CRG163

Croeso / Welcome

Introduction image

Croeso  / Welcome

Croeso i’n gwefan / Welcome to our website.

This website is dedicated to CRG163 and maps out her history with Crosville and then into preservation. It also pays tribute to the fantastic people that have been connected with the vehicle over the years and an insight into the human element that made the Crosville company what it was. Sadly some have passed away, but this website acts as a mark of respect as we remember them all. I‘ve always said without valuable, professional and dedicated staff an organisation is nothing.


This is a graphic design created by my youngest son (12 years old at the time), representing CRG163’s original fleet plate but with the Crosville name added.  Diolch yn fawr / Thank you.
My journey with CRG163 started back in 2002 when purchased from Gordon Bate, who’d initially purchased the vehicle from Crosville in 1984. Following purchase I undertook a detailed and extensive restoration of the vehicle between 2002 and 2004, followed by attendance at various bus preservation shows and rallies across North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Shropshire until around 2009.

Unfortunately due to the throws of life CRG163 was placed on the back burner in 2009, which was further compounded by parking, maintenance and accessibility issues for many subsequent years. Owning and maintaining a preserved vehicle is no easy task between the cost involved and securing ample parking space and maintenance facilities.

During February of 2020 CRG163 was moved to a new location closer to our home with access available at the time to engineering, electricity and water facilities for the next phase in CRG163’s continued restoration. Unfortunately due to Covid19 a world wide emergency emerged and subsequently any work on CRG163 was paused indefinitely.

Fast forwarding to June, 2021, when Covid restrictions eased and access was again possible to CRG163.

During CRG163’s first restoration under my ownership from 2002 I would like to thank my Father for his valued support; my Mother for her support (who sadly passed away unfortunately in 2006) and many other people including friends from across the bus industry and preservation movement at the time.

Now facing CRG163’s second restoration it is again very special to me as my family; my wife Nia, and our two wonderful young sons, Ioan and Gethin are also joining the journey in getting CRG163 back on the road in writing our next chapter with CRG163 for the next generation. This time around, nearly 20 years on from CRG163’s initial restoration under my ownership, tracking down parts from across the UK involving telephone calls and letters through the post has now become easier. We are now intertwining the old (CRG163 - not me!) with the new through modern technology such as this website, e-mails and social media platforms, aided again by my two fantastic sons who are also involved with this website and restoration.

I hope you enjoy this website as much as we have enjoyed putting it together. Additional pages will be added over the coming months. Please join us in CRG163’s on-going journey by following us on our website and subscribing to our updates.

Best wishes,

Richard Lloyd Jones and family



Preserved CRG163 at Birkenhead, Woodside Ferry terminal - October 2004.
Photos

  • CRG163 dates back to 2006 and was taken by Derek Thompson, a close friend
  • CRG163‘s new fleet plate following 2002 to 2004 restoration
  • CRG163 restored and preserved in her 1970’s ‘NATIONAL’ livery.





In Memory

The following photograph is in memory of my Mum. So very supportive of my endeavours with CRG163 and seen here cleaning the interior of restored and preserved CRG163 in 2004 in preparation for its official unveiling a few days later. Unfortunately my Mum passed away on the 3rd of October 2006 from Cancer.

Er cof / In memory.


In memory of my Mum, Marian who sadly passed away at the beginning of October 2006 from illness.  She encouraged and supported me with the initial restoration and preservation of CRG163.  Diolch Mam / Thank you Mum.


Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail us at post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.


Please note

There are some photos on this website where copyright is unknown. If these photos are yours then please let me know by e-mailing post@crg163.com so that they can either be removed immediately or copyrighted to your name accordingly. Thank you.

All photographs have been watermarked on this website and should not be reproduced elsewhere without prior consent. Unfortunately some private photos previously shared on line have been copied without permission and have subsequently appeared for sale by third parties on e-bay.


Technical section relating to CRG163

This section is not available to the public. It is only accessible through the password provided.

For those with the password please click HERE and then enter the password to access.  If you have not been provided with a password you will not be able to access this section.


Subscription

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What is CRG163?

CRG163 is a preserved historic 47 seat coach, vehicle registration EFM 163H, which was originally registered on the 6th of March 1970 by the Crosville Motor Services Limited bus and coach company.

The Crosville Motor Services Limited bus company had It’s headquarters in Chester, operating bus services from it’s bus depots across Cheshire, Merseyside North and Mid Wales. Crosville operated local registered bus services, coach trips as well as long distance express coach services to London and other major UK destinations.

CRG163 consists of the superb Bristol RELH chassis and is fitted with a Series 2, Mark 1, Eastern Coach Works (ECW) coach body. RELH stands for R = Rear; E = Engine; L = Long; H - High.  The vehicle is fitted with the impressive Gardner 6HLX 10.45 litre engine.

Vehicles entering the Crosville fleet would be allocated an alpha numeric fleet number. For further details about Crosville’s fleet allocation system click on the following link which takes you to the appropriate page on this website: Crosville Fleet Numbering.

From Crosville’s fleet numbering system, vehicle EFM163H was allocated the alpha numeric fleet number CRG163, standing for C = Coach; R = Bristol RE; G = Gardner engine.  The 163 numeric element of the fleet number was from the vehicle’s actual registration number.  This wasn’t always the case with Crosville.

Initially CRG163’s fleet number would be displayed on the vehicle by embossed metal plates situated on the vehicle’s front grill; above the front nearside wheel; under the driver’s cab window and on the boot. A smaller plaque would also be displayed on the vehicle’s internal destination door above the windscreen. All Crosville vehicles would be treated as such until metal plates were replaced in the late 1970’s by grey stickers. When restored between 2002 and 2004 new metal fleet plates were produced for CRG163 in order to restore her back to coach status as would have been the case back in the day with Crosville.


A scan of the cover of ’Crosville United’, no’ 57 from 1964 - cover and page 5.  Page 5 describes the introduction of such fine vehicles as the CRG’s in 1963 with a descriptive of their specification.  The image shows brand new CRG495 & CRG496 parked at Pier Head, Liverpool.  My grateful thanks to my good friends Elwyn and Elsbeth Thomas, once Crosville staff/summer employment for providing me with many Crosville United publications.

CRG163 history summary

In essence CRG163’s 50 year old existence can be summed up as follows:

  • 1970 - new to Crosville Motor Services Limited - registered 6th March 1970
  • 1970 to 1979 - operating main line coach work, vehicle fleet classification with Crosville as CRG163 based at the company’s Edge Lane, Liverpool depot
  • 1979 to 1984 - August 1979 the vehicle is downgraded to dual purpose status by Crosville and would then operate on local bus and coach work with the company.  The vehicle’s fleet number is designated to ERG163 with new fleet stickers applied. The alpha code being replaced from ‘C‘ to ‘E‘ to represent the vehicle‘s new dual purpose status.  It would then be based predominantly at the company’s Amlwch depot, Isle of Anglesey, North West Wales
  • 1984 - 13 April 1984 the vehicle is withdrawn from active service by Crosville
  • 1984 to 2002 - vehicle enters bus preservation with Gordon Bate
  • 2002 to present - vehicle purchased by Richard Lloyd Jones for further restoration and preservation


CRG163 history timeline with further details





50 year anniversary

On 06 March, 2020 CRG163 celebrated its 50 year anniversary since the date of its first registration of 06 March 1970. It was therefore a special year for CRG163 and very apt as we enter the next chapter. Unfortunately any restoration progress or celebrations were hindered by the pandemic emergency.






50 year anniversary

On 10 April 2022 the famous NBC logo celebrated 50 years since it’s first introduction on 10 April 1972.




CRG163 - next chapter

In 2020 CRG163 enters its next chapter of further restoratiin. New photos and more will appear on this website as it continues to grow in charting CRG163’s on-going journey.


Covid19 impact

Unfortunately in March 2020 a worldwide emergency emerged in the form of the Covid19 pandemic which impacted on everything. In order to reduce transmission rates various UK and Wales lockdowns and guidance were introduced from March 2020 onwards. This unfortunately halted any restoration progress on CRG163 until restrictions were lifted.


Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail me, Richard Jones at post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.


Please note 

There are some photos on this website where copyright is unknown.  If these photos are yours then please let me know by e-mailing post@crg163.com so that they can either be removed immediately or copyrighted to your name accordingly.  Thank you.

All photographs have been watermarked on this website and should not be reproduced elsewhere without prior consent. Unfortunately some private photos previously shared on line have been copied without permission and have subsequently appeared for sale by third parties on e-bay.



Photos

  • The black and white photo of CRG163 in her original cream and black livery is unknown unfortunately. If anyone knows rhw owner please provide so that credits can be provided.
  • The photo of ERG163 in it’s green and white dual purpose livery departing from Amlwch is being reproduced with thanks to the photographer, our good friend Don McKeown.
  • The third photo is of CRG163 in her first phase of preservation with Richard Jones as restored in her 1970’s NATIONAL livery.

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CRG163 / ERG163 - In Service: 1970 - 1984

CRG163 was the fleet recognition reference given to ECW Bristol RELH6G coach, registration number EFM163H by its original owner Crosville Motor Services. Crosville had a large fleet of vehicles and needed quickly to identify a specific vehicle, hence their development of the alpha numeric fleet recognition system. More information about this is available on this website by clicking HERE.

CRG163 was first registered by Crosville on the 6th of March, 1970 and would be owned and operated by the company until its withdrawal in 1984.

During its operational life with Crosville the coach would be based from the company’s Edge Lane depot in Liverpool, Merseyside between 1970 and 1979, before moving to Amlwch on the Isle of Anglesey and Bangor between 1979 and 1984. At Liverpool Edge Lane depot it would operate long distance prestigious coach services to London across the UK, including those that once operated under the ‘NATIONAL’ coach brand of the time between 1973 and 1979.


The four liveries carried by CRG163 during its operational days between 1970 and 1984.

At Amlwch it would eventually be downgraded in 1979 to a semi coach for dual purpose use on local bus services and express coach services and repainted green and white. It would operate local bus services during the week and the longer distance X10 limited stop service under the company’s Town Lynx network brand on Saturdays between Cemaes Bay and Liverpool. By this time the vehicle’s fleet reference was reclassified to ERG163, reflecting it’s now dual purpose use.

CRG163 would be driven by a number of drivers during its operational life including Jack Cowap, George Warren, John Embleton, Richard Lewis, Dewi Roberts, Robert (Bob) ‘Moelfre’ Roberts to name only a few.

Richard Lewis recalls ERG163 to be a very nice vehicle to drive whilst based at Crosville’s Amlwch depot and warm due to its Webasto heating system. He also commented that everyone wanted to drive ERG163.

A more in-depth view of CRG163’s ‘in service’ history is available on this website by clicking HERE.


Preservation (Gordon Bate) : 1984 - 2002

Following ERG163’s withdrawal by Crosville in 1984 it was purchased by Gordon Bate who lived in the Manchester area with the view to preserve the vehicle.


Photographs of CRG163 in preservation with Gordon Bate between 1984 and 2002.
Gordon Bate also purchased other similar Crosville vehicles on their withdrawal by the company. By 2002 Gordon Bate had fallen on harder times and was unable to continue the preservation of CRG163 which had ended up neglected on a farm in the Manchester area.


Preservation (Richard Lloyd Jones) : 2002 to present

On the 9th of June 2002, CRG163 was purchased by Richard Lloyd Jones and moved to North West Wales for active restoration and further preservation.


CRG163 as found on the farm during 2002; Gordon Bate top right; our trip home to North West Wales bottom left and having arrived home bottom right.
It took two years to undertake the work required around the vehicle’s restoration which included sourcing new hubs (wheels) from the Scotch Corner; new tyres; new air ride suspension air bags; mechanical work throughout; all round new window and destination rubber gaskets; re-coating of steering wheel; rebuilt side lockers; internal repaint throughout; sanding down of body as preparation for painting; listing only some of the work undertaken.


The restoration work commences in 2002 including the rebuilding of lockers; interior painting; sourcing new hubs (wheels); new window rubbers, destination boxes and side fleet panels; rubbing down of exterior body; sourcing of new air bags and fitting.

The decision was taken to repaint CRG163 into its National white livery carried between 1972 and 1979. Whilst recognising very much the beauty of the cream and black coaching livery it was decided that CRG163 would represent another era of such majestic vehicles. Whilst the dual purpose green and white livery is something remembered this would only denote a downgraded CRG163 to ERG163. For all these reasons the National white livery was chosen.


In for re-painting which was done professionally.  New vinyls produced to specific graphic designs used in 1972 including new Crosville panels created.  New embossed metal fleet plates produced to original specification.  My late Mum can be seen bottom right.

On completion of the restoration work, CRG163 was first unveiled at the Llandudno Extravaganza in 2004 and became a star on the bus show preservation circuit across North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside & Shropshire. In October of the same year CRG163 took part in the Wirral Bus & Tram Show which included an impromptu trip through the Mersey Tunnel to Liverpool Lime Steet. In itself this was returning CRG163 back to its initial home of Liverpool having operated there from Crosville’s Edge Lane depot between 1970 and 1979, and our way of paying respect to the Crosville staff of Liverpool depot.

CRG163 also took part in the Crosville 100 road run celebrations from Rhyl to Llandudno. A video of this event has been captured on You Tube. Please click HERE to see this.


 CRG163 is officially unveiled in the National livery and attends a number of events which included returning home to Liverpool. 
The vehicle also appeared on the front page of the Bus & Coach Preservation Magazine in July 2004 (Volume 7, Number 2) with a five page article within the magazine.


CRG163 hits the front cover of the Bus & Coach Preservation Magazine in July 2004 with a five page spread inside.

The vehicle was also subject to the first EFE 1:76 bus model of this vehicle type (Bristol RELH, ECW, MK1 coach) launched in September 2006. The model’s appearance was based as in preservation from 2004 onwards as the window rubber gaskets were black with X10 Bangor shown on the model’s destination boxes. When being restored between 2002 and 2004 original cream window rubber gaskets were not available hence black replacements ordered and installed.

