Thursday, 23 June 2011

Who would have guessed it?

It has been believed among the local spotters circle that A-Line's A182 MNE was likely the only survivor from Smiths' A-MNE batch of coaches bought new in 1984. Its not exactly every day you still see A-reg coaches playing their trade, especially when you consider the amount of Volvo B10Ms that have been made over the years.

Well after some research, I can confirm that A182 is certainly not alone! I found three more survivors still in daily use just as A182 is down here in Cornwall. Firstly here we have A186 MNE. Amazingly this one is based about as far apart from A182 as possible, in Motherwell, Scotland. Amazingly, she passed her new MOT just today, so looks set for another year of work for A&C Coaches *Correction, she now operates for United Coaches in Hamilton. The photographer told me that this one really is still in frontline service, A186 is off across the ferry to Belfast this coming weekend! A182 of course is also the pride of the fleet at A-Line, but whether she'll be off on trips such as that, who knows! Certainly shows how strong the early B10Ms still are though. A182 has performed pretty much faultlessly over the time A-Line has owned her, apart from the odd fuse blowing, and assorted little 'stupid' problems. 

A169 MNE survives in Wales working for James Travel, and differs to A182 as to the fact this one is a Leyland Tiger underneath the similar looking Van Hool bodywork. The gold livery certainly seems to make A169 look that bit more up to date. I thought it might have been some cosmetic modification, but A169's front is exactly the same as A182's apart from the colour, and assortment of badges. A Leyland Tiger surviving in daily service surely must be a real rarity, so well done the James Travel for keeping this one going, I thought surely it must only be the common Volvos that survived. 

Lastly is this photo of A176 MNE, pictured when brand new in 1984. I've always been intrigued to see how the batch looked when working for Smiths, so here is the answer! Glorious looking coach. The photo caption says that the coach is still registered to a firm in Dublin, so this one may also still be surviving somewhere in the UK! 


Quite amazing to think a batch of coaches, now 27 years old, still have 4 survivors playing their trade, with several still in frontline service. It really shows that they just don't build them like they used to anymore. Of course Smiths did always have a very good name, and it would have been a firm buy when taking on their old stock, and I'm sure this is why so many of the batch do still live on. Its not every day you see an A reg coach still running around in service, so to find 4 that all started out from the same place 27 years ago, is really quite an achievement. Now who fancies a reunion!?

Many thanks go to the various photographers from Flickr who have been kind enough to allow me to use the photos on the blog. Simply click on the photo to view their assortments of photos, including more of A169 and A186. 


Wigan Airways said...

The coach mentioned as being with A & C, Motherwell, is now with United Coaches in Hamilton.

Laurence Mayhew said...

Ah thanks for the correction! I shall update it now.