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Last updated: 23 September 2020

 
     
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The end of July saw the forty fifth anniversary of the end of two notable eras in Provincial’s history – the withdrawal of the last crew operated double-decker and the last Park Royal bodied AEC Regent.

The first motorbuses in the Gosport & Fareham Tramways fleet, in 1908/9, were four Dennis double-deckers. After a Commer, which operated from 1917-9, the double-decker re-appeared in 1934 when six Leylands were purchased from Southdown. Double decker rapidly became the standard purchase with eighteen Park Royal bodied AEC Regents arriving between 1936 and 1940. The last, un-rebodied, example no.35 (BOR 767) came off service by 1967 but remained stored at Hoeford until May 1969 when it was sold to its present owner, David Whitaker.

Thirteen months later, on June 24th 1970, as part of the National Bus Company’s urgent update of the Provincial fleet, the first of six Park Royal bodied AEC Regent Vs arrived at Hoeford from City of Oxford Motor Services. Unsurprisingly, they had little in common with their 1930s ancestors; as 30’ long, 8’ wide 65 seaters they seated 9 more passengers than their 27’ long. 7’6” wide predecessors. 972/4-8 CWL were repainted into Provincial’s green & cream livery and entered service, numbered 60,79,66/8/9,80, between July and November 1970. A seventh, this one with a less attractive Weymann body, also arrived. Apparently local management had expected another Park Royal and were not best pleased. Purchased for £250, compared to the £275 of the Park Royal bodied buses, 970 CWL became number 67 when prepared for service in December 1970.

With the company’s intention to run an all single deck fleet, the Regent Vs had relatively short lives in Hampshire, the first came out of service in 1973. By the end of that year, they were restricted to routes 5 & 6 plus school services. Further deliveries of single deckers saw all but one out of service by the end of June 1975 – no.66 (975 CWL) had a short swansong as parent company Hants & Dorset no.3475 in March & April 1975. The final example no.60 (972 CWL) was withdrawn on July 31st 1975 ending both Provincial’s operation of double deck buses and vehicles AEC manufacture after forty-one and thirty-nine years respectively.

Only two Regents (60 & 68) received NBC livery. 60 (972 CWL) which would be the last in service was repainted in February 1973 and looks to be fresh from repaint in this photo by Clive Wilkin
 
 
 
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Both Southampton and Hoeford buses are now displaying 'Proud of our NHS' on the destinations. Southampton's 47602 - SN14 FFG on service 3 in Kathleen Road, Sholing and Hoeford's 67177 - YX66 WPB on service 9A in Stoke Road, Gosport.

Photo by James May/Gerry Tormey

 
 

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