More information about CRG163’s preservation beyond Crosville can be found on this website by clicking HERE.


EFE 32302 model launched in September 2006 based upon CRG163 in preservation from 2004 onwards.
More details about CRG163 in EFE model form can be found on this website by clicking HERE.


The most important aspect of all - the human connection

Striving for the history of CRG163 also involves striving for the human connection, i.e. people who were associated with CRG163 / ERG163 when in service with Crosville.

During 2004 CRG163 was reunited with Jack Cowap who was 91 years old by then, when CRG163 made a surprise appearance on a Crosville Enthusiasts Club 1967 outing to North Wales. Jack Cowap once drove CRG163 in the 1970’s on the prestigious Liverpool to London service. He is captured behind the wheel once again from the top left photograph below.

Bob ‘Moelfre’ Roberts was also reunited with CRG163 on the same day who came with me for a ride out to Conwy. Bob drove CRG163 as ERG163 from Amlwch depot. It is understood that ERG163 was Bob’s vehicle which he would drive on the X10 Cemaes Bay to Liverpool service on Saturdays. This service was also driven by Richard Lewis, Dewi Roberts and others. On this very day, Bob drove CRG163 once again, many years after retirement with total skill and care around the Cibyn Industrial Estate in Caernarfon. It was such a magic moment without doubt captured through the photograph bottom left.

On a more poignant moment, John (Llanrug) Wyn Griffiths (pictured below right) also had the opportunity to drive preserved CRG163 around the same Cibyn Industrial Estate in Caernarfon. We arranged a day out with John, family, close friends and CRG163 one Sunday in early January 2009 to recreate some of the Crosville routes operated from Caernarfon depot back in the day which John would have driven as a Crosville driver. John was a friend to so many and distinguished driver from Crosville’s Caernarfon depot having driven local and long distance National Express routes across the UK. Unfortunately by now John was unwell and our day out with CRG163 was an absolute tonic. Unfortunately John passed away two weeks later from when the photo of him was taken raising his thumb out of CRG163’s cab window. This photo was later printed and framed and given to John’s wife in his memory and a positive memory of our fantastic day together.


The valuable human connection with CRG163.  Jack Cowap pictured top left; Bob ‘Moelfre’ Roberts and myself in front of preserved CRG163 at Bangor; Bob ‘Moelfre’ Roberts behind the wheel of CRG163 bottom left and John ‘Llanrug’ Wyn Griffiths bottom right only a few weeks before his sad passing.

Not only do we strive to restore and preserve CRG163, but equally we strive to find people who have been connected with the vehicle in some way over the years. This includes descendants of family members who have been connected with CRG163 but who are sadly no longer with us. We continue to strive to find such important connections to the vehicle. If you drove CRG/ERG163 back in the day or have had a family member who did then please do get in touch via e-mail to post@crg163.com.


Crosville Retired Salaried Staff Outing - 2007

In 2007 I had the privilege of providing and driving CRG163 on the Crosville Retired Salaried Staff (CRSSA) summer outing. The CRSSA came into existence following a suggestion at a Crosville staff meeting, held at Crane Wharf, Chester, the company’s head office on the 2nd of December 1965.

The CRSSA is a group that was formed back in 1964 (check) comprising of Crosville senior management. The group’s activities would comprise of a summer outing to a place of interest and Christmas dinner at Chester. The group would also meet at other times of the year to catch up and socialise.

Whilst recognising that the Crosville name has disappeared from our streets sadly for nearly 30 years by now, the group continue to meet in the same way. Generally group membership eligibility is based on having (1) worked for Crosville/Crosville Wales; and (2) having reached management status within the bus industry. I have been a member of the group since approximately 2005.

In 2007 the summer outing involved a trip on the Llangollen Canal and the Llangollen Heritage Railway. Pick ups were made from Llandudno Junction across the North Wales coast to Chester before a drive to Trevor where everyone joined the Llangollen Canal for a trip across the Poncysyllte Aqueduct by canal boat . Following a trip on the canal CRG163 transported all passengers to Carrog Railway Station for a trip on the railway to Llangollen with CRG163 returning by road. A meal then followed at the Pheasant Hotel before returning to North West Wales via Chester and the North Wales Coast.

On the day my passengers were top flight Crosville senior management from back in the day, including Clive Myers; Ron Holding (Crosville chief engineer); George Garston; Glyn Jones; Pat Reeson; Graham Turner; Mike Grant; Paul Hill, David Pool and many others. What was also really nice was the fact that Dianne Lavinder was also with us, who’s name is on CRG163’s original and official Crosville paperwork and subsequent movements within the company.

It was a privilege indeed to be amongst these people on the day and otherwise.


CRG163 used for the CRSSA summer outing in 2007, carrying highly respected top flight Crosville management from back in the day.  It was a privilege indeed to be involved.

Returning home to Amlwch - 2006

During 2006 CRG163 returned to its former home of Amlwch where it was based from 1979 to 1984 out of respect for the staff that once worked there. By now the former site of Amlwch depot was occupied by a supermarket which was so often the case of former Crosville depot sites when sold following deregulation of the bus industry outside London from 26 October 1986 and subsequent privatisation.

Nonetheless CRG163 had returned home and displayed ‘X10’ on its destination display out of respect for Crosville’s Amlwch depot and staff. CRG163 as ERG163 once operated the X10 service from Cemaes Bay to Liverpool on Saturdays in the early 1980’s when based at Crosville’s Amlwch depot.

Once again CRG163 can also be seen at Menai Bridge, a location it so often served as ERG163 when based at Crosville’s Amlwch depot.

The photographs below are dedicated out of respect for the staff of Crosville’s Amlwch depot which included Bob ‘Moelfre’ Roberts; Dewi Roberts; Richard Lewis and others; with the evening photos dedicated to our dear friend Dave Wilder.

Our intention is to return CRG163 again to Amlwch when our latest restoration has been completed out of respect for Bob ‘Moelfre’ Roberts; Richard Lewis; Dewi Roberts and all other staff that once worked at the depot.


Preserved CRG163 returning home to Amlwch, 22 years after it’s operational days at the town’s Crosville depot, now occupied by a supermarket.  CRG163 proudly displayed ‘X10’ on it’s destination out of respect for the staff at Amlwch depot.

Further restoration - 2020 onwards

However due to the throws of life the vehicle was mothballed from 2009 until 2019, compounded by parking and access issues (which can be problematic to such large preserved vehicles) until further restoration work could be undertaken.

Further work was planned to commence at the beginning of 2020 however Covid halted any possible progress.

Beyond Covid restoration work has again commenced but now involving two very special people to me, my two young sons who are 12 and 14 years of age (as at April 2023). CRG163 will be passed to them one day in the future.

To date new trafficators (side indicators); new front fog lights have been sourced with the trafficators fitted; all six wheels have been sandblasted, treated and painted; new tyres have been purchased and fitted all round; nearside lockers have been restored with new strengthened wooden frames to each locker and along the vehicle itself; replacement of some of the air pipes; removal and professional testing of the vehicle’s alternator; continued road testing; a new electrical regulator; and the radiator has been removed and rebuilt as new.


Further restoration of CRG163 commences with further significant investment.
To keep up with CRG163 news and developments you can click HERE.  This link will take you to our ‘News Page’ on this website,


A new website for CRG163

A new purpose built website for the vehicle was launched during 2021 which charts the vehicle’s 50 year odd history from operational to preservation as well as restoration developments, the website address being www.crg163.com. The website was initially commissioned and launched to source vehicle parts but has quickly grown.


CRG163’s purpose built website is launched linking the old with the new.
To go to our website ‘Home’ screen please click HERE.


Further continued restoration 

There are also a number of articles on the website that have been written by those that have either travelled on CRG163 during the vehicle's operational days or Crosville management involved in the vehicle’s operational allocation.


Further restoration continues again with significant investment.

Further restoration of the vehicle will include restoration of the offside lockers; fitting of the new front fog lights; internal painting; assessment of water and air pipes replacing those that will need replacing; general assessment and maintenance; and then exterior appearance -sanding and painting.


Recent photographs of CRG163 and our restoration journey from the beginning of April 2023 as the restoration continues.  Fleet plates are proudly carried.
To keep up with CRG163 news and developments you can click HERE.  This link will take you to our ‘News Page’ on this website.

To go to the Home page of CRG163;s website click HERE.


Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail us at post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.


Please note

There are some photos on this website where copyright is unknown. If these photos are yours then please let me know by e-mailing post@crg163.com so that they can either be removed immediately or copyrighted to your name accordingly. Thank you.

All photographs have been watermarked on this website and should not be reproduced elsewhere without prior consent. Unfortunately some private photos previously shared on line have been copied without permission and have subsequently appeared for sale by third parties on e-bay.


You can also subscribe to this website by entering your e-mail address into the white box below, bottom right and click the subscription button ⬇️


CRG163 in service history with Crosville Motor Services

CRG163 was first registered on the 6th of March 1970 and was delivered to Crosville Motor Services in a batch of four coaches; EFM160H to EFM164H. CRG163 (EFM163H) is the last survivor from her batch.

Crosville’s headquarters was in Chester, operating bus services from it’s bus depots across Cheshire, Merseyside north and mid Wales. Crosville operated local registered bus services, coach trips as well as long distance express coach services to London and other major UK destinations.

Even before CRG163 and sister vehicles entered service with the company their entry into the fleet was being communicated to staff through their in-house comoany employee magazine titled ‘Crosville United’ as can be seen from the scans below.



Crosville United No.73 - January 1970, announcing ‘future’ deliveries including CRG160 - 164.
CRG163 and sister vehicles CRG160 to CRG164 announced as new additions to Crosville’s fleet within it’s internal publication to staff - ‘Crosville United’ - number 75, Spring 1970.

Crosville cream and black coaching livery

When CRG163 entered service with Crosville she commenced operation on the prestigious X61 coach service between Liverpool and London, based at the company’s Liverpool Edge Lane depot. The service reference was adopted as X61 as the route taken was along the M6 and M1 motorways. At this time CRG163 carried the cream and black coaching livery of the time with four side illuminated panels placed along both sides of the vehicle denoting ‘Crosville - Coach - Liverpool - London.


CRG163 - operating on the X1 service, London bound when new in the coaching cream and black livery.
These coaches were truly magnificent, luxury coaches of their day and were also used by Crosville on it’s front line coaching and private hire work.


A typical Crosville poster from the day advertising it’s luxurious coaches with it’s CRG class of vehicle used in the poster.

CRG163 also operated the London X1 service in a variant of the cream and black livery which consisted of a simpler livery with only one side pane on display above the front wheel either side displaying the lower case ‘Crosville’ fleet name.

Chris Palmer, former Crosville staff recalls according to the usual reference source of the Crosville Enthusiast Club (CEC) 1967, CRG163 was the first CRG to be given the treatment of removing the four side lighting panes each side of the vehicle to be replaced by one longer pane each side above the front wheel arches. This included the application of the simpler cream and black livery as shown in the image below. It was reported in the November 1971 bulletin of the CEC, so would have been modified around October or early November of that year. It was stated that all of the CRGs were to undergo the modifications in due course. The lower case fleetname style was applied to the Seddon buses from new, the first examples being delivered in May 1971.


CRG163 at Victoria Coach Station, London in the second variant of the cream & black livery circa 1971 - 1972.

One of Crosville’s many leaflets promoting the Liverpool to London motorway services

One of Crosville’s leaflets from 1969 - 1970.

01 October 1969 to 31 May 1970 timetable for services X1, X18 and X61.  As Mike Lambden comments: ‘The night services tended to be far busier than days.  The route was set by the traffic commissioners as coach services were not allowed then to compete directly with trains hence the stop for Birmingham in Erdington rather than the city centre.’

CRG163 in a variant of the coaching cream and black livery at Crewe Bus Station in 1971.  The photo has been kindly provided by Mr John Buchan with thanks.


Crosville United, No’ 82 - Autumn 1972 - CRG162.


‘NATIONAL’ coach services - the all white 1970’s livery

In 1972 CRG163 adopted the white livery of the National UK coach network with the brand image of N A T I O N A L displayed on both sides of the vehicle through a mix of red and blue lettering. During this period CRG163 continued to operate main line coach services across the UK.

The official ‘NATIONAL’ branding  used completed with the ‘double N’ logo as carried by CRG163 from 1972 to 1979.
Chris Palmer remembers the corporate livery being unveiled in July 1972 and the major focus was on getting all of the coaches used on National coach services into the white livery as quickly as possible. CRG163 may have been repainted in September of that year or even sooner because things were evolving fairly quickly at first.


Crosville United No’ 80, Spring 1972.


Photo provided kindly by Mr Mike Street - CRG163 is seen at Cardiff Bus Station about to depart on service X71 to Liverpool on the 29th of December, 1972 having been freshly painted in this livery in the same month.  In this image the short lived green fleet name appears above the front wheel arch.

Chris Palmer confirms from the 1973 CEC reviews that CRG163 is confirmed as being repainted into National white in December 1972, but receiving a 3” green Crosville fleet name above both front wheel arches. It appears that CRG161 and CRG164 were painted the same month but received the red Crosville fleet names. CRG494 was painted in January 1973 but also received the green fleet names. It appears that at the time consistency of fleey name colour application was not consistent. The small underlined fleet names were commonplace until towards the end of 1972 apparently.

Chris Palmer recalls that the first examples of National white coaches in 1972 had small grey lettering for the fleet name with a thick line underneath in the company's "house colour", i.e. green in the case of Crosville. In October of 1972 it was reported that the plan had changed and that 3" letters were to be used in the "house colour". Chris comments that the green fleet name certainly clashed with the red and blue of the National livery, so the idea was quickly dropped in favour of the more harmonious red. What is therefore seen here with CRG163 is a very rare and short-lived stage in the slightly chaotic but rapid evolution of the new white livery. The above and below image of CRG163 is proof that, for a while at least, that this was a serious consideration of the National Bus Company as it was intending to apply to their coaching fleet and that CRG163 was one of the few vehicles it was applied to!


