1950s ex-London buses

The Leyland FEC "TF" class and AEC Q buses

What we know so far ...

Notes from other sources ...

A number of sources of information exist about plans to import a number of buses from London for use in Malta in the 1950s. Not all the information ties up, so firstly here is a summary of what we do know occurred – based on the paperwork contained in the vehicle’s official licencing files. 

Three Leyland FEC “TF” class buses (new 1939) and one AEC “Q” class bus (new 1935/6) are known to have operated in Malta – the “TF” buses with locally built bodywork replacing their UK bodywork (which is believed to have been removed before the chassis arrived in Malta), whilst the “Q” bus kept its UK built bodywork -  and all sorts of issues arose before it was eventually allowed to enter service.


The three “TF” buses were:

Maltese Registrations20 / A-0020 / Y-1582 / Y-0882

UK Registration – FJJ 634

London Fleetnumber – TF23

Chassis Number – 301646

Brief Maltese History – Arrived in Malta in March 1957 as a chassis. Did not enter service with its new Aquilina-built body until mid-May 1958. It operated in the Private Hire / Unscheduled fleet for its entire life before being withdrawn and declared scrapped in February 1986. It was rebuilt from underfloor, mid-engine layout to front engine layout before being bodied it is believed.


Maltese Registrations1948 / A-1948 / Y-1515 / Y-0814 / Y-0683 (?) / FBY 683

UK Registration – FXT 43

London Fleetnumber – TF83

Chassis Number – 301706

Brief Maltese History – Arrived as a chassis in Malta in January 1957. It entered service with a new Aquilina-built body in mid-September 1957 and operated on Gozo until December 1993. After a period in store it moved to Malta and operated there from May 1997 for a year or two, when it was then withdrawn and scrapped. It was rebuilt from underfloor, mid-engine layout to front engine layout before being bodied it is believed.


Maltese Registrations3301 / 3094 / A-3094 / Y-1370 / Y-0669

UK Registration – ??? ???

London Fleetnumber – TF??

Chassis Number – ??? (“37096” was claimed to have been found in 1988 during an exam, but this does not tie in with any known “TF” chassis number – the closest being 301696 (?))

Brief Maltese History – In April 1954 local dealer Messrs Mizzi imported a Leyland bus chassis. No chassis number was recorded, but it is believed to have been a Leyland “TF” class bus latterly with London Transport, fitted with an underfloor engine located mid-bus between the axles. No Initial Exam Report form was in the vehicle’s file, so no details are known about the bodybuilder (though it was to quite a unique design), or exactly when it entered service (though it is known the previous 3301 was out of use by May 1955). Initially allocated to the Rabat route, it moved to the Zurrieq route on 17th April 1957. It was withdrawn in September 1960 and after a few months in storage, it was sold on to a new owner in December 1960 who then set about totally rebuilding the bus, moving the engine from its underfloor “mid-bus” position to a front position, and making significant alterations to its body. It eventually entered service as 3094 on the Rabat route in September 1963. It was withdrawn and officially declared scrapped in March 1995.


The AEC “Q” bus was:

Maltese Registration – 1860

UK Registration – CGJ 208

London Fleetnumber – Q103

Chassis Number – 0762154

Brief Maltese History – Imported as a complete bus by local dealer Messrs Mizzi by July 1953. A number of issues initially prevented its entry into service. These included the location of the emergency exit, the depth and size of the entrance, the distance between the back of the driver’s seat and the steering wheel, the driver’s compartment and the seating – all of which did not meet the then current regulations. Permission was granted for its use at the end of September 1953. The problems did not end there though as there was much correspondence well into 1954 about the fitting of a speedometer, which apparently could not be done due to the location of the engine. By April 1964 a Bedford SB grill and streamlined mudguards had been fitted. The bus was withdrawn and sold for scrap in December 1968 and was noted derelict in a scrapyard in Msida Valley in January 1969. It had gone by June 1973.


BELOW: 1860 - the only AEC Q that made it into service in Malta. Seen in 1968 on the Birkirkara service in this photograph taken by Geoff Morant.






















Your Help Needed !!
  
To try and fill in the gaps in our knowledge your help is required...
  
  • What is the identity of the third Leyland “TF” class bus? Is it TF43 as mentioned above? The “TF” class page on the countrybus.org website only lists one other member of the class as having been exported – TF9, for which details of its destination are not known. Could that bus have been 3301/3094?

  • Did all 24 “ex-London” buses ever actually arrive in Malta? And were they all AEC Qs?

  • Does anyone recall seeing any of these buses in the docks in Malta? Do any photographs exist?

  • Does anyone from Messrs Mizzi, or from the Malta Customs recall the matter? Do any records still exist?

  • Does anyone recall “PJ Marshall” or “SA Newman” who took the photographs of 1860 in Malta and the two Qs in Libya respectively? Are they still alive? Does anyone know what became of their photos?

If you can help us, please click on the Contact Us button to get in touch ...
It is reported via several different sources that a plan to import a number of further ex-London buses in 1953 was scrapped due to opposition from Maltese body-builders. Exactly how many buses, of what type and their exact identities remains uncertain. Nothing has been sourced locally on Malta yet. Below is what has been reported by these various sources – where we need your help is trying to untangle the reports and confirm what exactly did happen.

An article in The Glasgow Herald newspaper dated 15 July 1953 stated: “MALTA’S BUS PROBLEM – A Maltese transport firm who bought 24 ex-London buses for use on the island announced yesterday that they are shipping them back to Britain because of the complaints of local coachbuilders (reports the Associated Press from Valletta). The builders say that the steel-made buses would put them out of a job if operated in Malta because their livelihood depends on the frequency with which the wooden local buses have to be replaced or rebuilt.”

