“Blue Bird” - the ex-Blue Bird Garages (Hull) Ltd,1952 Leyland Royal Tiger PSV1/1S 41-Seater Coach  Chassis no. 515490
Lot 228
“Blue Bird” - the ex-Blue Bird Garages (Hull) Ltd,1952 Leyland Royal Tiger PSV1/1S 41-Seater Coach Chassis no. 515490
£50,000 - 70,000
US$ 83,000 - 120,000
Lot Details
“Blue Bird” - the ex-Blue Bird Garages (Hull) Ltd
1952 Leyland Royal Tiger PSV1/1S 41-Seater Coach
Coachwork by Plaxton

Registration no. NKH 46
Chassis no. 515490


  • One of the largest builders of commercial vehicles in Britain by the 1930s, Leyland expanded greatly from the 1950s onwards, taking over Albion Motors in 1951 and Scammell in 1955. Carmaker Standard-Triumph was acquired in 1961 and the following year Leyland purchased its old rival AEC, which had already bought out Thornycroft and Maudslay.

    Introduced in 1951, the Royal Tiger was the first of Leyland’s under-floor engined single-decker coach chassis, embodying a concept that had been under consideration since the late 1930s. Its engine was a horizontal version of the firm’s well-tried ‘0600’ six-cylinder diesel, while the rest of the components likewise came from the existing Leyland range. The Royal Tiger was a huge success for Leyland, finding customers with fleet operators the world over. It was for all intents and purposes the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of coach chassis.

    This particular example - chassis number ‘515490’ - wears Venturer coachwork by the long-established commercial vehicle body maker, Plaxton, of Scarborough, which celebrated its centenary in 2007. Introduced in 1951 to replace the Avenger, the versatile Venturer body was available in versions to suit front, under-floor and rear engined chassis.

    This vehicle was supplied new and first registered to Blue Bird Garages (Hull) Ltd on 27th June 1952 for use on British and Continental luxury tours. ‘NKH 46’ is unusual by virtue of its early centre-entrance Plaxton Venturer body, as very few of this type were built on under-floor engined vehicles. The later style had a flatter nose and a front entrance. This highly desirable feature enabled the first row of passengers to be right up front with a clear view of the road ahead.

    ‘NKH 46’ was sold by Blue Bird in March 1955 to E Morby & Son of Droylesden, Manchester and operated by them for 21 years, outlasting many newer vehicles and becoming Mr Morby’s favourite. In 1976 Morby sold out to Maynes of Manchester and subsequently ‘NKH 46’ was acquired from them for preservation. In March 1978 the vehicle was registered to Blue Bird Bus Preservation Group in Hull, from whom it was acquired by the immediately preceding owner, Graham Bedford of Scarborough, in October 1984. The current vendor purchased ‘NKH 46’ from Mr Bedford in November 1990.

    Prior to acquisition, the vehicle had benefited from an exterior repaint in Blue Bird livery (in 1977/78) and a complete interior repaint and refit (in 1979/80) while retaining the original red moquette upholstery. In 1981 the exterior paintwork was varnished and in 1981/82 some major mechanical work was undertaken. A further re-spray was carried out in 1995 (see photographs and bills on file) and a total of circa £10,000 has been spent on maintenance, servicing and restoration over the past 19 years.

    All the original fittings are retained, including the working Tannoy public address system; original HMV radio and its speech amplification equipment for passenger vehicles; original and detachable headrest covers (Blue Bird monogrammed); and original seat numbers, mirrors and ashtrays. In addition, the vehicle boasts high-vision glass panels (front and rear) for appreciating the scenery and a huge fully working sliding sunroof section to the centre.

    Described by the vendor as in generally very good condition, ‘NKH 46’ is offered with its original logbook; copy and old-style Swansea V5 documents; assorted MoTs dating back to 1976; sundry bills; a quantity of old tax discs dating back to the 1960s; assorted correspondence and Blue Bird Coaches information; Plaxton Centenary Event Brochure; and HMV radio instruction book (copy). Perfect for touring in style and attending a wide variety of historic commercial vehicle and other important events. Indeed, the Bonhams motoring team can testify to the coach’s performance and comfort, having travelled in Blue Bird on the 2007 London to Brighton Historic Commercial Vehicle Run. NKH 46 is MoT’d to May 2010 and comes with current Swansea V5C.

Saleroom notices

  • We are pleased to report that Bluebird has a full set of new batteries installed recently.
Auction information

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