CRG163 parked at the back of Crosville‘s Edge Lane depot, Liverpool circa 1972 with the short lived green company fleet name above the front wheel arch.  Many thanks to Duncan Roberts for supplying the image.




CRG163 at Gloucester Green, Oxford - April 1973.

CRG163 alongside sister vehicle CRG162 at Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1973 on service X1, London bound.  With many thanks to Mr John Buchan for the permission to share his photograph on our website.

CRG163 at Hyde Park Corner, London operating the X1 service from Liverpool, circa 1974.

Crosville fleet list dating from 1974.  Page includes CRG103 (preserved by Carl Berry); CRG106 (preserved by Steve Graham); CRG111 (preserved by Roger Downs) and CRG163,
Chris Palmer comments that CRG163 may have had a further repaint in November 1974, being noted at Crosville’s Sealand Road works (SRW) on the 3rd and 17th of that month. Chris recalls that two and a half years was probably about right for repainting a front line coach in white at that time with winter being ideal time to undertake. It appears that on the 26th of September it performed a H9 between Liverpool and Prescot. Also that day CRG526 was on H24 to Chester and 578 on H4 to Rainhill, evidently with some sort of vehicle shortage going on to have these coaches operating these services.


CRG163 parked at the rear parking area of Crosville’s Liverpool Love Lane depot on 16 March, 1975.

CRG163 at London Victoria Coach Station - 26 May 1975.

Photo of CRG163 courtesy of Geoff Smith

CRG163 at Crosville’s Edge Lane depot, April 1976.


CRG163 parked up at Crosville’s Edge Lane depot, Liverpool

CRG 163 in parked at Crosville’s Liverpool Edge Lane Depot.  The photo was taken and kindly supplied by Don McKeown.  Don comments: ‘obviously on the occasion of a CEC visit. The destination shows my local service (I lived in Norden) and was obviously specially posed!’.

Chris Palmer recalls that CRG163 had a repaint again in March 1977 in National white and so would have lost its fleet plates no later than that.

Geoff Smith, also former Crosville staff recalls that Crosville removed fleet plates from coaches around the time of their 2nd repaint into NBC white.

Chris Palmer recalls that there was a tweak to the corporate livery in 1976. DVL292 (Bristol VRT6L double decker) was fitted with fleet plates and had the NBC logo in red and blue on a white square. That batch was the first to carry the logo in that form. Then it was applied to repainted buses from September onwards of the same year, possibly starting some time in August. From the same time, vehicles being repainted in National white had their fleet plates removed and grey transfers applied. Buses were allowed to keep their plates as were coaches in DP (dual purpose) or bus livery but subsequently new buses had fleet number transfers.

it is not known if there was a programme to remove fleet plates from white coaches sooner than the repaint programme allowed.

The image below depicts CRG163 following repaint and devoid of company fleet plates, now substituted by grey transfer stickers.


CRG163 parked up whilst operating on service 955 to Liverpool.  This photo has been kindly provided by Graham Warren having found the photo within his late father’s collection.  Graham’s father - George Warren once worked at Crosville’s Liverpool Edge Lane depot and frequently drove CRG163 in service back in the day.  Graham comments on the many happy memories he has travelling with his father behind the wheel of CRG163.


Chris Palmer recalls that the CEC reports explain that because of an "866 changeover" CRG163 spent every Saturday at Liverpool during summer of 1979 and was used on the weekly Saturday service 955 to Nottingham.

Mike Lambden (Crosville/National Express retired) comments that the old Crosville X6 used to do a changeover on a Friday evening at Bodelwyddan and again on a Sunday evening. That meant that a Liverpool coach was in Amlwch on Saturday and vice versa at Liverpool, with CRG163 forming a part of this operation. Mike continues that the Saturday Nottingham operation would probably have been a duplicate on the Liverpool to Clacton service.


A photo kindly supplied by Graham Warren of his late father George whilst working at Crosville’s Liverpool Edge Lane depot.  In memory of Mr George Warren.




CRG163 on service 853, returning home to Liverpool - photo courtesy of Geoff Smith

CRG163 parked at Llandudno Junction having operated the 865 from Liverpool.

CRG163 is seen here between Nant Peris and Llanberis, operating route N94.  Don McKewon comments that CRG163 had operated on this day from Liverpool to Caernarfon and during the vehicle’s down time at Crosville’s Caernarfon depot it was used to do a local service before returning to Liverpool.
CRG163 returning from Llanberis to Caernarfon before it’s further journey to Liverpool.




In April 1979, CRG163 was reallocated to Crosville’s Amlwch depot on the Isle of Anglesey, North West Wales as Chris Palmer recalls from collated information by the Crosville Enthusiasts Club 1967, but with cash trays removed between the 14th and 21 of July 1979. Chris Palmer commented that CRG163 was used on National Express service 866 during the summer of that year and worked a Nottingham service from Liverpool on some Saturdays as part of its weekly diagram. In October it was noted at Liverpool depot parked, suspected as laying over between North Wales express services.

From the company’s official fleet list of June 1979 (extract below) CRG160 and CRG161 had been downgraded to dual purpose status and reclassified as ERG’s, with CRG162, CRG163, and CRG164 retaining the coaching CRG status.

Ralph Rowlands, long time employee of Crosville and once Pwllheli Depot Superintendent (DS) recalls that depot allocation sheets were collated and printed each month by a Mr Charles Williams, within the company’s Engineering Records Department which was based at Crane Wharf.


Section of Crosville fleet list - June 1979.

Section of Crosville fleet list - June 1979.

CRG163 parked on the apron of Crosville’s then depot at Amlwch.  This photo was taken by Roger Downs, owner of preserved Crosville CRG111 (AFM111G).

CRG163 downgraded to ERG163

CRG163 had operated on long distance coach services for the Crosville company across the UK. Chris Palmer recalls that CRG163 was downgraded and reclassified to ERG163 and repainted in December 1979 into the company‘s dual purpose green and white livery. It appears to have been returned to Amlwch as ERG163 and briefly saw use out of Holyhead depot early in 1980 before settling down to a life on route N61 in 1980 from the company’s Amlwch depot.


CRG163 seen as ERG163 at Crosville’s Sealand Road Works on 22 December 1979 after being downgraded and painted in the company’s dual purpose livery of green and white.  Not that the Frankmann’s front indicators are still intact having not been replaced by the Lucas rounded replacement as would occur to other similar vehicles.

Crosville Edge Lane depot, Liverpool 1979 fleet list.  With thanks to Mr John Lee (Crosville manager) and Graham Warren also confirming the downgrading of CRG163 to ERG (dual purpose) status in  1979 to be reallocated to Anglesey (AN)

ERG163 peering out of Crosville’s Amlwch depot

The Crosville fleet name as it appeared on dual purpose vehicles as shown in the above photograph.

Based at Crosville’s Amlwch north west Wales depot on the Isle of Anglesey and reclassified as ERG163 (E = Dual purpose - coach/local bus services; R = Bristol RE; G = Gardner engine) ERG 163 would be driven by Bob Moelfre (as known locally); Dewi Roberts; Richard Lewis and others.



ERG163 passing Bangor Railway Station on local service N61 to Cemaes Bay - photo circa 1982.

ERG163 parked outside Crosville’s Amlwch depot.  Photo again courtesy of Geoff Smith with thanks.
ERG110 and ERG163 parked outside Crosville’s Amlwch depot.  Such a nice black and white atmospheric image of both vehicles, again courtesy of Geoff Smith.

Photo kindly provided by Graham Senior. The image is of ERG110 and ERG163 at Crosville’s Amlwch depot - 17 April 1982. It’s so interesting to capture the story behind the image. Graham comments:

This photo was taken on a glorious Saturday 17 April 1982, and the reason for the presence of ERG110 was that she had been hired by "The Crosville Enthusiasts' Club (1967)", for a depot trip (originating at Chester) encompassing Llanrwst, Bangor and the three Anglesey depots. As Max Boyce would have said, "I know, 'cos I was there!". Seeing the pictures on your splendid website brought back the happy memory, and I've dug out my (very similar) shot of the occasion, to that of Geoff Smith which was filed under ERG110.

By now the Crosville fleet panel above the front wheels would be painted green with the ‘Crosville’ fleet name applied by sticker on the roof line each side accompanied by the National Bus Company logo of the double ‘N’. Once again her fleet number was displayed in grey sticker form with a driver ticket machine and cash tray added. Standard vehicles operating local bus services would normally adopt an all over ‘leaf’ green livery with a white centre relief band, however as ERG had coach seats this classification was given.


ERG163 leaving Amlwch, Bangor bound on the N62 with Richard Lewis, Amlwch depot behind the wheel. Photo courtesy of Don McKeown.

ERG163 as now classified would continue to operate on a host of long and shorter distance services based at Crosville’s then Amlwch depot operating the Saturday X10 service between Cemaes Bay and Liverpool as well as more local services such as the N62 between Amlwch and Bangor.


ERG163 at Liverpool Edge Lane depot in September 1980.



Advertised services N61 & N62 as operated by ERG163 - summer 1981.

ERG163 at Menai Bridge on the N61 to Amlwch on a wet day in December 1982.

ERG 163 parked up inside Crosville’s Amlwch depot - August 1982 having returned home on the X10 from Liverpool.

ERG163 at Mynydd Mechell, Anglesey with John ‘Pensarn’ Williams from Crosville’s Amlwch depot at the wheel as confirmed by Richard Lewis and Glyn Jones.  Richard fondly commented how he remembers John driving in those days in his blue tie.  Sadly John passed away a few years ago.  This photograph is therefore dedicated to John Pensarn in his memory.

ERG163 at Mynydd Mechell, December 1983 with John ‘Pensarn’ Williams at the wheel from Amlwch depot.

ERG163 parked up at Liverpool Skelhorne Street, opposite Lime Street having operated the X10 from Cemaes Bay.


A black and white image of ERG163 parked at Liverpool Skelhorne Street opposite Lime Street, likely to have operated the X10 service from Cemaes Bay.  Photo courtesy of Geoff Smith


The X10 timetable as operated by ERG163 which commenced operation in 1982.
Another image of ERG163 at Liverpool’s Skelhorne Street coach station having worked the X10 limited stop service from Cemaes Bay.

Here we see ERG163 Liverpool bound on the Saturday X10 service from Cemaes Bay as operated by staff from Crosville’s Amlwch depot, North Wales.  With grateful thanks to Keith Jones, who e-mailed and confirmed that the location is Hamilton St, Birkenhead with Hamilton Square Station seen to the left of the photo.

The X10 service would be driven by Bob Moelfre; Richard ‘Richie’ Lewis; Dewi Roberts and others based at the time at Crosville’s Amlwch depot.


ERG163 parked up at Skelhorne Street coach station having worked the X10 from Cemaes Bay, Anglesey - August 1983 (with grateful thanks to Mr Graham Senior for permission to reproduce his photo here and others elsewhere on this website)

ERG163 outside Crosville’s Amlwch depot.

ERG163 outside Crosville’s Amlwch depot.

ERG163 outside Crosville’s Amlwch depot.


Scan from Crosville’s official fleet list from 1 February 1981.  ERG163 is allocated to Amlwch depot

ERG161 at Menai Bridge, Bangor bound with ERG163 in the background.

Photo kindly provided by Mr Stephen Monaghan with grateful thanks.  As commented by Stephen: New and the old meet in Bangor in May 1983. DOG118 arriving Bangor Clock bus station passing ERG163 which has operated into Bangor on the N62 service.

ERG161 and ERG163 side by side outside Crosville’s Amlwch depot.  ERG163 can also be seen sporting the Town Lynx branding.  Photograph supplied by Keith Mason with grateful thanks.

ERG163 at Menai Bridge heading to Cemaes Bay on route N61


ERG163 at Menai Bridge heading to Cemaes Bay on route N61

ERG163 Crosville Withdrawal

Eventually ERG163 succumbed to withdrawal from service in 1984. It’s future was very much uncertain as it waited its fate on the Crosville disposal line at Chester. The following photographs are ERG163 reaching the end of the road …………. Or the end of the road with Crosville.


ERG163 parked up on Crosville’s vehicle disposal line - it’s future very much uncertain.















My grateful thanks to everyone who have provided information about CRG/ERG163’s in service history with Crosville as detailed on this page of the website. Thank you.


Into preservation

Following CRG163’s withdrawal by Crosville in the 1984 it entered preservation initially with Gordon Bate and then from 2002 with Richard Jones. CRG163 undertook a rigorous restoration process with Richard between 2002 and 2004 with grateful support from his father, late mother and others before being unveiled in June 2004 in her restored NATIONAL white livery.

Preserved CRG163 heading towards Bangor having driven across the Menai Suspension Bridge from the Isle of Anglesey, as done so many times back in the day.
More information and photographs of CRG163 in preservation are available on the page ‘CRG163 INTO PRESERVATION’ on this website. You can also click HERE.


Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.

You can also subscribe to this website by entering your e-mail address into the white box below, bottom right and click the subscription button ⬇️





Initial preservation : 1984 - 2002 (Gordon Bate)

Following ERG163’s withdrawal by Crosville in 1984 it was saved from potential scrapping and an uncertain future by passing into the world of vehicle preservation through the new ownership of Gordon Bate. Gordon lived in the Manchester area and saved and preserved many other Crosville vehicles in his time including now preserved CRG106, CRG111 and CRG530, which would also eventually pass to other owners for further restoration, safekeeping and preservation. It is safe to say that Gordon played an instrumental interim role in saving and securing such vehicles from their ultimate demise.


ERG163 enters preservation and is repainted in CRG163‘s more simplistic cream and back livery under the ownership of Gordon Bate.  The vehicle’s fleet classification during its time with Crosville is applied in standard National Bus Company grey stickers.
ERG163 initially passed to Gordon in the dual purpose green and white livery as operated by Crosville. During his tenure of the vehicle he later adopted a derivative of the original cream and black livery but to a far simpler design, reapplying through sticker format the fleet designation of CRG163. Initially Gordon would attend many bus and coach rallies with the vehicle but over time began to withdraw. Over time the vehicle was withdrawn from any public appearance and mothballed, parked up at an unknown location for many years to come, rumoured to be on the outskirts of Manchester, somewhere.


