva Midlands, as I must call them now, for putting on an enjoyable day.



  1. ‘Twas a happy day all round in Walsall and not just in that “flying saucer” bus station – Walsall football club cemented their lead at the top of League Two, as well. Perhaps if Leeds go down, they’ll meet up with Walsall.

    Comment by busing — Sunday 29 April 2007 @ 1:33 pm

  2. If I had any money, which obviously I don’t as I am a bus driver, and somewhere to store it I would love a National, simply for the nostalgia of it being the first bus I ever drove.


    Comment by Dave. (Admits to being a Bus Driver in London) — Tuesday 1 May 2007 @ 10:12 pm

  3. Dave,to you I am going to sound like a philistine but, as a bus driver who spends long hours in the drivers seat how do you have enough interest left to want to drive a National. Personaly when I finish my 12 hour shift the last thing I think of is buses.

    Comment by Colin Armstrong — Wednesday 2 May 2007 @ 8:34 pm

  4. Very few will disagree with a view held by many with experience of the type that, compared to what came before it, Nationals were supremely driveable. But this advantage could also be a problem particularly when the type was finding its feet within many fleets. There’s been a few interesting anecdotes in the preservation press about the teething troubles of early Nationals from various perspectives including their various characteristics. One of my colleagues recounted a story the other day about losing the rear end of his bus during variably inclement but not extreme weather conditions which had the effect of stripping the road of any grip with the result that the bus turned through 90 degrees and carried on gently sliding down the road, albeit without further mishap, over what is today a very busy crossroads. Various modifications were subsequently made to redistribute weight more evenly and make them safer and more stable vehicles.

    Comment by Andrew Jeffreys — Friday 4 May 2007 @ 1:07 pm

  5. #3 Colin.

    Of course I don’t want anything to do with buses after a shift, but the National does hold a certain nostalgia for me being the first bus I ever drove. Also I got a bit of stick here for saying the National was my favourite bus.

    I mainly said that because once I started driving anything else the novelty had worn off and I hated buses with a passion 🙂


    Comment by Dave. (Admits to being a Bus Driver in London) — Saturday 5 May 2007 @ 8:32 pm

  6. according to LOTS, all of these nationals and lynx’s will be auctioned off, so a perfect chance for you (if you’ve got a bit of money) to own your own national, preserve it etc… I’m thinking about myself although my tight budget I fear will stop me.

    Comment by Russell — Wednesday 9 May 2007 @ 11:44 pm

  7. A mate of mine bought one of the Nationals for £850,
    Its water pump went on the drive back to London.
    Still it is being fixed for £150, and he’s letting me take her for a spin when it’s back

    Comment by Gavin Cork — Wednesday 6 June 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  8. Matt, i noticed that you photographed AYR 343T, this is the one my mate bought and he has “garaged” her in a layby on the A312 The Parkway between the A30 and the A4.

    Comment by Gavin Cork — Thursday 5 July 2007 @ 5:50 pm

  9. And a few weeks later, one of Arriva’a replacement Darts was involved in a fatal accident in Walsall bus station. Perhaps they should have kept the Nationals a little longer!

    Comment by Tony — Sunday 23 September 2007 @ 5:24 pm

  10. Also have some pics here: including vehicles and services withdrawn before the Last Day. The site is still ‘under construction’


    Comment by Tony — Tuesday 9 October 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  11. Buses were so much more beatiful back in the day, Boring, generic bricks now. No character at all.

    Comment by Drive — Thursday 21 February 2013 @ 7:05 am

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