Renowned bus historian, Mike Fenton, who visited Malta a lot in the 1970s and carried out a lot of the initial research into the identity of Malta’s buses reported “around 20” buses being refused entry, so that ties up nicely with the newspaper report.

A short article in the edition of Buses Illustrated (issue 23, page 104) dated July-September 1955, reports that in addition to the one “Q” that did enter service (article includes a photo of 1860 taken by “P.J.Marshall”), five others having been rejected by the Maltese Authorities in July 1953 were then exported onwards to Tripoli in Libya. The report states “The buses were therefore shipped to Tripoli, North Africa, where they were put into service in October 1953 where they were put into service in October 1953 between Tripoli and Wheelus USAF Airfield”. Two photographs taken by “S.A. Newman” show the former Q96 with a slightly rebuilt front, and an unknown Park Royal bodied AEC Q which had been converted to left-hand drive. Other than the fact Q96 was one of those involved nothing more was listed as to the identities of the other buses.

The final source of information at the moment is Ian’s Bus Stop website ( www.countrybus.org ) which includes vehicle histories for many classes of London Transport bus, including both the “TF” and “Q” types. Details on vehicle disposals is patchy, and the website does not appear to have been updated for some time, and some inaccuracies are known to exist. However, it does give the following very useful information.

Ten AEC “Q” are listed as having been exported to Libya –

Q10 (BXD 531) – Libya (unknown operator) – sold by LT in March 1953 – in Libya by 1954. This was a BRCW bodied bus.

Q20 (BXD 540) – Libya (unknown operator) – sold by LT in May 1953 – in Libya by 1954 – noted rebuilt to left-hand drive by 1957. This was a BRCW bodied bus.

Q21 (BXD 542) – Libya (unknown operator) – sold by LT in May 1953 – in Libya by 1954. This was a BRCW bodied bus.

Q34 (BXD 555) – Libya (Unione Tripolina Transporti) – sold by LT in March 1953 – to Libya date unknown. This was a BRCW bodied bus.

Q53 (BXD 574) – Libya (unknown operator) – sold by LT in May 1953 – in Libya by 1954. This was a BRCW bodied bus.

Q78 (CGJ 183) – Libya (Unione Tripolina Transporti) – sold by LT in March 1953 – in Libya by 1954 – still in use in 1956. This was a BRCW bodied bus.

Q137 (CLE 160) – Libya (Tripoli Wheelus Field) - sold by LT in June 1953 – Libyan owner recorded as “Guiseppe Cavazzini”. Noted on Wheelus Airfield route in 1956. This was a Park Royal bodied bus.

Q142 (CLE 165) – Libya (Tripoli Wheelus Field) - sold by LT in June 1953 – Libyan owner recorded as “Guiseppe Cavazzini”. Converted to left-hand drive by 1956 when noted on Wheelus Airfield route. This was a Park Royal bodied bus.

Q184 (CLE 207) – Libya (Tripoli Wheelus Field) – sold by LT in June 1953 – Libyan owner recorded as “Guiseppe Cavazzini”. Converted to left-hand drive by 1956 when noted on Wheelus Airfield route. This was a Park Royal bodied bus.


Q96 is not listed as being in Libya, but is listed as having been sent to Malta by Robert McAlpine for contract work in the docks. This initial disposal is also listed for Q103, which became 1860. Nothing in the file for 1860 suggests this was the case, and the fact that BI23 shows Q96 in Libya suggests the Robert McAlpine notes may be incorrect, but are worth keeping in mind for future investigation. So with the photo of Q96, and three others confirmed as being on the Wheelus Field service, we can confirm that at least these buses were imported for use in Malta, but were refused permission for use. The identity of the fifth bus referred to in the BI23 article is not known, but is probably one of those listed above with unknown operator against them. It is not known if the other Libyan AEC Qs were also part of the Malta contingent.

The website also lists three other AEC Qs as being exported – this time to Cyprus – and it would make perfect sense for these to have been amongst the Malta contingent, and to be shipped onwards to Cyprus rather than return all the way to the UK. These were:

Q31 (BXD 552) – sold by LT in June 1953. Noted in Cyprus with the Electricity Authority by 1955.

Q100 (CGJ 205) – sold by LT in June 1953. Noted in Cyprus with the Electricity Authority by 1954.

Q158 (CLE 181) – sold by LT in June 1953. Noted in Cyprus with Famagusta Bus Company by 1955.

One further Q was listed as “exported” but nothing was listed as to where it ended:

Q91 (CGJ 196) – sold by LT in April 1953. Exported by 1954.

Therefore, the website lists a total of 15 AEC Qs as being exported (inc. 1860 in Malta), so if the number reported in the newspaper article (24) is correct, and if 1860 was one of those 24, and if all the Libya and Cyprus buses were part of the Malta contingent, then nine further buses remain to be identified. Other than the five reported on the Wheelus Airfield contract in BI23, the fates of the rest of the Maltese buses is not known.

When it comes to the TF class information, Ian’s website lists two buses as going to Malta, and the information does not tie up with that gained from the files …

TF23 – not listed as exported. Just listed as withdrawn in June 1953 – nothing more listed beyond that.

TF83 – listed as sold by LT in August 1953 and then exported to Malta – BUT listed as being the bus that became 3301.

The second bus that the website lists is TF43 (FJJ 654) which it lists as the bus that became 1948 on Gozo.  So could this actually be the identity of the bus that became 3301 ?


To see the "Q" class page on Ian's website click here




To see the "TF" class page on Ian's website click here





Q Class page
TF Class page
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