A New Chapter - Preservation 2002 onwards (Richard Jones)

In the year 2000 I got to know Gordon Bate through the vehicle preservation movement and came across 163 as a part of this. I understand that many had attempted to purchase 163 from Gordon over the years through failed attempts either before or during any acquisition process. It is understood that Gordon would meet would be purchasers in the middle of nowhere but never actually taking anybody to the secret location of 163.

However in early 2001 everything changed. Gordon contacted me and offered the opportunity to purchase the vehicle. I remember accepting his offer to visit with excitement.


CRG 163 - Initial recovery and rescue

In June of the following year a date was set, that being the 9th of June, 2002 and I dully travelled with others to a location on the outskirts of Manchester to meet Gordon. Again as with others before I was to meet him at a location in the middle of nowhere. When we met we chatted for a short while before being invited to follow him for a number of miles along country lanes to the hidden location of 163. I remember entering a farm before suddenly seeing 163 appear silently from behind a barn.

Top left images is CRG163 parked on the farm before recovery.  Top right is Mr Gordon Bate inside CRG163.  Bottom left image is of recovered CRG163 on the way home to North West Wales.  Bottom right image is of CRG163 safely home in North West Wales.
Unfortunately by this time the vehicle had deteriorated as it had not moved for a number of years. The vehicle was thoroughly checked over by a mechanic friend for any issues such as air pipe or water issues as well as other roadworthiness checks. On receiving the green light from my mechanic friend the deal was done. Before we departed I remember Gordon affectionately placing his hand on the front of 163 and saying “look after yourself old girl”. Suddenly we were homeward bound returning 163 once again to North Wales.


Ex CRG163 heading westbound near Chester - homeward bound (photo courtesy of Ray Jones).
Her recovery did not pass without incident, but through engineering support from a friend and perseverance she travelled home from Manchester to North Wales.

At this time I must pay homage to Gordon Bate for saving so many Crosville vehicles including mine from a more unstable future. Sadly Gordon is no longer with us unfortunately, however 163 lives on as well as his initial efforts of preservation.


The restoration work begins...

CRG163 undertook a rigorous restoration process with Richard between 2002 and 2004 with grateful support from his father, late mother and others before being unveiled in June 2004 in her restored NATIONAL white livery.




A lot of travelling was undertaken across the country, tracking down and sourcing parts.

This included but not restricted to:

  • a complete mechanical overhaul including the fitting of new air and water pipes throughout and the repair of air bag levelling valves;  vehicle entrance door mechanisms and driver cab electrics;
  • securing a full set of six rims (wheels) from the Scotch Corner on realisation that six different sized incorrect rims were fitted by the previous owner
  • six new tyres;
  • recasting the steering wheel - north of Manchester;
  • repair to vehicle alternator - Liverpool
  • rebuilding the wooden frames of all side lockers - nearside and offside;
  • New window rubbers supplied from a specialist company - all round including destination displays and side panels above front wheels - nearside and offside to hold the ‘Crosville’ name once again
  • complete sanding down of the entire body work (with grateful support from my Father);
  • complete respray of the vehicle to NATIONAL white;
  • deteriorated water pipes replaced;
  • complete internal repaint;
  • Sourcing of original coloured green external beading all round on all bright work;
  • Sourcing of new metal grey and black fleet plates re-created exactly to the original design and specification of CRG163 down to the detail of the text font and dimensions used thus reinstating 163 to its original CRG fleet status.  This replaced the stickers used by the previous owner;
  • Sourcing the correct paint and colour match of grey for the vehicle rims (wheels);
  • Sourcing the design specifications for the ‘NATIONAL’ branding as well as all vehicle legal lettering to the original design including font.  This included the ‘Crosville’ fleet name on the reinstated panel above the front wheels.  163 was now repainted in the NATIONAL livery and included all correct styling of legal lettering.  I was extremely lucky as my friend Derek Thompson who once worked for Crosville at its Caernarfon depot had retained the original specifications who kindly shared this with me.  Sadly Derek is no longer with us.  Thank you Derek so much for your kindness and friendship.


Completion of restoration and unveiling

The new livery chosen for restored CRG163 was kept a secret from everyone and was unveiled at the Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza Transport Festival in May 2004.




Llandudno Transport Festival

On 01 May 2004, CRG 163 is publicly unveiled for the first time following restoration at the Llandudno Transport Festival. By now CRG 163 has been restored and repainted into the National white livery the vehicle carried between 1972 and 1979. CRG 163 would also proudly carry new bespoke traditional metal fleet plates and as carried when new.

The initial four photographs below were taken early morning on Saturday the 01 May as final preparations were being made to publicly unveil restored CRG163 for the first time later in the morning. Final touches included final visual checks of everything and the application of the orange show sticker on CRG163’s nearside windscreen.
This was extremely exciting as two years of restoration work culminated to this very point where only a few hours later CRG163 would be unveiled to everyone. CRG163’s livery was kept as a secret and surprise to everyone. It must be remembered that twenty years ago we didn’t have such things as the internet and social media platforms as we have today.

Early morning images of CRG163 before setting off to the Crosville vehicle gathering at the Llandudno Transport Extravaganza - 2004. This was our first public outing following the completion of two years of restoration.

Following an early start of excitement , CRG163 arrives at the Llandudno Transport Festival.
Following the static show of vehicles at the Llandudno Festival of Transport a road run took place of most of the vehicle through Llandudno and around the Great Orme.  CRG163 is seen here driving through Llandudno as a part of the road run.  Following the road run CRG163 parks alongside fellow preserved Crosville vehicles for an impromptu early evening photo shoot.


Returning home to Liverpool








Preserved CRG163 returning to Liverpool Lime Street Station on the 3rd of October, 2004.  CRG163 was originally based at Crosville’s Liverpool Edge Lane depot back in 1970.

CRG163 in preservation circa 2004 - taken by Derek Thompson.
By then CRG163 had become a celebrity in the bus preservation movement.


Preserved CRG163 at Glynllifon Estate circa 2005.

Bus & Coach Preservation Magazine - June 2004

Bus & Coach Preservation magazine front page - July 2004.
The cover photo was taken of preserved CRG163 passing through one of the famous arches of the Menai Suspension Bridge linking the Isle of Anglesey and the main land.

In June 2004 CRG163 during its preservation become the star on the cover and within a five page internal article of the Bus & Coach Preservation Magazine.


Bob Moelfre, once of Crosville’s depot at Amlwch.  Now retired but once again driving CRG163 but this time in preservation many years later.  In memory of Bob.










Crosville 100 celebrations, 2006 at Rhyl with me behind the wheel and my late Mother sitting behind.  Photo courtesy of Martin Pinnington with thanks.

Pictured again at the Crosville 100 celebrations, 2006 in Rhyl.  Photo courtesy of Martin Pinnington with thanks.

Preserved CRG163 returning home to Amlwch during 2006.  The Crosville depot is sadly demolished, making way for yet another supermarket which became buyers of Crosville sites when vacated and sold.  CRG163 returned to Amlwch displaying route number X10 (the route once operated by CRG163 when ERG163 back in the day between Cemaes Bay and Liverpool) on its destination blind, paying homage and respect for the old depot and staff.
An evening shot of preserved CRG163, parked at the bus interchange at Menai Bridge, Anglesey on its return from Amlwch.

TV Appearance

The EFE model of preserved CRG163 on BBC iplayer
The EFE model of preserved CRG163 has also appeared on BBC iplayer in the programme: Timeshift: Series 10, 7 - The Modern Age of the Coach. The programme is also available on You Tube via the following web link: https://youtu.be/WQMDp2tVV-k 


CRG163 preservation - 2020 onwards

For details of our recent restoration and preservation endeavours please click HERE or our News Page for details.



Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail me, Richard Jones at post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.

You can also subscribe to this website by entering your e-mail address into the white box below, bottom right and click the subscription button ⬇️





CRG163 into EFE - 1:76 scale

In September 2006 CRG163 was released in EFE 1:76 model form.

CRG163 was the first mould to be released based on the Series 2, Mark 1, Bristol RELH6G ECW coach.

The model is based upon CRG163 in preservation as depicted in the July 2004 Bus & Coach Preservation magazine with X10 Bangor on the front with black window rubbers.

Service X10 never operated to Bangor but operated to Cemaes Bay on the Isle of Anglesey or Liverpool.

CRG163’s EFE model number is 32202.










TV Appearance

The EFE model of preserved CRG163 on BBC iplayer
The EFE model of preserved CRG163 has also appeared on BBC iplayer in the programme: Timeshift: Series 10, 7 - The Modern Age of the Coach. The programme is also available on You Tube via the following web link: https://youtu.be/WQMDp2tVV-k 


Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail me, Richard Jones at post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.

You can also subscribe to this website by entering your e-mail address into the white box below, bottom right and click the subscription button ⬇️

Here are various sounds made by CRG163. The wonderful sound of the Bristol RE is quite unique. The Gardner 6HLX engine is very distinctive. The sounds captured below are different to those in the Videos page of this website.

Why is Bristol RELH, registration EFM163H referred to as CRG163 and ERG163?

This is all down to the vehicle recognition system that Crosville devised and introduced that would allow employees within the company to recognise a vehicle quickly by simply its allocated fleet number.

A summary of the company’s fleet recognitions systems over the years is described below.


A summary of Crosville’s fleet numbering system

Crosville had adopted four methods of vehicle recognition through fleet numbering over the years.


1910 - 1915

Method one around 1910 involved naming buses with such names as ’The Alma’ and ‘Busy Bee’.

Pictured outside the works of Henry Eaton (of Manchester) presumably when new, is Crosville No. 2 (FM387), a 1911 Dennis named ‘The Alma’. It was later numbered 4 and withdrawn in 1913. (LTHL collection).


1915 - 1934

Around 1915 method two was introduced and simply involved numbering vehicles such as ‘1’; ’2’ and so fourth between 1 and 1000. Crosville being superstitious never used the number ‘13’ but used ‘AC’ instead.


1934 - 1958

Around 1934 an alpha-digit numeric system was introduced. Simply a letter was assigned to the type of vehicle such as ‘C’ for a Leyland Lion LT1. Some vehicles used two characters as the fleet grew followed by the assigned number. The number did not correspond to the registration of the vehicle.


1958 onwards

The fourth and final method the company adopted was the alpha-numeric system comprising of three letters denoting the vehicle type then between one and three numbers replicating the vehicle registration number. The numbers used were not always replicated.

In terms of CRG163 this was the fleet numbering system used.

Crosville had a significantly sized fleet of varying vehicle types in specification from engine type, make, model. They tended to be delivered new to the company in batches of the same type. The company adopted an unique alpha-neumeric fleet recognition system that would allow all company vehicles to be easily and quickly identified for the purpose of internal processes through its unique fleet number. No two vehicles would hold the same fleet number at any one time. This was especially useful for the Engineering and Traffic divisions of the company when dealing with internal maintenance regimes and traffic operational allocations.

Basically the principles of allocating an alpha-numeric system to new vehicles entering the Crosville fleet involved three letters (unless classed as auxiliary/supportive vehicles such as cars or engineering vehicles denoted by ‘A’) followed by the majority of times the corresponding numbers displayed on the vehicle’s registration number plate. Not always though did the same registration number correspond especially if another vehicle in the fleet was allocated these numbers.

The three letters applied was specific and based upon vehicle characteristics on the following principles:

  • First assigned letter denoted the body type e.g.

  • C = Coach;
  • D = Double Decker (low height);
  • E = dual purpose/Express vehicle that would normally be fitted by semi coach seats but also fitted with a driver cab door and ticket machine and could also be used on local bus services as well as coach work;
  • H = Double Decker (high bridge);
  • M = Mini bus;
  • O = Open Top;
  • S = Single Decker;

  • Second assigned letter denoted the vehicle chassis type e.g.

  • L = Leyland Leopard / Bristol LH
  • N = Leyland National;
  • O = Leyland Olympian
  • R = Bristol RE;
  • V = Bristol VRT

  • Third assigned letter denoted the engine type e.g.

  • G = Gardner;
  • L = Leyland;
  • M = Mercedes

  • The numeric element of the fleet number would generally correspond with the  numbers displayed on the vehicle registration, but not always the case as explained above.

The following are examples of how the company applied the alpha-numeric fleet numbering system to actual vehicles in the Crosville fleet:



Dual purpose = multi use on local bus and express longer distance services.  In respect of EFM 163H, the allocated fleet number was CRG163, simply equating to C = Coach; R = Bristol RE (rear engine); G = Gardner engine; followed by 163 from its registration of EFM163H



At that time all Crosville vehicles proudly carried metal fleet plates which were placed on the vehicle’s front panel, normally on the grill if available as well as under the driver’s offside cab window and below the nearside front passenger window externally as well as on the boot in some cases. Vehicles would also have a much smaller fleet plate inside the driver’s cab area, normally above the driver’s offside window.



In relation to CRG163 this was the vehicle‘s first fleet designation in recognition of coaching duties. However in 1979 the vehicle was downgraded to dual purpose use, i.e. the vehicle would be used on any service which would include local bus service operation as well.

The ‘E’ letter would replace the ‘C’ letter in the vehicle’s classification. Fleet numbers would be applied with stickers to National Bus Company specification of font and size and shade of grey.

Reclassification from CRG to ERG would also involve the fitment of a ticket machine and fixed holder as well as a change in livery to white (roof to below the passenger window line) and leaf green below this. This livery of white and green would always be associated with a dual purpose vehicle in Crosville’s fleet.


Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail me, Richard Jones at post@crg163.com . Many thanks in advance.

You can also subscribe to this website by entering your e-mail address into the white box below, bottom right and click the subscription button ⬇️.



Compressor Belts

Compressor Belts

This part is presently being sought. If anyone has any details or leads please do get in touch.

