55 RAU804M / 555 OTO555M
New To: Nottingham City Transport/South Notts
Chassis: Leyland Atlantean AN68/1R 7304429
Old Body: East Lancs 2516 H47/30D
Current Body: East Lancs B5201 B45F
555 was delivered in January 1974 to Nottingham City Transport. 555 was fitted with an East Lancs double deck body, seating a total of 77 passengers, 47 upstairs and 30 downstairs. It was one of a batch of forty similar buses. 555 was withdrawn from service towards the end of 1992, and was selected to be rebodied as a single decker. NCT had a large number of similar age vehicles approaching the end of their useful lives, and East Lancs had rebodied a number as single deckers for other operators.
It was decided to dispatch 555 to East Lancs in February 1993. The original double deck body was removed, the chassis overhauled and the wheelbase lengthened around 4 feet. If it had been left at standard length, it would only seat 33 people and this this wasn’t large enough. With 555 being lengthened it could now seat 45 people and it has also got a luggage rack over the front wheel on the nearside.
555 suffered a few manoeuvrability problems in its rebodied form. These could have been significantly worse if 555 didn’t have the World Master front axle. These issues were to do with the steering lock. The reason for this is it was now single decker with double decker steering. A double decker used to be a lot shorter than a single decker therefore not needing as much steering lock in comparison to a longer single decker.
555 arrived back at NCT where it was painted in Trent Bridge Works into South Notts livery. It was also renumbered 55 and it entered service on the 31st March 1994 at Gotham Garage. Here it would operate on service 1 between Nottingham and Loughborough via Clifton, Gotham, East Leake and Stamford on Soar. 55 was never popular with the drivers because it was rather bouncy, due to it having double decker springs without the weight of a double decker. Therefore the original plan to have around forty of these wet out the window and 55 remained a one off within the NCT fleet.
When 55 was withdrawn, it passed to Hulleys of Baslow who ran it in a similar livery. Instead of the two shades of blue, the top light blue was painted in the same dark blue as the skirt. 55 entered preservation with J Lilley after its life with Hulleys. During this time it was stored at Bowers, where it was occasionally used in service. From here it ended up with Shamrock and Rambler, Dorset and this is where Nottingham Heritage Vehicles (predecessor to NHVC) bought it from the first time.
55 then received a full restoration back into South Notts livery. In 2010 55 was sold onto a private preservationist in the West Midlands who kept 55 until 2020 when it changed hands once again. One of our members was offered it back in February 2023. Of course we couldn’t let this chance slip by and 55 returned home from a semi scrapyard in Hereford, on the back of Crouch recovery lorry in March. Unfortunately 55 is in a sad state compared to when we let it go originally, but it will return to its former glory. When 55 arrived back it was a non runner and after two solid days of hard work and many new parts later 55 finally fired up for the first time in a few years.
Relevance To The Collection
55 is a complete one off vehicle and there isn’t another one identical to it