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Headlamp Inner Bowl

Headlamp Inner Bowl

This part is presently being sought. If anyone has any details or leads please do get in touch.

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Roof ventilation boxes

Roof ventilation boxes

This part is presently being sought. If anyone has any details or leads please do get in touch.

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Green brightwork plastic beading

Green brightwork plastic beading

This part is presently being sought. If anyone has any details or leads please do get in touch.

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Front cowl screws

Front cowl screws

Two front cowl screws are required as per the attached image, circled in red.

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10R 22.5 tubeless 10 stud spare wheel for Royal Blue 1457

10R 22.5 tubeless 10 stud spare wheel for Royal Blue 1457

Keith Dickerson is looking for a 10R 22.5 tubeless 10 stud spare wheel for his beautiful Royal Blue RELH 1457 (LDV 467F). If you have any available please e-mail Keith at the following e-mail address: keithdickerson@hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

Learn More

On this page of the website we have cherished memories from former Crosville staff, their families and friends. These memories gravitate around Crosville Motor Services and the un-sung heroes that made the company what it was, as we pay our respects to them. We also include memories of CRG/ERG163 in this context. My grateful and sincere thanks to all that have collaborated with me and contributed to this page so far. More articles will be published over time.

Richard Lloyd Jones

Richard Lloyd Jones

Richard sets the scene for this page of the website. Its aim is to remember the Crosville company and staff as well as CRG163 and other vehicles from this fleet class. It pays homage and respect to valued staff behind the company which include the late Bob ‘Moelfre’ Roberts, Jack Cowap, John ‘Llanrug’ Wyn Griffiths and many more across the company’s operating territory. My grateful and sincere thanks to everyone who’s collaborated with me and contributed to this wonderful page down memory lane. It has been a personal privilege. Sadly our dear friend Dave Wilder passed away on 27 September 2023. We therefore remember Dave as a friend and for his valuable contribution below. (Amended 06.01.24).

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Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis remembers ERG163 at Crosville’s Amlwch depot. (25.02.24).

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John Young

John Young

John Young shares his memories of ERG163 in service in and around Anglesey (04.02.22).

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Mike Lambden

Mike Lambden

Mike Lambden remembers CRG163 and other CRG’s of the time (05.02.22).

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Dewi Roberts

Dewi Roberts

Dewi Roberts remembers driving ERG163 at Crosville’s Amlwch depot (10.02.22).

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Don McKeown

Don McKeown

Don McKeown remembers CRG163 coming to Crosville’s Caernarfon depot (10.02.22).

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Graham Warren

Graham Warren

Graham Warren remembers heading to North Wales with his Dad George Warren at the wheel of CRG163 (12.02.22).

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David Wilder

David Wilder

David Wilder remembers CRG163 and other CRG’s on the Liverpool to London services including memories of Crosville (05.03.22).

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Mike Lambden

Mike Lambden

Mike Lambden remembers working in the UK Express Coach Sector (19.03.22).

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Ralph Rowlands

Ralph Rowlands

Ralph Rowlands - memories of the ‘Crosville Family’ (26.03.22).

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Mike Grant

Mike Grant

Mike Grant - A Day Out for BICC Employees (22.04.22).

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This page of the website contains images of Crosville leaflets and timetables over the years including those that CRG/ERG163 would have operated including the X1.X10, X18, X61 and the 853 to name a few.

Liverpool - London route leaflet - 1950’s

Liverpool - London route leaflet - 1950’s

Attached are scans of the leaflet for the service route between Liverpool and London in the 1950’s, kindly provided by Carl Berry with thanks.

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Liverpool - London timetables from 1957

Liverpool - London timetables from 1957

Attached are scans of the leaflet for the service route between Liverpool and London in the 1957, kindly provided by Carl Berry with thanks.

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Service X69 Pwllheli - Manchester - 1965

Service X69 Pwllheli - Manchester - 1965

Attached are photographs of the leaflet produced back in 1965, which commenced on 13 April of the same year. From my own collection.

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Service X68 Pwllheli - Liverpool 1965

Service X68 Pwllheli - Liverpool 1965

Attached are photographs of the leaflet produced back in 1965, which commenced on 15 April of the same year. From my own collection.

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Services X1/X18/X61 Liverpool London timetables - Winter 1969/1970

Services X1/X18/X61 Liverpool London timetables - Winter 1969/1970

Attached are scans of the 1969 leaflet for these services commencing on 01 October 1969 to 21 May 1970.

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Services X1/X18/X61 Liverpool - London timetables - 1970

Services X1/X18/X61 Liverpool - London timetables - 1970

Attached are scans of the 1970 leaflet for these services, between 01 June to 30 September of the same year. Kindly provided by Carl Berry with thanks.

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Services X1/X18/X61 Liverpool - London timetables - Winter 1972/1973

Services X1/X18/X61 Liverpool - London timetables - Winter 1972/1973

Attached are scans of the winter 1972/1973 leaflet for these services kindly provided by Carl Berry with thanks.

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Services 850/851/853/854 Liverpool - London timetables - Winter 1973/1974

Services 850/851/853/854 Liverpool - London timetables - Winter 1973/1974

Attached are scans of the winter 1973/1974 leaflet for these services commencing on 08 October 1973, kindly provided by Carl Berry with thanks.

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Services 850/851/853/854/855 Merseyside - London timetables - 1976

Services 850/851/853/854/855 Merseyside - London timetables - 1976

Attached are photographs of the leaflet produced back in 1976, which commenced on 26 September the same year. The photographs have been kindly provided by Graham Warren with thanks.

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CRG163 is a Bristol RELH6G.  What does this mean?

CRG163 is a rear engined vehicle with a Bristol Commercial Vehicle chassis to the long, coach high configuration.

Simply RELH6G means a Bristol RE to the Long, High chassis configuration with a 6 cylinder Gardner engine - Bristol RELH6G.




Bristol Commercial Vehicles

The Bristol RE was a rear engined single deck bus or coach built by Bristol Commercial Vehicle between 1962 and 1982.

The Bristol RE is considered to be one of the most successful rear engined vehicles and has a huge following to today, and includes many examples preserved such as CRG163.

Bristol was wholly owned by the nationalised Transport Holding Company (THC) with the Bristol RE only supplied initially to subsidiaries of the the THC. Leyland purchased 25% of Bristol in 1965 which led to the Bristol product being made available to non state owned bus and coach operators. Municipal bus operators including the British Electric Traction Group (BET) were also customers.



Sales to the National Bus Company (NBC) however began to dry up from 1972 as the Leyland National product was also available. The NBC had taken over the operations of the THC and BET.

Unfortunately the Bristol RE was only available for export to Christchurch, New Zeland as well as Ulsterbus and Citybus in Ireland from 1976.



Sale statistics

The sale statistics for the Bristol RE was as follows:

  • 4,629 Bristol RE’s were built
  • 3,242 of which were sold to NBC Subsidiaries
  • Bristol Omnibus Company was the biggest single customer at 439 orders
  • Crosville Motor Services at 288
  • Ulsterbus & Citybus in Ireland combined at 620
  • United Automobile Services at 470
  • West Yorkeshire Road Car Company at 259
  • 148 were sold to members of the Scottish Bus Group
  • 405 to British municipalities and PTE’s
  • 834 to other operators


Vehicle Body - Eastern Coach Works

The most common fitted body to any Bristol RE was Eastern Coach Works (ECW) of Lowestoft. Other manufacturers also built on the chassis such as Alexander; Duple; Plaxton.

Interestingly the Bristol RE was available in five variants from vehicle length to height (bus/coach).

ECW’s logo as shown on vehicles

Chassis variants

The variants available were as follows:

  • RELL - long vehicle length at 36 foot, low frame bus body fitted
  • RESL - short vehicle length, low frame bus body fitted
  • RELH - long vehicle length at 36 foot, high frame (coach or dual purpose body normally fitted). CRG163 would be the coach variant.
  • RESH - short vehicle length, high frame (coach or dual purpose body normally fitted)
  • REMH - long vehicle length at 12m, high frame coach body fitted



Engines

The Bristol RE would normally be fitted with a Gardner 6 cylinder engine or a six cylinder Leyland diesel engine, either a 0.600 or 0.680. As such the variant codes above would be suffixed by a code indicating the engine fitted such as RELH6G in the case of CRG163. The codes would be:

6G would refer to the Gardner 6 cylinder engine, for example the 6HLX in the case of CRG163. The engine would be a Gardner 6LX vertical engine, however in the Bristol RE the engine would be fitted horizontally denoted with a ‘H’ in 6HLX.

The Gardner 6HLX engine in CRG163 is 150 hp @ 1700 RPM and a Natural 6-cylinder diesel. It’s cylinder capacity is 10,450 cc

6L would refer to the Leyland 6 cylinder engine, normally the 0.600 or 0.680.





L. Gardner and Sons Ltd was a British company specialising in the building of diesel engines. founded in Manchester in 1868. It started building engines around 1895 and used in many forms from stationary, marine, road in lorries and buses and rail. The firm ceased engine production in the mid 1990’s.







The Gardner 6LX vertical engine, referred to as 6HLX in CRG163 for its horizontal position


The following images are from the Gardner service manual and provides images of the 6LX as it would appear in its horizontal (HLX) form in CRG163.








Bristol RE - Pre production models

Bristol Commercial Vehicles produced three prototype RE chassis in late 1962 and early 1963.

The three prototypes were based upon an RELL bus chassis; and two based upon the RELH chassis.

The RELL prototype was a 54 seater bus delivered to United in December 1962 in its Tilling red and cream livery. The chassis reference for this vehicle would be REX.001, vehicle registration 7431 HN.

REX.002 followed in April 1963 and would be the RELH, C47F seat high floor coach chassis. This vehicle would be registered 521 ABL, delivered to Thames Valley Traction’s South Midland in the maroon and cream livery between Oxford and London. It would have the stepped wait rail (bright work) a feature carried from the Bristol MW.

A second pre production model/prototype of the Bristol RE RELH was given the number REX.003 built in July 1963. This would be a coach body built by ECW and used as a test bed by Bristol Commercial Vehicle (BCV) until February 1967 when brought up to service standard, fitted with a Gardner engine.


West Yorkshire 1014.  Photographer unknown - but reproduced here through kind permission of Neil Halliday from his own collection.
This laterally became West Yorkshire CRG1 and then 1014, registration OWT241E, entering service from Harrogate depot on 01/03/66, withdrawn on 30/09/78.


Most popular models

The most popular models sold were as follows:

  • RELL - 2,839
  • RELH - 976 with CRG163 being one of them
  • RESL - 698
  • REMH - 105
  • RESH - 11

The REML, a sixth model variant was advertised in 1968 but none were built. This would have been a 20 foot wheelbase of the REMH but with a low frame for a bus body.





From 1972, the sales of Bristol RE’s to the National Bus Company (NBC), which had taken over both THC and BET began to dry up. This was due to the introduction of the Leyland National. The Bristol RE remained in production from 1976, but only for the Northern Irish state owned bus companies Ulsterbus and Citybus and for the Christchurch Transport Board, New Zealand which continued until 1983.


Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail me, Richard Jones at post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.

You can also subscribe to this website by entering your e-mail address into the white box below, bottom right and click the subscription button ⬇️



Many excellent books have been produced over the years charting the detailed history of the National Bus Company (NBC) and that of National Express.

The purpose of this page of the website is to provide a summary of the history of National Express, it’s connection to CRG163 and me and especially as it celebrated 50 years of existence in 2022.


The National Bus Company (NBC) years and the introduction of National Travel - NATIONAL & National Express

From the 1st of January 1969 a significant change took place to the UK bus industry with the introduction of the National Bus Company (NBC). This involved the merger of the Transport Holdings Company (THC) and the British Transport Commission (BET) organisations into a single National Bus Company (NBC) following the White Paper recommendations forming a part of the Transport Act 1968.

The NBC inherited 75% shareholdings in chassis manufacturer Bristol Commercial Vehicles and body builder Eastern Coach Works from the THC. Also in 1969 NBC formed a joint venture with British Leyland who owned the other 25% of Bristol and ECW, designing the Leyland National.

After the creation of the National Bus Company, but before the launch of the 'National' coach branding, the NBC began producing its own express services timetable book which at the time was named "Britain's Express Coach Guide". This replaced the 'ABC Coach and Bus Guide' which had been the bible for booking and enquiry office staff all over Britain and, like the ABC, featured timetables of numerous independent express service operators.

Britain’s Express Coach Guide - Summer 1972.
Under the NBC, buses would be operated by locally managed subsidiary companies. In the early years of the National Bus Company, there was some rationalisation, generally leading to the amalgamation of operators into larger units and the transfer of areas between them. As a part of this Crosville took over the former North Western depots of Northwich, Macclesfield and Biddulph as well as the former Western Welsh depots in New Quay and Newcastle Emlyn.





UK map showing the National Bus Company’s subsidiary bus companies, their headquarters location, and their operating boundaries as at 1 January, 1974.


Following the appointment of Frederick Wood as chairman in 1972, NBC introduced a corporate identity. This was launched on the 10th of April 1972. Under the leadership of Sir Wood, the National Bus Company moved to bring together all of the scheduled coach services operated by its subsidiary companies across the UK under one network brand in 1972. From this point coaches would be branded as National Travel and painted in white, with the NBC logo and the 'NATIONAL' name in alternate red & blue letters added as shown below. This would include a new logo created by designer Norman Wilson in the shape of the letter ‘N’ for National in red, but with a mirrored shadow ‘N’ underneath in blue. This was a truly iconic logo that became synonymous for over 30 years between bus and coach travel in the UK.


Whilst the logo was no longer used on vehicles operating local bus services beyond deregulation and privatisation of the National Bus Company it continued on longer distance coach express services under the National Express brand until such time when National Express changed their logo in 2003. Further details of Norman Wilson is available through the nationalbusmanual.com website.


Sir Frederick Wood (left) and Norman Wilson (right).  Photo courtesy of the Bus Archive/NBC Corporate Identity Project.

NATIONAL’s Britain’s Express Service Guide - Winter 1973/74.

The inspiration came from the Unitied States which since the 1940’s operated a network of national coaches under the banner Greyhound.

Three Greyhound adverts/posters from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

CRG163 was one of the first Crosville coaches to be repainted into the all white NATIONAL corporate livery in late 1972.


CRG162 & CRG163 at Stratford-Upon-Avon in 1973.  Both vehicles operating NATIONAL service X1 to London.
CRG163 continued in this livery until 1979 when downgraded to NBC dual purpose (DP) status in 1979. The story of CRG/ERG163 is captured elsewhere on this website.

Sir Frederick Wood remained as chairman of the group from 1972 to 1978 and was knighted in 1977. More information about Sir Wood is available by clicking HERE .

A glimpse into NATIONAL services in the early to mid 1970’s is available on You Tube courtesy of the Huntley Film Archives (archive film 62650). It depicts a coach trip on a Plaxton Elite Bristol RELH coach in the then National white livery and branding leaving the Victoria Coach Station, London.


To see this video either click on the image above or click HERE.


National Holidays

National Holidays (the original company) also had white coaches with a red and blue brand but separate to National Express and co-ordinated the coach activities of the National Bus Company, formed in 1976. It was purchased by Pleasurama in July 1986 as a part of the privatisation of the National Bus Company. Jenkins, Skewin was subsequently purchased in 1988.

National Holidays was rebranded as Shearings National in 1989 when Mecca Leisure Group purchased Pleasurama, merging National Holidays with Shearings. Mecca was taken over in 1990 by the Rank Organisation. This added the business of Eagle Coaches - Tunbridge Wells and Gwalia Coaches - Llandudno Junction the same year. Rank sold Shearings Holidays to a management buyout in 1996.




Crosville CTL73, (C73 KLG), Leyland Tiger with Duple 340 body stands at the original Pwllheli, North Wales bus station on the Maes (Square) mid 1980’s.
Change of branding

The ’NATIONAL’ brand would be superseded eventually by the National Express identity shown below. The National Express identity first appeared on coach guides in 1974 before appearing on coaches in 1978.

  National Express services guide - Summer 1974.


National Express services guide - Summer 1979.
Transport Act 1980 and Competition

On the 6th of October, 1980 travel was deregulated under the Transport Act 1980. The introduction of this act ended the licensing regulation imposed on express coach routes and tours over 30 miles. This resulted in the introduction of competition between publicly owned National Express and private companies. Coach services in Scotland, including routes between Scotland and England, were operated by the subsidiaries of the Scottish Bus Group (SBG), which was also state-owned. The act also allowed county councils to set up ‘trial areas’ in which road service licences were no longer required, allowing operators the opportunity to operate services on any route they wished.

National Express services guide with Beep the Frog - Summer 1980.
British Coachways

In the early years of National Express it had little competition in the long distance coach market. However after deregulation of coach travel following the introduction of the Transport Act 1980 a number of operators attempted to compete but many had ceased by the end of the decade. One of the competitors was the British Coachways consortium consisting initially of six of independent coach companies across the UK. These were Wallace Arnold; Grey-Green; Shearings; Morris Bros; Ellerman Bee Line and Park’s Motor Group. their combined fleet mounted to approximately 700 vehicles. The consortium were keen to present a nationwide image and adopted the colours of red, white and blue (shown below) with some coaches receiving this livery and branding.


Logo used by British Coachways between 1980 and 1982.

British Coachways commenced operation on the day of coaching de-regulation and immediately charged very low fares. National Express responded to this fare policy with a similar response in Scotland. By April 1981 members if the consortium began to pull out. British Coachways was dissolved in October 1982 led to the withdrawal of all but one of its former routes by the surviving constituent companies. Many consortium members went on to operate services on behalf of National Express. The inly route that continued was the London-Poole service operated by Excelsior. This continued in competition with National Express until February 1998 before being taken over. The Transport Act 1980 caused National Express’ market share to temporarily reduce, however in real terms passenger numbers increased.

Significant competition against National Express by independents had reduced to only two routes by 2001 which included the route between London and Glasgow. However in 2003 Stagecoach introduced its Megabus brand and network of services. this would provide more frequent services over more routes than previously provided by the British Coachways. Megabus introduced a price war with National Express in 2004 with Megabus fares advertised as only £1 for those booking early to travel on services. Competition between both companies continues to this day which was intensified in 2007 when Megabus changed its terminus in London to the Victoria Coach Station from the Green Line Coach station.

National Express services guide - Summer 1982.
Transport Act 1985 - Deregulation and Privatisation

One of the biggest upheavals to impact the bus industry in the UK in modern times was the introduction of the Transport Act 1985 on the 25th of October 1986. This would have significant and far reaching consequences on the National Bus Company and National Express.

The provision of the Act brought with it two distinctive parts:

  • Part 1 - deregulation, replacing service licensing with a system of registration, allowing bus companies to charge any fares they wished (on commercially operated services, i.e. bus services operated at the cost of the operator) and creating a free market in which bus companies with an operating licence could decide and register commercial services with the traffic commissioner between any points. Local authorities would then fill the gaps in commercial networks by tendering and then subsidising services not operated commercially based upon their local assessment of local needs. Deregulation did not occur in Greater London in the same way. This was based on a franchising system, operated by private companies but managed by London Buses Ltd.

  • Part 2 - privatisation of public sector owned bus companies under the umbrella of the NBC. In essence this was the end of the road for the National Bus Company. It was subsequently divided into seventy units and sold off to the private sector, commencing with National Holidays in July 1986 with the last sale being completed in April 1988.

National Express Coach Guide - Summer 1987.
National Express beyond the NBC and into the privatised new world

Following the introduction of the Transport Act 1985 the National Bus Company was divided into 70 units. The first sale was National Holidays to Pleasurama in July 1986. The last sale was completed in April 1988. National Express was subject to a management buy-out in March 1988 In the same way as all of its subsidiary companies.



The future of the famous “double-N” logo

The break up of the National Bus Company into 70 separate units and subsequent sale of each of these units brought to an end the corporate liveries and imagery that were introduced on the formation of the National Bus Company. Individual new liveries of privatised companies emerged, keen to make their own presence known and subsequent branding. This resulted in the slow withdrawal of the "double-N" logo introduced on the 10th of April 1972 from all vehicles and premises now operating under new companies and management. However the “double-N” logo was maintained by National Express when sold to its management and continued to be used until 2003, 31 years after its initial introducing when the famous NBC logo finally disappeared to make way for a new logo, it itself replaced in 2007. The “double-N” logo is still owned by National Express and trademarked with special permission being sought and given for its use on preserved CRG163 and this website with much thanks.

The various logos and branding used by National Express over the past fifty years are shown lower down on this page including the dates in which they were used.


National Express expansion

Following the purchase of National Express the management of the newly acquired company decided to diversify its portfolio. Not only had Crosville Motor Services and Crosville Wales had a long standing connection with National/National Express in operating services on it’s behalf, National Express would go on to purchase Crosville Wales in 1989 and become its parent company.

In June 1989 National Express Holdings acquired Amberline Ltd. of Liverpool which was placed under direct control of Crosville Wales by its parent owner. This resulted in financial pressure placed on the fledgling Crosville Wales company, itself purchased by its own management in the same way as National Express post deregulation and itself attempting to operate in the brave new world of privatisation. Suffice to say this did not bode well.

In July 1989 ATL Holdings was purchased (with Sheffield operations) with 50% in Yelloway Trathen, which was renamed Trathens Travel Services.

In October 1989 National Express acquired the Scotland-England coach services of Stagecoach and created a Scottish subsidiary with the brand of Caledonian Express.


National Express Annual Report 1991

In 1991 a new management team headed up National Express with the backing of the private equity firm, ECI Partners, deciding to concentrate on its core activities. Crosville Wales was sold to British Bus in July of the same year with National Express purchasing Speedlink which was a coach operator between Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.

The National Express Annual Report, 1991 provided the company’s present position (at the time) and its intended future direction as noted in the report’s forward and the Chairman’s Review section by Mr P R McEnhill on the 28th April, 1992. The text of both sections of the report have been reproduced below. Other sections of the report including financials have not been included due to the size of the report.


Report Forward

National Express is the largest operator of long distance scheduled coach services throughout the United Kingdom. It is a unique business with an extremely well recognised brand name, and for many people it represents the only alternative to rail as a means of long distance travel.

National Express accounts for about 80% of all scheduled coach services in this country, serving 1,500 destinations, and as in the sole UK member of Eurolines which operates an expanding network of scheduled express coach services from London to over 270 destinations in 15 countries.

National Express also operates Speedlink, which provides high-quality interlinking coach services between London airports, together with other airport services, Jetlink and Flightline.

Express Travel comprises the group’s in-house coach operations. The majority of National Express services are contracted out to some 80 operators, mostly regional bus companies, but many are independent coach companies. National Express devise the network of services, markets them, contracts out their operation, and ensures the maintenance of quality standards.


Chairman’s Review

On the 23 July 1991 National Express Group Limited acquired National Express Holdings Limited and all its subsidiaries, other than a sub-group principally comprising Crosville Wales Limited, a regional bus company, and Amberline Limited, which operates local buses and certain contracts on behalf of National Express Limited.

The initial objective of the new owners and management if National Express Group has been to focus the group closely on three key businesses:

  • the operation of a national network of long distance coach services - the National Express business

  • participation in the operation of long distance coach services in continental Europe - the Eurolines (UK) business

  • the operation of coaches on National Express contracts - the Express Travel business

 National Express Annual Report 1991

Steps taken since July 1992 to achieve this logical grouping included the disposal of stakes of joint venture coach operating companies and the consolidation of all the retained coach operating subsidiaries under the Express Travel name and organisation.

National Express was floated on the London Stock Exchange on the 1st of December 1992 for a price of 165p per share.

National Express Coach Guide - Summer 1992.
The National Express Group was sold to the Drawlane Transport Group plc with it’s assets taken over by British Bus plc in early 1993 following the floatation of National Express in 1992. In August 1996 Cowie purchased British Bus.


Further expansion

In 1993 Scottish Citylink, East Midlands Airport and Eurolines were acquired with West Midlands Travel in 1995, rebranded Travel West Midlands in September 1996.

In March 1996 National Express acquired the Manchester-Birmingham-Heathrow-Gatwick express coach services of Birmingham based Flight’s Travel Group which included the ‘Flightlink’ brand name. The branding was expanded to cover a number of National Express services that linked different regions of Britain with key airports including the services from South Wales.


During 1996 National Express diversified into rail operations in the form of Gatwick Express and Midland Mainline. In 1997 Silverlink, Central Trains and ScotRail were won.

J917 LEM, a VOLVO B10M, Plaxton 3500 Expressliner coach departing Caernarfon bus station (Pool side) in the early 1990’s on National Express Rapide 545 service to London.
In February 1997 Taybus Public Transport was acquired and rebranded Travel Dundee. Scottish Citylink was sold in 1998 to Metroline due to the Monopolies & Mergers Commission ruling on its winning of the Scottish Citylink around competition concerns. In September 1998 National Express ventured across the water to the United Sates by acquiring Crabtree-Harmon.


M36 KAX - BEBB’s of Llantwit Fadre VOLVO B10M, Plaxton Premiere 350 about to leave Pwllheli Bus station on the National Express 545 service to London with Gwilym ‘Berch’ Williams at the wheel.  Also pictured right, Dewi Roberts (Gwynedd County Council), previous driver and manager at Crosville Motor Services having driven many miles himself on National Express services across the UK back in the day.
During 1999 Robinson Bus Service was purchased in February; Australia’s largest private bus company - National Bus Company in May; and Durham Transportation in August 1999. Also in the same month National Express won the M>Tram and V/L Passenger rail franchise in the Australian state of Victoria.

In August 1999 the Eurolines services from London to Europe (Alicante, Barcelona and Paris) was purchased from Wallace Arnold.

Airlinks/Jetlink (owned by National Express) acquired the Cambridge Coach Services (CCS) business in October 1999 and subsequently introduced a turquoise based livery which replaced their green and yellow style. Jetlink and Speedlink were original brands of Airlinks (The Airport Coach Company).

January 2000 saw National Express expand again by acquiring ATC, an American public transport operator. In the same year Prism Rail was purchased in July adding the c2c, Wales &Borders, Wessex Trains and West Anglia Great Northern franchises to the company’s portfolio. However in December 2002 the company withdraws from the Victorian rail franchise having not being able to renegotiate financial terms with government.

During 2003 National Express adopted a new logo and type font that would replace the long established and famous double ‘N’ logo designed by Norman Wilson. This is represented further on this page. The new logo comprised of of a red and blue circle with a white arrow linking both, representing people moving from one place to another. The new logo only lasted four years, being dropped in 2007.


2004 saw further developments and withdrawals. In February Connex was acquired and rebranded Travel London. In April National Express Wast Anglia commenced operations on the Greater Anglia rail franchise. In September of the same year the company’s Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth bus operations in Australia were sold.

June 2005 saw the purchase of Telling-Golden Miller’s bus operations which was rebranded Travel London. The following month of July saw the company sell its American public transport operator ATC to Connex.

Further in the same year National Express took on the majority of ALSA’s bus and coach services in October 2005 in Spain, Portugal and Morocco and it’s long distance operations to other parts of Europe. South America and China services were retained by the previous owner post acquisition.

During 2006 National Express launches its first fully accessible coach on its network in the form of a Caetano Levante.

National Express Coach Guide - 2007/2008.
In aligning its presence and operations in Spain the company acquired Continental Auto in April 2007, being the second largest bus and coach operator in Spain at the time with The Kings Ferry purchased in November of the same year. The company also launched an airport to hotel mini bus shuttle service but this ceased operations the following year in November 2008 as it did not reach the anticipated success required to be sustainable.

November 2007 saw National Express announce plans to introduce uniformed company branding across all of its operations. This involved dropping the circle to circle logo in 2003 with dot to dot grey stripes and a new lower case type font that consisted of curvier lettering, a mire rounded typeface.


The new branding was launched on the 9th of December 2007 on the new railway franchise now called National Express East Coast, formerly GNER operating rhe InterCity East Coast franchise. During the following month the new branding began to be rolled out across the coach fleet; on National Express West Midlands (formerly Travel West Midlands) on the 4th of February 2007 and then on National Express East Anglia (formerly One Railway) on the 26th of the the same month.

In May 2008 National Express sells Travel London and Travel Surrey to Abellio.

On the 18th of December 2009 the new Birmingham Coach Station is officially opened by Fabio Capello, replacing the previous Digberth coach station. The original interchange was built in 1929 as a bus depot by Midland Red, which was later converted into Digbeth Coach Station. The old coach station closed in November 2007 for redevelopment. The new interchange would be called Birmingham Central Coach Station. The refurbishment was estimated to have cost £15 million. It also received a BREEM ‘excellent’ rating. BREEAM is an assessment undertaken by independent licensed assessors using scientifically-based sustainability metrics and indices which cover a range of environmental issues. More details about BREEAM can be found by clicking HERE.

February 2013 sees National Express Germany awarded with two regional rail contracts by the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr, Zweckverband Nahverkehr Rheinland and Zweckverband Nahverkehr Westfalen-Lippe authorities. These contracts commenced operations in December 2015.

Also during 2015 the Bayerische Eisenbahngesellschaft announced that National Express had been selected to operate the Nuremberg S-Bahn system, to commence operations from December 2018. This would be the first Deutsche Bahn S-Bahn network to be operated by a private operator. However during 2016 National Express withdraws sighting a delay in the ability to order new rolling stock.

June 2015 brought an announcement that parts 2 and 3 of the Rhein-Ruhr-Express would be operated by National Express to be introduced in 2018.

On the 8th of September, 2016 Plymouth Coach Station opens. Construction on the coach station began in January 2016. It replaced Bretonside bus station. In the same year National Express becoming an accredited Living Wage Foundation employer.

On the 16th of December 2016, respected family owned independent Clarkes of London was purchased, a coach operator comprising of 56 vehicles.

March 2020 sees Lucketts Group being purchased by National Express. The group at the time of purchase included Lucketts Travel, Coliseum Coaches, Mortons Travel, Solent Coaches and Worthing Coaches and was the largest coach operator on the South Coast employing 350 people and operating a fleet of 160 coaches and buses.

On the 3rd of February 2020 it was announced that Dublin Express would launch in March of the same year connecting Dublin Airport and the city centre, running on a 24hour basis. Three routes would be introduced with a phased expansion of the network.

By this point National Express was already operating 1,100 airport services every day on a 24 hour basis direct to the terminals of all UK airports including Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Heathrow and Manchester. Further details are available HERE if the services presently being provided.


Rapide Services

National Express introduced the Rapide services in 1981 which would provide passengers with on-board tea/coffee services and sandwiches served by on-board hostesses. On-board television and toilet was also provided on vehicles operating under the brand. Rapide services were heavily marketed through its branding and extensive advertisement campaigns. Such branding would be displayed on the side of coaches, leaflets, posters etc.



Crosville Cymru/Wales Leyland Tiger CTL65 (C65 JTU) parked outside the company‘s Llandudno Junction depot (which was also its headquarters) in National Express Rapide branding.

A Plaxton Paramount 3500 coach as shown on the front of a National Express Rapide leaflet cover of the time promoting the brand.



National Express phased out the Rapide offering and branding in April 2001. It’s on board television service had already been withdrawn in the 1990’s.

However in late 2004, National Express introducing NXTV/National Xpress Television showing various episodes of British Television series. This was short lived as it was phased out in the summer of 2006. However in more modern times National Express now offers free WiFi on most of its coach services.


Branding changes over the years

Since 1972 National Express’s branding has changed significantly over the years, from it’s early days as depicted on CRG163 to present times. The different core branding adopted by the company over the years is represented below including the periods of operation.


1972 - 1982

1974 - 1982



1982 - 1991



1991 - 2003



2003 - 2007





2007 - present



Vehicle liveries

Predominantly coaches operating on National Express carry an all over white livery.

In the 1980’s coaches operating on National Express services developed an attractive ‘venetian blind’ (as its referenced) branding of blue and red, together with the white coach and National Express name as reproduced below. Some companies such as Crosville also applied black paint around the vehicle’s front windscreen. Some companies also applied black paint to the lower skirt of the vehicle.



In the 1990’s the ’venetian blind’ livery gave way to a much crisper and cleaner version as reproduced below. Vehicles remained white and still carried the National Express name. The application of black paint around vehicle windscreens and lower skirts was also replaced by white only.



Additional branding used

Over the years other liveries have also been carried on National Express services depicting specific branding on services that operated to Ireland, airports and Europe. Some of these are depicted below.


Supabus

The 'Supabus' name was once used in the 1980’s to promote services between London and other UK destinations to destinations in Ireland such as Belfast, Cork, and Galway also. Such services operated under the Supabus brand was jointly operated by Bus Éireann and National Express.

In one marketing poster dating from 16 April 1988, the Supabus service was marketed as “Travelling to Ireland by Supabus isn’t only comfortable and cheap - it’s trouble free too. For many destinations the same luxurious seat carries you all the way. Reclining seats and toilets.”




Other branding has also been used by National Express over the years to promote specific services such as Rapide. This has included services across to Ireland under the Supabus branding in the 1980’s to FlightLink promoting airport services.


Caledonian Express?

In October 1989 National Express acquired the Scotland-England coach services of Stagecoach when its agreement with Scottish CityLink came to an end and created a Scottish subsidiary with the brand of Caledonian Express operating from Stagecoach’s old depot at Perth. The branding for Caledonian Express below. The branding ceased in 1993.


Eurolines

Acquired by National Express in 1993.
Flightlink

FlightLink was a brand initially operated by Flights Coaches of Birmingham, taken over by National Express in 1996. For a period such services would continue to operate under the Flights Coaches cream and black livery but with the famous “double-N” logo applied.


Express Shuttle

National Express also operated a variant of their own branding on airport services titled ‘Express Shuttle” which would comprise of a dark grey skirting applied to vehicles used. However in 2007 all branding was simplified as shown above.

‘Express Shuttle’ livery was used on the Cambridge to London service as well as on the Poole-Bournemouth-London service 032.



GobyCoach

Early to mid 2000’s the GoByCoach.com website was created by National Express and this graphic design was carried by the coaches operated on the network. A large variant of the logo would also appear on the side of coaches in green.


Jetlink












National Express Airport

The Airport brand was created in 2003 when the National Express image brand was updated, merging the former Airlink, Flightlink, Jetlink and Speedlink brands. This was however dropped in 2007 when the company introduced a uniform brand and image across all operations.


Other livery variants

National Express have also used a number of other liveries over the years through various acquisitions and marketing opportunities.



Airports

In the 1990s National Express Group moved into the privatisation of airports, eventually purchasing East Midlands Airport, Bournemouth Airport and Humberside Airport. In a move to concentrate on bus and rail provision, the airports were sold to Manchester Airports Group for £241m in March 2001.
Until November 2007, the group also operated Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, New York. However, the lease was sold to the public Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.


Vehicles

Over the past 50 years of operation many vehicle types have been employed on National and then National Express services. This has ranged from the majestic ECW coach on a Bristol RELH chassis powered by a Gardner engine like CRG163 to the Caetano Levante III (introduced July 2018) which seems to be the favoured vehicle at the moment. Other such vehicles have included the dual purpose ECW bodied RE; Leyland Leopards (on Plaxton Elite/Dominant Duple body variants); Leyland Tigers (on various body variants from Duple Caribbean to Duple Laser); Bovas; MCW; the first Expressliner in the form of the Plaxton 3500 powered by Volvo; Van Hool Alizeé bodied Volvo B10M; Jonckheere Mistral bodied Volvo B10M; Plaxton Premiere; Plaxton Paragon and now the Caetano Levante.


Publicity

Over the years NATIONAL and then National Express have embarked on many publicity opportunities to promote it’s network and services which has ranged from general promotional leaflets and timetables, Beeper the frog to promotional advertisement which has included David Soul, better known as Hutch from the 1970’s American Cop show Starsky & Hutch.


National Bus Company

One of the strap lines used by the National Bus Company back in the day.


Beeper the Frog

Beeper the Frog makes an appearance in promoting cheaper fares on National Express services in the 1980’s.












Leaflets, posters and timetables over the years

National Express have produced a plethora of promotional material over 50 years ranging from leaflets advertising service timetables, products available, ticketing and branding. Below is a collage of many leaflets produced over many years.




National Express Rapide cardboard coasters

During the Rapide era many publicity leaflets and posters were produced to advertise the brand. Cardboard coasters displaying an MCW coach in the National Express Rapide livery and branding were also produced including biros.





Divine Comedy - ‘National Express’

In 1999 further publicity came to National Express in the shape of Devine Comedy which provided a feel good song about National Express.


The Divine Comedy - ‘National Express’ 1999.
To listen to the Divine Comedy’s ‘National Express’ song via You Tube click on the image above or click HERE .


History of coach travel in the UK

National Express celebrates 40 years by sharing the video below on line.




To see the short film via You Tube click on the above image or click HERE.


National Express celebrates 40 years of coach travel

During 2012 National Express celebrated 40 years of coach travel and as a part of this released the following on-line video - 20.09.12.


To see the short film via You Tube click on the image above or click HERE.


National Express presence via on-line platforms

Below are only a few examples of many on line videos produced by National Express in recent years in promoting the brand and product offered. National Express have come a long way since its early days.


David Soul - Silver Lady

The late David Soul from Starsky & Hutch fame behind the wheel of a National Express Caetano Levante coach - 14 June 2014.

David Soul of Starsky and Hutch fame singing Silver Lady as he drives a Caetano Levante in the advertisement.
To see the full advert via You Tube click on the image above or click HERE.


National Express - Go Get It

National Express launched a 20 second video in 2025 titled Go Get It.



To see the advert via You Tube click on the image above or click HERE.


National Express - Take a Different View TV ad

National Express launched a 43 second TV ad in February of 2016 featuring the Levante coach.


To see the advert in full via You Tube click on the image above or click HERE.




National Express statistics

At the time of writing (05.01.23) the following statistics are current:

National Express coaches have journeyed 3.8 billion miles across the length and breadth of the UK since 1972 to 2022 (50 years of operation)
A national network links more than 540 locations, including 59 of the UK mainland's 76 cities
1,800 plus services operate every day, increasing to over 1,900 on Fridays
Over 1,000 airport services a day run direct to the terminal for all major UK airports


The Fleet

National Express and its franchisees operate a limited number of coach types. Primarily standardising its main coach operation on the Caetano Levante body on Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Volvo chassis. The Levante was designed between 2003 and 2005 by Portuguese coach builder Salvador Caetano and National Express exclusively for use on their network, equipped with a wheelchair lift at the front entrance door, and could be built on either two or three axels depending on chassis configuration. The most recent tri-axle Levante III was introduced onto the network in July 2018, with an updated version named the Levante IIIA introduced from late 2022.





The future

The future for National Express is bright, although competition continues from various sources including Stageocach MegaBus and FlixBus. The National Express Group is now the Mobico Group, a multinational public transport company.

The company operates bus and coach services through the National Express brand as well as train services in the Republic of Ireland, Eurolines in connection with Bus Éireann, USA, Canada, Spain, Germany and other countries involving long distance coach services across Europe.


National Express Transport Solutions

National Express Transport Solutions provides transport for businesses. Whether it relates to staff transport, one-off event shuttles or a long term bespoke network.

it works with clients such as See Tickets, Metropolitan Police and the BBC, and provided services for a multitude of industries. From transporting employees to their place of work on a daily basis to providing hundreds of coaches for events like Glastonbury, a huge range of services are offered, all tailored to the needs of businesses.

Travel had also been provided travel for a number of UEFA Champions League Finals, as well as having transported David Cameron around on a custom wrapped ‘Conservative Battle Coach’.


My own connection with National Express

You may be wondering what is my own connection with National Express? Over the past 32 odd years (2022) of working in the bus industry I‘ve had a few connections as I remember below.


Early influence

Even before any direct career connection with the bus industry I had always been interested in working for the industry one day from school. Below is a painting I made in school when I was about 14/15 years old. It is of Crosville Wales Leyland Tiger Laser 2 B151ALG (fleet number CTL51). The vehicle depicts National Express’ venetian blind livery, operating the 709 service from Pwllheli to Liverpool, departing Blaenau Ffestiniog.





Bangor Clock Travel Office

My first paid job and that in the bus industry started with Crosville Wales at it’s travel office at the Bangor Clock bus station on school holidays. I would catch the first bus out of Blaenau Ffestiniog at 0715 having travelled by bike initially from Tanygrisiau, keepin my bike at the depot. I would then change buses in Caernarfon to get to Bangor before doings the journey in reverse in the evening, eventually getting back home for around 1930hrs (07.30pm).

At the Bangor Town Clock office not only would we provide general bus travel information and the selling of weekly and monthly travel cards but the little office was also a National Express agent. As an agent we would provide travel information on all National Express services including cost and would also sell travel tickets to passengers via the paper tickets including booking subsequent journeys on the little computer system linked to the wider network. This would book a seat for passengers on the services they were about to travel on in the coming days. The computer screen looked very similar in appearance of graphis to the ild Ceefax system to give you an idea but simply dealt with National Express coach bookings. This was in the late 1980’s.

When I was old enough to drive a car I’d also cover at the company’s similar travel office at Rhyl bus station. Living in Tanygrisiau, Blaenau Ffestiniog it would have been logistically impossible to get to Rhyl by public transport for a day’s work.


Crosville Wales shunt driver

When I was a bus driver with Crosville Wales in the early 1990’s as I was under 21 years old I could only drive up to 50KM’s from the depot I was based in accordance with the regulations. Once becoming 21 years old it was a different story and mileage was no longer an issue. once I reached 21 years old I would drive on Crosville’s Cymru Coastliner service which used double deckers with dual purpose coach seats between Caernarfon and Chester. That is another story covered elsewhere on this website.

When I drove buses from Crosville Wales’ Pwllheli depot there would be local service bus duties that would involve driving the National Express 580 service (Pwllheli - Newcastle) either from Pwllheli to Caernarfon or vice versa In it‘s return in the evening. The vehicle used to operate the service was based at Pwllheli depot. This was simply a shunt as we would call it in supporting the main drivers and their drivers hours. On one occasion I got the opportunity to drive the 580 service back from Caernarfon one summer's evening to Pwllheli via Porthmadog.

The vehicle in question was one of the three Duple 425's - E611AEY to E613AEY.


National Express driver 2002 - 2005

In 2002 I was asked if I could cover the North West end of the 545 service (Pwllheli - London) as a driver on Saturday over a few weeks. Providing driver cover for only a few weeks ended up driving the Pwllheli end of the service every Saturday for two years including here and there during holiday periods. The 545 service at this time was provided on behalf of National Express by First Wessex / First Southern National, managed from its operational base at Birmingham by the capable Clive Lee. Clive had been a driver at one point but was now heading up the operation for First at Birmingham and Bristol. Other services included those to Manchester and other destinations. Clive was highly respected by all who worked for him.

The Pwllheli based driver would start off the London bound service at Pwllheli, departing at 0800am and drive to Llandudno in service. At Llandudno the service would be become double crewed by two drivers, i.e. the driver from Pwllheli and a driver from the Birmingham depot who had stayed in Llandudno the night before (having operated the north bound service the previous day with one of the other members of the Pwllheli based team) drove the service onwards to Chester. The Pwllheli driver would drive again from Chester to Stoke on Trent (Hanley bus/coach station). On arrival at Stoke on Trent at approximately 1330hrs (01.30pm) the Pwllheli driver would alight from the vehicle before picking up the northbound 545 service from Hanley at approximately 1500hrs (3pm) that had departed London at 1030 the same day. The same pattern of shared driving as the morning would be repeated but in the opposite direction arriving back in Pwllheli at around 2030hrs (if on time). The southbound service (that had started from Pwllheli at 0800am) would depart from Hanley and continue with a shunt driver to Birmingham with another driver from Birmingham taking the service onwards to London, arriving London Victoria Coach Station at approximately 1800hrs. Service timings would suffer considerably over the summer holiday months due to congestion across the North Wales coast and motorways between London. Due to the high demand for the service back then many duplicate vehicles would be employed from operators near and far.

The Pwllheli end team of the operation consisted of Evan Herbert (ex Crosville Pwllheli depot); Derek Roberts, Gwilym ‘Berch’ Williams; Wyn Pete and myself, Richard Jones,

Drivers from the Birmingham team included Rob Hatton; Johnny Green (now sadly passed away); Mickey Perks; Leon Walker; Linzel; Phil; all professional people and true ambassadors for National Express and First Bus (the operating company on behalf of National Express) and also truly brilliant people to work with.

Below I include a few photos from my time as a driver on National Express.


Me arriving back in Pwllheli one evening on the 545 with Plaxton Premier R943 LHT (fleet number 186 with First) powered by the trusted Volvo B10M.


Another angle of me arriving back at Pwllheli one evening.


A nice early summer’s morning in Pwllheli before setting off on the 545 with the ‘Poppy coach’ as we all referred to R813 HWS.  An EFE model of the vehicle was commissioned in both variants of poppy.


WX51 AKY (fleet number 6304 with First) on my arrival back in Pwllheli one summer’s evening.  This was the next generation vehicle at the time from the Plaxton Premier.  This was the Plaxton Paragon powered by a Volvo B12.


This photo was taken on request by two elderly ladies who travelled on the 545 service from London to Gronant near Prestatyn of Linzel and myself.


Another photo taken by the same elderly ladies, travelling again on the 545.  This time the image is of Leon Walker and myself.


CRG163 - preserved Crosville coach in NATIONAL livery

My third connection with National Express is of course my very own preserved Crosville coach which has been painted in the first NATIONAL livery that was introduced in 1972 under Sir Frederick Wood’s leadership. My ownership of CRG163 began on the 9th of June 2002. Whilst there are several fantastic examples of other similar Crosville coaches in the wonderful cream and black coaching livery my decision to restore CRG163 to the NATIONAL livery of the day was to depict another important era of coach travel across the UK.

I was brought up during the National Bus Company era of bus and coach operation and I have fond and happy memories of travelling on Crosville buses and coaches during my childhood which have been captured elsewhere on this website. The ’double N’ logo is therefore an important personal reminder to me of this period as well as my various connections with National Express as detailed above. Before CRG163 was painted in this livery with the double ‘N’ logo applied special care was taken to seek and receive permission from National Express to be allowed to use the branding ‘NATIONAL’ and double ‘N’ logo in 2003. My thanks to National Express for this.


Preserved Crosville CRG163 parked at Woodside, Birkenhead at the beginning of October 2004.  CRG163 had attended the Wirral Bus & Tram Show before an impromptu trip to Liverpool Lime Street, CRG163’s old stomping ground when based at Crosville’s Edge Lane depot from new in 1970.  The above photo was taken at a location these coaches would stop at on a daily basis when operating long distance services for Crosville and under the NATIONAL brand.  This is a photo that National Express has also used within its 50 year celebrations and official photos - please see below.


The famous double ’N’ logo reproduced in 3D

Christmas 2023 saw my youngest son (11 years old) receive a 3D printer as his main Christmas present. Subsequently my eldest son (14 years old at the time) created a digital 3D model through specific computer software of Norman Wilson’s famous logo taken from a 2D digital image and together produced a one off gift for me, for their Dad.

How times have changed over the years as I remember reproducing the same logo when I was their age, but then it involved a pencil a ruler and a piece of paper! Thank you boys for such a wonderful present. Still trying to remember that you are only 11 and 14 years old at the time of writing this entry on our website!

Hard to believe that this logo was created 50 years ago at the time of writing. What would Norman Wilson have to say I wonder?





Happy 50th National Express 

This page is not a promotional platform for National Express, but a mere page summarising the history of National Express and a name that has been synonymous with coach travel in the UK since 1972 and it’s link to CRG163, Crosville, Crosville Wales and myself.

Happy 50 years National Express with very best wishes!


An official release by National Express on it’s Facebook page celebrating 50 years.  Note CRG163 - bottom right corner image! 


Official publicity produced by National Express to celebrate 50 years, with kind permission to reproduce on this website.









Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail me, Richard Jones at post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.
Technical section relating to CRG163

This section is not available to the public. It is only accessible through the password provided.

For those with the password please click HERE or the image below and then enter the password to access. If you have not been provided with a password you will not be able to access this section.




Contact details

CRG163’s contact e-mail address post@crg163.com .

You can also subscribe to this website by entering your e-mail address into the white box below, bottom right and click the subscription button ⬇️

The below web links will take you to on-line documentaries about the UK bus and coach industry over the years; all things CRG163; Crosville; CEC; Ruby and companies that have supplied/aided in CRG163’s further restoration.

The Modern Age of Coach - BBC Timeshift documentary - Series 10, episode 7

The Modern Age of Coach - BBC Timeshift documentary - Series 10, episode 7

02/01/2022

An interesting documentary on the history of the modern age of coach travel featuring the EFE model of CRG163.

Read More
The Golden Age of Coach Travel - BBC Timeshift Documentary - Series 10, episode 6

The Golden Age of Coach Travel - BBC Timeshift Documentary - Series 10, episode 6

02/01/2022

An interesting documentary on the history of the modern age of coach travel featuring the EFE model of CRG163.

Read More
Eastern Coach Works (ECW) Remembered

Eastern Coach Works (ECW) Remembered

03/01/2022

An interesting short documentary remembering Eastern Coach Works (ECW) and staff.

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Crosville 100 Centenary - Rhyl 2006

Crosville 100 Centenary - Rhyl 2006

03/01/2022

An You Tube video of the Crosville 100 gathering celebrating 100 years since the commencement of Crosville.

Read More
Crosville 100 Centenary Road Run from Rhyl to Llandudno - 2006

Crosville 100 Centenary Road Run from Rhyl to Llandudno - 2006

03/01/2022

An You Tube video of the Crosville 100 centenary road run from Rhyl to Llandudno in 2006 following Crosville’s old 409 route via Colwyn Bay.

Read More
Robert J Montgomery Transport Archive

Robert J Montgomery Transport Archive

29/05/2023

A fantastic pictorial tribute to Crosville and buses by Robert J Montgomery capturing not only the vehicles but also some of the staff including those from the company’s Liverpool Edge Lane depot. The website is managed by Graham Warren.

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Crosville Edge Lane depot model - Graham Warren

Crosville Edge Lane depot model - Graham Warren

21/08/2023

A model of Crosville’s Edge Lane depot, Liverpool with wonderfully angled images representing the depot’s operational period with the company by Graham Warren, son of the late George Warren who worked for Crosville.

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The rise of the white coach

The rise of the white coach

20/01/2022

Vision, compromise and change all played a part in the roll-out of the National white coach, reflected in the 1972 first edition of the Corporate Identity Manual.

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Crosville Enthusiasts’ Club (1967)

Crosville Enthusiasts’ Club (1967)

23/01/2022

As the name suggests the current club was founded during 1967 to cater for those interested in the operations and vehicles of Crosville Motor Services Limited. When it was formed the membership was mostly based in the operating area of Crosville, however this has expanded over the years and we now have members from all over the United Kingdom.

Read More
Ronsbusesandcoaches - Crosville

Ronsbusesandcoaches - Crosville

23/01/2022

A website depicting the history of Crosville.

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Illustrated History for EFM163H - Bristol Commercial Vehicles Enthusiasts

Illustrated History for EFM163H - Bristol Commercial Vehicles Enthusiasts

12/02/2022

This website is for anyone interested in the products of Bristol Commercial Vehicles which includes CRG163 (EFM163H).

Read More
Huntley Film Archives (archive film 62650)

Huntley Film Archives (archive film 62650)

17/04/2022

This short video via You Tube provides a glimpse of NATIONAL services in the mid 1970’s.

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The Coach Travellers in 1965 - Nostalgic colour film

The Coach Travellers in 1965 - Nostalgic colour film

19/09/2022

The joy of coach travel in 1965.

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Fifties Coach Travel

Fifties Coach Travel

19/09/2022

An insight into coach travel in the 1950’s.

Read More
Red & White - RC9868 (OAX 9F) ‘Ruby’

Red & White - RC9868 (OAX 9F) ‘Ruby’

08/01/2024

This is a superb website of a superbly restored Bristol RELH, owned by Jonathan Radley.

Read More
Derek’s Tyre Services

Derek’s Tyre Services

23/05/2022

A web link to Derek’s Tyre Services that have sourced and fitted CRG163’s new tyres.

Read More
Sandblasting and Spraying

Sandblasting and Spraying

23/05/2022

A web link to ‘Sandblasting and Spraying’ - the company that sandblasted and treated CRG163’s rims.

Read More
Sion Lloyd - Saer Coed / Carpenter

Sion Lloyd - Saer Coed / Carpenter

08/08/2022

A web link to Sion Lloyd’s website, the carpenter and friend who has been tackling CRG163’s woodwork and lockers.

Read More
Clwyd Auto Electricals

Clwyd Auto Electricals

06/03/2023

A web link to ‘Clwyd Auto Electricals’ - the company that tested CRG163’s alternator.

Read More

Please get in touch if you have any photos or history of CRG163 or aware of any of the parts being sought. It would be gratefully appreciated, thank you.

Acknowledgements image
Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the following people for allowing the use of their photographs on this website. Without the time and trouble taken by the following people we would not have such valued photographs depicting the history of CRG/ERG163 as well as Crosville and the wider bus industry. Our grateful thanks to you for documenting the history of transport and that of CRG163 in context of our website. Thank you.

  • Andrew Hamer
  • Andrew Marks
  • Arwyn Herald
  • Clive A. Brown
  • Dave Cousins
  • Derek Thompson
  • Dewi Roberts
  • Dominic Eaton
  • Don McKewon
  • Duncan Roberts
  • E. A. Allison, Crosville Motor Services Ltd
  • Geoff Smith
  • Gethin Jones
  • Gordon Bate
  • Graham Senior
  • Graham Warren
  • Grahame Wareham
  • John Carter
  • John F Baker
  • John Buchan
  • John Lee
  • Malcolm Cowtan
  • Martin Pinnington
  • Mike Street
  • Neil Halliday
  • Robert Brian Humphreys
  • Robert J Montgomery
  • Stephen Monaghan
  • Tom Lynn

The origins of some of the photographs are unknown and have been depicted as such. However please do get in touch through e-mail if you have any details such as location, dates or if you are the photographer so that the correct acknowledgements can be added or the photos removed if preferred by the owner.

Thank you.

Richard


In memory of the late and great Derek Thompson from Crosville’s Caernarfon depot, sitting behind the wheel of preserved CRG163.  It was Derek that supplied me with the ’NATIONAL‘ corporate design specifications for me to use with CRG163.  A life long dear friend to so many of us from the Crosville family.


Contact details

If you have any photos or related information about CRG163 or any information on the parts presently required then please e-mail me, Richard Jones at post@crg163.com .  Many thanks in advance.

You can also subscribe to this website by entering your e-mail address into the white box below, bottom right and click the subscription button ⬇️

Click on the individual pages below for further details.

C.A.V Type 440C 24V regulator

C.A.V Type 440C 24V regulator

C.A.V Type 440C 24V regulator, Des no’ 1697 C533.

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Genuine Western National (NBC) information board

Genuine Western National (NBC) information board

This is a genuine Western National information board as used by the company during it’s National Bus Company period of operation.

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Genuine Eastern Coach Works (ECW) coach seat ash trays

Genuine Eastern Coach Works (ECW) coach seat ash trays

Genuine Eastern Coach Works (ECW) coach seat ash trays

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Bristol FLF / ECW front cowl

Bristol FLF / ECW front cowl

Bristol FLF / ECW double deck front cowl.

Learn More